Christmas Baking 2015

Hello all-

Some years I do very little baking at the holidays, and sometimes I do a fair amount. It just kind of depends on how I’m feeling that year, or what I see that looks cute and I want to try (in addition to standard, family favorites).
This year, as you can see below, I was a bit out of control! 🙂
I found all kinds of cute cupcake decorations and other clever, cute recipes that I just had to try this year!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
Carol

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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:

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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:

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Pierre Robert cheese with apricot
marmalade and radish sprouts:

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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…

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.