Day One: Seattle – Elliott’s Oyster House

Food Adventures, Seattle

This year for our holiday vacation, the one time of the year when nonprofit and for-profit organizations alike are more generous with approving Paid Time Off, Martin and I decided to take a week off to travel north and really experience winter (we heard LA was having summer in December while we were gone – consider us a bit envious). Our first stop in our One Week, Three Cities series: Seattle.

Jason the Oyster Master of Elliott’s Oyster House

At the recommendation of my friend Rei who had lived in Seattle for a few years during her undergrad at UW, we made reservations for Christmas Eve dinner at Elliott’s Oyster House on the Waterfront. Whenever I dine at a seafood restaurant, my dad’s wise words of “Only eat oysters in months ending in -ber” ring in my head. Luckily for us, it’s DecemBER and we had ourselves an oyster feast!

We started with a sampler dozen – four each of the Chelsea Gems, Effingham Inlet, and Kusshi.

Clockwise from the lemon:

– Chelsea Gem Oysters: The menu says these are considered one of finest in world and we could see why. They were sweet and buttery, with just a hint of brininess.

– Effingham Inlet / Barkley Sound, BC: These were a good size and tasted briny and delicious. My favorite of the night, I dare say.

– Kusshi / Vancouver Island, BC: We came to the consensus that this one is like the awkward little brother that can’t decide whether to be sweet or briny.

The oysters come with the option of a traditional cocktail sauce or the housemade champagne mignonette, which I definitely recommend. Elliot’s serves it as a sorbet, so you get a fruity, icy element atop the briny bivalve. Yum! They also recommend pairing the oysters with the local favorite Chateau Ste. Michelle chardonnay, but I opted for the riesling from the same winery in hopes of a sweeter wine and it did not disappoint!

We also got some of the hot appetizers as well to round things out.

Top: Crab Cakes, Bottom: Fried Geoduck Strips

The crispy geoduck strips with poppy seed aioli were crispy and nicely fried, but the batter and cooking method drowned out the flavor of the geoduck. I think we’ll try the tartare, the other geoduck item on the menu, next time to get more of its natural flavor. Our other app was the dungeness crab cakes with sweet chili lime beurre blanc and chayote jicama slaw. The crab cakes were deliciously pan seared and consisted of so much lump crab meat that it fell apart for want of breadcrumbs or egg yolk. The sauce was reminiscent of the Asian chili sauce you eat with lumpia, so that was… interesting. The slaw was wonderfully crunchy and contrasted well with the fried dishes.

Round 2 – another half-dozen sampler ($17) – two each of the Totten Inlet, Penn Cove, and Snow Creek.

We couldn’t resist and ordered another half dozen oysters:

– Totten Inlet (WA): Martin described it as a slap in the face of brininess that eventually mellows out sweet.

– Penn Cove (WA): apparently a local favorite. We felt these were well balanced in flavor but they didn’t particularly wow me.

– Snow Creek: We didn’t know what to get for our third oyster so at the suggestion of our server, we asked the shucker to pick! These were a briny surprise from that night’s shucker, Jason. I think they were a bit too briny for Martin but I loved them. They left me with a lingering, ocean-y aftertaste. Mmm…

Sunken Chocolate Souffle

What’s a holiday dinner without dessert? We both spotted the sunken chocolate souffle a la mode and decided to go with that. I suspect they put “sunken” in the name in case it doesn’t rise like a “true” souffle, because our dessert turned out to be a delicious lava cake of sorts filled with dark chocolate ganache and topped with Madagascan vanilla ice cream. A decadent way to end our meal!

Elliott’s prides itself on serving eco-friendly, sustainable seafood. Food aside, the service was top notch, the decor was inviting, and the restaurant itself is easy to find right when you get to the Waterfront. I couldn’t think of a better place for us to celebrate Christmas Eve, and we will definitely come back next time we’re in town!

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Check out Elliott’s Oyster House: www.elliottsoysterhouse.com

1201 Alaskan Way
(between Seneca St & University St)
Seattle, WA 98101

See their Yelp reviews here.

‘Tis the Season at Trader Joe’s

Food Life

It’s that time of year, when stores pack away the Halloween orange and black goodies and start setting out the winter holiday wares. Snowflakes, snowmen, Santa Clauses galore. What I had hoped to be a quick trip to Trader Joe’s to pick up some ginger chews turned out to be an exciting kid-in-a-candy-store feeling with all of the holiday items back on the shelves.

My spoils of war after battling the after-work crowd at Trader Joes!

My favorite by far: Dark Chocolate Stars. Shortbread cookies dipped in dark chocolate and covered with white sprinkles. Think of those pink and white frosted Circus Animal cookies from your childhood… this is the grown-up version. I probably go through 3 or 4 boxes before the end of the season. (I daresay, I get even more excited about these than Girl Scout cookies!) A one-pound box sells for only $4.99!

I hear they also make great cupcake/cake decorations!

I also picked up a remnant of fall before they all get shoved aside to make room for winter: Pumpkin Butter. It comes in an adorable little jar and has the texture of a marmalade. Delicious on English muffins and all sorts of creative ideas listed on the jar such as “…pastry filling, poultry glaze, ice cream topping, on toast or mixed with fat free cream cheese for a unique spread.” $2.99 for a 10 oz jar.

I once had a teacher who loved the expression “the best thing since apple butter”. I think he’d approve if I substituted this pumpkin butter instead. :)

What I found out from my friendly cashier Colleen was that Whole Grain Rye Mini Toasts are also on the holiday list! She likes them on their own, but when I saw them, I immediately thought of making my own Chex Mix the way it should be – none of those darn pretzels or bread sticks that end up abandoned at the bottom of the bag. Just lots of rye chips and cereal, with extra zesty seasoning. Recipe to come! I’ll be stocking up on these before the season ends. $1.99 for a 6 oz bag.

You’re my favorite part of Chex Mix, but shh.. don’t tell the cereal!

Another winter staple is Peppermint Bark! Martin and I have a fondness for the squares from Ghiradelli, which don’t really resemble peppermint bark very much at all but are delicious nonetheless. I thought it would be a nice treat to welcome the dreary winter season with some festive peppermint bark in an adorable metal tin. The tin holds one pound of peppermint bark and goes for $9.99.

What an adorable little tin!

The last item I bought, ginger chews aside, was a Milk Chocolate Orange. Yes, my friends, those interactive spheres of chocolate that you WHACK against a hard surface to break into orange-like sections. Trader Joe’s has their own and we are very excited to try them! And at $2.49 apiece, it’s a steal!

Can’t wait to take this out of the wrapper and *whack*!

There are lots of other winter treats on the shelves this year as well. Even more than previous years, it seems to me. And of course since it’s Trader Joe’s, everything is very affordable and many of the items are organic. (I noticed on the label for the rye chips that they’re Kosher!) With shelves stocked full of gift boxes of truffles, peppermint coated pretzels, candy cane cookies, sparkling ciders in many flavors… ’tis the season!