Thanks for all the lovely comments about garment school. I’m really excited to see what’s ahead the next several weeks and I’m sure I’ll be rambling about it here. But now I diverge onto the other common topic of discussion in this space–food.
I have this embarrassingly large cache of restaurant/food photos in my archives now. My dining out has far outpaced my ability to write about it so I hope you’ll indulge me in the coming weeks as I reminisce over the many great meals of 2010. This particular meal was one of the last great meals of the year, at the Book Bindery in Seattle, to celebrate my mom’s birthday. One thing to note about my mom–she makes it ridiculously difficult for people to do nice things for her. She refuses nice dinners as economically impractical and tells us every year not to get her anything for her birthday. (My dad, I will add, is the exact opposite. He loves being the center of attention.) So to make this birthday dinner happen, my brother and I had to basically lie to my mom about where we were going. Sorry Mom! (I think she had a good time though.)
My mom rarely spends time in Seattle proper (her heart and comfort zone are very much in the suburbs) but she really wanted us to take her to see the Picasso exhibit at SAM. My dad isn’t really the artsy fartsy type (it’s like taking a small, not very curious child to the museum) so she was saving this outing for my time at home. After an afternoon at the museum, we whisked her away for a very lovely dinner.
We started with some really beautiful appetizers. (These, in my opinion were the stars of the meal.)
Marinated scallops with celeriac remoulade, black truffle, and garlic bread crisp.
Hamachi crudo with pressed avocado, watermelon radish, and dashi gelee. (This was Mom’s favorite.)
Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine with poached quince, candied almonds, and black cardamom financier. Very rich and decadent. My mom’s introduction to foie gras. I’m not sure she cared for it but she certainly admired its presentation.
Clams with white beans, chorizo, tomato, and basil. More familiar territory for Mom and a dish we all enjoyed for its straightforward simplicity.
Then we moved on to entrees.
My brother went with the duo of pork: roasted chop + crispy belly with lacinato kale, white bean puree, and maple-bourbon jus. I had a bite and was totally in love with the maple-bourbon jus. It was the perfect pairing with pork.
Mom went with the black sturgeon. It was paired with some black pepper gnocchi and some other things that now escape my memory.
I went with the handmade cavatelli with foraged mushrooms, pickled pearl onions, and foie gras emulsion. This dish was simple, well executed, and had all the things I love–handmade pasta perfectly cooked, foie gras, mushrooms, and a wonderfully rich umami flavor.
At this point the jig was up. My mom knew this was a much nicer meal that she had been expecting, so we threw caution to the wind and ordered a few desserts.
My brother got the hot buttered rum creme brulee with hazelnut biscotti. I didn’t care for the creme brulee but thought he biscotti was excellent.
My mom and I split a plate of beignets (expertly fried) with marscapone cream and apple butter. I am a total sucker for beignets, as past meals can attest, and these were some of the best I’ve had. We enjoyed desserts with a round of strong Americanos (the restaurant serves espresso drinks but not regular drip coffee). My brother and I laughed as my mom tried to water down the “too strong coffee” with water and cream. Her benchmark for coffee is Folgers crystals so you can imagine how this might have compared to her.
My mom was amusingly embarrassed at this point, chiding my brother and I for taking her to such a nice, expensive meal. I am accustomed to Chicago prices though and by comparison found this meal (given the quality of food and service) to be a total bargain. The food and company were great but I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on the atmosphere. This is one of the most comfortable, beautifully laid out spaces I’ve dined in. To our right we had a view into the wine cellars that are adjacent to the restaurant and behind us we could see the open kitchen.
There’s a lovely built-in book case/mantle that is the centerpiece of the dining area. I wish I had gotten a picture of that but my mom and brother were already rolling their eyes about the number of photos I took at this dinner so I refrained. I’m really glad that my brother and I were able to treat my mom to a nice dinner. I wish I was closer to home so I could do stuff like this more often.
The Book Bindery: 198 Nickerson Street, Seattle, WA