Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kelly's French Bakery

In a former Brussels sprout packing shed about a half a mile from West Cliff Drive and Natural Bridges you will find the amazing Kelly's French Bakery.  There is a beautiful little courtyard that leads you into the bakery. Huge windows greet you inside allowing sunlight to stream in. The details were all thought out; when waiting in line you are standing in front of the case of pastries so you can figure out what you want. This will be the most difficult part of your visit.

It took me a minute to come to the realization that the items in the shop were most likely being distributed all over Santa Cruz County. If not, they could never afford to produce so many different things. An assortment of miniature delicacies from fresh fruit tarts to miniature cupcakes to chocolate croissants are all beautifully displayed in a glass case. They have bread pudding, chocolate chip cookies, muffins, small cheesecakes, cakes and quiches.

They make amazing lattes and ice tea. There are more substantial items on the menu as well, both for breakfast (toast and eggs) and lunch (ham & gruyere, avocado & cheese, pre-made salads) and even a light dinner is available. The egg sandwich and eggs in polenta were probably the loosest link we experienced after spending almost every morning of our one week trip to Santa Cruz in the bakery.

The chocolate croissant is generous in size  and the chocolate encased inside the flaky pastry is deep and dark and rich without being overly sweet. One morning there was a design traced on the croissant made of melted chocolate and another day they had sprinkled chocolate chips over the top (pictured above).

The eggs in polenta is pure comfort food,  a creamy polenta surrounding two perfectly poached eggs. It is delicious but the dish seemed a little out of place like serving beef stew in the middle of summer. It could be lightened up by taking on a seasonal slant. A slightly smaller dish of polenta with a side of something fresh to counter-balance the intensity of the dish.

The lemon tartlette has a pudding like lemon filling that is tangy and sweet at the same time with an adorable and delicious mini crust holding it all together.

When you order, they are patient and friendly and will answer all your questions. It isn't a great place to go if you are in a rush looking for a drive thru coffee delivery. The line ebbs and flows sometimes out the door, but it is an amazing place and borders on perfection.

Kellys French Bakery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Park Place Deli

Park Place Deli sits in the hub of Madison Park. The menu offers a good selection of sandwiches (including grilled and panini options), soups, salads and a kids menu. There is a display case which is often empty but was displaying a nice potato salad with a grainy dijon vinaigrette decorating it and fruit salad when I was last there. The man taking orders was friendly and patiently offered to make up any sandwich I wanted in 'kids size'. It is a great place to pick up sandwiches right before you head over to the park or beach. You can eat at one of the picnic benches or you can stay in the deli where there are tables inside and out. The sandwiches come with chips and there is a case of drinks available.

The pastrami sandwich (shown above) was a beautiful sandwich but the pastrami was a thickly sliced mild pastrami. I prefer the thinly sliced pastrami that is on the spicy side and this wasn't it. Most food in Madison Park seems to tend towards very little spice and it ends up a little bland. The guacamole at Cactus, all the Thai food served at Thai Ginger; and now the pastrami sandwich at Park Place Deli have all fallen into that category. But the sandwich was piled nicely with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and a horseradish spread (instead of dijon or russian dressing). The sandwich suffered from bread that was just a touch dry but it still offered enough to be satisfying.

The veggie sandwich (below) did a better job with cream cheese (or hummus if you prefer) and a very generous pile of vegetables including avocados, cucumbers, lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, red onions and red peppers. This is a salad served as a sandwich which I love. It was delicious, filling and satisfying. It is not a deli that I would go out of my way to get to but if you are in Madison Park looking for a sandwich this is a reasonable place to stop in at.

The Park Place Deli on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Colman Park P-Patch

My daughter Chloe and I wandered through the Colman Park P-Patch the other day. The Seattle P-Patch program is a community garden program run by the city and the P-Patch Trust. P-Patch garden space now covers 23 acres and serves 4400 gardeners. My favorite bit of information from the P-Patch website was, "the gardeners provide fresh produce to food banks in Seattle and in 2010 they provided more than 41,000 servings of fresh produce".

My first introduction to the Seattle P-Patch systems was via a friend who gardens in a P-Patch but is also involved in the Seattle food community in numerous other ways including acting as a volunteer on the p-patch board. After seven years in Seattle I have visited numerous P-Patches and they all seem to be unique in their own way. The Colman Park P-Patch is on the side of a hill and is surrounded by the park on all sides.

Spring and even summer seem to be starting late in Seattle but the garden is still thriving. We spotted an amazing display of flowers, vegetables and herbs.

The peonies were amazing with a multitude of buds still getting ready to burst forth. Chloe desperately wanted to pick the buds off the bushes but I was able to turn it into a conversation on what a P-Patch is and how each plot belongs to a particular person. 

Below is a spectacular herb garden that we found. I always try to grow some herbs; the ability to walk out and grab a handful of cilantro or parsley or sage is such a boon in the kitchen and takes minimal effort. They can be grown in a pot on a windowsill or next to your front door. Of course this is why the P-Patch is so wonderful, providing garden space to people who don't have it.

Each plot had a unique shape, feel and personality to it. This was the only circular plot but some were delineated by wood and some just by the end of turned earth. There was a row of new plots at the bottom and the garden seems to be ever expanding. Some plots seemed abandoned, some full of many different things all tucked tightly together. Some were carefully structured with rows and sections of each vegetable. Someone else had erected small trellises to grow berries on.

If you are interested in having your own plot you can contact the P-Patch. Most gardens have wait-lists but with patience you will get on. Here is a list of all P-Patch gardens in Seattle with information on each one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Seattle Food Banks

I spend an amazing amount of time exploring food. I have piles of cook books and food magazines that I read, I look at recipes online and I cook! We regularly go out to eat at new restaurants and return to restaurants that we have enjoyed in the past. I love going to specialty food shops, farmers markets and even just plain old grocery stores. In all this though, I realize that I am extraordinarily lucky. I don't have to worry about feeding my children or myself. Our friends and families all have the means to provide for themselves.

However, many struggle to merely put food on their tables.  Northwest Harvest is running a campaign right now, in its third year called stock the pantry. Food insecurity can be more pronounced in the summer as subsidized schools lunches can remove the one balanced meal that a child might be eating. Stock the Pantry is an effort to help families out for the summer months. But Northwest Harvest provides food for people who need assistance all year round. They serve 2000 individuals on a full service day and it is the busiest food bank in Washington state. We try to regularly give to organizations like Northwest Harvest. You can give online and the small donations really do add up, imagine if everyone budgeted a small percentage of their food budget for food banks. It would make an amazing difference.

Here is a more complete list of all Local Seattle Food Assistance Programs.

And here is a search program for food banks.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Knee High Stocking Company

The Knee High Stocking Company, a small speakeasy in Capitol Hill, is one of my favorite places to head for some late night cocktails. To get a reservation, you text them; they are very good with reservations but you should show up on time or you might lose your spot. It is a small place so they need to keep the seats full. Since it is small there is only one bartender and one waitress, it isn't a good place to go for a quick drink. And the drinks are not ones you could easily construct at home, they take some time and skill but be patient and you will end up blissful. My favorite drink is the aviation:

Plymouth Gin, Creme de Violette, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, with lemon.

and after having one at Zig Zag, Smith and Tavern Law, the Knee High won hands down.

Another wonderful thing about Knee High is that the menu remains accessible to people who are not very knowledgeable about liquor and cocktails. They list out specialty drinks which are interesting and unique to Knee High. They also have a list of classic cocktails from way back when but there are a lot of easily recognizable drinks as well. Or if you are really a virgin to the whole thing you will be able to read the descriptions and identify something that sounds palatable to you. For example:

Mayme Taylor
Scotch, lime, and ginger beer. The most deceptive drink ever invented.

And as a last result, the waitress is lovely and I am sure she would be happy to discuss your options and help you find something that will quench your thirst.

Their menu contains typical bar food, stuffed mushrooms, olives, pretzels with heavier fare if you are turning it into dinner like chicken pot pie and lamb sliders. It is a little difficult to find vegetables on the menu so if you are craving a large salad you might be disappointed. Eat your greens at home and then head to Knee High.
Knee High Stocking Co. on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gourmet Noodle Bowl

If you are craving Chinese but there are people in your party who shy away from restaurants that look a little run down (i.e. most restaurants in the ID) they will not fear the Gourmet Noodle Bowl. It is in a newer building shared with the ID library branch. Feel free to judge this book by its cover, the interior and exterior of the building are easy on the eyes and will not scare anyone off, no matter how picky they might be.

The hot pot at the Gourmet Noodle Bowl offers three different choices, plain, bbq or spicy broth. Both the plain and bbq are delicious but the bbq side of the pot seems to disappear at a much faster rate than the plain. The waitress set up our hot plate and brought out a large pan of broth split down the middle with a divider separating the bbq and plain broth. Following this came all the adornments. This included a bowl of minced garlic, chopped green onions, cilantro, satay dressing, two types of noodles, chinese cabbage, enoki mushrooms, chop suey greens, tofu (fried, in the pot as well as fresh, on the plate), thinly sliced pork and thinly sliced beef. It was a generous supply of food and the waitress replenished the noodles and asked if we wanted more meat as well. We were just charged for two adult servings of hot pot even though our kids were there eating too (hence the extra noodles).

The pork bun (pictured below) was delicious, accented with greens, cilantro, a tangy satay sauce and flavorful meat. The bun was a light doughy texture which contrasted nicely with the moist easily shreddable meat, fresh greens and sweet tangy sauce all acting as a perfect compliment to each other.

After going there to eat with some friends, I went back the next day for lunch with my family. I had to let my husband experience it because I knew he would love it. He came out of there saying it was the best chinese food he has ever eaten in Seattle. This was followed up by a conversation with a friend who sent him a long list of other restaurants we need to try before we make such a bold statement but irregardless, it is worth a visit.

Gourmet Noodle Bowl on Urbanspoon