Rainy Days, Registration, and Mug Cakes
Well, I haven’t posted anything because quite honestly I haven’t been up to anything exciting. The Japandroids concert was this week, but I missed it because I was babysitting instead (totally worth it, there were homemade chocolate chip cookies involved). Actually, there were plenty of things going on in Seattle all week, but I couldn’t tell you about any of them.
So what have I been doing these past few days? Well, for starters, we had registration for winter quarter classes. Registration is something I stress about for days before, knowing that I’m completely helpless to do anything until my scheduled time slot. Watching the last few available spots in a class fill up with a sinking feeling in my stomach is a feeling I know all-too-well. Luckily, I somehow managed to get into the classes I needed relatively pain-free this time, so I’ve got nothing to worry about until registration for spring quarter…
Oh, and I’ve developed somewhat of a fascination/addiction involving mug cakes. Yeah, single-serving cakes you make in a mug and cook in a microwave. I’m not entirely sure how it started, but if I had to guess, I’d tell you it involved Pinterest and my never-ending quest to find low calorie ways to satisfy my late-night sweet tooth. Of course, the majority of mug cake recipes on the internet are actually insanely high in calories, fat, and sugar (one recipe I saw for a nutella cake was over 800 calories for one serving, to give you an idea). However, I’ve managed to find a few that fit my golden standards. I’ve found them to be pretty darn tasty, but I also have lower standards for what qualifies as sweet and delicious (so if you’re someone with normal, non-healthified taste buds, these cakes would definitely be disgusting).
Anyways, seeing as how this is a Seattle blog, I guess I should mention…well…Seattle in this post.
In case you aren’t aware, this current season of Top Chef (on Bravo) takes place in Seattle. It’s only two episodes in, so there’s still plenty of time to catch up. Personally, I’m excited to see how they take advantage of their Seattle surroundings. If I have to take a guess, I’m gonna say Bravo will be giving its viewers the tourist version of Seattle only, complete with the Space Needle, flying fish, and Tom Douglas. But we’ll see…
• 18 November 2012
Two people share an umbrella on November 13, 2012 in Seattle, Washington, USA. Photo by Michael Barkin
• 13 November 2012
Today I took the ferry over to Bainbridge and drove to meet family in Poulsbo. While there, we got a chance to stop at Sluys’ Bakery, located in downtown Poulsbo. I’ve been going to Sluys’ for as long as I remember. As a kid, I’d always look forward to the happy face cookies and the giant palmiers, and my mom would always get a box of the molasses cookies, which are now (unfortunately) only available sporadically. I’ve been to plenty of bakeries, but Sluys’ will always have a soft spot in my heart. Where else can I get such delicious cinnamon rolls, fresh lefse, and out-of-this world apple cinnamon bread? This is not a good place to go on a diet.
Today, I grabbed an almond butterhorn, which was (of course) completely awesome and totally worth the hours it will take to burn it off on the elliptical. I also couldn’t pass up one of the Russian tea cookies… Like I said, totally worth it.
Before heading back to Seattle, I also made a quick stop at Central Market in Poulsbo. For those of you that aren’t familiar, it’s pretty similar to Whole Foods, but better. Yes, it’s overpriced, but their bakery items are delicious, the produce is good, and there’s a wide variety of natural/organic foods and ethnic foods you can’t find in normal grocery stores. Worth checking out if you find yourself over there.
• 12 November 2012
A Probably Too-Long Review of Evolution Fresh
This weekend, I was downtown with my roommate and happened to see the new Evolution location next to one of the dozens of Starbucks (I’m referring to one of the Starbucks stores across from Pacific Place). In case you’re unfamiliar with Evolution, it’s the new line of bottled juices Starbucks has been selling in their stores (it replaced Naked). Basically, it’s grossly overpriced, as most fresh juices are, and it supposedly is better for you (and tastes better) because it uses a different pasteurization method. I’m not really a big juice person, but I wasn’t very impressed when I tried sips of the cucumber pineapple ginger or vital greens flavors. Plus, it’s an average of $5 per bottle.
Anyways, there’s been an actual Evolution Fresh store location in Bellevue (of course it’s in Bellevue) for some time now, but the downtown location is new and the only other one in existence, other than a store in San Francisco. It seems that they’re still doing a trial run in a few specific markets before they open up any other locations. I doubt you’ll ever see any locations next to your local suburban Starbucks, simply because most people aren’t willing to pay $5 for 8 oz. of gourmet juice (yet they will for coffee, interesting…) but I can see them opening up an Evolution in Capitol Hill at some point in the near future.
When I saw a sign advertising soups and salad outside the tiny downtown store, my roommate and I decided to see if they had anything worth getting for lunch. For those of you currently in Seattle, you are aware how freaking cold it is outside. Soup sounded awesome. I wasn’t aware that Evolution carried anything other than beverages, so the promise of hot food intrigued me.
The store, like I mentioned, is incredibly tiny. It clearly isn’t meant for people to spend any great length of time in. There’s one two-person table cramped against the wall, and the counters take up the rest of the space. The Starbucks next door is also pretty small, so unless you grab the sole table inside Evolution, you’ll be needing to eat on the go. Granted, it’s understandable why they don’t have a bunch of seating, but a counter with a few stools would be nice.
They’ve got this huge computer screen on the wall that, when you press a button, reveals the juice and smoothie menu. Otherwise it just displays the store logo and juice flavors at the bottom (the taps are below). Necessary? Well, personally I’d prefer a normal, non-technologically advanced menu, but whatever. Behind the cash register, there’s a menu of all their food options, which you thankfully didn’t have to press a button to see. I have to say that I was impressed by the food. In fact, I would only come back because of the food. While the juice is, in my opinion, too expensive, the food was a tad more reasonably priced. It wasn’t cheap, but it was pretty fresh and healthy, and I’m willing to pay a bit more for that than I would for, say, a fast food burger.
The food options (other than the soups) are displayed in a refrigerated case. They have breakfast scrambles that they will warm up for you, oatmeal, muesli (yum!), “signature bowls” which have quinoa, noodles, or lentils with lots of veggies, salads, and sandwiches. I really liked that they sell protein add-ins, so you can get a salad and really customize it to your liking with chicken, eggs, or tofu. The add-ins for oatmeal are also separate, and include cinnamon apples, granola, almond butter, and dried fruit. Of course, selling these add-ins separately is a genius way to charge you more, but it’s still a cool idea. Evolution also clearly displays the calorie content for all their juices and food items, so you know exactly how many minutes you’ll need to spend on the elliptical to burn off your lunch (thankfully, everything is pretty low-cal, so it won’t be too long).
I actually didn’t even end up getting soup, even though their options did sound pretty good. Instead, both my roommate and I got the wild rice scramble; a combination of eggs, wild brown rice, mushrooms, spinach, roasted red peppers, and tamari sauce. Warmed up, it tasted awesome and was surprisingly filling for only 160 calories. I also decided to try one of the dessert items. They certainly don’t have the expansive—and dangerous—pastry selection of Starbucks, but there were a few things to satisfy a sweet tooth. Interestingly, the sweets were the only items that did not have calorie information listed, but information is available on the website and the highest dessert item was the cinnamon raisin oatmeal cookie at 230 calories, still considerably lower than cookies at Starbucks. I went with the cookie, and it was actually pretty darn good.
Right now, Evolution still seems to be working out the kinks with their linkage to Starbucks. You can use your Starbucks card at Evolution locations to pay, but you can’t use your rewards, and it was unclear if purchases made at Evolution count towards earning rewards. Evolution does serve Starbucks black coffee and Tazo tea, but their selection is understandably much smaller.
Overall, I’d be willing to go back to Evolution. It’s a light, healthy lunch that won’t make you feel guilty after…your wallet won’t be too happy, though. It’s a great place to go if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or have a gluten/wheat intolerance, but there are still “normal” options like a turkey & caramelized onion sandwich, or an ancho chile chicken wrap. Will I be going to Evolution all the time? No, mainly because it’s downtown and I don’t even like juice. But if they open up shop in Capitol Hill, you never know…
• 11 November 2012
The Best Breakfast/Brunch in Seattle
I’ve never been a big breakfast person, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to give the most important meal of the day a chance, especially if it involves the occasional oversized cinnamon roll or berry-topped crepes. In honor of the long weekend, here are some brunch and breakfast places around the city that are worth checking out. Yeah, there’s always IHOP, but it never hurts to shake things up and go gourmet every once in a while.
If you want a cinnamon roll: Skillet Diner (Capitol Hill/Central)
The cinnamon roll is only available Saturdays and Sundays, but if you’re willing to wait in the crowd, it’s pretty darn good and a good thing to share with the whole table. The breakfast menu also offers a really good assortment of hearty options, like a pork belly & cornmeal waffle, chilaquiles, and a pretty tasty deconstructed corned beef hash.
If you want fancy French toast: Oddfellows Cafe (Capitol Hill)
Oddfellow’s has breakfast every day, but their brunch menu on weekends offers a few more options. Luckily, the Brioche French toast is offered on both menus. Not only is it a pretty hearty serving, but it comes with mascarpone and fresh seasonal fruit. The biscuit and eggs here are great, too, but the French toast is a delicious treat that’s perfectly light and fluffy. Fair warning, it gets really busy here (like most of the places on this list), but most of the long tables are community seating, and there tends to be a reasonably fast turnover.
If you want eggs benedict: Glo’s (Capitol Hill)
Come here early if you don’t want to deal with the long wait. It’s your standard diner-type breakfast joint, with mediocre service and a humble atmosphere, but you get great food for a good price. Sure, the other menu items are good, but Glo’s offers multiple variations alongside their classic eggs benedict, including Eggs Blackstone, a yummy combo of sautéed spinach, thick bacon, and grilled tomato.
If you want a hangover cure: Beth’s Cafe (Green Lake)
I’ve mentioned Beth’s on this blog before, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Personally, I prefer Beth’s in the evening, but their breakfast options are perfect for after a late night, or if you’re just craving good greasy-spoon fare. The omelettes and breakfast burrito here are hearty and favorites of my friends, but I find the French toast here to be pretty good too (simple and just what you’d expect). It’s also worth ordering the Amish bread to share with the table.
If you want a biscuit: Serious Biscuit (South Lake Union)
You can’t go wrong with Tom Douglas, and this creation (connected to Serious Pie) is pretty darn good. They have a walk-up counter, or you can sit inside, so it’s a great option for something quick and on-the-go. While they have plenty of savory classics, like a biscuit with fried chicken and gravy, or one with ham and beecher’s, I prefer the sweeter option with homemade (!) peanut butter, banana, and honey. $6 of pure goodness. You can also get a biscuit a la carte for $3, and it’s great plain or with seasonal jam ($1) or bacon butter ($1).
If you want something light: Caffe Presse (Capitol Hill)
If you’re like me, you aren’t exactly enticed by the promise of a big breakfast. Cafe Presse is perfect for when you want the chance to indulge, but you don’t want to be Thanksgiving-stuffed afterwards. The Petit Dejeuner menu, which operates from 7am - 9am, offers smaller plates perfect for those not looking to gorge themselves. Menu items include baguette with chocolate, yogurt with honey and walnuts, and two eggs with ham and gruyere. After 9, the full menu is available, which includes other favorites like the Croque Madame or Monsieur alongside things offered on the Petit Dejeuner menu. The coffee and espresso here is also pretty good, so latte fans can rejoice. If you get the chance, sit in the back room, which feels far more open and inviting than the often noisy and crowded front of the restaurant.
If you want out-of-the-box waffles: Sweet Iron (Downtown)
Yes, it’s kind of overpriced (around $6 for a not-very-big waffle), but these Leige waffles are worth trying. The place is way too tiny, so get it to go. The waffles are great alone, but the topping options make them even better. The banana brûlée with caramel sauce is a favorite, but I was a big fan of the strawberry and whipped cream waffle.
If you want pancakes: Coastal Kitchen (Capitol Hill)
I wouldn’t recommend Coastal Kitchen for lunch or dinner, and honestly I’m not sure it’s quite worth the long wait for weekend breakfast, but if you’re looking for a place to satisfy your breakfast cravings on a weekday morning, you won’t have to deal with a wait, and you’ll be able to get some pretty awesome pancakes. The gingerbread waffle is also worth mentioning, but the hazelnut-cinnamon pancakes (served with real maple syrup, not the cheap stuff) are $6.25 for two and so good you’ll want seconds. They also offer classic buttermilk or blueberry pancakes, but the hazelnut-cinnamon is my favorite of the three. (The pancake itself doesn’t have hazelnuts or cinnamon in the batter, it comes with it on top). I’m not a hash brown person, but the spicy hash browns here are supposed to be worth trying as well.
If you want a pastry: Macrina Bakery (Belltown)
I love Great Harvest as well, but Macrina pastries are almost too good. The smell alone is worth making the trip. There are a ton of restaurants and markets around the city that carry Macrina products, but they have their own cafe on 1st Ave in Belltown (there’s also one in SODO). They do serve actual food as well, but the pastries are the reason to come. Some of the highlights of their selection? The Rocket muffin (banana, carrots, hazelnuts, oats, molasses), the Budapest coffeecake (with cocoa, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins mixed in), and the apple turnovers.
If you want crepes: Saley (Capitol Hill)
Saley is a pretty tiny place, so expect a wait. (It’s kind of close to the fancy Starbucks, so go grab a coffee). The menu offers a great assortment of both savory and sweet crepes, so come hungry and get the 2 crepe combo deal (just $9, and it’s a lot of food). You can’t really go wrong with whatever you order, but I personally enjoyed the salmon crepe, the Mediterranean crepe, the cinnamon & banana, and the strawberry nutella. They also serve baguette sandwiches, but the crepes here are really the star.
If you want something “different”: Bill’s Off Broadway (Capitol Hill)
With items like Vanilla Stoli French toast and breakfast pizzas, this is definitely another hangover-cure breakfast type place. And since breakfast doesn’t start till 10am on weekends, it definitely isn’t for early risers. But you don’t need to be hungover to enjoy the aptly named Hangover Tacos. For about $10, you get a hearty portion of scrambled eggs mixed with peppers, onions, black beans, onions, and cheese, or scrambled eggs with Canadian bacon, chorizo, bacon, green onion, and cheese. Either option comes with three tortillas and salsa on the side.
• 11 November 2012
pesto pizza, hot mama’s, seattle
• 11 November 2012
The Best Pizza in Seattle
It’s no secret that pizza is one of the best foods ever created. It deserves its own food group, it’s that good. And sure, sometimes Dominos does the job and satisfies a late-night craving (let’s be honest, that garlic crust is surprisingly delicious), but sometimes/most of the time, pizza chains just don’t cut it. Luckily, Seattle is full of some awesome pizza joints where you can get whole pies or your favorites by the slice. Luckily I’ve had the chance to try plenty of these places, and over the past few years I’ve found a few favorites.
Here are my picks for the best pizza in the city, in no particular order:
1. Via Tribunali
Although it isn’t always consistent, Via Tribunali’s traditional Neopolitan take on pizza is refreshing, and eating it makes me feel fancy. They have a happy hour special where you can get margherita, marinara, or salame pizza for $5 (more than enough for one person). The crust is thin and crispy and you don’t feel as heavy or too full after eating like you might at other pizza places. I’ve tried the prosciutto e funghi and the margherita, both of which were pretty darn good. If you’re looking for a quick, cheap pizza fix, this isn’t the best place to go, but it does make a great date night dinner or place to eat with friends.
You’ve probably seen Veraci at one of the Seattle Farmers Markets before, and hopefully you’ve gotten to try some of their delicious pizza from their wood-fired oven. If you’re a fan of deep dish, this isn’t your place, but if you appreciate good thin crust slices, their pizza is pretty awesome. It isn’t the cheapest, but neither is most good stuff in Seattle. I’ve heard awesome things about the Spicy Tony slice, but my personal favorite here is a tie between the Salumi Mole (salame, beecher’s, mozzarella, onions, garlic, red sauce) and the Original (red peppers, olives, feta, onion, olive oil).
Okay, so it’s a chain. Whatever, they’re local. And it’s still pretty good. Pagliacci is great for takeout or when you just want a quick slice. Plus, they carry tasty salads and soups (and some pretty awesome breadsticks). Although it’s a chain, they still use fresh, often local, ingredients and make their sauces in-store. The employees are also almost always really friendly (a rare occurrence in Seattle). Plus, there are locations all over the city, so it’s pretty convenient. My favorite slices here? The spicy chicken and goat cheese primo.
4. Hot Mama’s
Hot Mama’s is the quintessential late-night pizza shop. Of course, it’s also good for grabbing a quick lunch on your way to getting a haircut at Rudy’s. Oh, and they deliver, so they also make a pretty tasty dinner to accompany your movie night in. So yeah, it tastes great after 10 pm, but you don’t need a few Rainer’s (or PBR, whatever floats your boat, I guess) to think that Hot Mama’s is delicious. It’s relatively cheap for by-the-slice, and they usually carry a decent assortment of toppings. Pesto is popular for a good reason, but if they have Chicken Garlic, it’s worth trying too. (Hawaiian and just plain cheese are also favorites).
5. Big Mario’s
Personally, I usually think Hot Mama’s is better, because it’s cheaper and *in general* I think it tastes better. Maybe I’m crazy, but I’m pretty sure Big Mario’s raised their prices last year. (A slice will set you back $4.11 if you get anything other than cheese or pepperoni). Is it worth the price tag? I’m not quite sure. But the reason I’m including Big Mario’s on this list is because I love their topping combinations. Every time I go here, they have really tasty and somewhat unusual slices. Yes, it’s really annoying that I can’t eat it inside (seating is 21+ except for one tiny two-person table), but since it’s thin New York style pizza, it can easily be eaten on the go. Some of my favorite slices are the pear gorgonzola (carmelized pear, onions, and gorgonzola…refreshing and so tasty), the Spicoli (pepperoni, pineapple, and jalapenos), and Anna’s Special (pineapple, goat cheese, red pepper flakes, and garlic olive oil sauce). If they have the pear gorgonzola when you’re there, get it.
Although this is a good place for large parties, the service here is usually awful. That being said, the pizza is still pretty yummy and reasonably priced. The crust is a tad thicker than most other Seattle places, but it definitely still isn’t thick. For some reason, I really love the sausage pizza here, and the plain cheese is decent as well. They also carry pasta and salad, so if you eat in the restaurant there’s something for even those who don’t love pizza (not sure who that would be, but whatever). This isn’t the best pizza in Seattle, but it hits the spot sometimes, it’s really good for groups, and they offer student discounts.
7. Proletariat Pizza
I’ve only been here once, because it’s farther away, but it was pretty good and I’d certainly go back. It’s very family friendly and you can’t get by-the-slice (just half a pizza), but I have a soft spot for this White Center staple because they make a pretty rad anchovy pizza. Okay, yeah, I know, gross. No one else likes anchovies, yuck. Whatever. It’s delicious, you can hate on me all you want. Luckily, they carry plenty of normal people flavors, like a “real” Hawaiian with spam instead of Canadian bacon and the Cinco, which has five types of cheese, all delicious.
I’ve yet to go to Serious Pie, otherwise I’m sure it would be on this list. I’ve heard from numerous people how tasty their pizza (and pie) is, and Tom Douglas can do no wrong in my eyes, so I’m sure it’s as good as everyone says it is.
Places you should probably skip? Mad Pizza in Capitol Hill, which is completely inconsistent and rarely as good as I’d like it to be, Amante Pizza & Pasta in Capitol Hill, which lacks quality ingredients and tastes suspiciously like frozen pizza (although it’s not nearly as bad as Tombstone, so I’ll give them some credit), and Ti Amo (across from Seattle University) which lures unsuspecting students in with a “$5/2 slices and a soda” deal, only to disappoint them with rubbery crust and greasy cheese.
• 10 November 2012
Okay, I know I’ve been slacking on the posts recently (sorry!!!). But I’m back, with breaking news.
THEY ARE BUILDING A CHIPOTLE ON BROADWAY.
I know, it’s almost too good to be true. Finally, us Capitol Hill residents will be able to get our burrito/burrito bowl fix without having to make the trek downtown or even worse, to the U District. Remember the Tacos Guaymas near QFC/MedEx/Dominos/8 Oz? Well, it recently closed (don’t worry, they’re just moving), and I was left wondering what would take its place. Don’t get me wrong, I had nothing against Tacos Guaymas, but this new Chipotle location is basically a gift from the gods. Just the other day, my friend and I were lamenting about the severe lack of Chipotle this neck of the woods, and our prayers have now been answered. I have no clue when it will be open, but I am eagerly anticipating that day whenever it comes. I know not everyone is a die-hard Chipotle loyalist like me, but I’ve been a fan from the beginning (before they even had burrito bowls on the menu).
Does this mean I will be going there daily? No. I probably won’t even go more than twice a month. But hey, it’s nice to know it will be there when I do feel like getting my burrito bowl fix.
• 8 November 2012
Please meet us there!!
Chop Suey Presents:
7pm doors 21+ $5 adv/ $7 d.o.s.
• 1 November 2012
The day after Halloween is always terrible. Halloween decorations in stores have long since been replaced with all the Christmas crap, it is no longer acceptable to walk around in costume, no one wants to watch horror movies with me anymore, the mass amount of decorations in my apartment now look ridiculous, and I am haunted by the memory of all the candy and sweets consumed the day before. Seriously, I ate at least 6 Halloween Oreos and lord knows how much candy. Too much. Enough to give me a serious stomach ache. Also, my friend made this awesome homemade apple cider, and I drank like 32 oz. worth. And I had a lot of pasta. And baguette. With pumpkin butter. Oh god…
Halloween is by far my favorite holiday, so I try my hardest to celebrate it as much as possible (my decorations were up October 1st). Call me crazy, but I’m not a big fan of Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sure, seeing family is great (pretty sure I have to say that, hi mom), but gingerbread lattes at Starbucks are rarely as good as you want them to be, and there’s only so many times I can handle hearing the same 5 Christmas songs in every department store.
On the plus side, it isn’t raining yet today here. So, there’s that.
• 1 November 2012