Monday, October 4, 2010

FoodTrek: Under the Sea with Eric Rivera at Blueacre

I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating because one of the best things about writing a food blog is it gives you the opportunity to meet incredible people who draw back the curtain of their lives and share their passions. And they can be pretty damn funny dinner companions, to boot. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Eric Rivera of Eric Rivera's Cooking Blog (@ericriveracooks on Twitter), and his fabulous wife Mindy, at the cool-as-the-sea Blueacre Seafood in the bustling heart of downtown Seattle.

Get your dose of "Vitamin Sea." So smart, I wish I thought of that.  - Photo by Wasabi Prime

I was lucky to have a personalized culinary guided tour of Blueacre's menu from Eric, who would know it best as he sees it from behind the scenes every night, and knows what items are the bomb-diggity. I honestly love any opportunity to just cast a menu aside and say, "what would you like to serve up?" Especially at a place that specializes in the goods from the sea, where freshness prevails and whatever was recently swimming, squirming or using its invertebrate muscular foot to toodle around is probably the best bet for a om-nom-a-riffic fate.

This was an especially good experience for me, because I'm not a good seafood eater in that I didn't grow up eating it. I'm very much a seafood-n00b. It also probably means I should give up my Asian Card because we're supposed to dig that stuff to the max and I'm some genetic anomaly that should be tagged, bagged and kept for study. I can do the American thing and blame my parents, or more specifically my dad who never liked much seafood, so we never had it when I was growing up. But I realize it's a stupid, finicky thing and I've been trying to enjoy more seafood and eventually work my way up towards learning to prepare it more in our own kitchen. Hello, 2011 resolution.

Om-nom-nomming with my new/old iPhone - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Something I'm trying to appreciate more is oysters on the half shell, and I can thank Team Rivera and Blueacre for a really beautiful experience of a gorgeous platter surrounded with pearlescent mollusk goodness. I was able to try two different Kumamotos, which I'd had before and loved their creamy, smaller sizes -- at least the local ones I'd eaten previously. California ones are apparently a bit bigger and they have a fuller, briny flavor, but maintain a rich creamy texture. Anthony Bourdain wasn't just waxing poetic when he'd slurp an oyster and look all dreamy-eyed -- they really do taste like the sea; a beautiful savory, full flavor that's like that first startling breath you take when you approach the ocean and the surf is high. It's like King Neptune just smacked you in the face. And you liked it.

Eric ordered up several favorites to sample, including the Green Curry Mediterranean Mussels, Totten Inlet Manila Clams in Purgatory, Ultimate Jumbo Lump-Dungeness Crab Cake and the Potatoes Mineapolis. We also got to enjoy a special customized version of their "Angry Crab," with a shrimp swap-out, making it a great sharable seafood plate sprinkled with toasted garlic chips and spicy serrano slices, soaking in an incredible sauce that was both citrus-fresh and richly spicy. Actually, all the sauces were amazing -- the coconut-sweet green curry sauce with the mussels and the purgatory clams in a smoky chorizo sauce were so flavorful, it was hard not to resist the urge not to order up a whole loaf of bread to just soak every last drop of it. The giant cake of crispy potatoes was like a dessert, it was so indulgent. Who doesn't love those buttery crispy bits on the tops of hashbrowns? Well, this is like a whole mack-daddy pancake of buttery crisp goodness, sprinkled with bacon and a dollop of sour cream. You'll want to marry this thing and have little tater tots with it when you see it. It was a great side dish to go alongside all the shellfish, just to mix things up with texture, plus the smokiness of the bacon bits went nicely with the chorizo flavors in the other dishes.

My only regret was not having my "grown up" camera. I left the Canon at home, because I fear it's like a huge beast of a distraction, plus I recently became the hand-me-down recipient of Brock's old iPhone now that he finally upgraded. I wanted to take it out for a spin and see how it would do as an "in a pinch" camera. It did OK, but I'll haul in the Canon Beast next time, just to give the food its proper due. Distraction be damned -- the food is ready for its closeup, Mr. DeMille.

Hey Spartacus, check out these clams! Oh, baby!  - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Of course beyond the wonderful food and seeing the cool, fast-paced world Eric gets to inhabit every day, it was an absolute treat to witness another story of a person who has taken life by the reigns and is boldly following their own star. Eric's story is similar to many others who first pursued the sensible path that everyone says one should do, and then one day the path undergoes a corrective detour and "should" becomes "want," and a totally new adventure is underway that enriches the soul. Eric's enthusiasm for his culinary craft is unmistakable, just by looking at his blog and reading his tweets, he's thriving at being a student of life, learning new skills and taking leaps that not only push him forward but inspire others to do the same. And he's blessed with a wife and family who support his dream and cheer his achievements. Plus I'm sure it's pretty nice to have a culinary school graduate and kitchen professional in the family, as you will never have a boring meal or stare blankly into the fridge and sigh that there's nothing to eat.  And no, closing the fridge and opening it again a minute later won't make something good just "appear." Believe me, I've tried, and it no worky.

Much Wasabi Thanks to Eric and Mindy for being so awesome, as well as the ninja skillz of Blueacre Seafood for preparing a fantastic meal that's helping my education towards "Vitamin Sea" appreciation.
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  1. Denise,

    Thank you so much for the shout out, that's so nice of you and completely unexpected/appreciated! Next time we meet up for dinner I'll cook! :)

    Thanks again,


  2. Way to go Eric, wow em' with your awesome self!!!!
    Deb & Eric

  3. It sounds like a wonderful experience. You are one lucky girl!


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