Nap…..aaahhhh.

The Seattle gray is getting to me. I need inspiration. I need to think back to sunshine and… lollipops and rainbows…where is that to be found? Napa. Some friends and I went to Napa and San Francisco in April of 2013. We were in need of sunshine and relaxation…jackpot.

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We had a great start in San Francisco. We walked along the waterfront by the Embarcadero and then popped into the Ferry Building for lunch. My eyes spotted Miette. You might have seen their cookbook and their characteristic rounded cakes and flower topped pastries.  I have a radar for not missing out on treats like this. Thanks go-go-gourmet eyes! And they had a Swedish princess torte!

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IMG_0467IMG_0472Ok, we were fueled for the drive up to Napa. Weeeeee, my first trip driving across the Golden Gate Bridge!

SLEEP: Our hotel, the Embassy Suites Napa,was perfect for the three of us. Two double beds and large pullout couch in the adjoining living room.  And they had a free happy hour every evening. Sitting in the courtyard watching swans circle around the pond while munching on popcorn and cheese and crackers is OK by us!

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EAT: Boy, did we ever! The concentration of tasty things in Napa/Sonoma is outstanding.  Here are some highlights:

Oversized birthday cake macaron from Bouchon Bakery.

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Potato Pancakes with lox at The Girl and The Fig in Sonoma.

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And, drool, the ahi tuna burger at Gott’s Roadside.

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THINGS TO DO IN BETWEEN EATING: Wine, silly.  Our favorite was Grgich Hills Estate. Mike Grgich was a major player in the history of Napa.

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And the true feast for the eyes, the scenery–rolling hills of vineyards. It was difficult for me to focus on driving…I wanted to crane my neck every which way to take it all in.

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OK, we put our glasses down and did some actual sightseeing too.  The Petrified Forest…where we learned that lizards do push ups. Fact. I made a You Tube video of our lizzy doing his thing on a loop to “Push It” but blah copyright infringement laws won’t allow me to share it with the world!

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And The Old Faithful Geyser of California:

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OK, I’m not going to push hard to sell you on the geyser but if you like a little bit of kookiness, the place will be for you as it was for us! Napa Valley exceeded our relaxation expectations, but it was time to pack up our wine and travel back to San Francisco….Bye Napa! Sad. Oh wait, San Francisco is decent awesome.

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We grabbed one of my favorite combos in San Francisco before boarding our flight.  A stop at Tartine to satsify my craving for the salty olive tapenade and mozzarella panini. And a quick jaunt around the corner to the Bi-Rite Creamery for sweet ice cream.

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Christmas at Pike Place Market

Everyone has holiday traditions. Mine are somewhat lacking. Except this year I’ve discovered that I’m in love with The Market at Christmas! I’m obsessed with the Market already. I would practically go down there every weekend and still let out a little squeal if asked to go. The last couple years when I think of the best memories of Christmas I think of The Market. This year we tried to do most of our Christmas shopping there. Tonight, I’m making roast beast, potatoes, and green beans for dinner–all bought from the Market. I’m even writing this post sipping on some gluhwein (mulled wine) from Bavarian Meats. I’m liking our new Christmas tradition.

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You’ll never encounter a Grinch at The Market.

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You’ll see that pigs really do know how to fly at Christmas in the Market!

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Merry Christmas from Fussy Cow!

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Bourbon

It’s Christmas so I guess I’m in a giving mood.  Or maybe I’ve snacked on one too many bourbon balls tonight. Grandma did not go easy on the bourbon in this recipe! As a child, I remember wafts of booziness when I would sneak a peek into the glass container in the refrigerator. I was always enticed by the glittering sugar crystals…sometimes I would sneak a bite but bourbon whiskey wasn’t for me then (surprise!). Now, I can see why Grandma made these every year. This year I decided to gift them to my friends.

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Grandma’s Bourbon Balls

6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup bourbon (or rum if you prefer)
2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup finely ground nuts-walnuts or pecans
granulated sugar

Melt chocolate over hot water, then add the corn syrup and bourbon. In a large bowl combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, powdered sugar and nuts. Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl, mix well, let stand for 30 minutes. Form into 1 inch balls and roll in the granulated sugar. Let them “season” as Grandma says for a few days in a covered container. Makes about 50-60 balls!

V.P.C….is for cookie!

IMG_1642My brain operates similar to a small child. Dangle the prospect of a large cookie in front of me and I will spring into action. I once was persuaded to walk about 4 miles to brunch because a VPC cookie was promised. Volunteer Park Cafe makes me happy in general. It’s a nice place. They have pails of cookies– silver pails filled to the brim with cookies that line the counter and beckon as you make your way towards the register. Hello chocolate cherry oatmeal, hello chocolate toffee chunk. Yes, I would like you. So sad for those other baked goods in the counter below you that I always ignore. Sad scones and miffed muffins. Cookies get the best light and take center stage at VPC.

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Granola Gifting

Granola makes a great holiday gift. It lasts longer than cookies and is a healthier option.  Making granola is also much easier than rolling out dough, chilling, baking, and decorating all those holiday cookie batches (see my last post…tasty but time consuming!) Plus, customizing your own recipe is half the fun of making granola.

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I used quinoa in this version but I don’t think it added much benefit, so I’d leave it out in the future.

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Fussy Cow Granola 

4 cups oats

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup slivered almonds

1 1/2 cups shaved coconut

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup olive oil

6 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cardamom

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together. Spread out evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.  Leave it on the jelly roll pan to cool and it will help cluster the granola.  Enjoy it plain, over yogurt, or with almond milk! It will keep for weeks too in an airtight container.

Note: Granola ingredients do not need to be precise. Eyeball it! If you want more sweetness add more sugar or cinnamon. I  usually do!

 

 

 

 

 

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

Maybe I’m slightly late to this bandwagon. But I know I’m certainly not the only one. We all need to get on board with this. The internet is buzzing about this tomato sauce made with only three ingredients. Yup. Three. Canned tomatoes. An onion. Butter. That’s it!? After you make it you won’t want to add anything else to this sauce. It’s pure and perfect.

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Cook low and slow and occasionally mash up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon for about 45 minutes. Easy. Results:

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Well better late than never. I stumbled across this recipe initially on Smitten Kitchen. After doing more research, all credit for this recipe is due to Marcella Hazan, an Italian cookbook author many credit with bringing traditional Italian cooking to the American Public. Grazie!

What’s New in The Market

get-attachment.aspx I have yet to tire of visiting Pike Place Market even after 5 years in Seattle. And I continually discover something new every time I visit the market. As summer was drawing to a close we were hanging on to every vivid sunset along the sound and visiting the market regularly to enjoy them. So we found ourselves regularly at Rachel’s Ginger Beer. In addition to their original ginger beer, RGB offers unique flavors such as apricot, white peach, blood orange, and more. They are happy to let you sample all of the flavors. Choose your favorite and then choose your liquor (vodka or dark rum) to make a Moscow Mule or a Dark and Stormy.

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Radiator Whiskey will satisfy your hunger after a Dark and Stormy. Try the braised beef brisket with horseradish cream. Radiator Whiskey is a great dining addition to the market’s lacking evening scene.

 

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If you’re looking for something lighter, Ellenos greek yogurt stand has an assortment of flavors of sweetened greek yogurt. My favorites are the marionberry and of course the passionfruit! Grab a cup to go and stroll around admiring all the Market has to offer.

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This entry was posted in Travel.

Vancouver2jpgWe drove up to Vancouver, BC this summer for the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival and some general exploration. The photo above is from exploring around Granville Island and the market there. Our Shakespeare tickets included a better than average salmon bake dinner as part of a special evening coinciding with an international fireworks competition.  The production of Twelfth Night was set in an early 1900s European beachside resort which allowed for nuanced performances from the talented cast.  Very well done.  I will admit that we spent the first 20 minutes of the play shaking our heads and wondering where we had seen this play before…lame, we completely forgot that Twelfth Night was one of the plays we saw a few years ago at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  As much as I loved the town of Ashland, Oregon and that festival, Bard on the Beach exceeded my expectations and I will certainly not forget the play now!

It seems like much of Vancouver’s culture is heavily Asian. Which means good food cannot be far away! The Asian food we enjoyed all weekend long also exceeded expectations. I hate to say it but the sushi we found was better than much of the sushi we’ve come across in Seattle. Ajisai Sushi in Vancouver was so good it could bring tears to your eyes.

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Sometimes I get skittish about trying new types of fish, but at Ajisai I don’t think you can go wrong. The octopus (tako) was phenomenal and one of those things that can easily make an inexperienced sushi eater wary of eating tako again if not done properly. They must massage the octopus at Ajisai for hours because it was perfectly tender! Ajisai also does pressed sushi or oshizushi which is pretty scarce around Seattle. Pressed sushi is exactly what it sounds like–the fish is pressed onto the rice in a wooden box to make it perfectly compact and dense.  I’m not sure it adds much to elevate a diner’s sushi experience but I still think it’s tasty and has potential.

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Vancouver’s dim sum experience also was a highlight. I haven’t done dim sum much but Kirin Seafood Restaurant was an elegant option. It’s fun not knowing what you’re going to get when you order something.

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Last, we grabbed Japadogs before our drive home! Nom! Nom!

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Stay Classy Milwaukee

I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milwaukee is tradition. Drinking beer at the same corner bar with your friends. Friday fish frys. Never letting the Bears-Packers rivalry die. The things I miss most in Milwaukee are the classic dishes that will never change. I recently went home for a visit and my parents know that I cannot miss a stop for my favorite Italian cookies. Glazed biscotti, amaretti, limoncello. I doubt they’ve changed in the 60 years that Peter Sciortino’s Bakery has been open.

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Down the street you can find Glorioso’s classic Italian market established in 1946. Though the storefront is new, the Italian roast beef sandwiches with giardiniera are a staple. This is Milwaukee (ok and maybe a bit of Chicago too!).

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Milwaukee demands tradition in its food. In fact, after the beloved institution Pizza Man burned down in 2010, the public outcry never quieted and after three long years Pizza Man rose from the ashes and delivered the pizzas of our memories. Milwaukee is thin, crispy crust pizza– often of the supreme variety. However, Pizza Man has a non-traditional pizza that has been a guilty craving of diners for years. I can’t order anything but the Artichoke a la mode. Why did I ever think that cream cheese didn’t belong on a pizza?  The combo of artichoke hearts, tomato, and cream cheese is famous at Pizza Man’s.  And I’m content to know that the people of Milwaukee won’t let my favorite dishes disappear.

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