Noshing in Ballard: Fresh Flours

FreshFoursFresh Flours

5313 Ballard Ave NW
(between Vernon Pl & N 22nd Ave)
Seattle, WA 98107
www.freshfloursseattle.com

Two words: Azuki Croissants. Yes, that’s a sweet red bean paste inside of a croissant. Yes freak’n way! They also have Green Tea Macaroons and Green Tea Muffins and Green Tea Pound Cake. You think that it couldn’t get better than that, but then they go and make a Green Tea AND Azuki Red Bean Pound Cake. Sig loves his “One Percent Sandwich”, which consists of brie, ham and cranberry sauce on a tasty fresh baked french baguette. And oh, did I mention that they also have Green Tea Latte made with matcha!? *sigh* Green tea and Azuki heaven!

Noshing in Ballard: Volterra

VolterraWildBoarBennieVolterra

5411 Ballard Ave. NW
Seattle, WA 98107
206.789.5100
www.volterrarestaurant.com

Volterra is a shining example of what Sig and I like to call “ballard prices;” always a few dollars more than what we think it should cost. Its true for this place, especially for their dinner menu. The big surprise is the breakfast menu. Yeah each plate is $12-15, but you get awesome on a plate! Duck and Yukon Gold Potato Hash, Wild Boar Sausage Benedict (with homemade sausage) or a Challah French Toast topped with something that kinda tastes like banana fosters! Yup, good breakfast here. Try the dinner menu when you want a fancy italian meal for a date night.

Noshing in Ballard: Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen

Kickin' Boot Whiskey Kitchen

Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen

5309 22nd Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
www.kickinboot.com

I hate beef brisket. I always end up with a dry slab of chewy meat, but Kickin’ Boot actually produced a brisket that was half way likeable. If you’re a BBQ snob, don’t go here — you’ll just bitch about how its not good as your mom’s. But if you’re a Yank, hippy or a geeky gal like me that’s pretty picky about BBQ, then give this place a shot. Like most ballard food holes, lunch is cheaper than dinner. If you go dinner try the Smoke Master Platter to figure out what you do and don’t like. Sig usually goes for either the pulled pork or smoke master sandwich, while I dig the small plate of beef brisket minis or the house-smoked wings. Always go for the cornbread because it comes with whiskey injected honey butter.

Noshing in Ballard: La Isla

La Isla

2320 NW Market St.
Seattle, WA
206.789.0516
www.laislaseattle.com

In the days leading up to our vacation in the Caribbean, Sig and I ate a number of dinners during La Isla’s happy hour. Food is flavored in Latin American, Caribbean, Cuban, and of course Puerto Rico with a nod to Italy. Happy hour menu is so well priced you can pretty much order one of everything, get a good taste of what they have to offer, and keep within a reasonable budget. My fave are the Empandillias, which comes in seven different flavors to pick from. Sig likes the Camarones swimming in a garlic coconut sauce. Always order the Medley de Platnaos, because fried bananas and plantains are always good.

Anguilla

Why yes, Anguilla is my next travel location!

Location: 18°13′14″N, 63°4′7″W
English pronunciation: ang-GWILL-ah

Anguilla is a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, one of the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. It consists of the main island of Anguilla itself, approximately 16 miles (26 km) long by 3 miles (5 km) wide at its widest point, together with a number of much smaller islands and cays with no permanent population. The island’s capital is The Valley. The total land area of the territory is about 39 square miles (102 square km) and has a population of approximately 13,500.

Anguilla is a flat, low-lying island of coral and limestone in the Caribbean Sea, east of Puerto Rico. The soil is generally thin and poor, supporting only scrub vegetation. Noted for its spectacular and ecologically important coral reefs; perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Apart from the main island of Anguilla itself, the territory includes a number of other smaller islands and cays, mostly tiny and uninhabited. Some of these are:

  • Anguillita
  • Dog Island
  • Prickly Pear Cays
  • Scrub Island
  • Seal Island
  • Sombrero, also known as Hat Island
  • Sandy Island

Anguilla has a tropical though rather dry climate, moderated by northeast trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. Rainfall is erratic, the wettest months being September and October, and the driest February and March.

During the early morning hours of an average November day in Anguilla, you can expect the temperature will be in the vicinity of 80.8 degrees F.  Natives say that a day in November is very similar to a day in December, only a pinch warmer. Frequent travelers describe the November weather as mild, sunny and warm, without too much of October’s rain or September’s stickiness.

The storms of August, September and October have passed, and the island is slowly and calmly getting ready for the big rush to follow — most Anguilla hotels and villas are opening their hurricane shutters and Restauranteurs, bar owners, and hoteliers all gear up for the high season.

Anguilla Facts:

  • Anguilla is situated around 150 miles east of Puerto Rico and nine miles north of St. Martin. Anguilla is the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean.
  • Number of beaches: 33, but many people will tell you that the Cap Juluca beach in beautiful Maunday’s bay is by far the best on the island.
  • Time Zone: Anguilla Time Standard Time is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-4). Anguilla Time does not operate Daylight-Saving Time.
  • Best time of the year for scuba diving: May through November when the waters are their most calm.
  • The capital of Anguilla is: The Valley – home to approximately 600 residents and the center of government and commerce.
  • Species of birds on the island: Over 130, including the endangered Brown Pelican, Sandpipers, Great Blue Herons and Snowy Egrets
  • Anguilla entry requirements: A valid passport and onward or return ticket are required. A departure tax of US $20 is charged at the airport and US$3 at the ferry port.
  • Currency: The Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) is the official currency, although US dollars are also accepted.

Pouty with Gouty

Lo, a Puffy Big Toe
Such pain I could forgo
Sharp crystals spear me
Sad, no meat it be

Sob! Sniff! Goodbye beer!
Time for a diet, so very austere
Cry! Weep! Ta-tah fine sherries!
Too many black cherries

Few Pills of Colchicine
Ready on the scene
Ick! Bleh. Darn Allopurinol
Makes my tummy turn & toll

I’m so very Pouty with Gouty
Pain wail like a banshee
Mom, dad, & bro do agree
That this is my family legacy

Gout is known since antiquity and historically called “the king of diseases and the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”. Documentation of gout can be found as early as 2,600 BC in Egyptian writings. The Greek physician Hippocrates around 400 BC commented on it in his Aphorisms, noting its absence in eunuchs and premenopausal women.  Aulus Cornelius Celsus (30 AD) described the linkage with alcohol, later onset in women, and associated kidney problems.

So yes, my family breeding has finally gotten hold of me and I have gout. This time around the pain got so bad I had to ask my doctor for Colchicine to reduce the swelling and acute pain in my big toe. I was also put on Allopurinol, but the side effects were so severe I had to stop taking it. This is what I’ve been suffering from this week and a half: it’s a pretty awful pill that causes all sorts of stomach and bowl problems to a select few, including myself.

I’m now on rather strict diet, that’s very similar to the South Beach Diet.  I really can’t drink any more, and I have to work very hard to improve my diet and weight. Once my toe is better, I have to *REALLY* start exercising regularly, something I’m not looking forward to since I find it dull and boaring.

Cherry juice works really well for gout. And I love juicesin general, so we got a heavy duty juicer which can also make flour, nut butters, sorbets and ice creams. Kitchen technology is pretty awesome.

      

Lost in Holiday Season Games: Skyrim and The Old Republic

I must be getting old because there are only two games that really peak my interest for this holiday season.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 11.11.11

There are two things that I want from this game: the familiarity and the extraordinary. In the familiar department, it’s still the world where I can wander about and not feel pressured to do the main quest. In the extraordinary, I’m looking forward to a leveling system that makes me think and care about my character. I also look forward to a fiddly crafting system. I plan to buy another video card so I can really enjoy the stunning visuals and the immersive environment. Beyond that, the character design looks vastly improved over Oblivion’s ugly brigade of races, though other folks tell me they look meaner in previous games. I’m also looking forward to a more diverse voice acting instead of the four from Oblivion. They’ve brought in some of the better elements from Fallout 3, such as the lock pick system. With all these things together in one game, I’ll could easily lose over 100 hours of free time to this game over the coming months.

 

 

Star Wars: The Old Republic – 12.20.11

Family quality time is really important to me, and how Sig and I do that is through games. This is the game we plan on duoing together. Personally, I love the Star Wars universe. I was able to preview parts of this game at PAX, and felt that the combat system and character leveling was stereotypical of an MMO; because of that, it’s probably not going to hold me in the long term. What will hold me to the game is the story. Rather than deal with all the potential negative aspects of an MMO (guild drama, PUGs, coordinating static groups, etc), I’ll probably play the game casually and with my husband. I can’t see myself dedicating more than a few hours a week, but I do see myself enjoying a story in the world I’ve come to love.

 

The Fellowship of the Ring in Concert

Did you know it’s been 10 years since The Fellowship of the Ring was released? The Lord of the Rings In Concert: The Fellowship of the Ring kicks off a three-year celebration during which each of the films will be performed “In Concert”. The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) will tour in 2011, The Two Towers (2002) in 2012, and the grand finale, The Return of the King (2003), in 2013.

Last night Sig and I went to the first concert at the Key Arena. An immense 60-foot screen using an uncompressed high definition source with two 20k lumen projectors played the director’s edition of The Fellowship. The Munich Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Chorale, and Phoenix Boys Choir performed in front just below the screen. For our performance, we also had Maestro Ludwig Wicki, a preeminent conductor of Howard Shore’s Ring music, and world class soprano Kaitlyn Lusk, a talented soloist in The Lord of the Rings Symphony.

Though I love the Fellowship movie, my eyes and ears were more attuned to the stirring live performance of 200-plus musicians on stage. With only subtle differences in vocal resonance and the balance of instruments, the concert presentation of Shore’s score is nearly identical to the original soundtrack. The concert drew my attention to the skill and talent behind this epic score.  A live concert performance that truely attuned my ear to the composition of both concise musical cues and comprehensive sequences.

My favorite piece follows the tragedy of Moria, in “Lothlórien” or the Lament for Gandalf. Kaitlyn Lusk’s crystal soprano voice cuts through the haunting aura of orchestra and chorus – a nearly tear-jerking performance.  I was very disappointed when they didn’t bring out a folk band to play Bilbo’s Birthday Medley. And the young boy singing “In Dreams” felt somewhat strained with the high notes.  I still have a special place for Enya’s rendition of “May it Be,” but Kaitlyn’s supreme performance made my heart swell.

Overall, it was well worth the pricey uncomfortable seats of the Key Arena.  I can’t wait to see the Two Towers in concert next year. Maybe they’ll pick a better venue.

Fil-Am-Pride: apl.de.ap and Charice

I don’t think about my race very much these days because I’m focused on gaming, technology, and geeking out. When I do have to think about my race it’s mostly in the context of my family usually tainted by some bad memories or the fact that I feel discriminated in some way related to the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes. I don’t want to have to think about my race or my cultural background with any negative perspective, so I’ve been trying to fill my life with good things and happy experiences with being Filipino.

Music plays a big part of that appreciation process. Two Filipino performers that I admire for their talent are apl.de.ap (prouned as “APPLE-DEE-AP” aka Allan Pineda Lindo Jr. from the The Black Eyed Peas) and Charice (aka Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco; A Filipina recording artist and actress who rose to popularity through YouTube).

Apl was born to a Filipino mother and an African-American father. His father, a U.S. airman stationed at Clark Air Base, abandoned the family shortly after his birth; his mother raised him and his six younger siblings as a single mother. At age 14 he was adopted by an American family and, as adult grew to fame with will.i.am under the The Black Eyed Peas. Coming from the Philippines to America, his whole goal was to support his family and to have a better living situation. He later went back to help his family in Pampanga.

Charice was born in Laguna, Philippines. After barely escaping her violent father, Charice was raised by her single mother. To help support her family she began to enter singing contests at age seven, from town fiestas in various provinces to singing competitions on TV. She is said to have competed in almost a hundred such contests. It was not until 2007 that she gained worldwide recognition after an avid supporter under the username FalseVoice, started posting a series of her performance videos on YouTube. These videos received over 15 million hits. And, yes she was in the TV show Glee.

By way of Bat Mitzvah: Balkan Beat Box

During a Bat Mitzvah party, they were playing modern Jewish and Israeli pop music. I couldn’t resist searching for different kinds of bands, and found Balkan Beat Box. Balkan Beat Box is an Israeli musical group based in New York. They combine live instruments with near anxious electronica, hip-hop and ragga. I wouldn’t call them “gypsy punk” – they’ve got a sonic model much more global than that. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean tones prevail more frequently with Slavic horns and klezmers, but you can hear the solid foundations of rock and reggae.

Their most recent album was released in 2010 under the title “Blue Eyed Black Boy.” It’s got more hip-hop sounds than their previous albums, but it’s still got old world roots with Berber woodwinds, Gypsy brass, Arab voices, Greek guitars, and Bulgarian chicks.

Balkan Beat Box – Dancing With The Moon

Balkan Beat Box – War Again