Hitchcock Deli

by Steven Behling


This past Monday my other job took me on a ferry ride across the Puget Sound and onto Bainbridge Island.  Bainbridge has a nice sprinkling of tasty eateries, and a fellow foodie friend had recently recommended the island's outpost of Georgetown eatery Hitchcock Deli.  As all of September's NOSHology posts will be solely Chicago-based, it seemed only fitting that I order the special: a Chicago Style Roast Beef sandwich with tender, juicy roast beef and melted provolone, topped with ubiquitously-Chicago giardiniera on a mayo-spreaded hearty potato roll.

Perfection.  And did you know that Hitchcock's deli case is stocked with we-slice-it charcuterie, including roast beef, porchetta, pastrami, bacon, and turkey?  What are you waiting for? Hop on the ferry to Bainbridge or take the 99 down to Georgetown this weekend for some killer meats and sammys.  There.  Now you have your Saturday afternoon plans all sorted out.  You're welcome.    

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Hitchcock Deli is located at 129 Winslow Way East on Bainbridge Island and at 6003 12th Avenue South in Seattle, Washington.  


La Bête [CLOSED]

by Steven Behling


In July 2013, my friend Aaron's wife, Maryam, got a few of his close friends together for a "surprise" birthday dinner at Aleks Dimitrijevic's restaurant La Bête in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.  Aaron is a pastry chef at nearby (as in around the corner from La Bête) Crumble & Flake, so it it seemed the natural choice.  

Upon entering La Bête, the diner notices large stacks of cookbooks to the left of the open kitchen, with warm woods throughout the seating area and salvaged iron detailing in the windows. Our tables were constructed from heavily-burled old growth wood with found objects nestled in each twist and fold, topped with a classy glassy lacquer.  So cool.

To start, I ordered the summer salad with charred onion aioli, blackened eggplant purée, baby carrots, crisp radishes, snap peas, greens and fresh herbs.  Truly summer on a plate.

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The summer salad was followed by calamari with Manila clams in a savory tomato broth with chorizo, corona beans, and fresh chickpeas (a first time for me!), with grilled bread to soak up the broth.

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Because pastry chefs (and friends of pastry chefs) always order dessert, I finished off my meal with a rum and muscovado sugar glazed banana crepe with brown butter cinnamon ice cream and dense whipped cream on a dulce de leche blanket. 

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My reason for selecting La Bête for this week's NOSHology Throwback Thursday is that Eater Seattle recently announced that Dimitrijevic would be closing this delightful space on August 16th.  Like so many spots in Capitol Hill...heck, all over Seattle...landlords are raising rents at a precipitous rate, forcing many cherished eateries to shutter their doors.  Fortunately, Eater's interview with Dimitrijevic suggests that he plans to overhaul and re-open a new space at some point.  

And when he does, I'll be there.

La Bête is located at 1802 Bellevue Ave in Seattle, Washington.


Castaway's Restaurant & Tiki Bar

by Steven Behling


Historically, I've not been one to seek out dessert.  Sure, if offered, I'll gladly accept your slice of cake or pie, your scoop of ice cream or gelato, your pots de creme, or perhaps your trifle...but I'm not one to purposely "leave room" for dessert.  Perhaps it's because we didn't have dessert most nights when I was growing up, and we certainly didn't make it a practice of ordering it on those rare occasions when we went someplace nice.  I very much was, and still am, a member of the "clean plate club," and depending on the main course, I'm not likely to have the stomach space for something sweet at the end of the meal (NOTE: I'm still testing the hypothesis that ice cream melts and fills in all the empty space down there).  Nevertheless, I've slowly shifted toward the realm of the after-dinner sweet treat, mostly due to my foodie friends, pastry chef Aaron in particular.  

That said, there is one dessert that I have been dreaming about for over a year.  Twelve months, 27 days, and two hours, to be exact.  It's the Bananas Macadamia from Castaway's Restaurant & Tiki Bar in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and it's...intoxicating.  Ripe bananas flambéed with sweet cream butter, brown sugar, and nutmeg, deglazed with island rum and served with coconut ice cream and toasted macadamia nuts.  I ain't never been to Hawaii, but my mouth sure has.

I tried the Bananas Macadamia from Castaway's last year with some friends and, to be polite, didn't grab it from the table after my first bite, threatening to stab anyone who came near it with my fork as I greedily slurped up its contents.  Later that evening, I lamented my penchant for social graces and made a pact with myself to get (and not share) my own bowl of this simple, yet delightful dessert.  Last weekend, I did just that, which turned out to be a somewhat poor idea given how rich and instantly satisfying a few spoonfuls can be...which just goes to show that dessert really is better when you have someone to share it with. 

P.S. The photo below completely undersells this thing.  Given that I was working with a hot, sticky concoction of bananas, sugar, and rum plus quickly-melting coconut ice cream, there was little time for staging.  Now go get a spoon!

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Castaway's Restaurant & Tiki Bar is located at 316 N Fir St in Cannon Beach, Oregon.


Kelly's Brighton Marina

by Steven Behling


Below is the story of how I got crabs.  Again.  

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Last weekend, my friends Claire, Tamson, and I beat the sweltering heat forecast for Seattle (hey, high 80s is enough to wilt even the sturdiest coastal Pacific Northwesterner) and spent some time along the Oregon coast.  As is our tradition, we stopped at Kelly's Brighton Marina for some fresh seafood and, well...the experience.

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Imagine weaving your way down (or up, as the case may be) foggy, winding roads packed to the brim with verdant, lush forests on either side, occasionally catching a glimpse of waves beating upon a rocky shore, narrowly missing the turn-off for a small pier filled with families, couples, and locals harvesting some of the freshest seafood around.  Except you didn't miss the turn, because you've been here before.

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Kelly's Brighton Marina is an unassuming, friendly stop off Highway 101 where you can toss in your crab pot and wait by the fire, play a game of Jenga, and pet the marina's dogs to your heart's content.  If you don't have a crabbing license, you can pick one up here, along with any supplies you might need.  Want to stick around for a while?  Kelly's offers camping sites and an RV park.  Or, you can do what I do, which is choose from the giant tubs of live crabs, clams, and oysters caught fresh daily by the crew at Kelly's, wait 20 minutes for them to steam and prepare your sea feast, and lose yourself in a glorious, zen-like state of cracking and consuming seafood that is so sweet, so delicious, so flavorful, the mere suggestion of adding seasoning or butter is cause enough to make you walk the plank.  They even pluck the crab's heart from its chest and serve it to you on a claw like some ancient mariner ritual.  And then you eat it, because it's delicious. 

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As we were driving back up to Seattle at the end of a gastronomically-satisfying, relaxing beach-filled weekend (i.e., more blog posts to follow from this particular vacation), Claire remarked that sitting by the fire, hearing the flames rustle as they warmed our feet, cracking crab (which she, self-professed ostraconophobic, even ate a bit of...and liked it!), and breathing in the salty ocean air at Kelly's was the very best part of the weekend.  I couldn't agree more.

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Kelly's Brighton Marina is located at 29200 Highway 101 North in Rockaway Beach, Oregon.


Pestle Rock

by Steven Behling


Remember that Hot Cakes post from a couple weeks back?  Well, before we drowned our post-marathon sorrows in molten chocolate cake, my friend Brett and I limped (ok, I was the only one limping) over to Pestle Rock in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.  Brett spent two years in Thailand providing community service and teaching religious principles to those who were interested in learning more about Mormonism.  Naturally, I wanted to find a place where he could experience some of the flavors of "home" that might be tougher to find in a more mainstream (i.e., Americanized) restaurant.  

On the first pass of the menu, Brett selected the neua nam tok (Thai for "waterfall"), composed of certified Piedmontese (an Italian breed of cattle) tender petite beef marinated in tamarind, tart lime juice, fish sauce, and chili powder, grilled with red onion and toasted rice powder.  This incredibly flavorful, protein-packed dish was served over a fresh salad of greens, cilantro, and mint, making for a very fresh start to the evening.  See below for my efforts at obtaining clarification regarding which nam tok we ordered that night:

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"THEY HAVE KHAO SOI!" exclaimed Brett upon further examination of the menu.  He went on to explain that this was one of, if not his favorite dish from his time in Thailand, and that he'd never seen it on a menu since his return to the U.S. over a decade ago.  Brett then reminded me of that one time where he invited me over to his house many Decembers ago so we could "cook something Thai," and how I politely ate the entire bowl even though he and his wife, Janeen, refused to consume any more after their first bite.  "We were trying to make khao soi that night," he assures me.  Well, I can't remember what we ate that cold winter's night, but let me tell you something...I'll remember this khao soi.  Typically served in Northern Thailand, this creamy coconut curry dish includes both soft and deep fried egg noodles, tender chicken, pickled mustard greens, sliced red and green onions, and cilantro.  Whoa.  Brett and Janeen, let's try again next December.  I'm suddenly feeling more confident.

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Later that evening, after our tasty Thai and molten Hot Cakes, Brett expressed his commitment to return next year for the 2015 Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Only he knows whether he's doing it for friendship or food.  Hey, why can't it be both?

Pestle Rock is located at 2305 NW Market Street in Seattle, Washington.


Dahlia Bakery

by Steven Behling


In January 2012, my friend Julia introduced me to Dahlia Bakery's egg sandwiches, a little handful of sunshine and a welcome introduction to an otherwise dreary Seattle winter's day.  Dahlia Bakery was just down the street from where I was working at the time, and I would periodically stop in for one of their splendid to-go treats.  On my 33rd birthday, I discovered some rich, dense chocolate hazelnut tarts in the bakery case that were packed with candied crushed hazelnuts, which lent a surprise crunch amidst the smooth texture of the chocolate.  

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My chocolate hazelnut tart disappeared (into my mouth) later that evening while I was standing in line for a screening of "I Am Not a Hipster" at the Seattle International Film Festival (trailer below, and it's on Netflix, so you have no excuse not to watch it right this second).  Between the tart and the film, I'd count it as a very auspicious start to my 34th year of life.  Of note, I've been by Dahlia Bakery several times since then and nary a chocolate hazelnut tart was found again.  Whether that's due to my poor timing or some parallel universe where I happened to stumble upon this delightful dessert at just the right moment, only Tom Douglas knows.  

Regardless of whether or not you live in Seattle and have access to Dahlia Bakery, you can stream Destin Cretton's stunning debut feature film "I Am Not a Hipster" from anywhere in the world.  Do it.  You know you want to.

Dahlia Bakery is located at 2001 4th Ave, Seattle, Washington.


Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery

by Steven Behling


Perhaps you've been tempted by their superb sauces or bake-at-home molten chocolate cakes offered at your local boutique grocery store, but let's face it, if you haven't stood in line at their Ballard home base, waiting for them to bake you a tiny, rich, gooey circle of goodness served in a tiny Mason jar alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with one of their specialty caramel or hot fudge sauces, you haven't lived. Created by former Canlis pastry chef and head chocolatier at Theo Chocolate, Autumn Martin, Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery is most certainly worth the schlep to this neighborhood along Seattle's Salmon Bay. In addition to serving up a fine selection of cakes, cookies, and other baked goods, Hot Cakes offers culinary curiosities including chocolate chips that have been cold-smoked over alder wood and Bling Blings, a tasty upgrade of the Ding Dong. 

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Yesterday, after a long day which included me running my first half marathon, I limped my way into Hot Cakes accompanied by my childhood friend, Brett, for their special (i.e., not always available) Nutella molten chocolate cake. As with prior visits, my choice most certainly did not disappoint. For me, the vanilla ice cream was necessary in order to cut the richness of the hazelnut-infused chocolate, and unlike their caramel sauce, which I can eat by the spoonful (just look in my refrigerator, as there's usually at least one almost-empty jar in there somewhere), the hot fudge on the plate didn't do much for my experience. Fortunately, I had a taster of their seasonal nettle (yes, nettle...we're in the Pacific Northwest, beyotch) caramel to temper my desire.

 

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Hot Cakes is located at 5427 Ballard Ave NW in Seattle, Washington. Fortunately for you and your nighttime sweet cravings, they are open until 11pm Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday. Save me a spot in line!


Katsu Burger [CLOSED, then RE-OPENED]

by Steven Behling


Prior to a camping trip on the Olympic Peninsula last summer, my friends Aaron, Maryam, and Aaron's boss (though surely a friend as well), Neil, and I went shopping for culinary supplies in the SODO neighborhood of Seattle. Mid-day, we stopped at Katsu Burger, a Japanese burger joint located in Georgetown. Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish of breaded, deep-fried pork (although chicken is often a suitable substitute); it then comes as no surprise that each burger (your choice of beef, pork, chicken or tofu) is coated with Panko and deep-fried before being placed on a bun with various tasty toppings. I chose a Wabi Wasabi with creamy pepper jack, crisp shredded cabbage, juicy tomato, subtle wasabi mayonnaise, and sweet 'n' spicy tonkatsu sauce with a "whaaaaaaaat?!" kinako (roasted soybean flour) and black sesame shake on the side. It was unlike any burger and shake I've ever had. Ever. Hey Seattleites, Katsu Burger is open from 11a-9p daily. I'll see you there. 

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Katsu Burger is located at 6538 4th Ave S in Seattle, Washington.


Red Star Taco Bar

by Steven Behling


Last Saturday, my friend Natalie and I celebrated the gorgeous summer weather here in Seattle by dining on the outdoor patio at recently-established Red Star, a taco bar in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.  I must confess that when I first ate here, I was so enamored with the Tortitas Ahogadas (flavorful pork carnitas on a crusty baguette dipped one bite at a time into a sort-of-spicy tomato bowl of goodness) that I went back three times over the next two weeks to eat them again.  I believe the kitchen was experimenting with the recipe, as the quantity of pork and consistency/spice of the sauce varied greatly; nevertheless, it's right by my office and is open late.

The chips and salsa at Red Star are a bargain, and the warm chips and fragrant salsa will stay with you long after your meal is over.  Not in the heartburn sense, although I suppose that might be true for some (here's a fun fact...I've never had heartburn), but in the garlic-and-onion-lead-to-killer-morning-breath-no-matter-how-much-you-brush-and-rinse sense.  Goodness knows my cat, who is a snuggle bug, is not to be found in my bed the morning after Red Star, my morning breath a terrifying force which drives her away.  But it's only for a day or so, and the food here is worth it.

At this particular visit, I encountered a magical culinary enigma: The Taqui-Queso.  Your choice of protein is gently rolled up in Oaxaca cheese and GRILLED before being placed atop a soft corn tortilla and topped with pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa (Tip: Ask for some regular salsa on the side...you'll want it).  You know how when you bake a pizza or some other cheese-doused treat and some of the cheesy goodness spills over the side, caramelizing into a deep brown that transforms the natural dairy sugars into a whole new world of deliciousness?  Perhaps you've topped your homemade mac 'n' cheese with some cheddar, gouda, fontina, or parmesan and put it under the broiler to create this same, arguably necessary touch to a beloved comfort food dish?  The Taqui-Queso envelops, nay transforms a typical taco with this blanket of grilled cheese in such a way that you never want to arrive at the last bite.  Which, truly, you never have to, because you can just order another.  

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I needed to just show you the inside. Grilled and tight on the outside, gooey on the inside.  Get thee to Red Star Taco Bar and order thyself a Taqui-Queso!

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Red Star Taco Bar is located at 513 N 36th St in Seattle, Washington.


The Breslin

by Steven Behling


In September 2013, I was visiting NYC after a midweek research conference in Boston and did some serious online research to find a tasty brunch spot near the questionable shoebox I booked through Airbnb. My travels led me to The Breslin at the Ace Hotel, a hipster haven that was remarkably quiet for a Saturday morning. There I enjoyed a bubbly housemade lemongrass and allspice tonic with lime to start, poached eggs served over curried lentils with a smooth and smoky heat, creamy yogurt, cilantro, sun-dried tomato flakes, and deep-fried garlic slices to finish. Perfect for a day of walking from art museum to art museum.  

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The Breslin is located at 16 West 29th Street, New York City, New York.


Happy 15th Anniversary, HoneyHole!

by Steven Behling


Lurking in the lower end of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is a hole-in-the-wall sammich shop that's worth your time. HoneyHole: that place with the oddly-sexual-sounding name and the most confusing décor (black and white photos, dusty rainbow feather boas suspending blue lights over tables...wait, is that a taxidermied blowfish?), and killer, killer sandwiches. 

I'll likely be featuring past visits to HoneyHole via Throwback Thursday posts as it's one of my most-visited Seattle haunts, but today's experience bears special mention. It's the weekend of HoneyHole's 15th anniversary!

It was already a packed weekend with Northwest Folklife Festival down at Seattle Center and the Seattle International Film Festival bookending my lunch hour, but I was lucky to find some time to sit down with my friends Aaron & Maryam and enjoy today's special: The Luke Duke. Housemade meatballs and marinara rich with fresh fennel and Italian herbs, melted (even browned!) provolone and Parmesan cheeses, ever-so-thinly-sliced red onion and green pepper, and fresh basil on a crusty, toasted demi-baguette. Happy Anniversary, HoneyHole! Here's to 15 more years of crafting some of the best sammy's I've ever tasted. 

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HoneyHole is located at 703 E Pike St in Seattle, Washington.