Cowiche Canyon

When visiting Yakima Valley, had to find a place to enjoy dinner. Many locals suggested the same restaurant – Cowiche Canyon. Ok, I guess that’s where you go. Their tagline: ‘Craft cocktails & American classics are served with a modern twist at this industrial-chic hot spot.

IMG_8428

Arrived and fortunately were able to get a table easily. Had checked out the website before going and they weren’t on OpenTable… And why would one call to make a reservation these days, come on?

So we sat down and of course when in Yakima Valley wine is a priority. After looking over the options we decided to go for a bottle vs. glasses. Reason, if you don’t finish it they just put it in a paper bag and off you go. The vino we chose was the Syncline Subduction Red. It’s a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and Counoise. It was a good medium bodied wine, nice fruit notes, and some spice. Just very tasty.

IMG_8429

For dinner (I’d checked out the menu on their site before), I was leaning towards the halibut. Of course halibut is pricey. I also found out why from a friend – it’s fished ‘by hand’ – as in it’s not net-caught. The fisherman use these things called fishing rods, if you’ve ever heard of them. So, it’s all completely manual labor for catching halibut, so pure man hours for each and every piece of halibut we enjoy.

Looked at some of the other seafood and meats, and all looked tempting, but halibut is something I don’t usually cook at home or get frequently because of cost. So, the two of us ended up splitting the halibut and getting starters – a house salad and roasted asparagus as first round, along with the homemade bread. I assumed we would have bread brought to the table as on the menu it mentioned that their breads are handmade from scratch every morning. But, we had to order it instead.

IMG_8434

IMG_8432

IMG_8435

Service was slightly under par. Took us about 3 requests and 20 minutes to get water. We also ordered the salad and asparagus as first course. Those and the halibut came out quickly (before the water and the bread). We asked for the halibut to go back and be served as the main course. The server was a bit confused.

However, the food was delicious. The halibut was spicy, with the posole it was served on top of. The asparagus had chimichurri on it, which added a great flavor, but the ends that you should snap off were still on there, on several pieces. The salad was nice and simple and the bread was just deadly. Overall, however, the restaurant lived up to the recommendations it received.

Brassicas Bowls

When I make birthday dinners for friends I always aim for new recipes. I was flipping through a Bon Appetit and there was a recipe at the very beginning that was from a chef or that somebody had submitted. It just sounded great and was definitely up my friend’s alley based on ingredients — you can’t go wrong with stuff like hummus, kale, Brussels sprouts, avocado (a lot of green here) and more… It was Brassicas Bowl.

Ingredients
4 Servings

4 large eggs (I didn’t use these as I opted to serve the dish with pan seared tuna)
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
½ bunch curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds, divided (great to grab them from salad bars if you don’t want a whole bunch)
½ cup hummus
1 avocado, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)

IMG_8171

Preparation

Cook eggs in a large saucepan of boiling water for 7 minutes (whites will be set and yolks still slightly soft). Drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water and let sit until cool. Drain; peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 500°. Toss broccolini with 1 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt. Roast, turning occasionally, until crisp-tender and charred in spots, 8–10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Whisk shallot, vinegar, mustard, and remaining 4 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl (large bowl is key because of all the other ingredients you’re going to add — I had to change the bowl several times because of the volume of greens!) until emulsified; season with salt. Add kale and Brussels sprouts and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Massage kale until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add roasted broccolini and 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds; toss again.

Swipe some hummus along the inside of each bowl with a spoon. Divide salad among bowls and add an avocado wedge and 2 reserved egg halves to each. Top with chives, sesame seeds, and remaining sunflower seeds; sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

IMG_8316

IMG_8315

This salad was delicious. So many flavors and very hearty. The tuna on top was great, so much more flavor than an egg! Will definitely be making this again. And it was enjoyed with a bubbly red (one of my favorite types of wines, and hard to find sometimes). It was the I Quercioli Dolce Reggiano Lambrusco DOC.  Some nice bubbles, not overly sweet and some nice fruit notes.

IMG_8172

El Pueblito

Dined at a new Mexican restaurant when I was in Ft. Collins last time — El Pueblito. They also have locations in Loveland & Greeley.

img_7912

They had some unique items on their menu that you don’t see in many places. We had to take advantage of them when ordering.

I decided to go with the FAJITAS DEL MAR — Octopus, shrimp and catfish, grilled with tomatoes, onions and bell green pepper , served with rice, beans, guacamole salad and your choice of tortillas.

The other at the table went with TACOS DE LENGUA — Corn tortillas or flour tortillas stuffed with grilled tongue, cilantro, and onions. Served with beans and tomatillo sauce on the side.

I love octopus and it was delicious on the fajita plate. The catfish, I wasn’t a fan of (I don’t know that I’d ever even had catfish). It was just super chewy and almost bland. I was also lucky enough to ask if it was served with cheese for my dairy issues and they mentioned they use butter. I thought that was interesting for a Mexican place. They said they would absolutely just use the oil because of my lactose issues.

You don’t often see beef tongue in restaurants, so this was a good find.

The gaucamole we had at the start was nothing to write home about and the margaritas were marginal, but it was cool having the unique main courses.

 

China Chilcano

Was able to dine at a restaurant I had not yet checked out awhile back — China Chilcano in the Gallery Place/Chinatown/Judiciary Square area of Washington, DC. I had heard rave reviews about it so couldn’t wait to check it off my list.

It is one of Jose Andres’ places and it brings together Peruvian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. And their feature cocktail – Pisco Sours.

img_7037

I went on a Wednesday night. Made a reservations so the table was all set. The tables were at a very low level (from the ground) so you really have to bend over/down to eat. The light was very yellow-y, too. Not sure why. Hence why the picture all have an odd light to them.

The service was very slow, as in it took a long time to get our waiter. Once he finally arrived, we had to make the required order at such a restaurant — pisco sours! And they also bring you these little nibbles — pepitas.

Once we received the pisco sours (that also took awhile), cheers! Very nice.

The menu is tapas-style, so most of the dishes are small and meant to be shared. The choices were almost overwhelming. But we finally decided on:

Ensalada de Chonta — Hearts of palm, tamarind, avocado, tomato, kiwicha seed, sweet plantain

Ceviche Clásico La Mar — Red snapper, leche de tigre, sweet potato, red onion, cancha, cilantro

California (Roll) — Potato causa, jumbo lump crab, spicy mayo, cucumber, avocado, tobiko, huancaína sauce

HaKao — Steamed glass dumpling, shrimp, pork, ají rocoto-soy sauce

Yàn Wõ “Birds Nest” Soup — Coconut “Birds Nest” soup, pink grapefruit sorbet, mint, sesame, ginger

Like a typical tapas restaurant, these orders came out randomly. Some within a minute then others about 15 minutes later.

The hearts of palm salad was by far my favorite. Could have ordered several of those. The ceviche wasn’t quite what I was expecting because it was ‘soupy’. I could have used a spoon to eat it (picture below, top row, right). Unique and tasty, nonetheless.

The other dishes were very good, as well. The others at the table enjoyed the dessert and said they’ll have to pass next time. I had a small bite of the sorbet and it was interesting. I’ll stick with just the citrus itself.

Very glad I checked the place out, would totally go again.

 

Grace’s Mandarin

Was at National Harbor, MD for a week-long event so had the opportunity to check out several restaurants in the area. One evening oriental food sounded good so a couple of us went to Grace’s Mandarin.  The restaurant provides ‘a variety of Asian inspired dishes with a modern flair in an elegant ambiance.’

img_7501

The reservation was for 6pm so not an overly crazy hour and it was mid-week. The restaurant was not packed. Opted to start with some edamame as an appetizer as we looked over the menus.

img_7506

We asked the waitress several questions and she did not speak very good English. Considering National Harbor is a high traffic area with tourists, this isn’t great. She didn’t understand a lot of our questions. One of them was about the Sashimi Taco, which was labeled as — Sashimi Taco Tuna, salmon, yellowtail, white tuna, cilantro, avocado. Sounded delicious! I wondered what made it a taco, though. She told me that it was only fish, nothing else. I inquired a few more times, however, about why it was considered it taco. She kept assuring me it was only fish, nothing else in the dish.

So, I went ahead and ordered that, along with a Mandarin Green Salad Organic baby greens, tomato, carrot, goat cheese, low-cal sesame soy vinaigrette. My friend ordered Singapore Rice Noodle — shrimp, chicken, egg, onion, scallion, bean sprout, carrot, curry.

The salad came out nice & quick. Good tastes all around.

img_7510

Then came out the other two. The rice noodles were just as they were described, and a huge serving. Tasty is what I was told.

img_7513

Then my tacos. Not what I was expecting per the waitress’ comments, but they did fit the description. They were indeed tacos. They has cream in them. It could have been aioli but nobody seemed sure. We asked several restaurant staff and after, honestly, about 10 minutes, we still didn’t have an answer. I had to send them back in case it was dairy. At this point I was frustrated because when I had asked before ordering if these were tacos the waitress said no and now that they were, she could not identify what all was in the tacos.

img_7512

She asked what else I would like and I opted for the safe bet of simple sashimi. I went for salmon, tuna and some whitefish (I can never remember what it is but it’s good).

Yes, it was dinner time and the restaurant was getting a bit busier at this point, but it took over 20 minutes to get simple cuts of sashimi, after there was an error with an initial dish. Don’t you think they might hurry a bit? And all it takes is cutting the fish… It was quite good (as I should hope for this type of dish or I would be quite concerned).

img_7663

So, overall, though the food ended up being decent, not at all impressed with the service at Grace’s. Not a place I would recommend on that level. Not sure if they expect they’ll get business because they are in a tourist location, not sure if we just hit the wrong place at the wrong time, but there are definitely places I would rather enjoy a dinner out.

Proof

There is a nice wine-oriented restaurant in DC, Proof. Had been there a few times and opted to check it out again after going to the theater to see Nutcracker for the first time.

img_7756

Started at the bar because my friends and I arrived before our reservation. We all enjoy wine, so we were inquiring quite a bit about several of the wines they offered. The bartenders didn’t particularly want to help us more than where the wines were from and the varietals. For a wine restaurant, it was surprising. We had to order it on a whim and hope it was good. It was fine, but nothing I’ll order again, or remember. I didn’t even remember to take a picture…

We sat down at the table and it was extremely dark. The picture above is a flashlight you can use to read the menu. It’s both a flashlight and magnifying glass. The print is very small on the menu. I have really good vision and was having problems. The waiter said that is the tone/ambiance they want to set — darkness, it’s a better mood.

Once we were able to read some of the menu, our not-so-helpful waiter (in addition to the start with the bartenders) came and explained some of the specials. We also let him know about dietary restrictions. My friend is allergic to shellfish and nuts, as well as being lactose intolerant like me.

We decided to get some side dishes as appetizers and went with:

-Brussels Sprouts, Kimchee Mayo & Vietnamese Dressing
-Fried Cauliflower with Lemon, Tahini, Garlic & Mint (didn’t get a picture since because of the nearly non-existent lighting, it was tough to get decent shots)

img_7768

After spending awhile looking over the entire menu we were finally able to choose what we wanted.

I opted for the Scallops a la Michel Richard: crispy brussels sprouts, apples, confit leeks, basil & vincotto. I asked if there was dairy in this and the waiter gasped and asked how could there not be and why would I make an alteration? I wasn’t sure and just needed it because of being lactose intolerant. He was flabbergasted that I didn’t know who Michel Richard was. Sorry. So, he said would check with the kitchen but didn’t think it would be possible to alter such a well known chef’s original recipe. Long story short, he said they would make and exception for me.

My friends ordered the Pekin Duck: käsespätzle, red cabbage, duck confit, horseradish, green apple, concord grape sauce. They made sure there was no dairy in there for her, and she was safe because there was also no fish on there, or no crazy fish ingredient in any of the sauces.

The other friend ordered the Sautéed Potato Gnocchi: butternut squash, cauliflower, beech mushroom, apple brown butter.

While we were waiting for the food, we asked for the sommelier. He came over and was a bit more helpful and gave some interesting comments about the restaurant and how it’s changed. He’d only been there a few months and once we started talking to him more he got much friendlier. The nicest service we had all night.  He did suggest another wine after taking into account our likes in wine.

The food was good. Overpriced, but at least decent in taste. The evening at least ended well when our waiter was kind enough to confirm my friend’s initial thoughts — Cal Ripken was sitting at the table behind us. My friends, who are huge baseball fans, got up after dinner to ask for his autograph to give to their grandma for Christmas. She’s a long time Orioles fan. Can’t go wrong with that.

Crabbing

Couldn’t get inspired to cook anything I had on hand the other day so went to the store. They had Phillips Backfin Crab meat on sale for almost half price. That just sounded good.

Opened it and decided not to even craft it into anything like crab cakes. It was perfect just on its own (I did put on the plate, out of the container). Served it with a nice arugula salad and some white wine. Perfect. Sometimes it’s the simple unexpected things that make dinner delicious. Now I want crab season to come.

img_7959

Sausage & Potato Pan Roast


Had Supper Club at my place awhile back and it was right before Halloween (yes, catching up on writing many posts). The theme I chose was Orange & Black, meaning that anything people cooked had to contain something of/with those colors. I came across a recipe in Food & Wine, Sausage-and-Potato Pan Roast, that with some slight alterations to the ingredients would fit the theme.

img_6872

Active: 20 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

2 large red potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch wedges
1 large baking potato, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
**for the potatoes overall, I used fingerlings, several medium reds and a sweet (for my orange color)
10 medium unpeeled shallots, halved
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, cut into 3-inch lengths **I grabbed chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s
One 8-ounce bunch of arugula, stemmed and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Prep

Preheat the oven to 425°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss all of the potatoes with the shallots and the 1/3 cup of olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are lightly browned. Brush the sausage with olive oil and add to the baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes longer, until the potatoes are tender and the sausage is cooked through.

Transfer everything on the baking sheet to a platter. Fold in the arugula and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and serve.

img_6874

This stuff was delicious! So easy to make, too. Definitely added this to my default list for recipes to make.

Game of Elk

I love game meat. In fact, it’s about the only red meat my body can digest. I have enjoyed venison for ages. And when I travel to great places around the world I love trying new stuff. Now, there is also ‘domestic’ game meat — as in the stuff we have here. I say that because we don’t have my favorite, warthog, which I enjoyed in South Africa, here.

Anyway, last time I was in Colorado, Steamboat (Springs) to be precise, I enjoyed a very nice dinner at Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill and was able to expand my game tastes/tastings.

image

After looking over the menu several times, the elk was calling my name but the cost was not exactly low ($40). But, decided I had to give it a try. After speaking to the server, she mentioned the portion was quite hefty, so the two of us at the table decided to split that along with a house salad, oh and some vino (which of course came out well before the food)!

image

image

image

The elk was nice, traditional game meat. Very chewy, much more so than venison. It was not my favorite game meat ever but would definitely eat it again if offered.

Le Chat Noir

Have been in DC for many years and finally made it to Le Chat Noir.  I used to even live only about mile from it. It’s a French restaurant located between Friendship Heights and Tenleytown in NW.

image

Went on a Saturday night.  Had reservations but it wasn’t too busy, the service was pretty slow, though. The menu has a good amount of selection, but of course I had to do some good picking because of being lactose intolerant.

Opted for a bottle of rose, for kicks, Le P’tit Rose. It was good, a bit sweet, a fun wine to try.

image

While deciding on dinner, with the wine we enjoyed addictive bread.

Then, for the first course of dinner, I opted for a salad and my friend went for the Crèpe fourrée. Crèpe stuffed with crabmeat, bay scallops, mushrooms, Chablis cream sauce.  Apparently that was pretty darn good.

image

Main course was a Bijoux de boeuf au poivre. Grilled beef tenderloin, grilled asparagus, gratin dauphinois, green peppercorn sauce (the asparagus is on the side).  It was perfectly cooked and melted in the mouth.

image

I opted for the Saint Jacques à la Bretonne. Sea scallops, truffle risotto, cremini mushrooms, white wine béchamel & gruyere cheese gratin.  They made some nice substitutions on the dairy and grilled the scallops, put it on a bed of lentil ‘crust’ with a side of pickled veggies.  All very nice.

image

Very happy I finally checked this place out!