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Braving the Elements

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I’ll have you know, Brent and I did not puss out and let the rain keep us inside yesterday. We decided to head downtown anyway, and after an hour or so, the rain turned to our normal drizzle and all was right with the world. We’ve been trying to get out of our little Queen Anne bubble, so we took ourselves downtown for some shopping and then on a walking tour of Capitol Hill.

After a few miles of walking, we stopped at Quinn’s Gastropub for some beer and maybe a snack. Quinn’s has Happy Hour from 3-5 Monday-Saturday (woot! a HH brent can actually participate in!) so we were psyched for some half price beer, especially when we saw what Brent referred to as “a taste of home.”

Sofie, the saison from Goose Island. So refreshing and we were so psyched to see it because Goose Island has extremely limited distribution in Washington. We miss our midwest beer. The seattlelites love their beer, and claim they have the best beer scene in the country, but umm… we disagree. We haven’t found any breweries in Washington that we like and we definitely miss Goose Island, 3 Floyds, and Bell’s.

Anyway, along with splitting the Sofie, we also ordered some frites because Brent saw them delivered to someone else and thought they looked good. We tend to spy on other diners. That’s a totally normal thing, right? The frites were served with a Fontina fonduta and some kind of demi glace. (Feel free to call it fries with cheese sauce and gravy, Quinn’s. I don’t need impressing).

Assuming that picture loaded for you, you don’t need me to tell you these were delicious. We obviously need to go back for dinner sometime. Or just more bar food and beer. I’m not picky. I would have definitely ordered more food, but we had the makings for pizza at home so we headed back.

Last night’s pizza topping combo was requested by Brent and inspired by one of our favorite haunts in Fort Wayne, 800 Degrees. We were huge fans of their rocket pizza, so I made a pizza (crust from ABin5) with prosciutto, sliced garlic, Fontina and arugula. I just layered the prosciutto  on the dough, sprinkled sliced garlic, topped with a healthy dose of the cheese and baked for 10 minutes. When the pizza came out of the oven, I tossed a handful of arugula on top, just so it barely wilts.

The pizza was great, but perhaps a bit too salty for my taste. Brent could not stop raving about it and ate all of his pizza and quite a bit of mine too. I guess it’s clearly a make again.

For us, it’s another grey, wet day out here, but I’ll be making my way to the Ballard Farmers Market, and maybe over to Bedlam Coffee for a Nutella Mocha. Hope losing an hour doesn’t slow down your Sunday!

Saturday Morning

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Got a run in, went to yoga, ate an awesome breakfast. Pretty sweet little Saturday. Larry had a pretty great one too.

Apparently he didn’t get the memo reminding him that he’s 60lbs and has a huge ass. Brent looks pretty proud of himself there too, huh?

Oh yeah, about that awesome breakfast. It was at 5 Spot. I had been building this place up to Brent ever since Tess and I went a week and half ago, so Brent suggested we head there this weekend. I didn’t exactly put up much resistance. I stuck with what I knew and got the Ranch Hand Eggs. I can’t adequately describe this, but it involved a folded up tortilla stuffed with two kinds of cheese and green onions. I wish I could convey how amazing that thing is because I know this picture is not doing it justice.

I tried valiantly, but only finished half. That tortilla is one dense mofo.

The rest of the day is up in the air because its raining. I’m aware that I live in Seattle and everyone thinks it rains all the time, but usually it’s just misting. Today is what Brent and I refer to as “Real Rain.” You know, as in You Need An Umbrella, Fool. So we’re kind of being babies about it and debating whether we feel like leaving the house. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

Eating and Drinking Our Way Around San Francisco

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Oh man, for a trip that was only two days I feel like we really packed a lot in! Here’s a few snapshots of some of the fun we had.

We were obsessed with Blue Bottle Coffee. Obsessed. I rolled with the New Orleans style iced coffee for the duration of the trip, while Brent went with the Kyoto style coffee and tried their latte.

New Orleans style iced coffee on the left and Kyoto style iced coffee on the right. The NOLA style was rich and creamy, and the Kyoto style had the strongest, best flavor of any black coffee I’ve ever tasted.

Here’s a side shot of the NOLA style, followed by Brent’s latte, complete with art.

I really water one of these coffee syphons for myself. I think they come in normal house size.

We also found plenty of wine for me and beer for Brent (and me). We visited the Rogue pub in San Francisco and Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa.

Favorites at Rogue were the Double Chocolate Stout (mine) and the Yellow Snow IPA (Brent). Word of warning: Do Not Eat at the pub. The food majorly sucked, which is really saying something because we were starving by this point! Few things put me in a worse mood than paying for a bad meal.

Russian River! Brent was psyched about this visit because he loves some IPAs and sour beers. Me, not so much. Especially the sours. Blech!

Brent went all out and got the total sampler, which includes 2oz pours of the 14 beers they had on tap. He got to try them all, and found a new favorite: Compunction, which is a blonde ale brewed with pluots.

I drank Brent’s sample of the Irish stout on the nitro tap (love the smoothness of the nitro tap!) and a bunch of water while patiently waiting to go get wine!

Wine tasting occurred at Cellars of Sonoma (no photos) and the Wattle Creek tasting room in Ghiradelli Square (loved it so much we became members!). Brent always enjoys hamming it up for the camera. He’d like you to note the raised pinky finger.

Boozing it up with my husband is totally one of my favorite activities. We just love trying new beer and wine!

Oh, obviously we ate a lot too. Another favorite hobby of ours. Some of the best meals are below.

Eating a whole Dungeness crab off a paper plate while drinking a beer out of a paper bag standing by the pier was definitely a highlight.

Crab carnage ensued.

Other notable meals included Breakfast Gnocchi, Yes I said Breakfast Gnocchi, at Flavor Bistro in Santa Rosa. Brent had serious order envy when he saw me enjoying this masterpiece.

Deliciously light gnocchi sauteed with fennel sausage, spinach and mushrooms and baked into eggs. Can you imagine?! No, you cannot.

Our last meal was dinner at Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern. We were definitely a bit hesitant about heading there, but the reviews were good. Why the hesitation? Mainly because Tyler Florence seems like he’ll shill for anything (Applebee’s?!), so we kind of questioned his taste level. Snobby and ridiculous, I know, but that’s kind of me in a nutshell. Umm, the result: Me: 0, Tyler: 1. This shit was out of control good.

We had such a difficult time ordering. We both wanted to try everything, but we were not insanely hungry. We ordered a few fan favorites from Yelp reviews and split everything. Forget the bread basket. This man starts you off with fresh out of the oven and super warm and delicious popovers.

To start, we split the poutine. Nothing like a nice, light appetizer to tease the palate, right?

Fries, smothered with braised short ribs, cheese curds, truffle gravy and shaved black truffles. I wish we had ordered 3. I’m barely kidding.

The famous fried chicken. People were losing their minds about this on Yelp, so we felt compelled to try it. Definitely not your typical southern fried chicken, but totally tasty in its own right. Very herbacious and lemon-garlicky. Excellent crunch too. I only had a small piece, which was plenty for me, but Brent lip-smacked and finger-licked his way through the rest of it.

I know we were on vacation, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty about the glaring lack of vegetables I’d eaten in this past week, so to feel better about myself I ordered the side of broccoli too.

Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t stop eating it. Seriously, like broccoli crack. It was roasted and tossed with cranberries, pine nuts and mustard green pesto. Best vegetable side dish I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Hands down.

Definitely in need of good ol’ water and vegetable replenishment once we arrived home!

Playing Tourist in Seattle

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I just dropped Tessa off at the airport, but we were already discussing when we can manage to get together again! It was so much freaking fun to have her here for a few days, especially because I used her visit as an excuse to play tourist in my new city. Tuesday night, after her arrival, I dragged her to get pho. What can I say? I have an addiction. She enjoyed it. Well, she said she did. She really had no choice. I think I spent 4 days talking it up to her and going on and on about how amazing it was. I’m known for doing that kind of crap.

Actually Tessa and her husband came to visit us in Fort Wayne once and I spent the entire month before they arrived telling them about my obsession with Cindy’s diner in downtown Fort Wayne and more specifically, how they had The.Best.Buttered.Toast.EVER. When Tessa and Greg arrived, I woke them up at 6am and forced them to go eat greasy, trans-fat filled, margarine-covered toast. Yeah, that actually happened. Being friends with me IRL is totes awesome.

Moving on to Wednesday, we were busy! We started off with breakfast happy hour at Toulouse Petit, where I had a delicious Croque Madame. After a bit of putzing around I talked Tessa into going to yoga with me (fun fact: my first studio yoga experience was an intro course with T like 7 years ago). The rain and wind were kind of crazy at this point so we debated back and forth about going to Pike Place Market. The sun came out and we convinced ourselves we had to get out. We braved the winds to explore the market, where I subsequently lost my mind over a stand selling dried fruit with no added sugar. Seriously guys. No.Added.Sugar. I repeated that like 28 times and then bought 2 bags. I regretted not buying 4.

We stopped for lunch at Beecher’s and dove into some flagship grilled cheese while sitting on rather uncomfortable milk bottle stools.

Hmm… This sandwich is melty cheese, pesto, and tomatoes between crispy bread. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but it just didn’t totally float by boat, you know? I probably wouldn’t go back for a sandwich, but Beecher’s cheese curds and flagship cheese are both A-OK in my book.

We had both already eaten lunch obviously, but we were lured into Piroshky Piroshky. Anthony Bourdain is a fan, and the smells were intoxicating. Unfortunately our microwaved cinnamon raisin cardamom braid was not all that. It was bland, with no cardamom flavor to speak of, and it had a weird texture. I’m not saying don’t go to Piroshky Piroshky, but I am saying maybe try to go savory rather than sweet. I’d go back to try a potato, onion and cheese piroshky.

Oh, before we move on, please look at the awesome thing T and I found at some random toy store in the market. They were corn dog and broccoli action figures who are also apparently archenemies.

Umm, yeah. We nearly died laughing while repeating “flimsy tube of meat” and “stinky side dish.” For some reason when we tried explaining it to Brent that night at dinner, he did not find it as hilarious as we did.

Thursday, Tessa proved her rockstar status as best friend by going shopping with me. No easy task. I am a total freak when it comes to shopping. Honestly. I wander aimlessly into stores, get overwhelmed, and usually leave in near tears. As a result of my inability to shop and the cross-country move, my wardrobe has consisted of a pair of yoga pants, a pair of ill-fitting skinny jeans, 3 t-shirts, a tank top, and a fleece jacket. If that didn’t require an intervention I don’t know what does. T was a trooper and we made a lot of progress at the clearance racks at Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack. Thank God she was here to help!

Our touristy dinner of choice for Thursday was dinner at The Crab Pot. Featured on Man vs. Food, The Crab Pot is a ridiculously popular restaurant on the Seattle Waterfront.

I was not joking when I called The Crab Pot popular. They do not take reservations and there was a 30-45minute wait when we arrived. On a Thursday. In March. Ugh. I was starving and really did not anticipate much of a wait. We distracted ourselves in the bar, where I consumed a ridiculous drink.

That was called the Tsunami and it was blue and delicious. And served in a giant glass carafe. Hey, no judging. We were celebrating. Thursday was our five-year wedding anniversary.

Brent, party of 3! Dinner time! The Crab Pot is known for their “Seafeasts” which are buckets of seafood dumped on butcher paper on your table. Sounds classy, no? To complete the theme, they also give you bibs and wooden blocks and mallets, with which you are expected to beat your dinner into submission before consuming it.

Our bibs were donned. Our mallets were ready.

Brent was looking pretty serious as we waited for the arrival of our bucket o’seafood.

And it has arrived. We ordered the Westport Seafeast, which contained Dungeness crab, Snow crab, Mussels, Clams, Shrimps in their shells, Andouille sausage, Corn on the cob, and red potatoes. Let the madness begin.

In attacking our dinner, I went straight for the dungeness crab. It’s what I came for and it did not disappoint. I wasn’t actually all that interested in any of the other elements, but I did have a bit of the snow crab, mussels, and clams as well. I would definitely go back to The Crab Pot, but I would probably just get the whole Dungeness crab. It’s a fun place to take out of town guests!

And this morning I rode the lightrail with Tessa to the airport, snapped one last picture and said good-bye.

I can’t be too sad though. We leave for our anniversary trip to San Francisco bright and early tomorrow morning at 6am!!

The Guest Room

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Brent and I (mostly Brent) are the type of people who focus on function and necessity. That is most obvious when it comes to our home. The house we owned in Indiana was 2100 square feet and I would estimate that 400sq. ft. were actually furnished. And I used furnished liberally. I’m not exaggerating. In the five years we have been married we have never owned a bedframe, or even a dresser. Remember that apartment tour? That was not that out of the norm for us.

Well, with my newfound massive quantity of free time, and the fact that people seem to want to visit us more now in Seattle than in Fort Wayne, I’ve decided to try and make it look like adults live in our home. This will be a very slow process. I don’t have a job, so the budget is pretty low. Because Tessa (the bestie) is coming to stay (TODAY!!) I chose to focus some energy on the guest room first. This is what the guest room looked like yesterday morning:

Who wouldn’t want to stay there, right? Ha. Ok, obviously we needed a bed. In our prior homes all guests, including friends and my parents, slept on an air mattress. It’s true. Brent’s brother even lived with us for 3 months one summer and his bed was an air mattress. We are clearly not awesome hosts. I decided to (very slightly) step up my game and buy a real mattress. I went with the cheapest mattress set from Ikea. I wasn’t expecting greatness, but it was actually pretty comfortable. It got delivered yesterday morning at 10am. Great! The guests now had a place to sleep. Still no bedframe, but I did add a bit of pizazz by upholstering a headboard. It took 15 minutes and made me feel über crafty.

The process was simple. I used a 1/2″ thick piece of plywood cut to size by the nice folks at Home Depot. I used two layers of high density quilt batting pulled snugly around the sides and stapled with a staple gun. Then I pulled my chosen fabric around, again pulling snugly and stapled that. Then I cut off any excess fabric and Brent mounted it on the wall for me. You can see the finished project at the end. I also made one for my bedroom. Here’s the cost breakdown of the headboard:

For a total of $92, which I thought was reasonable.

Headboard, mattress… now we need linens. We used the down comforter and duvet cover from our old bed, as well as two extra newish pillows we had. I washed the comforter and cover. Did you know you can wash down comforters? I always had mine dry cleaned, but I washed it yesterday in cold on the delicate cycle, and then dried on low for 3 hours using dryer balls and no fabric softener. It worked really well! To round out the linens, I bought a simple white queen sheet set from Ikea for $40.

There is a closet in the bedroom with a few hangers in it, but we need a dresser. Brent did not agree with that use of need for that sentence, but I felt it was a necessity. He went for it when I pointed out the Rast dresser from Ikea for only $29.99.

Plain, old untreated pine. The dresser may not have been fabulous, but I knew it would work. First, I painted it white. I believe the actual color was called Popcorn, which I found funny. After three coats of white paint, some sanding, and some satin polyurethane, I had a plain white dresser.

I used the drawers to jazz it up by adding a patterned contact paper to the bottoms. This served the dual purpose of adding cuteness and hiding the fugly particle board that comprised the drawer bottoms.

I love this paper. Love. To add visual appeal to the outside, I broke the bank and bought adorable knobs from Anthropologie. I knew I wanted a green glass knobs, so I just went for it. I am positive you could find a cheaper alternative.

I think the dresser turned out so well! I sent Brent pictures of it while he was at work and his response was, “That actually does look really good.” I don’t think he had a ton of faith in me.

It is so pretty. I can’t wait to do one for my room. Here’s the cost breakdown:

  • Dresser: $30
  • Paint, Polyurethane, and supplies: $30
  • Knobs: $36
  • Paper: $15 (but I have most of it leftover for future projects.

For a total of $111. Not too bad. I was shooting for under $100, but since I love the result, and I have leftover contact paper I’m happy with it.

So here’s the room now, Tuesday morning:

Things I still need to do some time in the future: bedframe (probably a cheap wood one that I can paint or stain), curtains, and at least one lamp. I would have like to have gotten curtains for Tess’s visit, but privacy isn’t an issue because the window is a foot away from a concrete wall and is six floors up so it’s impossible to see into. Because of that, the room is extremely dark, and really needs additional sources of light. The bed is also super low, but it’s still infinitely better than an air mattress.

It’s clearly not going to win any design awards, but at least now it’s functional. 🙂

Seattle Food and Wine Experience

Experience, right? That really sets an expectation. Not just a tasting, not just a festival: an entire experience. Brent and I made our way to Seattle Center for the Seattle Food and Wine Experience on Saturday. I’m not sure I would call it “an experience” but it was a lot of fun! We ate and drank a ton, so there’s way too much to include here, but I’ll just post some photos and recap some of our favorites.

So much food!

Our favorites of the food:

  • Braised Waygu short ribs with sweet yams mash on crostini from Andaluca.
  • Hot smoked Neah Bay black cod with powdered chorizo, pickled red onion & crispy chick peas from Blueacre Seafood.
  • Kona crusted petite tender with shallot butter from The Capital Grille.
  • Charred flank steak and chimichurri pesto with udad strips from Cedar’s Cafe.
  • And I had a serious love affair with the donuts from Frostology.

And so much to drink too!

Our favorite drinks of the event:

We had such a good time. Between work and his commute Brent is gone a lot more than he used to be so it was a lot of fun to be able to hang out for a few hours without tv and internet distracting us. 🙂

My Strange Addiction

I’ve got a new addiction: phở. Specifically the small veggie phở at Pho Than Brothers which is dangerously located 3 blocks from my apartment. It is delicious, super close, and super cheap. You get awesome soup and a cream puff for $4.85. The first time we went I had the veggie and Brent had one of their beef based soups (all of them are beef based except the veggie), and both of us agreed the veggie is way better.

The fact that it has veggies has me convinced that eating this 5 times a week is totally ok. Tofu, veggies, savory broth. Heaven in a bowl. Oh, and apparently the owner’s wife makes those cream puffs (pictured above the soup), which come free with every soup. I’m not actually sure she still does, not that they have 13 restaurants, but regardless, I could totally eat about a dozen.

This isn’t really a restaurant review. I guess I don’t really consider this a restaurant. It’s a sit down place. But mostly they just take your order, quickly bring your food and leave you alone to enjoy the deliciousness. It kind of reminds me of a cafeteria, but I have no complaints about that at all.

Guess what we’re doing this weekend! The Seattle Food and Wine Experience! Yay! And it’s only 3 blocks from my house. I am too ridiculously excited. Wine and food and beer and coffee! Ahh! I will report back on Monday. 🙂

Fish Tacos

Don’t you just love colorful food? I need more of it in my life. I feel like this week is going so much better. Mentally anyway. Still no news on the job front, but I feel so much lighter about the whole thing. I’m actually cooking this week! Brent and I were walking around Whole Foods (because that’s how I get my kicks) and rockfish was on sale. Brent picked it up and said “It says here that it’s excellent for healthy fish tacos.” I said alright, put it in the cart and went to get some fixings.

Yum!

I used this recipe for the fish marinade and the marinated onions and then just added some shredded cabbage, mashed avocado and sour cream. So excellent. This was one of those meals that made me think, “I should be eating more meals like this.” Fresh. Colorful. Delicious.

In other amazingly awesome news, my best friend Tessa is coming to visit! She’s getting here one week from today. I am beyond excited.I can’t wait to show her some snippets of our new city! Plus she’s moving soon herself (to Boston), so this will be a good time to spend time together before she gets crazy busy.

And then after she leaves Brent and I are headed to San Francisco for a few days to celebrate our anniversary. We’ll have been married five years on March 3rd. We just booked our trip, btu I’m not sure what our priorities should be as far as sights to see, food to eat, places. Guess I have some research to do. Chime in if you have any ideas!

Now I’m drinking wine, eating a handful of butterscotch chips, and watching the Biggest Loser. 🙂

Things to Keep in Mind

Job hunting is hard. If you’re an adult, you probably don’t need me to tell you this. Job hunting in a recession is harder. Job hunting in a recession when you have no experience in your field and have moved yourself across the country away from your entire network of friends and family is downright miserable. Miserable.

I’m prone to being a drama queen so I’ve been all, “Woe to me. My education is Useless. Useless!! I’ll never find a job! Woe.” Yeah, to say Brent has been a trooper is an understatement. Obviously this behavior is extremely unacceptable for the long term, and as such I’ve been trying to reverse any funk I may or may not be in. This unfunkifying requires daily work.

I’m still kind of funky, so clearly I haven’t mastered the art of getting all zen with my situation. What I have done is amassed a list of things that do not help when faced with this type of situation.

Do Not Do This:

  • Drink copious amounts of wine
  • Tell your husband how hard your life is. Everyday
  • Read message boards about the doomed state of your profession
  • Flop yourself on the couch and declare that you’re too depressed to move
  • Avoid all contact with the outside world and possibly general hygiene

So the above strategies obviously did not work out for me, so I’m trying some new tactics.

These Might Help:

  • Volunteering (with Girls on the Run of Puget Sound)
  • Copious amounts of yoga
  • Use free time to for awesome kitchen projects and
  • Maybe some DIY home projects too
  • Remind yourself how much you have to be thankful for

What do you do when you find yourself getting down for an extended period of time?

Guest Post: Valentine’s Day Dinner 2011

Guest post from Victoria’s husband, Brent:

As documented in the past, I cook Victoria dinner on Valentine’s Day. Recently, she has begun forcing me to blog about it as well.

We recently ate at the Palace Kitchen, and Victoria had a blood orange margarita she really enjoyed, so I made her one as an apéritif. This was just lime juice, fresh-squeezed blood orange juice, agave syrup, and tequila.

The first course was a white salad with apple, fennel, and celery root with a crème fraiche dressing. Apparently this recipe came from a “Mommy Blog.” This wasn’t a genre I was familiar with until Victoria, having seen the tab open on my computer, asked me accusingly: “Are you reading a mommy blog!?” Apparently childless men aren’t the target the target demo.

The second course was a lobster pot pie. I didn’t use Pernod, because it was like $30 a bottle, and I didn’t make my own crust because that is hard. Victoria’s only complaint was that there wasn’t enough lobster. A woman of simple tastes, huh?

Beats an overcrowded, overpriced prix fixe menu. See you next year, blogonauts.