Monday, March 30, 2009

The Most Awesome Chili Fries ...EVER

Cartoonist B. Kliban once advised, "Never eat anything bigger than your head." But what did he know? He also thought cats should play banjos.

The Hat has been serving up deliciously greasy pastrami sandwiches since 1951. They are so old-school, they only recently started accepting credit cards. Although pastrami dips are the main attraction, locals know to go there for the chili fries. The massive mound of junk food is a sight to behold, a challenge to the heartiest of appetites. Even the big, burly blue collar workers that inhabit the formica booths are unable to finish an entire plate.

The chili fries are a deal at 4.79. For 53 cents you can add cheese, which we highly recommend. If you want to add tomato and pickle for 20 cents more, hey, it's all you. You can even get pastrami on top. Do not be tempted to try the wet fries covered only in gravy. They are too bland and midwestern - you will be wishing for chili.

Their nine locations in places skirting Los Angeles, like Pasadena, Simi Valley and Alhambra aren't officially LA to purists, but we are more than willing to expand our borders a little to include The Hat. If only to give last summer's block o' fries a run for their money.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seattle Thursday: The Home for Wayward Girls

Thursday Anne and I had a little bit of time together before she had to take me to the airport. She wanted to visit the Home for Wayward girls, where her mother Lillian had stayed when she first came to Seattle as a young runaway.

On the way I spotted this place, which naturally warranted a stop. This is the kind of sign that makes me hang dangerous U-Turns on busy streets. Dick's has been around since 1954.

The burger and fries were OK -- the kind of thing you love if you grew up eating them. The chocolate shake kicked serious ass.

The Home for Wayward Girls was suitably religious and asylum-like to be creepy.

We drove around the university district looking for a Nepalese restaurant I had heard about.

The restaurant was long gone, so we ate at the Indian restaurant that had taken its place.

Difficult emotions can make even the best food taste like sand. I can't remember the taste of anything. I guess it's a lamb curry, channa masala and a coconut chicken curry. It looks beautiful. It must have been delicious.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Seattle Wednesday: All Tom Douglas All the Time

Wednesday I had lunch alone at Dahlia Lounge, a Tom Douglas restaurant that has been around for 20 years. They are heavy on the fresh and organic with a light Asian influence. Their bread comes from their own bakery next-door, and is really the best thing in the restaurant.

I ordered " lemon-scallion dungeness crab cake, stir fried long beans, Hong Kong soba noodles, fermented black bean sauce". I don't think they realized when they did the plating how much this looked like a giant tarantula. The crab cake was unremarkable. But the sauce was so delicious I wished I just had a giant bowl of noodles and long beans soaked in the black bean sauce.

The Dahlia Lounge is known for its coconut cream pie, and rightfully so. Why didn't anyone ever think to use shavings of fresh toasted coconut before?

While I was there, I couldn't help but notice the impressive pizza coming out of Serious Pizza, a Tom Douglas pizzaria next door. I made a mental note. I went shopping at the Elliot Bay Book Company, a fantastic place for obscure and inexpensive new books.

I found a little shop called FIREWORKS that I fell in love with.

Then I just wandered around Pioneer Square, a historic preservation district. Most of the buildings date back to 1889, when a fire destroyed most of the area. Over the next five years, the town was rebuilt. I admired the architecture and the century-old pergola. I love that word. Pegola. Purrrr-goh-laaaaaah.

I called in an order at Serious Pie, and had my taxi driver pull up so I could run in and pick up my pizza. I ordered a white pizza - no red sauce - with roasted chantarelles and cheese.

It rocked my mouth off. The crust - oh my God, the crust - yes they have a bakery that puts LaBrea to shame, but this pizza crust was pure heaven, with huge spongey holes and a crispy exterior. The cheese was salty and just the right texture. I love this pizza. I want to marry it. The pizza with cherry bomb peppers and sweet fennel sausage looked tempting as did the yukon gold potato and rosemary olive oil. I will definitely be back. Plane fares are cheap right now.

As long as I was on a roll, and it was open late, my nephew and I hit The palace Kitchen for a late dinner.

The bread was outstanding. No surprise since they are kind of Seattle's LaBrea bakery.

The appetizer with goat cheese and bread was one of the best things we ate. It was amazing.


short ribs



ice cream

ladies room

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Seattle: Tuesday Night with Justin

Justin and I decided to try an Ethiopian place called Assimba, partly because I'd spent all day studying Lucy, partly because an Ethiopian cabbie reccomended it, but also because we had both had good experiences with Ehiopian food in San Francisco.

The menu told the story of cooking in Ethiopia

Both men and women have their own special roles when preparing the food...Food served to guests where the meat is not the right type and and size, where the bones are fragmented, brings disgrace which will destroy one's reputation. In some places, it is a major cause of mariage failure!

...Meseret points out that every food prepared is unique like the person is. Thus, the food that one has prepared has its own unique pesonality reflecting the personality of its cook. That is why lacking cooking skill is so dangerous to one's reputations. The person man or woman who cooks bad may be labeled and end up with bad nick name for the rest of his/her life.

So that's why people keep calling me Kiki "holes in pie dough" Maraschino!

I wish I could say it was a revelatory experience, opening us up to a whole new world of Culinary delights, but I guess I'll have to save that one for Maori cuisine.

The injera, is a large flatbread made out of teff flour. It is extremely sour. Otherwise it had the texture of thin pancakes. Incredibly sour pancakes. The teff are used as a utensil to pick up the various stews and vegetables.

We ate a variety of foods, but they were all similarly spiced and extremely hot. We tried a sort of tartar called kitfo, which was raw ground beef marinated in mitmita. Sauteed meats are called tibs. We tried Gored Gored, cubes of beef sauteed in Nitir Qibe with onion, rosemary, green pepper and tomatoes. That one was pretty good. Our favorite dish was actually the lentils cooked with diced gnger and turmeric.

We did dig their decor.

This is not Jesus

But this is Stevie Wonder

We were a bit peckish after we left, so Catfish Corner was serendipity. The fried catfish was Southern fried without a trace of grease. The chicken wings were huge, like bat wings. I'm not usually a fan of potato salad made with vinegar and mustard, ut theirs was pretty impressive. A servicable red beans and rice rounded out the meal nicely.

The service was super friendly. The next day the special was going to be gumbo. Our server told me to call ahead if I was coming and she would save some for me. Now that's the kind of place that makes you feel at home.