Monthly Archives: March 2010

potatoes and bacon

Lu with potatoes and bacon

Boil some potatoes. Start with cold water and lots of salt. Boil them until you can pierce them with a knife, easily. Drain them and wait for them to cool.

Slide a skillet onto a hot burner. Peel slices of bacon away from the other slices in the package. Fry them up. Yum. Cut the crisp bacon into bite-sized pieces.

Dice some onions. Slice some garlic. Chop up some herbs. Rosemary? Thyme? Cook the onions, stirring, then add the garlic, stirring, and throw in the herbs. Ah, they smell good. They're done.

Combine the potatoes, the bacon, the warm sauteed goodness. Let it cool, just a bit.

Put the bowl of warm potato and bacon salad in front of a toddler. Watch her eat it up.

And you can have some too.


lunch at Salumi

Salumi sign

Last week, we circled around Pioneer Square, trying to find parking. Sometimes this can be an annoying task, especially in that area where the spaces are tight and few. However, we were cheerful, singing even.

We were headed toward Salumi. Most everyone who loves food and heads to Seattle ends up at Salumi. (Usually you'll end up in a big line stretching down the street, too.) Salumi is the mecca of cured pork, at least on the west coast of this country.

Certainly by now you must have heard of Salumi. Artisan cured meats, done in the authentic Italian fashion, in a tiny rabbit warren space that smells of warmth and pork and soup and love? Oh, and the owner and still its muse is a man named Armandino Batali, whose son you've probably heard of, since he's Mario Batali.

You know, that Salumi.

this is what happens when you get there at 1

Here's a tip for you. If you're going to Salumi, find parking half an hour before the doors open, because you want to be there before the crowd hits.

We arrived at 1 and look how little is left.

I'm happy for Salumi that their porchetta and muffo sandwiches sell so well. However, if I had shown up at 1 expecting a full menu, I would have been disappointed.

Luckily, we were there under slightly different circumstances.

reserved table

We were escorted to the long communal table, at the back of the crowded common room, and seated at our reserved places.

Don't you love that the special reserved signs are hand scrawled on napkins? There's no pretension to this place. None. You have to squeeze past customers ordering their lunch to sit down. The tables are narrow and close together. The decoration is a hodgepodge of old prints and sometimes out-of-focus photographs. Most of them are just a little crooked. You can watch the line cooks fixing food for you, only a few feet away, not in a spaciously planned open kitchen, but because there's no more room. People on all sides elbow each other when they pick up their sandwiches and eat with gusto.

If you're looking for a quiet, expansive dining room where you will never be disturbed by other people's conversations or presence? You're going to look elsewhere.

If you're looking for some of the best cured meats you'll ever eat, in an atmosphere of contented sighs and happy laughter with people who don't care about pretension either and just want to eat well? You're going to want to go to Salumi.

Jon Rowley

How did we come to be at a reserved table, able to eat some of the dishes crossed off the chalkboard list at the front?

This man, one of our favorite people: Jon Rowley.

Jon is one of the loveliest and most humble people you're ever likely to meet. And also one of the most passionate. He is on a constant quest to find the best flavors, at the peak of their most generous offerings. Whether it's Copper River salmon, peaches in August, or oysters in Paris, Jon knows the best foods to eat.

(You can watch Jon with Ruth Reichl on this episode of Adventures with Ruth on

All this to say that if Jon wants to meet at Salumi, you know your lunch is going to be good.

Armandino Batali

However, when we sat down and started chatting with Jon, we did not expect what happened next.

That's Armandino Batali, the owner of Salumi. He was joining us for lunch.

(Tell truth, both Danny and I were a little too awestruck to talk much at first.)

breaking bread

Jon and Armandino are old friends, buddies in food and adventures. It was an enormous pleasure to watch them dipping bread and drinking wine together.

They slipped into conversation like easing into warm water: simply, happily.

Danny and I were content to listen, while we watched our daughter pick up slices of salumi and start eating.

a plate of salumi

Of course, with great salumi like this, everyone is happy. We all started chatting, as we reached for more salami and mole, cotto and smoked paprika. Each bite tasted bright and distinct, even in the midst of another slice. We started to forget where we were and with whom we were sitting. We started eating great cured pork meats and talking about the food.


And then this porchetta arrived. It took all my resolve to wait to take this photograph before diving in with that fork.

Tender. The right kind of chewy. And look at that line of fat, waiting on the side.


that's cottechino back there

That little coin of sauasage on the back of the plate back there? That's cotechino, a fresh sausage made with pork meat and skin. Popular in northern Italy in particular, cotechino is served with lentils for New Year's Eve. The big coins (cotechino) and little coins (lentils) signify good luck and wealth for the new year. Who couldn't use that? But really, we felt lucky enough to be eating this on a day in March. We didn't need another reason.

salumi and bread

And then more plates of salumi. And then more food. Everything arrived on small plates, with just the right amount of tastes, well paced for the conversation. You should have seen the smiles on our faces.

I stopped taking photographs after awhile or asking what each meat was. We simply sat back and experienced the generosity of the food.

Our daughter ate everything, quietly nibbling and taking it all in.

We felt that way too: watching and grateful.

It was a marvelous lunch. We were so honored that Armandino joined us. He's a character, as you might imagine. Fascinating. Kind.

Thank you for lunch, Armandino. And Jon.

salumi hanging behind that door

After the leisurely spread of great foods and good company, we didn't know there would be more.

Armandino took us on a quick tour of the curing rooms.

Oh, it was like a trip to Disneyland (but without the annoying lines for rides). We could have spent hours in there.

more salumi hanging

Pancetta hanging from the ceiling, huddled together as though they are cold.

We'll take the whole room, please.

even more salumi hanging

We saw room after room of beautiful pork slowly turning into cured meats.


These are culatello. “That's the heart of the prosciutto,” Armandino told me, and I instantly wanted one.

even more salumi

Really, if you love pork and cured meats, this is where you want to be.

We were more than honored to see the meats being cured. Not everyone has this experience.

But lunch at Salumi, without reservations, after waiting in line, pressed against other people at the table? It's an extraordinary experience.

We hope you can be here soon.


309 3rd Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104-2620
(206) 621-8772


we need this for the house

we need this for the house

When Danny and I saw this, we both started laughing.

It's a lovely illustration, the faded colors, the diagram of the pig. I especially like the use of the text with the graphic.

That's now why we were laughing.

Look at what is written on the left-hand side:

“Make room at the trough,

for the noble pig knows

that the more you share,

the less likely you are to be eaten.”

We need this for the house.


welcome pork lovers

welcome pork lovers

We recently went to lunch somewhere special, a place well-known for their pork, a place we assumed we would love. A place that still amazed us.

Danny and I are convinced it is the best place in Seattle to eat pork. And possibly one of the best places, period.

Can you guess?

Does it help if I say that this little tableau was in the window?

“Welcome pork lovers.”

Of course we love this place.

(we'll fill you in later this week.)


roasted pork salad with chard, strawberries, and chevre

roasted pork shoulder salad

After days of indolence — reading on the back porch, driving around the cul de sac neighborhoods in a golf cart, sitting at the dining room table talking late in the evening, long after the dinner plates were emptied — it was almost time to leave Arizona.

I hate the end of vacations.

Before we left, I gathered some of the best food finds we had enjoyed during the week: fresh strawberries, kale, and chard from the Oro Valley farmers' market, soft chevre that had been in the cheese drawer when we arrived, and the leftover roast pork Danny had cooked for dinner the night before. Add in some fresh local citrus juice and zest, plus olive oil, salt, and pepper, and I had the best salad I have eaten since last summer.

That's the only hard part about going to Arizona in March. That dry, warm weather won't be in our neck of the woods for another few months. Strawberries won't be red here until June or July. That's okay. I'll just look at this photo and dream of summer, when I can eat this roast pork salad again.


how do you cook your bacon?

how do you cook your bacon

One morning, on our vacation, I heard Danny’s mother say to him: “You’re putting it in the oven?”

They were talking about bacon. She always fries her bacon on the stovetop, on medium heat. (That’s the bacon you see splayed out on paper towels.)

Danny puts bacon on a baking sheet in a 400° oven and lets it cook, unencumbered, until it is just this side of crisp.

It made me think. How do you cook your bacon?

ham for breakfast on a warm morning

first breakfast in Arizona

Danny and I woke up, looked outside the blinds, and saw nothing but blue sky. Ah, vacation.

We're in Arizona for the week, with Danny's parents, who are delighting in their granddaughter. We're delighting in their delighting in their granddaughter.

We're also luxuriating in iced tea on the back patio in 73° weather, the indolence of not doing much, the meandering decisions of lunch and dinner, and the joy of watching our daughter thrive in this warmth and love.

We're on vacation. I'm not going to write much here.

Except to tell you that our first morning here, I heard Danny's mother say to him, “Now Daniel, you know we have eggs. But I got us ham or bacon to go with them.”

Good woman. We're in the right place.

(And that first morning, the choice was ham.)


Anita’s Puerco en Salsa Verde

pork chile verde

If you're lucky, you have friends who come up from San Francisco for a girls' weekend of eating and talking fast together, and they invite you over for lunch.

I'm so lucky.

Anita, Jen, and Jeanne came up to Seattle to eat at some of their favorite restaurants, giggle together, and have some kick-ass cocktails. All three had meetings as well (work never stops) and places to be. We were lucky enough, my toddler daughter and I, to catch them all in one place. Lunch.

On top of that, our friend Helen had been visiting us for two days, and she knows this gang too, so we all gathered in the same room for food.

We talked and laughed while Lu pressed buttons on the cd machine. Somehow she figured out how to make the Fine Young Cannibals cd play, and she started dancing. We tumbled into the living room to join her. For a few moments, everything was joy.

And then Anita announced that lunch was ready. The joy increased.

This is Anita's Puerco en Salsa Verde. She left out the jalapenos for the toddler. (She's kind like that, in these small thoughtful ways that knock you out every time.) The ladies had already lunched earlier, because they were going to have a celebratory dinner together in the early evening, one last meal in Seattle before their early-morning flights. But they sat at the table with us and talked as Lu and I put our spoons into the same bowl.

After only a few bites, Lu looked up and crooned to the room: “Yum yum yum!”

We all laughed. Nothing else needed to be said. She was right.

Thank you, Anita.


the fry-up at Tillikum Place

fry up at Tillikum place

When we shared the experience of our lunch at Tillikum Place Café, those of you who know me from our other blog might have wondered: what did you eat, Shauna?

That Dutch baby and slice of quiche, while they looked delicious, didn't interest me. The puff of dough and flaky crust would have put me down for the count for days.

It's not, however, like I suffered through that lunch with a glass of water and a mopey expression on my face. No. I ate well.

I had the fry up.

Tillikum Place offers an elegant version of the great greasy British breakfast. In this case, it's homemade sausage, two pieces of bacon, perfectly fried eggs, and the best baked beans I have ever eaten. And it wasn't at all greasy.

(Normally, this comes with a great hunk of fried bread, as well, but I skipped that.)

The baked beans were tender, slightly sweet, fall-apart-on-the-teeth good. And they had more heft than a typical dish of baked beans does. These are made with a ham hock, bacon, and pork shoulder. They were humble and comforting, surprisingly touching. My spoon moved through them fast.

Of course, Danny and I wanted to make them as soon as we arrived home.

Luckily, we all can. As our friend Lorna pointed out on her blog, Sumi Hahn of Eat Play Love posted the recipe for these beans, directly from Tillikum Place Café's chef, Ba Culbert.

Go to this link at your peril. You're going to want to start making beans as soon as you are done reading this.


Tillikum Place

savory Dutch baby at Tillikum place

Whenever we ask our friends in Seattle where we should go for our Friday lunches, we are barraged by interesting answers.

Our friend Lorna Yee always offers the same suggestion: Tillikum Place Café.

Now we trust our friend Lorna's taste. To say she has a discerning palate is to demonstrate how much language fails sometimes. Lorna experiences every bite she takes, fully, examining and appreciating both. She has eaten at more of the world's great restaurants than we could name. She's hard to please.

So we knew we needed to try Tillikum. Life just kept getting in the way. We wanted to be there with her.

Finally, this week, we went.

Oh baby! as Danny likes to say. Yes.

In fact, this is a Dutch baby you see up there. Dutch babies are generally sweet breakfast items, puffs of air and dough and sugar and lemon, flights of fancy that disappear before you ever fully realize they were on your plate in the first place. But this one, at Tillikum Place? That's a savory Dutch baby, with chorizo.


quiche at Tillikum Place

And this is Danny's quiche, with sweet Italian sausage and a small side salad. About his only complaint is that the portion felt not-quite-enough. That side salad was far too small. The quiche, however? Flaky crust, consistent whipped texture on the eggs, and wonderful flavors. He approves.

Tillikum Place Café is homey and uncomplicated. They cook food in season and they cook it well. This is, in our opinion, one of the best brunches available in Seattle. Light streams through the large windows, the wait staff offers friendly service without hovering, and the wealth of good food is enormous.

We recommend this place as highly as Lorna does.

Tillikum Place Cafe

407 Cedar Street
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 282-4830