I'm Jess, a grad student and food photographer obsessed with chocolate. I love things made of sugar, lasers strapped to helicopters, and silly hats.
Come visit on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, for stories about food, bakeries in Seattle, and my most definitely being up to no good.
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Monthly Archives: February 2012
11-11:30 am: Ting Momo
After Seatown I had time to kill, so I exploited the fact that Chris works at one of the Amazon buildings in South Lake Union and took a nap behind his standing desk. Real fancy, I tell you. (I wish I had a photo of me curled up next to the filing cabinets, my visitor badge clipped to my blanket, but I didn’t want to tell Chris to stop working for the sake of my blog.) Around eleven we walked over to Ting Momo.
Ting Momo feels the most like a fast food place of all the Tom Douglas restaurants. (For locals, I mean in the Agua Verde sense, not McDonald’s.) You sit on straw chairs and eat on brushed metal tables with disposable Ting Momo chopsticks. The napkins are also labeled. The major focal points are the large pictures on the walls of both the dumplings and Tibetan people. Lanterns and bolts of fabric are tied to the ceiling, with metal bells by the register where you order. When we arrived, an accordion version of the Star Wars soundtrack was playing. It’s not a relaxing vibe, but it’s fun. The staff are super nice, and took the time to answer my questions about the dumpling dough and the ingredients.
We go a potato samo ($4) and an eggplant tingmo ($4). I took a bite of each, as I wasn’t feeling incredibly hungry and wanted room in my stomach for my noon appointment at Dahlia Lounge. That and, sadly, I’m not a curry fan.
The samo, fried and crispy and vaguely fish-shaped, had a nicely delicate exterior and a curry potato interior, reminiscent of potato samosas. The tingmo was more chewy, a bit sticky on the outside, and quite hearty with the eggplant and curry with shittake mushrooms. The tingmo really benefited from the rich and salty soy-based sauce accompanying it. But I wasn’t fully sold on either, which I totally attribute to my not being a curry fan. Chris inhaled both of them before I finished taking notes.
So it’s not my place to eat at. But Chris felt he’d have to try it more often for lunch, so you at least have one new convert.
12-1 pm: Dahlia Lounge
At this point, apparently word had fully spread of my quest. Ari and Kathy knew what I was up to – apparently I was the talk of the email chain – and showed me to a booth with really good lighting.
The Dahlia Lounge feels like a place to hold business meetings or big, sem-formal events. It’s all red booths and polite servers, with menus focusing on seasonal rotations of things like sweetbreads and hearty salads.
I ordered a starter salad, with mixed baby lettuces and a goat cheese crostini ($8). What they don’t tell you on the menu is that this salad is an homage to cheese. Yes, you get a dainty crostini topped with luscious herbed goat cheese, but the salad itself is covered in a snowy layer of freshly shaved cheese, which I was too busy eating to ask what it was. (My guess would be a pecorino or asagio). The cheese and the garlic oil, with the chives that are mixed in, become the focal points of what would otherwise be a very basic salad. It has a great mix of savory and lightness. And it is refreshing, even with the lactose party.
Holly, my awesome server, spotted Tom Douglas walk in during my meal and tried to see if I could meet with him, but he was in a meeting. No worries there.
Then they comped my salad. (“By this point I really should have seen that I was doomed.”)
1:30-2:30 pm: Serious Pie Virginia
I got to Serious Pie and told the man at front of house I really just wanted to eat a couple slices of pizza. Somehow this ended up with my being seated next to a pair of people on a business meeting who had just ordered their pizzas. I explained what I was up to and offered $20 towards their bill and tip if I could just have two slices and rush out. They seemed mildly confused, but agreed.
Matt then offered me his root beer. Dude missed out; it was awesome. (He liked sweeter stuff, and this had a pretty strong kick of sassafras.)
They had ordered the hedgehog mushroom and fennel sausage pizzas, so I nibbled on one slice of each. I’ve had the fennel sausage before and liked it – it has a really hearty kick from the fennel that works well in pizza form. The hedgehog mushroom pizza was more interesting to me, as I had never had hedgehog mushrooms before. They’re tasty, if you’re a fan of mild, earthy mushrooms with your cheese.
And as I was attempting to write notes and properly ponder each slice, Tom Douglas himself showed up. I shook Tom’s hand, and told him I was having a blast. He asked if I liked the Serious Pie logo art, which he referred to as Woman with Flaming Penis. He also mocked that I hadn’t started on “the best part – the crust” as I had been comparing ingredients rather than eating whole slices. The crust really is fantastic – when done right, it’s a beauty of crunch with olive oil.
I got a horrible cell phone picture taken with Tom. He’s tall. (Given that I also have a really bad photo of me with Jessie Oleson/CakeSpy, I should start a collection.)
In the end, Matt and Emily seemed really amused by it all, and I didn’t waste pizza. On to Etta’s!
So I’m going to begin reviewing the Tom Douglas Mega-Tour. This will take a while, as it’s already at 2,000+ words without my actually being done writing. And there are eleven places to talk about. So, bear with me. There will be pictures.
Chris and I arrived at Serious Biscuit at 7:15, as I couldn’t convince myself to get on a bus any earlier than 6:45 (the things I do for food). I grabbed a biscuit with jam and butter ($3), and Chris had the ham hock and collard greens biscuit ($9). We were the only customers in the shop.
Hi! I had hoped to write this yesterday, but I was so exhausted last night that I actually was venturing towards cranky, and one should not write about tasty things when cranky.
Basically, yesterday rocked. There is no better description.
I’ve been a loyal Tom Douglas fan since high school. I don’t remember when I started eating at Palace Kitchen or Lola, but they were always treats. I dragged all my friends to Serious Pie to celebrate whenever possible. Chris and I held our wedding reception at Palace Kitchen. (We had a larger group dinner the night before at Cuoco.)
I had eaten enough from the restaurants that I thought I knew what to expect, and The Bloggess’s words to live furiously happy cheered me on towards setting up this tour. While I am connected to a few larger blogs (more on that another day), I decided that not pulling strings would be fine. I just wanted a really fun day out in the middle of a stressful quarter. It ended up being one of the most fantastic Seattle day trips I’ve ever been on, and I have the team of all the Tom Douglas restaurants to thank for that.
I wish I had all of your names so I could thank you individually, because I know I misspelled most of them in my notebook in my attempt to keep up. From Liana and Lauren, who started this insanity rolling at Seatown Seabar, to Tom himself showing up at Serious Pie, you’re all amazing. I know I’m gushing, but most of you missed me laughing my head off at Cuoco from the sheer amount of pasta the team tried to feed us.
There are over 300 photos. I have class shortly, and I need to stare at my thesis work. But thank you. Thank you for a day that gave me the inability to answer when someone asked what my favorite dish was.
MOD Pizza’s pizza must be what college students dream of. A pizza, with anything and everything on it, ready within a few minutes of ordering, for $6.88 + tax. It definitely feels like the kind of place that thrives in the college/tech town of Seattle, and especially around the University of Washington. The chain displays graffiti-stylized logos (‘Are you a MOD?’), papers for local bands on the walls, simple benches and booths, and blue/red/white pops of contrast. Alternative music blasts in the background. A can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer ($1) is cheaper than the local, non-fountain soda. There’s a pile of foil-wrapped ho ho’s by the register in case you want something sweet to go with your savory. (They do have cinnamon knots, but I have yet to try them.)
The day I went in there was no one waiting in line, so I had my pizza ready within 4-5 minutes, and I grabbed a small booth in the corner. There are small plates for your pizza at each table, in case you had some weird idea of sharing. Forks and knives are available, but I usually don’t bother with them. The crust doesn’t work well with them, and the pizza’s never blisteringly hot.