Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

About Me

My Photo
The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
View my complete profile


Powered by Blogger.
Aug 2, 2012

Sipping in Seattle

Last weekend, I joined a San Francisco friend of mine in Seattle for a 3 day jaunt.  Neither one of us had been there before, but we did our research and came with lists in hand for all the restaurants and cocktail haunts we were going to visit.  Forget the Space Needle and Pike's Place Market (although I did swing through for a famous piroshky at Piroshky Piroshky), we wanted to hit up the spots that locals go to.  Ok, and apparently Anthony Bourdain ate and drank his way through many of these places for an upcoming episode of "The Layover" too - we're fans.

Multiple friends had told us that The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard was a must-visit, so we went for a pre-dinner snack.  It's located in a building that shares space with a bike shop, some offices and Staple & Fancy, where we ended up eating dinner later that night.  While I'm a big fan of oysters, my friend isn't, but there was plenty on the menu for her to choose from.  Anthony, our shuckin' awesome "dreaded shucker" presented a beautiful plate of half a dozen oysters for me because I had to try one of each!  My friend and I ordered glasses of crisp white wine and took in the pleasant atmosphere.  We thought about getting cocktails, but knew we had to pace ourselves, and wine just goes better with oysters anyway.  Get to this place early because it only seats about 40 people inside and out on the patio.

As we walked along Ballard Avenue on our way to The Walrus and the Carpenter, we saw tons of amazing restaurants, bars and boutiques that we wanted to try, with nary a tourist in site.  After the oyster adventure, we doubled back into The Sexton for a cocktail, which is a bourbon heavy bar (hello, I'm home!).  I loved the simple, bright, and rustic decor, and their back patio feels like a whimsical version of a white trash backyard (a good thing) — communal wooden tables, Mason jars, fire escape stairs and a couple of bicycles draped in Christmas lights precariously hang from the trees.

I had a delicious cocktail with mezcal and house-made paprika bitters by bartender Marley Tomic-Beard. This girl rocks at making bitters and even gave me a few pointers for mine.  My friend had Daisy's Last Stand made with serrano-infused tequila, lime, Grenadine, ginger and soda and served with a paper straw (love those little touches).  We then split The Double Bind made with bourbon, sage and cider shrub (a drinking vinegar made from fruit, herbs and sugar), ginger beer and Angostura bitters.  We actually ended up coming back to this place two more times that evening—once for another cocktail and the last time for their famous mac n' cheese and a shot of Fernet at the end of the night.  Nate, one of the bartenders there, also told me about a drink he makes called the "Fernezcal," which is half Fernet and half mezcal.  Next time...

After we had filled our tummies at Staple & Fancy, we were told by several proprietors to visit Hazlewood on Market Street for a libation.  This tiny spot is all dark interiors with a white marble bar and kind of feels like a French boudoir (I've never been in one, but I imagine this is what it would feel like).  The proprietor served up an Edith Macefield, named after a stubborn, but awesome local in the Ballard area, with rye whiskey, Punt e Mes and Aperol.  As my friend and I sat there nursing our drinks and commenting on the cheap cocktail prices in Seattle and friendly service, the owner gave us two copies of some old-fashioned etiquette posters he had hanging up in the bar!  If I hadn't gotten up at the crack of dawn that day, I would have stayed for another cocktail.

The next morning, my friend and I visited Melrose Market, a very small, but well-curated indoor market near the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  If you don't like crowds like us, then skip Pike's Place and head here.

We started with breakfast sandwiches and coffee at Homegrown, picked up some jewelry at Butter Home and then tasted a bunch of different cheeses at The Calf & Kid.  My friend selected six different cheeses and some crusty bread for our afternoon snack, and we settled in at bar ferd'nand with a glass of rosé to complement it.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through the Capitol Hill neighborhood and shopping.  For spices, fancy salts and bitters, stop into Sugarpill, where they also sell bitters kits for those who want the fun of making them without the ingredient sourcing.  Elliot Bay Book Company is a beautiful and spacious independently run bookstore that has an incredible selection, comfy seating and a cafe.  Since we had plenty of time before dinner, we popped into Molly Moon's for some homemade ice cream.  Their Earl Grey Tea flavor is amazing — next time I'm getting it on a freshly-made waffle cone.

For our pre-dinner cocktail, we went to Canon.  Any place that calls themselves a "whiskey and bitters emporium" has won my heart, and it did not disappoint.  This place also seats only about 40 people, so either show up early or plant yourself at the bar and don't leave.
The decor is old-fashioned with ornate tin ceilings, Edison bulbs, dog-eared cocktail books and antique absinthe fountains and jiggers.  The bathroom has old liquor licenses behind a paned-glass window and old radio transcripts piping in.  Back to the cocktails though...

I had a Smoking Monkey with banana-infused Jameson Irish Whiskey, which had a very light fruit flavor that was offset by the PX sherry and smoky Ardberg scotch.

My friend had The Vermouth Experiment, which is three Manhattans with three different sweet vermouths. A brilliant idea that I wish other bars would adopt, and according to my friend, "It's three cocktails for the price of one! Of course I'm going to get it!"  This is why I'm friends with her.
Canon also whips up punch bowls, house-made soda cocktails, and has a nice little food menu too.  If we didn't have dinner at Quinn's, I could have sat there all night.

After dinner, we headed back to the downtown area of Belltown to visit Bathtub Gin & Co, a speakeasy hidden in the alley off Blanchard between 1st and 2nd Streets.  My friend and I apparently prefer tiny bars and this one certainly fit the bill.  The interiors are all exposed brick, and it feels like you're in some catacombs.  The top floor seats about 6-8 at the bar and the downstairs has some slightly larger lounge areas.  I sipped on a Just Above Social made with gin, hickory salt & pepper falernum, Angostura bitters and a black olive.

Marcus, one of the owners, told us the history of the place and shared some concepts for future bars he'd like to open in the area.  We especially loved the hand-drawn receipts with "The Ladies" scrawled along the top.

Our last stop of the night was Rob Roy, where they have goldfish crackers on the menu!  I honestly can't remember what was in my cocktail, but it had ginger in it and I took a pretty picture of it.  The cocktail menu rotates with the seasons and the bartenders hand chip your ice into giant balls that perfectly fit the glass of whatever you're drinking.  We filled our bellies the next morning at Oddfellow's Cafe + Bar in Capitol Hill with baked eggs, biscuits and beignets.  This place also has an old-timey feel and I'll definitely have to hit it up for cocktails next time I'm in town!