My book club had brunch this morning at Café Flora. I haven’t been to this local favorite, vegetarian restaurant in ages but it did not disappoint. I had the French Toast with lemon curd and blueberries. It was delicious, but then, I think I’d like just about anything that’s smothered in lemon curd. We also shared an order of beignets to start. Despite the rest of the group’s raves, I have to disagree on this one. They just don’t hold a candle to Café du Monde’s beignets.

Incidentally, our book got a resounding 10 thumbs down from all who attended today’s meeting. Please don’t waste your time reading “Mangoes and Quince” by Carol Field. But by all means, check out Café Flora. It’s almost worth reading a bad book for.

Bed, Sweet Bed

Home, sweet home? In this case I was happier to see my bed than anything else. After 4 nights spent away from home, it was a sweet return to my own bed last night. I spent 1 night on a plane and 3 nights with either my mother or sister. It was a very pleasant, if brief, visit to my hometown.

I set off on a red eye flight Tuesday night and arrived in time for Tessa’s graduation on Wednesday. Thursday was the associated party and I was able to catch up with many friends and family that I haven’t seen for 2 or more years. Friday was my intended return date but some severe thunderstorms kept me in Buffalo for an extra day.

Food highlights included a few local standards (wings, Sahlen’s hot dogs and Anderson’s ice cream), lunch at Le Metro and Greg’s famous baked beans.

The 90 degree temps and some wicked jet lag kept me laying low for the rest of the weekend. Ideal conditions for lots of quality time in bed.

Szechuan Noodle Bowl

G and I ventured to a new restaurant in the International District for lunch last week. After doing sufficient research, we headed to Szechuan Noodle Bowl, equipped with plenty of recommendations on what to order. This restaurant is completely nondescript and utterly lacks any ambiance. The women who run the place hand make all their noodles and dumplings each day.

Based on my research, we ordered some vegetable dumplings to start. They were filled with spinach and green onion and accompanied by a spicy sauce. We struggled to eat the slippery things with our chopsticks, though managed to scarf them down quickly enough. Within minutes, our main courses arrived. I had the wonton soup and G opted for a spicy beef noodle soup. Both were excellent- my wonton soup had a clear broth that was surprisingly rich and flavorful. The wontons were perfect and there was some baby bok choy (my current favorite vegetable) to top it off. G’s broth had an incredible depth and was quite spicy to boot. I slurped some of the hand cut noodles from his bowl.

Chewy goodness. My sister described the similar hand cut noodles at Seven Stars Pepper as having great “mouth feel”. Oh yeah, and the bill was only $13. It could only be better on a cold, wintry day. I see more noodles in my future.

Island Getaway

This past weekend, G and I ventured to one of the as-yet unexplored San Juan Islands. We’d been to Lopez and Orcas before, but never San Juan itself. We packed up the car Friday night, including our bikes, in preparation for an early morning departure on Saturday. We were up and out of the house by 6:30 am (ouch) and made it to the ferry terminal in Anacortes in good time. By 11 we were on the island and soon set up camp at the Lakedale Resort. We spent the afternoon exploring on our bikes- 1st heading to Roche Harbor and then on to English Camp.

In Roche Harbor, there was some sort of festival going on. We witnessed the likes of a logrolling competition and a blindfolded dinghy race; then sampled free donuts from a wheelbarrow. English Camp is part of the National Park System and we giggled at the folks dressed up in period costumes. After ditching the bikes, we drove to Lime Kiln State Park, which is reputedly the best place on the island to see whales. We did catch sight of some marine mammal- G claims it was a porpoise.

The rest of the weekend passed relatively uneventfully. We spotted eagles multiple times as well as a pack of foxes. Saturday night we had the requisite campfire and the first s’mores of the season. Oh, yum. Somehow these 3 ingredients, none of which are particularly good on their own, manage to come together perfectly. I think having them once is year is probably enough, though- the things are damn sweet.

The Islands are fast becoming one of my favorite parts of the Northwest. The only down side is having to drive through Everett to get there.

Wal-Mart Goes Organic

There’s a great piece in yesterday’s New York Times about Wal-Mart adding organic food to their stores later this year. There’s a little bit of good news in this story and a whole lot of bad news. The good news being that more people will have access to organic foods and they won’t be as expensive. The bad news ranges from a devaluation of the term “organic” to increased globalization of the food market. None of which should come as a surprise to anyone who already despises Wal-Mart and everything it stands for (yeah, that’s me).

I happen to be currently reading “All Over Creation” by Ruth Ozeki, which brings to light some evils of modern agriculture and genetic engineering. Between the book and this Wal-Mart story, I may be convinced to start shopping exclusively from my local farmer’s market. It sure makes it clear to me that the burden of being informed about one’s food lies solely on oneself. As always, I think there’s a lot to be said for just eating what makes you happy. But this is further inspiration for me to eat locally AND seasonally, as well as organically.

Bizarre Weekend Report

I know, I know. It’s been ages since I blogged! G’s getting on my case so I guess I have to post something. It’s really been pretty dull around here, although we did head out of town for Memorial Day weekend and had a rather eventful time. We set off Saturday morning in the Subaru with Morgan and Kristen. The Sasquatch music festival is held at the Gorge Amphitheatre every year. It’s a pretty incredible venue- outdoors, with the Columbia Gorge as a back drop. Some say the sound quailty and acoustics aren’t actually great but the setting can’t be beat.

We settled in with a picnic to watch a long list of great bands. Then the clouds moved in. And with them the thunder, lightning and hail. Yes, hail. The size of marbles. G and I huddled under our blanket to try and cushion our skin from those hard pellets. It was pretty much mayhem- people shrieked and ran to find shelter, which was more or less nonexistent. We stuck it out for a while but finally decided to leave once we were soaked through and cold.

A couple hours later, after changing and drying off, we returned in time to see a bit more music. Unfortunately, the ground was saturated so there was no place to sit. Finally, we called it a night. Sadly, the masses of drug-doing 20-somethings kept partying until well after 3 am. The next morning we vowed never to camp at the Gorge again.

Sunday we drove up to a gorgeous little campground called Twenty-Five Mile Creek, on the shore of Lake Chelan. We spent a very low-key day hiking, relaxing, and cooking together. The weekend managed to redeem itself in a quiet, mellow day.