Thursday, May 31, 2012


Homegrown is one of the delightful sandwich shops that makes an effort to have some interesting, unusual, delicious vegetarian options (no "lettuce, cucumber, sprouts" here!). I went to  the Homegrown on Capital Hill one recent stormy night and was thrilled to see the following sandwich on the menu: roasted beets, pickled onions, wild greens and cheese (menu says goat cheese, but they substituted Beechers flagship cheddar at my request). It was a perfect mix of sweet and juicy beets, the sharp vinegary tang of the onions, spicy peppery freshness from the greens, and salty, savory cheese. 

I also indulged in some tasty, fresh homemade fries liberally sprinkled with dill. They came with homemade tarter sauce.

In addition to making an awesome sandwich, Homegrown is dedicated to doing things as sustainably as possible, and is happy to accommodate vegan and gluten free diners. Definitely worth a visit!

Homegrown on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Open Water Swim Classes!

It's the time of year when I do a little cross advertising for Seattle Open Water!
Lots of classes offered this year, including some morning sessions. We love new triathletes and folks just transitioning into the open water, so please pass it on!, and we also have a facebook page:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ok Noodles

I have been chasing the restaurants at this location on the Ave for years (starting with Veggie Veggie, then What da Phad, and now Ok Noodles) and seemed to always arrive when the restaurant was closed and transitioning. So one recent evening, after seeing the bursting at the seams, super line spilled onto the street at our intended Thai Tom, my dining companion and I decided to instead sate our appetites a few doors down at Ok Noodles.

Ok Noodles now serves meat, but maintains a huge menu of vegetarian options (including not only tofu, but many fake meats).

We ordered garlic tofu and phad kee mao. The garlic tofu had a tasty pile of crunchy browned garlic bits on top, but this was really the only interesting thing about the dish.

It's possible that we had our expectations set too high by way of our initial anticipation of Thai Tom, but the food at Ok Noodles seemed mostly unnoteworthy.

Of course it is always a welcome thing when a restaurant makes a large accommodation to vegetarian and vegans, but Ok Noodles was kind of a ho-hum disappointment. If I had been in a small town or shopping mall or some other culinary desperate situation, I would have probably been really stoked to find this place with their large vegetarian menu, but just steps from some pretty danged good Thai food, it was a little harder to appreciate.

Ok Noodles on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bar del Corso

I have long been eager to eat at Bar del Corso on Beacon Hill, and recently had the chance for a celebratory dinner.

We started with fried risotto balls. They were every bit as scrumptious as that sounds... creamy, pink risotto with a mozzarella center fried in a crisp cornmeal crust. I could have eaten a whole lot of these!

Bar del Corso has a frequently changing seasonal menu, and it was unfortunate that the menu for our visit was a little heavy on the meat (for example, a salad with tuna heart), and I did not feel inclined to pay for a somewhat pricy salad made to order without all of its expensive and interesting components ($9 plate of just radicchio? no thanks). None the less, managed a fantastic meal, and there was a fully vegetarian spinach dish on the menu. It was exquisite.

The dish was a huge mound of lightly sauteed spinach with roasted hazelnuts, golden raisins and browned garlic.

We ordered two pizzas, one with braising greens, tomatoes and smoked mozzarella (copa on the side).

And another with fresh mozzarella, spicy peppers and rapini (hold the anchovies).

Both were outstanding Napoleon style pizzas. I am sometimes unsatisfied with this style of pizza because the center tends to disintegrate into a pile of mush and the toppings are often extremely scant (leaving some slices with nothing but melting crust and a smear tomato sauce), but the toppings here were plentiful and well distributed. I was especially taken by the presence of green veggies on both of these pizzas. Both the greens and the rapini got a tasty brown char in the hot pizza oven that was really special.

The pizzas were quite a bit larger than we had expected, and we had ample leftovers (always a treat!).

My main advice for visiting this place as a vegetarian or vegan would be to check in ahead of time and make sure that either the daily menu was to your liking, or that you were prepared to pay full price for a dish that had been modified to remove its expensive (animal) parts.

Bar del Corso on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 11, 2012


I recently visited "Spiced, Truly Chinese Cuisine," a Chinese restaurant in Bellevue where I finally got a taste of ma la, the spicy, numbing sauce made from the Sichuanese peppercorn. My dining companion and I arrived just before 8pm, and the mid-sized restaurant was packed to the gills with Chinese people eating big bowls and plates mounded with spicy looking delights. The air in the restaurant was so thick with chilis that I could feel it in my lungs.

We started with Dan Dan Sichuan noodles, which I am sad to say came with a big pile of ground beef on top (I didn't bother taking a picture of these, but admit that I brought them home, washed them in a colander then ate them the next day). 

Next we had green beans, which  were oily and blistered and heavily flavored with garlic, fried green onion and small briny bits of seaweed.

The vegetarian dishes were somewhat limited, but there was both a tofu hot pot and a tofu dry pot. We ordered the tofu dry pot, and it was a huge bowl atop a butane burner overflowing with fried tofu, dried roasted chili peppers, sliced jalapenos, Chinese celery, sprouts, sliced ginger and a spicy (duh) oily red sauce full of the bizaare numbing, tingling, fizzy spice of the Sichuanese peppercorn.

I wish I'd taken a picture of the stuff  lower in the bowl where the bulk of the action was.

The food was all gratuitously oily, but that was to be expected. It was also delicious and deeply flavored. The spice level was enough that my dining companion sweated his hair into a damp clump on his glistening forehead, but (perhaps it was the effect of the numbing Sichuanese peppercorn?) nothing ever felt unbearably spicy to the mouth.

The quantities of food were staggering. We could have easily stuffed another two people with our order. If you're looking for a delicious wacky taste of the numbing spice, look no further!

  Spiced - Truly Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Flair Tacos

I have a new favorite in the Seattle taco truck department: Flair Tacos in Fremont. This is vegetarian's taco truck dream with two awesome, intentional, distinct types of vegetarian (appear to be vegan) tacos: a grilled veggie version, and a tofu adobado version. Both of them are delicious. 

Two grilled veggie, two tofu adobado.

In addition, Flair makes tasty salsa and adds plenty of radishes and limes to your order. It is also open late, something that I have benefitted from after a celebratory night in Fremont, but the tacos are equally delicious in the sober light of day.

It's not hard to find a decent vegetarian taco around town, but the Flair Taco truck has really taken the prize for creating an intentional, healthy option for vegetarians that looks and tastes every bit as satisfying as the meaty counterparts. As a general indication of taco size, if I'm super hungry, I can probably eat around 5 tacos. A typical light meal might be 3-4 tacos. One taco makes a perfect little snack.

Prices are typical taco truck cheap.

Flair Taco on Urbanspoon