the counter

Prompted by a generous coupon, we gave a new burger place, The Counter,  in Ballard a try.  It appears to be a chain around the country, but I wouldn’t discount it for that.  They allow for customization, with endless choices to build your own burger with various types of meats, breads, toppings and sauces.  I had a very flavorful handmade veggie burger (so nice to have a place that the veggie burger wasn’t an after thought) topped with roasted peppers,  chiles, and chipotle mayo.  Shawn had the towering heart-stopping concoction pictured here, with organic, grass-fed, never frozen beef and fried onions and mushrooms – all of which made for a very happy meat-eater.  Super crisp sweet potato fries, beers and ciders to accompany, and very friendly wait staff (stands out amongst Seattle’s typical surly norm) made for a nice and easy Friday night meal.

bakery nouveau

I’ve been hearing a lot of very good things about this West Seattle bakery – and it certainly lived up to its many awards and fanfare.  Carrie and I went to check it out after a game of racquetball at the Y (had to counteract that properly).  We split the blueberry danish, and the twice-baked almond croissants (another favorite food memory from Paris – had to test it out).  Incredible!  And I have a feeling everything there is just as good.  I can’t wait to go back and try their macarons especially.  I was also happy to see that they had King’s cake – Joyeux Mardi Gras! 

new orleans

A buddy’s upcoming trip spurred this post – favorites from my most recent trip to New Orleans (in no particular order):


Odgen Museum of Southern Art – we happen to hit it with fabulous timing, each exhibit was outstanding.  They also had something called Ogden After Hours that was great music, that I think is every Thursday night: Smaller museums of interest:  Historic New Orleans Collection – amazing historic research center: and Backstreet Cultural Museum – very interesting fellow, self-made historian, photographer has overwhelming collection of Mardi Gras artifacts and street music traditions.  He also will tell you the best music to see at the time. Treme section of town – 1116 St. Claude Street  Tues-Sat (no website)


I would most definitely recommend going to Preservation Hall one evening: and then any other night wandering around the clubs in the Faubourg Marigny section of town (adjacent to the Quarter, and a little less touristy – good variety of music playing).   d.b.a. is the name of the bar we liked the most in the Marigny:



We had a wonderful lingering meal at a small place in the NE part of the Quarter – Eat Nola – all local organic stuff: Quintessential New Orleans – beignets and chickory tinged coffee at Cafe du Other incredible good french breakfast pastries – Croissant d’Or Patisserie: 617 Ursulines Street, French Quarter (no website). The only fancier, famous New Orleans restaurant we went to this past visit was Nola – an Emeril Lagasse restaurant.  Gotta admit, it was incredible: Low-brow favorites (and what really make New Orleans):  Central Grocery – old Italian grocery, reputedly best Muffalata’s in New Orleans:  923 Decatur Street, French Quarter (no website) Praline Connection – Creole soul food, in the Marigny: The Joint – yummy BBQ in the Bywater neighborhood: Elizabeth’s – excellent po’boys and other southern food, ‘meat and three’ type of place.  Bywater neighborhood:


My favorite is the Napoleon House Bar and Cafe – home of the Pimm’s Cup, which is a nice refreshing drink for a hot afternoon.  In the French Quarter since the 18th century: I find that Bourbon Street is not really the place to hang out, but there is a cool little bar (if you go before all the drunken ruckus take over the area)  that boasts having created the first cocktail ever – the Sazerac.  Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter:

Other Things Worth Mentioning

Lower 9th – Rebuilding Tours – This list was originally created for someone wanting to check out the rebuilding efforts going on.  I didn’t take a tour specifically to see the lower 9th – since we were kind of in the thick of it building with Habitat in the Musician’s Village in the Bywater Neighborhood.  We had also rented a car, so we did the driving tour that was listed in the Fodor’s guide-book.  I’ve checked out a few groups that I thought might be doing specific tours with an architectural bent, but my favorites don’t seem to be doing that.  Here are the groups that I’ve been following and (for the most part) like what they are up to down there are (just for other information on their rebuilding efforts):  Preservation Resource Center: Global Green: Make It Right: looking around, I did see this Post Katrina tour that seemed good:

Southern Food and Beverage Museum – I love, love, love these people and so happy they finally have a space:

Definitely take a stroll or drive with stops along the way up Magazine Street, and through the Garden District.  Much of that area is as it always has been, and again… quintessential New Orleans.

It is a wonderful town, with an incredible spirit, despite what it has been through.   Hope you have a fabulous time visiting Nawlins!

baguette box

Not necessarily a new one for us, but the truffle fries along make this worthy of a post!  Shawn and I headed down the hill to our Fremont outpost of Baguette Box to celebrate a (very small) financial gain.  I went with what has become my standard – the braised tofu and avocado bahn mi style sandwich – and Shawn went with the braised pork shoulder sandwich.  Accompanied by the beautiful crisp truffle fries and outdoor seating on a sunny, unseasonably warm day – these flavorful sandwiches instigated a lovely pause in an otherwise frenetic week.


When asked where he would like to go for his birthday dinner, Shawn’s immediate response… Poppy!  A special-occasion-only type of place for us during our current economic state, but incredibly worth saving up for.  Our sever friend Jason surprised us with a starter of a fresh hearts of palm, avocado and blood orange salad – it’s melding of intense, beautiful flavors just a hint of the meal about to unfold.  Our thali came out next – colorful platters of 9 small plates and naan, and idea borrowed from India, but a beautiful combination of northwest seasonal local veggies, meats, herbs and spices.   Every single one of them intensely flavorful – calling for a slow appreciation of each dish.  My favorites of the night:  buffalo ricotta dumplings with wild nettles, Israeli couscous with hedgehog mushrooms and winter vegetables, and the farro gratin with mushrooms and chard.   We finished with a surprisingly (to us) good  ice cream, with chocolate chips and homemade licorice, along with the crunchy-creamy homemade nutter butters.  A perfect meal, touching on every flavor, every color, and every texture.