Stared down by A Cookie

Natasha Reed, you made me want to eat cookies.  This is all your fault.  I have resisted thus far, but this morning, standing in line in front of Cafe Besalu’s counter being stared down by at least 5 different cookies I found myself completely unable to abdicate my desire any longer.

I broke down.

 Given that I come from the land of the biscuit (cookie) where we’ve been making them since like the 14th century, they were a big part of my childhood.  I grew up surrounded by the things.  Everyone in England does.  Packets & packets of them.  Just ask my mother, the consummate biscuit muncher.  At every supermarket (grocery store) there will be an entire aisle devoted to them.  We just love us some biscuits (cookies).  And, because we’ve been making them for so darned long, we’re pretty darned good at them.  They were invented back in the dark ages to feed sailors who were out at sea for months on end since they had a long self-life & were cheap to produce.  The biscuits not the sailors.  Back in those days biscuits were called hardtack & were baked 4 times to make sure they were really dry so they could last a really long time.  Sailors used to dunk them in their tea to soften them before they ate them, a tradition that still carries on in England today when eating certain type of biscuits – Digestives, Rich Tea & Gingernuts – to name a few.  Oh mercy.  Now I want a Digestive Biscuit & Cheese Sandwich.  Sigh.

Anyway, my point was that when I came stateside I pretty much stopped eating cookies (biscuits) because, well, I’ve been rather spoiled having grown up eating fantastic biscuits (cookies) for eons.  And if I do get an occasional urge I swing by Cost Plus & pick up a packet of McVities Chocolate Digestives or Fruit Shortcakes.  Maybe though, if I tried some fresh cookies from a bakery instead of a packet from a grocery store it would all go better.

It did go better.  But…I bet you knew there was a “but” coming.  I love the taste of lemon.  I made Lemon Cookies a year or so ago that were a *huge* hit.  So lemon-y they almost made you pucker yer lips.  I was dreaming that this {very large} Lemon Cookie from Cafe Besalu would be just like them.  It wasn’t.  The flavor was very pale and not terribly lemon-y at all.  I mean, I knew it was lemon but it wasn’t reach-out-&-smack-me-in-the-taste-buds lemon.  The texture was neither crispy nor soft, when from it’s appearance I was most definitely expecting crispy.  Nice, but not nice enough to make me drive to Ballard to get another one.

 Having already been railroaded at the counter by The Big Lemon Cookie, I still needed to get what I really came to Cafe Besalu for:  a Croissant or a Pain au Chocolat.  I went with the Pain au Chocolat.

And, because I was forced to stand in line in front of the display case for a few minutes longer than my pastry-loving brain could handle, by the time it came to my turn at the cash register I found myself asking for a Hazelnut Twist as well.  You gotta admit – it’s a {very} fine looking pastry if ever there was one.

The Hazelnut Twist was an interesting one.  Lovely light, even texture.  Beautifully glazed, perfectly formed.  But…I bet you knew there was a “but” coming.  The flavor wasn’t as hazel-nutty as I was hoping.  Is there something just out of whack with my taste-buds today?  Is it me?

My Pastry of the Day award definitely went to the Pain au Chocolat.  Fantastically crisp & flaky on the outside & through the first few layers.  Bit doughy in the middle and ever-so-slightly over-baked.  Honore still wears the crown in my little black pastry book.

I am jealous.  Mr. Nyheim (oh beloved boss) gets to go to Paris for the week next week.  He’ll be eating the real thing.  I’ll just be dreaming about it.

 Cafe Besalu 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!

Natasha Reed - I’ve inspired a cookie moment, my work for the week is done. Woo! You, however, inspired a trip to the Bakery Nouveau for an almond croissant. You are evil and I love you for it.

I’ve actually had that particular cookie from Cafe Besalu and I’m in the same boat as you. I wanted it to be crunchy on the outside, but chewy on the inside, even if the icing took the edge of crunch off. But you’re right, it wasn’t lemony enough. My favorite cookie from CB is the coconut macaroon. It’s pretty awesome.

cb - You’re the second person in 4 days that has called me evil. The other was my boss. I’m thinking it’s really evil-in-a-good-way, but still…

I am plodding down the road towards coconut lovin’. I think you’re further down it than me. However, next time I am roaring down 24th I’ll take a quick pit-stop to grab one. Because you said so.

How Could I Possibly Leave? » Foodie Footnotes - […] Stared down by A Cookie […]

The Big Breakfast Adventure | Hi-Life

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

I should have known.  I should have guessed in advance the fate that was going to befall me.  Hello.  The Hi-Life is located in what used to be Firehouse #18.  Therefore, notice of a fire breaking out could happen at any moment.  Luckily for me, I think they retained some of the eye-candy firemen as waiters.  I like that.

This morning’s Big Breakfast Adventure is all a bit of a blur.  You know the expression “drinking from the fire hose”?  Well, after my first bite of breakfast, I wanted to be.  Literally.

Yes, I know this shot is bad but if you only knew what was happening in my mouth at that very moment – you’d give me a break.  I am amazed I could even lift the camera, let alone hold it vaguely steady. 

It sounded innocent enough.  Rosa’s Breakfast Panino: sausage, cheddar, tomato and (now here’s where I needed a flame-retardant mouth) seasoned busted-yolk eggs.   Who knew?  And exactly what is a seasoned busted-yolk egg?

I have no idea what they did to those eggs.  They actually looked like a *very* flat chicken-fried steak, all covered in breadcrumbs.  Or some type of crumb anyway.  And hotter than the hubs of hades.  My mouth was on fire within 1 nanosecond of that first bite.  I muscled through the first half.  I wanted to run screaming from the building but my legs were too weak.  And I was certain my lips were the color of a ripe tomato & the size of a sink plunger.  Not a good look.  I yanked the egg out of the second half before I gallantly tried to down the rest.  Hey, I’m British.  It’s just not polite to leave stuff on your plate.  Even if it is akin to eating an incendiary device.

Pete noticed my agony & while he didn’t run over with a fire hose, he did bring me a little dish of yogurt parfait to cool my mouth down.  Thanks Pete!  He also apologized up & down for the panino & wouldn’t charge me for the parfait.  Pete, it’s not your fault my mouth is such a wuss with the hot stuff.

Random other things that I remember about Hi-Life:

  • The thick floor-to-ceiling curtain inside the front door made it feel like I was entering a clandestine after-hours club.
  • They have absolutely the cheapest breakfasts in town at $5.55.  Just go during the week between 8:30 & 11:00 am.
  • Very cute, amusing menu.
  • It was dark.
  • The Hot Chocolate had a hazel-nutty flavor which was a little unexpected but certainly not unpleasant.
  • They serve “vivacious vegetables”.  After my egg experience I am not sure that I want to know what that really means.
  •  Did I mention the eye-candy waiters?

 That’s it.  That’s all I got.  Everything else was lost in the fire.

Hi-Life 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!

The Big Breakfast Adventure | Hudson

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

It’s getting really near the end of the Big Breakfast Adventure & I am pretty much left with the ones that inspired me the least.  Except for one.  There’s {what I suspect will be} a very special Big Breakfast Adventure coming in early April to wrap the whole thing up.  The invites are out, the reservation is made.  No I am most certainly not going to tell you.  Goodness me.  Whatever next.

Hudson got on my ‘least inspiring’ list by virtue of the fact that the breakfast involved grits, and although I have tried several times now to get a taste for grits, I haven’t done well with that.  At all.  One day last week though, in the space of about 30 seconds, I went from un-inspired to wildly excited when I remembered that a gal-pal born in New Orleans wanted to join me for her first Big Breakfast Adventure.  She would be my expert grit-eating-Southern-Chick & even if it transpired that I still couldn’t get my taste-buds around the curious corn stuff, I knew, for sure, that we could make up for any & all lack in the food department with great girl chatter.

We rolled up right at 8 am, me in Ralph since I’d had to navigate off my little mountain still deep in the clutches of enormous piles of snow & Joany in her dashing little sporty number, Molly.  The only clue as to whether Hudson was actually open yet was the small, red neon ‘OPEN’ sign flashing quietly at one end of the building.  Ready or not, we were going in.

Hudson is a diner through and through.  Well, around the edges anyway.  In the middle is an enormous horseshoe shaped bar, which was clearly one of the most popular places to hang.  Joany & I holed ourselves up in the corner window.  It was hard to keep focused on the menu being as we hadn’t seen each other for so long.  Our patient, persevering server had to come back several times before we finally had ourselves sorted out.  Given that Joany has a {very} boisterous allergy to all things shellfish & I for one didn’t want her to go into an anaphylactic shock right there at the table, she could not partake of the Shrimp ‘n Grits in their entirety.  She did sneak a tiny forkful of cheesy grits from my plate when she spied a bit that wasn’t covered in either shrimp or the spicy étouffée.

The verdict was in:  these grits are good.  Really good.  And REALLY cheesy.

I still don’t feel that I truly know good grits from bad grits, but I do declare – these are by far the grits that I have most enjoyed eating.  Honestly, I was somewhat disappointed that they were so entirely covered in prawns and sauce.  I do believe I could have eaten an entire bowlful of them, on their own.  Smooth & oh-so-cheesy.  Is there anything in this world that cheese doesn’t make better?

I had mine with 2 poached eggs & an English muffin.  I really enjoyed the whole darn lot.  Filling.  Spicy, but not too spicy.  Juicy, tender prawns.  The egg yolks could have been runnier & the grits warmer but that may have had something to do with how long it took me to take the shots.

Hudson also serve a great peppermint tea.  Just thought you should know.

Joany had decided on the simple (but huge) Hudson Breakfast – two eggs (Really? Just two? Were they ostrich eggs?)  any style, hash browns, toast & bacon.  The rye bread sounded fantastic.  The bacon looked fantastic.  A stellar plate of breakfast food if ever there was one.

The great girl chatter continued unabated for 3 ½ hours while our ever-amiable server ran back & forth pouring cup after cup of coffee into Joany’s mug.   We talked about (in no particular order):

men ~ great bosses ~ cats ~ crazy parents ~ old flames ~ tax refunds ~ men ~ work ~ New Orleans ~ body parts ~ Le Pichet

{more coffee}

 saying “No” ~ annoying siblings ~ cats ~ washing machines ~ Thanksgiving ~ hospital bills ~ the weather

{more coffee}

being single ~ Christmas ~ pink clothes ~ Cafe Flora’s Beignets ~ Atlanta ~ organic dating ~ sales guys ~ Kindles

{no more coffee, thanks}

why being single sucks ~ why being single rocks ~ cats ~ men ~ Tennis Elbow ~ crepes

Oh.  Plus a few other things that, well, it’s probably best not to spell out.  You know.  Yeah.

Hudson may be in the middle of nowhere.  It may be attached to the old morgue.  It may well not look exactly like the spiffiest place in town to dine.  At first glance you might indeed wonder if anyone actually goes there, and if they do, why.  Don’t let appearances fool you.  The place was packed, for hours.  And for good reason.  And, just in case you are not yet fully convinved that you will get a really great plate of grub down at Hudson, just take a look at this:

I bet you can taste it already.  You know you want some.

Oh, and did I mention cheap?  Hudson has to be about the best value breakfast anywhere.  When you go take the whole clan.

 Hudson 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!

Kate - Looks tasty! I love breakfast! Best meal of the day.

The Big Breakfast Adventure | Pete’s Egg Nest » Foodie Footnotes - […] joined me.  Last time we had breakfast we went to Hudson in Georgetown.  Hudson is a diner & turned out to be a very cheap date.  Ditto on both […]

We Eat, They Get

It’s been snowing a bit around here.

I finally decided against having a picnic on the patio this weekend.

In other news, here is a super cool way to help out non-profits simply by eating.  And without you spending any more money than you would have anyway.  We love that.

If you go here you can get the full scoop, but here’s a few cliff notes:

WHAT: Celebrated Chefs is a unique dining program that supports the work of hundreds of non-profit organizations in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington DC.

INCLUDES: Enrollment is free and includes the exquisite Celebrated Chefs cookbook featuring a signature recipe from each participating restaurant.


  1. Click “enroll” from the navigation bar
  2. Select the cause you wish to support
  3. Register any credit card you use when dining for business or pleasure

RESULT: When you use that credit card at a participating restaurant, the restaurant automatically donates 5% of your bill back to your designated cause.


*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!

The Big Breakfast Adventure | Cafe Flora

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

I started to fall for Cafe Flora pretty much the moment I stepped inside.  I sat by the window in the atrium.  OK, so really, the entire atrium is one big window & with a huge skylight in the middle of the ceiling plus a waterfall in the middle of the floor you could easily imagine that you were in some garden cafe somewhere warm & sunny.  Even on a sub-zero Saturday in Seattle.  Cafe Flora is quite delightful.

While I was waiting for my breakfast buddy to arrive, 2 glasses of water appeared on the table.  Without any ice in them.  Excuse me?  When did the no ice thing ever happen in America without a specific request not to put any in?

And then, when I touched the glass: W A R M.  That’s it.  I’m in love.  I think I want to move to Madison Park.

Being freeze-your-butt-off cold outside meant that I had to at least have the dreaded Hot Chocolate Conversation with  our server, even if I ended up with no Hot Chocolate to drink.  Well.  Wouldn’t you know it.  She said it was good.  Great, in fact.  Hand-made to order.  With real chocolate.  And no sugar.  And…wait for it…she asked, “We make it with whole milk, is that OK?”.  Oh Cafe Flora, should I ever get married I’d like to do it right here in your atrium.  I felt like I should raise my hands to heaven.  Hot chocolate made with fat milk & real chocolate.  Hallelujah!  And, as you can see, it was served in a casserole dish.  It was $2.  I had two casserole dishes full.

CK, my veggie expert from a previous Veggie Breakfast Adventure rolled up & immediately had a similarly heavenly experience with our server when ordering a coffee.  She was offered, I swear, at least 7 different types of milk, none of which ever originated from a cow.

The menu (I mean the physical paper thing) was a revelation.  Listing 13 local farms & dairies, the words ‘organic’, ‘vegan’, ‘gluten-free’ & ‘soy-free’ appearing more times than I care to count & some of the most unusual sounding breakfast dishes I’d heard of.  Plus this, on the front:

Our Goals:

Our guests will rave about our International, seasonal vegetarian cuisine.

Out guests will feel welcome and exceptionally well served.

Our employees will be exemplary, feel well treated and want to stay.

Our community, near and far, will benefit from our presence.

The image you see above is my breakfast.  The award for the Best Veggie Breakfast in Seattle went to Cafe Flora for their Hoppin’ John Fritters & clearly that’s not what I ate.  I have failed you.  I am bereft.  For almost an entire year I have faithfully, dutifully eaten what I was supposed to, where I was supposed to, in order to eat my way through the 55 Best Breakfasts in Seattle.  I have not wavered.  I have not cheated.  Not once.  Except when Taste no longer served their Chicken & Waffles.  Even then I had the closet thing to it.  But today, I failed you. I wanted to do the right thing.  I wanted to eat the Hoppin’ John Fritters.  But see, there was this little symbol next to it on the menu in the shape of a pepper, which translated to “not for the spice intolerant”.  I am {very} spice intolerant.  So I asked if I could have a non-spicy version.  No.  Could I have  less-spicy version?  No.  Is there no way to modify it so that I can at least get it into my mouth without calling the fire department?  No.  The spices, you see, are integral.

So there, lovely readers, was my dilemma.  I could order it , eat a forkful, run screaming from the building & write a really short review that said, “It was so hot my mouth caught fire.  The End”.  Or, I could choose the next most veggie thing on the menu that I could actually put in my mouth & write about that instead.  I went for the latter.  I hope that you don’t mind too much.

 I ordered up the Breakfast Quesadilla:   flour tortilla with roasted yam, poblano peppers, corn and pepper jack cheese wrapped with egg topped with Snappy Sauce and tomatillo salsa.  Served with lime creme fraiche and wild greens in cilantro vinaigrette.

 It was like a cheese and veggie quesadilla inside a thin omelet.  It was an interesting experience to eat the crispy tortilla hiding under the soft omelet.  It exploded with flavors every time I took a bite. The greens were fresh & certainly wild.  I do like my men greens to be a bit wild.

CK (aka Ms. Veggie) was almost hyper-ventilating while reading the menu since she could eat every last item on it, but it was when she got to the Basic Breakfast that I thought I was going to have to call the EMTs.  And all because of some soy sausage.  It came with potatoes or cheesy grits.  She wanted both.  She got both.

We’d decided before we ordered anything that we would likely need to share some beignets after the breakfast plates were done.  The beignets come in 3s or 5s, neither of which is divisible by 2 so I asked if we could head for some middle ground and get 4, otherwise they might just end up with a fist-fight right there in the middle of their atrium.

Our server quickly saw the wisdom in our request & very kindly brought us 4.

They looked absolutely nothing like I expected.  My previous beignet exploits have all been rather odd, & these square little pillows were surely the oddest of them all.  So I figured it was about time for me to find out what America thinks a beignet is.  Ah!  Now I begin to understand why I am confused & somewhat disappointed in the beignet department.  Hello, Wikipedia.  Cafe Flora’s Beignets are the Traditional New Orleans deep fried yeast pastries…aka…deep fried cake donuts.  Here’s a peek inside:

I always find cake donuts rather dense & heavy & these were no exception, although it has to be said they were the tastiest & lightest I’ve had.  The Cinnamon Creme Anglaise was light & silky, intensely cinnamon-y & perfectly made.  I could have supped on a whole cup of it.  That plus the Raspberry Coulis definitely helped the beignets go down.

I am going back.  I really want to eat the Brie & Roasted Pear Sandwich.  I really want to eat the Cara Cara Orange Ricotta Pancakes.  I really want to eat the Cranberry Blood Orange French Toast.  And the Winter Root Vegetable Hash.  And darn it, most everything else they serve up.

Cafe Flora’s Menu, I want to marry you but I think maybe we should date first.

Cafe Flora 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!