Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Take a Bite of Seattle

If you live in the Seattle area you've probably made it to the annual Bite of Seattle at least once.  If you live outside the area, this is a fun weekend to plan to visit Seattle and check out the variety of food the city has to offer.  This year marked the 30th anniversary of the event held at the Seattle Center in the shadow of the iconic Space Needle.  Since summer is very elusive this year, we put together a different strategy and a targeted focus for our visit to the Bite.


Our approach this year was dictated by two main drivers, crowd and rain drop avoidance.  We visited on the first day, Friday (the event this year was held from July 20-22nd) just as the event was opening up and a big thunder and lightening storm had passed through.  It proved to be a strategy we may follow in future years as there were no lines and we were able to maneuver to where we wanted to go without fighting the massive crowds.  We managed to stay dry as well, without even needing to bring umbrellas.

Although we weren't around 30 years ago when the event started, we are to understand it used to be much smaller and more of a showcase of Seattle's best chefs and food.  These days it has much more of a carnival and food on a stick vibe.  You can get rare food you might not normally get to try such as elk burgers, alligator on a stick and about any kind of Asian food you could dream up.  Ro actually sought out the most unusual foods she could find last year and created a nice little meal of these little known gems.

Because we were on our lunch hour and FloJo is not such an adventurous eater, we focused our attention on Tom Douglas' Alley.  This is where our early bird strategy really paid off.  Tom's Alley is usually very popular and normally has a long line of hungry people waiting to get food.  There is also normally no available table space to sit down and enjoy your plate of food.  Our early bird strategy rewarded us by only having two people in front of us and our very own table with a built in umbrella (in case it did rain).  We also discovered that if you arrive before 2 p.m. the wine pairing ticket is discounted by $3.  The benefits just kept adding up.

The alley garners so much attention because Tom Douglas is arguably the most well known Seattle chef.  He won the 1994 James Beard Award for Best Northwest Chef and this year he won the James Beard Award as Best Restaurateur (he's the owner of a dozen restaurants in Seattle).  Perhaps, even more impressive, he's one of the few chefs to take on Iron Chef Masahar Morimoto and walked away from kitchen stadium with a win.  Way to represent Tom!

FloJo, Tom Douglas and Ro

Unfortunately, we found the food to be less than spectacular this year.  The Dahlia Bakery's ancho-rubbed steak and PinkaBella's strawberry cupcake were our favorites from this year's tasting menu.  But, the best part of the $10 charge for the Alley's multi-course plate is a portion of the fee goes to support Food Lifeline.  This non-profit organization strives to end hunger in Western Washington.  They distribute food to nearly 300 food banks, shelters and hot meal programs.  Sadly, there are a lot of hungry people in our country and own backyard here in Washington state.  Food Lifeline serves more than 745,000 each year with about 35% of that going to feed children.  The Bite had donation sites set up where you could donate additional money and reminded us that for every $1 donated, that buck feeds one hungry person for a day.  If you are interested in making a donation you can find Food Lifeline's online donation page here.

The Alley Menu changes each day of the event with different local restaurants being invited to feature a dish.  Tom has one of his restaurants represented at the beginning of the alley and that rotates each day as well.
A coconut cream hat...."oh my!"

Friday's Alley Menu:
Dahlia Bakery Ancho-Rubbed Steak Salad with Hazelnuts and Blueberries
Suggested Pairings: 
Milbrandt Vineyards 2008 Traditions Merlot
Silver Lake Winery 2008 Roza Red

Al Boccalino Bruschetta con la Muffoletta with Olive Salsa
Suggested Pairings: 
Silver Lake Winery 2010 Roza Rose
Waterbrook Winery Waterbrook Sauvignon Blanc
Gordon’s on Blueberry Hill
Roasted Beet and Chervil Chevre Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust
Suggested Pairings: 
Scarborough Winery 2009 "The Works" Bordeaux Blend
Icon Cellars 2010 Mourvedre
Koral bar & kitchen Marinated Grilled Shrimp with Watermelon Salsa
The Alley
Suggested Pairings: 
Orca Wines 2009 Pinot Gris
Nicola's Redmark Nicola's Riesling
Purple CafĂ© Cranberry Chicken Salad- Grilled Chicken, Bacon, Almonds, Scallions, Celery, Apples, Dried Cranberries, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Cranberry-Dijon Vinaigrette
Suggested Pairings: 
Sozo Cherish Pinot Gris
Din Tai Fung Taiwan’s Famous Hand-Made Steamed Juicy Pork Dumplings Filled with Soup
Suggested Pairings: 
Note Bene Cellars 2008 Syrah (one of our favorite wine makers)
Nicola's Redmark Nicola's Red
PinkaBella Cupcakes Strawberry Mini Cupcakes
Suggested Pairings: 
Chocolate Shop "Chocolate Lover's Wine"

Aloha!  Live life with flavor and fun!