For the Craft Beer/Cocktail Companion — A Gift Guide

As a kid, I loved crafts. I truly couldn’t get enough of popsicle sticks that were dripping with Elmer’s white, runny glue and glitter. There was so much potential. So much whimsy.

It turns out that as an adult I continue to foster a love for crafts: craft beer, craft coffee, and craft cocktails, for instance. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit. I, like many of my friends (and yours, I’m sure), aspire to have a flourishing home bar with many tools and trinkets and bottles to boot.

Giving gifts to craft beer and cocktail lovers doesn’t have to be hard. Here are some of my recommendations:

Let’s start with some literature, shall we?

  • The Complete Beer Course – Do I need to type a description here? I think the cover saison you need to know (that was a bad beer pun).
  • The Canon Cocktail Book – Canon is one of the BEST bars in Seattle, not to mention the U.S., and they’ve just put out a cocktail recipe book! If you want to step up your game then THIS is the way to do it.
  • The 12 Bottle Bar – Buy this book and make a night of it! Stock the bar. Learn to make cocktails. This is a great pick for those people in your life who are bound and determined to get into home bartending but juuuuuust haven’t found the time to start yet. (Spoiler alert, the time is now.)

[Side note: this book is great because it not only teaches you about the basics of a home bar, but also how to maximize those basics. My boyfriend and I have been making our way through it this year and it’s been awesome!]

West ElmCrate & BarrelWest Elm

Another good place to start with gift giving is with the essentials, and for a home bar, bar tools are just that. Whether you are giving to someone who is looking to beef up their tool kit or perhaps someone who wants upgrade their collection with pieces that have more personality and pizazz, there are a lot of options out there and plenty of places to look.

Specific individual tools could include:

  • A muddler (customize it!)
  • A strainer for a cocktail shaker
  • Jiggers
  • Bottle openers
  • Etc.

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Beer Brewing Kit from Midwest Supplies

Home brewing is America’s new favorite hobby, but how does your Lager-loving dad get started? With a beer brewing kit of course! While I’m not an expert in the topic  THESE GUYS are and they can help you find the kit you need. [Pictured above is their top recommendation for a beginner].

For both the traditional and adventurous mixologists in your life, bitters make great gifts and also great stocking stuffers. What even are bitters? Bitters have a lot of purposes, but for the sake of this post: Bitters are punchy, flavorful liquids that are made from herb/botanicals. Just a few drops can drastically change the taste of anything they are added to. For example, and Old Fashioned would not be an Old Fashioned without bitters (Angostura, to get specific).

These from Scrappy’s, a Seattle brand, are some of my favorites. [Their website is down right now, but just do a quick internet search for “Scrappy’s Bitters” and you should find what you need]

And finally, a few trusty gifts for the ones in your life who just like to kick it with a cocktail in hand. Any of these will be phenomenal additions to that stylish new bar cart:

  • Cocktail Shakers* – These are everywhere, for everyone.
  • Unique barware* – Cocktail glasses come in many shapes in sizes, but all serving the same purpose: to make your drink taste its best. They also come in many different patterns, colors, and with different metallic rims (did somebody say rose gold?). Think about which cocktails are most popular with your buddies and start with some glasses made just for that.
  • Cool coasters* – Guys, where there’s a drink there’s a risk for a cup ring! Coasters, obvi. Everybody needs more coasters (especially cool ones).
  • Interesting ice molds – Ice plays a huge role in the cocktail world. The shape and cut of ice can determine the way a drink tastes, looks, and lasts. Molds are available in traditional shapes as well as quirky shapes—like Death Stars — and even in kits that allow you to manipulate the ice into whatever form you need.[While the kit above seems a little bit superfluous, I think we all know that we have a friend who will be MAJORLY STOKED on it. The crew at Wired seems to think so, too.][Why didn’t you include any of those trendy stones? While the stones and rocks available are less likely to dilute your drink, my friends have found that they are also less likely to get as cold as you might like.]
  • Decanter* – Because bar carts look even cooler when the booze is on display in sleek glass bottles. These are great for liquor or wine (see, I haven’t ENTIRELY neglected the winos).
  • Import booze from abroad — Maybe it’s the specialty of a country that your person is dying to visit, or maybe it’s from their old home town. Either way this is a thoughtful option and your friend will appreciate it (and likely get a good, heartwarming buzz courtesy of you.)

*Go vintage! A lot of this stuff is easy to find at thrift stores and online. Hot tip: search for “MidCentury Barware” on Etsy and feel your heart take flight.

None of these are givin’ you that post-cocktail buzz? Why not plan a cocktail bar crawl in your city or a city near by?  Or maybe find a cocktail class to take with a friend? Like I’ve said before, some people would rather receive an experience than a gift. Have a drink and think on it.


That does it for this gift guide! I’ve got one more up my sleeve and that one is a little more high energy (spoilers: it’s coffee-centric!).

If you’re still having trouble thinking of a gift, I am totally game to help you brainstorm. Shoot me a comment or an email and we can figure it out together.

Happy Holidays!

For the One Who Cooks — A Gift Guide

The holiday season is here and none of us started gift shopping in September like we’ve always been told to do. But who has time for that, truly? The good news is that you still have plenty of time, but if you’re stumped when it comes to the actual gift selection then you’re going to burn through that time quick.

Never fear! Gift guides are here to help. I’ll be putting out a few this year to assist you on your quest to find holiday delights for the people in your life who love consuming food and drinks as much as I do. First up?

A Gift Guide for the Ones Who Love to Cook

  • Retro inspired kitchen timers — Because we all need a kitchen timer, and they might as well make a statement.
  • Cookware with character — The accessibility of artisanal goods has been made SO easy through sites like Etsy. Find a unique, useful gift online that supports the Maker community. Some even have options for personalization. (Pro tip: this is also a good way to scout out vintage finds).
  • Copper cooking utensils — For your trendy friend who enjoys cooking, and having a very instagrammable prep space.
  • Mortar and Pestle — The more I cook, the more I understand the need for one of these. They’re used for crushing and grinding herbs and spices, and it doesn’t hurt that they look nice on display, either.
  • Ravioli and Tortellini starter set — Remember your friend who studied abroad in Florence? Firenze. They’ll love this.
  • Hot chocolate pot — Why? The better question is “Why Not?”.  At first glance this probably seems ostentatious, but check this out: the teak handle makes pouring a breeze, the lid can be used as a trivet while cooling, and think of how COOL you/your friend will look when they whip out this puppy for a cocoa sesh.

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Joule by Chef Steps — Sous vide is a cooking technique that’s really blown up in the last couple of years. While I’ve never done it myself, it has already sealed its reputation as being a modern cooking method that boasts ease of execution and perfectly prepared steaks. But it can certainly do more than just cook your meats to the ideal medium rare. If there’s someone in your life who enjoys learning new techniques in the kitchen, this is the gift for them. Learn more on the Chef Steps website.

If you’re a person who feels safer giving, say, socks than this years trendy tech, try some of these safer, more practical gifts on for size:

  • Wooden Cutting Boards — Make it interesting, though! Look for different compositions of wood, wood grain, shapes, and materials.
  • Mandolin — No, not the instrument. This kitchen machine cuts major time out of slicing (see what I did there?).
  • Oven Thermometer — Yes, it’s just a food thermometer, but you can never go wrong with All Clad, right?
  • Scale — Bingo. A practical gift, with a high tech touch. (Plus, who doesn’t need a scale in the kitchen?)

I know what some of you may be thinking, “What about a cookbook?”.  My friends, worry no more. I’ve got you covered:

Perhaps you’re giving to someone who’s less of a “things-person” and more of an “experience-person”, which I totally get! There are a lot of options for these people, too.

Look for cooking classes in your area for the two of you to take together, or for them to take alone or with someone else. Are they adventurous? Maybe a foraging excursion is more their speed. Learn, alongside an expert, about the edible ingredients found in nature around you (+10 points if it’s a mushroom tour because that’s DOPE).

Or maybe they’re the kind of person that just wants to hang out and be together. Why not get all the ingredients you need to tag team a meal, and a few bottles of wine, obviously. Even plan an outing where you go to the Farmer’s Market together and gather everything you need, while simultaneously sampling your community’s best ciders and spiced donuts.

Want to gift all your kitchen-dwelling friends at once? What if you invited them all over for a night of enjoying company and YOUR cooking? All they’re required to do is kick back and snack. Sounds like the makings of a special evening to me.


Hopefully this makes your holiday hunt for the Home Chefs (or Chef Chefs!) in your life a little less stressful, or gave you some ideas of your own! I’ve got more headed your way in the coming weeks.

Happy Holidays!

Where you should go during Dine Around Seattle [Fall 2016]

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If you’re anything like me, then you’re doing a real bang-up job of counterbalancing your election stress with delicious meals, snacks, and cocktails. And what better way enable yourself do that than by visiting and supporting local restaurants.
Enter: Dine Around Seattle. The bi-annual celebration of local food, chefs, and seasonal dishes from around The Emerald City. I’ve taken some time to break down the list and have determined what my top picks are and what I’d order if I had the opportunity to visit them all. Check it out below!
Key: (L) – Lunch, (D) – Dinner

BALLARD
  • Pork Chop and Co (L) (D) –  3 for $33, 1st course is a beverage, I’d order the: mole braised beef cheeks
  • [TOP PICK] Skillet (L) (D) – $3 for $33, Most excited about the: Like, literally everything sounds really flavorful and awesome
  • Bramling Cross (D) – 3 courses $33, Most excited about the: For The Table course
BELLTOWN
  • Local 360 (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: porchetta and the dessert selection
CAPITOL HILL
  • Anchovies & Olives (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: For The Table Course (honestly everything sounds great)
  • [TOP PICK] Poppy (D) – 3 for $44 – I’d order the: Herbed Rabbit Sausage with Glazed Shallots and Tart Cherries and the Braised Pork Shoulder with Vanilla and Pear (…and also everything else wow)
  • [TOP PICK] Rione XIII (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: for the table course and the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe
  • [GOOD DEAL ALERT] The Saint (D) – 3 for $22 – I’d order the: sopa de tortilla and the yuca frita
  • Terra Plata (D) – 3 for $33 – I’d order the: rabbit terrine and the butternut squash cake
  • Skillet (L) (D) – $3 for $33, Most excited about the: [same as Ballard location]
DOWNTOWN
  • Cha:n (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: 5.3 bulgogi and ALL of the desserts
FREMONT
  • Chiso (D) – 3 for $33 – I’d order the: dungeness crab sunomono and the local fish omakase sushi
  • Pomerol (D) – 3 for $33 – I’d order the: pork shoulder steak
KIRKLAND
  • Trellis (L) (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: great choices all around (really doesn’t look like you can go wrong)
PIONEER SQUARE
  • [TOP PICK] Girin (L) (D) – 3 for $44 – I’d order the: grilled babyback ribs and choice of ssam (second course…any of them)
QUEEN ANNE
  • LloydMartin (D) – 3 for $44 – I’d order the: Hamachi crudo, vanilla salt, lemon oil, foie gras and the black truffle risotto, parmesan, truffle (menu changes daily)
  • Toulouse Petit (L) (D) – 3 for $33 – I’d order the: french onion soup and the wild shrimp and housemade andouile
WOODINVILLE
  • Barking Frog (L)(D) – 3 for $44 – Most excited about: the Woodinville wine and the second courses
If you want to learn more about Dine Around Seattle or view the entire list of participating restaurants, click here : http://dinearoundseattle.org/restaurants/
Need to make reservations? Try Open Table http://www.opentable.com/seattle-restaurants or Resy https://resy.com/ (where available)
Get out and get eatin’! If there’s one cause I can get behind, it’s supporting local restaurants.
Cheers!

UPCOMING: Holiday Giving Guides for the Hungry People in Your Life

When I was in high school, scouting out unique holiday gifts was one of my specialties. I could cross the threshold of Target’s big red doors with a mission in mind and be back out in 10 minutes flat, arms full of thoughtful randomities sure to make someone in my friend group (or my mom) shimmy with excitement.

As I’ve gotten older (and more aware of expectation and whose taste is what) it turns out that gift hunting has lost a little bit of it’s sparkle. It’s not quite the exciting quest that it used to be, in fact, I think we can all agree that sometimes it can get a little frustrating. There have been desperate moments when I’ve walked into, what I’ve deemed is, the last store of my sad attempt to find a gift for someone and have picked something up, sighed as I settled on something mediocre, and felt guilty that I didn’t start shopping in September like I meant to.

And let me tell you something else, there’s truly nothing like quickly, softly whispering, “There’s a gift receipt in there if you don’t like it,” to really get someone excited for what awaits them in your haphazardly wrapped package. My favorite part is the hyperbolized excitement they show afterwards to prove how stoked they are for the thing you have ~blessed them~ with.

For those of you also feeling overwhelmed, clueless, like you’re blindly combing the shelves at the Very Posh Store That You’ve Always Meant to Go Into for the perfect something…these upcoming seasonal gift guides are for you. Of course, it’d be worth mentioning that these are for the people who hold my same interests near and dear to their hearts. Those interests, of course, are the consumable kind: food, cocktails, coffee, restaurants, cooking, recipes, kitchen supplies (ok, less consumable), etc. I’ll be listing them all!

Another thing that’s happened since I’ve gotten older is that I’d rather receive an experience, like an outing or a trip, than a thing (unless that thing is a mandolin slicer because SHE is currently burning a hole in my Amazon wishlist). That means I will not only be sharing my ideas for things you can buy for someone, but also things that you can do together.

The holidays shouldn’t be all about gifts, but I hope the ones you do give are received graciously and produce imminent hunger pangs.

Be on the look out for the first one next week!

PS: Throughout the holidays I’ll be posting some of my recommendations for where to eat and drink around The Emerald City as well. Stay tuned!

Carne Asa-duh

It should come no surprise to anyone that last night (without hesitation) I traveled nearly 20 miles in search of (what I hoped would be) The Greatest Carne Asada at a place I heard about through the grapevine (on Seattle Eater).

Admittedly I spent most of the drive frantically trying to capture a VERY elusive Eevie (Pokemon Go has  made it into this blog post and I’m so sorry about it (no I’m not)), but when we parallel parked next to a mostly abandoned strip mall (after getting lost because we drove past it first) I knew we were EXACTLY where we needed to be.

Hot Tip for finding hole-in-the-wall restaurants: You’re more likely to find an actual hole in the wall than to locate the restaurant on your first try.

The parking lot was PACKED. We recognized the logo painted on the window from their website as we eagerly pushed the door to go inside. Upon walking into the small, one room restaurant we discovered that every table was full. The air smelled like smoke (from a grill, not an ashtray) and meats and I immediately began to salivate. After waiting for a few minutes (and then accidentally sitting down at the wrong table, revealing our newbie status) we finally settled into a table against the back wall.

From the way we were looking at the menus set in front of us, you’d think we were reading letters informing us that we’d won the PowerBall (as if we’d found the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin but, you know,  instead of gold it would be filled entirely with mesquite, grilled meats). FINALLY After much debate we decided on a Rib Eye steak and an order of ribeye tacos, squeezed the limes into our Negra Modelos and awaited our prizes.

While we waited on our meals I admired the plates of everyone else around us: there were giant platters of perfectly cooked meats, papas locas (crazy potatoes!) LOADED with toppings, ramekins of fresh radishes and homemade salsas, and a very tempting bread pudding that was calling. my. NAME. Before I knew it our dishes had been set down in front of us and suddenly it was very clear that there would not be room for dessert on this night.

Let me keep it short and sweet: I’ve had a lot of Carne Asada in my life, and this was the best one so far. The ribeye in the tacos was high quality (USDA Prime in fact!), perfectly cooked (medium rare (THE ONLY CHOICE)), and was complimented best by the house made salsa (served in a bowl on the side), a squeeze of lime,  and a sprinkling of onions, cilantro and radishes. The steak? Served on a pickled cactus leaf and can be described as nothing short of Fit For the Gods. Does that feel too enthusiastic? I’m not worried about it.

My final verdict: Definitely worth the drive to Kent (I’d drive it 10 times in a row just for one more taco). Better news? They are opening in Ballard SOON. They’ve been keeping their Facebook page updated with progress! Check it out.

Oh, and next time? I’m getting the damn bread pudding.

Seattle’s Best Mexican Restaurants – Seattle Eater

Asadero Sinaloa coming to Ballard

Asadero Sinaloa – Facebook

Current Favorites: Food Podcasts

I feel like my ~life mantra~ for my 25th year could be many things, but one possibility is definitely, “so many podcasts, so little time”.  I’m the person who hears about an interesting podcast and recklessly subscribes. This is good because I’m constantly discovering new, awesome podcasts to consume. This is bad because I always have the little red numbers on my iPhone home screen, reminding me of all the OTHER podcasts that I’m currently neglecting. I’m like a hoarder.

(For example, RIGHT NOW IT SAYS 35)

Recently I’ve been exploring podcasts of more tasty nature, and they have been consuming much of my attention span. From learning about the culture, history, and science of food to getting excited about a new restaurant or ingredient to being inspired to try something exotic…they always leave me feeling excited to hear more.

I know I’m not the only one. It’s 2016 and we all like podcasts at this point, right? So take my advice and check out some of my favorites. You won’t regret it. (You will, however, be hungry).

gastropod

 

Gastropod – https://gastropod.com/

Listen if you love: Food, science, history, Irish accents

Where to start: https://gastropod.com/everything-old-brew-again/

 

spilledmilk

 

Spilled Milk – http://www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/

Listen if you love:  Comedy, eating, stories, and cooking tips peppered with inappropriate jokes.

Where to start:  http://www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/2016/03/24/episode-220-frozen-pizza/

splendid

 

The Splendid Table – http://www.splendidtable.org/

Listen if you love: Current events surrounding food, food trends, food facts,  history, stories, recipes, etc

Where to start: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/american-public-media/the-splendid-table/e/584-field-goals-44920137

GravyPodcast-small

 

Gravy – https://www.southernfoodways.org/gravy-format/gravy-podcast/

Listen if you love: Southern food, storytelling, and history (specifically a history of the American south).

Where to start: https://www.southernfoodways.org/gravy/mexican-ish-how-arkansas-came-to-love-cheese-dip-gravy-ep-32/

eatthis

 

Eat This Podcasthttp://www.eatthispodcast.com/

Listen if you love: food, travel, food news, kitchen tips

Where to start: http://www.eatthispodcast.com/it-is-ok-to-eat-quinoa/

 

Also try: KCRW’s Good Food, Burnt Toast, and Radio Cherry Bombe

Each of these podcasts puts a different spin on being a “food podcast”,  and if you’re looking for something different to listen to I’d definitely recommend giving them a listen, or taking a leap of faith and doing a blind subscribe. Many of them even come with a newsletter and all are available in your local app store or podcast app.

 

 

X Marks the Spot | Trove, Seattle

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Trove | Seattle

The first time I saw the big, red X was on the day that my office moved from Fremont to Capitol Hill. It hung proudly on a Pike Street facing wall next to several giant, almost floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun poured inside and I could see a sleek, white counter facing an open kitchen, something that looked like an ice cream truck in the corner and a menu boasting various dishes whose ingredients triggered my curiosity. “Trove?”I read out loud from the sign. What was this place?

After a few weeks of being in our new digs, rumblings about the restaurant could be heard in my office. “There’s Korean BBQ in the back,” someone said excitedly. “AND they sell parfaits!” I didn’t know what Korean BBQ was yet, but I did know that I had to go.


What you need to know
Trove is broken down into three* main parts:

  1. The Counter
    Asian-fusion will never have tasted so good as when you watch it being cooked over a giant flame. The air is thick with aromas that hold promises of imminent umami-bombs, and the menu items change regularly. Believe me when I say that you’re going to want to try the sauces that you’re offered by the chef.

    trove

    Trove | Noodle Bar


  2. The BBQ
    While this isn’t your hole-in-the-wall Korean BBQ joint, it sure does make a strong case for itself. The quality of the meats at Trove is evident from the get-go, and the chefs are happy to cook them for you if you’re feeling a little timid about your tong technique. I’d recommend trying a variety of things from different areas of the menu. Our server (who was fantastic, BTW) was happy to help us in our selection of items, and gave us an honest opinion about how much food would be the right amount of food. He was dead on.

    BBQ

    Trove | Korean BBQ

  1. The Parfaits I have had the parfaits at Trove more than I have had anything else. I will say this: if you don’t have a sweet tooth, these might not be for you. If this is the case please go inside and get yourself a sake. However if you fall into the Sweet Tooth category I’d recommend following your heart and trying as many as you can while the flavors last. They change them every season and I’ve hardly ever been unimpressed. Bonus: If you bring back the branded glass jar that they serve your parfait in you can get a dollar off your next one! (As if I needed more motivation to go back…)

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    Trove | Parfait


Still need convincing?

Here’s 10 Reasons You Should Go to Trove This Summer

1. Who doesn’t like to grill on the dinner table? It’s like the adult-friendly version of playing with your food

2. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S WAGYU TRI-TIPS. Honestly, they marbeled to perfection

3. The parfaits alone give you at least ~6 reasons to stop by. I tried the cookies and cream with homemade Oreo last weekend, and I had a taste of the Tea Lime Pie (with Matcha custard). Both were divine and I NEED to go back from the peanut butter cup…and the other Matcha one.

4. NOOOODLES. While the noodle bar’s menu changes pretty frequently, I’ve always enjoyed a savory, flavorful, and satisfying meal there.

5. AGAIN WITH THE PEA VINES. They had smoked cashews on them and a hint of a vinegar taste. A perfect side dish to our meat selection (My other favorites so far this season were at Ma’Ono)

6. THERE IS A  ALSO BAR. There’s an  international beer list, a great sake/shochu selection, unique cocktails (of which I want to try MANY), and six beer taps pouring cold, local beer. Happy hour from 4-6!

7. Because there’s not only meat to love, but also veggies dishes. The asparagus and mushroom entree was SO flavorful. Please eat as much of the sauce as possible.

8. Impress your date (or your crew) with a beautiful Asian fusion restaurant on capitol hill

9. Because a Netflix binge of 90’s movies is 300 times better with to-go noodles from their counter (pro tip: favorites right now are the rice cake/curry/kale, the Pad thai/ chipotle/pork belly/yu choy/chili peanuts, and the kimchi pork dumplings)

10. Because, truly, you’ve got to see what all the fuss is about:

Other restaurants in the Trove family include Revel and Joule. I could go on and on about both of them, but I’ll save that for another day.


Please feel free to send any hot tips my way, whether it be a hole-in-the-wall or a trendy place that lives up to the hype (in Seattle, OR ANYWHERE ELSE). Key items I look for on menus often include: Shrimp and Grits, Manhattans, Burgers with Creative Toppings, and Complimentary Baskets of Warm, Salted Tortilla Chips.

Follow me on instagram or snapchat to keep up with my never ending snack journey in real time!

instagram: @lacunningham  —  snapchat: lacunningha

Seattle Eats | Spring 2016

I’ve heard a million times that you should “put your money where your mouth is.” So, I do. I eat.

I spend a lot of my free time keeping up to date on Seattle’s restaurant openings and closings, which chef is doing what, what new food trend is on the horizon (still not sure WHAT in the hell Poke’ is, but I’ll be finding out soon). I have an ever-growing list of restaurants that I religiously meal-plan my weekends (and happy hours) around. If you’re curious, there are currently around 200 items on it.

“But, what can I do with all of this knowledge,” I said to myself in the shower three months ago. And then it hit me.

BAM. Bingo. Make like a 20-something in 2016 and blog about it. So without further adieu, let’s get this party started.

5 cool places I’ve been this spring

1. Stateside – Brunch
I’ve enjoyed an abundance of cocktails served in coconuts at Stateside, but until last weekend I had never had their brunch. Turns out, Stateside’s brunch selections are some of the most interesting, exciting, and delicious that I’ve tried in Seattle.

We ordered:

  • Vietnamese Iced Coffee and Crispy Sticky Rice Finger Sandwiches to start (the filling in the sandwiches is a FLAVORFUL chili/cumin pork that will change your life. There is also a tofu option.)
  • Hong Kong Style Charcoal Waffle (You CAN choose not to top it with coconut ice cream. This is the wrong choice.)
  • Open Faced Golden Brown Omelette (I chose the shrimp/chili/lemongrass/crab paste omelette per the server’s recommendation and I’m SO happy I did.)

2. Meet the Moon – Lunch/Dinner
Meet the Moon has really everything I require for optimal Spring/Summer dining: nearby waterfront views, sunshine and fresh air steaming in through the open garage doors, a well written and diverse cocktail list that makes me feel immediately more thirsty after glancing at it, and finally TASTY. BURGERS. Meet the Moon is a fairly new addition to Seattle and is located in Leschi (my new favorite Seattle neighborhood). I’ll definitely be going back.

Check out if you’re a fan of:

3. Dino’s Tomato Pie – Pizza
If you know me at all, then you know I am always on the hunt for Seattle’s best slices. While there are a lot of contenders for my Top 3, Dino’s slid right to the top with little-to-no convincing at all. From the first time I walked past it’s new, aromatic, perfectly decorated space on Capitol Hill I knew I was in love. They’ve got brick oven pizzas (pro tip: the square and circle pies are vastly different, so try both), Negronis on tap and they JUST started offering delivery. GET. THERE.

If what I’ve said about Dino’s doesn’t sell you immediately, then the website sure will

4. Ma’ono – Asian Fusion
Do’s and Don’ts of going to Ma’Ono

  • DO: Go on a week night. A reservation can’t hurt, but isn’t required. (But then again there is weekend brunch…)
  • DON’T: Skip the fried chicken (unless you dont eat meat, but there are plenty of A+ veggie options, such as the PEA VINES)
  • DO: Skip the Mac’N’Kimcheese. It’s flavor didn’t live up to my expectations, and there are many other side dishes/apps that hold more promise.
  • DON’T: Ignore the Whiskey List. It’s extensive and impressive. (Or the dessert list, for that matter)
  • DO: Make the drive to West Seattle. It’s MORE than worth it.

5. Marjorie – Dinner / Date
I can say, with conviction, that Marjorie was one of the best Seattle Restaurant experiences I’ve had since moving there. The space is charming, the food is delicious and the ambiance is warm, friendly and inviting. I went with my boyfriend and we tried something from every course listed in the menu. Based on the nature of this review, it should come as no surprise that it was all delicious. I’m not even going to tell you what we got, because I think it’s all worth trying. (We’ll BOTH be upset if you don’t start with the Plantain Chips, though)

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Please feel free to send any hot tips my way, whether it be a hole-in-the-wall or a trendy place that lives up to the hype (in Seattle, OR ANYWHERE ELSE). Key items I look for on menus often include: cheddar biscuits, buttermilk biscuits, southern biscuits, and bourbon. (Just kidding).

Follow me on instagram or snapchat to keep up with my never ending snack journey in real time!

instagram: @lacunningham  —  snapchat: lacunningha

 

Golden // May Playlist

On Saturday afternoon I made a visit to the local beach with my boyfriend. We spotted a large, driftwood log overlooking the Puget Sound and made it our perch while we watched the waves bob against the backdrop of the Olympic mountains. The air was rich with the ocean’s salty aroma, and the sunlight couldn’t have been more golden. It felt like the early onset of summer—a new season. Not just for Seattle, but for me too. I feel like I’m entering a new phase of my life and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.  A phase of exploring new interests, honing new skills and meeting new people. I’m not sure what it will bring yet, but—like a summer sunset—I’m eager to watch it unfold.

 

A Note on Trip Planning

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Voluntary or not, planning a trip starts the moment that you let your wanderlust take over for even a second. You begin to imagine the types of places you want to go, the things you’ll do, the experiences you’ll have, what you’ll eat. You begin to plot out the sites that you couldn’t live without missing, and how your very Instagrammable AirBNB would sit in the perfect spot. Suddenly you start to notice hints of your dream destination everywhere; it invades your thoughts, your dreams, and your conversations. Until one day everything changes…because after months of dreaming and hoping you’ve FINALLY gotten your ticket.

At least, that’s how it went for me. Two years ago Tokyo was barely on my radar. It was just a city that I saw in photos and on TV shows. It was the birthplace of a style we’d learned about in Intro to Fashion called Harajuku; it was the setting of many magical Miyazaki films that I’d watched with wide eyes. Until I moved to the West Coast, traveling to Asia didn’t even seem like a moderate reality. You see, living in the Southeast meant that Europe was a convenient travel destination—it felt accessible, airline tickets were more reasonable, the time difference was manageable. Even closer than that was Mexico, but Asia? That shit felt far. Too far.

A couple of months after I moved to Seattle two of my coworkers went to Japan for a month. They returned with stories that sounded made up, fantastical souvenirs, and many tasty candies. It was then that I began to feel thirsty for Asia. I started to see bits and pieces of Japanese culture everywhere. Slowly (and hungrily) I began to familiarize myself with different kinds of Japanese cuisine in Seattle; I made friends with people who had been there before and were under the “I love Japan” spell that I’d grown accustomed to hearing about. My Netflix queue gradually went from Kimmy Schmidt and Planet Earth to Anthony Bourdain and Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and my Amazon wish list? …I’m sure you can imagine. Exactly a year from my friends’ return I exited the tab where I’d just finished watching Lost in Translation, got on Kayak and booked a flight for six months later.

(Maybe it was the sparkling, panoramic shots of Tokyo at night that tantalized me, or maybe it was ScarJo. The jury’s still out).


Choosing a destination for travel is only the first step in planning your trip. The next step, in my opinion, is identifying why you want to go there. What’s driving you to go to this new place? Is it the historic sites? The culture? The serene beaches? The pancakes? Identifying the reasons you want to go somewhere new will help you shape your itinerary for a supremely custom travel experience. It will be more memorable and enjoyable for you than one that simply covers the bases of that new place (especially if, frankly, you just can’t be bothered to care about some of those bases).

As many of you know, I get more excited about food than I do about most things. The opportunity to try new foods using cooking methods that have been honed for many generations, feeling it’s cultural and historical significance, it’s so life-giving to me. It’s why I’m going to Japan. I may miss some of the statues and the temples, but I certainly won’t miss Chanko Nabe in Ryogoku or “Ramen Street” in Tokyo Station.

Pro tip: An important question to ask yourself is, “When I get back, I will regret if I miss…” what? Answer that question for yourself before you leave so you know that you’re prioritizing all the things you really care about.

Once you’ve determined the WHY of your trip the rest of the planning should come fairly easy. If you’re finding it hard to come up with ideas, do some research. I think travel blogs are a really reliable resource. Take inspiration from some of the adventures the bloggers had, things they ate…but don’t be afraid to  follow their lead and seek out some of your own travel secrets. Also, check out Youtube for video travel diaries and insider information.

One of my favorite travel blogs, Cup of Couple,  just went to Japan, check out a video from their trip below:

IMPORTANT: As much as I preach about curating my own travel experience, I have a pile of books in my room that I’ve been pouring over for the last few months. Not only do they offer insight into things to do, but some also include cultural information and maps. V HELPFUL.

Some of my favorite Japan resources:

*Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who know a lot about what you’re interested in (Authors, Restaurant Owners, Etc). They can often offer up the most unique, fearless travel advice.


Traveling to a new place doesn’t have to be a checklist of obligations and tourist traps.  Make your trip memorable by making it your own, and even making it up a little as you go. A little spontaneity never hurt anyone—only made things more exciting.

One week left until take off!

Sayonara

(I’ve been practicing)