The Quest For Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Follow the sign.

Follow the sign.

 

SEATTLE, WA — When my husband and I were planning our recent trip here, there was one thing first and foremost on my mind.

Coconut cream pie.

The Triple Coconut Cream Pie by Tom Douglas, to be exact.

It’s been Douglas’ best-selling dessert ever since he put it on the menu when he opened his flagship Dahlia Lounge in 1989. It’s the primary reason he later opened his Dahlia Bakery next-door. He sells more than 1,000 coconut cream pies a month. He’s donated them to charity auctions, where they fetch upwards of $5,000 each!

Even one of my best foodie friends told me she’s not usually a coconut cream pie fan, but fell hard for this one. A Lyft driver on my trip told me she loved it so much the first time she had it, that she went back the very next day for another slice. Friends on Facebook described the pie as “life-changing.”

Our first stop the morning after flying in was indeed Dahlia Bakery, where you can buy a whole 9-inch coconut cream pie ($42), a 6-inch one ($22), a slice ($7.75) or even a “bite” ($3), which is a two-bite-sized pastry with the same filling and topping as the regular-sized version.

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Filling Up Happily At Renee Erickson’s Restaurants

A fun little snack of Spanish sardines at Barnacle.

A fun little snack of Spanish sardines at Barnacle.

 

SEATTLE, WA — When you land in Seattle on a late-Thursday afternoon, what is — and should be — your first stop after checking into your hotel?

The Walrus and the Carpenter for Oyster Happy Hour.

Oh, yes, it is so worth it to make a beeline for this Monday through Thursday Happy Hour, if you are a fan of oysters on the half shell because these are some of the best around. From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., the oysters are half off. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., they are 25 percent off.

Of course, everyone else has the same idea, so no doubt you will arrive to find the restaurant already packed, as my husband and I did. No matter, it just gives you a great excuse to enjoy a cocktail at adjacent Barnacle bar.

Actually, this one building houses THREE Renee Erickson establishments.

Actually, this one building houses THREE Renee Erickson establishments.

Both places are owned by James Beard Award-winning Chef Renee Erickson. In fact, she even has a third restaurant, Sea Creatures, in this one building. Plus a whole lot more.

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JuneBaby Is All That

Sundays are fried chicken night at JuneBaby.

Sundays are fried chicken night at JuneBaby.

 

SEATTLE, WA — It was named the “Best New Restaurant” of 2018 by the James Beard Awards. It is owned by the “Best Chef Northwest” of 2018, as bestowed by the same. And it is worth every single accolade.

JuneBaby is even worth waiting in line for 90 minutes to snag two seats at the crowded, shoulder-to-shoulder bar, as I managed to do a week ago, paying my own tab at the end.

Chef Edouardo Jordan is the first African-American to win that coveted national title. A Florida native, Jordan has some serious cooking chops, having spent time at the French Laundry in Yountville, the Herbfarm in Washington state, and Per Se and Lincoln, both in New York.

He opened Salare, just a block away from JuneBaby, in 2015, which also won acclaim for its globally-inspired fare inspired by all the places he’s worked and lived.

Winner of two James Beard Awards.

Winner of two James Beard Awards.

JuneBaby, which opened in 2017, is his love note to Southern cooking, particularly the dishes his mother made him while he was growing up. He uses local ingredients, including many heirloom ones, to execute soulful, rustic fare with refined technique. The portions are generous, and the prices relatively moderate for all that you get.

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Diana Henry’s Chocolate & Olive Oil Cake

Yes, this is the way this chocolate and olive oil cake is supposed to look.

Yes, this is the way this chocolate and olive oil cake is supposed to look.

 

I think of this as the Frank Gehry of cakes.

It’s all angular pieces that jut this way and that. It seems to not make sense or be of this world. But the longer you gaze at it, the more you appreciate its quirky distinctiveness.

Just wait until you taste it, too.

“Chocolate & Olive Oil Cake” is a recipe by the incomparable Diana Henry, the London-based columnist, broadcaster and author who has a true gift when it comes to food writing, making you see, smell and taste an ingredient or dish in its totality just from the words she pens on a page.

The recipe is from her newest cookbook, “How To Eat A Peach” (Hatchette), of which I received a review copy.

How To Eat A Peach

It’s a compilation of her favorite dishes in her menu notebook that she’s jotted down entries in since she was 16. These are the dishes she most wants to cook for friends, family and herself. They include such scrumptious fare as “Sea Bass Crudo with Radishes & Nasturtiums,” “Autumn Vegetables with Hazlenut, Roast Bell Pepper & Anchovy Relish” and “Arroz Nego with Romesco Sauce.”

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A Taste of Nikkei Cuisine at Kaiyo

Grilled octopus at the new Kaiyo in San Francisco.

Grilled octopus at the new Kaiyo in San Francisco.

 

Just what is Nikkei cuisine? It’s the cross-cultural deliciousness that results when Japanese immigrants meld their traditional cooking with that of their new adopted land.

Kaiyo, which opened in September in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood, takes influence from the journey of Japanese immigrants in Peru. That’s why ceviche and tiradito are as prominent on the menu as nigiri and spicy miso lobster soup.

Chef Michelle Matthews, formerly of Whitechapel in San Francisco, the restaurant’s sister establishment, heads the kitchen here.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. The narrow, hip restaurant is dominated by a long, marble bar backlighted in blue. On the other wall of the dining room is a dramatic 35-foot-long living moss wall by Planted Design that you can’t help but want to put a finger on to touch it.

The front doors can be opened up completely, blurring the indoors with the outdoors.

The front doors can be opened up completely, blurring the indoors with the outdoors.

The restaurant has been open less than a month, but already was packed on the Saturday night I was there.

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