Monday, April 30, 2012

Out and About - Urban Coffee Lounge, Kirkland WA

Wow, what a wonderful place.  I rarely go to the Juanita area of Kirkland but happen to stumble across Urban Coffee Lounge, a cafe that serves the Sumptown coffee bean and quick food items for lunch or snack. It's located in Juanita Village in a newer open air strip mall with housing above.

Atmosphere is very inviting, fresh and contemporary.  Tables, sofa chairs and counter tables make for a great place to squat (being there is wi-fi).  Street parking is available (and it's free).

I ordered an americano and shared the sour cream coffee cake with my friend Alana D.  Coffee was delicious and the cake was delicous.  Great place and if I'm in the area I will stop in.

Support local businesses by coming here!

Urban Coffee Lounge on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 27, 2012

In The Kitchen: Red Velvet Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting


Every bakery in the world declares theirs THE best.  I don't know what constitutes a delicious red velvet, but I tend to use a little more cocoa powder (about 1/2 cup) to really bring out the flavor.  Moisture from butter and buttermilk give a great texture to hold up to the cream cheese frosting.  I made these on a sunny afternoon - waiting for my son to get home from school.

There are several recipes out there, but my favorites are from Alton Brown, Paul Dean and Ina Garten.

Need them NOW?  These retail cupcake shops are ones I would re-visit.
Seattle: Trophy Cupcake or Cake Envy

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Out And About: Cafe Cesura, Bellevue WA

Yes, Cafe Cesura serves coffee (Stumptown) but I like to head to this cafe for lunch or a quick bite to eat.  It's in downtown Bellevue and parking sucks (street parking and a limited number of stalls in the garage) but if I can park, I will eat.  Service is great, very helpful folks behind the counter.  Lots of seating (tables and chairs), especially with the big communal table.  They were recently featured in Seattle Met magazine.

They offer a soup of the day (aka Market Inspired Soup) which I have found to be delicious in flavor and freshness.  They also top them with things like roasted nuts and infused oils.

Pair the soup with the Mt Townsend Creamery New Moon Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  It lends for interesting flavors with the caramelized onions.

I've also had their Smoked Salmon w/ Picked Onion and Caper Aioli on Baguette - great flavors, but I was a bit put off by the baguette.  I (as well as my son who ate the other half) found it to have a pretty tough crust.

Finally!  A place in Bellevue that serves delicious coffee and delicious food to go with.  That's a rare find on the eastside.

Cafe Cesura on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In The Kitchen - Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi

Another Food Network recipe by one of my favorite chefs, Scott Conant.  I was lucky to dine at Scarpetta in New York City and I must tell you the Spaghetti was one of the best things I ever ate (LOL).

OK, back to the Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi.  Gnudi, (pronounced noo-dee) is the inside of the ravioli.  No pasta - good for the low carb-ers.  They are sitting on a porcini puree.  I made this in my kitchen and let me tell you, it was fantastic.  Nothing was really difficult - easily sourced ingredients and fairly easy to make.

The biggest compliment, when my husband sought out some bread - and finished his meal with the scarpetta.

A couple of notes:  I ran out of shallots so I substituted onion.  I used too small of a pot to boil the gnudi, so the liquid was very white.  This produced a very white liquid when reheating with the butter and didn't look like the plate on the show (a food stylist would not approve).  I did not strain the mushroom puree (as shown on the show) and just let my Vitamix do the work.  I finished with truffle oil.

Out And About: Seattle Coffee Works

I never knew this place existed until I saw it featured on Andrew Zimmerman's Bizarre Foods America.  Nothing bizarre with a cup of coffee but the brewing method was indeed, bizarre!  I cannot explain the physics behind this vacuum pot but I can tell you this:  I've made the trek to Seattle Coffee Works several times to enjoy this coffee. Each time a different bean (you choose the bean), and I've enjoyed Burundi the best.  Allow for a good twenty minutes at the slow bar for the entire experience.  Ask questions, your barista is a wealth of coffee knowledge.  Try without modifiers (sugar, cream, etc.) because you might be pleasantly surprised with how good it tastes.  As the coffee cools, the flavor changes.  Forget the paper cup to go.  Have a seat.  Smell, sip, taste and enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In The Kitchen: Smoked Paprika Chicken with Potato & Onion

I'm an avid viewer of the food channels.  I even take notes for future food field trips and anything important for future use. I happen to catch "The Best Thing I've Ever Made" which featured Alton Brown and this recipe.

I've never used smoked paprika and had to trek to Seattle's World Spice Merchants to get it (Whole Foods didn't have it).  Wow!  If you're in the market for spices I highly recommend this place.  Every spice they carry is displayed in jars of one ounce so you can look at it, smell it and determine how much you want to buy.  It's located on Western below the market - so parking is terrible and if you drive too fast, you'll miss it.

My family loved it.  It really was a delicious dinner - full of flavor. I used 4 thighs and 2 breasts - organic, free range chicken which I don't think really made a difference (except in price).  Bonus was the crunch from the skin.  The "smoke" really came out and gave it that smoked flavor without the grill.  I would definitely make it again and not change a thing.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Triple Chocolate

Triple Chocolate - Valrhona chocolate cake with bittersweet Belgian chocolate buttercream topped with French chocolate sprinkles @ Trophy Cupcake.

Yesterday I stopped to visit a long time friend, Lisa B and brought her one of these delicious cupcakes.

I purchased this at the kiosk at Pacific Place in Seattle.  However, as an Eastsider I often visit their location at The Bravern in downtown Bellevue.  The Bellevue location is small with limited seating and offer espresso beverages.  According to my son's friend Lexi N, they brew up a delicious cup of hot chocolate.

This is probably one of my most favorite cupcakes I've tasted.  Why?  Maybe because of the hit of intense chocolate with every bite.  The moist cake, chocolately buttercream, bits of chocolate at the top....what's there NOT to like?

The quality of ingredients, especially the Valrhona and Belgian chocolates really make this small confection incredibly delicious.

This cupcake is best enjoyed day of purchase. If you like chocolate you will really enjoy the Triple Chocolate Cupcake at Trophy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Can't Believe I'm Starting A Blog

I don't know what I'm doing, but it seems like a good idea to put my culinary thoughts in writing.  I really enjoy eating out - preferably at restaurants that offer silverware (not plastic) and table linens.  However, I consider myself "omnivorous" and open to trying any type of culinary fare.

My day job is gym owner at Anytime Fitness Redmond Ridge.  You could say I workout to eat.

Join me on my journey as I document food and the fitness that allows me to eat.

Friday, April 19th I'm headed to Lynn's Bistro in Kirkland for dinner.  Joining me will be my husband Tokuro and friend Mike C.  Stay tuned for thoughts on this intimate French restaurant.