Zippy's Giant Burgers...

I can not continue to write further before saying that these things are freakin awesome! It is a small burger place in West Seattle called Zippy's Giant Burgers and co-owned by the former front man of The Accused punk band in the 80's. Way cool. I was turned on to this joint a few weeks ago by someone, simply by way of a mentioning of this little shack that sells great burgers in West Seattle. Being a "W.S.-ite", (hell, I grew up here) I had to check it out. It took a about a week to actually get there as I had work issues(my passion & craft), kids' school commitments, and all kinds of crap going on that prevented us from venturing onward to that mission. But, then came the weekend, and our agenda was free to explore and explore we did. We found the "joint" and proceeded to park. That took a little engineering. The area is a dense neighborhood and not much space to park anyway, plus, it was a nice day and the place was packed. I figured it was because it was so small and there were a lot of folks waiting to get in, which did hold true, but the reason was, was that the people would stand in line for about 30 minutes just to get a burger, and then hang out. The entry and waiting area is not much more than the size of an average kitchen, with only 2 bistro style tables and a counter for maybe 10-12 folks to sit at total. It is truly standing room only there while you wait for the "tatted" out dudes to call your name with your order. Around the room, on all the walls are old vintage photos of diners, burger shacks, drive ins, cartoonists' renderings of old burger lore, and general memorabilia of the area. As I am standing there waiting to find out what the hell I am waiting all this time for in a burger, I notice a group of pictures on the wall with a small plaque underneath with a caption reading "from The Seattle Post Intelligencer archives" (our now defunct local newspaper) and something about a great pancake toss, showing three women running, flipping pancakes in a race, dated circa 1950's. I remembered wondering if my late mother, who retired from this newspaper after 35 years of service as a reporter, was around then to remember this. As I did the math, it seemed a wee-bit early, and as I stared aimlessly at the photo, I realized not that perhaps my mother could have written it, but she was one of the gals in the damn race! I bursted out "that's my mom" to my wife and kids. Then, everyone turned around and reconfirmed..."that's your mom, really?" It was. I remembered then, that I saw an old photo of this stashed away in my mothers boxes of old stuff many years ago. What a trip. Anyway, back to the burgers and thanks for hanging on through my nostalgic moment. This place was full of rocker's & metal heads(Alice in Chains jackets, Harley's out front etc) tattoos, families, kids, adults and all kind of walks of life. They were here for good food. Good food takes time, and this was no exception. The two guys working the grill; a couple dudes who were busting their asses off and working up a sweat held their own. Music rockin, they were jammin on the grill. Always a good thing for me to see. People were walking out with shakes(with ice cream made from White Center's Full Tilt), malts, fries, o-rings and GIANT BURGERS! We finally received ours...a number 11 Royale, a healthy portion of beef with jack and smoked cheddar, chipotle mayo, Mam Lil's goathorn peppers, the basics and just simple nice grill-ness. The smoky char from the grill, the zesty spice from the cheese and sauce and the oozing flavor of the juices and meat were all kick-ass. My wife had the black bean burger which is also a must. I liken this burger to not one like Dick's, In & Out, or Kidd Valley, although all very tasty, no, this is much more of a meal. Much deeper flavor, heartier portion, and old school style yet with a modern upbeat edge. This has soul. It has body. It carries moxie and sass! Nothing nouveau or bastardized, just good cooking all around. They also flaunt an extensive "soda bar", mostly made up of self-serve vintage root beers, and colas. Funky! My only bummer and "beef"(pun intended...duh) is that they only take cash. Cash is good though. Nothing to bounce, get denied, receive notice of insufficient funds or charge you an obscene amount of service charges to accept. I get it. So, if you find yourself in "our neck of the woods" over here is West Seattle or want to journey over from afar to check it out, you won't be disappointed, unless you are not into great burgers and having to wait for them. Do not come expecting the stylish sit down joint, with quiet atmosphere and smooth servers serving gracious food on linens to be charged on your Visa. Not gonna happen. Come with the thought that you are going to get sticky and have a great tasting burger. A growing addiction for sure.

Tasting Menu Dishes...

Warm Maine Lobster Salad
White, Green Asparagus, Chevre des Cremiers, Morels, Miner's Lettuce,
and a Warm Truffle Dressing

a couple days ago, we did a tasting menu for a wonderful couple who are always an inspiration to see and to cook for. I can not stress enough that if you love what you do, it will show in your work...and, if there are guests that truly enjoy what you create, put your whole heart and soul into it. I snapped off a few shots of a couple dishes, but unfortunately, did not get the rest as we were quite swamped. So, the rest remains but a memory, but the memory remains nonetheless! Here are the two dishes that were not only fun to create, but exciting to see unfold as a creation, very flavorful and indicative of Spring. In the attempt to produce a menu that is worthy of our self and our craft and that is true to our commitment to keep exploring new ideas and flavors and to make it the best we can, we learn new things about ourselves. That is always the ultimate stimulation as a cook. So, for today...we keep cooking.

Citrus Scented Muscovy Duck Sous Vide
French Green Lentils, Slow Cooked Turnips & Fennel,
Meyer Lemon-Castelvetrano Olive-Parsley Salad


Wine Maker Lunch 04.17.09...

Spring Lamb Stew...
peas, carrots, favas, baby turnips sous vide, spring garlic-nettle puree
licorice-blackberry essence and micro greens

This past Friday, as with any given month throughout the year, we are honored to cook for some well known, or not wine maker, Chateau, or aficionado and pair a cool seasonal menu to it's offerings. This month was not any different. Over the years, the wine lunches at the club have ebbed and flowed with the seasons, the economy and the wine styles, but they always remain important in the search and commitment to the art of menu creating. Choice of ingredients are important and there is no mistake in that. Do not let anyone tell you differently. If you are a chef, then food is your life. It is crucial for a chef to express them self and to explore the ideas that lie out there like an elusive entity. Create...that is what we do. Flavors in any form or fashion are the basis of the dish. To make it memorable, tasty, exciting and fun, and in a way that challenges our minds and our palettes are key. Perhaps this menu did not challenge my mind, but it definitely made for a memorable, tasty and well enjoyed gathering of foodstuffs. Here is how we rolled...

Warm Caramelized Onion-Duck Confit Tart

with grilled King Oyster Mushrooms, Savory Streusel, Miners Lettuce, "Aligot" Potatoes
and a Saba Reduction

following, we offered up a subtle and delicate Rhubarb-Raspberry-Ricotta Pudding, Compressed Rhubarb, Rhubarb-Ginger Ice, Warm Lemon Zeppole, Fennel-Almond Tuile and a Ricotta-Almond Cremeaux


Sous Vide, a Chef's Table Menu (Under Pressure)...

Maine Lobster Amuse
Elderflower Compressed Cucumber, Mango Relish, Micro Greens
Lobster Roe, Lobster-Agro Dolce Dressing

Ok, so I penned the phrase from the great Thomas Keller; owner and chef of The French Laundry, per se, Bouchon Bistro and Ad Hoc. Appropriately so, as his book; Under Pressure has given me a plethora of inspiration, some much guided knowledge and insight to this modern method of precision cooking and has put a newly generated sense of motion to my food. Our latest group of foodies who graced me with their presence for our craft was in the kitchen last week and here is a glimpse of the moment...flavors abound, tastes exploding and textures arousing, and not only for the taste buds, but for all of the senses. The kitchen team was definitely buzzing and having a great time, one that I trust was had by the guests as well. I first came across the method and concept of cooking sous vide; or "under vacuum" as it implies back in the mid-eighties when it became fashionable from several French chef's looking to control quality, presentation and the exacting measures of the ingredients. It came and went. no big deal. Nothing inspiring. Basically a poor excuse for what cooking should be...or at least that is what we thought. There was nothing documented to get inspired by. Nothing recorded to learn from and no-one to bring it into a modern and high quality realm, until now. You will need to read the book, or just look into what is happening here and at many of the highest of caliber of restaurants. Here is the menu...
White & Green Asparagus with Morel Salad
Truffles, Chevre de Cremier, Truffle Potatoes, Bacon, Truffle Dressing

Seared Scallop & Carrot-Almond Agnolotti
Gin Compressed Rhubarb, Ramp Greens, PX Jus, Micro Burgundy Amaranth

Honey Bunches of Oats Crusted Foie Gras

Muscovy Duck Breast & Florida Pompano "Sous Vide"
Braised Ramps, Peas, Pea Jus, Dauro Olive Oil
Meyer Lemon-Castelvetrano Olive Salad

~bouchee revigorant~
Oranges, Black Olive Brittle, Fennel Sous Vide, Blood Orange Sorbet

Lamb Loin Sous Vide
Carrot-Potato Puree, Fiddlehead ferns, Lobster-Squash-Caramelized Garlic Fricassee

missing in action...

Syrah Braised Short Rib, Baby Turnips Sous Vide, Artichokes,

Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms, Anson Mills Grits,

and Creamed Nettles

Tastes of Strawberry, Rhubarb, Chocolate, Caramel, Pistachio

Ricotta & Raspberry, Buttermilk and a handful of others.

Migs-Ginger Chocolates, Macaroon Sandwiches, Salted Caramels,

Peanut Butter Bites


System "D" in the Dish Op's...

several nights ago, one of our water pressure valves blew as we lost our o'ring inside the pipe, which subsequently released copious amounts of steaming hot water profusely over the top of the machine. Immediately, I was on my cell trying to contact our "dish guy"; Wes to steer me in the direction to come up with a fix for the evening as we had a busy night ahead, and by the time I got back to the "pit" to instruct our DMO; Jacob on how to manage it, he had implemented his own methodry on fixing it...system D at it's finest! A trough of foil which would prove perfect for the situation until the next morning when we could get a new valve installed. Sometimes, one just needs to act first and ask questions later.