January 2011

Comfort Food

From this Issue

If you ever found your way into Chez Gaudy—down the shadowy hallway and through the small rooms decorated in college-rental fashion—you won’t believe how elegant La Bête is.

In big cities like ours, there are a lot of “pretty good” restaurants. It takes something to really shine, to be great.

Union, Ethan Stowell’s first restaurant, which opened way back in 2003, was a great restaurant in the beginning. But it was always a little too stiff for an any-night stop.

Seattle-based architects and artists Daniel Mihalyo and Annie Han, who collaborate under the name Lead Pencil Studio (, have built their reputation on nothing.

Whether it’s the singular contentment found in a plate of gooey mac and cheese, or the soothing warmth of a hot bowl of soup, this time of year we’re all about praising good ol’ comfort food. For this issue, we indulged in moist slices of meatloaf and flaky-crumbed piroshky. We dug through mounds of mashed potatoes and devoured dumplings whose bellies were bursting with juicy beef.

A greeting card on bioengineering professor Henry Lai's office wall at the University of Washington contains this quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

The next time you’re bored at work, resist the urge to flip through your ex’s Facebook photos and engage in a productive distraction instead. Empire & State is a new MMO game (that is, “massively multiplayer online,” meaning opponents are playing from their own computers) from Redmond-based gaming startup Novel Inc.

WHERE: Leavenworth, Washington, for the annual Bavarian Ice Festival, January 15–16 ( WHY: A packed roster of wintry events, including snow sculpting, tubing, snowshoe relays, a slippery tug of war (no spiked footwear allowed!), sleigh rides and the Northwest Dog Sled Pulling Competition.

The new nidra sleep treatment at  Vida Spa begins with a warm cup of tea in the cozy, fireside relaxation room, where guests have been known to nod off. After a soothing aromatherapy massage and press-and-release tension relief on the scalp, temple, neck and shoulders, you’ll be sent home with newfound Zen.

Embrace your choosy side at new downtown beauty joint American Cutting Co. (1123 First Ave.; 206.395.2060; Occupying the former Maison Luxe space, the salon tailors its à la carte–style menu to suit your time and budget.

The new year often inspires a slew of detox drinks as an antidote for excessive holiday festivities. But while starting out fresh is all well and good, we’d like to propose an alternate kickoff libation: tequila!

The A.W.A.R.D. Show
1/27–1/30, 8 p.m. Prices vary.
On the Boards, 100 W Roy St.

ARTIST: Renata Friedman, seattle actress, producer

I don’t mind sleeping in a damp tent or camping on snow if it means getting to enjoy a night in the woods in the quiet of winter. But every year when the snow begins to fall, the Rendezvous Huts in the Methow Valley beckon, offering a wilderness experience with as many cozy comforts of home as you’re willing to haul in.

Sing Happy Birthday
Lake Quinault Lodge Turns 85

Occupation: Children’s lit specialist and Newbery Medal committee member

Book reviewing process:
“It’s a physical system; I make piles.”

Words to live by:
“Falling in love with a book is like falling in love with a person; in the end, the faults don’t matter if they’re slight.”

J.H. Kellogg, cereal mogul, believed circumcision was a sure-fire cure for masturbation—particularly if the surgery was performed without chloroform so the boy could feel it. In the 1870s, his and similar views on male sexuality and hygiene set scalpels slicing across the United States, where the practice had previously been uncommon.

In the midst of health care reform and institutional consolidation, local hospitals and clinics are touting new facilities and programs in an effort to keep themselves current and comprehensive in the eyes of consumers. Undaunted, ELIZABETH M. ECONOMOU sifts through all the messages and provides the perspective to keep your blood pressure in check.

When I sat down to write this month’s column, I was working at home during that early snowfall last November, gazing out the window at our neighbor’s snow-covered fence. It wasn’t even winter, but it was definitely already grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup weather.

Take note, urbanites. There is civilization south of Ikea. Thanks to the draw of Kent Station mall, the busy ShoWare Center and a newly remodeled library, old town Kent has amped up its charm.

Usually, I’m an oyster purist: raw, on the half shell, with nothing but seawater and its own liquor to slurp down.

The best gumbo I’ve tasted in Seattle comes from Where Ya At Matt’s food truck. Chef Matthew Lewis’ version ($8) features the holy trinity of celery, onions and bell peppers, and it pulses with heat from hunks of house-cured andouille sausage and Creole spice. A toasty brown roux gives it a creamy-smooth base.

When it comes to making great wine, father and son Rob and Brian McCormick of Memaloose Wines in Lyle, Washington, are working both sides of the Washington/Oregon border against the middle—of the Columbia River. In the exact “middle”—geographically, at least—of their five estate vineyards (two in Oregon, three in Washington) is Memaloose Island, the inspiration for their winery’s name.

For Jimmy Anderson and Tim Hoskins, high school graduation from Seattle’s University Prep in 1983 didn’t entail a parting. Instead, their friendship ripened to the point that, 25 years later, they created Kirkland-based Rowdy Roja Salsa (

Squeezed next to Moe Bar and Sweat Box Yoga studio is Capitol Hill’s first and only winery, Cork House (1421 10th Ave.; 206.323.2675; Travis Scarborough (of O’Shea Scarborough Winery) and Josh Fletcher opened the tasting room in September to showcase their locally made blends.

Thrive Cafe
The refresh, made with cucumber, celery, kale and spinach, is a richly colored, nutrient-packed pick-me-up. Add some apple juice for a sweeter flavor. $6/12 ounces. Roosevelt, 1026 NE 65th St.; 206.525.0300;


Seattle-based architects and artists Daniel Mihalyo and Annie Han, who collaborate under the name Lead Pencil Studio (, have built their reputation on nothing.

Since we’ve got a year or two to go until the Mayan calendar runs out, there’s still a chance to think reflectively before the end of the world. There’s no denying that world has been changing, and so, too, our corner of it. Today’s Seattle is not the old Seattle that we knew. I’ve been sifting through our civic storage unit and have come up with a list that documents the changes.

Why we love his look: Ian MacNeil is always the life of the party. As chair of multiple galas around town (often sharing the honor with wife Laura), the Montlake-based business executive (he owns Lachselian Holdings, an aviation leasing firm) is always clad in preppy, boldly colored suits.