After declaring 2013 to be the year of the pickle (see below), I've been on high alert, looking for tart and crunchy signs that my prediction was on track and -- hooray! -- there's been plenty to cheer. Let's have a toast with a pickle juice Bloody Mary from Seatown!
That's right. What better to perk up that eye-opener than a splash of something bracing and briny? I was having brunch at the Pike Place Market cafe the other day with friends visiting from North Carolina and they were absolutely tickled by this clever combo, a perfect partner, it turns out, for the Dungeness crab BLT.
But the very best example of a wonderful pairing I've tasted so far this year was the shockingly spectacular pickled celery on top of thin slices of prosciutto at Il Corvo. And this is coming from an enthusiastic eater who is deeply ambivalent about celery.
Oh, it's fine as a spoke on the Creole cooking holy trinity or if it's chopped fine and folded into chicken salad, but celery on its own? No thank you.
Then, pasta genius Mike Easton made me look at celery in a whole new, bright light. Yes, the noodles at this place deservedly get most of the gushing reports, but pickle fans need to go Il Corvo's new location and try that pickled celery. Like right now.
Another pickle plate to put on your must chew list is the gorgeous assortment of tangy veggies at The Whale Wins. If those beauties don't amuse your bouche, well, then you need to check your pulse.
Oh, and finally, Britt's Pickles has started selling kimchi pickles: cukes cured in the fiery chili paste. In a huge personal victory at my dinner table, I finally found a kimchi my kimchi leary husband likes. Yup, it's shaping up to be a puckering good year!
Original post starts here: This is the spot on the calendar where food writers chew over the best and the worst bites from the previous year, but I'm a fan of looking forward. And when I peer into that great abyss known as the future, I see pickles.
Not your ordinary dills or those love-'em-hate-'em bread and butters, either. These are high concept pickles rooted in old-fashioned techniques.
This celebration-of-sour movement began gaining momentum this year and the silly skit on Portlandia probably helped push it along.
In just the past month or so, pickled veggies have shown up in my martini (at Seatown), on a juicy lamb burger (at Trellis) and as a deep-fried topper on a po' boy special at Steelhead. The Montana serves a shot of pickle juice alongside a cheap-ass beer as a palate cleanser. I'm also now totally addicted to the Tabby Cat Hot Rods (pickled carrots) I bought at the new Marx Foods showroom. And, best of all, there's Britt's.
Britt's Pickles opened this summer at Pike Place Market. Just down the way from The Creamery. This operation is a throwback to the days when cukes were naturally fermented with nothing more than salt in barrels. But it takes a 21st Century direction by adding on some unusual items. Like the best damn kimchi I've ever eaten. It's cram-packed with fiery flavor and lots of different veggies, and while my friend who grew up in Seoul pronounced it "not very traditional," I loved that the maker took license to mix it up.
Go and taste it for yourself! Free samples are served daily at Britt's.
OK, maybe it's a bit too early to declare 2013 the year of the pickle. Maybe veggies preserved in brine or vinegar won't shape up to be the next cupcake. But I can hope, can't I?
Britt’s Pickles, Corner Market Building, 1500 Pike Place, #15; brittspickles.com