Turkey, Bacon and Marechal Grilled Cheese by Dean Belder

There are few things I love more than a tasty sandwich, even better if it has melted cheese running throughout. Working at Benton Brothers has afforded access to a wonderful arrange of awesome cheeses, but I rarely take home more than just a basic cheddar.  I decided to change that this week. I grabbed some smoked turkey, a few slices of bacon, along with tomato and some lettuce. To top it off I surveyed the case at work, and landed on a delicious Swiss, medium in flavour, with a light peppery finish. It made for the perfect combo, along a side of Chipotle seasoned potatoes and onions.  

Duck Island, and the Pressure Fried Chicken. by Dean Belder

I love getting out into Seattle and discovering new things, on this trip I found some good cheap deals. Drinking , and eating affordably is good in any city, but what’s better is being able to do it and have something awesome to go along with it.  This is what came with my final evening in Seattle.

After a long day travelling the Ballard neighbourhood, and enjoying some of the craft brews to be had there, it was time for some eats.  Warm interiors, good hospitality and comfortable seating were the perfect end to a grey Seattle Sunday, at the Duck Island Ale House.

With a couple dozen brews on tap there was no problem finding something to drink, but what about the food? Understanding that it was pretty good, I decided to find out for myself. Taking a cue from KFC they use pressure fryers to make some of the best fried chicken I have ever had, and putting the Colonel’s  chain to shame.  

For just over nine dollars you can have either three pieces including a breast or four without, along with two sides. Opting for the three piece meal with potato salad and fries, I found myself inhaling some of the best food I’d had all weekend, and some of the best I’ve had in Seattle period.  

After eating the night became a little bit foggy as I tried to work my way through the extensive list of brews, but if you find yourself in Seattle and seek a debauched evening, with fried chicken and other delights, take it from a professional, find the Duck Island Ale House. 

Delicatus, Seattle. by Dean Belder

Delicatus.

Getting off the Bolt Bus, with a few hours to kill I took my usual route through Pioneer Square. I was hungry, having not had anything more than a banana and a coffee for breakfast, and I was thirsty, now having that coffee hours ago and miles away.

Meaning to try the cajun joint I told myself I would try, I discovered it under renovations and closed until April. I meandered further and thought well perhaps I can find a sandwich or something, and just a few blocks further I stumbled upon Delicatus a modern take on the deli style sandwich shop, which meant not the paltry three or four menu items in similar joints in Vancouver, but two dozen classic and not so classic selections.

The Seattle Cure sounded interesting to me (pictured) so I ordered it, with a bloody mary. Made with cured albacore tuna bresaola, salmon lox, and a lemon caper aioli, the sandwich was among the best I have ever had. Made with love and locally sourced ingredients I expect Delicatus to become a regular stop on my continuing adventures in Seattle.

Guaro and the Seattle Empanada by Dean Belder

Ain’t no party like a Costa Rica Party.  There was much rum to be had this night in Seattle, the lovely Maggie was an exceptional host, and made delightful, bean stuffed empanadas, which, over-zealously I tried to consume fresh out of the oven, and my head melted.

Also in attendance were a couple bottles of a Costa Rican treat called Guaro. Like Rum it’s made from sugar cane, but the similarities end there. Guaro is the Central American equivalent to moonshine. Made from sugarcane, the government of Costa Rica legalized it’s production in an attempt to stop more shady operations. They’ve tried to bring it into the US, but it hasn’t gained any traction, of course theres a reason for that… it isn’t very good.

At sixty proof, it’s doesn’t seem the harbinger of doom it likely is, after trying one shot, I realized that there would be no hangover quite like a guaro hangover, so I stopped. To the producers credit they seemed to find the right balance of alcohol content to shitty flavour.  Too much alcohol and you’d be in danger of blindness, and too little it wouldn’t be worth getting past the taste.

I wish I could say the guaro enabled party devolved into a morally depraved bacchanal, or an orgy broke out in the makeshift pool room, or that I got into another rum fueled game of dungeons and dragons, but it didn’t happen. I was frightened away by the spirit of guaro, finding comfort in my little hot pockets of love….  I mean the empanadas people!!

Chipotle, Lots of Smoke, Very Little Fire. by Dean Belder

Finally having a reason to be downtown, I decided it would be a good opportunity to finally try out a fast food joint that’s been getting a lot of buzz south of the border. Chipotle has made a great many claims in an attempt to change the fast food game, from efforts to source their ingredients locally, and from organic sources, to how they treat their employees, there’s even a documentary about them on Netflix that seems to support this, though to be fair it seems to also seems to be a well placed piece of corporate propaganda.

The location in Vancouver is one of only a handful of outlets in Canada, located across from the law courts on Howe street, the location’s primary competition is the food trucks and carts that frequent the art gallery space a short walk away. 

Walking into the restaurant, it’s clear they are trying to set themselves apart from the rest of the fast food set, but are they really doing anything revolutionary? In a word, no. They make vast claims to be having the customer as part of the food creation, but no more so than say Subway, and sure all the ingredients are prepared in house, a laudable change from the norm to be sure, but is it enough? I’m not sure it is in a city like Vancouver, other establishments have already taken up this model and are doing it in my opinion cheaper and better.

I ordered a carnitas bowl with a side of chips and salsa. Presented well, the bowl was layers of rice, beans and pork, topped with sour cream, tomatoes, salsa and lettuce.  The chips in a paper bag labeled “chips”, and a side of salsa in a little plastic cup.

The food itself was nothing special, the meat on the bland side, the veggies despite their organic nature were, well boring, the hot salsa medium at best, the chips also were nothing special, and didn’t seem to represent the “made-in-house” mantra that Chipotle pushes on what has become a loyal following in America.

Ultimately there was nothing wrong with the food, but at the same time I think the Red Burrito does the whole thing a little better, and a lot cheaper. If the price doesn’t bother you, then you’d be much better served going to La Taqueria, for a much more flavorful take on the Mexican experience, and if the chain restaurant is your thing, Chronic Taco’s is also a much better choice than Chipotle.

I was excited to try out Chipotle, and having the opportunity to try it I left a little disappointed, and very underwhelmed. I can’t help but think that Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck would have been a much better choice than a run of the mill burrito joint

The Wraps of Khan by Dean Belder

 

Food for many people is passion. We need it to survive, but we can also enjoy us. It's indelibly linked to our culture. No matter where you go peoples culture is so often linked to their food, and vice-versa.  What you eat is also intricately linked to your health. Sure, pizza is awesome, tacos, and deep fried things too, but popular culture has been increasingly presenting us with the notion that healthy food is bland and boring.

While I may self identify as a foodie to keep things simple, I’m not sure that’s an entirely accurate term, to me a foodie is someone who likes to go out, and while I do enjoy dining out I also like to eat in, host dinner parties, and experiment on my own, food nerd is much more apt.

I’m also a recent university grad (x2), so income at this point isn’t steady enough to indulge in the Vancouver dining scene, but there are some places to be found on a budget for sure. 

What I do is I cook, dine and drink on a budget. I try to eat healthy, and try to make conscious choices about where my food comes from, when the budget permits. I’ll post what most people call reviews, and I’ll also post what I call recipes, and kitchen experiences, from the late night drunken snacks, to the mid morning quick and easy breakfasts, with a focus on delicious healthy food whenever I find, or make it.l

Join me. Inspire me, and if you think you have some ideas, enlighten me. I’m open to trying anything at least once.