I had the particular pleasure of spending last weekend in Seattle with my one of my very best friends and favorite foodies, one Mr. Taylor Gruman, who gave me an amazing culinary tour of some of the best Seattle has to offer.
I’m pretty sure we consumed multiple pigs worth of pork dishes over the weekend, beginning at the amazing Italian restaurant Cacina Spinasse. We started out with prosciutto and peaches with a balsamic-based sauce. Can you really go wrong with prosciutto and fruit? I’m pretty sure the answer is no, but this was elevated to a whole new level of awesome. Next up: sliced cold pork loin with a tuna sauce. I have to say I was slightly skeptical, but it actually makes for a really interesting and tasty dish. Then it was on to an egg-based pasta called tarjarin topped with butter and sage and an insane ragu (pictured below). It made it into NY Mag’s Grub Street blog posting titled “Pasta Porn 101”, and it’s definitely not far off - I practically had a foodgasm.
We moved on to the main course, and yet more pork. I had the pork belly with diced pickled apples and baby potatoes and it was spectacular - like I said, I’m a sucker for fruit and meat. Gruman had the pork shoulder with cucumber, of course it was also delicious. But the highlight may have been the dessert: goat cheese mouse with ginger and caramelized puff pastry. It was delicate and clean with a very slight tangy edge; delectable but not too sweet. De-lish! The perfect ending to a near-perfect meal.
Luckily we made it just in the nick of time to catch lunch. The first thing you need to know is that the major decoration is several large oil portraits of none other than Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Piper, and Ken Griffy Jr. The second, is that Revel is owned by a husband and wife duo of Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi. The food, while AMAZING was hard to describe as a genre, so I’ll let them do it (from their website):
Rachel’s Korean heritage informs her flavors through her impeccable training in classic French technique. Seif, raised in Chicago, and trained in Portland, Ore. brings a distinctly American flavor to the palate, balancing and complementing his wife both in the kitchen and at home.
Because I trust him implicitly in all matters culinary, I let Gruman do the choosing, and he definitely didn’t fail. We started with the corned lamb, arugula, and spicy nuoc cham salad, tender and just enough spice to make it interesting without over powering. Then on to the smoked pork belly, sauerkraut, sweet chili noodles, and the short rib, shallot, scallion dumplings - I swear they actually melted in my mouth, so much butter goodness. I also had the blueberry tarragon soda which, aside from being very pretty, was as light and crisp as it sounds, a lot of flavor without any cloying sweetness. Then, just when we thought we were done, chef Seif himself stopped by to say “hi” to Gruman (who, it turns out is something of a scion in the Seattle restaurant scene, thanks to his mom, Lissa Gruman, who’s PR firm reps some of the best restaurants in town, including Revel and Spinasse). Seif is one of those chefs who just exudes an intense love of food and his craft, which is so great to see. Of course, he was kind enough to send us out two of the best desserts I’ve ever had, chocolate bread pudding with caramelized apple and caramel sauce, and caramelized pear and ginger ice cream, candied fennel, and a shortbread cookie. My taste buds just about shorted out from excitement. By the end I was in a total daze of food-enduced euphoria. So there you have it.
corned lamb salad
blueberry tarragon soda
The last stop on the tour, literally the last thing I did before I was off to the airport, was The Harvest Vine, a Basque-inspired restaurant with one of the most beautiful open kitchens I’ve seen mostly due to the copper overlay in the bar to compliment the copper pots hanging from the ceiling. I really wish I had a photo - I always get so into the food, I need to remind myself to take more pictures… Unfortunately I had double food-blogging fail and also forgot to write down the names of the dishes we had, and of course they’ve since changed the menu for Seattle Restaurant Week, so you’ll have to bare with me. Let’s see… first up we had hot peppers sauteed in olive oil and sea salt. I’m not a huge pepper fan, but these were tasty little buggers. Something about the sea salt tempered the heat but still let the flavor out - I did have a couple that were hotter than the rest, but still not so hot that it overwhelmed the taste. And then there was cheese. Lots of yummy Spanish cheese with various accoutrements, my favorite of which was a candied squash preserve.
The torilla Espanola (egg wrapped with serrrano ham, pictured above) was a good, although we all agreed it could have had a little more kick - would have been great as a brunch item. After that we moved on to scallops with jamon foam, pork with potatoes, and my personal favorite of the evening: thin slices of cold smoked duck breast served with tomato jam. It was light and juicy and the the tomato jam added just enough acid to cut through the fat.
For dessert we chose the chocolate walnut tart (above), the perfect ending to a pretty near-perfect weekend.