The Joel Palmer House

Another night, another FABULOUS dinner.

Tonight was rainy and cold, a night you want to curl up in bed and eat frozen pizza, curled up with a good book. Instead, we headed south to Dayton. A town of maybe 1,000 people. And the home to The Joel Palmer House. Where the menu focused on mushrooms. Even giving you the option of a multiple course mushroom meal.

Their website introduction summarizes: Experience an internationally-inspired menu of WILD MUSHROOM DISHES paired with FINE WINE in the comfort of a HISTORIC OREGON WINE COUNTRY HOME.

Of course, we had to indulge in “Mushroom Madness”…

Chef Christopher’s

Mushroom Madness Menu

This tasting menu is a selection of the best that the Joel Palmer House has to offer. Three generations of Czarnecki chefs have dishes represented and mushrooms are integrated into nearly every course, including dessert! Since our menu is focused strongly on wild mushrooms I recommend Pinot Noir to accompany your meal and our sommelier is happy to assist you with a selection.

 Amuse – Wild Mushroom Risotto with house-made Oregon White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Reggiano

 Matsutake Mushroom Chowder and Joe’s Wild Mushroom Soup

 Oregon White Chanterelles in Bacon Cream over Puff Pastry

 Heidi’s Three Mushroom Tart – this tart is the essence of what wild mushrooms are all about and has been on the menu for over 30 years

We added the Pinot-Noir Poached Torchon of Foie Gras 

 Sorbet – Concord Grape with Rosemary

 Marinated Sturgeon – over Quinoa with Wild Mushrooms and Cayenne Aioli

 Filet Mignon – Painted Hills Oregon Beef with porcini, Schezwan Pepper and veal demi-glace

 Trio of Candy Cap Mushroom Desserts

 Selection of House-Made Chocolate Truffles

We accompanied the meal with a bottle of Pinot Noir selected from over 500 bottles (of Pinot Noir) on their wine list. We enjoyed a Ken Wright Cellars 2007 Pinot Noir from Canary Hill Vineyards. The critical acclaim:

“Deep red. Smoky raspberry and cherry-cola aromas are complemented by dusty spices and herbs. Fleshy red and dark berry flavors boast very good concentration and good nervy cut. Offers a suave blend of depth and energy, with excellent finishing clarity and lingering sweetness. ”
— 91 Points, International Wine Cellar

The Location:

The Joel Palmer House | 600 Ferry St. | Dayton, OR | Website

Paley’s Place

We arrived in PDX in time for a evening out in Northwest Portland. It was a perfect evening to stroll through a few shops on 23rd before dining at Paley’s.

{sip}

Brick House – Les Dijonnais – 2009 Pinot Noir

{starters}

George’s Gathered Greens, Lemon, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

{charcuterie}

Taste of Three

Chicken Liver Pâté
Pork & Cherry Terrine
Oregano & Garlic Salami

{entrées}
Wild Mushroom & Delicata Squash Risotto, Parmesan & Smoked Marrow Butter
Fall Vegetable & Heirloom Bean Cassoulet

{sides}
Brussel Sprouts, House Bacon & Créme Fraiche

{dessert menu}

Our Classic Warm Chocolate Soufflé Cake toasted hazelnuts, honey-vanilla ice cream

Every course was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! We were so satisfied when we headed out that we missed picking up their cookbook. Thankfully, Powell’s Bookstore was a short walk from our hotel. And, we can’t wait to test out a recipe (or two).

The location:

Paley’s Place | 1204 Northwest 21st Avenue | Portland, OR 97209 | 503.243.2403 | Website

Dim Sum For Lunch

Several times, I have attempted to dine on dumplings for lunch. Today was the magic day. Meeting was over early and we beat the lunch rush to Din Tai Fung, a Bellevue location of a well known Taiwan establishment.

The legend is detailed on their website. “Whenever the name DinTaiFung is mentioned,

the first thing that people think of is small, delicate steamed dumplings.”

We enjoyed:

  • Vegetable Dumplings
  • Fish Dumplings
  • Green Beans
  • Bok Choy
  • And for dessert: Steamed mashed red bean dumplings. Anything with beans must be healthly, right?

The location:

Din Tai Fung | 700 Bellevue Way NE, Suite 280 | Bellevue, WA | 425.698.1095 | Website |

A Better Chocolate Chip Recipe?

A few months ago, I read a blog post titled “The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie I Will Ever Need to Know How to Make for the Rest of my Life.

That is a HUGE statement to a Shultz. We are chocolate chip cookie people. Growing up, we made double-batches so they would last for a few days. When I was eight months pregnant, my Grandpa was sitting at my table eating chocolate chip cookies when he nodded to my stomach and asked, “Does she like chocolate chip cookies?” One of the only things he asked me about the baby (I didn’t know what I was having, but I learned that day that Grandpa was certain it was a girl – and she would like chocolate chip cookies). I knew I had to make these cookies just to see {especially since you sprinkle them with sea salt right before putting them in the oven}.

I read the recipe again. This is a multiple-day process recipe.

Tonight, I mixed the dough. Followed most of the tips:

  • It was really hard to wait for the room temperature ingredients. Plus, it was a bit chilly in my house so the butter took a bit longer than I wanted. (So it was about midnight when the dough hit the fridge – thankfully this is “fall back night” and I get an extra hour of sleep).
  • I only have a hand mixer, so it was a challenge to get the creaminess to the right level.

Now for the taste test. YUM! A fabulous caramel flavor with the brown sugar creaminess.

And, cleared space in the fridge for Phase 2.

The Next Day

The oven is ready. Scoop and sprinkled with the salt. Only took 14 minutes in my oven to get golden brown. {Giving me plenty of opportunity snack on the dough.}

Tried the first one warm. Delicious! Waited a few hours…still delicious! But the authors tips said that they are better the second day. So I made sure some are left to eat tomorrow. (Also kept some dough to bake some more with the recommended 24-36 hours in the fridge).

Oh, Chocolate…Oh, Fabulous Chocolate

At Oh! Chocolates…

Somewhere near the top of my list is the desire to take a chocolate making class. I am now thinking it would be better to take more than one class. Of course, chocolate is FABULOUS! How can a class not be?

Michelle and I headed out Sunday evening for our chocolate making adventure. Class started with a family history lesson (one instructor is a fourth generation candy maker, the other his brother). Then we moved into a chocolate lesson, learning about how it is grown, harvested and turned into my favorite meal. We started by tasting:

  • Cacao Nibs – Smashed cacao beans. Purist form of chocolate, great for rubs, using like herbs, mole sauce
  • Bittersweet Chocolate – Coats your mouth, layers of flavor, very stable. Matches the notes in a Cab with chocolate tones (I finally get that now). Best for making chocolate mayonnaise. I know, sounds odd. Must be tried.
  • Semi-sweet Chocolate – Very clean, fast finish. Comes from the vanilla flavors that make it sweeter.
  • Milk Chocolate – I forgot it could be so good. More of a caramel finish. Instructor recommends keeping 60 lbs of milk chocolate instead of an earthquake kit.
  • White Chocolate – It is really cocoa butter, so it must be ivory in color (or don’t eat it). Also very creamy and delicious.
  • Oh, but first we drank hot chocolate. Not sure there was any milk in it. Thick and delicious.
Then we dipped. Played in chocolate puddles is more like it. Covering all kinds of cookies and snacks in dark chocolate. And I have the finger prints to prove it.
And, yes, Oh! Chocolate regularly hosts Chocolate Classes at our Madison Park Chocolate Shop for those who want to know more about their favorite indulgence and for those who just want to “play in the chocolate!” Invite me to go with you – I’d do it again!

John Howie Steak

I have been to John Howie several times for happy hour and once for lunch. It was time to go for dinner, partly because every day the smell of steak cooked to perfection permeates my workplace – the office, the elevator, the parking garage.

We started slowly, hoping to not over do it and be too full for dessert (as much as I enjoy all courses, a great dessert course seals the deal on a fabulous meal).

The first round…

  • The girl was very insistent on Tempura Fried Kurobuta Bacon, maple sambal ponzu sauce
  • We added Gala Apple with Preserved Apricot Vinaigrette, organic greens, baby arugula, frisée & watercress, charred purple onions, manchego cheese, dehydrated cranberries, candied walnuts

Bring on the main course, steaks and sides, of course…

  • The girl and I split a medium rare Filet Mignon. It was amazing how it just melted in your mouth. The center of each bite was like butter. The edge of the piece perfectly seared and just a bit crusty.
  • Bill had a Rib Eye Steak, also medium rare.
  • We couldn’t just eat steak. We added several sides starting with Five cheese Twice Baked Stuffed Potato, bacon, scallions, sour cream. Bailie’s pick, no doubt.
  • My pick: Mesquite Roasted Corn wth Honey-Chipotle Butter. I have to share that this ended up being Bailie’s favorite. The combination of roasted sweetness with chipotle: YUM.
  • Bill’s pick: Sauteed Spinach with Garlic and Preserved Lemon, one of his favorite ways to eat spinach I learned.
And finish with…
  • Flourless Semi–Sweet Chocolate Volcano Cake –Sweet Chocolate Volcano Cake, warm caramel, ganache, vanilla crème, shaved white chocolate. With enough left to take home and enjoy tomorrow.
  • The girl stuck with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. She would have taken some home if it wouldn’t melt.

All enjoyed with a bottle of I/2 Ass from our Woodinville Wine adventure last weekend.

The Location:

John Howie Steak | 11111 Northeast 8th St, Suite 125 | Bellevue, WA | 425.440.0880  | www.johnhowiesteak.com |

Serious Pie (Seriously)

Yukon Gold Pizza. Seriously. Been on my list to taste since Tyler Florence featured it on “Best Thing I Ever Ate” a few months ago.

Tonight I got the opportunity to try a pie covered in thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes. Plus a good sprinkling of pecorino cheese. Yum. The best part was the curled up edges of the potatoes that were “crispified” in the brick oven.

It’s seriously good. Maybe even FABULOUS. But not the best pizza I ever ate.

The dining experience also included:

  • A glass of chianti
  • White bean and celery salad…largest white beans I have ever eaten
  • A slice of roasted chanterelle mushrooms amd truffle cheese pizza
  • Coconut cream pie (a Dahlia Lounge favorite)…best coconut cream pie I ever ate

The Location:

Serious Pie | 316 Virginia St | Seattle, WA | 206.838-7388 | www.tomdouglas.com

Dinner In

When we were gone this past week, fall seemed to have set in. Leaves from sunny yellow to pumpkin orange to flaming red dance on the tress and are starting to cover the green grass.

The cool fall air calls for comfort food for dinner. I asked for risotto as the foundation of our meal…and I got a FABULOUS treat!

  • Perfect risotto – Flavored with porcini mushrooms and fresh sage, creamy and good with a mix of fontina and parmigiana cheese.
  • Grilled zucchini – just a little S&P + oil…perfect.
  • Ahi tuna – Grilled to perfection. A flavor and texture that made me want to ask, are you sure this isn’t filet mignon?
  • Paired with a glass of red wine, of course!
  • Top that off with Banana’s Foster – yum!

Thanks, Chef Meyer for another wonderful, fabulous dinner (and leftovers for lunch).

Lahaina Grill

What is vacation with my girl without a FABULOUS dinner night out? We love to find an amazing place to eat a FABULOUS meal. And, I have to brag, we nailed it again!

I selected:

WARM PECAN CRUSTED GOAT CHEESE AND BABY ARUGULA SALAD
Asian pears, oven roasted hana baby beets, poha berry honey-mustard dressing

So fabulous that Bailie wanted bites of mine over her favorite salad (she can eat a variation of caprese salad every day)

Bailie selected:

BUFALA TOMATO SALAD
Olowalu tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, maui onion, fresh basil, truffle oil, aged balsamic vinaigrette, alziari extra virgin olive oil with black kilauea sea salt

Surprisingly, she even finished her tomatoes. 

I selected:

SEA BASS SPECIAL

Grilled tiger prawn, panko parmesan crusted sea bass, kula corn risotto, chipotle champagne beurre blanc

As much as I was looking forward to the mahi mahi, our waiter Michael recommended the sea bass special. I trusted his judgement. It was delicious although I wonder if I would have liked the mahi better since I prefer mahi to sea bass. Maybe I will just have to take another vacation to see. 

Bailie selected:

ALL NATURAL SNAKE RIVER FARMS KUROBUTA PORK CHOP
All natural american pork, herbed mashed potatoes, pickled red cabbage and apples, pomegranate demi-glace

She finished her mashed potatoes cold this morning after breakfast…that’s how good they were.

We also ordered a “local farm” side:

ROASTED BABY BEETS — White balsamic vinegar, mirin and chili glaze

All paired with a glass of 2008 Peachy Canyon Westside Zinfandel (100% Zin). Winemakers Notes: Aromas of dark berry, vanilla, toasty oak, hint of menthol, hint of forest floor. Tastes of a round mouthfeel with good bright acidity, sweet dark fruit, caramel, hint of smokiness, long juicy finish.

We selected:

TRIPLE BERRY PIE
A signature dessert; a luscious combination of raspberries, blueberries and black currants nestled in a light flaky crust set on whipped cream

Dessert is still to be eaten – a treat on our flight home. We were just too full to eat it last night. Thought about eating it for breakfast, however didn’t want to be rude to the rest of the family by not sharing a single bite.

The location:

Lahaina Grill | 127 Lahainaluna Road | Lahaina, Hawaii 96761 | 808.667.5117 |www.lahainagrill.com |

Some Days I Just Need Dessert

{{Note: It’s after eleven in Hawaii. We leave at seven AM for our next round of snorkling fun. And I am wondering why I ever decided to blog 40 days in a row. Not that I don’t have a lot to write about. At this hour, I am taking the easy way out and picking one quick thing: dessert.}}

Tonight, Shawn and I walked about two miles to check out One Gelato. Not sure where she found their information, but it was a great evening to walk and talk under the full moon – and reward ourselves with dessert.

There website gets straight to the point about their beliefs:

  • The best gelato is made fresh daily.
  • Cows should just say no to drugs.
  • Gelato tastes better with local organic fruit.
  • Our bio-degradable corn based packaging is helping, one cup at a time.
  • What goes around comes around. Reduce, reuse and recycle.
  • One scoop is a life changing experience.

Others say:

  • “truly the finest dessert – on the island” — Maui Magazine
  • Best Ice Cream 2011! — Maui Times
I say:
  • FABULOUS
  • After tasting several local flavors (didn’t want something I can get at home), I decided on a scoop of likilei (made with passion fruit and a scoop of macroon (the coconut element is a must)
  • And a pint of mango for those we left behind
The Location:
One Gelato, Kihei | 1280 S. Kihei Rd #101A | Kihei, Maui } 808.495.0287 | Website: www.onegelatocompany.com