A couple of weeks ago Brian and I looked at our DVR and selected the 100th show of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. His first show had been in Paris, and so was his 100th. Rather than hit the four star restaurants, the show celebrated a key shift in fine French food. The best young chefs are seeking to open their own restaurants, serving the best food, at far lower prices, in upgraded spaces down side streets that have been forgotten. We looked at some of the fabulous food and could literally taste and smell it. We wanted to just jump on a plane and eat.
So, we did. We got off the plane, dumped the luggage, went downtown, found a side street and in mid-block entered one of those restored old buildings you see in coffee table books. Shining metal and wood with subdued colors and a bar from heaven.
Then we ate the food. And it was simply as good as anything we have ever had anywhere, anytime. Perfect food, complemented by perfect beverages.
So how was Paris? I wouldn’t know. We were in Seattle.
I’ll be blogging on a very important new cocktail book, Left Coast Librations, by Ted Munat. Ted leads you on a trail of best cocktails from Los Angeles to Vancouver. I asked Ted where to go in Seattle, for drinks and perhaps food. His reply: Spur. Ted says it’s the best combination of food and cocktails in Seattle. Modest statement. Spur is simply world class.
A “gastropub”, Spur offers incredibly inventive cocktails paired with wonderfully fresh, inspired food featuring the bounty of the northwest. Here’s a sampling of the large tapas-style plates Suzen, my daughter Kelly, and I ordered:
- Tagliatelle with duck egg, oyster mushroom and pine nuts
- Pork Belly Sliders adorned with nectarine, marjoram, and champagne
- Washington Chicken Confit [chili-glazed legs with coriander and yogurt]
- Sockeye Salmon Crostini
One bite of anything, and you simply stop. There is a “My God” moment where you realized that the food cannot be better. Not one molecule is out of place. The balance of colors, flavors, textures, and temperatures is remarkable. I’ve written my interpretation of the Sockeye Salmon Crostini below, trying to emphasize the balance achieved along all those lines.
We owe thanks to Ted for his great recommendation, and next week I’ll begin blogging his magnificent cocktail book. If you are in, near, or plan to visit Seattle, then Spur is a culinary mandatory stop. Someday soon, I expect you’ll see Anthony Bourdain celebrating another milestone in a landmark restaurant. Odds are it’ll be Spur.
If you make this appetizer, I do believe it will become a standard for you. It’s so good, it just triggers giggles.
Sockeye Salmon Crostini
Yield: 8 servings:
- 1 loaf of brioche
- ⅓ pound smoked sockeye salmon
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup pickled shallots
Slice the brioche and then quarter the pieces. You want single bit snacks here. Lightly toast the bread. It needs to be firming, but NOT firm, not crisp. [I honestly don’t remember if the bread at Spur was brioche but I do remember it being lightly toasted and soft so that there was no crunch to contrast with the cheese].
With a whisk, mix the mascarpone and heavy cream. At Spur, the cheese was subtle and much more spreadable than straight mascarpone. Suzen and I experiment with this cheese and cream combo, at room temperature, and found it comes close to duplicating the Spur dish.
Spread a layer of mascarpone-cream on each piece of bread. Sprinkle with capers and shallots. Top with a bite size piece of smoked salmon. At Spur, the salmon was both smoked and sticky sweet, as if honey were involved somewhere in the process. If I can find out just what it was, I’ll let you know.
Arrange on a plate, sit, enjoy.
Source: Spur, Seattle Washington