Category Archives: Travel Adventures

Snapshots, Snippets and Cheese Ice Cream

A scoop of cheese ice cream and blackberry ice cream at Kurt's Farm Shop.

A scoop of cheese ice cream and blackberry ice cream at Kurt’s Farm Shop.

 

SEATTLE, WA — Yes, I said, “cheese” ice cream. Not “cheesecake” ice cream. But ice cream made with actual cheese. Have I got your attention now? I should — because this ice cream is worth making a special trip for.

Hats off to my friend Tami, who lived in Seattle for a few years, and suggested I make time for the ice cream at Kurt Farm Shop on Capitol Hill. Tucked inside the Chophouse Row building food hall, this sliver of a shop sells cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and glorious ice cream.

The custard base is made at its Kurtwood Farm using Jersey cream and milk from its own cows.

Gotta love the cow art work.

Gotta love the cow art work.

They’re generous with samples. I knew I wanted the Flora’s Cheese flavor from the get-go. The ice cream is super rich and smooth, with a pronounced naturally sweet milky taste. There are actual bits of frozen feta-like cheese in this flavor. It’s cheesecake-like, but not quite as tangy. There’s more of a developed cheese flavor, though, no funkiness. It’s ever so savory and just a twinge salty. It’s one of those flavors that’s an instant classic.

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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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Why Harbor House Inn Needs To Be On Your Radar

Vermillion rockfish caught just off the waters at Harbor House Inn.

Vermillion rockfish caught just off the waters at Harbor House Inn.

 

ELK, CA — A good three hours drive north from San Francisco through winding roads of vineyards and redwoods, this place is definitely off the beaten path. But it is making quite the splash.

Built in 1916, Harbor House Inn reopened this spring with decidedly new life. New owners bought the 9-room inn in 2005, and have spent the past few years not only meticulously restoring but improving it — most notably, with the restaurant.

They doubled the size of the restaurant kitchen and managed to lure an incredible team to oversee it: Executive Chef Matthew Kammerer, former executive sous chef at Michelin three-starred Saison in San Francisco. Husband-and-wife, Sous Chef David Hopps, formerly of Saison, and Pastry Chef Elise Hopps, previously of Craftsman & Wolves in San Francisco. Chef de Partie Holden Tal from Michelin two-starred Commis in Oakland. And sommelier Corrina Straus, a veteran of both La Folie in San Francisco and Michelin three-starred Manresa in Los Gatos. Amanda Nemec, former program manager for media operations at Facebook and Kammerer’s partner, is the inn’s general manager.

The entrance to the inn and restaurant.

The entrance to the inn and restaurant.

The magnificent view from the back of the property.

The magnificent view from the back of the property.

Executive Chef Matthew Kammerer (right) in the kitchen that doubled in size.

Executive Chef Matthew Kammerer (right) in the kitchen that doubled in size.

A few weeks before it opened to the public, I was invited to be a guest to come check it all out. (Full disclosure: I was hired to write some of the inn’s marketing materials.)

The Mendocino Coast town of Ellk has all of 200 people, and this inn, situated on a bluff right over the ocean, really does make you feel a bit like you’re in the middle of nowhere. There’s little else directly around it, save for a herd of shaggy-haired Highland cattle across the road.

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