Wonderful Book and Subsequent Fieldtrip

I recently read a book that I enjoyed so much, I still can’t stop thing about it. I’m even half considering re-reading it again! As soon as I finish this post!

The book is called “The Boys in the Boat” and it is about the varsity crew from the University of Washington who won the gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

 

The book is great for so many reasons. First, and most importantly, it’s about one unit of nine guys and their boat, the Husky Clipper. They worked together, they failed together, and they won together. Much of the story focuses on one of the rowers in particular: Joe Rantz. The author talks in the prologue about his first meeting with an elderly Joe and his daughter, to discuss writing the book. Even some 60 years later, the thought of his other teammates and their amazing journey together as one, brought him to tears when speaking about it. His one condition to writing is was to be sure it was “not just about me. It has to be about the boat.”

This was a group of young boys growing up during the Depression, who came from small towns in the Pacific Northwest (an area barely even known about to the rest of the country at that time) and many of whom barely had enough money to eat; let alone get themselves through school. And at that time, the UW crew was hardly the powerhouse it is today. Before they could even get to Germany to race for gold, they had to beat the incredible US teams; which, at that time, we’re predominantly from the East Coast. Once they did make it to Berlin, they were going up against the fierce and extremely driven Germans and the Italians. Teams that had funding for days and had damn near professional athletes.

And it wasn’t only those nine boys and the Husky Clipper going up against the Germans at that time. These Olympics were just a few years before the start of World War II and the global tension and worldwide concern was reaching it’s peak. It was the entire nation behind these boys and pinning so much on them in Berlin. Their ability to tune that out and to stick together and rise to the occasion is what makes this book so great.

I also found the details and explanations of rowing, as well as the character back stories and narratives particularly fascinating and engrossing to read. Living in the Seattle area, it was really cool to read about all the references in and around the city and to learn new things. I was constantly like I know where that is” or “I didn’t know that’s who Royal Brougham was!”

I was so sad when I came to and began reading the epilogue. One, because it was sad as the years pass and they begin to die, and two because I was coming to the end of the book. I think when you are truly sad to see a book end, and want to immediately re-read it as I do, then you know it was something pretty special. I can only say I’ve had that experience a handful of times, which makes this on my “Top 5” of all-time list for sure.

At the end, the author talks about what happened to the Husky Clipper, and how it is now hanging in the ceiling of the Dining Hall at the University of Washington shell house. Seeing as that’s only about 10 minutes from where I work, I decided to go by one afternoon and check it out. I have to say, it was a very moving moment for me. Surprisingly so actually. I looked up into the shell of the boat, and saw all 9 different foot holds; leather and worn after 70 years. I walked from one end to the other, rattling off their names, and trying to picture these young boys sitting in it and rowing together in perfect unison. It was so special and something I won’t soon forget.

A wonderful story and a great read. I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

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Pike Place Market, Seattle.

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Rover’s Restaurant

Thierry Rautureau, affectionately known as the “Chef in the Hat” in the Seattle area, has been the chef/owner of Rover’s in Seattle since he bought it back in 1987.
The story of how the nickname came about is this: his wife bought him a fedora one year for Christmas, and he ended up wearing it constantly. One night in the restaurant, he went into the dining room to chat with one of his guests, and forgot to remove his hat. A patron exclaimed “Look, it’s the Chef in the Hat!” Word quickly spread and the nickname stuck!

Chef Rautureau is from the Muscadet region of France, and hence the food at Rover’s has been described as “Cuisine of the Pacific Northwest. Refined by a French accent.” Rover’s has for years been known in the Seattle area as not only one of the most expensive restaurants in town, but by far the best restaurant as well.

I’ve always heard great things about Chef Rautureau and his food, so my good friends and I decided to bite the bullet and we went there this past Thursday. This was the last night of Seattle Restaurant Week, a bi-annual event which involves many wonderful Seattle restaurants in the area providing a special three course dinner option for a limited time.

Let me just say that it was simply the most magnificent dining experience I have ever had. From the moment we stepped in the front door, to the last moment when we were getting our coats at the door; everything was immaculately done and absolutely perfect.

For Restaurant Week, there are three different options for both the first and second courses, as well as different dessert options. In addition, there were wine pairings to go with everything. Since there were three of us, we thought it would be perfect to play musical plates and wine glasses and try one of everything!

Before we started with sharing the three courses, we decided to try a few other things that we knew would be delicious: The Scrambled Egg with Lime Crème Fraiche and White Sturgeon Caviar, and the Seared Foie Gras in a Savory Profiterole with Cognac.
Oh. My. LORD. They were both absolutely delicious (with the egg being particularly lovely in its presentation), but the Foie Gras was exceptional. Perfectly cooked and perfectly paired with the profiterole and cognac. I have had very good Foie Gras before, but Chef is able to take it to the next level: into the stratosphere of taste.

After we wiped the drool from our mouths and quit rolling our eyes and carrying on, we proceeded with the sharing of the three course options. All of the food in the different courses was amazing. My particular favorites were the guinea fowl and the potato and leek soup. And the brown butter buerre blanc sauce with the halibut: sooooo good. This is not the kind of restaurant where you soak up sauce with your bread, but J and I didn’t care. We damn near licked the bowl clean! So yummy!
In addition to the great food, the wait staff was just impeccable with their service, timing, and friendliness. Just a wonderful, wonderful experience all the way around, and I look forward to returning there in the very near future.

Black & White

“If you’re photographing in color, you show the color of their clothes. If you’re photographing in black and white, you will show the color of their soul”

-Author unknown

Kickin’ it at the Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen

Below is a quote from the book by MFK Fisher, How To Cook a Wolf (where she’s talking about having a friend to go out with):

“He will be the kind who will have worked all day and be as glad as you to sit back and absorb a little quick relaxation from a glass and then eat, quaffing immortality and joy.”

 

That perfectly sums up what my sister, J, and I did on Monday afternoon at the newly opened Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.

Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen is in old Ballard, at the corner of 22nd and Shilshole Avenue and opened on Friday, August 16th. The place has a great atmosphere and a very cool vibe. They have done a really nice job with the decorating and overall feel, and have left no stone unturned. From the menus being printed on nice paper, to the light fixtures in the ceiling having a neat “wagon wheel”-esque shape. Even the bathroom has an old western kind of feel with rustic wood doors and an old timey sink and soap dispenser. Very nicely done.

We shared a couple of different food items, including the smoked cheddar & tasso grit sticks, pulled pork sliders, fried green tomatoes, and collard greens. Mmmmmm mmmmmm!!!! Delish!!! The grit sticks were definitely my favorite. I think I could eat like a gazillion of those things! All around tasty food, and I will definitely go back. I already have the menu in mind for the next time: fried chicken with mashed potatoes and a slice of house-made pie for dessert.

We also had some Southern themed cocktails. (We ARE from the South after all. It was our duty to make sure they were represented correctly and there was only one way to find out!)
We had the Mint Julep, Whiskey Smash, and Southern Punch. Refreshing and tasty.

We had such a nice time sitting back and relaxing on the deck (which is fabulous I might add), enjoying our cocktails and food. It was quite the enjoyable evening, and I look forward to my next venture to the  Kickin’ Boot..