Walrus and the Carpenter: Lentils, Walnuts, Creme Fraiche & Pickled Onions

The Walrus and the Carpenter's Smoked Trout, Pickled Onions & Lentils

The Walrus and the Carpenter was our first meal from Chef Renee Erickson, a James Beard Award semi-finalist, later that day we visited her other Seattle restaurant the Boat Street Cafe. The Walrus and the Carpenter focuses on oysters but since Reed and I aren’t oyster fans we stuck with the local seafood offerings.

Walrus and the Carpenter Restaurant

The Walrus and the Carpenter, SeattleThe fried snapper had the most dramatic presentation but my favorite item that day was the Walrus and the Carpenter’s smoked trout with lentils, walnuts, creme fraiche and pickled onions.Separated Onion LayersCooling the Pickled Onions

Usually, lentils turn out as a bland, mushy mess but these were great. Instead of being the background favor for the fish it was the other way around and the lentils stole the show. If you’re not a smoked fish person (and I’m not.. however the Walrus and the Carpenter’s was nice) skip the fish. If you are a smoked fish person, more power to you. Throw some smoked trout into the recipe but you don’t need it. These lentils can hold their own. Continue reading

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L’Abattoir: Crab & Chickpea Toasts with Garlic Custard & Carrots

L'Abattoir's  Restaurant

L'Abattoir Crab and Chickpea Toast broken into

We visited L’Abattoir after a day of whale watching right off Vancouver’s Southern coast. It was a very successful trip. We saw lots of orcas at play, seal families lounging on shore, and a solitary bald eagle. I was very happy. I’ve always wanted to see orcas in the wild.

L'Abattoir's Menus

I used to have an Australian friend and when he visited the States, he was so excited to see squirrels, deer, and raccoons.  It seemed odd to get so excited about a squirrel. Barely a day goes by that I don’t see a squirrel.

I imagine that’s how I seemed to our waiter at L’Aattoir when I replied to his  innocent ‘I hope you’re having a good day.’ with a very enthusiastic “Oh yes! We saw orcas today! It was wonderful….”.  ”How nice…. Sparkling or still?” and went off to get the water as I went on, just to Reed now, about how great our day watching the whales had been.

L'Abattoir, Vancouver

L’Abattoir, Halibut with saffron & olive crust, pork shoulder cooked in milk, & plum clafoutis

If you’re in the Northwest, I highly recommend trying to squeeze in a whale watching trip and if you’re in Vancouver L’Abattoir makes a very civilized end to a day spent on the water.Crab,Chickpeas & Carrots

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Ace Hotel / Clyde Common: Crab Salad Over Seared Tomatoes & Apricots

Clyde Common Portland

In between gorging ourselves at Portland’s restaurants, we slept at the Ace Hotel. The moment I walked into the Ace Hotel’s lobby, I thought of the scene in Portlandia (a sketch comedy about Portland – even funnier now that I’ve visited) where they spoof the hipster hotel. The Ace Hotel is a little too cool for its own good (there’s soap-on-a-rope & the robes are elongated hoodies); like Wiliamsburg on crack.

Clyde Common

After setting my bags down, I noticed our room’s shower was right there, open to the bedroom, no shower curtain. Really? Again? This isn’t my first exposed bathing situation.

Last summer Reed and I stayed at a very cool hotel (long on design, short on comfort) in the South of France where a few feet from the foot of the bed was the bath, in the center of the room. The bed itself was ascetically striking but creaked loudly if you so much as shifted your weight. Really? If your going to be all sexy with the shower at the foot of the bed, shouldn’t you should think through the bed design a little more?

Ace Hotel Shower

Ace Hotel Room, note the shower

Anyway, back to the shower at hand. In-room showers feel so forced, like the hotel’s telling you how you should act if your going to stay at the Ace Hotel. My over all feeling of the Ace Hotel was that it’s cool but a little contrived.

On to the food, the Clyde Common restaurant, accessed through the Ace Hotel’s lobby,  isn’t a typical hotel restaurant. With long communal tables, it seems right at home in Portland. Reed and I started with the crab salad over seared tomatoes & apricots.  Like the other crab dishes I tried earlier on our trip, it wasn’t weighed down with mayonnaise or fillers.  Its was simply crab, tossed with a light herbal dressing over a bed of seared tomatoes and apricots. Very refreshing.Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

Seared Heirloom Tomatoes, Nectarines, and jalapeño Continue reading

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