Thursday, August 12, 2010
Tuesday was our 24th wedding anniversary, so Pavel and I took a 24-hour trip to Seattle.
Through pure dumb luck, we ended up eating a small dinner at Sitka and Spruce, located in the Melrose Market, in Capitol Hill (but just the other side of the freeway from downtown).
We started with a green salad. Eating it was like opening a book. The lettuce leaves, when turned, revealed sprigs of dill, tucked inside, like pressed flowers.
A dish of braised green and Romano beans came with mechouia, a Tunisian salad/salsa made with grilled tomatoes and peppers, garlic, olive oil, and maybe capers, cumin, or coriander. The beans were cooked perfectly to my taste, the crispness barely departed. I found myself picking one up, and quickly licked the lingering mechouia off my fingers.
But not fast enough. The waiter arrived with a finger bowl, insisting they always bring them to the tables. I didn’t notice finger bowls at the other tables.
We were glad to have the finger bowl when our plate of plump spot prawns arrived. Though I only used it for a final rinse—I wouldn’t dream of washing away those prawn juices!
We thought we were done eating, but then spotted a dish down the counter. Piles of roasted Shisito peppers (similar to pimientos de Padrón, and sharing their wild card heat quality—1 in 10 are spicy spicy) were scattered with strips of crisp salted pork and wedges of perfumed white peaches. The balance was perfect, the peppers’ smokiness and heat (from approximately every tenth pepper) offset by the peaches’ sweetness; the peaches' firmness yielded to the pork’s crunch and the peppers’ softer interiors.
And you have to have dessert, right? Especially on a special occasion.
It wasn’t wedding cake (we had two kinds at our wedding: pecan-bourbon and chocolate), but it was delicious. Gâteau Basque, a slightly crumbly cake filled with pastry cream (which is one of my very favorite things). It’s a famous cake—it even has its own museum. How many cakes can say that? Blackberries drizzled with buckwheat honey covered the cake. Happiness. Perhaps this is a cake to put on the 2011 list (yes, I do need to get back to my 10 in 2010 soon!).
As we were leaving I noticed someone drinking a bottle of Lev, a Czech beer. A good luck sign--we had Czech beer (though it was Pilsner Urquell--maybe the only one imported back then?) at our wedding.
Sitka and Spruce
1531 Melrose Ave. E
Seattle, WA 98122
Lunch: 11:30-2, Monday–Friday
Dinner: 5:30-11, Tuesday-Saturday
Brunch: 10-2, Saturday and Sunday
Click for sample menus
Melrose marketplace also houses Homegrown, a ‘sustainable’ sandwich shop; Marigold and Mint, a flower shop (that was selling bunches of beets and heads of lettuce when we were there); The Calf and Kid, a cheese shop; Rain Shadow Meats, a butcher shop; and a wine bar, called ‘bar ferd’nand’. Their website is Ferdinand the bar.com. If you have kids, and spent years reading Ferdinand the Bull to them (one of the best picture books of all time), you’d love it too.
Posted by Giovanna at 5:27 PM