Friday, January 02, 2009

Guest Writer, Karen Loftus, Does Seattle

I'm excited to bring you all another guest writer, my friend in foodie and cocktailian fantasies Karen Loftus. An international comedian, Karen took a break from touring the world on the funny front and now globetrots as an LA-based travel and lifestyle writer and contributes to: The Gulf News, NY Times, Zink Magazine, Arizona Foothills, Nuvo, Curve, Lucire, Grazia, New Woman, Food and Beverage, Wedding Vow, Travel Age West and Travel Mole. She recently visited the Pacific Northwest and shares a few of her favorites with The Liquid Muse readers!

The Best in the Pacific Northwest: Seattle's fresh cocktail and culinary culture and award winning wines by Karen Loftus

Seattle, like it’s Pacific No
rthwest neighbors Portland and Vancouver, has a thriving wine, cocktail and culinary culture. It’s no surprise as each region is producing some of the world’s best wines. Washington has more than doubled its production in the past five years and is second nationally with more than 500 wineries. Like the world-renowned regions in Italy and France, great pours naturally lead to some great plates.

Here’s a small sampling, two of Seattle’s top spots where chefs are pushing the culinary envelope, pouring new world wines while adhering to the old world ways of daily shopping, locally sourcing and if and when they can, growing it on their own.

A City Slicker
BoKa – in downtown Seattle is perfect for tech sexy tipplers and diners alike, and a great place to experience all Seattle has to offer from the culinary to cocktails and the Pacific Northwest’s best wines.

Inspired cocktails: The Ginger Thai made with muddled ginger, shaken with vodka, lime sour and sugar, is a perfect
way to awaken the palette. My friend had the White Peach Cosmo with peach puree and fresh rosemary. We argued over whose drink was better. Seduced by his Cosmo; he continued on course with cocktails opting for The Retreat made with Martin’s gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, lemon sour and Tazo passion tea.

Executive Chef Angie Roberts is committed to organically grown, sustainably produced and locally grown products. Her talent came across from "bite one" with the bread plate, served with her own balsamic jam and olive oil butter. We had to remind ourselves it was just the beginning.
Next up were the Sugar Cane Skewered Crab Cakes and the Ahi Tuna Poke with ponzu dressing. Each dish was pitch perfect, rich with flavor, yet wildly light. The Grilled Tenderloin Steak served alongside fingerling potatoes with bacon, tempura fried blue cheese and red wine au jus was lovely, but the standout was the succulent Scallops with Spiced Carrot Mouse and veal glace. Our server steered us in all the right wine directions with a Wilamette Valley Adelsheim Pinot Noir (2006), a Novelty Hill Cab (2005) and a Gifford Hirlinger red blend (2005). Bliss!

A Fine Time to Wine
The Barking Frog - at Willows Lodge in Woodinville’s Wine Country is next door to the famed Herbfarm Restaurant. That’s a lot to live up to, but the Frog isn’t fazed, as it’s a super star in it’s own right. It’s no wonder wine director Jeffrey Dorgan and his list have won many awards, as the nineteen page list is an enlightened tour of the forty local Woodinville wineries and makers, the nine Washington wine regions, other local stars (Oregon, California and Canada) as well as offers of both new (Argentina and Australia) and old world wines (Italy and France), to name but a few of the eono-features. Executive chef Bobby Moore and sous chef Jonathon James together with precise pairings of Dorgan make for a complete culinary adventure. With many Wine Spectator Awards adorning the walls, safe to say they knew their way around their menu and wines.

The Hudson Valley Fois Gras Terrine complemented with apricot and sultana agrodolce was divine, as is another chef specialty: mouth-watering Grand Marnier Prawns. The warm Dungenesse Crab Timbale with lightly butter-braised leeks was heavenly, but the Olive Oil fresh Poached Walu, another signature and direction I was lead in, was one of my best fish dishes to date, carefully prepared with Finnochiona Salami and Leek Foam. In a truly celestial setting, it was by far the star. The mix of flavors was seductive to the palette. There was little room for the Braised Kobe Beef Cheeks, yet I managed a taste of the rich dish.

The many wines were equally divine from the 2006 Riesling Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica (Columbia Valley) the 2007 Viognier Alexandria Hill Crawford (Columbia Valley) to 2005 Red Wine Baer Ursa Columbia Winery, a 2004 Syrah Des Viogne Cellars. It was a well-told culinary tale I will not soon forget.

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