Friday, May 10, 2013

Midori Bakery - Redmond,WA

What can wake a sleeping blog? You guessed it, something that takes your breath away. Oh, I'm much more of a savory girl, and that's what makes the fact that Midori Bakery is what has awoken this sleeping blogger so amazing. I'm not exaggerating. Midori makes me squeal with delight. Squeal.

I heard about Midori from Friend Colleen.  Friend Colleen discovered Midori's tasty treats from the Woodinville Wedding show at Novelty Hill/Januik Winery, and the promptly passed the word. I don't waste time; I made a trip to the bakery the next day. All I needed were words like: Bacon Cheddar Cheese Scone with Caramelized Onions, Madrange White Ham and Swiss Croissant with Dijon Mustard, Pain au Chocolat (that's a Chocolate Croissant, y'all), along with some beautifully decorated specialty cakes - just check out their facebook page!

You might guess that I'm not easily impressed with cake decorations. I was impressed. So impressed I booked Midori for the Babe's 3rd Birthday party without tasting a thing. Pictures matter, right, Mamas?

In the meantime, the Babe and I visited Midori each and every Wednesday before soccer. Lemon Ginger Scones, Twice Baked Blueberry Croissants, Mushroom Broiche with Comté cheese, and the espresso chocolate pecan cookie, among other things. I found myself making playdates after soccer just so I could bring someone else a treat from Midori - and I couldn't let them eat alone. I'm a true Southerner, you know.

The Babe's Birthday rolls around, and Baker Morgan sends me a draft of birthday cake designs. Again, to say that I was impressed is an understatement. Her ideas, and the way that she captured the exact theme, was impeccable.  Baker Morgan and her husband, Baker Jeremy, together have a talent that I haven't found since falling in love with the pastry excellence of Certified Master Baker, Arturo Diaz, who made my wedding cake ten magical years ago.  Truly, this dynamic duo, too, creates magic.

Not only can the Midori team put a design on paper, but let me just tell you, they have one steady hand (hands?). The intricate details made the cake a work of art. I almost didn't want to cut it, but I handed Dear Ben the cake knife anyway.  I'm glad I did, and I think the rest of the guests were glad too.


Top layer, vanilla and vanilla. No color. No sprinkles. Nothing to turn off a 3 year old. Yet full of vanilla goodness. She even makes her own vanilla syrup. Woah. The bottom layer, chocolate cake with salted caramel mousse with a whiskey ganache. That sounds like a mouth full, you say? Tell me about it, I've been eating it during naptime all week.  (No judging, please).


Finally, we sent our guests packing with the most buttery, delicious shortbread cookie that you ever did taste. Dear Ben, who likes to think I'm silly for searching for the most fabulous things to eat, admitted that the cookie was the best he ever had. We had four leftover. I ate three. I savored them in the glorious Seattle sunshine that we've been blessed with. Can you imagine a more magnificent moment that eating a cookie with Heaven practically shining down on you with each and every bite. Over the top? You try it and tell me. I'm just trying to think what other occasion I can justify ordering these cookies.  Midori wrapped these darling favors and tied that pretty little bow too. Thank you, Morgan and Jeremy!


Go ahead, Ohhh and Ahh over the details of the cake, and then give Midori Bakery a call for your cake needs. Don't even think about trying to get the last weekend in April though. It's mine. Indefinitely. Don't want a cake? Go anyway. Savory and sweet, there's something for everyone. Plus, they have coffee, and I hear they are getting an ice machine for those, like me, that want an iced Americano. Spill your favorites on my facebook page (Notes from the Napkin - Blog), and you're welcome.

Midori Bakery
14676 NE 95th Street
Redmond, WA 

(425) 307-1394
Midori Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Etta's Seafood - Seattle

I guess it's a rite of passage for all Seattleites to dine at each of Tom Douglas's restaurants. Now that I've had the pleasure of brunching at Etta's, I'm halfway there. We hadn't even planned on leaving the house this Sunday, but Friend Jeff asked us to meet him downtown, and well, I'm an easy sell - especially on a bright sunny day in February.

I ordered an iced tea, seems brunchy enough with the Babe in tow. Dear Ben and Friend Jeff were a little more adventurous. Dear Ben with the Market Milk Punch, and Friend Jeff with the Scratch Bloody Mary House Pepper. Both drinks were exceptional. So different from each other, though I couldn't decide which one I liked best. Maybe I'll get both next time so I don't have to decide.

Market Milk Punch & Bloody Mary

Since they were out of the Monkey Bread and Salted Caramel Apple Scone, we settled for breakfast entrees only. Although it was a disappointment that they were sold out of those sides, I forgot all about it once our food arrived.

Dear Ben ordered the Bay Shrimp Roll. It's their take on a lobster roll, served cold in a homemade buttered brioche. Dear Ben said the bread was awesome, but the shrimp salad wasn't anything to write home about. It's not that it was bad, but with more exciting things on the menu, he'll get something else next time. I feel like even the waitress tried to sway him towards the burger - his second choice today. It was a blessing in disguise that he ordered a plate of room temperature food since The Babe wasn't as cooperative as he could've been (good thing he's so cute).

Bay Shrimp Roll with Waffle Chips

Friend Jeff ordered the Corned Beef Hash with two poached eggs. I'm glad he ordered this because I really wanted to try it. This was a fancy version, nothing like what Momma served out of the can - though I do like it cold, sliced, and fried the way only Momma knows. Today's corned beef was true corned beef, like you'd see on St. Patrick's Day, served on a chunky hash. Friend Jeff wasn't expecting such big pieces of green pepper, but it was tasty nonetheless. The habanero ketchup was unexpectedly special, too.

Corned Beef Hash

I saved the best for last... today's special. Spot prawns and andouille sausage and cream cheese grits. All you had to say was spot prawns, and I'm in. A favorite among favorites. Even though these were not Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, this dish was so, so good. Everything about it was wonderful. Spicy broth, cooked just right, and creamy-dreamy grits.

Spot Prawns & Andouille Sausage with Grits

All of my Tom Douglas experiences have been excellent: the food, the ambiance, and the service. Today's brunch was no exception. It was a wonderful way to begin a bright, sunny day in downtown Seattle. What a great city we live in!

2020 Western Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

Etta's Seafood on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Barking Frog - Woodinville

In the heart of Woodinville's wine district, next door to the highly acclaimed Herbfarm, and nestled on the Willow's Lodge campus, you'll find The Barking Frog Restaurant. A restaurant with those qualifications doesn't really even have to be good because people will still come, but... it is. Brunch at The Barking Frog was certainly a delight.

A friendly hello from the hostess, a perfect seat on the cozy, upholstered bench so The Babe had a soft place to sit, and a warm atmosphere, decorated with bottles and bottles of wine. It's more than a place to eat; it's the kind of place you could sit and drink a bottle (or two) of wine. And guess what music was playing in the background when we first arrived. A little Toad the Wet Sprocket. Coincidence? Maybe, but I prefer to think they have a good sense of humor. Yep, I like this place already.

The brunch menu has a wide array of choices, and I had quite a time deciding what to get. That's always a good sign.

MIL Janice ordered the Dungeness Crab Cakes Benedict. Traditional brunch meets the Northwest; this plate comes with roasted red potatoes, herb Hollandaise sauce, and your choice of toast, English muffin, or biscuit. MIL Janice said the crab cakes were as good as The Red Bar in Grayton Beach, Florida. This is her crab cake standard. All crab cakes are compared against it, so this is saying a lot. There wasn't a lick left on her plate.

Dungeness Crab Cake Benedict

Dear Ben ordered the Hot Open Faced Turkey Sandwich. They use Zoe's turkey, then embellish it with caramelized onions, Havarti cheese, and cranberry chutney. He said it tasted like Thanksgiving on a sandwich. He ordered his sandwich with sweet potato fries, and that was definitely the right choice. I can't say for sure if they're homemade, but I ate more of them than anyone. I couldn't stop.

Hot Open Faced Turkey Sandwich

FIL Dave and I ordered the burger. See, we do have something in common! Why would I order the burger with so many other interesting things on the menu, you ask? It's because Chateau St. Michelle's Cynthia recommended it the week before, and I had been thinking of it ever since. Actually, she recommended the lamb burger, but our server talked me into the regular beef burger.

Well, it wasn't exactly regular. It's a bacon cheese burger taken up several notches: Ninety Farms beef, Pleasant Valley Peppercorn Gouda, CANDIED BACON, Bibb lettuce, roasted tomato, and mayo on a Macrina Brioche bun. Not just any burger can boast those adjectives, but it was the candied bacon that sold me! I see more of that in my future. A very good burger, indeed.

Northwest Local Beef Burger

Such a pleasant brunch, and I do believe it was enjoyed by all. The Barking Frog will definitely see repeat business out of us. Ribbit!

The Barking Frong
14580 NE 145th Street
Woodinville, WA 98072

Barking Frog on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spring Hill - West Seattle

Spring Hill has long been on my list. I can still remember the day that Friend Kelly posted a link about the restaurant on my facebook page. It was a link to an article by Bon Appétit Magazine announcing that Spring Hill had made the Best New Restaurant List of 2009. It might have taken more than a year, but the day finally came. My first adventure over the West Seattle Bridge.

Spring Hill has several tempting drink choices, including Mexican Coca-Cola. Dear Ben and I had iced tea, and Friend Kris got a mimosa. Friend Keri was the wise owl and started with a Bloody Mary.

The Bloody Mary warrants a
little more information. We all tasted it and agreed that it might be the best one we'd ever tried. It was made with chili-infused vodka, house-made worcestershire sauce, and a spicy rim of finely ground salt. Of course it didn't hurt that it included a green olive, pickle, and thick mortadella sausage skewer. Friend Keri gave Friend Kris her olive. If that doesn't say, "Olive You," I don't know what does.

Bloody Mary

The apple beignets with vanilla sauce were the first to be served and proved to be a memorable start. Whoever thought that dessert can be an appetizer was a genius; that's what Friend Kris said. It's a great idea that nary a person can argue. Friend Keri said that if she doesn't like her meal, she would order more of these. Sounds like a good plan to me. Light and airy, sugary-sweet, and filled with a thick apple slice. The best I've ever had. After the beignets were eaten up, there was still a bit of vanilla sauce left in the bowl. Friend Keri said she wanted to lick the bowl, just as she was using her finger to make sure none of that deliciousness escaped. I think Emilie Post would have approved, just this once.

Apple Beignets

I love popovers (goat cheese popovers are my favorite), and the Spring Hill popovers were a tasty treat too. The dough was crisp crust on the outside, and soft on the inside. Bread lovers everywhere can unite around this popover. It's served with your choice of jam or nutella, and we choose the cinnamon spiced apple butter. The apple butter was great, so I felt that even the Babe needed a little taste.

Popover with Apple Butter

We did order something more appropriate for the Babe. The Babe ordered fruit and yogurt. While he's not quite old for such a fancy yogurt with vanilla bean and honey, the peeled apple slices were right up his alley.

Fruit and Yogurt
The Babe with his newfound teether.

Soon, our main courses arrived. Friend Kris and I got the French Toast. French Toast is something I have never ordered at a restaurant. Sweet foods too early in the morning, my stomach does not like. But this French toast can be ordered with fried chicken nuggets and sausage gravy. If you aren't a fan of the chicken and waffle kind of thing, you can go traditional with spiced apples and powdered sugar.

Four slices of thick toast and three round fried chicken nuggets, with a chunky sausage gravy and maple syrup for dipping or drizzling. Friend Keri enjoyed the maple syrup, but I lapped up the gravy. You can eat the gravy with a fork! Friend Kris asked for a bit more gravy, which the server happily obliged.

The texture of the bread was indee
d just right, not too eggy and the perfect sponginess. Remember this is coming from a girl who as a general rule does not enjoy French toast. It was a plate that will please even the pickiest eater.

French Toast with Fried Chicken Nuggets

Friend Kris also ordered a side of Zoe's applewood smoked bacon. It was the right thickness but could've been cooked a bit more. The crispiness of bacon is so subjective, and not everyone likes it as crispy as I do. I managed to eat my share, of course.

He also asked for a side of hash brown potatoes. They were formed in little rectangles, and I'm just going to give them t
he benefit of the doubt that they were made from a whole potato that once existed in their facility.

Bacon & Hash Browns

In my opinion, Friend Keri was the big winner of the day. She picked the wood grilled kassler bone-in hamsteak. I never, ever would have thought it would be so succulent; the description reminded too much of pork steak, which I despise. The skin-on hamsteak was thick and juicy and salty and fabulous. The plate came with Beecher's cheddar grits topped with a soft cooked egg and sauteed greens. I'm a grits girl, and they were terrific. I could eat that every day.

Bone-In Hamsteak

Friend Kris thought that Dear Ben was the big winner of the day though. He picked the chicken fried turkey club. Yes sir, chicken fried steak meets the classic club. Every bit of the plate was taken to the next level. Tomato preserves, butter lettuce, crispy bacon, and thick Beecher's cheese. As if the sandwich wasn't enough to satisfy anyone's soul, it's served with a mound of beef-fat fries. Fried Kris grabbed a fry off of his plate before it ever hit the table, proclaiming that it was the best fry he's ever had. The white oniony sauce on the side had us all double-dipping. If you like a club sandwiches, you will not go wrong with this. I dare anyone reading to find a better club sandwich. Seriously, tell me if you find it because I will have to seek it out.

Chicken Fried Turkey Club

The whole brunch experience was good on so many levels. Dear Ben says it's more dangerous to drive after eating this than after having three beers. You will love it so much that you will be delirious. Friend Keri was red in the face, and I don't believe I've ever seen Friend Kris get out of control. He just kept putting food in his mouth, grabbing every which way from the many plates on the table.

Coming from a table that might be just a little bit hard to please, Spring Hill blew us all away. I'm coming back. And soon. I've got to have your Monday Night Fried Chicken before it's too late. July 11, 2011 is the last hurrah for that sought after meal. Until then...

Spring Hill Restaurant & Bar
4437 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

Spring Hill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Walrus and the Carpenter - Seattle

"Mmmmm... Oysters!" says the Walrus.

The Walrus and the Carpenter is one of Seattle's hottest "NOW" spots. It's gotten lots of good press; in particular, GQ Magazine gives it a top new restaurants in America nod (January 2011). Oysters are their cup of tea, and they do that the best.
They have quite the variety, and the presentation was just lovely. However, their small plate dishes were hit and miss. You could very easily have a really great meal, and conversely, you might very well have a less-than-stellar experience. Being the big orderer that I am, we had just about everything on their menu. I'll tell you what you should get and what you should skip.

The line at the door: No reservations taken.
Have a beer or a glass of wine at the adjoining coffee/bike shop while you wait.
The coffee shop has excellent salted chocolate chip cookies to sweeten the wait too!

The featured cocktails menu gives lots of opportunity for experimenting, and everyone was generally happy their choices.

Porch Swing & Pamplemousse

Henry's Old Fashioned

Norwegian Wood & Cranberry Fizz

Oysters: Get them!
This is the reason to visit The Walrus and the Carpenter. Several choices, and something for everyone - even Friend Jeff and Friend Kris ate one! If you're looking for a small oyster, try the Olympia. The Olympia oyster is also the only native oyster, and I like the Kusshi (British Columbia).

Dear Ben and Friend Keri indulged in Round Two.

Utz Brand Potato Chips for a buck: Skip it!
These were nothing special; they could have been Lay's for all practical purposes. In all fairness, I should have read the menu more clearly because I was expecting house made, kettle-style chips. I did go to the trouble of looking up Utz Brand, with headquarters in Pennsylvania, and it looks just like a regular small snack company. I think I would have preferred Washington's local potato monger, Tim's, which hails environmental excellence.

Utz Brand Potato Chips

Marinated Picholine Olives: Get it!
Who doesn't like snacking on olives? What I liked about these briny bites are how easily the olive meat pulled away from the seed. It made for a much neater pitting process in my mouth.

Picholine Olives

Smoked Trout: Get it!
The smoked trout was the best dish of the night. The plate was complete with a salad of lentils, walnuts, creme fraiche, and pickled red onion. Everything about it was deliciousness. I wish I had a plate of it right now.

Smoked Trout

White Anchovy Tartine: Anchovy fans should get it! Skip it, otherwise.
Crostini, smashed avocado, smoked paprika, and the anchovy with onion. Friend Keri is an anchovy fan, and she loved this. Friend Kris, however, did not concur. In fact, he said, "Never again." It was good, but I think the avocado would have been better on the side - or not at all. Friend Jeff thought the avocado was great though, but he'd eat avocado on his breakfast cereal.

White Anchovy Tartine

Queso Iberico and Tomato Jam: Get it!
Spanish cheese is among my favorites, so I must recommend it.

Queso Iberico and Tomato Jam

Fourme d'ambert and Boat Street Pickled Raisins: Get it!
I picked this for Friend Kris, the blue cheese lover. There was chatter at the table about not getting the "Cheese with raisins," but everyone was delighted when it arrived. It's hard to go wrong with cheese, isn't it?

Fourme d'ambert and Boat Street Pickled Raisins

Dinah's Cheese and Ballard Bee Co. Honey with Tangerine: Get it!
Yes, for sure get this one. For my birthday breakfast, I always request a cheese plate with fresh honeycomb, and this was like an early birthday present. I loved the thin tangerine slices; I even ate the skin. I loved, loved this plate. It had me singing, "Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah," which you know was a pleasure for all those around. (Friend Jennifer, I'm sure you would have liked that, right?)

Dinah's Cheese and Ballard Bee Co. Honey with Tangerine

Fried Brussel Sprouts: Brussel Sprout fans should try it!
I don't promise anything spectacular, but you might like it. The preparation reminded me of the Blasted Broccoli from Black Bottle, but ours was a little too blasted. It didn't leave me clamoring for the last bite.

Fried Brussel Sprouts

Fried Oysters with Cilantro Aioli: Skip it!
Stick with the raw oysters on the half shell. We did not finish this plate. Friend Jeff said, "It was good. Ehh, it was okay. I mean, I didn't hate it. I mean, I didn't throw up." He tried it, so he gets credit. As I'm sure you know, I love cornmeal batter, but it was left in the fryer a tad too long.

Fried Oysters

Sauteed Chanterelles: Mushroom lovers should try it!
I like mushrooms a lot, and this plate was good. Good mushroom texture, and they were prepared just right. The poached egg was a nice touch. Big portion, good for sharing.

Sauteed Chanterelles

Sunchoke Soup: Get it!
Do you know what a sunchoke is? It's also called an "Earth Apple" or better known as a "Jerusalem Artichoke," though no relation to Jerusalem. The sunchoke, which looks a little bit like ginger, is a relative of the daisy. There's some trivia. Now, you can act smart at the dinner table.

Anyway, it's served in a pretty good sized bowl with strips of speck and apple sticks. I would have been quite satisfied if this was the only thing I had all night; of course, we all know I'd never order just one thing.

Sunchoke Soup

Geoduck Crudo: Depends!
I swear the picture quality is not an indication of how I feel about the geoduck. You should get the geoduck if you've never had it, and if you like geoduck, you'll like this. It was prepared with shaved radish slices, Meyer lemon, and a Capezzana Nuovo oil, but the geoduck was definitely the star of the plate. Dear Ben and Friend Jeff thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel indifferent towards it. I think I need to try it again.

Geoduck Crudo

Warm Potato Salad: Get it!
Salty fingerling potatoes on a bed of peppery arugula with tangy capers and a mustard vinaigrette. I like everything on this plate, so I enjoyed it very much. It's a good plate for picky eaters too. Good portion size.

Warm Potato Salad

Salami Casalinga: Skip It!
Skip it because there are better things, not necessarily because this is a bad dish. Friend Keri did not like it, but it was fine. I think she didn't like the picked vegetables. How do you not like salami? The Serrano ham wrapped around apples looked better. In fact, there was an uproar from Friend Keri when she saw someone else get the Serrano ham, "Why didn't we get that!?!"

Salami Casalinga

Grilled Sardine Tartine: Skip It!
I'm sorry to say that no one at the table had anything positive to say about it. Bread, thick slices of butter, sliced radish, cornichon, and sardines. It was a little too fishy, both in smell and taste. Friend Keri said she would not even try it after seeing my face. I didn't think I had that sour of a look.

Grilled Sardine Tartine

Steak Tartar: Maybe?
Friend Keri just ate this up, but I wasn't impressed. Friend Jeff and Dear Ben liked it too. Friend Kris, did you have any?

Steak Tartare

Baked Clams: Skip It!
These clams come with chorizo. I guess that's a common combination, since I've had three times at three different restaurants lately. This was my least favorite preparation, even though it appears to be the most dolled up of all, with spinach, cream, and bread crumbs. The clams did not stand out. I guess sometimes less really is more.

Baked Clams

Kale Gratin: Skip It!
Actually, I'm on the fence about ordering this plate. It was rich with gruyere cheese, hazelnuts, and tarragon, but too watery. If you just eat the top gratin layer, you might never notice the excess liquid. Again, there are just better things on the menu.

Kale Gratin

Chicken Liver Moose: Skip It!
The candied squash and dried cherries couldn't make this appetizing to me. I wanted to try it and like it, but I'll just be honest. I gagged. Friend Jeff liked it the most, but I think even he might tell you to skip it in favor of something else. This was not a very good way to end the meal, unfortunately.

Chicken Liver Moose

As you can see, there are several really great items on the menu, but others that tainted my overall impression. It seems that the better plates were delivered first, and the plates that did not suit my tastes were at the end of the meal. Maybe the rhythm of the food was off, or maybe we were just too full to enjoy the latter dishes. I liked the restaurant style though, so I'll likely be back when the menu rotates - or just for oysters.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
4783 Ballard Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98107

The Walrus and the Carpenter on Urbanspoon