Category: Seattle

Chanterelle season… meh

Chanterelle season… meh

So my most recent Costco run yielded a box of chanterelles, of all things.  (I think of Costco as more of a bulk mouthwash and paper towels kinda place, but hey… they were cheap, fresh, wild-harvested, local, and bright orange with gills, so how could I refuse?)

I’d never cooked anything with chanterelles before, so I decided to just sautée them in a bit of butter and chicken broth, and let their natural flavor shine. Ahem, that was LET THEIR NATURAL FLAVOR SHINE.  (They didn’t hear me.)

Turns out chanterelles don’t really *have* much of a natural flavor.  In fact, I had to drizzle a bit of white truffle oil on them just to make them fun enough to eat!

Lesson learned: while the name may sound all French and elegant compared to, say, oyster mushrooms, the latter is actually much tastier.  Now I know!

Mud Bay Granary — Thumbs Up

Mud Bay Granary — Thumbs Up

Trumpet, like most cats, can be a bit of a picky eater. But I have been wanting for ages to try and switch him to a more natural brand.

A couple years later, I’m *actually* getting around to doing something about it. I got him using Wellness brand dry food that’s well-geared for his particular needs (he’s UTI-prone). But I tried giving him wet food from that same company, and it was a no-go — he only likes stuff with a sliced/chunky texture, and not that godawful horrifying pastey mixture that most wet cat foods possess. (And I totally sympathize. We don’t want to have to open cans of that shit for him, either.)

Thankfully, I’d bought those cans at a small, locally owned pet food store in Whitecenter, near my old work. They guarantee all their foods, so they reimbursed me even for the cans that we had opened up and rinsed out — no hard feelings! Given that I figured it would take a few more tries before I found a natural wet food that Trumpet would touch, I was bummed that this refund-friendly place was no longer convenient for me.

I popped into a local Mud Bay Granary just to see if they could be of any help, and they very much were! They lay out all their cat food brands and the reasoning behind them on their site, which is very helpful.  And they gave me three free BIG cans of wet food for free, just to see if he liked them.  And they said if he didn’t, I could come back in and get three more free cans.  And then they gave me free salmon treats to try out on him.  And they have a zillion convenient locations all over western Washington.

Have I mentioned that Mud Bay is awesome?

Laundry Service

Laundry Service

No, not the cheesy Shakira album. I mean actual, paid laundry service.

Servicio de LavanderíaSee, we have assigned time slots in our building to do laundry in the shared, coin-op laundry room. And lately, some inconsiderate neighbors have been stealing our time slot, despite the fact that we repeatedly leave increasingly frustrated-yet-still-begrudgingly-polite notes about it. (At first, we figured it couldn’t possibly be the same people over and over again, and that it must just be new-ish tenants who didn’t realize there was a schedule. But then, our caretaker informed us that it’s the same assholes over and over again, so now we’re in full combat mode.)

Needless to say, the fact that they’d thwarted our FOUR most recent attempts to do laundry had left us with quite the backup. So I caved, and we looked into getting professional laundry service. And can I just tell you, MY GOD IS IT WORTH IT.

For a mere $0.95/pound, Russell will come by your place, pick up all your dirty things, wash them according to your specifications with your choice of products, and return them within a day clean and dry and nicely folded and bagged. You don’t even have to drop it off or pick it up. He says his rates may go up soon, but considering that we did at least four loads worth for $35, I’m not too freaked out about it.

Don’t get me wrong — this is a major splurge for us, so it will probably never become our principal form of laundry-doing (at least not unless we’re making six figures each). And now that we know we have the building’s proactive caretaker in our court, we’ll probably continue to do battle with our neighbors until we win. (Next week: Me sitting in the laundry room reading, waiting until they show up so I can confront them in person. Fun, fun.) But still — this was a very welcome help-in-a-pinch option, and I plan on having Russell come take care of our excess sheets and towels again the next time we have houseguests!

City Market gets political

City Market gets political

Sarah Palin sez, "City Market Is not my daughters store.  It is my store." [sic]Not exactly the first time, but still.  This was pause-and-shoot worthy. Especially given that these days, the mere mention of Sarah Palin’s name is a standalone punchline. Even the women on the skincare and makeup forum I frequent had to take a stab.

Anyway. On a political note, Imaginary Readers, allow me to introduce you to Grant’s new blog. (Here’s hoping he doesn’t mind the Imaginary Plug.)

Grant will most likely write about politics far more frequently than I will. He will also write about video games and movie reviews and… aw hell, go click it. He’s funnier and wittier and taller than I am. Well, in many contexts/shoes, anyhow. So there you have it.

He’s also figuring out how to do a lot of custom CSS stuff from scratch, which makes me jealous and impressed. Who knows — maybe I can get him to work his newfound skills on this tired old blog. (Kidding, kidding — he’s the one who helped me co-design this hack-of-a-theme just a few months ago, so I could update to a non-WP 1.0 design.)

Sound Transit beats

Sound Transit beats

I feel like I’m in a Volkswagen commercial. I’m sandwiched between two other bus commuters who were previously both yammering loudly.

But they finally shut up and both started listening to music. And for the past two-ish tracks, we’ve all been subtly tapping our feet/fingers/neighbors in PERFECT TIME with each other.

Aww, Loud White Tapper just got off. Way to ruin the groove, buddy.

In other news, this post was brought to you by the new-ish WordPress iPhone app. Testing, one, two…

My inn = my kinda food

My inn = my kinda food

Grant and I wound up having to hit the Sub Pop 20th Anniversary Comedy Show without dinner in our stomachs last night, so we used my precious iPhone to locate some late-night grub. (By the way, the Citysearch Web app for the iPhone is pretty darn handy, if not 100% accurate.) We stumbled into the Virginia Inn (aka “My Inn”) fifteen minutes before the kitchen was going to close, and the staff were all super-nice and accommodating.

We recalled that the VA Inn had been closed for a while since they were expanding their kitchen, so we were hoping they’d have a decent selection of actual food, and not just bar fare. And it turns out, we were right!

I ordered the “Steak Frites” and requested it medium rare, thinking I might get a dried-out slab of charred flat-iron and some blah fries. But what I got was a thick, small but hefty, perfectly Pittsburghed (charred on the outside, rare-but-not-chilly on the inside) filet mignon chop, and some of the most superbly prepared potato strips I’ve ever tasted — for a total of $22.

Oh, how I wish my iPhone battery hadn’t died, so I could post a photo! For greasy pub food, I had a meal that rivaled the stuff one could get from The Met for three times the price. I was blown away. I’m definitely mentally re-bookmarking my inn as a place to head back to. I’m so glad they’ve re-opened!

Northgate Hell

Northgate Hell

I’ve been going to the Northgate Mall since I was a kid, but I kinda lost interest after their construction got so prevalent that the whole parking lot was covered in debris and chain-link fences. But it seems that some of that construction has finally been finished, yielding lots of swanky new retail space.

The problem? The goddamned stores aren’t attached to the mall. The entire mall is now flanked by these hip new stores, but they’re not connected at all, even though they’re RIGHT UP against the mall. So they LOOK connected. And half of them (but not all!) are LISTED on the mall’s directory, and pictured on the map as if they were connected to the mall. (And the other half aren’t mentioned or pictured on the mall maps, but the stores call these outlets their “Northgate Mall” locations.)

And some of the new retail isn’t even within reasonable pedestrian distance from the mall. And by reasonable, I guess I’m not really bitching about the distance. I’m bitching about having to walk through a shitty, car-oriented lot full of idiot drivers and no crosswalks. I saw a mom pushing a stroller and dragging a toddler get almost hit as she was trying to walk over to one of the new cafés.

If you’re going to be an outdoor mall, swell! Do it like U-Village (or better), with crosswalks everywhere and lots of open spaces with separate entrances for each store. But if you build a typical, closed-in, claustrophobic mall with a car-friendly lot that hates people on foot, then at least build all the retail in one centralized, CONNECTED spot. Sweet Jesus! It’s enough to drive this potential shopper away, so I never have to deal with muddling over how the hell to get into a certain store again.

The Georgian for brunch — perfect eggs

The Georgian for brunch — perfect eggs

Grant and I recently subscribed to Seattle Metropolitan, just in time for the “Hot Breakfast Spots” issue. While I was frustrated that a bunch of things were reported wrong (like hours of operation and menu items), we were still thrilled to have a good breakfast/brunch guide, since it’s our favorite going-out meal.

We decided to give The Georgian at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel a whirl, since it was caucus day and it was right around the corner. Figuring it’d be swamped with other people who had the same idea, we called ahead to make a reservation. There were all of three tables in the giant English tearoom-styled dining hall, so I guess everyone else caucused hungry? Their loss!

I expected the Georgian to be a bit stuffy and awkward, given that it’s a snooty hotel whose restaurant is usually frequented by top-dollar execs on business travel. But while the atmosphere was a bit stiff, the food more than made up for it — they had a very natural and local menu with lots of organic items, and there were several interesting combos like a lobster chipotle Benedict and some killer omelet additions.

Over Medium, as it should be.But what really wooed me were the eggs. I ordered them “over medium”, which usually means “still totally runny yolks” at most joints. But the Georgian hit the PERFECT balance of egg yolks that are neither runny nor hard and opaque. Plus, I ordered the breakfast flat-iron steak medium rare, and it wasn’t totally cooked to a brown unrecognizable jerky like most breakfast steaks tend to be.

And lastly, the treat. I usually have to avoid sweeter breakfast delights like French toast and waffles, because the carb-tastic options do a number on my blood sugar. Opting for protein-rich selections is the only way I can guarantee the meal will last me more than an hour, sustenance-wise. So I was thrilled, after ordering my steak-eggs-and-hash-browns combo, to spot a little white pot of something baked. It turned out to be a tiny spiced pumpkin bread type coffee cake — just enough sweet treat to let me know I didn’t have to miss out on the fun, without screwing up my protein-heavy intentions.

All in all, this was one of the best brunches I’ve had in a long time. And we go out to brunch a LOT, and we’ve been checking out more and more spots since Seattle Met tipped us off to our options. Best of all, there didn’t seem to be a single error in the magazine’s reporting on this spot — there was a fresh-made juice of the day, there was a great selection, and there were no major surprises or disappointments when it came to hours of operation or menu offerings. And the eggs “over medium” really were over medium. I couldn’t ask for more!

Pedestrian Woes

Pedestrian Woes

Ever since Grant and I started taking the bus during our commute to Redmond, I’ve been ranging from irritated to outraged at the way drivers seem to go out of their way to mow us down at a few specific crosswalks – namely, all three crosswalks at the Olive Way on- and off-ramps to I-5 Northbound.

And since I recently started commuting on foot to my office on Olive Way, I find myself in this scenario even more frequently. I tend to be rather ballsy as pedestrians go, opting to set foot in the crosswalk, make eye contact with drivers, and pointedly stare down those who look like they intend not to stop. This tends to work most of the time, but not all, and it’s not effective in the dark. And there are SO many pedestrians who seem to cower on the sidewalk, and await a critical mass of pedestrian energy to overturn the mean vehicles’ self-appointed right-of-way.

Now, make no mistake – I frickin’ hate pedestrians who jaywalk dangerously and inconsiderately, and I don’t go out of my way to help out people on foot who only serve to make traffic worse for all. But that’s just not the case here – in two of the three crosswalks in question, the pedestrians have the right of way ALL THE TIME, and in the third, they have it when the light is green (but traffic that’s turning still presents a real hazard). I know I probably sound like an old granny whining about those darn cars driving so fast, but after making firm eye contact with drivers who looked at me, acknowledged that I was crossing, and sped up and swerved around me or in front of me, I’m just sick of it.

So I wrote to the Seattle Department of Transportation. And to my surprise, they got back to me very quickly, with a very sweet, receptive, thorough, and proactive email, as well as a courtesy phone call! I was so pleased to get such a positive response with such a quick turnaround. They also let me know that since I-5 is an interstate highway, it falls under Washington State’s jurisdiction rather than the city’s, so the two departments will have to liaise to work on a solution. The DOT employee who emailed me back also solicited my feedback about what times of day were the most trafficked, etc. and she let me know that it might take several weeks to set up the appropriate traffic surveys and cameras.

I was just so pleased to get a real response from a real person that it was icing on the delicious transportation cake to be told they were already looking into what action would be taken. The whole interaction really reaffirmed my faith in local government – it might sound a bit corny, but given that my dear mum has worked in similar organizations throughout most of my life, I knew how slow and ineffective local government agencies could potentially be. So thank you, Seattle, for disproving that negative stereotype.

I’m leaving the country tomorrow for a family reunion in England, but I sure hope I see cameras upon my return. For the first time ever, I won’t feel mildly creeped out that they’re recording me, since I know it’s for a good cause that I myself pushed for. Hooray for not getting hit by cars!

ETA — When Grant and I returned from our two-week sojourn in the UK, I saw a crew doing some minor maintenance on the crosswalk area for the Olive Way off-ramp. Namely, scraping the graffiti and stickers off of the “Pedestrians Crossing” sign. They also seemed to be drilling a lot into the ground the following day, but I haven’t seen any marked improvements yet, nor camera crews. But then, I was gone an awful lot, so there may have been crews while I was out of town lately. Eagerly awaiting future improvements…

I’ve Been Plugged!

I’ve Been Plugged!

Better than being Flickr’d, for sure. But Matthew Baldwin of defective yeti, one of the funniest damn blogs out there (and a local one to boot!), is doing a random “Plugapalooza” thing where he tells readers to pick a number between one and 100 and well, I’m not that clear as to the math and mechanics, but I picked 37 and apparently won. So he plugged me! Which is really great and all, but as soon as the elation of being plugged by a blog that is both well-read and funny as hell subsided, panic set in.

Why panic, you ask? Because I have not been funny myself in a long, long time. Really, it’s a function of being both happy and busy. In my old job where I was incredibly disgruntled, plus single and going on lots of random and mostly incredibly bad Craigslist dates, well, I had LOTS more funny stories about insane coworkers and terrible dates and whatnot, and lots of time to do it because I hated my job and was perfectly fine with blogging on the company dime as a passive-aggressive way to get back at my boss, and channel some of my rage using humor.

But between getting this current and very quirky Latin American Magic and D&D tournament-organizing job, which I don’t always adore but am kept very busy doing all the same, and starting to date Grant, whom I adore very much and am kept happily busy by, I find I have a lot fewer funny anecdotes to tell, and much less time in which to tell them. So for any poor shmucks who come across my blog expecting amazing tales of hilarity and getting… well, this, please allow me to offer up some random perusings of my Internet Presence from my Funny Days of Yore:

Fashion Rules: Some people seemed to particularly enjoy my lengthy and opinionated list of fashion do’s and don’ts. They are divided into sections one and two.

Best-Of Craigslist: #1, #2, #3, and the crowning #4 (by which I met my dear current boyfriend).

Seattle Pulse: This was a metroblog-type site for which I did some writing before it went kaput a while ago, but I did some fun stuff there including an advice column called Off Culler, as well as an article or two.

Local Papers: My goofy loud mouth has been featured in the Stranger, the P-I, and the P-I again, respectively.

Enjoy, or post lots of spam comments if you don’t. That’ll show me!