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

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.

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    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.

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    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)

5 cool places map-01


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

 

Saturday

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Saturday mornings are great, but there is a particular kind of Saturday morning that stands above all the rest for me.

That kind of Saturday begins by waking up gradually and not to the dreaded, repetitive tones of your cell phone’s alarm clock app. Lazily you toss and turn, take your morning dose of social media, and once you feel like your blankets have agreed to set you free you casually make your way to the kitchen.

Within mere minutes the aromas of hot, fresh coffee and over-medium eggs have replaced the morning’s breath (much different than morning breath). It’s quiet, other than your playlist, and you’re able to live slowly. You plan your day — or not — and you’re able to peacefully breathe for a minute, free from the stress off the past week’s responsibilities.

That’s the kind of Saturday morning I’ve had so far and I’m probably enjoying it too much. I have little to no plans of changing out of this baggy sweater any time soon, and there’s probably a second french press in my future (shout out to Caffe Vita for beans that are giving me life).

These are the jams that are on my Saturday playlist today. What kind of Saturday is revitalizing to you?

Block Party playlist | Music Monday

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As I’m sure we’re all well aware, judging by the exponentially high rate of flower crowns on our Instagram feeds or what have you: festival season is very much upon us. In the past I’ve been to Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza; in the future I have Coachella dreams; but this summer I’m THRILLED to be experiencing my very first Capitol Hill Block Party (CHBP)  in Seattle (and Squamish Valley festival in Canada…but that’s a story for another day).

CHBP is a festival that takes over part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in late July for a weekend of music, street food and general debauchery. More acts were released for the lineup this week, and I couldn’t help myself but to make a playlist to get amped.

In combination with the unnecessary amount of “justified festival purchases” i’ve been making at the thrift store I think I’m on the way to being ready for a summer full of music.

What festivals are you going to this summer?
 

CHBO

 

To learn more about Capitol Hill Block Party, click here

 

Cinco de Mayo-rgaritas | Seattle Map

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It’s been awhile since I’ve made a map for you guys, and I figured Cinco de Mayo was as good an excuse as any! There are some great margaritas around Seattle, and these are some of my favorite right now.

Have good time, but don’t drink so much that you want tequila self.

…..

It’s late.

Speak to you soon!

x

Silver Lining | Personal Style

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Photos by Eric Tra

Ever since turning 24 in February I’ve been rewriting my life mantras. I’ve been learning a lot about myself and establishing what matters most to me in this world then separating those from what I think might be toxic. For example:

Things that are toxic: Neglecting to purchase something that you’re personally drawn to because you think other people won’t respond to them the same way you do. I struggled with this for a long time. I was constantly asking myself “What if people think I look weird?” and then hesitantly putting that pair of metallic harem pants back on the rack.

Things that are not toxic: Allowing yourself to buy whatever the hell you want because you’re an independent person who doesn’t just follow trends, but instead sets them. Trends like METALLIC SILVER PLATFORMED SHOES.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced love at first sight in the way that I did when I sleepily stumbled across these babies on Shopbop one night around my birthday.

I’d been feeling very blasé about many of the styles I’d been scrolling through, but these oxfords by Opening Ceremony could not have made me feel any more alive. I was in love. I constantly admired and talked about them for two weeks before my friends got tired of hearing me obsess over them and urged me to buy them…so I did.

They’re grungy. They’re minimal. They’re shiny. They’re PERFECT. One small step for my closet, one giant step for me serving Xenon: Girl of the 21st Century realness.


New Life Mantra #2: Do you. Wear whatever you want because YOU like it. Be fearless. Feel flawless.

Buying these shoes wasn’t just a sporadic chasse into my spring wardrobe, but a step deeper into my identity. Every time I wear them I feel fiercely confident and undeniably myself. Who cares if people like them or not? They aren’t wearing the shoes – I am.

Speak to you soon!

x

Consume | Austin•TX (Food + Drinks Want-To-Do List)

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If I let my mind wander to Austin it skips the plane ride completely and instead takes a shortcut right through my insatiable appetite for all things Tex-Mex. I imagine the types of Taco-centric lunches I’d indulge in; what kind of spicy mimosa I might stumble across on a brunch menu; and how long my eyes would be closed during my first bite of Texas BBQ.

Eating and trying new things is a part of traveling that really deepens the experience, and while I’ve never been to Austin before you better believe that I have a list that I’ve started compiling for when I get the chance to go. It covers all the bases from morning to night and even a little snacking in between. Check it out:

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And after all that I’m just here at a coffee bar eating a cold chocolate pastry and dreaming of doughnuts…

If you have any suggestions for Austin please let me know in a comment or email!

Speak to you soon,

x

By & By | Monday Playlist

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Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.

Carol Bishop Hipps

 

Monday playlist day! Favorites are Broods, Grace Mitchell, Rayland Baxter and Yumi Zouma. Check it!

Speak to you soon!

x