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Quick musings

King5 is launching a bracket-based competition to determine the best restaurant in Seattle.

Below my picks for the first round. It was mostly an easy one for me aside from a couple of matches. Matt’s in the market vs Harvest Vine was a very tough one for me. They are both excellent and much better than most restaurants in the list. Not sure who seeded them, but this is an awful first round.

What do you think?

Just ran into this great tip on how to pick the watermelon

1. LOOK – Your watermelon should be firm, symmetrical and free of major bruises or scars. Some minor scratches are okay, however. After all, the purpose of that thick rind is to protect the delicious contents inside. Ripe watermelons should also be dark green in color.
2. LIFT – The ripest watermelons have the most water. And since watermelons are 92 percent water, your watermelon should be relatively heavy for its size.
3. TURN – Turn your watermelon over and check out its bottom, which should have a creamy yellow spot (also called “the ground spot”). This is where the watermelon sat on the ground while it soaked up the sun at the farm. If this spot is white or greenish, your watermelon may have been picked too soon and might not be as ripe as it should be.

You can read more here.

credits to jurek_durczak

This past weekend I was talking about Bourbon vs Ryes with a few friends (we were in a house in the Pacific Coast for razor clamming…and bourbon in the evening was a nice complement).

In somewhat a timely coincidence the guys at seriouseats just posted a fantastic primer about Bourbon. You can find it here.

So What is bourbon?

In brief, bourbon is a whiskey, made predominantly from corn and aged in charred oak barrels

or in more legal speaks:

Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn. (Other grains in the mix may include wheat, rye, malted rye, and malted barley, in any combination.)
Aged in new charred-oak barrels.
Distilled to no more than 160 proof, or 80% alcohol by volume (ABV). In practice, most bourbon is distilled out at a lower proof than this.
Entered into the barrel for aging at a proof no higher than 125 (62.5% ABV).
Bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% ABV).

Where is bourbon made?
The other interesting thing is that you might assume that Bourbon is from Kentucky… well, not necessarily. Although the number one producing state is Kentucky (given the abundance of corn and iron-less water) it is also made in other states. There seems to be a distillery even in Washington State (Woodinville Whiskey).

Interesting factoid.
One final interesting fact that the article covers is the fact that most of the bourbons are made with GMO corn. One of the two distillery that do not use GMO corn is Wild Turkey – which happens to be owned by the Campari Group.

Anyway, head over to the seriouseats post to learn more good stuff!

btw… this is what we were drinking in Seabrook.

credits to sidereal

If you are in the market for a bourbon… here’re some ideas.

all: bourbon

Prices

Brands

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Caffe Vita in lower queen anne is my favorite coffee shop in Seattle. It has a great neighborhood vibe and their double espresso macchiato is the best in town

Most importantly they have the same sugar container that the coffee shops in my town used to have. They also have newspapers right on the counter – just like home! It’s just missing the “Gazzetta dello Sport”!

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Just ran into this post from Squawkfox about the real cost of groceries at Costco vs other stores.

It seems that CostCo is more expensive than regular grocery stores in the fresh produce department (fruit & vegetable, meat).

There are few interesting things in the article that I will verify myself:

  • Items are compared to a local superstore in Alberta.  I don’t know the local cost of living, but wondering how that compares here in Seattle.
  • Costco has been carrying a lot more organic items.  We usually shop at Wholefoods and PCC, so wondering how the organic comparison fairs.  Anecdotally, Costco seems way cheaper when comparing organic items.
  • The article seems to assume that someone’s time and stress factor are worth zero.  It takes time and energy to go to different supermarkets when you can get everything in one place (kind of the all play for big grocery stores).

I have never been personally a big Costco fan when it comes to fresh fruit.  Mostly because it is somewhat tasteless.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the weekend we were in Vegas celebrating a friend’s birthday. We were having dinner at the “Atelier by Joel Robuchon” (review to come later) and after tasting the mashed potato a friend of mine jokingly asked the waiter “is there any butter in the potatoes?”. The waiter said “not just some butter, but the best butter in the world”. We had to follow up with “what’s the name” and he cameback with “Echire butter”.

I am not a big butter fan (as most people from olive-oil rich southern European countries) and I found the idea of the “best butter in the world” very interesting. I had to research a bit more!

Time to start looking for the “best butter in the world”.  I started looking in the usual spots (google, live, etc…) and surprisingly did not find as much as I thought.  Regardless I did find something.

First I found a good history of butter. Wikipedia has a good intro and there is a another good one here.

5 Star Butter claims to be the best.  I did not see any proof or awards, but they claim that the best chefs in Vegas use it.  Don’t know…it did not convince me.

An interesting one is Organic Valley.  They don’t claim to be the best butter in the world, but the best butter in US.  They have a LONG list of awards to prove it.  There is the usual problem with awards….there are a gazillion of them, so lots of people could win one.  Regardless, this seems a good everyday choice.

Back to our story in Vegas.  The butter that the waiter mentioned is “Echire”.  It’s a French butter.  Here’s short description from Amazon:

“famed artisan French butter, from the milk of cows of the small village of Poitiers and La Rochelle. Known as one of the best butters in France, Echire butter is served in the finest dining establishments (which is why the French covet this butter and keep 85% of the production within France). This sophisticated butter won AOC protected status, and is produced mostly by hand. This bar of Beurre Echire has a light texture, lightly salted, and subtle flavor make this butter just about divine. ”

I found out that Echire is also used by the pastry chef at Le Cirque.  It seems that with two big French restaurants using it, this Echire butter must be pretty good.  Amazon carries a few different sizes.

During the search I also found couple of other reccomendations.  The guys at Forward Food recommend “Le Gall Beurre de Baratte”.  Their review is good and the comments seem to confirm that.

Another butter that came up with lots of awards is a Danish one: Lurpak.  Aside from the awards I have no way to validate whether this is indeed the best butter.

Anyway, as researched a bit more I found a great article about the Franco-American butter dispute.  It briefly discusses what the best butter is and surprise surprise the answer is “depends”.  But it does mention Echire as being used by some big shot patry chefs.

Although I did not find what the best butter in the world is,  I have at least verified that this Echire butter is indeed very good.

If you have any preference or definitely know the best butter in the world, please let me know!

For your convenience here’re a few places where you can buy Echire butter.