I grew up loving everything they put in front of me. There’s not a lot that I don’t like. I like good ethnic food. I like comfort food, too. It’s a big variety.[Editor's note: Bloem's comments compiled from an interview transcription, and lightly edited for length]
I took three people with me [to Satay Bistro] and we tried several things. I had the chicken dish. And the filet mignon is well known at that restaurant, so we had that, too. And my daughter had the sea bass. So we had a great variety.
We all had a chance to taste each dish, and all three were fabulous. There’s a sauce they’re making [a smoked tomato vinaigrette], it was on the chicken dish and on the sea bass dish. The flavor was spectacular. It was THE best chicken dish I’ve ever had. It was tremendous. I liked it because it was very unusual in flavor. It really was spectacular.
The ambience in Satay is very pleasant. The way it’s put together, it’s a very special place. Our service was top-notch, and it has been when I’ve been there before. They have a really nice wine list, and their own wine cellar. They do some things that just add a lot of flavor to the experience. They serve a small loaf of bread fresh out of the oven, warm, with butter and fresh dill all over it. That can be a meal in itself. It’s a very special place to go.
I think this opportunity offered during these couple of weeks gets people excited, gets people out to these restaurants to see different places. I talked to a friend of mine, and they’d already been out four times and were going for a fifth time this Saturday. Satay was full the night we were there. It brings the Coeur d’Alene, Liberty Lake and Spokane communities together, and that’s not always easy to do. This shows you can be very successful doing that.
This past Saturday, my wife Amber and I went to Wild Sage for dinner with our friends as part of Inlander Restaurant Week. It was, to say the least, an outstanding dining experience.
We each chose from the prix fixe menu and began with a flight of red wine. Among the four of us, one chose the steelhead and clam chowder, one the wild sage salad, and two of us selected the crisp bacon and blue salad. We were all very happy with our selections. They were very well presented, sized appropriately and delicious.
For the main course, two of us selected the steelhead; the other two chose the Korean-style pork shank. I am particularly fond of pork shank and found Wild Sage’s to be exceptional. The steelhead was also well prepared and served on the plank it was cooked on. The waiter, who was excellent, made a point, in a humorous way, of telling us the plank, although it looked inviting, probably would not taste very good. We sampled all three of the desserts — coconut cream cake, vanilla crème brulee and chocolate pot de crème. The coconut cream cake with its lillikoi (Hawaiian passion fruit) sauce was incredible.
I’ve had the opportunity since I was young to experience a wide variety of foods at home and in restaurants in New York and other large cities. As an adult, I have had the good fortune to travel throughout the world, particularly during my time with the U.S. State Department. Despite having a one-year-old, Amber and I have had the opportunity to eat at many of Spokane’s restaurants; we thoroughly enjoyed Wild Sage and would put it at the top end of the list.
Restaurant Week is a great idea. It’s an opportunity to show off our great and growing selection of restaurants, as well as to encourage folks to enjoy good company and outstanding meals. Wild Sage will be just one of the restaurants Amber, Ava and I visit this week.
As a kid, ribs were my favorite food. No kidding. I loved them all: beef ribs, pork ribs, but most of all, lamb ribs. My parents raised sheep, and the lamb we ate was our own. Today, I’m extremely health conscious. I try to eat nine cups of vegetables or fruits per day, so I drink a lot of smoothies and eat a lot of salads. I have multiple sclerosis and am controlling it not only with medication, but with diet and exercise. I’ve lost a lot of weight and feel more fit than I have in years.
I went to dinner at Central Food with my husband, the handsome, brilliant hunk, Simeon (Sam) Mills. I stuck to the vegetarian menu, while Sam eyeballed all things meat-and-potatoes. I was glad for this, because then I could sneak bites of his meal, too.
I was delighted to find that most of the items on the vegetarian menu were vegan. Right on! Usually I have to tweak an order to render it dairy-free, but I didn’t have to do that in the slightest here. I almost felt like the meal was designed for me personally.
Sam and I have been blown away by Central Food for a couple of years now — the Kendall Yards location can’t be beat. We were given a table alongside the row of windows facing south, and despite the inky, cloudy night, the view was as tantalizing as ever. My eyes kept returning to the river, where it lay twitching and curling and slithering darkly westward, a muscular, glittering serpent. There is a lot of power in that river, and it’s a feast of its own to witness.
I ordered the Sriracha baked cauliflower, the broccoli spinach bowl and the rhubarb sorbet. The first two choices were easy: I salivate over anything drenched in Sriracha, and the spinach bowl promised fresh carrots, beets and sunflower seeds in a gingery sauce. Say the word “ginger,” and I’m there.
Sam ordered the mushroom mousse terrine, the Woods Ranch beef cheek Bourguignon and the pineapple upside-down cake. Sam loves mushrooms and eggs, and while he wasn’t sure what Bourguignon was, I promised him the meat would be tender beyond belief. That was enough. He also ordered a Jam Session IPA, from local brewery 12 String.
My Sriracha-baked cauliflower was the star of my evening, with a depth of flavor that kept expanding in my mouth long after I had swallowed. Sam’s appetizer, the terrine, was equally delicious, a heavenly texture of poached egg and mushroom mousse that Sam said he wanted to eat for breakfast every day of his life.
My second course was as fresh and colorful as I’d hoped, with the beets and carrots carved into whimsical, graceful curlicues in my bowl. Sam and I both loved his second course: The beef cheeks sent us back to childhood, where he recalled a similar dish from his mom (an excellent cook, herself), and I was reminded of my Grandma Kay’s melt-in-your-mouth roasts, meat so succulent and tender that the knife becomes completely superfluous. This, to me, is such a beautiful aspect of food — the nostalgia it can introduce, the long-dormant memories it can rouse and refresh. It not only sparks memories but also conversation, inviting intimacy and affection. The ability to bring people together through taste alone is a sign of a great chef — and a great restaurant. Chef David Blaine and Central Food do this for us over and over again.
I loved the unexpected freshness and sweetness of the rhubarb sorbet; I also broke my no-dairy rule to enjoy some of Sam’s pineapple-tinged ice cream, which was so delicious that I laughed out loud. I hadn’t had ice cream in a long time, and I’d forgotten how frickin’ good it could taste.
As we finished our meal, Sam and I spoke of how happy we are to live in Spokane. Out in the dark night, the cathedral towers of Our Lady of Lourdes shone with a light that reminded me of the lit-up architecture in Europe. We might as well have been sitting on the banks of the Guadalquivir in Spain. Spokane has become its own lovely city of light, and Central Food is one of its gems.
The way he sees it, genetic modification isn’t the sole answer to the world’s food problems, but it’s an important tool. Sometimes the right one, sometimes not.Read the rest of our cover story on the science behind — and controversy surrounding — GMOs here.
Carter speaks with an even tone even when recounting the hostile comments routinely directed at the company.
“It is a point of frustration that sound bites and attention spans are very short,” he says. “But that’s the reality, right?”
The company faced a new round of disapproving attention last year when the USDA opened the comment period on the Arctic apple application. Even the U.S. Apple Association voiced opposition, writing that the non-browning trait was “insufficient to warrant introduction into and possible disruption of the consumer marketplace.”
Carter says the industry so far has done “just a really bad job” communicating with consumers. The company actively engages with angry commenters on Facebook with a firm, cheerful tone, and invites critics to look at the trove of documentation posted online.
Despite the hostility, Carter is confident that consumers can and want to understand the science. He trusts that people who look into it sincerely will come to believe the assurances he’s repeated many times.
“They’re as safe as any apple,” he says. “They just don’t turn brown.”
Let the countdown begin: the third annual Inlander Restaurant Week is about five weeks away, starting on Friday, Feb. 20, and running for 10 days through Sunday, March 1. Creative menu concocting is underway, and the offices of Visit Spokane and the Inlander have been abuzz of late with preparations for the fast-approaching event.
For its third inception, the basic format is the same as diners should remember from the past two years. Culinary teams at participating restaurants from the Inland Northwest's hugely diverse dining scene put together a menu of three-courses especially for Restaurant Week. Depending on the restaurant, that three-course meal is offered at a fixed price — or, in French, prix fixe — of $18 or $28 per person. Restaurants featured range from casual pubs to fine dining establishments, and many restaurants pair their courses with local libations, too.
Menus for the more than 90 (so far) participating restaurants in Restaurant Week 2015 are to be released online on Jan. 29, two weeks from this Thursday. Then, watch for the official Restaurant Week guide, inserted in the Feb. 19 issue of the Inlander, along with all our editorial coverage previewing the event. (Check out last year's RW features to whet your palate.)
For its third inception, Restaurant Week has grown immensely from what it sought to be in its inaugural year, when 53 restaurants in just the Spokane area participated. In 2014, that number grew to 74, and we expanded the event across the border to North Idaho.
For the third year, roughly 40 percent of restaurants participating are new to Restaurant Week, including many establishments that have debuted since last March.
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