Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mixed Plate: Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

Gobble, indeed. And I'm not talkin' turkey. As we enter the home stretch of Thanksgiving, and the imminent tryptophan-laced food coma to come, I started to flip through all the random photos I've taken in the last few months at various meetups with friends and events. It made me feel very thankful to have such a diverse group of friends and associates who are nice to invite me to gatherings and events where no one bats an eye when guests are whipping out their cameras to take pictures of the food. It also made me think, wow, I've been to enough things to where I fear jumping on the scales, Thanksgiving is coming up, and maybe I need to trade turkey dinner for a juice fast this year. *burp*

Sake cup and pourer set smiles with approval on a dumpling lunch - Photo by Wasabi Prime

My thoughts go towards stretchypants when I think of what it means to have eating and the celebration of food being a part of your profession. I would never consider myself a full-on culinary industry pro, just a very involved hobbyist, but that doesn't mean there aren't weeks where I'm not eating scandalously well. My mind immediately goes towards a day when I met a friend for lunch at Din Tai Fung, to quell our craving for soup dumplings and spicy wontons, as well as anthropomorphizing their sake cups and pourers (they're kind of the perfect shape for an ad hoc kokeshi doll, no?). Right after a dumpling-filled lunch, I went straight to a nearby hamburger spot to pick up the next subject of study and consideration for the A Hamburger Today column I contribute to on Serious Eats. In the span of a few short hours, I had my fill of dumplings then somehow expanded my mutant stomach to fit in a hamburger and onion rings. It wasn't that I was still hungry, I knew I would be passing by the place, I was on a deadline, and this was my only chance to take care of the burger excursion. Granted, this isn't an everyday thing, and I should be ashamed for saying I fit all that food into my gaping maw during a single afternoon, but instead, I'll just chalk it up to "just another day on the job."  And, oh yeah, pass the Lipitor.

Happy Hour goodness at RN 74 and Capital Grille - Photos by Wasabi Prime

It's always nice when you can combine business with pleasure. I don't go out every night to try different/new places, but when I do, I don't want it to feel so clinical, like I'm sitting and taking copious notes by myself at a table. I've been able to visit and revisit some places with friends during the almighty Happy Hour. It was nice to sit with a gathering of fellow food enthusiasts, Twitter-pals and food bloggers at Michael Mina's Seattle location of RN 74 one night, sampling some tasty items off their happy hour and trying their heart-stoppingly good foie gras sliders. Seriously, they exist, and like some buttery rich unicorn shoved between a set of mini burger buns, it's like finding the magical rainbow's end. And eating it. Their little pots of lamb sausage with white bean stew are heavenly, and I wanted to sit in their cozy railroad station-themed decor and not leave till morning. But, of course, restaurants frown upon that.

Another cozy spot I've haunted a few times is Capital Grille. It's near a spot where some friends work, so it's an easy meetup place for the holy happy hour. As the days get shorter, the air gets more chilly, I like these cozy, dark nooks full of hearty food. Their spicy calamari is one way to shake the chill off -- they aren't shy about the peppers, but that's why I like this so much. And during happy hour at the bar, they have their own potato chips sitting in baskets, still sizzling from the fry oil, if you get a fresh basket. I didn't say I'm a health nut, I just like places that have mood lighting that helps hide the fact I'm eating all the potato chips.

Cocktail adventures at BOKA - Photos by Wasabi Prime

A cocktail excursion a little while back at BOKA Kitchen and Bar was like a mixed drink wonderland. They've updated their drink menu to include over a half dozen new cocktails, from sweet to savory. They're making their own custom infused bitters and doing some fun things with drinks, like a porcini mushroom and thyme cocktail. I know, sounds crazy, but if you appreciate bold experiments that challenge the norm, give it a whirl, or just go for one of their other new drinks that are just as sassy but less savory. BOKA is near another one of my favorite cocktail hangouts, the Polar Bar at the Arctic Club Hotel. It had been too long since I'd visited, and it's usually a place I like to go in the winter, not just for the chilly theme, but the bar is perfectly cozy and small. It's best to go with just a small group or a friend you  need to catch up with. It's not loud, there's no crowds, the drinks are lovely, and on this trip, we had some very skull-a-riffic sips from their fancy bottle of Dan Ackroyd's Crystal Head Vodka. Yes, Ghostbuster Ray has a vodka, and it's in a pretty wicked unusual bottle. It was one of those nights where a lot of new things were tried, and the whole evening just felt like a little adventure. Never a bad thing, right?

Of course everything here happened across the span of a month or two; I'm no party animal, but it's a little staggering to see it all in one spot. Looking through the photos was a pleasant reminder to always keep exploring when you can, let the night lead you where it wants to go, and yes, a regular exercise routine is mandatory. My newest thing is to have salads for breakfast if I know it's a week of Big Eats. If that's the case, with the holidays coming up, it'll be salads till January! Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Food finds from the Seattle area and abroad - Photos by Wasabi Prime


  1. You know what's funny? I'm on Day 4 of a 4-day juice fast, just so I don't feel so bad about Thanksgiving gluttony AND because I've been eating as insanely as you lately. I mean really, did I need 3 lunches & 2 dinners in Portland last weekend?;)

  2. ha - it's all in the name of culinary exploration... right??


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