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Posts from the ‘eateries’ Category

old haunts, warm memories

31 October 2009


beer-cheese souplike many these days, i’m aspiring to manage my budget as expertly as an Olympic hopeful springing gracefully along a narrow balance beam. clipping coupons to save on basics. strategically grocery shopping at a variety of venues to land the best deals. if i’m vigilant, i can still purchase organic meats and produce from local stores and farmers’ markets. i don’t eat out very often, not only as a measure of prudence, but because i savor the ritual of cooking at home.

that said, i just returned from a trip to Colorado, where neither horrifying holiday nor unseasonal snow storm could deter me from visiting just a few of my favorite eateries. waxing nostalgic, i wanted them to be just as i remembered: great food, great service, within my budget. i can happily report that my old haunts continue to serve simple, mouth-watering meals at reasonable prices. tonight, in the spirit of the holiday, i celebrate Phantom Canyon Brewing Company, in the heart of Colorado Springs.

Phantom Canyon burgerPhantom Canyon’s menu goes well beyond standard pub fare, and i’ve enjoyed some dishes with southwest twists on occasion. but for a juicy, grilled, signature half-pound burger cooked to order (yes, i could actually get it medium-rare), topped with my cheese of choice (if i hadn’t shared the meal with dear Tootie, i would have selected blue cheese) Tootie at Phantom Canyon

and crispy steak fries salted to perfection, Phantom Canyon delivers year after year. Phantom Canyon Root Beeri can’t personally speak to the pub’s handcrafted brews—although i’ve heard accolades—but i can say its in-house root beer hits the bull’s eye.

despite the phenomenal burgers and sparkling root beer, want to know the real reason i’d hang at Phantom Canyon? the smoked gouda and blonde-ale soup. the photo at the top of this post may appear a bit pasty, but the flavor of this soup is anything but. it’s rich and smoky, with a smooth, creamy texture. in bygone days, the pub would serve the beer-cheese creation topped with a few pieces of popcorn to give it a nice, little crunch. guess that tradition fell by the wayside. the soup, however, continues to please my palate. i haven’t made it for quite a while, but i dug out the recipe originally printed in the Colorado Spring Gazette. it’s intended to feed the multitudes, so be sure to cut it back to meet your needs. i remember it’s important to use an ale that’s light bodied and low in bitterness. otherwise, the beer will overshadow the soup.

i miss the mountains and Colorado Springs. i carry the warm memories of both and of Phantom Canyon with me, wherever i go. serve this mellow ale-cheese soup on a chilly Sunday, when the Denver Broncos are playing. they will, undoubtedly, emerge victorious.

Phantom Canyon Smoked Gouda and Blonde-Ale Soup
another gentle reminder to cut the recipe back, as needed


8 cups chicken stock
6 cups Queen’s Blonde Ale
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cups heavy cream
2 pounds Gouda cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of white pepper


  1. in a large pot, combine the stock, beer and potatoes, then bring to a boil.
  2. reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender.
  3. remove from heat, and puree the mixture. (be careful handling the hot liquid; i’ve used either a hand blender or KitchenAid blender.)
  4. return the mixture to the stove and add the cream, salt and pepper.
  5. bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 – 7 minutes.
  6. remove from heat, and add stir in the cheese.
  7. top with a few pieces of popcorn, if you’re so moved.

pure pork: simply divine

5 October 2009


barbecue: it’s personal. controversial. food wars have been fought over it and those who have won, crowned victorious. the bottom line? there really isn’t anything better than a tender, succulent pulled-pork sandwich. at least, not in this scout’s handbook. i can’t say i’ve traveled far and wide in search of the perfect pig sandwich, because that would be a fib. suffice it to say i’ve done Austin. and all parts of North Carolina. and yeah, they have some pretty tasty barbecue. but you don’t have to be south of the Mason-Dixon Line to find the kind of pork that tantalizes the tongue and makes the heart sing. you can be right in downtown Seattle.

the pig

on Monday – Friday, at the southeast corner of 2nd and Pike (hours, weekend locations), you’ll find Maximus-Minimus—a fusion of  the visions of Seattle food entrepreneur Kurt Beecher Dammeier and designer Colin Reedy. this urban-assault pig (i.e., riveted, sci-fi retro, steel-clad pork mobile) serves up a very simple menu of bold flavors, which i recently had the opportunity to try for the first time on a rare excursion downtown.

heading into Seattle on a brisk, windy day with a bald head and without a hat didn’t earn me the scouting preparedness badge (yes, it’s street food and literally standing room only). i wasn’t starved when i arrived; i just wanted that little something. so, i ordered a pulled-pork Minimus sandwich, with a side of Maximus slaw. Maximus-Minimus basic lunchthe pork: rubbed, grilled and then braised. Minimus style? super tender, smoky-flavored (thanks to the addition of lapsang-souchong tea) pork coated in a tangy, sweet sauce of tamarind, honey and molasses, topped with sprigs of cilantro and served on a fresh, soft bun. if your taste buds crave spice, you can consider the Maximus option. the bright, crunchy Minimus slaw (a mix of cabbage, radish, cilantro, onion and parsley)—splashed with a feisty light chipotle vinaigrette—popped pleasantly in my mouth.

some pigthe tidy little menu also includes chips (thinly sliced potatoes, beets and sweet potatoes, fried in rice oil, topped with fried green beans and jalapeños) and two drinks (ginger lemonade and hibiscus nectar). i plan to bring more of a hearty appetite on my next jaunt to Seattle.

to each, his or her own barbecue true north. for me, i’ll fondly remember Maximus-Minimus’s pig’s feet on the street. (i even enjoyed the leftovers.) perhaps the license plate sums it up best: some pig.

for pure, simple, delicious Pacific Northwest barbecue, you can track the pig: Twitter and Facebook.

the most heavenly bread

24 August 2009


bread: i love to eat it. i love to make it. and i love exploring local bakeries to unearth that perfect loaf. i couldn’t go to sleep tonight without paying homage to the staff of Bread Farm, an artisan bakery based in the very cool little village of Edison, WA.

the sublime loaf? sour cherry-lemon bread. it’s chewy. moist. light. with an incredible texture and striking good looks. oh, that i could someday craft something as divine. it’s the stuff my dreams are made of.

sour cherry-lemon bread

and while i wouldn’t hesitate to drive the 40 miles between our place and Edison, i have the good fortune of having Bread Farm come to me—courtesy of the Port of Everett Marina farmers’ market.

every word on every page of Bread Farm’s Web site makes me feel that this team has found and is honoring their true north. a commitment to quality (a core tenet of my own creative philosophy) and to sustainable, local, organic food production. a passion for their craft (yeah, another of my core tenets). the stickers Bread Farm places on the bags that safeguard their creations read, we dig local farms. well, Bread Farm, i totally dig you.

summer’s sweet bounty

20 August 2009


this summer’s weather blessed the northwest with an amazing abundance of fruits and vegetables. but let’s talk about that some other time. today, i want to give thanks for the bakers and owners of Frost Doughnuts, my divinely sweet summer discovery—a local, small business that’s doing it right. the shop has only been open a short time, and i am, like many others, already a steadfast consumer. in fact, i called Frost this morning at 9:00 to find out if they had my favorite banana-creme-filled treat available. the Frost staffer who answered my call told me that they only had one left. slightly dejected, i asked if they planned to bake any more. she speedily checked with the kitchen and told me they could make some for me. how many did i want? four? they’ll be ready in an hour.

an airy, yeast-based dough, filled with rich, velvety, real banana creme. topped with dark chocolate and crunchy walnuts. as Gerswhin said, who could ask for anything more?

beloved banana-creme-filled

i happily drove 22 miles to Frost and picked up my order. if i’d been thinking (i’m on vacation, so please cut me some slack), i could have checked Frost’s Facebook page or checked my Twitter feed to learn what the bakers would be serving up today. i’ll try to remember to do that on Saturday.

it feels like the Frost crew is following their own true north: a neighborhood business with a vision and an openness and commitment to customers.