From Restaurants

Scenes From Cafe Juanita’s Alfresco Pig Roast

Hold on, the headline says pig roast. Why am I looking at soup?  Because a pig roast, while delicious, is ugly gorgeous.  As the sunny season winds down at Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Washington, this soup is one of the things I’ve been looking forward to all summer.  Pappa al pomodoro.  You know this soup? Tomatoes, hand crushed. Garlic, basil, cayenne, olive oil, balsamic, sherry vinegar, bread.  Served at room temp, it is the essence of summer. At Sunday night’s Pig Roast, pappa al pomodoro was a pre-dinner summer sipper.

This is perhaps the one Cafe Juanita recipe that gets shared the most, but I’ve never actually made it. Why? It’s a destination dish.  I’ll just say, it’s worked out really well that we got married in late summer. If I plan it right, I can have it at the restaurant. If you can’t, the recipe is here. So what about that pig roast?

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Ono Dough Fo’ Sho — Malasadas @ Issaquah Farmers Market

Since I was a kid, I’ve loved donuts. Wednesday mornings on the way to school, my mom would stop at the donut shop in my home town. I’d hop out of the car and drop a couple of quarters into the newspaper machines for the LA Times and Examiner food sections and sometimes we’d get a dozen donuts in a pink box. Sugar-raised, glazed, chocolate-topped, a crumb cake (always the last one left in the box) and a plain cake for my grandpa. Other times, on weekends, we’d go to Dunkin Donuts and get a bunch of Munchkins in an orange handle box. The chocolate cake ones were my favorite.

Fast forward 15 years. The first time I had a malasada might have been at Komoda Store in Makawao, Maui. It was good, but just seemed like a donut. Later, on the Big Island we got some malasadas fresh from the fryer at Tex’s, and a new obsession was born. Rolled in sugar, these yeast-raised donuts are tender and sweet, and they’re as key to a visit to the Islands as plate lunch and good shave ice. Everyone always says Leonard’s in Honolulu is the gold standard, I can’t say, I haven’t had theirs yet.
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What I Did on Summer Vacation, Part 1: Tofino, BC Edition

Summer vacation is a bit of misnomer if you live in the Pacific Northwest. Summer is when it’s finally sunny and beautiful here, so you want to stay home and soak it up, rather than leave it behind. The last couple of years we’ve kept our vacations close to home, exploring other parts of the Pacific Northwest, but we’ve taken them either too early or too late to get a strong dose of sunshine, but this year, we hit it just right.

We’re just back from a glorious week in Tofino, British Columbia, a little beach town on the edge of Vancouver Island near Pacific Rim National Park.
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Ma’ono Seattle: Yes, We Had the Fried Chicken

The fried chicken is the main attraction at Ma’ono Fried Chicken and Whisky in West Seattle and with good reason. It’s some goooood chicken. Not just when it’s hot, but even the next day cold. I’m convinced anyone who says the fried chicken was greasy or not worth it (I’m looking at you Yelp reviews) is just trying to keep more for themselves. But let’s take our time, shall we? We’ll get to the chicken, don’t worry.
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Cafe Juanita’s Al Fresco Pasta Dinner

As a food town, Seattle may not have the swagger of New York or San Francisco or LA, but it stands on its own. Ask foodies across the country about Seattle and they might mention Pike Place or the fact that Tom Douglas catered a fundraising lunch for President Obama, but ask them if they’ve heard of Kirkland, Washington and they’ll say, “Oh yeah, like at Costco. Kirkland.”

A Microsoft bedroom community, Kirkland is the home of Costco #1, but it’s also the home to one of the best restaurants in the Seattle area — Café Juanita. Specializing in northern Italian cuisine with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, Café Juanita is casually elegant, at once special occasion and neighborhood spot. You might know chef/owner Holly Smith as winner of the James Beard Foundation’s 2008 Best Chef Northwest, or for her turn on Iron Chef America, where she won her bout with Iron Chef Cat Cora. This year, Chef Smith was nominated as Outstanding Chef in the US by the Beard Foundation. But I gotta tell ya, I didn’t need the Beard Foundation to confirm that Chef Smith’s got game.
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