my favorite table knives

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I am obsessed with these knives! Why? These knives have history, they handle well and are beautiful with their unique shape and style.

The name, “Laguiole” (pronounced: layol) is not a knife company, but rather a location of where the knife was made. Laguiole knives were/are made in a small village called, Laguiole in the Aveyron region of France.

The village first began making pocket knives with a bee emblem used as a blade stop and to protect the edge of the knife when the knife was being closed. Legend says that Napoleon Bonaparte’s seal was a bee; he offered his seal to the village of Laguiole to thank the town’s men for their courage during battle. 20150216_105005-2

Today, table knives, flatware and cheese knives are also made.

The quality and workmanship of these knives are excellent. The handle is curved and feels great in the hand. These knives are stainless steel, are super sharp and are washed by hand. They are a unique gift to give to friends. You can’t go wrong with a Laguiole knife!

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a guide to salt: the policeman of taste

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The region of Camargue is located where the Rhone River meets the Mediterranean Sea in southern France.

Sea salt has been harvested in this region since Ancient Roman times. When cooking, I like to use this brand of French sea salt.

People have often asked what the difference is between different types of salts.

Here’s my very brief guide on 3 types of salts: common table salt, fleur de sel, and gros sel. All three salts originate from salty water. Generally speaking, when the water evaporates, the salt is left behind.

common table salt: this is the salt that you typically find in restaurants in a salt shaker. The salt is fine and white. A common, typical brand used is, Morton Salt.

Table salt is processed to produce a very fine texture. This allows table salt to be mixed into recipes much easier. The result of processing table salt is that important minerals are removed.

The price point of table salt is very low. You can get 1 pound of table salt for less than a dollar.

fleur de sel: this is the crème de la crème of salt that is usually from the north-west region of France. When water evaporates from the salt ponds, in the Summer, a Saunier (salt harvester), carefully rakes off crystals that have formed on the top layer of the water. The crystals at the top layer of the water are delicate and can easily sink to the bottom when harsh wind, rain or dew forms. This is why fleur de sel is harvested at night and quickly.

The method of raking is done by hand and is labor intensive. The Saunier must be very careful not to disturb the layers of salt that have formed in the water.

Because fleur de sel is not processed, the minerals in the salt are retained. Fleur de sel typically has a higher mineral content than other salts. It varies in color from light gray to white. The crystals are delicate and crusty — resembling tiny crystals of ice.

Fleur de sel has a wet consistency with translucent crystals. It has a strong sea and metallic taste. Because of fleur de sel’s distinct taste, it is often used as a finishing salt: sprinkled over a dish, after it has been cooked or as a garnish on top of chocolate caramels.

One 4.4 ounces of Le Saunier De Camargue Fleur De Sel costs around $13.00.

Lastly, there is Gros sel.

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gros sel is the salt that is harvested just below the layer of fleur de sel. It can be harvested by hand or by machine (the french harvest it mostly by hand). It is more affordable than fleur de sel. The taste is milder and is also moister. Sea salt from Camargue is bright white. I use this salt for regular, every day cooking.

The biggest difference between the 3 salts is the sodium content. Since fleur de sel and gros sel typically have larger salt crystals than table salt, they contain less sodium by volume. A home cook who determines the amount of salt to use by a teaspoon/other measuring spoon can actually use more sodium when using table salt because there are more salt crystals that can fit on the spoon.

I like to store my gros sel in a white, stoneware salt cellar with a tiny stainless steel spoon to make dispensing the salt easier. I purchased my salt cellar from here.

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art restaurant: late night cheese & antipasto counter

Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, 99 Union Street, Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 749-7070

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the large cheese & antipasto buffet

Where in Seattle does a cheese lover go after 9:00 p.m.? To ART Restaurant/Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel, of course!

The ART Restaurant/Lounge has a late night cheese, wine and antipasto counter daily, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

You can choose cocktails and wines by the glass. From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., you can dine at the Lounge and enjoy all-you-can-eat cheese and antipasto for $8 per person.

The cheese and antipasto buffet is expansive; you will not leave hungry.

Since my husband’s palate for cheese is more adventurous than mine, this buffet was perfect for him to sample new cheese with an assortment of fresh/dried fruits, grilled vegetables, cured meats, crackers and bread. It’s a steal for $8 per person in the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel.

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my husband at the cheese & antipasto counter

where to park: parking after 8 p.m. in Seattle is free. Look for street parking at this time around the hotel.

getting there: walk into the main entrance of the hotel and head towards the right of the fireplace in the lobby. the ART Lounge is on the right of the glass wine case.

how to enjoy this amazing buffet: seat yourself in the lounge. A server will hand you the menu. Let your server know that you want to do the buffet. The buffet is all-you-can-eat. You can go back as many times as you’d like. If the buffet runs out of something, let your server know, they will happily refill it.

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where is the bathroom: bathrooms are located to the right of the fireplace in the lobby in an alcove.

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service: each time I have visited ART Restaurant, I have always been met with knowledgeable and friendly service.

*ART restaurant has closed as of 4/15/15*

a guide to a mccaw hall PNB visit: ballet using your manners

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the susan brotman auditorium. photo obtained from mccaw hall website: http://www.mccawhall.com/

The Marion Oliver McCaw Hall is located at 321 Mercer St. (Mercer Street and 3rd Avenue North), on the North side of the Seattle Center. It is home to the Pacific Northwest Ballet and is also part of the Seattle Center.

what to bring:  your tickets, a camera, a very small purse/clutch, a layer of clothing to keep you warm: shawl, cardigan, sweater etc.

getting there:  traffic is terrible around the Mercer street area due to construction. Get to the ballet early and give yourself 30 minutes to wander around, take pictures, pre-order food/drinks, and use the bathroom.

where to park:  park at the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage. The Garage is located on Mercer Street next to the Teatro Zinzanni tent. The cost to park is usually $15-20. They accept Visa and Mastercard. If you have driven around the garage and can’t find parking, head back to the ground level and ask a parking attendant where to park. They may let you park on the ramp. The garage is attached to McCaw Hall by an overhead pedestrian walk-way.

patron amenities:  McCaw Hall has complimentary: coat check, booster cushions for kids and assistive listening devices for the hearing impaired.

You can rent binoculars for $5.00 (cash only).

where is the bathroom: the restrooms are on every level on the far right.

where to sit:  my favorite place to sit is on the Orchestra Level at the back.

Here’s why: the view is always unobstructed, you can get out quicker to the bathrooms during intermission and after the performance.

when you get there:
1.) Use the bathroom. Even if you don’t feel like you need to go, use the bathroom. If you get up during the performance to go to the bathroom, you will not be allowed back to your seat until intermission. The bathroom lines may get long and you don’t want get stuck waiting.

2.) Pre-order for your drink/food for intermission: Stand in line at any of the bar areas and pre-order your drink/food during intermission. Do not wait during intermission to stand in the horrendous line to get your drink/food. The bartender will tell you what is available to drink and eat. Food ranges from cookies to a small ramekin of macaroni and cheese. The bar where you pre-order is where your drink/food will be at intermission.

You can also pre-order a meal at the restaurant on the entry level lobby. At intermission, your meal will be prepared, on the table and waiting for you.

3.) Walk around and take pictures. Don’t forget to go in the auditorium and take a picture of the orchestra pit and the instruments.

4.) Get your program and find your seat. The auditorium runs a little cold for me. I don’t check my coat, but wear it during the performance.

5.) Read your program. The program contains the story-line for the performance. You will understand the scenes/acts if you read ahead.

during intermission:  send someone to find a seat/ table around the bar where you pre-ordered your drink/food. Head near the bar where you pre-ordered  your items. Your order will be set aside with a card bearing your name. Please do not take someone else’s food/drink.

If you pre-ordered a meal at the restaurant, go to the restaurant.

Warning bells will mark the end of intermission and encourage you to return to your seat.208421_10100350187967408_6791173_n

ballet etiquette and McCaw Hall guidelines: 

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arriving late:  the attendants will seat you if you arrive a few minutes late. After about 10-15 minutes late, they will seat you in the back or ask you to wait and view the performance from the lobby monitors.

what to wear:  since it’s Seattle, you will see a range of patrons wearing jeans to formal gowns. Please dress somewhat nicely.

electronic devices:  turn off your electronic devices. No one wants to hear your phone etc. during a performance they paid money to see.

The use of photographic and recording equipment during performances is strictly prohibited. Flash cameras are inconsiderate and dangerous to the artists.

food and beverages:  are not allowed in the auditorium. This rule goes for kids too!

noises:  try to minimize noises during the performance (coughing, blowing your nose, rustling of programs, whispering etc.) It’s rude to other patrons who are trying to enjoy the show.

smells:  limit your use of perfume, cologne or scented items. Some people are sensitive to smells and you don’t want to subject someone to stinky stuff.

 

making the most of intermission at the PNB’s Nutcracker

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11 years of going to McCaw Hall to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker has taught me a few things. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that The Nutcracker’s intermission is only 25 minutes long. How does one make the most of this precious time?

A few years ago, PNB started to offer this thing called, “The Nutcracker Suites” sponsored by Trophy Cupcakes. More information regarding the suite was always difficult for me to find on their website.

When you purchase your tickets to The Nutcracker, there will be a prompt for you to purchase the suite. The suite is only available during the evening shows and sells out quickly.

The cost is $25.00 per person. Print your suite tickets and take them with you to the ballet.

When the show breaks for intermission, head to the 4th floor and give them your ticket.

10268415_10103668737188168_5287742179062761810_nQuickly grab a cupcake on your way in and find a table first. Set your things down to mark that the table has been taken.

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the bartender with all the champagne

Champagne, hot chocolate, cupcakes and heavy appetizers are also available to you until the end of the 25 minute intermission.

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a guide to the salish lodge holiday tea

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Image from the Salish Lodge website: http://www.salishlodge.com/lodge.php

If you are ever on the hunt for a relaxing activity during the busy Christmas season, look no further! It’s the Salish Lodge Holiday Tea to the rescue!

Every year, during one Saturday in the month of December, my girlfriends and I drive over to the beautiful Salish Lodge for an afternoon of tea. It gives us the time to check-in and catch up on how we’re all handling the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

Here’s a guide on how to navigate holiday tea at the Salish Lodge:

The holiday tea is available every Saturday and Sunday in the month of December.

You must make a reservation. They will not seat you without a reservation.

If you can, request a seat by the window overlooking Snoqualmie Falls — it’s a breathtaking view.

The cost is $39.00 per person.

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20141220_140652Once you’re seated, the server will hand you the menu and then ask you which tea you would like.

You choose 1 tea from a selection of 2 teas they offer. 20141220_141319You will get 1 of each item on the menu in a tiered server. They are happy to box up any of the items you don’t eat.

20141220_141834After your meal, head over to their gift shop next door, take a picture by the decorated Christmas tree in the lobby or if the weather is nice, take a stroll outside and see the waterfall.

You can get to the Salish Lodge website here.

a guide to the Seattle Cinerama

2100 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 448-6680

20141219_222647My all-time favorite movie theater is the Cinerama. Sure, there are the reclining chairs and a server during the movie at Gold Class Cinema in Redmond, the super clean Lincoln Square and a full bar at Big Picture… no matter how nice or fancy these places are, they lack THE one thing that elevates the Cinerama above the rest. Two words: chocolate popcorn.

20141219_223234The scent of this amazingness draws you in.

The Cinerama recently had a remodel. They are now offering local food and snacks. They are also offering wine, beer and cider.

Here’s how to enjoy your time at my favorite movie theater!

tickets:  All the seats are pre-assigned. The Cinerama is a one screen theater; they will only have one movie showing at once. Go to their website here. Purchase your tickets on-line. The total price for one ticket is about, $16.50. Print your ticket and bring it to the movie with you.

getting there:  If you are going during the day, every parking spot in Seattle will require you to pay. If you park in the street after 8:00 p.m., it will be free!

once you get there:  Since you’ve paid for your ticket ahead of time, go through the doors by the ticket window. Show your printed ticket to the staff member and enjoy smelling the chocolate popcorn in the lobby! You are free to check out your seats once you get there.

20141219_223609concessions:  The concessions are fairly priced. A medium popcorn (will feed about 3-4 people) costs about $6.00. You can buy: 1 medium popcorn, 1 medium chocolate popcorn and 1 large drink for about $18.00 after tax.

restrooms:  The men’s and women’s restrooms are on opposite sides of the concession stand. Since only one movie is shown at a time, you can hear the audio of the movie in the bathrooms while the movie is playing.