Sunday, March 3, 2013

Food, Gardens, Shows

It's March. It's March! We are getting an unusual warm front and it feels like spring is really on the way. But before I get all excited about spring, I have to mention a few cool events from the past couple weeks.

First, there was Valentine's Day dinner. My honey and I went downtown to the Hand of God Wines tasting room where they have a dining room for special events. Dinner was an amazing 10-course meal paired with their own red wine as well as some outside white wines and prosecco. Some things we ate: fava bean and cauliflower puree with ceviche scallops, Belgian endives with fennel salmon vodka gravlax, wilted lemon spinach with Malbec and honey drunken figs, bay leaf, cinnamon, and peppercorn.
(Next three photos by Matt Freedman)

It was catered by James Beard award-winning chef Tiberio, who also happens to be my friend and neighbor. He won the James Beard award for his dessert Decadent Crunch Crush and Dolce Mocha. I've eaten with Tiberio enough that he remembered I have an allergy to tree nuts. The dessert is made with hazelnuts, but for this dinner he made a special batch of his amazing dessert with peanuts instead, just for me. It was hands-down the sweetest gesture any one could have done for me on Valentine's Day.
Then that weekend, I went to a surprise birthday party for my cousin in Woodinville. Her sister drove over from Idaho, her two brothers flew in from Austin, and her partner did a stellar job keeping it all a secret, so it was quite the awesome surprise. They are all some of my favorite cousins, plus there were sparkly props and accessories, and lots of cute little kids, making for a great party.
The kids ran around the yard and played while the adults assembled hand-made pizzas and a big salad. Every one came inside just in time for a huge rain storm that turned to hail.
In the evening, I went to my first show at FRED Wildlife Refuge on Capitol Hill. Aptly named  Fhysical Graffiti, the show was an energetic, unique performance of music, dance, group aerials, and video projections.
The next day I finally had the chance to try happy hour at Toulouse Petit which is hailed as one of the top ten Happy Hours in the nation. This elegant cajun/creole restaurant serves up dishes such as rustic duck and pisachio terrine, mussels with saffron and mustard, fried catfish with remoulade, buttermilk-fried chicken bites with tasso-black pepper gravy, spicy lamb sliders, and cajun boudin blanc to name a few. Everything we tried was really really good, though we left feeling a little heavy with all the oil. Then we strolled across the Seattle Center to Chihuly Garden and Glass to see the collection of his art displayed indoor and out.

The following week the Northwest Flower and Garden Show opened at the Convention Center. Being the 25th (silver) anniversary of the show, the theme this year was the Silver Screen. The landscaper I used to work for designed one of the display gardens- A Star Wars, Ewok village-themed edible forest. It was awesome. Apparently the judges of the show thought so too because it won a gold medal!
Besides the beautiful show gardens and multitude of vendors, the show offers all sorts of lectures. I was lucky enough to get to see Amy Stewart speak, aka the Drunken Botanist. Her book by the same title just came out, and she also has an info-packed website. The blurb about the book: "[she] explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol."

She passed around various plants, talked about tinctures and infusions, and made a couple cocktails. I also got the brilliant idea from her of specifically planting a cocktail garden. Why have I never thought of that before?! So this summer if you come over to my house, I might not have zucchini or tomatoes or carrots, but I will mix you up a fabulous craft cocktail with fresh herbs. Yep, priorities.

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