May 19, 2010

Eating in the Emerald City

On Sunday, I followed the yellow brick road (a flight on Virgin Airlines), from Kansas (San Francisco) to the Emerald City (Seattle), to see the Wizard (my brother) receive his PhD in Astrobiology (well…that one is actually real).

It was only my second time in this waterfront town and, while I don’t know much about its history, I do know it is home to some wonderful food. As a side note, it is also home to some wonderful music and people as well – just in case you are in the area.

I was staying down the street from Pike Place, a roving system of open-air hallways filled to the brim with produce stands and husky men, lofting freshly scaled fish over the heads of awe-struck tourists. With endless, rainbowed rows of chard, rhubarb, squash, and the such, you can easily get lost in this culinary wonderland. And if it weren’t for the smell of smelt, you might just stay forever.

While I did have a chance to make myself some low sodium fare from the market – a medley of braised, baby purple artichokes and browned trumpet mushrooms to be exact – I also found time to enjoy some extraordinary meals on the town. The real standout was our first dinner at Tilth. While doing some restaurant research – i.e. watching Top Chef Masters – I discovered an adorable organic chef (Maria Hines) with an equally quaint restaurant set in an old Seattle home. Chef Hines specializes in fresh, local, organic food that is delicately prepared to bring out natural flavors. Which in my books translates to a perfect place for someone on a low sodium diet.

Before I launch into the food porn from the evening, though, I want to mention a few important details. On my behalf, my adorable mother called ahead to warn the kitchen that someone with strict dietary needs would be coming in that evening. Although they confirmed that they would take care of me, she wanted to make sure I had a meal that was as spectacular as everyone else’s. Not just a plate of steamed veggies and sauteed fish. So, as any proud mother would do, she directed them to my blog. Ok, that part is a little embarrassing and there is no way to know whether or not anyone from their kitchen checked, but the point is, the more information you can provide, the better service you will receive.

As for the food, it was incredible. Between the home-like ambiance and the shared, small plates, the evening felt overwhelmingly cozy.  What impressed me most about the food was the fact that the chef prepared a special, low sodium amuse bouche and a small, dessert bite (you know, the ones that come with the bill?) so that I was not left out of the pre and post meal treats. It was that extra care and attention that really put this dining experience over the top.

So with that, join me as I click my heals and launch into a dreamy, low sodium dinner that was beyond all expectations…

To start, a spoonful of single morel mushroom, bathed in a citrus vinaigrette with a leaf of peppery arugula.

Second, a mini cast iron casserole filled with baked broccoli and a few drizzles of fine olive oil.

And third, a pan seared halibut (with an impossibly perfect crunch) over herbed, artichoke heart orzo. As if that wasn’t enough, the fanfare of this dish continued with a citrus, wine, butter sauce (poured slowly by one of the waitresses) and a nest of fried artichoke leaves to top it all off.

And for the finale, we actually headed back to the hotel for dessert and dug our spoons into a pot of vanilla creme brulee, which is usually made with cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla bean and is most likely sodium safe (but always check).

jess May 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Where did you cook food from the market? Your brother’s? Or did your hotel have a kitchen?

sodium girl May 20, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Yup! I took over my bro’s kitchen and made a little treat in fifteen minutes. Beat that Rachel Ray. Such a novice with her thirty minutes. Tick Tock!

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