Food rock star of the year
Part of the current wave of elevating mundane kitchen tasks of yesteryear to hipster social gatherings (baking! canning! pickling!), Kate McDermott’s Art of the Pie series is no ordinary cooking class. Part therapy, part instruction, her sessions are like scenes out of Like Water for Chocolate (“You've got to put some love in your pie!”). You’ll learn plenty about making amazing pies, but also about letting go of the need to make the perfect crust, the perfect pie, the perfect home, the perfect person. As she helps you roll and tweak a pie crust into submission, McDermott’s stop-you-in-your-tracks, look-you-in-the-eye and tell-you-it's-going-to-be-OK style will leave you feeling as warm as the freshly baked pie you take home.
Best breakfast happy hour
It's worth getting into the office late for the 9–11 a.m. weekday breakfast deals at Lower Queen Anne’s Toulouse Petit (601 Queen Anne Ave. N; 206.432.9069; toulousepetit.com). Most of the items on its vast menu of tasty New Orleans dishes (think bananas Foster pancakes and Big Easy andouille scramble, normally $7.50–$9.50) are only $6, and the more expensive menu items ($14–$27) are $8–$18. Celebrate your savings with an order of crisp beignets, dusted with powdered sugar and served with a side of chicory anglaise for dipping ($7/large order, $4/small order).
Best reason to pick up that coffee habit again
After years of slurping down syrupy flavored lattes, our grownup palates are celebrating the trend in brewed coffee (though we still admit to cutting black coffee with a little half-and-half—hey, we’re evolving!). But we’re not talking Mr. Coffee coffeemakers or Krups espresso machines: At Seattle Coffee Works’ Slow Bar (107 Pike St.; 206.340.8867; seattlecoffeeworks.com), owner Sebastian Simsch and his crew will guide you through just how much more distinct (and better) coffee tastes when brewed by the various contraptions that line his shelves, from pour-over brewers to vacuum pots to cold brew drippers.
Favorite trendy fish
It wasn't long ago that keta salmon was considered chum. Not anymore: At Elliott’s this past spring, the inexpensive salmon was featured on the menu right alongside prized king salmon. And it’s no stunt. This year, local chefs embraced new seafoods in their quest for local and sustainable options, which translates to less tuna and sea bass on the plate and lots more small, oily fish (think mackerel, sardines, anchovies, needlefish). The surprising part is just how good these little guys taste, and you don’t have to search long to find them on area menus. At restaurants like Joule, Sitka & Spruce, Anchovies & Olives, Sushi Kappo Tamura, Mashiko and many others, these less common fish are converting doubters every night.
Best dining trend: Family-style dinners
In times past, restaurant owners added brunch or happy hour to drum up more business. But in the past year, chefs have taken to adding family-style service, with easy-to-share platters of food. At Spring Hill, Monday-night suppers consist of big plates of pasta (spaghetti with red or white sauce), family-size Caesar salads and meatball sub sandwiches. Or call the Friday before and reserve one of the fried chicken dinners (serves four, $98, complete with jalapeño cornbread, buttered russet potatoes, caramelized Brussels sprouts and marinated cucumber salad), which Travel & Leisure just named one of the best fried chicken meals in the U.S. Dinette’s twice-monthly Sunday-night suppers are arranged by invitation only (sign up at dinetteseattle.com) and are served family style. Madrona’s June offers four-course, themed family-style dinners Sunday through Thursday for just $20 per person and kids younger than 8 eat free (reservations required 24 hours in advance). Chef/restaurateur Ethan Stowell likes the concept so much, he offers a four-course chef’s choice menu for the entire table every night at his latest restaurant, Staple & Fancy Mercantile ($45 per person). Gather round and dig in.
Happiest news for locavore drinkers
Washington state’s new craft distillery laws are now in effect, and the hobbyist booze makers didn’t waste any time going legit. Sound Spirits opened in September in Interbay, where owner Steven Stone makes Ebb + Flow vodka using local barley (he also plans to make whiskey and gin). Woodinville Whiskey Company opened in the same month (and also makes vodka); in addition, Woodinville is home to Soft Tail Spirits, maker of local grappa, and Pacific Distillery, which makes gin and absinthe. On Bainbridge Island, Bainbridge Organic Distillers makes whiskey, vodka and gin, all from organic local grains. And this is just the start: Distilleries are popping up all over town, and we can't wait to taste their wares.
Images by Hayley Young
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