Entries Tagged 'Seattle' ↓

Homemade Pizza, Doh!

There is only one thing that drives me to distraction in the kitchen: trying to shape pizza dough.

I watch intently at my local pizzeria. I watch youtube videos. I read different recipes. They all do it the same way:

  • floured board and hands
  • a perfectly round mound of dough
  • gently press the edges flat
  • lift dough over back of hands/knuckles to gently shape/stretch the EDGES only because gravity will take care of the center

Gravity takes care of the center of my dough with a hole.

If the dough stops stretching, did you know it is because you have to let the GLUTEN REST? for a few minutes? If you handle the dough too much it will get tough!

  • if dough loses its elasticity, lay it down to rest and WAIT
  • then repeat knuckle shaping edge of dough to 1/4 ” thick
  • BUT make sure you keep a lip on the edge of your dough
  • arrange the perfectly shaped dough on floured surface
  • slide it onto preheated baking stone in oven

Don’t get me started on shaping gluten free dough. It was easier to learn to roll sushi. Rice behaves.

La Vita E Bella Seattle, WA

Life is beautiful in Seattle, WA. And all the more so when dining in Belltown at La Vita E Bella.

We ate the BEST Italian food EVER this evening. And this is to compare with Italian dining in NY and Northern NJ. So many Italians immigrated to the US in the last century that when I was a kid, I wasn’t alone being a first generation American. But I digress.

As the story goes…It was a very busy day. We all went to Seattle to visit the Seattle Aquarium. I know my last post raved about all you can do in Bellingham, but my kids NEED to experience CITY so they are not afraid of it. I think all the adventures are growing on them. They keep asking for more…

The Aquarium was great! We all had different favorites: river otters, jellyfish, harbor seals. My favorite was Buster the octopus. I wanted to see who took Omar’s place. Omar was the septopus from Bellingham (missing an arm). When he got too big for the aquarium at The Marine Life Center, he shipped out to Seattle. The guides at the Seattle Aquarium told me he had a good life there. They also taught exhibit viewers how to tell if an octopus is male or female. The end of all the arms on a female octopus will be the same, but on a male, one arm (3rd from the right?) will not have suction cups. There you have it. PS  The Aquarium Cafe has good food.

We ended our visit in time for dinner in Seattle (who wants to drive in the traffic?). Tom knew the exact place to go. No touristy pier restaurants for us! Oh, no! Please excuse me, but when you’ve been on your feet walking through exhibits for a few hours with a few kids, immediate gratification in the food department is in order. But, I gave way. It’s a good thing, too, because the evening turned out to be the all time BEST family meal ever shared. We took a poll.

La Vita E Bella is an Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria in Belltown (a few blocks from the Aquarium). Roberto was THE man of the night. His manners and patience were of the utmost. As was his NY way of standing proud. Tom and I took bets – what borough? As it turns out, the question should have been – what exit? Another boy from Long Island (like Tom). But then it got interesting. They grew up on Long Island AND they went to the same HS. Too much for me at this point. THEN, another couple came in to dine (regulars) and this man ALSO went to the same high school. You know what it’s like when they all have something like that in common? Everyone’s a bud talking out loud about shared places and peoples. The coincidences were beyond – there were more, but I want to tell about the AMAZING meal we ate.

Right off Roberto knew to feed the children first. Personal size margherita pizza for all. Out came warm crusty bread, ice clinked while water poured into tall glasses. A drink for the adults? YES! Red for him because he was eating the most delicious lasagna and white for me because the halibut had come into the kitchen just 4 minutes ago. The serving of fish was enough for the next day, broiled with baby asparagus and latkes. It was excellent. All diners were well fed. But, could we  see the dessert menu? Of course!

We had lemon sorbets (frozen in their fruit shells), tartufo (frozen truffle with zabaglione cream center covered w/chocolate gelato, carmelized hazelnuts and cocoa powder), torta fruiti di bosco (layers of short pastry filled with Chantilly cream and a berry assortment) and tiramisu (vanilla sponge layer w/coffee and cognac soaked lady fingers, marscapone cream filling, espresso cream dusted w/cocoa powder). Excellent!

La Vita E Bella  2411 2nd Ave Seattle WA  206-441-5322

We were entertained by the soft melody of a grandpa’s accordian. He now displays a caricature of himself on his tip glass courtesy of my daughter. She captured his hat, eyeglasses, curly mustache and suit perfectly. You should have seen his smile stretch from ear to ear.

Food, Inc.

The Pickford Cinema was showing Food, Inc. last week. I was satisfied when I walked out. Satisfied? Yes. I have travelled down many a food lane in my life. I was raised on traditional Hungarian fare (see: Food fried in LARD). I graduated to double big macs and fries. The kids even got McD stock at birth from the my parents! I was satisfied because I knew about most everything in the movie. I was ignorant about Monsanto trademark’s impacting US farmers.

And guess what? According to Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, the golden arches is responsible for the industrialization of the food served in their restaurants. McDonald’s makes Walmart look good! But, I don’t want to be a spoiler. It was informative about factory farming, animal slaughter and processing. My favorite part was the comparison between the Shenandoah Valley organic farmer’s practices vs. the industrial factory farms. It’s not pretty to watch. But, I ask you: is ignorance bliss?

PS I WON another free pint from Mallard! Everyone wants to rub my arm and catch some of THAT luck! Cherry ice. TO DIE FOR!

Bellingham ♥ NY

Gandolfo’s NY Deli is opening in the Fall on Stuart off Meridian.
NY Pizza & Bar opened last month on State (old Bargainica space).
Cicchitti’s (on Railroad) tags itself as ‘real’ NY style pizza (which it is).
The Bagelry is real NY style bagels, spreads and sandwiches.
Old World Deli makes phenomenal sandwiches (see Little Italy, NYC).

What is it with this addiction to food stuffs from 3000 miles away? What about Chicago style pizza? Chicago is only 2100 miles away.  When Chicago Deep Dish Pizza was introduced to NY in the ’80’s, no one in NY wanted NY style pizza anymore!

I will tell you what Bellingham needs. Some real Korean food. No one is making Korean food to touch what comes out of NJ. But now we’re talking 3000 miles away again. Do you know why? No competition. To sample something different, I have to drive to Seattle or Vancouver. Move, you say? But, I would miss you, my fellow Whatcomer’s!

So, purely for self-interest, could the BTC Culinary Institute try to teach more ethnic based cooking for those of us raised in more diverse climes? I know BTC is the reason why some of Bellingham’s restaurants are cutting edge.

And, really, how many pizza places does a town need? I have an idea! How about Pizza & Java? THAT would be Bellingham! I give you permission – Go run with it.

Ivar’s Seafood Bar

I love to eat fish and with all due respect to my omnivorous place in the food chain: local and wild. Good thing I live in the Pacific NW! Be it fish sticks, tempura or chips, there are a lot of ways for me to enjoy fish. There is, however, one place I admit to being addicted to: Ivar’s Seafood Bar. Whether I’m at Pike Place Market or a Mariner’s Ballgame or that Bellis Fair Mall, I get my fish fix. I only order the fish. It’s always fresh moist light and crisp. Ivar’s uses only wild Alaskan deep water Halibut, salmon and Pacific True cod caught on their Katie Ann vessel.

Visiting their website I found out Ivar’s won best seafood in Western Washington for 2008. And Frommer’s ranked the top 10 airport restaurants: Ivar’s was the winner in SEATAC. I guess my taste buds know what they like.

Ivar Haglund opened Seattle’s first aquarium filling it with the marine life from Puget Sound. He charged a nickel for gawking. I guess watching fish made people hungry so he started selling red clam chowder and fish & chips. Boom – 70 years later Ivar’s an icon. If you’d like to thank him you’ll have to be channeled; otherwise, you can visit his statue on Pier 54 next to his first restaurant: Ivar’s Acres of Clams. If this bit of info whet your appetite, you should read about this week in Washington State history.

Ivar’s Locations