Seattle Center Triptych

Three from Seattle Center. It’s been so long since I took photos — it’s a gladdening thing.


#1: Stargate


#2: Curvatures


#3: Smoke Break


Twilight intervention


Musubi, again

As Jim commented more than a couple months ago (but still on the front page! I am so lame!), there’s a new Hawaiian restaurant in Wallingford, and it makes a beautiful spam musubi — my new favorite in Seattle! Hawaiian Breeze makes them perfectly-formed and plump, with a great balance between spam and rice, crispy, high-quality nori, and just a touch of sauce. Yummy! Their BBQ shortribs feature a very flavorful, savory-sweet glaze, and loco moco is just wonderful, if you’re a fan — dense, beefy patty and tasty gravy (though honestly, I do prefer my eggs more on the runny side). So quiet, though — I fret about their long-term prospects. So please! Go and eat, you’ll be happy. (oh, Miranda, you would so fall in love, I just know it!)

Ashamed to admit it, but Just sat through all of The Perfect Man. Yuck! Can’t anyone make a good romantic comedy anymore??

(and why am I doing this to myself instead of going to SIFF?)


The Fatty Crab

Back in New York, with a seriously flaky internet connection (but yay for a phone that doubles as a bluetooth modem, despite the constant drops), and — a now-slightly-less-flaky stomach!

Had dinner at the Fatty Crab, a Malaysian-inspired eatery in the West Village. Small and uncrowded on a Tuesday night, both the dining room and the dishes were colorful, quirky, and beautiful. Everything was really tasty, but I found myself seduced by the salty-sweet-sour fireworks of the watermelon pickle & crispy pork salad. The fatty duck was nicely seasoned and sat on a bed of surprisingly spicy white rice (only later did I notice thinly-sliced red peppers mixed in). The chili crab was… big, and v. messy. But also good!

Ahem. I’m not really feeling eloquent tonight, so I will just pepper your imaginations with photos:

[Watermelon pickle and crispy pork salad]
[Fatty duck]
[Chili crab]

(…can’t say I’m an expert, but I strongly suspect these dishes sit firmly on the “new wave” end of the authenticity scale!)

Hsiao-Ching Chou’s “You gotta try this” piece in the P-I is mostly old hat, but good lord, does this sound good. And frites! Is there any reason to ever leave Capitol Hill again?


Musubi Musashi

Oh! Spam musubi, how could I have forgotten you? No list of favorite dishes can go without.

Twenty-Five for $25 is over. We’ve now been to over twenty of the listed restaurants (though not all in this month!), so at this rate by the time December rolls around they’ll all have been hit. This March’s biggest hit has to have been Sazerac, whose complimentary corn pan bread was absolutely to die for — so soft, basically corn meal suspended in sweet butter — along with a wonderful entrée in cider glazed pork ribs (plentiful and oh-so-tender) accompanied by tangy green chile posole (if you know me, you know that’s all I had to hear!). Their gumbo was tasty, too, if unconventional; they used duck and other unexpected ingredients in the recipe. As far as gumbo goes, though, BJ’s will always be my first love.

Those who ordered chicken were less enthused, but. I mean, cider glazed pork ribs! They should’ve known better.

Other restaurants this month: Szmania’s (ordered off the regular menu, as I was in the mood for jägerschnitzel; very happy to have done so, though portion size was gargantuan), Nishino (pretty good, but think I’m becoming jaded by pretentious, haute cuisine sushi — give me fresh and simple any day), and Yarrow Bay Grill (everything sampled — calamari, crab cakes, asparagus soup, lamb stew, divers scallops — was quite tasty).

Have discovered Musashi’s in Wallingford, a busy hole-in-the-wall “Japanese diner” (to quote a friend), under weathered purple awning on 45th. Sushi selection is good, if limited; no frills, large cuts of fish, decently fresh. It’s no Shiki, but is decent, filling and cheap: a well-stocked nigiri plate goes for under ten dollars, while plump single pieces go for a buck and a half. Their bento box is even better, also under ten, but my favorite really has to be their onigiri (grilled salmon inside a rice-and-furikake-ball wrapped with nori) — big, tasty, and which give spam musubi competition in the race for best rice-based handheld snack (you get two for $2.75).




Shiki is Seattle’s only restaurant with a fugu license (and in fact, one of only seventeen in the United States — twelve of which are in New York City), but I’d always thought you needed to give them advance notice and it didn’t really matter since everything else on the menu is so good — not much for those seeking fusiony new age rolls but plenty for the purist, with large and oh-so-fresh slabs of melt-in-your-mouth hamachi and toro and salmon — but today’s list of specials included both fugu kara-age and fugu nigiri, and what’s a little risk of death by poison in the name of culinary adventure?

[Fugu nigiri]

Loved the texture of the flesh, which was somewhere between firm fish and clam, something to linger on and really get to know. I can’t really say how much of the flavor was fugu and how much was from the dressing (which was ponzu-like, tataki-style), but all combined it was really yummy.

That’s yubiki (fugu skin salad) garnishing the plate, which was very much like tiny pieces of squid or octopus — also v. tasty!

Honestly, though, I’m generally squeamish about taking risks and was a little bit timid about the whole thing. So there’s a twinge of disappointment that I liked it so much, since I’ll probably crave it again when I go again. Time to get poison control in my phone’s memory, I guess!

Apparently fugu season will be shorter than usual this year due to typhoons, so if you want to try some at Shiki you’d probably better hurry. But you really can’t go wrong with the safe stuff either.

Also: little fried swamp crabs!


Update: for those curious about prices: fugu nigiri was $16 for two healthy-sized pieces, and the kara-age $35 — but figured, as long as I’m going to risk an exciting death in the name of experimentation, it wouldn’t be a breaded and deep-fried one!
As for death-by-fugu, I’m still breathing, though a night of pleasant, warm tingling and slightly worrisome, but possibly imagined twingeing, I can see how fugu can be addictive (but scary!) stuff.

Confidential to Kallie, remember: a little white truffle oil goes a long way. I used a splash in my melted butter when I grilled the sandwiches. Yum!



Last week, Mixtura, a new Peruvian/Andean restaurant recently opened in the old Szmania’s-Jäger location in Kirkland. While there are three or four entrées on the menu, its emphasis is very much towards small plates — very tapas, heavy on seafood and potatoes. I especially liked one dish, chilled, with creamed blue potatoes, crab meat and smoked salmon, as well as the “lasagna amazonica,” a dessert made of layered pineapple sheets, mascarpone and passionfruit purée. The bread course was tasty quinoa baguettes with a collection of sauces. Our biggest disappointment was that pachamanca, so mouth-wateringly described in the P-I article above, wasn’t actually on the menu.

We met Emmanuel Piqueras after dinner, shorter than expected but still looking every inch the surfer chef — which was very neat. Mixtura is definitely one to try again.

Speaking of which, there’ve been many food adventures I haven’t really talked about here, because, well, I haven’t really been talking much about anything here. Is anyone actually interested?

…and then there was that last dry sunset before the rains, a last hurrah at Discovery Park for the photojunkies, hikers, stargazers before the clouds came back for good. People with telescopes were starting to search for comfortable spots in the clearing, but we’d already camped out at the bluff’s edge, tripods in position, hiding from the wind behind our coats and scarves. All the while the sky danced in brilliant colors before us, while we snapped pictures in short bursts while our hands went from pocketed warmth to numbness. Somewhere out there, I think I realized why I would miss this weather — while Seattle’s perpetual mist is comfortably familiar to me, there’s rarely beauty to be felt in it anymore, and certainly no reason to be standing outside in darkening twilight, getting soaked.

But maybe it’s time to start looking for the sights in-between. It’s too easy to only appreciate life in moments of punctuation, only natural to see things afresh while riding extremes. I mean, how many sunsets were missed because we weren’t about to lose them? And even now, what sits invisible, hidden by routine?

All it takes is the right viewpoint, and maybe some numb fingers*.

* of course, this might have been a contributing factor to why none of my pictures came out. Small price to pay for an epiphany!


Beneath her Window

Dove into SIFF 2005 in earnest last night, with Beneath Her Window, a lighthearted — hesitate to say “fluffy” — Slovenian film of the “creepy stalking voyeur turns into cute & eccentric romance” variety (think Wes Bentley from American Beauty but less on the creepy and more on the cute & eccentric). There’s a certain brand of movie I can’t help but find myself enjoying, in spite of not-so-subtly squicky undertones (Korean teacher-student love triangle comedy Lovely Rivals being a recent example I could name). It’s kind of a delicate balancing act, but I think this one worked. I mean! Stalking is totally no joke, but I guess this is lighthearted escapism and I can understand that.

I suppose if you can’t believe in the occasional fairy tale at the cinema, then it’s probably too late for you — at least as far as the cinema goes.

In the real creepiness of the night, Slovenia’s film industry seems to be populated with younger, cloned versions of British film stars — the result of some horrific cold war-era Soviet experimentation? I counted Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons and Clive Owen in this movie’s main romantic triangle alone!


Storm center

Oh, how I love thunderstorms. Am currently listening to the distant peals — pure bliss! Hopefully the power won’t go out, though, as I’ve a plane to catch tomorrow.

I do hope for nice weather in San Francisco. For nuptials (as for beaches), sunny skies and low probability of electrocution are the only way to go.


State of decay


A state of decay in the Grove of the Patriarchs, an old growth forest also in Rainier Nat’l Park. Before waterfalls, we spent an hour or two amongst Douglas firs and red cedars, feeling young and tiny.

Private note to self: buy as much Villa Giada Ceirole Moscato d’Asti as humanly possible. Alternate title: “if Martinelli’s could get you drunk.”


Close to the action


Spent the morning getting up close and personal with a waterfall at Mount Rainier National Park.

By the time we got to Paradise it was raining miserably, but for a brief moment everything was simply perfect.


Oil rigger’s dream

So it was about three in the morning and I was up again for no ready reason.

Late night’s predictable in many ways, at least after you spend time with it. One o’clock brings inexplicable hunger pangs, followed by fruitless scavenging for munchies, often resulting in v. poor decision-making. Two is when you start worrying about not ever getting anything done and resolve to do something about it. By two-fifteen you’ve given up but find that the only people on teevee are Suzanne Sommers, Ron Popeil and Carlton Sheets. Around three any mistakes made at one catch up with you and you’re in a new world of bodily discomfort. If you’re really lucky there’s only an hour to endure before it’s time to collapse from exhaustion.

Last night, though, I was startled out of this routine by what appeared to be giant flames licking at the edge of my window frame. Always paranoid about the house, I practically jumped out of my pj’s. Tried to see what was going on outside, but whatever it was was already gone. Ran a panicked but thorough survey of walls — everything fine. Not entirely convinced, I went to sleep.

Today the news is saying it was actually a meteor! Which is both reassuring (because apparently my home isn’t planning to spontaneously combust anytime soon) and v. neat (since amateur stargazer yukino enjoys meteors of all types as long as Bruce Willis isn’t involved). And hey, I got sleep! So yay all around.


The spam industry

Driving west past midnight over the I-90 floating bridge, heard an recruiting ad on the radio for the Seattle Fire Department that referred to a career in the “Fire Industry.” Is it just me, or is that like calling police work the “Crime Industry?”

Only things I’ve fought lately are spam and malaise. Neither seems like a viable career track.

Watched my first SIFF film for 2004, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Doppelganger. Was expecting something nameless and terrifying, à la Cure… While certainly spooky at times, there was a surprising amount of humor too, culminating in an Imamura-esque absurdist romp to close. Hoped for a cameo by Kurosawa like in 2001, but no such luck. I took along my DVD of Cure just in case.

I’ve been too busy to really look at the listings, but now have a catalog in hand for easy reference. I’ll miss Donnie Darko (in NYC again this weekend), but hope to catch a healthy number of films before festival’s end.

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