22 May 2010

Eating in Sunny Seattle


There are so many great places to eat in Seattle that in a decade I would still be discovering new things, so just to keep it simple, I’m going to give you dinner and dessert. Well, life is short, and you should eat dessert first. Please, oh please, take care of this crucial human need at Wink Cupcakes at 1817 Queen Anne Avenue North. Their tiny shop offers a couple of tables for dining in, or you can wander the streets and enjoy all the neighborhood shops on sunny days. And the perky, incredibly happy-to-be-alive staff (I don’t blame them) can answer all of your questions about the dietary contents of their lovely little sugar bombs (yes, there are vegan options; yes, they choose fresh whenever possible and use no preservative or trans fats). They even have a cupcake Happy Hour Wednesdays from 3pm to 5pm; if that isn’t serious, I don’t what is.

There are three different sizes of cupcakes at Wink; the medium size, which is what’s out and on display, is a good, modest size of cake, though of course it is piled high with almost the same amount of frosting. My favorites were the moist Red Velvet with a tangy, surprising light cream cheese frosting; the ever-so-healthy carrot cake (with visible shredded carrot inside) with the very same cream cheese frosting; and the even moister, dense peanut butter with an incredibly light, fluffy whipped peanut butter frosting (you can also request other frosting flavors on these). They have ice creams, as well, if for some reason you find yourself entering a cupcake shop and craving ice cream instead. I don’t judge.

I know that Italian food may not strike you as terribly original for dinner; most of the time you could make the stuff at home for pennies and it would turn out just as well. But still, what is sexier than a dimly lit, poshly decorated Italian place for a late dinner? Actually, I went to Pomodoro with about ten other people, and the ambiance worked just as well for us. I do hope our loud cackling didn’t ruin anyone’s proposal…

Pomodoro, at 2366 Eastlake Avenue, actually offers Italian and Spanish fare, and the combination of the two yields some subtly creative dishes. The Barcelonan chef got his start in the Spanish Army thirty years ago and has cooked for the likes of the King of Spain and various European politicians. We ordered a nice bottle of Temperanillo that was smooth and smoky (wine can be ordered by the glass, half bottle, or full bottle).

From the tapas side of the menu, we ordered Champiñones al Jerez, whole mushroom caps grilled with olive oil, sea salt, and dry sherry. I could have used more salt, but they were otherwise a perfect complement to the wine. The dishes, well-proportioned and all beautifully prepared, included smoked baby clams with linguine and an olive oil-white wine sauce, fresh crab meat in a dill-cream sauce over spaghetti, roast chicken with dollops of potato gratin and an asparagus spear embedded in a zucchini boat (definitely the most artistically constructed dish of the evening), and a surprisingly light carbonara with crispy pancetta. With fresh local ingredients form the ocean, perfectly cooked pasta, and sauces which were tastefully made and applied, I could happily recommend any one of these dishes. The restaurant is also accommodating when it comes to adjusting recipes to make them vegetarian.