Saturday/ street food

On Saturday, we trekked down to South Lake Union to check out the food – and the people – at the 6th Annual Seattle Street Food Festival.

Here is 9th Ave at about 2 pm, with the crowds still manageable. 9th Ave is lined with the brand new construction going on in South Lake Union.
This food truck sells schnitzel. Originally from Austria, breaded schnitzel is now popular in many countries and can be made with almost any meat: veal, mutton, chicken, beef, turkey or pork. 
Frozen pops and icicles, in exotic flavors.
And here is my meal: stir-fried chicken and spices with jasmine rice, a fried egg, and a little cucumber salad on the side. It was very good.

Monday/ I need my Café Francais

The good stuff. I discovered that I have four different tin designs in my kitchen drawers. (The tins are handy for coins and screws and bolts).

My attachment to Café Francais goes back to the very first time I set foot in the United States in 1990.  My older brother and I were visiting my younger brother in Palm Desert, California. He had some in his kitchen cabinet.

The stuff has been my favorite additive for hot milk, ever since. (Just one teaspoon).

I completely ran out of it last week, and horrors! it seemed to have disappeared, or was sold out, everywhere.  But just tonight, I checked one more time here at the local Safeway (grocery store), and there it was, on the shelf.

Friday/ a gargantuan chunk of freshwater

Friday night saw almost 3 inches of rainfall in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town.  Still, the Cape Town City Council is said to be entertaining the possibility of towing an iceberg from Antarctica to Cape Town, to further help boost the city’s low water inventory.  Say what? Can that possibly work? was my first reaction.

Well, here are the numbers*. Some 200 billion tons of ice from Antarctica slide into the sea in a typical year – the equivalent of more freshwater than the world uses in a year. Some icebergs float for 5 years in the ocean, and some make it to Gough Island. Such an iceberg could be towed from there, for the roughly 2,700 km (1,700 mi) distance to Cape Town.  The iceberg will be stationed off the coast (Cape Columbine on the west coast is mentioned), and could conceivably deliver 100 megaliter of water every day for a year as it melts.  (About 20% of the city of Cape Town’s needs).  If such a project is can be pulled off successfully, its cost is projected to be less than half the cost of desalinating an equivalent amount of seawater.

*From an article in the Sat Jun 2 issue of ‘Die Burger’ newspaper.

[Maps and information from Wikipedia] Gough Island has a temperate climate between 11 °C (52 °F) and 17 °C (63 °F). It’s about 91 sq km (35 sq mi). In 1995, the island was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to many species of birds, subantarctic fur seals and (unfortunately) house mice, an invasive species brought there by humans. A project underway by the United Kingdom aims to exterminate all of the mice by 2021, though. They kill as many as 600,000 chicks a year on the island.

Tuesday/ Costco’s $1.50 hot dog

The price of a hot dog at Costco — $1.50 with a giant cup of soda — has not changed since 1985.  So I had to snap a photo of it in the little food court section while I stopped by there today!

Costco is a no-frills warehouse store chain (488 locations in the US) that was founded in Seattle in 1983.  Shoppers pay an annual membership fee ($60) to be able to buy anything from food and household items (usually in bulk quantities), to watches to TVs, at low prices. The store has 75 million members nationwide.  Ardent fans love the ‘treasures’ they find at stores: electronics, appliances or other less frequent purchases offered at extremely good prices.

Costco’s famous $1.50 hot dog that comes with a 20 ounce soda that can be refilled. (Public service announcement from me to the shoppers: take it easy there with the sugary soda.  20 ounces is already 2½ cups/ more than half a liter!).

Friday/ Bitte ein Bit (a Bit, please)

The one-a-day beer is in the cans, the as-much-as-you-like beer (no alcohol) in the bottles. I like them both.

My fridge was empty, and I set out to refill it today with eggs, milk, yogurt and beer. The store where I usually get my German beer, and my McCann’s Irish oatmeal, was out of both. 

Well darn it, I thought. And: You’re too persnickety with your tastes.  The Amazon-owned grocery store called Whole Foods Market came to the rescue, though.

Saturday/ ‘over medium’

My new little pan does the job of frying a single egg nicely. I wait until the top of the egg is solid enough, and then the fun part comes: wiggle it loose and flip it like a little pancake, to get the top side done as well.

I try not to clutter up my kitchen with too many devices and pots and pans, but finally got a little non-stick single-egg frying pan.

Of the myriad ways to prepare an egg – soft boiled, hard boiled, soft scrambled, hard scrambled, sunny side up, over easy, over medium, over hard, omelet, poached or baked – the ‘over medium’ style is one of my favorites.

Wednesday/ snacking on grape nuts

My new favorite snack cereal is Post’s Grape-Nuts. I see it has been around a long, long time. It is made from wheat and barley, so no grapes and no nuts! It does have a nutty taste, and was originally thought to contain grape sugar.

Mr. Post created his cereal way back in 1897. The box reads on the front: ‘Fully Cooked, Pre-Digested, Breakfast Food/ Grape-Nuts/ A food for the brain and nerve centres’. The Super Mario video game character on the 2018 box was created by Nintendo Japan, in 1985.

Tuesday/ let’s braai

Braai means barbeque in South Africa, and can be used as a noun or a verb.  I like to check out the offerings in the grocery store for braaiing.

Pork ‘Texan steak’ style is a thick cut of pork with seasoning rubbed onto it, then grilled or fried in a pan; boerewors (US$2.85/ lb) is very popular for South African braais | Kalahari (brand name) salt features a gemsbok | the largest marshmallows I have ever seen, also for braaiing

Wednesday/ Prost! with a Helmut

My helmet had a nice foamy head, and I liked the crisp taste.


We went to a pub called ‘Standard Brewing’ tonight, in Seattle’s Central District. It’s been there a few years, but it was my first visit.

The beers on offer are brewed on site, and I had a Helmut: a Munich ‘Helles’, a medium- bodied lager with a full malt presence and a clean finish.

Wednesday/ König Pilsener

König Pilsner, in a 500 ml can. It comes in bottles as well. Some connoisseurs say beer in cans taste different than beer in glass bottles. (Or is it one’s imagination? Time for a blindfold test!).
The König brewery is located in the west of Germany, in Duisburg.
Thursday’s projected highs : 95 °F (35°C) in Seattle and 103 °F (39°C) around other places in Puget Sound.

We ducked into the cool inside of a restaurant called ‘Smiths’ here on 15th Avenue tonight, for our regular Wednesday-night-beer-and-bite.

My favorite beer is a pilsener, and so I had a König Pilsener – brewed in Duisburg, Germany.

I thought the beer’s name might mean ‘the king’s beer’, but no, it’s named after brewmaster Theodor König who started brewing the beer in 1858.

Today the brewery belongs to Bitburger Braugruppe GmbH.
Their tagline is ‘Bitte ein Bit’.




Friday/ hold the butter, coconut oil

I have coconut oil in my kitchen (that I cook with sometimes), but I see that I should not use it for cooking. It contains 80% saturated fat ! – not good for the heart.

I do cook with olive oil, but I see there is an even better option : polyunsaturated oils such as corn oil, soybean oil or peanut oil. Check out these stills from CBS’s Friday morning show.

Some studies show that a diet with polyunsaturated fats can have the same effect as statin drugs.
Stay away from coconut oil and palm oil, and take it easy on butter and beef cuts with a lot of fat. Butter has 60% saturated fat, and beef has 40%. I suspect ice cream is in the 40% range as well.
Olive oil and avocado is still good – they have monounsaturated fats, but oils with polyunsaturated fat are the best.
Coronary heart disease is still the no 1 killer in the United States.

Monday/ a king’s ransom for king salmon

Hey! You cannot fool me: $74.99 is really $75, is it not? (and it comes to $82.19 after adding the city’s 9.6% sales tax).

King salmon is the most expensive of the salmon for sale here in Seattle (and the best), and Copper River King Salmon is even more pricey.  Shipments from this year’s limited catch have arrived on Alaska Air, and salmon fillets were available at Pike Place market this weekend – for $75 per pound. Yikes.

Just for fun, I compiled a list of other expensive foods – much more expensive, in fact.   [Source: much of the information gleaned from a list published on The Awesome Daily.]

Food Country of OriginPrice, USD, 1 lb
Copper River SalmonAlaska, USA$75
Moose Milk CheeseSweden$500
Kopi Luwak CoffeeThe Philippines$100-$600
Kobe BeefJapanUp to $500
La Bonnotte PotatoesFranceUp to $1,500
Blue Fin Tuna SushiJapanUp to $1,200
Matsutake MushroomJapanUp to $1,000
European White TruffleItalyUp to $1,000
Densuke Black WatermelonHokkaido, JapanUp to $1,200
Tieguanyin TeaChina, JapanUp to $7,000

Wednesday/ my new guilty pleasure

Single-serve Nutella is a boon for travelers (me) that need something to put on bread that does not need a refrigerator.

I picked up a new guilty pleasure while in Germany & Switzerland recently: putting Nutella* on my bread or toast.   The convenience stores in the train stations there sell single-serve Nutella packets, and once I had a few slices of bread with the stuff on, I was hooked.

Nutella is widely available here in the United States, and comes from a factory in Brantford, Ontario, in Canada.

*Nutella is a chocolate and hazelnut spread and has been around since 1964, when it was first produced in Alba, Italy – an area known for the production of hazelnuts. [From Wikipedia].

Nutella featured on the front page of a recent issue of the German newspaper Die Welt. Some unhappy European Union member states complained at the 2017 EU Spring Summit that they are getting sold second-rate household products in their stores.  For example, said the East European countries : our Nutella is not as creamy as the product that is available in Germany! (I would complain too!).

Monday/ it’s National Milk Tart Day!

Melktert, Afrikaans for ‘milk tart, is a South African dessert consisting of a sweet pastry crust containing a creamy filling made from milk, flour, sugar and eggs.  Monday marked the fourth ‘National Milk Tart* Day in South Africa.

*I’m not so sure ‘milk tart’ is in wide use and a proper translation.   I think even English-speaking South Africans say melktert.

‘Give your Hero a Tart Today – it’s National Milk Tart Day’ says this ‘Die Burger’ newspaper report of Monday.
Here’s the melktert I bought at a coffee shop.  It cost all of R60 .. not even US$5!  And how many do I want? inquired the store as I pointed to it in the display case. Oh no, only ONE! I said. It’s eight inches across which makes for a lot of tart!

Tuesday/ Captain Haddock, I presume

I noticed today at the No 10 bus stop here on 15th Avenue, that Captain Haddock from the Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé, is featured on the local restaurant’s rotating menu (food from Belgium in this case).  I will have to go in and sample some of the food .. waffles, for sure – and is haddock (fish) a Belgian dish?

P.S. Fererer won in straight sets over Zverev. Yay!  In the final four he will now face fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

The sign at Coastal Kitchen restaurant here on 15th Avenue.  As Belgian cartoonist Hergé was considering names for his new character, a seafaring merchant marine captain, and Tintin’s best friend, he asked his wife, Germaine, what she had cooked for dinner.  She told him, “a sad English fish—haddock.”  Hergé thought this was a perfect name for Tintin’s new mariner friend, and so Captain Haddock was born. (This information from Wikipedia).

Wednesday/ cabbage with nutmeg

Here’s the cabbage, with the whole nutmeg nut showing the texture inside. (Yes, I probably overdid it with the nutmeg on the cabbage. I will use less next time!).

I got a whole nutmeg from a friend, and so I cooked up some green cabbage on Tuesday, and grated fresh nutmeg onto it.

Nutmeg is commonly added to sausages, meats, soups, preserves, puddings, and fruit pies.

Until the mid-19th century, nutmeg came exclusively from the Banda Islands in Indonesia. Today Indonesia still produces 75% of the world’s nutmeg.

Wednesday/ Katsu Burger

Three of us had a burger and a beer at a fancy-burger place called Katsu Burger, tonight. The burgers, fries and dipping sauces are described as Japanese American fusion.  My chicken teriyaki burger with fries and Japanese mayonnaise* was very good.

*Mayonnaise with (among other ingredients) hondashi powder.  Hondashi powder is made from a smoked and dried fish called the bonito.

This mural is inside Katsu Burger on Capitol Hill, featuring Japanese icons such as Godzilla, Mt Fuji and the rising sun from the Japanese flag.  The katakana characters top left カツバーガー are promounced ‘Katsu bāgā’.

Wednesday/ team dinner

Here’s my panna cotta : an Italian dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded. It was actually billed as ‘cherry blossom panna cotta’, to add a little Japanese to it. It was delicious.
Colorful wall art on the corner of Jackson and Montgomery St, close to where we had our dinner. There are lots of cubes in this picture, and one pyramid (the TransAmerica Tower in the back).

We had a team dinner at the Roka Akor tonight – an upscale Japanese bar in the Financial District.

There was a fixed menu with items such as chicken teriyaki, tuna sushi roll, golden beets and spicy beef.

For dessert there was cherry blossom panna cotta.


Sunday/ South African food in Seattle

The flags by the entrance to the Mt Baker Community Center shows something South African is going on inside!

My Facebook group ‘South Africans in Seattle’ held a bake-and-grocery sale in the Mount Baker Community Center on Sunday, and I felt compelled to go check it out.  Maybe they have those giant jars of Marmite, or Pronutro (breakfast cereal) or Mrs Ball’s chutney, I thought.

Alas – none of those items were on sale. Several other types of South African food were on offer such as curry (with ground beef) and rice, biltong1, braaivleis2 and sweet desserts such as koeksisters3 and and melktert4.  The space inside was very crowded and the lines were very long, though – and I was too impatient to wait in line for food.   I did chat to some friendly South Africans :).  Not many have been in Seattle as long as I have been.

1jerky, but saltier and never sweet    2barbecued meat    3a sticky syrup-infused version of a doughnut   4Afrikaans for “milk tart”, is a South African dessert consisting of a sweet pastry crust containing a creamy filling made from milk, flour, sugar and eggs.

Wednesday/ Mensho Tokyo

Here’s a peek inside the hole-in-the-wall Mensho Tokyo (676 Geary St), one of Japan’s most acclaimed ramen (noodle) bars, this being the first one outside Japan.  I read online that the place has been mobbed, ever since it had opened in February.  About 50 people were patiently waiting outside on Wednesday night to get in, when I walked by.  The text on the wall describes katsuo bushi, a stock made from dried bonito flakes.  (Bonito is a medium-sized predatory fish in the same family as tuna and mackerel).