Sunday, April 29, 2007

elemental, my dear watson

The ol' man and I had a dining experience last night that I won't soon forget. It's nights like this that make me truly appreciate living in our fair city.

Elemental @ Gasworks is an EVENT disguised as a restaurant. And come to think of it, it's a restaurant in disguise. We knew it was located where Wallingford Ave bottoms out above Gasworks Park. And still we had to search for it. This was a late meal, so it was almost dark. Elemental has no exterior sign. It was not until we got close enough to hear the soft hum of the diners and the clink of glasses that we knew we'd found the place.

We had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated. There are only 5 small tables and they don't take reservations. But they also don't advertise or, as we discovered, bother identifying themselves. They don't want walk-in business. You kinda need to know what you're getting yourself into in order to truly be open to the experience.

And we were. Shortly after we were seated in the best seats (corner table facing the rest of the room), Phred brought us tiny glasses of a clear liquid and then scurried away before we could ask what it was. Turns out that was good, as Phred doesn't want to tell you what he's brought you to drink until after you've tasted it. He's a wine and spirits master.

It turned out to be a sherry of such quality that I actually enjoyed it. Also on every table is a tall, sleek carafe of cucumber infused water. Best damn water I ever had! We drank 2 full carafes over the course of the meal. (And by "we," I mean me. Water lush.)

When Phred returned to ask if we'd like cocktails before dinner, Tim said that we'd just have wine with our meal. Phred clapped his hands together with delight and scurried off again, I thought perhaps to fetch a wine list. No. He came back with our menus and 2 small flashlights. (Did I mention how dark this restaurant is?) He left and returned with white wine on ice in fun glass tumblers, served with a straw. Again, gone before we could ask what it was, though he did mutter, "to lubricate the decision making process," as he turned away. I never drink white wine, but it was very refreshing!

Their food is in the form of small plates, so that you end up ordering many courses. Apparently if you order "wine with your meal" as we did, they bring you a different wine with each course and charge a flat fee per person. Phred chooses the wines based solely on what you order. The menu is hand written on a piece of sheet metal. You definitely need the flashlight.

Our favorite of the dishes, called Spinach Gnudi, was a ricotta and spinach dumpling swimming in a pool of tomato and pine nuts. It was heaven in the mouth, so complex in its simplicity. The funniest dish was the Spiced Quail with Goat Cheese Stuffed Endive. Funny because when it arrived it was so small, it made us giggle. We made jokes about roasted hummingbird, and save me the drumstick, and so on.

But the most amazing thing we had was dessert. It was an Earl Grey Pots de Creme. We each took a bite, letting the soft foam melt over our tongues, waiting, waiting...and then! Finally it emerged, just when I started wondering why they call in Earl Grey, there was the unmistakable oil of bergamot. Tim and I were searching each other's faces and we both suddenly got wide-eyed and said, ahhhh! Simultaneous foodgasm. This final course was paired with a minute glass of tawny port. Again, it must have been very good as I usually revile the sweet wines.

Ok, as if this all weren't amazing enough, the bill arrived and there was no place to add tip. How could this be after the superlative care and attention we'd received from Phred? It seems that he and Laurie, the chef, don't believe in tipping. They price their offerings at the amount they need to survive and keep doing what they're doing.

Beside the owners Phred and Laurie, there is a 3rd person assisting in the kitchen and hand washing dishes. That comprises their entire staff. And they buy local, organic ingredients. The menu changes every Tuesday.

We'll be back. -k8-

Friday, April 27, 2007


Just returned from mom-daughter sushi night. Mmmm-mmm. The boys went for pizza and to watch a Shorewood High soccer game. We're all glad for the weekend, though I have to work Saturday. I'm teaching a Prepare training for the library's student assistants. The class is 4 hours long, so it has to be done on evenings or weekends to accommodate their school schedules. Good times.

Speaking of good times, many were had on April 15th when our family participated in the National MS Walk. All over the country, people walked to raise money and awareness about this disease. We were joined by my sister Sarah and her family, plus one of my work pals, Dave, and his fine son. Down in Portland, my little bro Don got his walk on, too!

We were part of a larger team called Bunnie Luv, made up of many members of our friend Chas's family, though he ended up not being able to join us for the 5 mile walk after a bout with pneumonia. He's better now.

I was overwhelmed by the support shown by friends and family, not just through donations or walking, but through encouraging words and messages. I want to offer another heartfelt thanks to all!

Though I do have to work tomorrow, that gives Tim a chance to catch up on his lesson plans and grading. On Sunday we want to go for a hike with the kiddos and whatever friends we can rope in. If you're reading this, you're invited! -k8-

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

07 catch up

Ok, I promised highlights. My word is my bond!

The highest light of the new year was heading to Mexico in late January to help our friends E & T get married. I had the honor of performing both the informal-but-legal ceremony in Seattle & the formal-but-not-legal ceremony in Troncones, Mexico.

Once they were safely married (the day after we arrived), we all got down to vaaay-cationing! The respite from the Seattle winter was heaven.

We got home just in time for the "retirement" of my longtime mentor, whose former position I have been temporarily filling ever since.

This was followed shortly by my 40th birthday, which was made not nearly so traumatic due to the super sweet party thrown for me by my very wonderful friends.

This picture should give you some indication as to the level of Cool & Class in the room that night!

Little known fact: Benicio Del Toro and I were born on the exact same day. -k8-

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Primo Blogundo

Rowan and I are home sick with a stomach bug, so what better time to start that blog I've been meaning to create? I will try to recap the highlights of this year so far, in time. Today, I'll just start with the recent past.

Before being struck down, we had a lovely Earth Day. Larkin had her monthly weekend working for the Student Conservation Assn, and they spent it rebuilding trails and hill steps at the Arboretum. Having returned from a library conference in eastern WA late Friday night, I joined her on Saturday for some quality mother-daughter time, digging gravel. Sunday I spent gardening on our own patch of earth. Larkin stayed home Monday not with the flu, but with arms and shoulders so sore she couldn't face the fast moving world of high school. She's back in action today. So far, she and Tim show no signs of this illness.

Only three weeks until I stop working at the downtown library. As much as I love that building and the romance of the whole notion, I will be so glad to be rid of the commute and the higher profile. I want to spend my energy differently.

The weather has been manic. Here's a recent shot from our deck, looking NE. If not for the clouds, you'd see the Cascade Mountain range. The rainbow makes up for it. -k8-