Thursday, June 26, 2014

Seattle Weekend: Paseo, Von Trapp's & Sun Liquor

A few weekends ago, Doug and I headed up to Seattle for a sports-free weekend. This was a BIG DEAL because usually our weekend trips up north are dictated by the Sounders and Mariners schedules. This time, however, our weekend revolved around exploring neighborhoods that were not SODO. Yay!

Over the last couple of years, Doug and I have developed the tradition of stopping at Lela's Bistro on our way out of town. We are obsessed their pork meatball bahn mi and are crossing our fingers that the rumblings we've heard that they might be closing at the end of the summer are not true.

We got up to Port Orchard (Doug's hometown) late Friday and then got an early start Saturday morning with a ferry ride across the sound and then a run on Alki.

Then it was time for a quick beer before we ordered our lunch. We stopped by our old standby Fremont Brewing for some Summer Ales and about 15 minutes before we were done, Doug made the call to Paseo.

Why do you need to call Paseo? Because the line is insanely long and if you place your order over the phone, you get to skip it.

What: Paseo
Where: 4225 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA
Honeys Heart: Paseo Press 

Paseo serves Caribbean food and is most well-known for its huge and delicious sandwiches.

Doug chose the Caribbean Roast ($8.50) made with super succulent pork shoulder, caramelized onions, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, and aioli.

I went with the Paseo Press ($8.95) made with roasted pork, smoked ham, swiss cheese, caramelized oinions and banana peppers.

So, so good. I might even say that they're worth the wait in line, but seriously don't wait in line. Just call. I'll even give you the number: 206 545-7440.

And if it's nice out, I highly recommend enjoying your sandwiches in Gas Works Park. Our picnic there almost made me want to move to Seattle... almost.

After devouring our humungous sandwiches, we needed to burn a few calories, so we headed over to Von Trapp's for some bocce ball.

What: Von Trapp's
Where: 912 12th Ave, Seattle, WA
Honeys Heart: Bocce Ball!

Von Trapp's is a German beer hall featuring four bocce ball courts, plenty of bar space, and a soon-to-open patio. The service was awesome and the courts were great. Plus I beat Doug.

We had no problem getting a court on a sunny Saturday afternoon, but you should probably make a reservation if you're going later in the evening. The line to get in there gets real long too.

We had a little time to kill before our dinner reservation in Capitol Hill, so we headed to Sun Liquor.

What: Sun Liquor 
Where: 607 Summit Ave E, Seattle, WA
Honeys Heart: Southside

Sun Liquor Bar & Distillery specializes in distilling gin and vodka and also serves craft cocktails made with their house spirits. Doug and I have popped in before and were impressed with the cocktails and I liked the fun nautical meets carnival decor, so we decided a repeat visit was in order.

Sun Liquor is very rare in that it actually lists one of my all time favorite drinks on its menu: a Southside. Southsides are essentially mojitos made with gin instead of rum and you should probably try one ASAP. Sun Liquor makes theirs a little special by adding some ginger beer into the mix. Basically the perfect drink for a hot, sunny day.

Doug ordered a Between the Sheets, made with Sun rum silver, brandy, curacao, and lemon juice and that was super tasty too. We also tried a Flight of Spirits with Sun's Hedge Trimmer Gin, Gun Club Gin, and Barrel Aged Rum. While I do identify as a gin girl, I have to admit that it was a little hard for me to sip that gin straight, as smooth as it was. I think I'll definitely stick with cocktails next time around.

Stay tuned for more about our weekend in Seattle including dinner at the amazing Mamnoon and drinks at Canon, my second favorite cocktail bar (Drink, you're still first).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Portland Restaurant: Daruma

What: Daruma 
Where: 3520 NE 42nd Avenue (NE 42nd and Fremont)
When: Lunch 11:30-2:30pm, Dinner 5-9pm, 'late night' Omakase 9pm-close, Closed Sun & Mon
Honeys Heart: Sashimi

I love sushi. Almost as much as Adam does so we tend to have a lot of sushi when we go out. This date night was celebrating 14 years together so we decided to splurge at Daruma in northeast Portland.

This hole in the wall just off of NE Fremont has space at the bar and the window. We took a seat at the sushi bar, an excellent spot to view the techniques of the sushi chef since Adam is always trying to improve his at-home sushi skills.

We sat down around 8:30pm, but the omakase style option doesn't start until after 9pm, so we decided to order a few things to get started and then change to the chef's choice.

Off the appetizer section of the menu we went for the Inari ($4) described as "veggie rice pillows". At first we were suspect, but these were pretty delicious. They were like cold vegetable fried rice in a sweet tofu pocket. Okay, I'm not sure that description does them justice, but I really liked them.

We also ordered the Tsukemono ($4), a dish of house-pickled veggies. All good, but the radishes were probably my favorite.

Another procrastination technique was to order drinks. We started with some bubbly ($9) and a sake flight ($14).

Sake flights are proving to be a great way to learn which sake I like and don't like without committing to an entire glass. The flight included Dewatsuru Kimoto Junmai ($8/glass) described as bright, hearty, musk; Minato ($11/glass) powerful, funky, minerals (the descriptions on the menu are quite helpful!) and another that I can't remember. I actually liked all three, while the Dewatsuru was Adam's favorite.

It was creeping up on 9pm but we couldn't wait any longer and ordered the Maguro ($16) aka tuna sashimi. I used to really be partial to nigiri versus sashimi, needing that bit of rice to soak up some sauce and provide some variation in texture, but I've grown to love the sashimi and prefer it now. The flavor of the fresh fish is really phenomenal.

Once it was finally 9pm, we went with about $35 each worth of omakase. Live it up, right?

To start we got miso soupedamame ($3), another bean of sorts that I'm having trouble recalling..., a cucumber salad, and sunomono ($4). The seaweed salad was a bit of a let down. I usually like it, but this one lacked flavor.

Following the array of veggies we got the Bincho - Albacore ($14) which was truly excellent and may have been ordered again towards the end.

To continue my sake education, I tried a few more samples and ended up going with the Denshin Ine Junmai ($9/glass) described on their menu as delicate, pretty, sprouts. It was light and refreshing.

After the albacore, the plates kept arriving with pieces of nigiri and two rolls. The only downside to the omakase style is that dishes just show up in front of you and unless you're paying attention (which at this point we were chatting up our neighbors at the sushi bar) you don't remember what you got!

Somehow I missed the photo op, but we also got the Hotate ($8 - scallop nigiri) which I was a bit nervous about, but the texture was soft and the flavor was creamy and buttery. I would definitely have it again. 

The downside to sushi is the bill at the end. We spent a pretty penny this night (it was a special occasion so it's okay, right?) but we could have toned it down and still had a great meal. I highly recommend the omakase option here (after 9pm) and at Boxer Sushi. Writing this makes me want more sushi...perhaps for my birthday next weekend!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Portland Happy Hour: The Sudra

Last Wednesday Katie had planned to catch up with her wedding planner (3.5 months to go!) and I tagged along to their meet up at Stanford's so Katie and I could head straight to a new happy hour after. We were surprised to find out that for "Wine Wednesdays", Stanford's offers 1/2 off all bottles- so we obviously had to participate. Just $13 for a bottle, well if you insist!

From there we headed to The Ocean on NE Glisan to try The Sudra's late night happy hour starting at 9pm.

What: The Sudra
Where: 2333 NE Glisan St
When: Happy Hour 4 - 7pm, 9pm - Close Daily
Honeys Heart: Root Vegetables

You order at the register and then take a seat. Happy hour deals include $5 specials, $1 off all plates, $1 off all cocktails, wine, wells, drafts, and cans. We went for two of the $5 plates to share and each selected a cocktail and headed for our seat outside. During the nice weather their garage style door rolls up so the restaurant is open to the patio seating. Lovely setting!

Katie went for the Rikki Tikki Tavi ($7 on hh) with rum, New Deal ginger liqueur, cinnamon syrup, grapefruit and lemon juices, angostura bitters. Surprisingly strong on the cinnamon front, but still pretty refreshing.

I went for a slightly less spicy version of the King Louie ($9 on hh) with Cazadores Blanco, Hot Monkey vodka, combier orange, pineapple and lime juices, with a chile salt rim. I love how they use local spirits, like the Hot Monkey Vodka and New Deal Ginger Liqueur!

Per our server's recommendation, our first happy hour pick was Kale-Infused Dosa / Potato Masala / Black Eyed Pea Korma / Chutney ($5). It definitely needed a little salt, but after that bottle of wine from Stanford's I was feeling lazy.

Our second choice was the Root Vegetables / Anasazi Beans / Brown Basmati Rice / Cilantro-Lemon Sauce ($5). I think the root vegetables on this plate were my favorite item between the two plates. Super delish.

In the end, the plates were a great price and we felt like we were being semi-healthy with Sudra's focus on vegetarian fare... But I think if we were looking for crazy delicious, not just healthy Indian, Bollywood Theatre would definitely win out.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Brooklyn Ice Cream & Bar: Ample Hills Creamery & The Bearded Lady

What: Ample Hills Creamery
Where: 623 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn
When: Sun - Thurs 12pm - 10pm, Fri & Sat 12pm - 11pm
Honeys Heart: Sweet As Honey

An ice creamery that rivals Portland's famous Salt & Straw, Ample Hills Creamery started as a food truck in Prospect Park and was made popular by flavors such as Maple Bacon, Stout 'n' Pretzels, and Salted Crack Caramel. It now has a brick and mortar where they scoop 24 flavors.

Sarah recommended the Sweet As Honey with homemade honeycomb candy in a sweet ice cream. I tried to get something different, but after a few samples I just couldn't not get this!

Though The Munchies were looking like a popular choice and I won't lie, it was pretty damn good. The pretzel infused ice cream with clusters of potato chips, pretzels, ritz crackers, and mini M&Ms was an excellent combination of sweet and salty!

Oh and look, before ice cream we cut sister's hair off!

Another pretty awesome thing about Ample Hills is their unique cones like the chocolate chip cone, chocolate cone, and pretzel cone. I opted for the pretzel cone since I prefer savory to sweet and it was the perfect combination!

Where: 686 Washington Ave, Brooklyn
When: Mon - Fri 2pm - 4am, Sat & Sun 12pm - 4am
Honeys Heart: 

The Bearded Lady is on Sarah's street and is a staple during my visits. Serving some great cocktails, oysters, and a small food menu, this is a fantastic laid back setting to enjoy an afternoon house-bottled Pimm's Cup ($9) while failing at a Sunday crossword or grabbing a late night drink. 

My Pimm's Cup was super refreshing. Definitely head over there for a drink!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Brooklyn Restaurant: Maison Premiere

What: Maison Premiere 
Where: 298 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg 
When: Bar 4pm-2am (Thurs, Fri, Sat to 4am), Dinner 4pm-11pm (Fri/Sat to 12am), 
Honeys Heart: Cocktail, oysters, Portland bartender... what's not to love! 

Over the weekend Sarah and I borrowed a bike from a friend of hers and ventured all over Brooklyn. On Saturday we started our day at the Sit & Wonder coffee shop (they serve Stumptown!) in Prospect Heights before heading to Williamsburg for the Kara Walker exhibit A Subtlety, or the "Marvelous Sugar Baby" an "Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant." Highly recommend checking this out before it ends July 6th.

We timed our bike ride poorly as it began to pour rain with sideways wind shortly after we left and lasted until we locked our bikes up by the exhibit. We were absolutely soaked and it was a rough introduction to city bike riding, but the bonus was that the sun came out and there was an uncharacteristically small line for the exhibit!

You walk in and the smell of sugar, burnt sugar, surrounds you and the majestic 35 foot tall sculpture contrasted by the dark burnt walls of the sugar factory is just incredible. I could keep going but let's get to the food and drink.

After the exhibit we were on the search for $1 oyster happy hour and we found one at Miller's Tavern but it didn't start until 5pm and it was only 4pm, so we decided to head to Maison Premiere instead, famous for their absinthe and oysters.

We started with cocktails before looking over the oyster menu. Sarah went for a Vodka Martini, served with three olives (gotta love that!).

I selected the Carondelet ($13) from their cocktail menu with Beefeater, lime, lemon, blossom honey, vanilla, and sea salt. Not only did it taste great, but it smelled equally as delicious.

After spending some time with the oyster menu and asking our bartender, who grew up in Portland, for recommendations we settled on, from left to right in orders of two, the Hammersley from the Puget Sound (Woot!), Kumamoto ($3.35 ea) from Humboldt Bay California, another one that neither of us can remember..., the Naked Cowboy ($2.75 ea) from Long Island Sound, and the Holy Grail ($2.55) from Tar Bay Maryland.

The Holy Grail won out for the #1 spot closely followed by the Hammersley. The Naked Cowboy made it on the list because Sarah said she prefers creamy oysters and our advisor did warn that they were on the bigger side... but seriously, check this out! So big. Sarah had to take that one on. I had the smaller, but still big, one to the side. It was a memorable feat and Sarah drew our adventure on her blog, RockCraftRun, on June 8th. Check it out!

The oysters were excellent, but next time we need to hit the Oyster Happy Hour Monday through Friday 4-7pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am-1pm. Warning: its a popular place and I'm sure during the happy hour it is even more packed!

Sarah moved on to a gin martini, that girl knows how to keep it classy, while I asked our bartender for a recommendation from their absinthe cocktail menu.

To compliment the oysters he suggested the Django Bird ($12) with Kubler, Ron del Barrilito, Cocchi Americano, lemon, pineapple, and cucumber. This stuck with the citrus flavors from the previous drink and was a little lighter than some of the other options.

(Our bartender from Portland!)

While eating our oysters and sipping our cocktails we noticed that multiple people around the horseshoe shaped bar had the bread and butter ($4) so we had to get it. Especially since Sarah loves butter probably more than anyone I know. The assortment of olive bread, baguette, and wheat bread were served with a seaweed butter. Not what we were expecting. Still good, but we would have been happy with something more herbal versus seaweed-y. 

The entire Williamburg adventure was great. We followed this with a bike ride over to Cobble Hill Cinema to see the movie Chef, which was a sweet and funny story of a father and his son, his family, his passion, and their future together. Basically our day was full of things I would highly recommend!

Friday, June 6, 2014

New York Restaurant: Murray's Cheese Bar

When: Mon-Sat 8am-8pm, Sunday 9am-7pm
Where: 254 Bleecker St
Honeys Heart: Cambozola Black Blue Cheese & Maple Cream

Friday after my data center event had wrapped, and Sarah was done at NYU, we met up, planning to head north to the American Folk Art Museum. Sarah however, had a detour in mind, and I am glad she did! 

She has been meaning to hit up Murray's Cheese Bar for a beer ice cream float since last summer and it was time to make it happen (it isn't everyday that I'm in NYC and Sarah has a Summer Friday at work!). We weren't aware that Murray's Cheese and Murray's Cheese Bar have separate entrances, so we wondered around the shop on Bleecker Street first. Like all excellent specialty stores, there were samples and we were able to try a few pieces of the cambozola black blue cheese with a maple cream. The blue cheese was subtle and the pairing was perfect. And the best part, it was very well priced! The nice gentlemen (and by nice I mean the most incredible cheese sample dispenser ever who let us have unlimited tastes of cheese and maple cream!) manning the samples let us know that Murray's has the best pricing he's seen for this cheese; better than Whole Foods and Fairway. 

What: Murray's Cheese Bar 
When: Weekend Brunch 10am-5pm, Tues-Fri Lunch 12-5pm, Sun-Tues Dinner 5-10pm, Wed-Sat Dinner 5-12am
Where: 264 Bleecker St (between Leroy and Morton) New York
Honeys Heart: Mac & Cheese

After a satisfying detour we headed three doors down to Murray's Cheese Bar 3 and sat at the bar.

Sarah ordered the Beer Float ($15) with a craft stout and Murray's homemade cheese ice cream. The ricotta-esque flavor of the ice cream melted into the beer making a creamy beer-shake-like delight. Chocolaty, creamy and ever so alcoholic. Worth the wait? Yes. Worth $15? It was a little pricey, but it's a treat, not an every day drink.

I hadn't had lunch and also I was at a cheese bar with Mac & Cheese ($12) on the menu so clearly I had to order it. 

I love mac and cheese. It is a total comfort food that reminds me of childhood forts, great nights with close friends, and I simply love cheese- so melted cheese on carbs? Yes. Not the healthiest I'll admit, but so good. But sometimes it misses the mark. It's either not hot enough, not great cheese, not smooth, or over "fancified," and I end up ultimately disappointed. Not at Murray's. 

The cheese was "piping hot" and so creamy (I have no other words to describe cheese apparently.) They gave us forks but the dish also came with a spoon to scoop up the melted cheese that oozed between the noodles. On top were breadcrumbs and some cheese that had become crispy on the edges. Equally as awesome as the melted cheese beneath. 

This will be a hard one to beat.