back to wonderland 

Occurred to me this past week that this food diary has become a repository for my pictures of mollusks; which I am fine with, for they simply cannot be celebrated enough.


Henry’s Old Fashioned with four roses single because I was in a mood.


St. Helen’s sheep (Adna, WA) with pickled raisins. Mustard seeds were added whole to the brine, syrupy with just the right texture to play with the cheese.

Another collection with a wonderful face: barron point, baywater sweets, block h, penn cove selects — mignonette de Campari.
 salmon gravlax: pickled spring onion, labneh, clove, bay leaf. I’m fairly hesitant when it comes to clove but this worked to impart a slight musty turn which added complexity to the labneh.


sea wolf bakery

A final round of henderson inlet and blue pools.

the walrus and the carpenter

4743 Ballard Ave NW

Seattle, WA 98107

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odds-on favorite

one of my top 5 sandwiches in Portland for a long, long time

  
pork belly cubano w/ ham, Swiss, pickles, mustard. 

side of tea.

consistency.

préparation pour le grand désastre

I’m the type of person who spends a lot of time thinking about disaster, it is a woeful personality trait that really only serves me well professionally. I patrol an imaginary lighthouse on the lookout for heartache and greater doom. Do I have enough money to survive the next financial downturn? Am I emotionally prepared for unspeakable horrors to happen to my loved ones? Is something awful happening to them right now? This is the mental residue of my own traumatic experiences. I am well aware of the ways trauma teaches its prey to be ever vigilant. 

So when the NY Times released an exhaustive report on the plate-shift that will cause an earthquake, which will release a tsunami, which will take out a great swath of the Pacific Northwest – I was unmoved. I started researching such an occurrence in the late ’90s when I first heard Blatz sing their seminal classic, “California.” (“It’s stifling taking things for granted.”)

Who are the people who are unaware of these promised ghastly, yet earthly, phenomenons? Will they know how to treat their own water or cap a gas line? If stranded or trapped can they handle solitude? Do they live on the 5th floor of a brick building? The report seemed completely new to some people; what are the merits of being blissfully unaware?


Multiple. Turns out there are multiple merits, virtues, to choosing the present and the present only. As evidenced by my recent experience at a restaurant named C’est Si Bon. It’s so good to be blissfully…well, anything.

Located on the outskirts of Port Angeles, a length of land presumed to bear the most impact from The Big One, sits an idyllic outpost serving French food and no cares, not a care in the world.


A solarium filled with roses and carousel horses, plum trees in the back yard, C’est Si Bon is the only starred French restaurant in Washington that’s not located in Seattle. The owners are Norbert and Michéle, she’s the chef and he’s the maitre d’. They’ve operated this place for over 30 years, each year taking place in the promising present.

Let’s start with some snails. Escargots Curnosky.


Anything is better with garlic, butter, wine and parsley; even heartache. Even better on a hot baguette.


Sweet butter lettuce salads to enjoy before the entrée. Dressed in a light tarragon vinaigrette and pimentons.


I ordered the Sole Meunière, he ordered the Medaillon Beurre de Cassis on the assumption this wouldn’t be one of the last kind meals we shared. Me? See the first paragraph. I am always, always prepared for the inevitable. Though I will admit the air and ambience in C’est Si Bon quieted the doubts in me, for a moment, just for a little while.



The entrées are accompanied by small plates piled with steamed broccoli, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, and the most ethereal scalloped potatoes (Gratin Dauphinoise) I have ever had, creamy and crispy. Simply divine. I’ll never forget the way he kept ordering more and more scalloped potatoes; like an overjoyed child with a booming adult voice, always a true Catholic but now beyond the bounds of sinful gluttony, laughter emanating from the Confessional. Future be damned.


The interior of C’est Si Bon is difficult for me to describe. What does the belly of positivity look like? How many colors exist in a world without shame? If Dolly Parton ran a French Brothel would you hang out there?


In C’est Si Bon it feels as if every holiday, anniversary, holy day, election win, and birthday is being celebrated all at once. Easter eggs and Christmas lights. Wicker wedding bells and skylights filled with rain. A continuous joyful present, located on the outskirts of the great Olympic Peninsula – a place Mother Nature is willing to deal a mighty blow to keep for herself, and I can’t say that I blame her.

C’est Si Bon

23 Cedar Park Road

Port Angeles, Wasington

Dinner Served from 5-11

Tuesday-Sunday

sea cows and summerstones 

Whidbey Island Rosé  

A selection of Hama Hama summerstones, a bottle of Don Julio hot sauce that I travel around with because you can’t fake the funk.

  

  

Smoked oyster road snacks. Lemon pepper on this particular occasion.  

A beautiful lunch at the Queen Anne Taylor Shellfish location, we nearly had the place to ourselves.  

Virginicas & Olympias  

Geoguck freshly shaved from the clam.   

Spot Prawns, raw, animated tentacles.  

Prawns poached in vermouth.   

lovely counter snacks 

feast day

To celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Joan of Arc I dined and drank the tasting menu at Canlis in Seattle. A place where old things are made new.

There is a pianist in the lounge who plays lovely and contemporary standards like Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” and Sia’s “Chandelier”.

I started with a pre-dinner cocktail called Lusca – Plantation 3 Star rum, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon, orange, maple syrup. It’s like a Spanish Monk on ‘roids.

An amuse trio featuring potato, parsnip, foie, radish, and pea shoots in no particular order. The pairing was a 10-degree tin-brewed sake.

Tartare on some kind of crisp, the flavors of melon and wild flowers.

Canlis uses trucker seating, a party of two is seated side-by-side instead of across from one another. It is the best seating, and I gladly contorted myself to snap a pic of my date’s iced tea service. 

This is the infamous Canlis salad, which is romaine and mint and tomatoes covered by a Parmesan crisp.

You crack the crisp and mix it all up in the salad. It’s super fun for a salad.

The salads were paired with a Provence rosé. I meant to keep track of all these vintages but my notes are mostly filled with thoughts on the meaning of “varnish” and what songs the pianist was playing. I think this is the 2013 German Riesling they paired with the Sockeye, we may never know.

Sockeye salmon with yogurt and sea beans.

A monster serving of foie.

And this strange nugget is the Canlis Shrimp, heated with dry vermouth and garlic.

Squab with puffed rice, charred cornichons, and squashes. The squash was pureed with umeboshi which gave the dish a wonderful fermented flavor.

I sadly fell behind on my wine but the squab was paired with a HUGE Australian Cabernet, my favorite pairing of the night. Below is the wagyu entree, with parsnips, basil and asparagus. 

The sweet silence of an emptying establishment.

Pineapple sorbet, white chocolate handkerchief, sugared corn, Douglas Fir foam, malted macadamia crunch. This was my dessert appetizer, paired with an exclusive Austrian bernalseace blend which tasted beautifully of dried stone fruits. My notes include an odd mention of “Lily Pulitzer??” I think I was trying to make a joke about exclusivity and corn.

The aforementioned Austrian wonder. 

Coffee.

Messages written in chocolate, a deconstructed crème brûlée.

A house-made negroni macaroon and a lime macaroon which I rediscovered at the bottom of my purse the next morning.

the fisherman’s wife

My last post took us to Port Angeles, Washington, a town I return to in both mind and body. There’s an undeniable pull that has caused me to visit (and fish) on three different occasions in 2015 alone. It’s a town where you can hear church bells and fog horns, rain drops and ocean freight steamers. The area hosts so many genus species between water and woodland creatures that it feels a bit like Noah’s Ark.

I enthusiastically recommend the root beer milkshake from Frugal’s, the Moscow Mule at Michael’s Steakhouse, and the homemade salsa from El Puerto #3 does not disappoint. But if you are serious about finding the local bread and butter you’ll have to spend time down at the docks.

Donna’s Fisherman’s Wharf Cafe is owned by a husband and wife team who fled Seattle due to traffic and they serve the local catch day-in and day-out. Service is extremely quick and terse, plates are hot and seasoned. It’s all perfection.

The clam chowder contains about 20 sweet and briny clams in every serving. Chowder is always something you should have to chew.

Halibut, oysters, fries. Tartar, cocktail sauce, slaw. Don’t forget the lemon.

The oysters are flash fried in a hot cast iron pan and they don’t lose any of their character in the process. The halibut is beyond fresh, it’s simply NEW; untainted by the world, direct from boat to belly.

Donna’s Fisherman’s Wharf Cafe

826 W Boathaven Dr, Port Angeles, WA 98363

Monday – Friday 7:00am – 3:00pm

Note: I’ve recently received a few emails regarding the pictures I post on this food diary. They are all taken by me with an iPhone, in January 2015 I began using a Leica V-Lux (a gift from the fisherman) which I struggle to operate but my skills should improve over time. If you wish to use any of the photographs on this food diary please feel free to do so. Crediting the “photographer”, in this case, is not necessary.

how to: read lunch lines

On the first NFL Sunday of 2014 I lost every bet I placed with my sportsbook – except for the Jets, they pushed against the Raiders. That day should be considered a harrowing loss but it wasn’t because on the same day, as Fate gets her wont, I randomly met an expert fly-fisherman and he decided to teach me how to angle. How to catch the Big Fish. 

First he took me to the private stocked ponds above Maupin, the high desert of Oregon, and taught me the basics of how to cast a length of spindled plastic twine to sit still and silent on the water. I caught a small brown trout and threw it back in the water. I loved it. I loved every soggy move.


A big part of fly fishing is the tying of many complicated knots; turns out I have a knack for tying complicated knots…which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has ever met me. There’s also an Irish proverb that says, roughly, “no great fish should ever be caught once.” Which means you throw your catch back. Them’s the rules.

After many weeks of practice-casting with yarn in the parking lot behind my apartment, I learned how to bait. How to calculatingly choose lures that mimic various decomposing larva. That’s what fish want to eat, and that’s how you catch them.

On this stream, Clear Creek near North Hood, I caught a tiny gold grub and it was a religious experience. I swear that it flipped and turned and smiled at me while I removed the lure. Sent me a fetching side eye while it strutted back down current.


I’ve fished Little Lava above Three Sisters Wilderness. Would you believe me if I told you this small lake feeds the Almighty Deschutes? Unreal.


I fished Trillium when it was 23 degrees outside and my guide still snagged a bass.



Crooked River watershed, a location outside of Prineville that (I’m told) boasts the best year-round fishing on a minder’s earth.


I spent most of the day backcasting into pine trees a few miles down stream. But this is the day I learned how to read a lunch line, to spot a fish row, and I’m still humbled by how much I learned from the Crooked. It’s a wonderful place.


But nothing, no river or creek, will ever prepare you for the Steelhead waters of Port Angeles, where the Olympic Mountains trap you against the Strait of Juan de Fuca and everyone you meet is a fisherman…or maybe everyone you meet is a fish…to be continued…