Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rione XIII

If you don’t know how to read roman numerals, you’ll be pretty sad indeed when you go to Rione XII. That’s because you’ll tell your friends you had a great meal at “Rione ex eye eye eye” and they will mock you. But if that actually IS the case, and you really don’t know how to read roman numerals, then you’ve got bigger problems than Rione XII because you probably pronounce movie sequels wrong too and go around talking about how “Rocky vee” is the worst of the Rocky movies. Luckily for me, I learned a lot about roman numerals in school, since in my home state of Louisiana they still actually use them, along with leaded gas, phrenology, and those old-time exercise machines with the vibrating canvas belt that goes around your waist. So I felt right at home at Rione XIII.

We started with the zucchini street pizza ($15). The crust was thin and bubbly, simultaneously chewy and crackly, as good pizza crusts should be. Thin rounds of roasted zucchini dotted this pizzascape, along with cloudy globs of the softest and sweetest ricotta I have ever tasted. A generous dusting of microplaned cured tuna heart topped it all off. I was hesitant to order this pizza, but it was definitely tastier than it had any right to be: sweet and salty with just a briny hint courtesy of the tuna heart. If you were expecting a big bloody beating heart, you would be disappointed because the reddish brown flecks of heart looked more like grated nutmeg than anything else. This flavor combination, unlikely as it might sound, really worked. My biggest complaint about this pizza is that they unfortunately call this “street pizza” on the menu which is, as everyone knows, a synonym for roadkill.

Trippa alla romana ($12) was interesting, to say the least. Gigantic ass beans, each the size of a fetus, bathed in a rich amniotic fluid of tomato sauce with squares of tripe, bread crumbs, and a little mint. Like the street pizza, the tripe featured an unlikely combination of flavors and textures, but it was utterly bewitching. Still, to this day I have no idea why people eat tripe. It’s fucking stomach lining. Why would you want to put MORE stomach in your stomach? Plus it tastes vaguely dirty. Or maybe it’s not tripe’s fault. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just want to gripe. Gripe about tripe.

Bucatini Amatriciana ($14) was the best thing I ate at Rione XIII. Big slippery pasta tubes, which your mom likes even more than MY big slippery pasta tube, writhed joyfully in a bright tomato sauce. Also in the sauce were little porky batons of guanciale and sautéed arcs of red onion. The plate was dusted on top with grana. This was generally good but I take issue with the red onion. There’s no reason to put red onion in anything: raw, it’s too strong. Cooked, looks like worms. You can’t win. The only reason people use red onions instead of yellow is because they’re red supremacists. Go to hell, you fucking onion racists.

Gnocchi alla romana ($14) was okay but very cheesy. Too cheesy. Cheesier, even, than Kenny G’s newest album, “Kenny G Performs a Thomas Kinkade Christmas.” Big soft round areolas of polenta were topped with melted mozzarella and tomato sauce. These were quite tasty: the rich satiny pucks of polenta sported a charmingly bruleed skin of mozzarella on top, but in general it really just tasted like pizza.

Oxtails alla Vaccinara was, for $19, a relative bargain. For this price you got a couple silky chunks of braised beef that dropped effortlessly off the bone. Unfortunately there was a lot of bone: too much bone, in fact, even for your mom, whose appetite for bone is legendary. And these weren’t regular, unassuming bones, they were big fucking dinosaur vertebra. It looked like HR Giger plated this fucking thing. Beneath the macabre beef cadaver was a big slick pile of polenta, with tomato sauce on top. This tasted a lot like the gnocchi, which tasted a lot like the bucatini, which tasted a lot like the tripe, which is to say: it all tasted red. You can blame me for choosing the wrong menu items, but the waitress could’ve mentioned to us that all the shit we were ordering had identical flavor profiles.

Dessert was a chcolate amaretto cake ($8), with a quenelle of straciatella gelato on the side. It’s a pretty moist cake, and the gelato was creamy enough. You really can’t go wrong with cake and ice cream, but isn’t there a more “authentic” Italian dessert with tomato sauce and polenta in it? Actually there must not be, because if there was we would’ve probably ended up with it.

Rione XIII isn’t bad, but I’d hardly call it mind-blowing, though maybe that’s not the point. I definitely give them credit for some very creative flavor profiles, and a competent (though no-frills) preparation, but something about the place just doesn’t do it for me. I think I might just be suffering from Ethan Stowell Fatigue: the indefatigable restaurateur seems to be opening new establishments at a pace that rivals the proliferation of facebook posts that complain about the president. In fact, by 2025 there will be one Ethan Stowell restaurant for every hummingbird on earth. So watch the fuck out.

I could also be suffering from Italian food fatigue, which as we all know is notoriously technique-free, mostly because Italians would prefer to spend time honing the ability to grab a woman’s ass while piloting a speeding Vespa instead of making elaborate terrines and delicate sauces. The French like to fuck too, mind you, yet they somehow ALSO find the time to create the world’s finest cuisine AND complain about American hegemony AND they manage to do all of this in a 35 hour work-week. Still, if you like Italian food and you are on Capitol Hill and Spinasse is booked, which I assure you it will be, then why not give Rione XIII a shot?

Rating: 6.5 street pizzas out of 10

Rione XIII is located at 401 15th Ave E.

For reservations call 206-838-2878

Rione XIII on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Marx Foods

Marx Foods is the brick-and-mortar outlet of, the online luxury food retailer which is based here in Seattle. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: unless there’s a Whole Foods somewhere with a Maclaren Stroller showroom inside it, I doubt there’s a bigger yuppie magnet than Marx Foods. I was invited by Justin Marx to visit the Marx Foods showroom on lower Queen Anne. Yes, he knows what I look like. And no, I don’t give a fuck. I don’t typically review grocery stores, so I figured what the fuck. Justin brought out a bunch of stuff for me to try, and I ate it.

I started with a jar of pistachio cream, which is dreamy. It’s a subtle green, and lightly textured. Visually it resembles the puke-color paint they used to paint public school rooms back in the 1970’s and 80’s, but you shouldn’t judge this book by its cover because it is SO FUCKING DELICIOUS. It tastes like angels fucking. The flavor is mild and sweet, yet not at all cloying, with a rich pistachio flavor. It’s $12 for a 7.4 ounce jar which, compared to Nutella, is pretty pricey, but it’s several orders of magnitude tastier. In fact, Sabatino & Co’s Fior di Pistacchio, which is the brand that Marx Foods carries, won the NASFT gold award for Outstanding Nut Butter this year. Your mom was outraged that MY nut butter didn’t win; such is life.

Maple cream is made from real maple syrup that has been whipped like a stepchild. The inevitable incorporation of air into the maple cream turns the color of the syrup from its usually glossy amber to a satiny, bland beige. Luckily, the flavor of this stuff is anything but bland: it’s creamy and very sweet and tastes like highly concentrated waffles. If some chump ever invents a breakfast mayonnaise, it would taste like maple cream. Like the pistachio cream, it’s not cheap ($17 for 6 oz) but it is totally worth it.

Madyson’s Maddy Melts ($9 for 8 marshmallows) are disc-shaped marshmallows, fiendishly engineered to float atop a mug of hot cocoa, thus melting into a perfectly even marshmallow layer. As far as marshmallows go, these are gauzy and not overly saccharine. My only complaint is that “Madyson” sounds like it should be the name of a stripper, not a marshmallow.

Manufactured by boutique confectioner We Made This, macaron mixes are probably the most retarded thing Marx Food sells. This macaron mix sells for $16 for about 6 ounces. To make macarons from scratch you only need five ingredients: sugar, salt, egg whites, almonds, and confectioner’s sugar. We Made This’s mix requires you to add your own egg whites. You’re essentially paying for 6 ounces of sugar and ground almonds. $16 macaron mixes are why the terrorists hate us.

Panforte di Mirabissi is also pretty shitty. Invented during medieval times to provide a durable source of quick energy for knights at war, panforte is basically a fruitcake puck. Panforte is about as successful a dessert as all those knights who ate panforte were successful at the Crusades, which is to say: not very. Marx Foods sells several flavors, but they all taste like a stale muffin that rolled around on the floor of a Penzey’s. Like slavery, open sewers, and hairy 1970’s pubic bushes, panforte is one of history’s bad ideas which should finally be retired. Prices range from $19-22 depending on the flavor, for 350g.

Butternut seed oil, on the other hand, is magnificent: nutty and sweet and savory all at once, with grassy hints in the finish, this stuff tastes like autumn in a bottle. Here is a list of stuff I would lick this butternut seed oil off of: a dog. An old sponge. Mike Tyson. An electric fence. Your mom. Manufactured with a grant from Cornell University, whose agriculture department was trying to find a use for unused butternut squash seeds, this oil would even taste good on Vienna Sausage. That’s how fucking good it is. $12 for 6.3 ounces.

Marx Foods sells, literally, several metric shit-tons of items. In addition to being the FIRST retailer in the USA to sell ghost chilis, Marx Foods also sells exotic meats, oils and sauces and spices and dry pastas of all kinds, as well as stylish paperware. They’re currently trying to source Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chilis, currently the world’s hottest at 2 million Scoville units.

The showroom has maybe 50 different things on display, but there’s more to it than that: shoppers will be able to peruse the store’s website, which has hundreds more items, on conveniently mounted ipads inside the store, and you can buy anything from the website because they have all of the stuff the website sells on shelves in the back. Some of this stuff is too bourgeois, and it can be quite expensive. However, the inventory is impeccably sourced, and some items are quite cheap: vanilla beans, for instance, which sell at Marx Foods for about $19 for 20 beans, are much cheaper than Penzey’s princely $36.89 for 15 beans. Personally I wish they’d start selling pot brownie mixes, but I suppose that’s a pipe dream.

Rating: 7.5 brownies out of 10

Marx Foods is located at 144 Western Ave W.

For inquiries call 1-866-588-6279, or check out the website.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

One Night Only

The One Night Only Project is a series of dinners, which I hesitate to describe as “underground,” but fuck it: if the shoe fits, drink champagne from it. This culinary Xanadu was dreamed up by well-known local television personality Julien Perry and locavore cheerleader Melissa Peterman. The culinary rap sheets of these two women is as long as a whale cock, and so when I was invited to attend a dinner created by Ma’Ono owner Mark Fuller, I jumped at the chance the way your mom jumps at the chance to attend a Truffaut retrospective. Look at your mom, showing interest in something besides methamphetamines!

Anyway, the One Night Only dinners typically move around from venue to venue, but this time it was held at the Velvet Underground Dining Experience, a small banquet room in South Lake Union which is as stylish as its acronym, VUDE, is gross-sounding.

Mark Fuller was cooking Mexican food, paired with beers from the Georgetown Brewing Company. I admit I was skeptical. After all, Fuller is known for a polished and modern take on Hawaiian comfort food. Would he be able to pull it off? Read on and you’ll see.

We started with passed appetizers: pork croutons with clam salsa. “Crouton” here is a misnomer. Let’s get one thing straight, this was a fucking pork rind with stuff on top of it. But the pork rind was mildly salty and airy, with the brittle snap of a brisk walk through a wooded land on an autumn day, which all good pork rinds should have. I’ve only had tastier pork rinds at La Bete. These were topped with a small pile of smoked clam salsa: colorful cubes of bell pepper and tomato were interspersed here and there with diced chunks of heavily smoked clams and a brunoise of crunchy jicama. The smoke flavor was a welcome addition to the pork rind, and the salsa was bright and fresh.

A pork and rice meatball soup was fucking tasty. Downy meatballs , dense slices of chorizo, and grilled potato splashed around in a plunge pool of a savory and spicy broth, glimmering topaz which sported a very subtle yet undeniable heat. This was garnished with a slice of avocado.

Next up were tacos: I have NEVER HAD TACOS LIKE THIS BEFORE. People like to wax rhapsodic about tacos, but that’s usually because they have never tasted something which is ACTUALLY DELICIOUS, like white asparagus, or a bone-in Wagyu ribeye, or a galantine with an interior garnish of smoked chicken breast and foie gras. Tacos are cheap, sure, but so are potatoes, and Pommes Robuchon is way better than the average taco. I don’t get the obsession lots of chumps have with tacos.

Until now.

Crispy shreds of carnitas were packed into handmade tortillas, ivory, soft, and creamy in a way that was unlike any tortilla I’ve ever eaten. On top was a salsa of tomatillo and white onion. On the side was a bowl of handmade queso which was very good but a little salty for my taste. Accompanying the tacos were grilled red jalapenos. These were a mine field of Scoville units. I ate 2 tacos, each topped with a pepper. The first was pleasantly spicy but the second one was a fucking raging capsaicin inferno which caused the tears to roll silently down my face like a stoic widow in a New England cemetery. All I needed were sunglasses, a leafless winter tree, and a black umbrella to complete this tableau. Still, it would take more than a freakishly spicy jalapeno to ruin these tacos; that’s how magnificent they were.

Charcoal grilled skirt steak was great. I could eat an entire skirt’s worth of this steak. In fact I could eat an entire WEDDING DRESS of this steak. It was pleasantly charred on the outside, grilled to a pleasing, vaginal medium inside, with a spicy and tangy marinade of cumin and lime. This was garnished with scallion rings and accompanied by these soft cornmeal biscuits which were filled, jelly donut style, with a thin layer of refried beans.

Next up was a cucumber and shrimp salpicon. “Salpicon” is Spanish for “a bunch of shit chopped up like a motherfucker.” The salpicon had a whole bunch of ingredients: shrimp, banana peppers, chunks of cucumber, radishes, all very fresh tasting but I couldn’t understand how, exactly, this mélange should be eaten. There were no tortillas in evidence. Should you just spoon the salpicon into your mouth? Or was it meant to be used as a condiment? Some people were spooning it atop their slices of grilled skirt steak, which was probably the best option, but personally I just chowed down on it.

By this point I was getting pretty damn full but we still had two more courses to conquer. The first was the Tamale of Disappointment: a big loaf of cornmeal was filled with a rubbery white skein of Beecher’s Jack Cheese. I should also point out that the Tamale of Disappointment had a weird, humid, tropical funk that smelled like what I imagine the Predator smells like. The Tamale of Disappointment donned a dark brown sash of chocolate sauce, grainy and bitter, like an old photograph of your mom. I expected this sauce to taste like a melted Hershey Bar but as the name suggests, I was sadly, sadly disappointed. This was accompanied by a couple chunks of roasted sweet potato for some reason.

Dessert, however, was great: a big bowl of dolce de leche rice pudding, finely grained and light. Puddled on top was a shallow pool of horchata, a few slippery mango wedges, and a scattered topping of Corn Pops. At first I thought these were some artisan “corn pops” somehow manufactured by Fuller’s crew using advanced tech, but no: clearly visible from my seat was the actual box of Kellogg’s Corn Pops, with its bright yellow and red pop-art label, sitting on a shelf in the kitchen. The mouthfeel of this pudding was superb: it was like my tongue writhing around between satin sheets. It was sweet, but not cloying, with notes of cinnamon provided by the horchata, and of course the fruity black pepperiness of the mango.

The One Night Only Project is an interesting idea. At $150 per person, it’s a bit pricey, though I don’t consider the cost obscene, considering that you can get as much alcohol as you can pour into your piehole, and tip and tax is included. Plus, the food is impeccable. Mark Fuller is a seasoned veteran, and the food is prepared by his hand-picked cabal. Besides, this isn’t 2006, when every chump with middling knife skills would declare a meal at his house an “underground dinner,” propped it up with a lame code word and a flimsy thesis about “community,” and then make friends of friends pay $100 to watch him drizzle truffle oil over everything.One Night Only is, instead, a demonstration of power. The menus are lyrical songs, each dish a stanza written by a professional fully in command of the vocabulary of cuisine. It’s a chef’s playground.

One Night Only’s next dinner is Saturday, November 3rd, and will feature a fucking crazy barbecue feast prepared by Chef Eric Hellner of the Metropolitan Grill, with wine pairing by Master Sommelier Thomas Price. Tickets are still available. If you miss this I pity you.

Rating: 8.5 tacos out of 10

Tickets to the One Night Only Project are available here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Last Parsnip

I admit that I am suffering from burnout. Not writer’s block, mind you, but a general malaise: while my wellspring of convoluted metaphors and analogies, tortured to within an inch of their lives, is as deep as your mom’s vag, my patience, unfortunately, is not.

But when I heard about the Last Parsnip, my will to live returned. I heard a whispered rumor that there was an aristocratic new restaurant opening, somewhere near Seattle. This was no mere “underground club.” Nay, the Last Parsnip is an experience: more precious than an elf riding a Yorkshire Terrier, and as exclusive as an invitation to sip 150-year-old brandy with P Diddy on the deck of a yacht.

A visit to the Last Parsnip’s website reveals a draconian reservations policy: tables are by invitation only. Fortunately, this isn’t as bad as it seems; if you can provide three letters of recommendation from restaurant industry professionals, they’ll probably let you in. At least, they let me in, though I pulled a lot of strings to get those recommendations. Without resorting to shameless name-dropping, let’s just say I now owe three fucking GLOWING reviews.

With my table secured, we proceeded to the Last Parsnip’s secret Bainbridge Island location. The restaurant’s website describes the dining room as being located within a decommissioned lighthouse. This is patently untrue: there IS no lighthouse on Bainbridge Island. It’s a red herring designed to discourage the meek, since the Last Parsnip is ACTUALLY situated within a private dining room inside a wealthy burgher’s house near the Blakely Harbor Put-in.

Once inside, you’ll be escorted past a racquetball court and an indoor stable which, as the maitre’d will point out to you, is completely smell-free: a 100,000 CFM ventilation system whisks away any offending molecules of horse shit, so as not to insult the delicate olfactory sensibilities of diners.

We were led into the Last Parsnip’s opulent dining room, which looks like the Belaggio threw up after eating a bunch of Skittles, and were seated. But claiming one’s seat is still no guarantee of safe harbor, because the Parsnip is like an Arthurian footbridge, governed by an aloof and invincible guardian: there are THREE challenges that must be hurdled to gain entry. Getting a reservation is the first. Finding the place is the second. And negotiating the menu is the third.

The fact is that the menu itself is yet another sly trap for those with a lack of panache. If you attempt to actually order from the menu, you get kicked out. I’m not shitting you: when you think the Last Parsnip can’t possibly get any more ostentatious, they blow past the previous line in the sand as effortlessly as your mom shattered the world record for number of blowjobs given in a day. I personally witnessed a pair of wealthy dowagers, each ripe for a pie to the face, coldly escorted out after requesting the Coronation Mutton (£18), medium well.

The tip-off that the menu is fake is the prices, which are listed in British Pounds. At the very bottom of page is “Bryce’s Tasting Menu,” the cost of which is listed as “MP.” This is what you should actually order, if you want to be served. And “MP” for us cost $495 per person, taxes and gratuity inclusive. Dinner comes with a wine flight, but I’m not a wine blogger and besides, Mad Dog 20/20 is good enough for me, so I dare say I’m not the most educated oenophile.

We started with an amuse: Caciocavallo Podolico “Cheetos.” A small pile of these were brought to the table in a jeweled pimp cup: gnarly caveman clubs of crispy puffed cheese which were similar to their junkfood namesake in shape only. Unlike their neon-orange counterparts, the Caciocavallo Podolico Cheetos were a blunt ivory color, with a clean and creamy dairy flavor imparted by Caciocavallo Podolico, the most expensive cheese in the world.

Next up was an appetizer: the Last Parsnip’s take on “surf n’ turf” featured two cubes of seared “Ultra Kobe” and two cubes of sous vide blue whale blubber. “Ultra Kobe” is, as the waiter described to us, similar to regular Kobe beef, but the cows are fed champagne instead of sake, and are raised most of their lives neck deep in a tank of water. This allows for better marbling, since the buoyancy of the water means less strain on the cow’s muscles. Ultra Kobe tenderloin was then seared using a plasma arc at 7000 degrees Celcius; this is hotter than the surface of the sun.

Beef, when subjected to such a stellar inferno, yields a brittle caramelized crust which I have never encountered; it tastes almost like meaty lace. Inside, the meat was served rare: delicate and vaginal, the purple flesh, spiderwebbed with threads of fat, practically dissolved on the tongue. The Ultra Kobe was served drizzled with a couple drops of port reduction. And , oh yeah—the port was 90 years old.

I must admit I didn’t care for the sous vide blue whale blubber, which was obtained by the Last Parsnip via a special permit from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. This was fatty and rich: TOO rich. Imagine what Oprah’s bone marrow probably tastes like. Blue whale blubber makes that taste like a rice cake. Yet instead of being yielding to the bite, like pork belly, it’s instead strangely fibrous. Yes, yes, I know: Eskimos eat whale blubber. But Eskimos do a lot of dumb things.

The salad course was a thimbleful of “nano greens,” which are micro greens whose growth has been stunted by a lack of water, in much the same way Bonsai trees are grown. This miniscule Mesclun was composed of tiny leaves of red leaf lettuce, arugula, and chicory. Even the dressing was microscopic: the salad was doused in 500 microliters of a Dwarf Patuljak Pepper vinaigrette. Dwarf Patuljak Peppers are, in case you haven’t already guessed, the smallest pepper in the world.

Soup was beef consommé, as crystal clear as a Teabagger’s racist intentions. Submerged in a shallow pool of this piping hot masterpiece was a lozenge of saffron egg custard. This savory yellow parallelogram was creamy like a boob in a Flemish master’s painting, and best of all: emblazoned on top of the custard was a gold-leaf Fleur-de-Lys.

The pasta course was fucking killer: a snickering jab at the Olive Garden’s obesity-inducing lunchtime special, “Bryce’s Neverending Pasta Bowl” was a Mobius Strip made of a single piece of papardelle. This delicate ribbon of egg noodle was served amid a spicy sugo of ground pork, finely textured and gleaned from pigs fed only fennel. Shaved atop the pasta were coils of a rare pecorino from Colorado, made only by lesbians.

The main course was, naturally, Lievre a la Royale. This is the most complicated recipe in the world. The eldritch instructions to prepare this are of course easy to fuck up, but as I expected, they nailed it. A ballotine of hare was cooked, sous vide of course, then served draped in a glossy maroon jus of rabbit blood, foie gras, brandy, and butter, garnished with a roasted chestnut and a small pile of pickled haricots verts.

The pinwheel of rabbit meat, tender as the denouement of a Lifetime Original Movie, was alternated with a farce of foie gras and rabbit liver and black truffles, dark and dense and utterly capable of fulfilling the appetites of even the most corpulent one percenter. The roasted chestnut was like an entire winter in a single smoky, creamy nut, and the haricots verts had been pickled in a vinegar made from Bollinger Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes Francaises 1997. Overkill? Of course, but the pickled beans made a welcome counterpoint to the Lievre’s viscous imperial sauce.

Dessert, the waiter revealed with a serial killer’s smile, was “The World’s Girliest Dessert.” A small puck of molten chocolate cake was drizzled with a salted caramel sauce and crowned with a hazelnut tuile. On the side was a quenelle of lavender ice cream, which the waiter prepared tableside, in a move designed to brutally emasculate all of the “molecular gastronomists” dicking around with liquid nitrogen, by dripping BOSE-EINSTEIN CONDENSATE from a steaming cold, matte-black graphite flask into a bowl of cream. Bose-Einstein Condensates are made of rubidium atoms just a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero. When rubidium encounters water it reacts similarly to potassium, by forming a peroxide with the oxygen atoms in the water and liberating hydrogen gas. The hydrogen, of course, infiltrates the ice cream, giving it an effervescence which stings the tongue a bit.

Around the perimeter of the plate, Emily Dickinson’s “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” was written in caramel sauce. The World’s Girliest Dessert was garnished, appropriately, with a live puppy. When the finished dish was presented you could hear a subtle squelch, like the sound of a stepped-upon grape, as every vagina in the room became simultaneously lubricated. I was nonplussed.

You may have noticed that I don’t actually describe the relative deliciousness of any of the dishes. This is because, of course, that every single thing was perfect; each course was the absolute template of its respective dish. There was no need for me to do anything except describe the recipes. An easier and more pleasurable job has never been had by a restaurant critic. That having been said, I’m giving the Last Parsnip a 9.9: they lose 0.1 points because thanks to the World’s Girliest Dessert, I now have to raise a fucking puppy.

Rating: 9.9 puppies out of 10

The Last Parsnip cannot be reached by phone. For reservations, they can be contacted here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


In America, Italian restaurants that want to charge lots of money are confronted with a quandary: you can’t charge big bucks for baked ziti, but you ALSO can’t use too many classical French techniques because then you cross the culinary equivalent of the Alps.

So what do you do? You have two choices: either strip the recipes WAY down, like to three ingredients, but make sure that those three ingredients are the MOTHERFUCKING BEST GODDAMNED INGREDIENTS IN THE UNIVERSE. For instance, slather some delicate pristine handmade pasta with some fancy butter, such as reggiano butter, or some other kind of exotic butter made from the milk of cows that are fed only apples or some shit like that, and then top this with an obscure D.O.C Pecorino made by rustic badasses, or monks, or even better yet: Shaolin monks, which are in fact both. This is the strategy of places like Cantinetta and Spinasse. Or you can try a different approach and put a whole bunch of stuff on the plate and hope for the best. This is Altura’s approach.

I’d been trying to get into Altura for a while. Unfortunately, the only reservation options, for WEEKS, were either 5:30 or 9:45. I place the entire blame on Open Table. As recently as seven years ago I used to place reservations with impunity in this town, gleefully calling up every restaurant in town and scoring valuable tables for two at 7:30 on a Saturday.

Now, sadly, modern technology has enabled any common Aspberger’s sufferer, in a town, mind you, which is JAM FUCKING PACKED with awkward computer programmers loathe to communicate with AN ACTUAL PERSON, to cock-block people like me who are TRYING TO WORK HERE, YOU FUCKING NERDS. The horrors of technology, I suppose.

Anyway: Altura. Suffice to say we eventually did get a reservation. They’ve got an interesting pricing structure. The menu is divided, as Italian menus frequently are, into antipasti, primi, and secondi, though they aren’t labeled as such. While you can order anything a la carte, you’re better off taking advantage of a coursed meal, which is offered at Altura at a rate of $53 for 3 courses, $61 for 4 courses, $69 for 5 courses, or $132 for one metric shit-ton of courses. This sounds complicated, but don’t worry; your waiter will laboriously explain all of this to you.

We started with the Spicy Grilled Baby Octopus. Grilled tentacles were present, of course, along with lots of cucumbers: there were thin rounds of lemon cucumber, cubed English cucumber, and round balls of some other kind of cucumber. Accompanying all these cumcumbers and tentacle was what I initially thought was some variety of hummus but was, according to the menu “calabrian bean puree.” There was also a smear of basil puree and an asymmetrical splash of bright orange chili oil, which I assume was leaking from a small, red, grilled pepper.

This dish had a good amount of heat, as befits the name, but seemed unfocused. There were too many disparate elements. I get that you’re supposed to get a bite of everything together, but with SO MANY different ingredients, how much shit can you hold on your fork? At some point it turns into culinary Pick-Up Stix.

Cavatelli was a pretty disorganized plate: a compact pile of perforated pasta cylinders were clad in a thick sauce of ground duck. This was topped with a translucent jade bundle of deep fried sage leaves. It was a lot of sage, actually: it looked like a tiny green chandelier fell from the ceiling and landed onto my bowl of pasta. The cavatelli was very ducky tasting. It was like an aggro mallard suffering from roid rage teabagged the cavatelli with his cloaca. That’s not a bad thing.

Malfatti was SUPER FUCKING TASTY. Malfatti is like sloppy gnocchi: big, round, sloppy balls which are exactly what your mom craves. Three big fluffy green balls, flecked with kale and dandelion greens and bound together with ricotta, were piled atop a savory ragu of ground rabbit. The deliciousness was inexplicable. Normally I would think a pasta made primarily of ricotta and kale would be the kind of thing folk musicians would want to eat. Yet these delicious savory balls were somehow imbued with the spirit of True Tastiness, a Dickensian apparition which was not just an omen of my own terrifying pigheadishness, but also a symbol of delicious possibilities. Kudos. And when I say “kudos,” I actually mean “K-K-K-KU-dos!!!” sung to the tune of the Chia Pet theme song.

Snake River Farms Flatiron Steak was competently prepared; grilled until the caramelized brown crust enshrouded a lurid clown-nose rare interior, the steak was then sliced into medallions. These were strewn about a plate containing shitloads of other stuff. Seriously, that steak was the Fred Sanford to the junkyard of garnish, though my indelicate metaphor doesn’t do justice to how good the garnishes were.

There was grilled Treviso radicchio, which managed to be palatable because it was wrapped in pancetta. There was also a grilled green onion. Lurking off to the side, in much the same manner as your mom at a peep show, was a puree of parsley root with black truffle jus. I’d never eaten parsley root before, but you don’t need to be Jules Verne to have an imagination fertile enough to predict that parsley root, like ANY edible root, pairs as tightly with truffles as Dave Murray pairs with Adrian Smith. Truffles and root veggie puree: a culinary twin guitar solo.

Acorn finished Iberico Pork was a special treat. Medallions of grilled Iberian pork, finally available in the USA after the FDA realized that Spanish pigs aren’t the threat to democracy we initially thought. This pork was seared medium: the rose color, with a blush of blood even (!) made me feel-- let’s just say-- less than comfortable, though it was so delicious I couldn’t help but eat the fuck out of these forbidden undercooked pig pieces: it was, for me, the culinary equivalent of the stiffy I got watching Usain Bolt.

This homoerotic pork was cut, I was told, from a specific section of the pig shoulder, analogous to the aforementioned flat iron steak, I would imagine, and served atop a chewy and nutty bed of faro, along with figs 2 ways: a grilled fig half and a gorgonzola stuffed fig, wrapped in pancetta. Don’t know why you’d include the plain grilled fig alongside the fig stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in pancetta: “Hey, let’s put something NOT as good next to something similar, but more awesome!”

Dessert was a chocolate truffle cake. This was so chocolatey it caused a chocoquake in my mouth when I bit into it! The strata of dense chocolate, alternating with moist chocolate cake, were tectonic with coca flavor. We are witnessing an evolution in chocolate desserts: Restaurant Zoe serves mystical cocoa scrying orbs. Café Juanita serves a truffle cake, which is as light and airy as an angel’s tits. Now Altura, which manages to put out the kind of Platonically ideal chocolate cake, the kind of cake I kept wishing for every birthday when I was a kid, yet never got. A chunk of this cake was served with some fancy fucking garnishes: there was an almond-filled cherry, the pit replaced with an amaretto cream, and a sliver of candied orange subbed in for the stem. There was the de rigeur smear of something, in this case cherry sauce. There was also a cube of pistachio brittle.

Apple huckleberry crostata had a misleading name. This was mostly my fault I guess: I thought the crostata would be innovative presentation of apples and berries on a slab of toasted bread. But that’s because I confused crostata and crostini. Crostata, it turns out, is a cobbler with a master’s degree from a liberal arts college. This was topped with a quenelle of a pine nut praline gelato. Delicious praline flavors were all there: creamy, nutty, and caramel. Unfortunately, I’m tired of ice cream being presented as a quenelle. Can’t they shape it into an eyeball shape? Or a skull? Or a dick? That might spice things up.

Altura is one of those restaurants that’s so pristine, you can’t really find fault with it. The pricing structure is liberal like Dennis Kucinich. The techniques on display are masterful. If there’s any fault to be found, it’s in the overcrowded plates with too many competing flavors. Some of the presentations, specifically the octopus salad and the flatiron steak, looked like a Chinese subway station. The place also seems rather soulless, but then again so am I, so I wouldn’t really count that as a disadvantage. Toodle-oo!

Rating: 8.5 Chinese subways out of 10

Altura is located at 617 Broadway Ave E

For reservations call 206-402-6749

Altura on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Modernist Jello Shots

I got an email from Seattle Weekly editor Mike Seely asking if I wanted to try the World’s Most Potent Jello Shot. I’ve somehow gained a reputation as a Jello shot expert, so of course I agreed. But I agreed to this less out of a scholarly curiosity about all things Jello, and more out of a desire to get totally fucking shitfaced.

We enlisted Scott Heimendinger, AKA Seattle Food Geek, a well-known local blogger and Voracious contributor, to engineer these futuristic shots. Scott is also business development manager for Modernist Cuisine, which means he has access to the Modernist Cuisine kitchen, and so he has strange chemicals and wacky scientific tools at his disposal. Yes, even a centrifuge. And probably a speculum.

I was skeptical of these newfangled Jello shots. Because alcohol interferes with the polymerization of gelatin, the strongest Jello shot that can possibly be made will contain at most 30% alcohol by volume, or 60 proof. However, these new scientific Jello shots aren’t made from gelatin. Rather, Scott explained that they contain a cocktail of exotic gelling agents: agar agar and gellan. Agar agar is derived from seaweed and is well known in asian cuisine as, among other things, the gelling agent for the squicky black cubes found in the bottom of a can of Grass Jelly Drink.

Gellan is a type of gum extracted from Dr. Scholl’s Gel Insoles. Neither agar agar nor gellan seemed particularly delicious to me, but then again, the traditionally-used gelling agent, gelatin, comes from hooves: the take home message is that jiggly desserts of all kind are inherently pretty fucking gross.

So last week we met at West Seattle’s Tug Tavern, well known locally as an early adopter of jello shots. This was going to be an endurance test: I had to eat as many of these super strong shots as possible. As a metric of my drunkenness, I would have to read, out loud, several difficult literary passages from You Can’t Go Home Again, by Thomas Wolfe. AND I would have to do this on film. Which is why I dressed as the Unabomber.

Scott brought out a big platter of his ultra-strong shots, arranged on the plate in a colorful constellation of red, green, and blue. The camera started to roll; I started to eat. To say that these shots were nasty is an understatement: they were grainy and reeked with the astringent chemical bouquet of cheap vodka. Scott admitted that there was no sugar in the shots; in a quest to make the shots as STRONG AS POSSIBLE, sugar had been jettisoned. The brightly hued shots were tinted with food coloring, since it looks better on camera that way. What a cock tease.

I gulped down two or three before I started gagging. It wasn’t the alcohol that was repulsing me. On the contrary, it would’ve been no problem to knock back 14 thimblefuls of rotgut. But the texture was just too much: the shots crumbled apart on the tongue, shearing apart into granular chunks which weren’t exactly the easiest to swallow. If you’ve ever worked with petri dishes, you’ll recognize this gross texture instantly, since agar agar is a common bacterial growth medium. It tasted like someone spilled a bottle of Monarch onto a silica gel packet. There’s a reason the outside of those little packs always say “DO NOT EAT.” The bartender brought me a big canister of sugar, which I unceremonious dumped all over the shots. This didn’t improve the taste; on the contrary, the sugar granules added an additional, sandy layer of misery: sadness brulee.

After a couple shots I picked up the Thomas Wolfe book and gave a reading. At first I was psyched: I thought we were talking about TOM Wolfe and, having read “The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test” and “Bonfire of the Vanities,” I remembered these books as being relatively quick reads. Unfortunately Tom Wolfe is NOT, as Wikipedia’s disambiguation page politely informed me, the same guy as THOMAS Wolfe, a contemporary of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s who died in the 1940’s.

Wolfe’s unwieldy prose is purple like Barney the Dinosaur, and possibly just as gay. Awkward, paragraph long phrases read like Roman oratory, and are peppered with completely retarded passages such as "'Will you make me one of your sauces that is subtle, searching, and hushed?’” Hanna Raskin thought this line totally laughable; it’s only a matter of time before this quote ends up in one of her reviews, I’m sure. Note to Hanna: your best chance of finding a subtle, searching, hushed sauce is probably at Lark.

Fourteen shots later, I was drunk, for sure, but not shitfaced. I’d eaten all of the modernist jello shots. My tastebuds were insulted, but for the most part the worst part of the evening was the old lady who grabbed my nipples. I wasn’t too drunk to read, though I was definitely to the stage of inebriation where I was starting to pontificate. Something tells me your BAC has to be pretty fucking high for you to forget how to read.

Are the modernist jello shots a panacea? Nope. They taste like ass. One of my main criticisms of molecular gastronomy is the quaint, almost Utilitarian idea that everything must be “improved.” Scott’s jello shots were about 40% ABV. A standard jello shot is usually around 20% at most. The nasty texture wasn’t worth the attempt to shoehorn the extra 20% alcohol into these things. If I want to get drunk that badly, I’ll have a Wild Turkey, thanks.

If you want to watch the video, it's visible here. Thanks to Laura Onstot for her fine camera work.

Rating: 2 turkeys out of 10

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cafe Juanita

Café Juanita is a legendary FANCY RESTAURANT in Kirkland, Washington. Totally fucking legendary, much like the legendary philosopher-king Prince Meatyass, who successfully united all the different warring meat products into one united carnivorous nation, not unlike a Voltron made of tasty cold cuts. For years, I’ve been intrigued by the legendary fanciness of Café Juanita, and so I was super excited at the prospect of dining there. More excited, even, than the time I was offered the opportunity to drink rum from a skeleton hand. Note: it was a pirate hand, that’s why it was so badass. That very skeletal hand, which once grasped a saber and, perhaps, some gold doubloons, was offering me a high-quality dark rum, so how could I refuse? You don’t refuse a skeleton hand’s offer of rum, and you don’t refuse an invitation to Café Juanita. So off we went.

We started with veal sweetbreads in crepinette ($18). Many people complain that the word “sweetbreads” is a gross example of false advertising, but I would argue that “crepinette” is worse. That’s because if you ask for a crepinette, expecting a tiny crepe, you’ll be in for quite a shock. When you order “sweetbreads in crepinette,” you don’t get a miniature French pancake wrapped around some variety of sugary rolls. In fact, you get quite the opposite: a calf’s thymus gland, tied up in a web of the fat stripped from a pig’s guts.

Luckily for me, the prospect of such a dish is in fact the opposite of disgusting: I generally enjoy sweetbreads, so I was actually quite excited. The thyroid was perfectly cooked, tender, and very juicy. Unfortunately, it was too salty. It was even saltier when you got a bite of it with one of the fried capers which garnished this dish. Perhaps more disappointing than the saltiness was the fact that, halfway through the crepinette, I got a big sticky mouthful of caul fat. Caul fat is what you stretch over your face when you rob a food bank, so that no one can discern your idenitity. This is supposed to completely melt when the crepinette is pan roasted. Sadly, it doesn’t melt in your mouth. I found this out the hard way.

Next up was the baby lettuce salad with goat cheese crema and Piments D’Argile ($10). This was a perfect salad, and I say that as someone who believes that an actual, Platonically perfect salad can’t possibly exist. Fresh baby lettuce is beautiful: supple and coltish and refreshing, baby lettuce is the Women’s Olympic Beach Volleyball team of salad greens. Café Juanita’s salad featured a mélange of butter lettuce and red leaf, served atop a relaxing pool of a smooth goat cheese dressing, with just enough twang to it to challenge the sunny disposition of the bikini-clad baby lettuces.

Pasta dishes were also quite tasty: goat cheese gnocchi with cherry tomatoes and fava beans ($18) was light on its feet, and far more refreshing than a pasta dish has any right to be. Airy gnocchi nuggets polka-dotted the plate, interspersed here and there with crimson hemispheres of cherry tomato and, of course, the aforementioned fava beans. My only complaint here was the sauce: I realize that they were trying to keep things light, but the sauce came off watered-down, like cafeteria Kool-Aid.

The Maltagliatti with Jones Family Pork Sugo, Honey Ricotta, and Black Pepper ($16) was the dark and stormy yin to the gnocchi’s watery yang. It was also way tastier than your mom’s yin yang. Squares of pasta were fancied up with zig-zaggy edges, as though snipped by pinking shears. These were delicate to the bite but somehow stood up to the hearty bolognese sauce in which this dish was doused. Atop the pile of pasta were three silky globules of the aforementioned honey ricotta. When mixed into the sauce, the ricotta brightened things up considerably, in much the same way as a crack rock brightens up your mom.

I crowd-sourced our choice of entrée by asking everyone on Twitter for a menu recommendation. People overwhelmingly recommended the rabbit, so in the true democratic spirit I ordered the Rabbit Braised in Arneis with Chickpea Gnocchi, Porcini, and Housemade Pancetta ($36). This dish was a showcase of technique, a veritable culinary concept car. A butterflied rabbit leg was stuffed with crumbly dark-brown forcemeat made, I would presume, with the eponymous porcinis. The meat was tender and flavorful and sported more umami than an MSG factory. Alongside this was served rabbit a second way: a delicious and mild-mannered rabbit loin, grilled and sliced into medallions. With the rabbit came a small, golden, starchy cube which seemed like it would be a polenta cake but which was probably the chickpea gnocchi. Rounding out this stately spread was a small side salad of arugula, laced through with batons of housemade pancetta. The whole thing swam in a slick pool of a very savory beige sauce. This sauce was good: lighter than it had any business being, with a glimmering peppery depth of flavor.

We paired the rabbit with an a la carte contorno of roasted carrots ($11) which I enjoyed more than the rabbit. Eleven bucks might seem like a lot for a plate of carrots, but these were magical like Lucky Charms: they sliced the carrots lengthwise, glazed them, and then roasted the ever living fuck out of them until they were charred in spots. The carrot flavor was a million fathoms deep. These carrots were utterly terrific, yet were also a melancholic reminder that, on the other side of the six 89-degree days we get here in Seattle, autumn drearily lurks.

We finished things off with a Chocolate Truffle Tortino ($11). Though I would have been more than satisfied to end the meal with another order of roasted carrots, the tortino was pretty tasty. In fact, as far as desserts go, this was surprisingly un-enraging! A small cylindrical truffle was topped with a couple blackberries and served with a quenelle of chocolate mint strachiatella and a tuile. The truffle managed to taste like rich cocoa, without resorting to the kind of cheap, over-the-top cloying chocolate flavor that fans of "Fifty Shades of Grey" inevitably enjoy instead of, you know, sex. The tart berries and the strachiatella were refreshing counterpoints. The most puzzling aspect of this dish was the tuile, which tasted suspiciously like Froot Loops.

Café Juanita is pretty solid. The technique is impeccable, and the flavor pairings are without reproach. That having been said, the crepinette was too salty and caul-fatty for a restaurant of this caliber. And I was less than enthralled with the ricotta gnocchi. Plus it’s in Kirkland. Still, if someone else is paying, and if the mystical skeleton hand hasn’t knocked on your door with a gift of fine liquor, I insist you go.

Rating: 7 phalanges out of 10

Café Juanita is located at 9702 NE 129th Place in Kirkland

For reservations call 425-823-1505

Cafe Juanita on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 09, 2012

Restaurant Zoe

I first wrote about Restaurant Zoe years ago when it was in its old location, now occupied by Coterie Room. The old Zoe was one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle. When I found out that its new incarnation was opening on Capitol Hill, I got as excited to try it as your mom gets at the prospect of trying a new variety of crystal meth.

Popovers w/ béarnaise were pretty good. For $6 we got two giant muffin-ass popovers. Each of these was clad in a stately bronze crust, with a steamy, yet strangely empty interior. Tan and puffy outside, steamy and hollow inside: these Jersey Shore popovers came with a ramekin of creamy béarnaise which was rich and imbued with a jolt of tarragon.

Ricotta gnudi ($10) were presented interestingly enough: three perfectly round balls of gnudi were clustered on the plate, along with a couple similarly spherical lamb meatballs, so that the plate looked like a savory bumper pool table. The gnudi were delicate, seemingly held together only by atmospheric pressure, and the meatballs were so tender, they were like my own balls after being kicked. A few fried sage leaves and a shallow puddle of citrus vinaigrette on the bottom of the plate finished it off.

Wild Boar Bolognese ($12) showcased a pretty standard Bolognese sauce, with little chunks of rich boar meat clinging bravely to the pasta. The pasta in question was an arugula pappardelle. It was good enough, but maybe a bit too leathery. The biggest outrage was the color: I for one have never been able to stomach the green pasta with red sauce bullshit. It looks too Christmas-y. It might taste fine, but from a graphic design standpoint, it stinks.

An order of steak tartare ($12) was served in a pretty big pile of minced beef with all the usuals: caper, onion, and egg, which in this case was a quail egg, smeared almost as an afterthought off to one side of the plate. This was accompanied by a big pile of housemade potato chips. These were VERY TINY potato chips, I might add, obviously made from either fingerlings, or some variety of midget leprechaun potatoes. There was also a grilled scallion puree, uncomfortably granular, lurking beneath the mound of tartare. The waitress assured us this puree would lend a certain lingering smokiness to the tartare. While I appreciate her effort in the description, come ON dude: it wasn’t THAT smoky.

Grilled asparagus ($12) was a fucking slam dunk. Having said that, grilled asparagus with an egg on top is one of those flavor combinations that seems to fit as seamlessly together as a horse fits into your mom, so I suppose it’s more like a slam dunk when the hoop is like 4 feet off the ground. The asparagus were topped with a smoked duck egg: big and wobbly, this was soft boiled, then smoked until the white was stained a streaky burnt umber. When cut into, a lurid gush of orange yolk spilled all over the asparagus stationed below. There were also a couple baby artichokes, halved lengthwise and grilled. Frequently baby artichokes piss me off because they can be leathery and unchewable and petulant: more like adolescent artichokes. But these baby artichokes were luckily not very long in the tooth.v Short ribs ($32) were pretty fucking rustic. We got two cubes of short rib. These tender squares of meat so luscious and yielding, you could probably blow them off the bone if you breathed on it too hard. Underneath was a lumpy green mixture of braised nettles and oats. On paper it would seem like this would taste terrible, but the chewy oats and fresh tart nettle flavor was a good counterpoint to the hazy fattiness of the ribs.

Dessert was very interesting. A Chocolate Orb was $8 and yes, it was listed on the menu as “Chocolate Orb.” This candy-coated ball of mystery was indeed a perfect sphere which came to the table looking like some kind of magical globe. In fact, this chocolate orb was like the cocoa-flavored scrying glass with which the Chocolate Wizard (played by Andre 3000) foretells the doom of his arch nemesis Count Chocula. The orb actually resembled a very round Three Musketeers Bar, with a smooth shiny carapace of tempered chocolate on the outside, and a foamy center of mousse. Served along with it was a compact quenelle of hazelnut ice cream and a smear of kumquat marmalade. Honestly, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I write the word “kumquat.” But the jam made from the only fruit that sounds like your mom’s typical Saturday night was tasty, with a beguiling combination of sweet and bitter that paired well with the chocolate.

Panna cotta ($8): this isn’t what you might think. Slabs of quivering, milky cream were alternately stacked, pagoda-style, with thin sweet tuiles. Dotting the roof of this Leaning Tower of Diabetes was a gloopy orange pile of spherified apricot jam, which while admittedly tart and delicious, was also uncomfortably similar to salmon roe. This was a pretty high-tech dessert and I expected it to come with several HDMI ports.

Before I wrap this up, let’s recap dinner: popovers. Gnudi with meatballs. Pappardelle Bolognese. Steak Tartare. Braised short ribs. All of these were fairly standard recipes, and confidently prepared. But dessert was a strange departure from the rest of the menu’s tone. Either the desserts were too technical for dinner, or dinner was too rustic for dessert. They were just too fucking wacky, and way too technical. It was as if some future pastry chef of Restaurant Zoe, in this high-tech futuristic land, built a dessert time machine and sent some examples of his craft back in time to show us present-day fools the error of our ways. “Flourless chocolate torte? Crème brulee? Fuck that,” said the futuristic pastry chef. “As soon as I change out of this silver jumpsuit I’m going to send a CHOCOLATE ORB back in time to blow those cavemen’s minds!”

Rating: 8 orbs out of 10

Restaurant Zoe is located at 1318 East Union St.

For reservations call 206-256-2060

Restaurant Zoe on Urbanspoon

PS The Chocolate Orb had nanobots impregnated into the shell which allow this orb to not only taste very chocolatey, but the orb can also store several gigabytes of MP3’s.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A trip to Portland Part 3: Tanuki

This is the third entry in my three-part installment about a field trip to Portland, OR. I hope you enjoy. Fuckfaces.

This place is one of the most hard-core artistic visions you’ll find in the culinary world. It’s an izakaya: a Japanese-style sake house which serves food. A glance at Tanuki’s website might be a bit off-putting, because the list of “no’s” is longer than a horse cock: they don’t take reservations. They don’t accept parties of more than 6. No kids allowed. And they don’t sell sushi.

But this maddening persnickitiness is in part due to logistics: proprietor Janice Martin only has 3 employees, and turns over Tanuki’s 18 seats thrice daily, using a veritable toy kitchen comprised of two hot plates and a small oven approved for use in reheating pastries in coffee shops. So the embargo against large parties is warranted. Plus, lots of small, chic restaurants don’t take reservations. And they don’t allow kids because the giant flat screens, which in most bars are typically tuned to some variety of sporting event, at Tanuki are usually displaying porn, horror movies, or at the very least, smutty cartoons.

Is the food worth all of this weird bullshit? Short answer: Fuck. The. Yes. This bar is the true expression of an auteur’s vision. There is a pretty extensive drink menu, with many different varieties of rare sake, as well as Japanese whiskies, none of which are excessively expensive. This is Portland, remember. As for food, there is an a la carte menu, but don't consult it. The omakase menu is where it’s at. Don’t be a pussy. Trust the kitchen. You can tell them how much you want to spend, and they bring out dishes depending on how cheap you’ve chosen to be. We chose to be pretty cheap, so they only sent out a few things.

Starting with pickled quail eggs: these rich little nuggety nuggets were pickled in tea, served cold, were densely packed with the kind of flavor that only a game bird’s fetus can provide, and with a pleasant backdraft of cinnamon in the finish.

Next up was uni. If you’ve ever eaten it, you know that uni is probably the most polarizing food item on earth. I’ll be up front: I fucking hate it. Sea urchins are covered in SPIKES for a reason: because they DON’T want their testicles eaten. Yes, you heard me, you fucking uni fans, who shall subsequently be referred to as unitards: the slimy orange goop, which you chumps think is an aphrodisiac, is actually the urchin’s BALLS. So eat balls. Personally, I prefer my urchins to sell matches on the streets of London. But we ate all of the uni. Testicles, after all, should never go to waste.

As if they anticipated that I would need a palate cleanser after gulping down a slippery tongue of slimy orange urchin testicles, the next course was kimchee. Sometimes I’m on the fence about kimchee. It can be good, or it can be really nasty. Kimchee you buy from the grocery store, for instance, is fucking rank: when you open it the jar immediately emits an old-man fart. But Tanuki’s kimchee is the tits: made in house, this kimchee is briny and sour, with a raking spiciness on top.

Following the kimchee was boro. These were thin sheets of rice noodles, delicate as an elf’s hymen, stuffed with shredded wild boar: bantam-weight dumplings. They were carefully layered with noodle and meat, with an herbal mélange of basil et al, so that it ended up seeming rather like a really shallow asian lasagna.

The finale was hanger steak. We got a small pile of steak, sliced and shingled neatly on the plate. The steak itself was caramelized a fuck on the outside, as rare as a beating heart on the inside. This was served in a beguiling pool of mahogany sauce, as rich and sumptuous as the drapes in a prime minister’s office. This sauce dropped like a savage umami bomb on the tongue, scratching every itch and playing with my taste buds as though they were a million miniscule clits: this sauce, I was later told, was composed of pan juices from the steak thickened with, of all things, rabbit kidney.

And we got all of this for $55.

There was no dessert. I don’t even think there is a dessert menu, which is all well and good, because authentic Japanese businessmen getting shitfaced at an izakaya after work don’t eat desserts. If they want something sweet they buy used schoolgirl panties. Or you can try the kimchee/ bacon/ cheese buns, big cloudy balls of brioche filled with the eponymous ingredients. These are singularly delicious and will annihilate your hangover before it’s even hatched.

Tanuki isn’t perfect. It’s not the easiest place to get into, and the kitchen sometimes gets asymmetrically overwhelmed during peak dinner hours. Some people complain that the service can be brusque, but if you’re looking to be fellated by a sycophantic waiter who writes his name upside-down in crayon on the table, and refers to your party as “Hey guys,” then go the fuck to Cheesecake Factory or some fucking shit like that.

My advice is to drop in to Tanuki around 9. The suckers will have cleared out by then, and it has this weird college dorm after-party vibe to it. Go hungry. And thirsty. Or else.

Rating: 9 Japanese horror movies out of 10 Tanuki is located at 8029 SE Stark St in Portland OR They don't take reservations. Don't even try. Tanuki on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Trip to Portland Part 2: Le Pigeon

This is the second entry in my three-part installment about a field trip to Portland, OR. I hope you continue to enjoy. Fuckfaces.

Next up on our 2-day culinary tour of Portland was Le Pigeon. Consistently ranked among Portland’s best restaurants, Le Pigeon has accrued accolades and James Beard awards the way African warlords accumulate medals and mirrored sunglasses and epaulets. I was very excited to eat in this legendary dining room. Much more excited than I’ve ever been with your mom.

We started with an arugula salad ($10), which was basically a pile of arugula, draped in a hazy goat cheese dressing, laced through with crispy fried fennel shards, and garnished with a couple plump candied figs which were dusted in fennel pollen. On the very bottom was a melted round of goat cheese. The candied figs and dressing were tragically salty, but for the most part this was an acceptable, if pricey, green salad.

A whole quail ($15) was dusted with 5-spice powder then grilled. This miniscule game bird was served atop a silken dollop of a very literal “pine nut risotto.” We thought it would be a risotto with a couple toasted pine nuts thrown in for texture, but no: it was made ENTIRELY of pine nuts, used as the grain in place of Arborio rice, slowly cooked until they took on a texture as creamy as a debutante’s décolletage.

Pork tenderloin ($25) was braised in butter, then seared, sliced into medallions with of puns: “pretzel spatezle” and “Brussels kraut.” The Brussels kraut was pretty tasty: Brussels sprout leaves were tender and salty, with the fermented twang of classic sauerkraut. The pretzel spaetzle was similar to regular spatezle in that it was a big pile of squiggly dough, but it had been boiled in water made caustic with the addition of baking soda, then (I presume) baked so that the spaetzle sported a glossy, mahogany crust… just like… A PRETZEL! Thus the clever name.

Unfortunately, the pretzel spaetzle was better in theory than in practice because it was just too leathery. I can certainly sympathize, though, since many of my own ideas seemed cool at the time but didn’t pan out: people couldn’t bring themselves to actually eat the Turducken Centipede, choosing instead to vomit uncontrollably. And the Shitzfrei, the dog who never needs to be walked, tended to irritate pet owners when it inevitably died in a fiery poosplosion. The Foliautomaton, the robot which detects fall foliage, seemed to work well at first, until I took it to Vermont, when its circuits overloaded and it went on a Westworld-style rampage, pointing at every tree in sight, claxons sounding. Why, God? Why? Why did I have to install so many claxons?

Still, all in all the tenderloin was juicy and delicious, served with a piquant mustard seed sauce, which of course couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Blanquette de lapin ($28) was interesting: a rabbit roulade had been cooked sous vide, then served atop a vivid green nettle puree with sauteed black trumpet mushrooms, fried nettle leaves and some big cross-sections of sliced garlic. Accompanying this was a very interesting and delicious take on lasagna: in place of pasta sheets, this lasagna was constructed of crepes, whisper thin and laminated with a delicate béchamel sauce. I could’ve eaten a giant plate of this lasagna, the size of a tarp, and been completely satisfied.

Unfortunately, the sous vide roulade was the worst part of this dish. A good blanquette manages to be tender and moist, but the rabbit roulade just seemed pallid and cadaverous. I blame the sous vide method. It might have seemed like a good idea, at first, to make a blanquette in a sous vide machine. After all, blanquette traditionally must be painstakingly simmered, without letting the stew come to a boil, and what better way to control the temperature than with a water bath? Yet just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD. I really wish someone had told me that when I met your mom.

Foie gras profiteroles ($10) were pretty full of themselves. Pate a choux pastry balls, flaky like your mom outside but tender and creamy inside, like sex with your mom, were split and filled with ice cream, dusted in confectioner’s sugar, then draped with a sticky stripe of caramel sauce.

Le Pigeon invented these things, which of course started the worldwide trend of cramming as much cruelty into every dish as possible. I wholeheartedly support this trend, but I wish they would figure out a way to make rice cakes, or tofu, or some other chaste diet food more decadent, instead of an already highly caloric dessert such as profiteroles. EVERY SINGLE INGREDIENT of the profiteroles contains goose liver: the pate a choux is made with foie in lieu of butter. The ice cream is flavored with foie. The caramel sauce, like the pate a choux, replaces butter with foie. And the powdered sugar is somehow inexplicably ALSO associated with goose liver in some manner. If you were a goose, I advise you to STAY THE FUCK AWAY from Le Pigeon, lest your self be cooked!

Le Pigeon is a strange showcase of wonky technique, combined with reckless abandon. This is a kitchen that’s very clearly doing exactly what the fuck it wants to do, and damn the torpedoes. They’re cooking their asses off at Le Pigeon. This is the Iron Maiden of cooking. Sometimes they overreach, as with the pretzel spaetzle and the blanquette, but the talent in the room is enormous, and without risk there can be no reward. After all, even Iron Maiden wrote "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter."

Rating: 8 profiteroles out of 10

Le Pigeon is located at 738 East Burnside Street in Portland, OR

For reservations call 503-546-8796

Le Pigeon on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A Trip to Portland Part I: Boke Bowl

This is the first entry in my three-part installment about a field trip to Portland, OR. I hope you enjoy. Fuckfaces.

On a recent trip to Portland, I discovered that there are TOO MANY utterly delicious dining options in the Rose City. As a result, we were having trouble deciding where to eat. But there’s one restaurant in Portland at which attendance, for me at least, is mandatory: Boke Bowl. Boke Bowl is the brainchild of one of my favorite motherfuckers: Patrick Fleming, author of the hilariously lowbrow blog Culinary Addict.

In Culinary Addict, Patrick juxtaposes scenes from his sordid past as a full-on junkie with insights he’s gained during his recovery and subsequent career as a successful executive chef. Patrick’s writing somehow manages to be simultaneously insightful AND stomach turning, like one of those old “Nova” episodes where they put a fiber optic camera inside a guy’s dick so everyone can watch him jizz from the inside. You may think my simile trashy and inaccurate, but it’s actually quite apt: Patrick’s convoluted and juicy life experiences are the urethra of his soul, his inspiring battle to overcome drug addiction and alcoholism is his heart’s jizz, his pen the miniature camera which captures his literary orgasm as he shoots it all over your mom’s tits… I mean the internet. In much the same way that Coca-Cola is so popular in the south that people call any soft drink a Coke, your mom’s tits are so frequently seen on the internet that the two are basically synonymous.

Along with his business partners Brannon Riceci and Tim Parsons, Patrick launched Boke Bowl first (as fledgling restaurateurs are wont to do these days) as a pop-up. Boke Bowl: the Pop Up was hosted in various venues all over Portland to great acclaim and sold-out engagements. Late last year they opened a permanent location, and Boke Bowl instantly became the darling of people who care about things.

We started with the warm brussels sprout salad ($9). Roasted brussels sprouts were tossed with slippery cubes of fresh mango, roasted cauliflower, and smoked tofu. This was super fucking delicious. The sprouts were perfectly cooked: tender inside, caramelized outside. Sometimes there were crisp outer leaves still attached here and there, crunchy and brown and with a texture like your tongue leaping into a pile of freshly raked leaves on a crisp fall afternoon. The cauliflower was stained a pleasing mahogany color by having been either marinated, or roasted, or smoked, but probably all three. The tofu, too, was more delicious than this often-maligned ingredient (maligned by me, anyway) had any right to be: at Boke Bowl they treat tofu like pork, first marinated for days in a brine of salt, sugar, star anise, juniper, and bay leaves, then smoked.

Pork belly steam buns were okay. For $7 we got 3 gua bao, in which luscious rectangles of melty pork belly were nestled inside soft mitts of cloudy rice dough, along with some pickles, and a sprinkling of chopped scallion. This was a pretty standard if uninspired version of Taiwan’s most famous export besides electronic components, metals, plastic components, optical instruments, chemicals, and textiles. I hate to admit it but the tofu in the Brussels sprout salad was actually tastier, with a more nuanced flavor, than the pork belly. What the…? Tofu that tastes better than pork? Did you hear that noise? The universe just imploded!

Pork dashi ramen ($9) This isn’t like ramen you eat in college: a big swirly pile of house made ramen noodles, soft and slippery and starchy in the way that only hand made fresh pasta can be, swam around in an opaque pool of dark brown broth, with heavily muscled shreds of juicy roasted pork, water chestnuts and some braised greens, and topped with scattered emerald bracelets of sliced scallion. This broth is complex like a calculus word problem: not too salty, but very savory, with hints of smoke. That having been said, I would hope that this luxe noodle bowl would be tastier than what you can purchase at Costco, considering it costs 4500% more than one of those typical wavy bone-white rectangles of Top Ramen. But it’s totally worth the price.

Fried pears ($2.50) were so delicious, they boggled my tongue. I don’t know exactly how long they fried these pears for, but the fruit had been rendered down into sweet leathery quarters, the sugars concentrated into a crystalline caramel shellac, then doused in a garlicky sesame vinegar. I couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be a dessert or not, but it doesn’t even matter: I’d eat these fucking fried pears for every meal if I could. What they tasted the most like was an Oompa Loompa’s dried ear, taken as a macabre souvenir by GI’s if, and when, we finally go to war with those candy-making bastards who cause Americans to be morbidly obese.

A chocolate coconut-cream Twinkie ($2) reminded me too much of an Almond Joy for comfort. A big sloppy schlong of chocolate pastry was filled with coconut cream, topped with slivers of candied almond and a couple stripes of chocolate ganache. Nobody likes Almond Joy: in a mixed bowl of leftover Halloween Candy, it’s always the last thing left, rattling around in the bowl with Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers and a Bit O’ Honey that had somehow become unwrapped and now has a piece of dog hair stuck to it. Eventually someone eats the furry Bit O’ Honey.

Luckily the vanilla miso Twinkie ($1.50) did the Twinkie name proud. I don’t know how Boke Bowls keeps getting away with actually calling these things “Twinkies,” since I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Hostess slaps them with a cease-and-desist, but this Twinkie, unlike the chocolate-coconut one, was tastier than actual Twinkies: the dough was light, and not cloyingly sweet. The vanilla miso filling tasted like a mildly salty crème anglaise, but it was a perfect counterpoint to the pastry.

The desserts at Boke Bowl are fine, but if I were eating there and wanted something else to eat after I was done ordering, I would get a side ($3) of this motherfucking fried chicken. It was so tender you could eat it with a SPOON, and we did, since they didn’t give us a knife or fork, and the pieces were too big to pick up with chopsticks. The crust was shaggy and brown like a 1970’s carpet. The meat was salty, with a little spice, as juicy as fuck, and topped with a smear of “orange dot sauce,” which is a sweet-and-sour mélange of pickled mustard seeds and pickled cucumber suspended in a hazy aoli. I don’t know exactly how they make this fried chicken but I suspect it’s the kind of thing that takes at least 2 days to prepare.

Boke Bowl is awesome. Not everything is perfect: the concept is blatantly Momofuku-esque, and during the lunch rush this place can seem like a yuppie cafeteria, but those are minor complaints. They clearly use very high-quality ingredients, the prices are affordable, and all of the food seems to be handcrafted with painstaking care. Boke Bowl is a vital and cutting-edge addition to an already legendary food scene, and no trip to Portland would be complete without some of Boke Bowl’s fried chicken, which is so mind-bendingly delicious, I had to give it a separate rating! This chicken fundamentally changes your consciousness in exactly the same way your brain would warp if you saw a midget taking a shit.

Rating: 8.5 bowls out of 10

Fried Chicken: 10 midgets out of 10

Boke Bowl is located at 1028 SE Water Ave in Portland, OR

For inquiries (they don’t take reservations) call 503-719-5698

Boke Bowl on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Terra Plata

1501 Melrose Ave Seattle, WA 98122


At what point does something stop being innovative and start being cliché? How many repetitions does it take? 200? 1000? I’m sure the first time some 1930’s Hollywood screenwriter, hunched over his Underwood, a cigarette hanging from his lower lip, hacked out a scene in which some impetuous hero strides into the villian’s court and does something brash, and in retaliation the villain roars “SEIZE HIM” to his loyal guards, I’m sure that was a breathtaking scene when that was written, but by now it’s boring as fuck. The same goes for “alternative rock”: at first, Eddie Vedder’s hurka durka dang was a refreshing sonic palate cleanser against the creaking falsettos of butt rock, but by the time Nickelback came around, no one gave a shit.

Ingredients, too, can become cliché. Think back to the days of artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes and tapenade and truffle oil and beet salads and, sadly on the horizon, foie gras and, probably at some point, bacon. The first time you ate salty caramel I bet it blew your mind the way your mom blows NBA teams, but now I, and hopefully you, have tired of it.

Which brings me to Terra Plata. Located directly adjacent to Capitol Hill’s ultra-awesome Melrose Building, Terra Plata is inside a sleek and modern room, wedge-shaped, with lots of wooden stuff everywhere, which makes it look like the inside of a canoe. Is the food as stylish as the décor? If you want to find out, read on!

We started with an order of blistered shisito peppers ($7). This was a good price for a big plate of these small green peppers: blistered like a suspicious set of genitals, but much tastier than the unfortunate simile I just made. The shisitos were smoky and sweet, with a weak thin burn of mild heat in the finish.

Stuffed dates ($12) were pretty 1990, filled with a soft core of some variety of tangy, biting cheese, wrapped in a thin crisp film of lardo. I wanted to be all sarcastic about these, but sometimes you really can’t fuck with the classics. Let’s call these stuffed dates the Nirvana’s "Nevermind" of appetizers and move on.

Marrow bones were pricey at $14, The bones themselves were perfectly roasted, sliced lengthwise so you could conveniently sluice out the smoky globs of the melted marrow with your butter knife, but the accoutrements were too fancy and distracting: they only included 4 thin slices of toast, greasy with some kind of sweet marmalade and topped with a supreme of orange and a parabola of sliced red onion. Some awesome but unadorned bread would’ve sufficed. But an order of crispy bronze frites ($6) were super fantastic dipped into the marrow. I heard a muffled “…noooooo…” coming from my chest when I did this. “Fuck you, coronary arteries,” I told my heart, and that rapidly clogging motherfucker promptly shut up so I could continue to fill it with cholesterol.

Roasted Brussels sprouts ($11) were masterful: salty, with crunchy outer leaves but tender centers, with shreds of Serrano ham and some sweet citrusy flavor in the background. If grade-school cafeterias served brussels sprouts like these, kids would not only eat them, they would punch each others’ faces in an orgy of kid-on-kid violence in order to get a second helping.

The beet salad ($11) returned us to 1990 with chunks of roasted beets, a few leaves of watercress here and there, and thin rectangles of some variety of sharp dry white cheese. This salad narrowly avoided cliché, because while the cheese might, in fact, have been some variety of goat cheese (though probably sheep’s milk), at least it wasn’t chevre, and the cress was a nice touch.

Duck breast ($25) was presented simply, sliced on the bias into thin pink medallions, shingled atop a rich pan reduction, dotted here and there with sultanas. The breast was dark and tasty, but the true cod ($24) wasn’t as good. In fact, it was quite bland, the flavor washed out, with a pallid cod filet perched atop a pile of steamed potatoes, which sat in a limpid pool of broth. Only a few olives here and there darkened this lily-white platescape (the olives must be the help).

A big slab of braised short rib ($21) was similarly bland, though very tender and served with a small mound of mashed root vegetables and a pile of puy lentils. While I was disappointed by the short rib itself, please allow me to wax rhapsodic about the lentils: they were fucking awesome. Glimmering dark green like a pile of emeralds found in the hold of an ancient shipwreck, they were perfectly cooked, with just a little bite, but still yielding. Puy lentils are so much better than the drab green slack-jawed horse vagina lentils you usually get.

Unfortunately, we almost didn’t get the lentils at all, because at first they brought us the roast pig ($20) instead of the short rib. This is why you don’t put items that slant-rhyme on the same menu in a noisy restaurant. Luckily, the roast pig was actually way better than the short rib: a big succulent softball of pork shoulder, swimming in a pool of savory broth, with some chunks of potato and a big fluffy sheaf of crackling floating on top. Surrounding were a couple clams, briny and flavorful and not at all chewy, and a few rings of the same pickled red onion from the marrow bone toast.

Finally, the churros ($7) were tasty. This price got us three loopy donut turds, arced all over the plate and leaning on each other, as though Frank Gehry designed this dessert. With the churros was a shot glass of chocolate dipping sauce with a surprising amount of heat. A thick slice of chocolate terrine ($12) managed to be rich yet simultaneously NOT the heavy leaden chocolate shit that Twilight fans always seem to want to eat in lieu of getting a good hard fucking. Accompanying the terrine were a few scattered hazelnuts (sadly impossible to eat, as everyone knows, with a fork, so you end up resorting to just picking them up with your fingers) and a small puddle of crème anglaise.

Despite my complaints about dated cuisine, Terra Plata is tasty. That’s because nostalgia’s currency is inflation-proof. You might think, for instance, that fancy mac & cheese is played out by now, but you still return to it because in the end, like bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed dates, it’s actually quite awesome. As in Portlandia, so too is the dream of the ‘90’s alive in Terra Plata. Put a bird on it.

Rating: 6.5 left-wing bookstores out of 10

Terra Plata on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


1514 E Olive Way


Here are a few possible ways to make toast fancier than regular toast:

1. Use bread made from heirloom wheat which is harvested by orphans, milled by lesbians, baked by Italian monks, sliced by ninjas, and slathered in butter made from the milk of cows fed only foie gras.

2. Hire a robot submarine to grab some leftover bread from the wreckage of the Titanic. Then have this priceless bread toasted by your butler over the flames coming from the exhaust pipe of your platinum rocket car. Have your butler drench it in butter made from Christina Hendricks’ breast milk. Then the butler has to commit suicide so he can never reveal this awesome recipe.

3. Create some molecular gastronomy bread made from molecules, then sous vide it for several months, then caramelize the crust with a satellite- mounted laser. The “butter” is actually yellow wax into which you have somehow infused artificial butter flavor through a very complex process.

4. Two words: Faberge Bread.

5. Or you could go to Dinette and eat some of the fancy toast they sell there.

Everybody knows that Dinette is awesome. It’s been in the same Capitol Hill location for years. The interior, turquoise and yellow and dimly lit, with tiny antique tables and mismatched plates, is simultaneously precious and wizened: just like Bjork! I hadn’t been to Dinette in years, but we were prompted by a deal from Groupon or Rue La La or one of those places.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw a whole section on Dinette’s menu, dedicated to toast of all things: I was definitely more surprised than the time I saw a monkey in a tree outside my dad’s friend’s house (true, but boring, story), yet much less surprised than when I discovered that your mom can read (at a 3rd grade level).

We started with the pork belly and arugula toast ($6). Crusty slices of toasted baguette, sliced on the bias into ovals, were topped with aioli, a bright green bale of arugula, and a neat rectangle of pork belly confit. This was delicious: the pork belly had been seared outside, but so tender inside that when you bit it, it melted like a housewife’s panties during a George Clooney interview. The pork belly was topped with a sharp orange marmalade which, along with the arugula’s peppery crunch, kept the toast from veering off into a fatty abyss. “Fatty abyss” is my pet name for your mom.

Next up, also at $6, was a rapini pesto toast. Personally I’m getting fed up with pestos made of whatever the fuck plant you feel like using that day. Why not make Brussels sprout pesto? Or bay leaf pesto? Why stop there? Why not just refer to polenta as “corn pesto?” Or make a “pesto” out of green Chiclets? That swooshing sound you just heard was law and order flying out of the window! That having been said, the rapini pesto, dark green and a little bitter, worked well on this toast, paired as it was with a layer of melted gruyere, nutty like a Teabagger’s election platform. On top were some superfluous chunks of pickled red pepper which kept falling off.

The chicken liver mousse toast ($7) was better than the rapini pesto toast: this one was spackled with a thick smear of velvety chicken liver mousse. Embedded into this savory mortar were tiny fractal florets of romanseco, that bastard child of broccoli and cauliflower which, if it didn’t exist, millions of disgusted 3rd graders would have had to invent. There were also some more of the same pickled peppers from the rapini pesto toast. They worked better this time, since they stuck to the mousse instead of falling off, and the tangy spice kept the mousse in check.

I was getting toast fatigue by this point, so we got a beet salad with escarole and radicchio ($11). The price tag seemed steep but it was a pretty bigass salad. The bitterness of the chicories was barely cantilevered by the sanguine cubes of beet and the creaminess of the bleu cheese in this, the Alexander Calder of salads.

A big bowl of gnocchi ($18) was tasty: fluffy vaginas of pasta floated in a delicate cheese sauce. Twined through here and there were rich shreds of braised pork shoulder and dotted with toasted pine nuts. A dark green patchwork of braised greens completed this picture.

Dinette has elevated toast to an art form. I would be in no way saddened if they eliminated all of the other menu items and concentrated solely on toast. They could serve panzanella! They could eliminate dessert and just serve cinnamon toast! Instead of wine, they just served carafes of blended up toast! That, my friends, would be a true uTOASTpia! What an awesome pun I just made!

Rating: 7.5 puns out of 10

Dinette on Urbanspoon