Last weekend saw the last episode of the Big Breakfast Adventure that started just over a year ago.  I am still not quite sure how I feel about getting to the end of having eaten all 55 Best Breakfasts in Seattle.  And because I am not sure how I feel I decided to stay firmly in denial that it is even over, and headed out to my most often-eaten-at breakfast spot of the last 58 weeks: Cafe Presse.

It’s funny.  I’ve been lambasted for posting about the same restaurant more than once, and yet, having posted about Cafe Presse – oh at least 6 times or more – it is (by far) the most requested place to go by friends wanting to have breakfast with me.  Funny that.  Who knew?

So on Saturday, not wanting to feel lost without my trusty Seattle Magazine to guide me, I took my BFF – a virgin Cafe Presser – there for her first time.  But you know what?  I am going to hold all the chatter & just post the shots.  You all know what I think about Cafe Presse.  And if you’re new to my little bloglet…1. Welcome!  Thank you for stopping by and  2.  You can read all about my previous Cafe Presse exploits here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

The single finest cup of Chocolat Chaud ($5) I have had in Seattle.  In America, now I think about it.

Croque Monsieur ($6), Oeufs et Jambon (Baked Eggs) ($7.50) & Pommes Frites ($4).

Rhubarb Something-or-other ($5)

Chocolate Something-or-other ($5)

 Chocolat Chaud ($5)

I am {entirely} unrepentant about my repeated trips to Cafe Presse.  Entirely.  And I will keep going.  Repeatedly.  There is nowhere else that I have found that makes Chocolat Chaud & Oeufs et Jambon like they do.  And I simply love eating them there.

Cafe Presse *rocks*.

Café Presse on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

I filed my taxes today.  I felt, wholeheartedly, that I deserved a burger afterwards.  I skipped breakfast because I knew, for sure, that if I left the house on a Big Breakfast Adventure there would be absolutely not one shred of tax filing going on today.

Having pushed that last magic button up on Turbo Tax Online and sent my Tax Return whizzing through the ether to IRS Central, I realized that I needed a stamp to mail my check to the IRS.  Bless them.  A trip to Issy was therefore justified, nay, necessary.  If you’re wondering why I didn’t just pay online, well, they wanted $36.72 as a “convenience fee” for that privilege.  Bugger that for a game of soldiers.  I’ll mail ’em a check.  That $36.72 will buy me two darn fine breakfasts.  Lately I think in terms of how many breakfasts everything equals.  It’s my check and balance on value these days.

My go-to place in the fast-and-furious-burger stakes is McDonalds, although I am not sure that has much anything to do with the burgers.  Or the fries or apple pies; although I admit the apple pies are a huge draw.  But today I was just in the mood for something that I probably only get in the mood for about once every 3.37 years – A Jack In The Box Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger.

A whole bunch of years ago (probably definitely more than I care to remember) I hopped over the pond from London to spend a long weekend in Phoenix with Shawn & his family.  That’s Shawn of December’s Thai fame.  And the same Shawn that introduced me to the reality of Roadrunners.  During this particular trip, Shawn decided to take the tourist (me) to Sedona for the day.  He decided we needed to have a snack on our way out of town and pulled into a Jack In The Box.  I had never had a Jack In The Box burger before.  I think I am right when I say that I had never eaten a burger *anywhere* except at McDonalds prior to that day.  Hmm, now I think about it, maybe I had been to a Wimpy’s.  My point being that I was not a fast-food burger connoisseur, having been raised in an English household that was all about cooking from scratch with real food.  I just didn’t grow up eating burgers.  Or fast-food.  The only reason I ever started eating fast-food was because McDonalds fed it to me when I worked there.

Anyhoooo…there we were on our way to Sedona, via Jack In The Box.  We’re at the drive-thro window & Shawn asks me what I want.  I have, no clue.  I see the word ‘bacon’ on the board.  Bacon in a burger sounds darn fine to me.  I’ll have that.  I truly don’t remember what else we had.  I wanna say curly fries (which were a complete novelty to me), but the only thing that I really remember is that we ended up with an awful lot of food (for a ridiculously small amount of money) and that my Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger was an utter revelation.  It was the yummiest, messiest, juiciest burger I’d ever eaten.  I have never really gotten over it.  If I think hard enough I can still taste it now.  I am certain that a not insignificant part of the reason that it is so dear to my heart is that Shawn – just about my favorite person on planet earth – was the one who introduced me to it.  I still remember the very moment that my teeth first sank into that Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger like it was yesterday.

Jack In The Box Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger = Love. 

Fast forward to 2011.  Having filed my taxes & written my check, I was in need of some lovin’.  As I stood there looking at the menu I tried not to notice the 4-digit calorific value listed next to my beloved Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger.  I do know, and am grateful, that the first digit was a “1”.  My brain would not allow me to register the other 3.  I am {very} thankful for small mercies.

With beloved burger in hand I perched on a stool by the window and enjoyed a fabulous 12 minutes of post-tax-filing nirvana with my yummy, messy, juicy sandwich.  I day-dreamed about my first encounter with one all those years ago.  I thought about Shawn & how cute his baby daughter Brianna was on that day in Sedona, all dressed in pink & drinking Grape Gatorade.  I thought about the day I first met Shawn & how he still makes me laugh.  Out loud.  And how he has the voice of an angel when he sings.  I recalled the day he told me, “You are such a dork”, and survived.  I remembered the evening we discovered that my favorite movie is also his favorite movie, “The Edge“, starring Bart the Bear.  Who knew a couple of bites of burger had the power to conjure up so many magical memories.  Amazing.  Fantastic.

Sadly, my reverie was rudely interrupted by Mr. Angry, who erroneously thought that yelling & name calling was a good strategy for getting an order of fries that he felt he had been cheated out of.  On the other hand, Mr. Manager’s strategy of needing to be right was not a good one either.

Mr. Angry: It’s a serving of fries.  Not worth raising your blood pressure over.

Mr. Manager: It’s a serving of fries.  Just give the man a serving of fries already.

At one point I started to wonder if hope we were going to get some Police Department eye candy show up to calm things down.  Alas, my burger was the tastiest thing I saw all day.  Ah well.  I filed my taxes & ate my favorite burger.  Those two things right there made it a great Friday.

Happy Tax Day America!

Jack in the Box (Issaquah) on Urbanspoon Jack in the Box (Aurora Ave) on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • They Hit The Spot - Foodie Footnotes - […] burgers, so given my 26-year-old penchant for McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese or Jack-in-the-Box’s Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburgers, I decided it was high time I spread my burger wings.  Just a […] ReplyCancel

  • What A Dork! - Foodie Footnotes - […] Spurred on by my recent departure from McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese & Jack in the Box’s Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburgers, I remembered reading somewhere that Red Mill do darn delicious burgers.  Ding.  That was […] ReplyCancel

  • What A Dork {Burger} » Marmalade and Mile Posts - […] Spurred on by my recent departure from McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese & Jack in the Box’s Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburgers, I remembered reading somewhere that Red Mill do darn delicious burgers.  Ding.  That was […]ReplyCancel

My twin made me do it.  She said, “Have you tried Ezell’s?  Because really, Ezell’s is stinking awesome.”  So really, how could I not go and try Ezell’s?  If my twin said so, it must be true.  Oh, except that my twin thinks Bakery Nouveau is the best French Patisserie in town, and she is clearly wrong about that.  <<<SLAP>>>  Ouch!  I felt that, twin.

Ezell’s Fried Chicken is, after all, one of Oprah’s favorite things.  No, not any Fried Chicken.  Ezell’s Fried Chicken.  And yes, they do have a photo of Oprah on the wall in the restaurant.  At least the one in Woodinville.

As I careered off the 522 towards Woodinville I thought, “Hang on.  This all looks rather familiar.”  And then as I turned the corner, there was Molbak’s.  Oh how I love Molbak’s.  Haven’t been in forever, clearly, otherwise I would have known where Ezell’s was.

Ezell’s was empty, which I thought a little odd perhaps, for a Friday evening.  Doesn’t everyone eat Fried Chicken on a Friday night?  When I strolled in & up to the counter the gal told me that since they were almost closing there were no mashed potatoes and no corn left.  OK, wait.  8 pm on a Friday evening & you’re about to close?  You’re a take-away Fried Chicken shop!  What is the world coming to?

From the menu I ordered my 3 piece, dark meat meal, which came with 2 sides & a roll.  I went with Potato Salad & Coleslaw.  I really wanted mash, but what can ya do when the mash is all gone?

The next part of the evening was sheer torture.  The drive home.  I swear it was the longest 33.08 mile drive of my life.  The Fried Chicken nestled comfortably in the front passenger seat foot-well, with the fresh, steamy, chicken-y aroma wafting upwards towards my nose.  For thirty-three miles!  My stomach started growling after the first 300 feet.  I am {completely} amazed that I didn’t pull over & eat the entire lot right there on the side of the freeway.  PS. Did I really drive all that way for Fried Chicken?? 

 Do you have any idea how hard it was to not eat this before I’d got some shots of it?  There seems to be an awful lot of {rhetorical} questions in this post.

The little tubs of sides are like the tardis in Dr. Who.  No, they don’t transport you to another time & place and no, they don’t make you want to hide behind the couch.  The tubs – they look tiny on the outside but when you open them up there’s enough food in there to feed the 5 thousand.  Or at least a couple.

I was saddened to discover on opening my second tardis-like tub that it contained exactly the same as the first one: potato salad.  Well, it’s a good job I like potato salad, isn’t it?  Ezell’s Potato Salad is a bit pickle-y for my taste.  And a bit un-lumpy.  It was kinda like eating cold mash with pickle chips in.  Meh.

So here, from the girl who has never, in her whole life, eaten Fried Chicken that wasn’t KFC (which, incidentally, she has a huge emotional attachment to), is the verdict:  Stinking awesome.

It is {very} different to KFC.  Just as moist, juicy & succulent, (yeah, you want some now, huh) but crunchier & with a completely different flavor (where’s my 11 secret herbs & spices?).  The chicken pieces are bigger, but somehow have less meat on them.  Weird how that could be.  Nonetheless, stinking awesome.

The drawback, however, is that it is 33.08 miles away from my house.  KFC, on the other hand is a mere 12.14.  AND, KFC’s on the way home.  So while I don’t think I’ll be going to Ezell’s *on purpose*, if I’m ever near, and feel a fried chicken moment coming on, I’d definitely swing in & grab some.

Thanks for the suggestion, twin.

Ezell Ezell

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • Natasha - Glad you enjoyed it. I’m a wingman myself, and Ezell’s has awesome wings. It grows on you, the way bad-for-you food will. I don’t really eat any other fried chicken except theirs. There’s one about 5 miles from my house, so sometimes they’re too close for comfort.

    Now I really, really want a croissant from Bakery Nouveau.ReplyCancel

When I spied Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar on a stylishly merchandised table in Watson & Kennedy the other day I almost fell upon it like a marathon runner passing a water station.  The box alone was enough to make me think about eloping.  Except, as much as I love bacon, I love doing a great job for my boss more.  Michelle (that foxy chick from Mode Salon) was with me.  In fact, I hold her entirely responsible for me even being in Watson & Kennedy in the first place.  Our lunch started out as an innocent salad & ended up with me spending 4 times as many $$ on chocolate as I had on an entire plateful of veggies.  Sigh.

  I had heard of the brand Vosges before, having received some of their hot chocolate as a gift a few years previously.  I had never run across the bars before though & there was a whole pile of different flavors.  Not content with just one, I took a fancy to the Peanut Butter Bonbon Bar as a runner up.

Chic, stylish, high-impact boxes (just look at that bacon!) each holding 3 oz (85g) of what I was sure would be oh-so-delicious.  How could it not be?  62% chocolate with bits of bacon in it.  Are you kidding me?

The boxes, when I had a chance to read them, were a little disturbing.  I am not sure that I really want to be faced with the photo & bio of a strange girl when I am unwrapping my chocolate – even if she is the owner.  By all means put them on your website, but on every bar?  I’d much rather read about the chocolate & any other juicy tidbits of information on whatever it was I was about to slide between my lips.  But maybe that’s just me.   And if, for some reason, the photo is somehow necessary, would it be OK to have the person dressed in chef’s whites rather than in something out of a Las Vegas Strip nightclub?  The final straw – quelle horeur – on the back of one box it read: “How to enjoy an exotic candy bar”.  Candy bar??  OK, now I am just plain worried.  And, it turns out, with good reason.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but what with the price tag & the raving ramblings on the glossy boxes I was expecting something spectacular.  Something weep-worthy.  Something that would make my toes curl & my lips quiver.  And after all, this was chocolate with bacon in it.  How could it possibly be anything but, you know, the “O” word of chocolate bars?

We have a saying in England:  all mouth and no trousers which roughly translates to all talk and no action or in this case, all hype & no taste.  And let me tell you, I am gutted about it.  Even now, several weeks later (it always takes me an *age* to write less-than-glowing reviews because I don’t like doing it) I am still mad as heck that I spent $18 on two bars of nasty chocolate.  Yes.  I really did type nasty.  I meant it.  After eating the first square of the Bacon Bar and going “Ugh”, I invited Miss Connie (oh bacon goddess if-ever-there-was-one) to join me in my little tasting room, I mean office.  The verdict: B A D.  The chocolate tastes old, somehow rather dusty.  It doesn’t taste of chocolate.  I still don’t believe it could taste that bad.  But I don’t want to dwell on it any longer.  I still, weeks later, haven’t eaten the whole bar.  In fact, I just checked and I haven’t eaten half of it.  $9 notwithstanding, why would I?  It’s *nasty*.

I was sure that the runner-up, the Peanut Butter Bonbon bar would make everything right with the world.  I kept Miss Connie in my office so we could do this one together & give support to each other if necessary.  It was necessary.  Can you say horrid?  I’m serious.  We just sat and looked at each other across my desk.  Could this possibly be happening?  Was this real?  I’d rather eat 371 Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups than one more square of this bar.  I am not joking.  We ate a square each.  The rest remains, to this day, in the box.  Untouched.  The texture was dry.  The flavor was…I don’t even have the words.  It tastes nothing like peanut butter, people.

Still unable to process the atrocities that these bars are, or maybe because I am just plain stubborn, or just plain stupid…I bought a third bar.  Not wanting to get a bank loan to secure one from Watson & Kennedy, I headed to Whole Foods.  There was a whole slew of flavors to pick from.  I picked the one that I thought would be most likely to make me happy & hardest for them to make badly.  Hey, I’m trying my darnedest to find something good to say here.  Gah, I hate writing unfavorable reviews.

Of the 3, the Black Salt Caramel Bar was the most palatable.  If I was in a tight spot and that was all there was, I’d eat it.  There is only 1 square of that bar left.  It’s not a bad bar.  It’s not a particularly good bar either, but at least it’s edible.  And even relatively enjoyable.

I need to stop.  This post has been depressing me for weeks & now I just want it to be over.  I’m sorry.  I can’t lie to my peeps – my lovely readers who expect truth, objectivity & sound advice from their favorite stateside English foodie.

The moral of the story: while I usually find that “you get what you pay for”, there are some instances where this is absolutely not the case.

$9 Watson & Kennedy?  Shame on you.  $7.50 on the Vosges website and hello! – $6.99 at Whole Foods.

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • Mark - Hi there. Sounds horrible. Lucky they don’t make an Easter Egg – or do they? Chicken-flavoured chocolate? Need to Skype this weekend. M xxReplyCancel

  • cb - Yes! I miss you all. I need some C & E time!ReplyCancel

(In case you missed how the Big Breakfast Adventure got started, you can read it  here:  How it all began)

Today’s brunch has been on the event schedule for weeks: The final Big Breakfast Adventure.  I took the opportunity to combine this momentous occasion with a toast to some wonderful people who opened a new chapter of my life 5 or so months ago – Michelle, Joe & Stu, owners of Mode Organic Salon.  I knew that Tilth was going to be special, just knew it.  The reviews, the media articles, the proclamations on their website.  And not just for Tilth, but for it’s owner, Maria Hines.  Accolades & awards up the ying yang.  Not to mention that “Tilth is one of just two certified–organic restaurants in Seattle and only the second in the nation to be certified by an even tougher standard–bearer: Oregon Tilth, which requires that restaurants purchase 95 percent of their food from certified–organic sources”.  It seemed to me that if Tilth wasn’t good, there was little hope for anywhere else.

Organic Salon meet Organic Restaurant.  A match made in heaven.

I was so excited I was early.  Luckily, now that I have my super-duper new Windows 7 Phone, if I ever find myself with a few minutes to spare while waiting somewhere I can just cruise Facebook & Twitter with zero guilt about wasting time.  Love that.  I didn’t love getting a note from Joe saying that he was sick and unable to make it to breakfast.  Get well Joe!  We miss you.

Tilth was pretty busy when we got there & there were a few heart-stopping moments where I feared they had lost my reservation, but all’s well that ends well & we were soon seated in the charming dining room.  Tilth is just darling inside.  Clean & fresh & I felt like we must be in the countryside somewhere, not on Wallingford’s main drag.

 Fresh chamomile peppermint tea with raw honey, & coffee for Michelle & Stu got things started.  Talking of coffee – I spent several minutes wailing about having spent an insane amount of money on coffee beans yesterday in order to make Coffee Ice Cream, only to find out that once I had steeped them in warm cream for a couple of hours, I was supposed to throw them away.  Michelle & Stu helped me off that particular ledge by suggesting that I dry them out, grind them up & use them in the yard as compost.  Phew.  OK.  I can do that.  Thank you.  Coffee bean crisis averted.

I was thankful for having Seattle Magazine tell me what to eat for the last time.  I wanted pretty much everything on the menu.  Making it into the 55 Best Breakfasts for the Best Northwest Spin on Biscuits & Gravy, I was in unfamiliar territory.  What I didn’t know until we were ooohing and ahhhing over the menu is that Stu is pretty much the resident expert when it comes to Biscuits & Gravy.  A Biscuits & Gravy connoisseur.  Michelle, Ms. Gluten-free, decided on the Apple & Gruyere Omelet.  I wanted that too.  And, after Michelle’s verdict on it, I need to go back there and eat it.

I also fancied the Duck Burgers, but owned up to the fact that after Friday and Saturday, I am pretty much ducked out.

 This plate normally comes with toast, but being a gluten-free-girl meant Michelle had to fore-go that part.  Strangely enough, our server still brought us the tray of butter & preserve for it though, which we went ahead & tasted anyway.  Can you say ginger?  Wow.

Now I know that omelet may look a little on the small side, but Michelle assured us that it was the perfect size.  For me, quality will always come before quantity.  I’d always rather eat a few spoonfuls of something fabulous than an entire casserole full of something so-so.  Always.  If you come to Tilth you’d be advised to come with that mindset.  You won’t get enough food on your plate to feed a small community.  You will get some of the finest food available in Seattle.  You have been warned.

The Biscuits & Gravy came with two eggs perched atop them.  Stu reliably informs me that this is not normal.  I say it should be the new norm.  Eggs should be mandatory for breakfast in my opinion.  Even though this was my first time eating Biscuits & Gravy, the eggs definitely added something to the whole dish.  Had the eggs not been there I would have felt the need to order something proteinous on the side.

The Cheddar Biscuits were incredibly cheesey & beautifully crisp & golden around the edges.  We both felt that the insides were a little on the stodgy side but the cheesiness sure made up for that in my book.  There was not a lot of chicken meat in the gravy but it had a wonderfully rich, chicken flavor.

The conversation never stops flowing when Michelle & I are together.  I was mildly concerned that it would be a little different with a man there, but I needn’t have worried.  Stu fit right in with our girlie goings-on.  Mind you, I think 95% of the 2 hours of talking revolved around food.  Stu has persuaded me that the best doughnuts in the world are to be found in the Tri-Cities.  Really?  TheTri-Cities?  The ones in Eastern Washington where WA & OR meet?  Er, OK.  Persuade me, Stu.  Seems these aren’t any old regular doughnuts.  The doughnuts at Spudnut are made with potato flour.  Ah, well that changes everything.  I’ll be there in July on my drive through to Denver.  See you then, Spudnut.

All the talk of sweet stuff only encouraged us to say “Yes!” when Keta (that’s a girl, not a salmon) asked us if we wanted to see the dessert menu.  As I pointed out, “We only slogged our way through all the other food so we could get dessert.”

The desserts, for all of us I believe, turned out to the highlight.  The proverbial cherry on the top.  We all went for chocolate although I was intrigued by the Olive Oil Cake.  Well, doesn’t Olive Oil Cake with Fennel Ice Cream, Satsuma & Olive Brittle sound just fascinating?  But, after my olive oil *incident* on Friday I decided against it.  What the heck, chocolate-fest it is. 

 The desserts were small.  Very small.  And I am glad.  It’s back to the quality v. quantity thing.  These desserts were…I am not even sure I have the words.  The Chocolate Sorbet had a depth of flavor & a smoothness that almost defies description.  The Holmquist hazelnuts that came with it were some of the most flavorful hazelnuts I have ever eaten.  You’ll know from earlier adventures that me and hazelnuts generally have a bit of a *thing* going on.  There babies are truly from Hazelnut Heaven.  Which is in Lynden, Washington, in case you were wondering.

Each eaten separately they were delicious.  Eaten together they were extraordinary.  The hazelnuts were lightly roasted in salt & that salt brought out the flavor of the chocolate even more, if that were even possible.

 The Theo Chocolate Ganache Cake was just as extraordinary.  It had the texture of a flourless chocolate cake although I am not sure if it was flourless or not.  I didn’t really care, it was the perfect mix of smooth, chocolatey denseness.  The Cocoa Cream on top was amazingly chocolatey for something so light.  It was a brilliant accompaniment to the deep, dark chocolate cake.

I wouldn’t have traded either of these tiny chocolate desserts for any number of bowlfuls of lesser chocolate treats.  They were perfect in their size.  Any more would have taken away from the preciousness of a few spoonfuls of nirvana.

This was a most fitting close to the end of the Big Breakfast Adventure.  A sublime {organic} brunch with some of my favorite {organic} people.  I made a toast half way through.  I am going to repeat it here because Joe needs to hear it and because it bears repeating to the whole world:

“A toast to those very wonderful people at Mode Salon who selflessly opened a door for me that may not have opened any other way.  My life has changed and I THANK YOU.”

PS. If you didn’t get it from what I wrote above, I {highly} recommend having brunch at Tilth.  I know, for sure, that I’ll be going there again.  This definitely made my Favorite Breakfasts list.


Tilth on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!