Saturday, October 31, 2009

Restaurant Experience: Lowell's: Seattle, WA!

On our last morning in Seattle, we headed back to Pike's Market for the famous views at Lowell's and the diner-style breakfast. 

Classic Eggs Benedict with a twist. When in Seattle, and when at Lowell's, you have to forgo the pork and substitute for the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict.

At Lowell's, you can get smoked salmon in pretty much anything. Try the Smoked Salmon 3-Egg Omelet. Word of advice at Lowell's, don't expect frills or even a parsley sprig garnish.  Lowell's is classic breakfast hash at it's finest and more of a seafarer's breakfast for a hungry tourist crowd.
In retrospect, I wish we would have grabbed a pastry and a coffee and saved our appetites for this Taco truck that we found on 3rd street. The cuisine of this "taco truck" is pretty self-explanatory, BBQ! I think this concept would do pretty well on gameday back in Arkansas.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Restaurant Experience: Crush: Seattle, WA!

The great thing about being surrounded by the incredible chefs at the CIA is that they know great chefs in the cities they used to work in.  Luckily CIA-Greystone has former Seattle-area and now Napa Valley-transplant Chef Scott Samuel (  So, who do you ask for experiential dining recommendations when going to Seatlle for the first time..............none other than Chef Scott!

First on his recommendation list was the restaurant of husband and wife team, Chef Jason and Nicole Wilson. Chef Wilson's accolades include being named 2009 Rising Star Chef from and Crush is at the forefront of the Northwest farm to table movement and builds its menu around seasonality and freshness. I hope you were right on this one Chef Scott! Here goes............notice the Mrs. is waiting politely for the door to be opened for her. My pleasure.
The initial awe factor of the restaurant was based around the Shelly Buurman designed decor and the Verner Panton furniture. Actually, I don't know what any of that means, but the Mrs. had a ball on "Modern Furniture Row" on Western Avenue all day so I thought I would include some HGTV lingo that I had learned. Enough about that, welcome to Crush. Waiting to greet us was none other than Nicole Wilson herself,  maitre d' for the evening. You know the evening will go well when the owner shows you to your seat.

Out first, compliments of Chef Wilson was an Amuse of Honey-Maple Vinaigrette with Salmon Roe and Creme Fraiche. These food descriptions will be close guesstimates as I didn't land a menu for later review. Oh well,  I guess I will just have to use a little culinary intuition.

All loyal readers should be familiar with these. Classic French fine dining at its best, the Cave Aged Gruyere Cheese Gougeres. Out also came a couple glasses of Washington's own, Chateau St. Michelle Reisling. A favorite New World Reisling of mine!

I feel that their is no nicer gesture than for a chef to send his guests complimentary courses. It doesn't matter if it is a Coffee and Donuts at The French Laundry to end a gourmand experience, or something as little as an extra Chicken Nugget in your McDonald's to-go-order. Chef's know how to take care of people who show genuine interest in their craft. From the kitchen, Tuna Sashimi and Tuna Tartare. Thank you Chef.

First Course Appetizers, Seared Pork Belly with Rum-soaked Golden Raisins and Farmer's Cheese Polenta.

and Duck Breast and Pinata Apple Salad with Candied Hazelnuts, Blue Cheese, Frisee, and Endive.

Less is a good way to impress and this dish, compliments of Chef Wilson, was full of flavor. Butter Poached Lobster and Potato Gnocchi with Coral Butter, Tahitian Vanilla, and Orange.

Everyone always asks how we can taste any of the deliciousness pictured on this blog after so many courses. Here lies an example of the classic palate cleanser. Tangerine Sorbet with Mint Gastrique and Fresh Fruit. You don't have to have a Master's degree in Sensory Science to understand the phenomenon of sensory adaptation, but if you do, you greatly appreciate the thoughfulness of the chef in preparing you for the invigorating experience of the main course to come.

Main Courses: Washington Sturgeon, Braised Kale, and Butternut Squash Puree. Hints of fall throughout this dish! A little bit too light for my uber-oaky Napa Chardonnay, but even oak reminds me of the fall!

and Flat Iron Steak with Pomme Puree and Garden Carrots. One of your Napa Cabernet Sauvignion's, please.

Cheese course: Perhaps Edam.......with Walnut Croutons, Baked Figs, and Spiced Apple Compote.

Dessert: Chocolate Frangipane Tart. The Walnofer's can't go home with out their sweets.

Mignardise's of House-made Marshmallow's and a Chocolate-dipped Madeleine.  I forget that I can't leave chocolate lying around the Mrs.
Overall, Crush is one of the best restaurants I've had the pleasure to dine at while out here on the west coast.  If you are ever in Seatlle, tell your cabbie to take you to 2319 E. Madison Street. Crush will not dissapoint.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Best Coffee in Seattle! Elliot Bay Cafe!

One might think that it is an easy task to find a great cup of coffee in Seattle, but really it is more difficult than you think. I am not anti-corporate by any means, and in fact, I will more than likely spend my entire food career in the corporate industry. Nonetheless, I don't really want to drink my coffee out of a 10% postconsumer recycled paper cup. So, I implemented the famous Walnofer philosophy of "Just Ask" and out came a local recommendation for a great cup of joe.

The Elliot Bay Cafe located under the Elliot Bay Book Company at 101 South Main Street. Quaint  underground cafe feel at its best. Location, Check! Ambiance, Check!

Latte, Check! I am not an artist, but one cannot deny the Van Goghesque aspect of latte art. Think I made that term up, google it and see for yourself.  I am taking YouTube training courses as we speak.

I don't even think that Starbucks has a paper cup that can match this volume.  Luckily the Mrs. and I had a late dinner reservation so I needed all the caffeine I could get. Since dinner was still 4 hours away, maybe I should get a snack with my coffee.

The house specialty! The Toffee and Chocolate Chip cookie. No Starbucks or Tollhouse for these tourists!  Next stop, dinner at Chef Scott Samuel recommended Crush.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Restaurant Experience: Piroshky Bakery! Seattle, WA!

So we came upon an interesting bakery adjacent to Pike's Market, the Piroshky Bakery. What is this? Obviously not American and it doesn't even sound European.................., so it must be Russian.  Of course! Even though we didn't know what it was, a lot of other people did so we got in the back of the line and waited our turn for................well, we weren't really sure. Anthony Bourdain filmed his show here, really?

What is a piroshky you might ask (I did!)?  It is actually a handheld meal in the form of a stuffed pie. That sounds good, give me the beef and cheese one of those!

Okay all you Nebraskan readers out there? What does this remind you of?  You guessed it, a Runza! You can get onions, cabbage, or cheese stuffed in these piroshky things. Just like at Runza®! It is amazing the discoveries you can make in the food world.

The adventurous eaters that we are, we also ordered a Bavarian Sausage........they were out of the Smoked Salmon Pate piroshky.  Piroshky Bakery, please send a Smoked Salmon Pate piroshky attention Scott and Mrs. Walnofer to California at your convenience. I really want to try it! The pig in a blanket was ok.

Everybody loves cheesesticks with their stuffed pastry-encased meat pies. How about a caraway cheese stick? The verdict is out on this one, but maybe it was because I had already downed two piroshky's.

Even the Grandma's were making the dough in the back. You can't get more authentic Russian cuisine than that right there. I hope this helps decipher some of the food that the Grace Church of Napa Slovik Mission team recently experienced over in Uchali, Bashkortistan Russia.......and Paulette, maybe you can make these for Conner's birthday next year. The Mrs. and I can't wait till Thanksgiving when we will be back in Nebraska, home of the Runza!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Seattle and the Pike's Market!

A main attraction in Seattle is of course, the famous Pike's Market. After my stint roaming the Boulevard de Strasbourg in Toulouse, France, I am pretty much a market snob. Don't they throw fish or something here.................
Oh no, the fish smell is about to make the Mrs. sick. We better hit up a coffee shop for some breakfast before I lose my appetite.
Oh look, a French Bakery. That'll do. Le Panier "A Very French Bakery." Perfect.
Nobody does a Latte better than the French..................or at least as good as a hippy looking 35 year old barista who works in an American-French bakery.
Many have failed, but Le Panier makes a killer Pain au chocolat. I think we are ready for a stroll through the market. Aisles and aisles of fresh produce, seafood, and every color flower you could ever imagine. The cool thing about Pike's Market is that everything has to be local to the area, including all the trinkets the vendor/artists sell.
Ummmm, Lowell's Restaurant....................perhaps we will check that out another day for some breakfast.
This was by far the coolest thing at the market. Maybe it is my passion for mass production or my exposure to assembly lines pumping out everything from bottled water to Domino's chicken wings, but their is no denying that this thing could revolutionize the entire donut making industry. What, some store called Krispy Kreme already did that! You have got to be kidding me! I guess I will just have to launch my invention that heats up food using micro waves instead.
An interesting attraction around the market is the famous copper pigs. One is even a piggy bank that collects thousands of dollars in spare change to fund the market. I was confused with this one and thought that if I put a quarter in it, it would rock back and forth like the machines outside the grocery stores I remembered as a child. Hence, nothing! What a waste of money.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Restaurant Experience: Tulio Ristorante: Seattle, WA!

I usually don't start many of my "Restaurant Experience" posts with items that are not food related, but I thought I would make an exception for something as interesting as this. What is this this you might ask? Have a look and take a guess...............
That's right! The world's largest outdoor used gum wall! I am not going to lie, I have stuck my gum on just about everything. Under every desk from Kindergarten through Graduate school, on the stick shift in my car, on the handlebar stem of my bicycle, and even under a church pew or two, but never on a wall with 3000 other persons gum. Gross!
After seeing all that sugar-free gum, the Mrs. and I's sweet tooth started firing up and we went on the hunt for some desserts. Who do you ask for dessert recommendations when in Seattle? None other than a Seattle's Best Coffee Shop barista. Off to Tulio Ristorante, not for more pizza or a late night pasta course, but rather for.........................
............Cannoli's with chocolate chip ricotta cream and blueberry sauce, and.............

...............Gelato del Giorno. Cappuccino gelato at that! Only in Seattle! Remember, the birthplace of Starbucks after all!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Restaurant Experience: Serious Pie, Seattle, WA!

As a self-proclaimed pizza fanatic, I am never one to shy away from the local hot spot. Serious Pie came with rave reviews and not even a long wait time would keep the Mrs. and I from enjoying some of the west coasts finest.
After sipping on coffee all day, we thought it was best to partake in a little nutrition with our meal. Send out the salads!Not just any salad though. Housemade Duck Prosciutto with Pickled Plums and Beacon Hill Argula. Serious Pie is serious about local, organic freshness and also serious about in-house charcuterie! Located near the entrance are two converted wine refrigerators set at 41 degrees Fahrenheit and filled with curing prosciutto, pancetta, sausages, salumi, and house speck.
Speaking of speck, Roasted Pumpkin with House Speck, Coriander, and Sweet Chili Oil. I am not going to lie, this might be the best use of pumpkin since the invention of the jack-o-lantern.
Even though we were already impressed, we were here for the pie's. At Serious Pie, the kitchen and the pizza oven is in full view surrounded by picnic table style communal seating. Not that we are anti-social, but the Mrs. and I were happy to have the only 2-person window table in the restaurant all for ourselves. As good as the pizza was, I don't think I could have risked anyone trying to sneak over for a piece of our Cherry Bomb Peppers and Sweet Fennel Sausage Pizza. Good call Mrs., good call.
Desiring to see more of the city, and walk off our pizza, the Mrs. and I made our way all the way to the home of the Seattle Seahawks. Qwest Field hosted the Seahawks vs. Jaguars a few hours earlier, but who would skip a pizza date at Serious Pie for BBQ beef nachos and foot-long corndogs.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Seattle, Not Sleepless At All!

The Mrs. and I are off to a fun 3-day weekend up to Seattle. The benefits of living on the West Coast is that there are a lot of metropolitan cities within a short plane ride away. Let's celebrate my 27th birthday weekend!The International Fountain. This wasn't really on the to do list, but the benefits of aimlessly walking through a city is that you never know what you might find. Speaking of finding, where is the needle thing.....................
There it is! I'm not going to lie, I love being a tourist. Many of the locals may scoff at me and my kind, but I wouldn't be here if there wasn't something unique to see. Speaking of see...........
Check out the view from the top! Hello Seattle!
Let's get down there and check this city out. I know that I need a drink.................c'mon that means a coffee when you are in Seattle!

Wasn't coffee invented in Seattle? Maybe not, but the original Starbucks is. I think I will grab a coffee from one of the 1300 other Starbucks in the downtown Seattle area.