Recent Horse Show Weekend at Little Bit

I was back at my favorite place last month: Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center! They were having their annual horse and dressage shows, and I was honored to be a part of these special events. The riders were adorable (as always), the staff was wonderful, and the horses and facilities just sparkled in their first shows at the new Dunmire Stables.

My most favorite moment of this years’ shows happened after one riding group received their ribbons. As they were exiting the arena, one rider came up to me and, without saying anything, grabbed my forearm and held up their ribbon for me to see. It was such a pure, sweet, and very special moment for me. Saying nothing at all said so much to me.  I even get a little choked up typing this now. It’s moments like these that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world and why I feel so lucky to be a part of Little Bit. Can’t wait till next year!

http://www.littlebit.org

4th of July fun

Yesterday, A and I went to watch the 4th of July parade in downtown Edmonds (a suburb north of Seattle). Edmonds is great. It’s such an  “Anytown USA” kind of town with its great community and patriotic feel! It was great fun as always, and it seemed like a ton of people there this year! The weather turned out nice after the morning clouds burned off, and good times were had by all:

Mistral Kitchen 9-Course Dinner

In late May, Karen, Jeri, Jen, and I were able to get our schedules coordinated and enjoy a special deal we had gotten to enjoy a 9-course meal at Mistral Kitchen in downtown Seattle. We have all been there before, and they have wonderful food and fantastic cocktails. So we were very excited to have a whole evening there!

We had the most amazing servers and were having such a great time, that we ended up having the manager and pastry chef sit down and chat with us! We were there 5 hours and it just went by like that! Apparently, since they loved us so much, we ended up with more of like a 12-course meal! By the last of the 3 desserts, we were so stuffed, we had it home with us. We were just maxed out!

I ended up taking some notes (I know I know- nerd alert!) on what each course was, just to remember all the details and how amazing everything was (I tried to include the wine pairings when I’m remembering them, but that didn’t really go so well. Particularly after the “cocktail course”!

Intro/”Welcome” Snack: Champagne with chili oil
and lime popcorn:

DSC_0190-2

Amuse-bouche: Grav lox with creme fresh:

Big eye tuna with shaved asparagus and radish,
grapefruit segments, and radish sprout basil oil:

Maine diver scallop, corn, basil oil, and hon
shemiji mushrooms:

Alaskan halibut, Egyptian farro mustard greens, baby
turnips, heirloom carrots, radish sprouts, and pea foam:

Lamb, black beans, ramp oyster mushrooms, in
a port reduction:

DSC_0238-2

Pierre Robert cheese with apricot
marmalade and radish sprouts:

DSC_0249-3

Dessert:
Coconut pudding with rum foam, shaved coconut,
compressed pineapple, and cilantro syrup:

Chocolate bombe (peanut butter filling) with port
soaked cherries:

Some of the other items we had (that I was too wrapped up in to get a picture of):

Foie Gras with thinly sliced apple and candied orange peel (who would have thought I would like Foie Gras?! But I do!)
The “Cocktail Course”: “Point of No Return” was the name. It involved fire. Very cool.

What a great, fun experience. Sometimes I don’t mind paying extra for a special experience. And that’s what this was. Not just good food and wine. But a whole experience, and one I won’t forget anytime soon.  Can’t wait for our next culinary adventure…

Sisters Weekend 2013

Ahh.. Another spring.. And another sisters long weekend to Phoenix for some sun, fun, and Seattle Mariners Spring Training!

We stay at our favorite place: the Point Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. Oh it’s so lovely there!  The resort is nestled into the side of a mountain (yes, they DO have mountains in Arizona! They’re no Rockies, but there’s elevation just the same!). The grounds are located next to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Posse, where they train their horses, and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Being this close to both of these makes for nice morning walks.

The grounds themselves are just lovely. The architecture, the color of the buildings, and general layout of the resort makes for a great place to shoot! Year after year, I never get tired of taking pictures there.

But while we spent a good amount of time lounging around at one of the pools and sipping on umbrella-laced froofy drinks, we also enjoyed some Seattle Mariners spring training baseball in Peoria. That’s always fun to relax and watch some baseball in the warm, dry weather (a little bit unlike Seattle; thank goodness!).

Below are some photos from the trip (click on a picture to enlarge and scroll through):

Point Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort:

Plants & Cactus:

Seattle Mariners Baseball!

The Beautiful Phoenix Landscape:


Until next time Phoenix!

Great Restaurants during “Dine Around Seattle”

The month of March in Seattle is a great one. It’s my birthday month, the weather is changing for the better, the days are getting longer, and it’s every foodie’s favorite annual event: “Dine Around Seattle”. With Dine Around Seattle, many local restaurants offer special dinner menus: 3 courses for $30. It’s a great way to try restaurants that you’ve always mean to try. The two restaurants I tried this past week were Olivar and Monsoon.

Olivar, Spanish for olive grove, is owned by Chef Philippe Thomelin. Chef Philippe grew up in France, and spent many years in Spain, where he became even more passionate about the Mediterranean-style cuisine. He has been in Seattle for over 10 years, and has been a wonderful culinary addition to the Seattle “foodie” community. The restaurant is in the old Loveless building, which is a Seattle icon. Loveless is a beautiful, Tudor-style building, built in 1930. It was originally a place for artists to live and work, and is currently the home to some apartments, and Olivar. One of the neatest things about the decor in Olivar is the large mural on the wall that dates back to the mid 1930s (done by the muralist Vladimir Shkurkin). It is just beautiful and I love that it’s still there.

Surprisingly, we ended up not going with the special menu and just got some stuff that looked especially tasty! We both started out with a lovely glass of Brut and a mixed green salad with Valdeon cheese, and candied walnuts. Mmmm mmm!

Susan had the Sunchoke soup that was de-lic-ious and I had the sautéed potato gnocchi with hedgehog mushrooms, caramelized onion, migas & Manchego. I had the chocolate creme brulee and a glass of Maderia for dessert. I was so full of great food!

Olivar is a wonderful restaurant with a very unique ambiance. Love it!

I also went to Monsoon on Capital Hill. I have meant to go there for years and finally made it this past week! Monsoon has been in Seattle since 1999 and, according to the website, “Monsoon marries traditional Vietnamese cuisine with Pacific Northwest innovation.”

I went with several of my friends, and we went with the special DAS menu. I had the pork ribs with hoisin & five spice sauce, the wild prawns with lemongrass, spicy yellow curry, and roasted peanuts, and for dessert, the banana cake with coconut sauce. I also tried some Karen’s first course: grilled squid stuffed with duck and basil and Jeri’s Bo La Lot (grilled beef wrapped in grape leaves). Holy BUCKETS! The food was amazing! So good and I’m glad I finally went. Looking forward to more jaunts to Monsoon in the future.

Vivian Maier Photography Exhibit

This past Thursday, I went to the Photo Center Northwest in Seattle, to see the “Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows” exhibit.

The more information and photographs come out about Vivian, the more and more fascinated I become. I absolutely love her work. So simple and yet, so raw at times.

I wanted to do a little something different with this blog post. I usually pre-write something out and then post, but this time I wanted to focus on comments I made while looking at the exhibit. Other than doing a spell check, these are my thoughts exactly as I jotted them down on my iPhone (pictures before my comments are pictures I took at the exhibit. Pictures after the comments are Vivian Maier’s that are some of the ones I love):


40 years; 100,000 photographs.

Got amazingly close in some shots. How did she get so close?!

A natural at street photography- that’s not an easy thing to do (to kind of invade someone’s space like that).
The most amazing things she finds photo-worthy. Worn out mannequins, trash cans, beat up old ladders. And she makes it work. I personally think it’s the black and white aspect. With b&w, you focus so much on the objects and I think that’s what she wants you to do.

The “Bobby Dies” picture. Beautiful.

Completely invisible to the world. And yet had so much to say. For her? Solely as a hobby?

She used her camera as a diary

On the one hand I feel bad because she would hate to know that these photos are out there, and yet I’m personally so glad they are because I think they are magnificent and the photography world is better for it.  I know I am.

The Center is showing a video and the speaker is saying showing not only individual pictures, but sequences of photos (off one roll, etc). You really see the sequence and flow and really see how it’s like a walk and a day through her eyes.

Took around 3 rolls a day. Wandering around…

It’s amazing how CLOSE she gets in some pictures!

Think I like her so much because I love b&w too. It’s so striking to me and is just as powerful, if not more do, than color.

Love the shadows, darkness, lines..

Taking a Walk Down College/Memory Lane

I posted a picture of my alma mater, Florida State University, earlier today, and the response from people caught me pleasantly by surprise. Seeing that one picture either brought people back immediately to their college “heyday” or it simply made them proud to see a picture of their campus that they hold so dear.

From that post, I began thinking more about FSU, and how I miss the simpler life of those days. Oh how we thought otherwise at the time though!  I love that university and will treasure all my college experiences there. It’s a wonderful school that keeps getting better and better (when I went there, friends of mine who wanted to go to med school had to go to the dreaded University of Florida-yuck-because that was the closest school that had a med school program. I pleased to say that FSU now has a very good med school program).

Another cool, fun fact (picture is below) is that FSU has a full-fledged circus, that contains all FSU students doing their own circus acts. It has been around since the late 1940s and is one of only 2 circuses at a 4-year institution (the other is Illinois State University). I think that’s so cool! (and it’s a good show too!)

FSU is located in a lovely Southern city; Tallahassee, Florida. Not that being from Tallahassee and where I was born bleeding garnet and gold, makes me partial or anything! The campus is full of sunshine and students and oak trees with Spanish moss. Just a beautiful campus.

Just feeling all nostalgic for the good old days, so decided to share some photographs from the campus.

GO NOLES! xoxo

LloydMartin, Seattle’s Newest Gem

A few weeks ago, my sister and I went to the new restaurant at the top of Queen Anne Hill: LloydMartin. Named by Seattle Magazine as one of the Best New Restaurants in Seattle, owner Sam Crannell has created a truly delightful environment; filled with delicious food, lovely and creative drinks, and an adult, yet energized and fun setting.

Since it was our first time there (and we came hungry), we decided to try several of the “small plates” offered. We had the shaved pear salad with blue cheese, hazelnut, port syrup, & frisee, the 64°C duck egg with brioche and mushroom-bacon-red wine sauce, a cheese plate with my most favorite cheese (delice de bourgogne), and a charcuterie plate. They mistakenly thought we ordered the manila clams (with chorizo, apple cider and white wine), but let us have them to try since our server joked that he couldn’t put them back! Bonus!

All of the food was absolutely delicious. Wonderfully prepared and perfectly presented. My personal favorite of the small plates might have been the pear salad; simply because it was so beautifully and creatively prepared (and anything with blue cheese, hazelnuts, and port is bound to be pretty tasty). Now, if you were to ask anyone in the restaurant, my favorite might have been the juice from the steamed clams. I soaked up ALL of that juice with the great crusty bread that was nearby. It was a little embarrassing, but so yummy!

We decided to split a large plate, and got the lamb cannelloni with balsamic roasted cipollini and chevre fondue. O.M.G. Let me say it again. O.M.G. Makes me start drooling just thinking about it! That was the most tender, flavorful, and delicious lamb I have ever tasted. Truly amazing. It simply melted in your mouth it was so good.

We were so full from everything, we never made it to the foie gras, which I’m sure is amazing as well. There’s always next time!

As my sister and I were talking to Tyler (the fantastic bartender by the way) throughout the meal, we noticed that the open kitchen seemed small, and we found out that they have no hood, grill or gas. They only have two plug-in electric cooktops and an oven. So all this amazing food came from two plug in cooktops and one oven! That is just insane! It just goes to show you that you don’t need fancy kitchen equipment (or apparently even basic equipment for that matter) to create wonderfully amazing food.

LloydMartin was great, and Sam Crannell is a genius with braised meats. I cannot wait till I can get back there to try more from their menu. Might just have to treat myself…Merry Christmas to me!