Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Columbia City Farmers Market: GreenGo

The Farmers Market makes me so hungry. Even with arms full of produce ready to be taken home and cooked, it is hard to resist the exciting convenience of something fresh-made and healthy and ready for immediate consumption.

Today at the Columbia City Farmers market I got some food from GreenGo, whose byline is "Fast Food with a Conscience." One way that they express this presence of conscience is by preparing their food with local, organic ingredients, and another is by using compostable bowls and cutlery. They also offer a $0.50 discount for bringing and using your own dish.
Their menu is straight forward: they routinely make grilled polenta and serve it up with varied seasonal toppings. Today it was served under the name of the "Caballero," and came covered in azuki bean chili and served with a fresh crisp slaw that was made from all sorts of good tasting plants. It cost $5 and was delicious.
I also ordered the "Sweet Cakes," which consisted of grilled polenta covered in a rhubarb, apple, raspberry sauce and a little locally made hormone-free whipped cream. It was tart and rich and only a little bit sweet- a wonderful dessert that didn't overwhelm the healthy feel of the rest of the meal.
My meat-eater companion ordered the third and final element of the menu, the Organic Beef Cheeseburger. I don't usually get excited over the smell of a burger, but this one smelled outrageously delicious. He enjoyed it too.

The only complaint would be that the servings were just shy of enough.

I look forward to venturing down on Wednesday afternoons and sampling the various seasonal polenta toppings as the summer progresses!

Green Go
Columbia City Farmers Market
4801 Rainier Ave S, at S Edmonds
Wednesdays, 3pm - 7pm,
April 30 through Oct 22

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Green Leaf

The tableware at Green Leaf made our meal look special from the moment the waitress brought out the tea, which came in larger than normal pretty ceramic cups, and no pot. All of the dishes were beautiful Asian pottery, and the chopsticks were attractive dark wood.
We ordered two appetizers: the vegetarian spring rolls, and the Green Papaya salad. The spring rolls were beautifully presented, and we were each given our own peanut dipping sauce. There was something special in the spring rolls that made them stand out... it was some sort of little crispy fried something or other, not enough to make them feel heavy, but just enough crunch to make them taste extra good.
The Green Papaya salad was gorgeous also. It can be ordered with a choice of shrimp or tofu, and we ordered ours with tofu. The salad was a beautiful pile of shredded green papaya and purple cabbage, and it was heavily garnished with crispy browned shallots and chopped peanuts. The sauce was tangy and savory, not sweet, and the fish sauce in it was so light I could barely notice it (I still wasn't quite able to eat my share, but I tend to be especially sensitive to fish sauce)*. It wasn't spicy in the least.
The tofu that came on the salad was wonderful. It was fresh and firm and quickly grilled, then covered with some sort of delicious fried garlicky lime-y bits. A member of our party who doesn't usually like tofu enjoyed it so much he wanted to order it next time for himself.
The vegetarian main dishes exist but represent a small portion of the menu, and I chose the vegetarian soup. They didn't seem to have a vegetarian "pho", but the soup I ordered was similar (minus the tray of sprouts and basil etc). This particular bowl was full of rice noodles, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green onions, basil, fried tofu strips, fake ham pieces and a generous sprinkling of black pepper. It was garnished with the same fried onion pieces that were on the papaya salad, and they added a welcome richness to the soup. I was presented with a small plate of lime wedges and jalapeno to add as I fancied.
As one member of our party put it, these guys really know how to use fried ingredients. Every dish we ordered had a tiny amount of some delicious fried garnish: onions, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, whatever was in the spring rolls... not enough to make it feel greasy or heavy, but enough to add some intrigue to the otherwise very fresh and light feeling fare.

Green Leaf is a small somewhat cramped restaurant, but the ambiance remains pleasant. In addition, the staff was especially friendly and accommodating.

*I don't usually eat fish sauce, but this is the second time I've made a semi-exception for Green Papaya salad. I wonder if Araya's has a vegan version... I bet they do.

Green Papaya
Neighborhood: International District
418 8th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 340-1388
Green Leaf on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thaiger Room

My experience of Thaiger room is plentiful in quantity but limited in diversity: it is cheap and close to the UW, but there aren't very many menu options that can be made without fish sauce/shrimp paste (all curries and anything with peanut sauce can't be made vegan, nor can many of their speciality noodle dishes), so I end up eating the same dish every time I go.

The dish is Garlic Pepper Tofu, and I happen to like it, so my experience tends to be good.
I order it with soft tofu and specify no fish sauce. The dish amounts to a stir fry with veggies and tofu and rice, and comes loaded with chopped garlic and (on a good day) a visible dose of ground white pepper. The sauce tends to be flavourful without being too greasy, and is definitely not sweet. One problem is that the spice level doesn't seem to be consistent... I tend to order it 3 stars, a level which varies from burning the heck out of my mouth to being completely undetectable.
As a whole, there are probably plenty of better Thai restaurants in the city, but for me, this place has a specific function as purveyor of cheap, garlicky, non-sweet, non-fishy stir fry and that keeps me coming back.

4228 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 632-9299

Thaiger Room on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Roasted Corn El Oaxaqueno

I don't really know what's not to love in this rustic little corn stand. The experience starts with a Oaxacan man who pulls an ear of corn still dressed in its charred husk fresh out of a little red roasting trailer, then quickly shucks it and skewers it and garnishes it as you like it. "Everything" includes a brush of butter, a slather of mayonnaise, grated Parmesan and a good sprinkling of chili powder.
I ate mine with everything but the mayonnaise, and it was just right for me. Real slow roasted corn is always a treat... possibly not always the tautest of kernels, but the piping hot roast-y flavour makes one forgive that detail. The butter and Parmesan added richness, and the chili powder lent a slowly building heat on my lips that was a full on (pleasure) burn by the end.
Roasted Corn El Oaxaqueno is honest to goodness vegetarian street food. What a delight!

(In the parking lot of:)
MacPherson's Fruit and Produce
4500 15th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 762-0115
El Oaxaqueno on Urbanspoon