Sutra in Seattle

My sister and I have been habitually vacationing, every summer for a week, the past couple of years. One year to the Oregon coast, once to the peninsula, LaPush and Neah Bay. This year, not sure of the amount of time we had, no place came to mind for either of us. So, her brilliant idea: let’s just go day tripping for three days and sleep at home in our own comfy beds. That is what we did.

First day: how could you miss on a trip to IKEA? We had no lists. We both have favorite items from trips past. My all time favorite thing is the plastic grater box with 2 tight fitting grater lids. It comes in red now, but I love the white one I have had for years. My sister loves the orange solar reading lights. The base comes off so you can place it in the sunlight. Then you snap it back in place for reading in the evening. Excellent! I also love the woven rush baskets with the huge bowl and footed base. I have two of those. IKEA also has a great wok at an incredible price $4.99. I use one at school and it does the job well. They have two great wicker chairs, one at $29.99 and one at $79.99. Very reasonable.

After making our purchases: my new favorite is a wind up flashlight in bright red that kind of looks like a giant space age pepper grinder, plus  jam, strainer, those thin yummy cinnamon wafer cookies….we thought of going to the movies, the Help, Beginners, something thoughtful. But our timing was off. Eating was next. I have been carrying a Seattle magazine from last year with a line up of 60 restaurants that are changing the way we eat in my car for just this purpose. We looked in at Sitka and Spruce, they were full. We thought about Poppy but have been there recently. So we went to Sutra on west 45th. Click the link for some photos and more information. I want to talk about the food!

I don’t usually take photos of my plate as many folks do in restaurants. I feel self conscious. I commit the dish to taste bud memory instead. First, I must tell you that the entire meal was vegan and you must imagine the color themes as you read the descriptions. Here is the line up of courses:

Urfabiber Tomatilla-Corn Soup with a Musk Mellon-Red Leaf Lettuce, Shaved Fennel and Fried Caper Salad, with Roasted Garlic Lemon-Hempseed Dressing

Cashew Cheese Flan with Juiced Carrot and Cilantro, Frisee Dressed in Lime and Sesame, finished with New Blue Potato Chips and a Tequila Black Lemon Gastrique

Chanterelle and House Smoked Great White Northern Bean/Nigella Stuffed Eight Ball Zucchini with Sauteed Rainbow Chard and a Yellow Banana Inferno Chile-Tomato Sauce, finished with a Basil Chiffonade  the Nigella seeds are so beautiful and very tasty. I know you have some growing in your yard, or neighborhood. When the plants dry out, save the pods, shake out the seeds. Each pod has hundreds of seeds. Use them for breakfast-eggs, lunch-salad dressing, dinner-sprinkle on baked squash or mashed potatoes.

Cinnamon-Port Poached Peach with a Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream finished with an Elderberry Glaze

I love the addition of the exact type of zucchini and chile. The Urfabiber is a spice blend from Turkey that was sprinkled over the silky creamy, warm and bright Tomatilla Corn Soup. So smooth, absolutely no dairy. So good. The Cashew Cheese Flan was mysteriously light with wonderful texture. And the home made blue potato chips were crispy and folded almost like origami birds. Beautiful. The gastrique tasted of lemon and maple syrup, a new flavor combination  for me. The main, a sweet little stuffed zucchini came complete with the top and stem reminiscent of pumpkin. The beans, chard and tomato flavors were comforting with the added smoky flavor…..a campfire must be nearby.

This was a lot of food…..yet we eagerly anticipated that dessert. No disappointment. Ethereal and aromatic peach slices surrounding a scoop of vanilla coconut heaven. I have tasted Elderberries before and they are sooo acidic. Somehow the chef coaxed a wonderful apple like flavor out of the glaze with just a bit of sugar and cooking down. This foiled the sweet flavors nicely.

We met the chef, Aaron Geible, after dinner finished up. He graciously answered some of my questions about the cashew cheese and gastrique, we talked about the importance of knowing as much as we can about the foods we purchase, cook  eat, passing that on to our kids, about supporting local growers which then brings the whole community closer. The restaurant emulates this in the huge amount of information one gets from the waitstaff and menu. The kitchen is in the dining area and diners are settled at long cozy tables, we sat with some women from southern California. I know this is the trend these days, a view of your entree being flamed and sharing the French press with your neighbor, but here it all seemed natural and sincere.  You must go there. Click on the link, read about it, and go. Especially go if you have hesitations about vegan or vegetarian food. Aaron and crew will change your life.

That was day one. wow. Next day we went to Bellingham, strolled downtown, went to Man Pies, which I will tell you about later…..really good pies with a great southern style crust. And then to see “The Help”. I read the book and like the writing and the take on an unknown subject. I felt bad as was intended, about the inequities and violent meanness. What I loved was the intelligence and humor shown in the face of despair. The movie did the job, but I wouldn’t see it again – my sign of a really good or great movie is wanting to immediately see it again.  My temperpedic bed felt so good to the old hips that spent way too much time sitting.

Day Three – we could have driven hours and hours, spent $200 on a hotel room and $50 for the lunch, but instead we packed the avocados, chips, cheese, eggs, watermelon and juices into the basket, and drove 4 miles to Snee-oosh Beach. We took blankets and my dog, Monk, a rottie/shepard/lab mix. He loves to swim and fetch. The sun was hot. We are both reading the latest book by David Brooks. We took turns. The beach glass was few and far between but dogs were in abundance so Monk got to work on his social skills. Sand in our crevices, slightly pink toned, a few hours later we headed back home to Caesar salads with shrimp, tall cool glasses of water. Then a dip in the hot tub and a snooze under the stars for me. What a nice idea for vacationing. It worked….ok, one photo.

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