Monday, March 2, 2015

Alton Brown ate his way around Spokane this weekend

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 3:55 PM


Social media was abuzz yesterday with the hashtag #ABRoadEatsSpokane as chef and Food Network personality Alton Brown made his way around Spokane, sampling local offerings from coffee to waffles and banh mi sandwiches.

Brown tweeted, Facebook-ed and Instagram-ed his Spokane eating experiences, stopping at Coeur Coffeehouse, The Scoop, Indaba Coffee and Stella's Cafe before heading to the INB Performing Arts Center for his Alton Brown Live! show that evening.

Indaba manager Evan Lovell wasn't working yesterday morning, but his coworkers tell him Brown ordered a traditional flat white around 10 am.

"He was glad it was a real flat white," Lovell says, adding that some coffee connoisseurs — Brown posts online often about his love of coffee — disagree on the true characteristics of the drink, made from espresso and steamed milk.

After his coffee stop, Brown headed up to The Scoop on the South Hill for breakfast. Scoop owner Jennifer Davis — a huge fan of Brown's work — was doubtful he'd make it to her ice creamery and cafe, but says she planned to be there all day just in case.

"I was just like, you know, this is kind of the place [he'd like]; we have different food, we're off the beaten path and so he could probably check us out."

Shortly after learning of Brown's stop at Indaba, Davis says a woman stopped in to ask if they served breakfast, to which Davis replied that the Scoop is locally known for its liege waffles. She adds, "then I looked out the window and there he was!"

Brown signed Kyle Bowlby's (his nickname is "Chef Freak") cutting board and spoon since the Wandering Table sous chef couldn't attend the show last night.
  • Brown signed Kyle Bowlby's (his nickname is "Chef Freak") cutting board and spoon since the Wandering Table sous chef couldn't attend the show last night.

Lucky for Brown and his crew of two, Davis says foot traffic at the cafe was unusually slow that morning, and as such they were able to enjoy the Scoop's bacon nut, breakfast and minimalist waffles in relative peace.
"He took a super awesome Instagram picture and was able to take pictures of everything for Facebook and was asking about the neighborhood," Davis says.

Later that day, Brown showed off two mouthwatering sandwiches from Stella's Cafe — a classic banh mi and roast beef with provolone, kale and hot peppers.

At some point earlier, Brown also hit up Coeur Coffee just north of the Monroe Street Bridge for an Americano.

To end the day's eating, Brown ordered a long list of items from the Wandering Table in Kendall Yards, and had the food delivered because after his show ended around 9 pm, the restaurant was getting ready to close. Sous Chef Kyle Bowlby says a courier picked up an order of the restaurant's roasted brussels sprouts, crispy cauliflower, spaghetti stuffed meatballs, gnocchi gratin, bacon-wrapped bacon sliders, roast chicken wings, umami burgers and pepper spiced chips.

Since Bowlby had to work the evening shift and thus missed Brown's show, he asked if the celebrity chef would sign an epicurean cutting board and spoon, which the courier delivered back to the restaurant.  




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Friday, February 27, 2015

Out for Inlander Restaurant Week: Satay with Sandi Bloem

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 11:03 AM

Former Coeur d'Alene mayor Sandi Bloem is a lifelong resident of North Idaho, and says she's enjoyed all kinds of food for as long as she can remember. She dined at Coeur d'Alene's Satay for Inlander Restaurant Week, and shared her thoughts on the experience with us.
Bloem writes: 
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.

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. 
[Editor's note: Bloem's comments compiled from an interview transcription, and lightly edited for length]

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Out for Inlander Restaurant Week 2015: Wild Sage with Frank Straub

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 2:11 PM


Frank Straub is the chief of the Spokane Police Department. A native New Yorker, and a bit of a foodie, he’s been making the restaurant rounds in Spokane since he arrived in 2012. He dined at Wild Sage during Inlander Restaurant Week and shared his thoughts. 

Straub writes: 

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.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

More fave photos from readers and eaters enjoying #INRestWeek 2015

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Inlander Restaurant Week is at the halfway point today, and you still have five days to get to one of the 97 area restaurants involved in 2015.

If you need some information on Inlander Restaurant Week, hit our complete guide online, our coverage in the new issue of the Inlander, and our handy how-to for first-timers. And be sure to help your fellow diners out by letting us know what you think of what you're eating. Hashtag your posts #INRestWeek on Twitter and Instagram, or shoot us some photos directly @TheInlander and @InlanderRW.

Here are some photos and Tweets from happy eaters from last night and the weekend. Stay tuned for more shots through the week: 







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Monday, February 23, 2015

Out for Inlander Restaurant Week 2015: Central Food with Sharma Shields

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 3:28 PM

Sharma Shields is the author of The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac, and the subject of the Inlander cover story of Jan. 22, “Monsters and Demons.” She dined at Central Food on the opening night of Inlander Restaurant Week, Friday, Feb. 20, and shared her impressions with us.

Shields writes: 
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. 

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The eaters have spoken, and photographed: Early favorites from #INRestWeek

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Inlander Restaurant Week got off to a tasty, rousing start over the weekend, and if you weren't able get out to one of the 97 restaurants involved in 2015, you still have a week to get it together. If you need some information on Inlander Restaurant Week, hit our complete guide online, our coverage in the new issue of The Inlander, and our handy how-to for first-timers

When you DO get out there, be sure to help your fellow diners out by letting us know what you think of what you're eating. Hashtag your posts #INRestWeek on Twitter and Instagram, or shoot us some photos directly @TheInlander and @InlanderRW. 

Here are some samples from happy eaters from the weekend. Stay tuned for more shots through the week: 





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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Inlander Restaurant Week: A beginner's guide to navigating the dining event of the year

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 12:25 PM

Venison burger from the Rusty Moose Bar and Grill. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Venison burger from the Rusty Moose Bar and Grill.

Inlander Restaurant Week
kicks off tomorrow, and with such a vast assortment of tremendous delectables available, the task of choosing can be delightfully overwhelming. To remedy this, we’ve compiled a quick and easy how-to for newcomers, as well as some personal recommendations. Inlander Restaurant Week lasts until March 1, so you have 10 days of feasting ahead of you all across Spokane and Coeur d’Alene and points in between. Feel free to consult this handy guide as you eat your way across the Pacific Northwest.

What do I do first?
Well, be hungry. For inspiration, just look over the Restaurant Week menus until something inspires you.

OK, I’m hungry. Now what?
Go to the restaurant! You might want to make a reservation, though that’s not necessarily required. It never hurts to give a call; it might help you avoid any long waits. 

I’m at the restaurant. Is there a special menu?
During Restaurant Week, the selected menus are actually fixed price. This means that each participating restaurant’s 3-course menu is either $18 or $28. This should ease your planning woes pretty quickly.

Now that I know how much this costs, what do I do?
Eat! With three courses — and up to three options for each course — you’ll certainly be well-equipped to battle your hunger.

What if I get hungrier? What if I want more?
That’s the spirit! Some restaurants will offer add-on or upgrade options, and these will be clearly marked on your menu.

Speaking of spirits, I want a drink. Do I need to go to a bar afterwards or can I get a drink right now?
Each restaurant carries local libations, i.e., wine, beer, and — yes — spirits. Drink responsibly and avoid any Wolf of Wall Street tendencies and you’ll be fine.

I’m all done now. Do I just get up and leave?
No! Pay the total and tip generously. Karma is real and it starts at 15 percent — at a minimum. 

OK, I’m leaving the restaurant now. Do I just go to sleep?
You certainly can, but be sure to share your dining experience across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook by using the hashtag #INRestWeek. You can also tweet us at @InlanderRW and @TheInlander, respectively. Also, feel free to repeat this entire experience across all ten days of Inlander Restaurant Week!
New Orleans Prawns from Central Food. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • New Orleans Prawns from Central Food.

Okay, what do you recommend?
We recommend everything, of course, but I’ve outlined a few personal suggestions below. Happy eatings!

Saranac Public House
This vegan-friendly hotspot makes a dynamite roasted butternut squash soup and an unparalleled vegan cannoli.

Twigs Bistro
Their Insalata Mista, a blend of romaine and baby greens with candied walnuts and dried cranberries tossed in a red-wine vinaigrette, is divine.

Fai’s Noodle House
Fai’s offers a variety of authentic Asian entrées, sake and beer. Be sure to try the sweet & spicy edamame and the saké.

Latah Creek Winery will be offering their Latah Creek Wine Flight — a Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Flanc — for just $10.95 at Satay.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars will be offering a glass of their 2010 Sangiovese for $8 at The Melting Pot.
Chocolate Cheesecake from The Wandering Table. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Chocolate Cheesecake from The Wandering Table.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Spokane's Jeremy Hansen is up for a James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Award

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 1:41 PM


It's been almost two years since Spokane chef Jeremy Hansen, owner of Sante, accepted an invitation to cook at the prestigious James Beard House, bringing Northwest Cuisine to the New York institution of fine dining where only the best-of-the-best chefs come to cook.

Now, he's gotten another notice from the folks at James Beard. He's been named as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Award for the Pacific Northwest region. The list of 20 chefs in contention for the award features no other Spokane or Idaho chef and almost every other nominee is from either the Portland or Seattle area.

The prestigious awards — a James Beard recognition is about as high an honor for the nation's restaurant industry as there is — are chosen from a field of about 35,000 nominations, which are then whittled down to the manageable list of semifinalists by a committee of food critics, chefs and others.

Awards are given out at a gala in Chicago on May 4 and you can be guaranteed that Spokane's culinary committee will be hoping that Hansen gets an invite.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

USDA approves non-browning GMO Arctic apples

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 4:00 PM

The Department of Agriculture has approved the first genetically modified apple for planting in the U.S., Bloomberg Business reports. The Arctic apple, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia, doesn't brown when sliced, diced or bruised. Okanagan's founder, Neal Carter, hopes his innovation will encourage people to eat more apples and reduce food waste. 

The Inlander interviewed Carter two years ago for our cover story on GMOs and Washington's failed ballot initiative to require the labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients. Carter emphasized that designing a non-browning apple doesn't mean "putting pesticides into apples or bacteria or anything else." The scientists at Okanagan use a technique called "gene silencing" to suppress the trait in apples that causes enzymatic browning. The process is explained in-depth here.

Here's what Carter said to the Inlander about his project:
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.

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.” 
Read the rest of our cover story on the science behind — and controversy surrounding — GMOs here.
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Start your drooling, the Inlander Restaurant Week menus are now public

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 11:05 AM

Braised Chicken from Durkin's Liquor Bar.
  • Braised Chicken from Durkin's Liquor Bar.

We might still be a few weeks away from the beginning of Inlander Restaurant Week, but it's never too early to start strategizing how you're going to take advantage of Spokane's biggest culinary event of the year. 

Almost 100 restaurants — 97 to be exact — are taking part in the third edition of Restaurant Week, which starts on Feb. 20 and runs through March 1. Yes, we know that's longer than a week. We wanted to make sure there was plenty of time for readers to take full advantage of the special fixed-price, three-course menus available for either $18 or $28. 
Pastrami Duck from the Wandering Table.
  • Pastrami Duck from the Wandering Table.

Cruise through the Restaurant Week website, and you can plan your culinary attack by area of town, or by the type of cuisine or price, and there's an incredibly easy guide to show you how this whole thing works. The most important thing to remember is the need to make a reservation as early as possible, because the restaurants will fill up. But if you do end up having to wait a bit for a table, you can always have a drink from one of many local distilleries, breweries and wineries involved. 
Cuban Pork Sandwich from the Backyard Public House.
  • Cuban Pork Sandwich from the Backyard Public House.

Between now and Feb. 20, study up at the Inlander Restaurant Week site, look for a guide around town, and start building a healthy appetite. You're going to need it. 
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