paseo

Last week, my friend Jen and I embarked on a mini food tour of Seattle. Just our favorite spots, or ones we needed to try. Paseo Caribbean Restaurant falls into the favorite spot category, a.k.a. one of the few restaurants I can’t live without. I need Paseo like I need to breathe. And you do too.

This unassuming little shop with no signage out front lies in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. There’s always a line out the door, unless you hit them up at at a rare lull. A second location in Ballard is rumored to be less crowded, but it’s farther out of the way for little ‘ol me.

If the line down the block doesn’t clue you in, the stickers on the door certainly let you know that this place has been discovered.

But it’s not all hype in a hand basket (yes, I’m making up phrases now, because it’s tuesday and I have honey in my hair…don’t ask). Whatever wait you have to endure, cash you need to procure from an atm (no plastic accepted here), or crowds of hungry Emerald City folk you have to elbow through, it’s all worth it in the end.

So, what exactly will you get in the end? What are you and scores of other Seattlites making this journey for?

This. A Cuban Roast. Tender roasted pork on a toasted Macrina roll slathered in garlic mayo, cilantro, crispy romaine, jalapeños and sauteed onions.

Not to mention the garlicy, buttery piece of corn that comes alongside.

This sandwich must contain a small amount of crack/cocaine because I keep going back for it again and again like some kind of junkie. Maybe that’s their secret. It’s Like Water for Chocolate meets a Cuban sandwich shop.

And oh, the corn. The CORN! There must be about 10 cloves of minced garlic and a pound of butter slathering each piece. I save mine for last. And then I tell myself that it’s okay that I just ate a foot-long pork sandwich because now I’m eating my vegetables. My slathered-in-butter vegetables.

The other thing I love about this restaurant, and yet another reason why I keep coming back, is that they’re exceedingly nice. Except for this sign. Which I need to tack up on my house.

Okay, they don’t look particularly nice here either. But they are—I promise. After I snapped this photo this lady smiled and laughed at me. Which is what people normally do when I’m taking pictures in their restaurants. Either that or look at me like I’m two tacos short of a combination plate.

But here’s the thing about niceness: I feel that sometimes when Seattle restaurants get as much positive press as this place has, they get a little snarky attitude. A little holier-than-thou. But not here. At Paseo, they’re here to feed you with a smile that will be contagious.

I had to post this photo because this guy looks like he’s running to squelch the fire a-brewin in the back. When in reality, he’s just rushing to get an order ready and smiling/laughing-at-me lady is manning the saute pan full of delicious fire-tinged onions. Paseo folk, as a breed, are not afraid of fire.

I mean, really? It’s so freaking delicious that it shouldn’t even be allowed.

I should also mention that they’ve got a full menu to sample for those of you who aren’t pork eatin’ types. And another tip from me to you: sometimes in the evening they run out of bread (usually after 5pm-ish), in which case I default to the West Caribbean Bowl or the Cuban Roast Plate. Go there for a lunch or early dinner if you want to score one of these delicious sammies. And they’re closed mondays. Which is why I didn’t post this yesterday.

Happy tuesday! I’m off to wash my hair…

-RDG

le fournil

On monday I told you about my gluttonous weekend. I’m still recovering, and officially on Jillian Michaels’ shit list.

But whatevs. I’ve never been one to play by the rules, especially when it comes to “eating right” and “exercising.” These are both activities that can be manipulated to my specifications. Let’s take my visit to this gorgeous French bakery, Le Fournil, for example. “Eating right” in France entails coffee and pastry for breakfast. I mean, you wouldn’t be French if you didn’t. So naturally, I ate right.

Venturing into this cute Eastlake cafe, I faced a serious dilemma: which pastry to choose? A cream cheese croissant?

Or one of the apple variety?

Pain au chocolat, peut-être?

Something containing nuts? That could be considered protein.

Of maybe just basic butter? A plain croissant is the bar for which to measure a French bakery, after all. Let’s go with this one.

Shut up, Jillian.

From the outside it was perfect: crispy, flaky, and not even one tiny bit soft as inferior croissants tend to be.

The inside was chewy, buttery, and seriously, seriously tasty. This was one mighty good croissant, my friends. One of the best I have ever had in this city.

Licking the flaky crumbs from our lips, pal Jen and I decided that we needed to fulfill the “exercise” portion of this whole “eat right, exercise” phenomenon. So we picked our butts off of our chairs, walked an entire ten feet to the pastry case, and peered inside. I believe we even needed to bend over and squat to see some of the lovely baked goods.

See Jillian? I did a squat. Boo-yah.

I believe a mixed fruit tart would count as a serving of fruit.

As would a blueberry tart. And, by the way, have you ever seen a cuter mini-tart? This ones surely take the cake. Or in this case, takes the mini-tart.

Rosemary pear? Get out. I love creative flavors.

Chocolate? I dig the half ‘n half design with the little lemons. Too freaking cute.

But the winner? The chocolate eclair. How could we not order this gorgeous specimen of French pastry? The dough was lightly crisped around the edges with a bittersweet ganache on top. Inside (which I neglected to photograph because I was…well, scarfing the whole dang thing down) contained a richer-than-rich chocolate mousse. It was a blissful combination of textures and flavors. By far the best eclair I have ever, ever tasted.

With our curiosity about this delicious bakery satisfied (two thumbs up) and our tummies full of pastry, we headed home to nap it off. Wait, I mean…we went home, grabbed our hand-weights and did the 30 Day Shred.

If you happen to run into Jillian Michaels today, please tell her I’m at the gym. But in reality I’ll be at Le Fournil sampling their delicious croissants and eclairs. I would recommend doing the same.

Happy Hump Day! (*snickers*)

-RDG

crepes at cafe javasti

I feel a little silly writing this post. We’ve been to this place so many times that it’s not really a review or a recommendation—it’s more of a glimpse of our weekend morning routine. I’m there more than I care to admit. Once on Saturday or Sunday. Once or twice during the week if I’m bored brewing their coffee at home and want an expertly pressed espresso.

It’s not just because I can walk there with Lucy in the stroller. Or that the folks are always nice and cheerful. Or that I always seem to have a free coffee on my frequent customer card.

It’s because this place is freaking good. All the other reasons are just a bonus.

It’s a cute little place. Dark woodwork, orange walls, handwritten chalkboard menus.

Artwork that I’m a little in love with*.

*Did anyone see Runway this week? Tory Burch said that blue and orange are not complimentary. And for that I threw her ballet flats out the window.

They also have the cutest fix-up-your-cup-o-coffee bar I’ve ever seen. With a hand sanitizer pump.

It’s the little things.

Plus they always have a bin of animal crackers for kiddos, which are perfect for keeping Lucy entertained while we much on our…

Crepes. Husband digs the savory variety. This one was a daily special: ham, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheddar.

He’s a growing boy. He needs his protein.

And for me? Well, if you’ve ever met me (or read this blog) you know that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I go for the Nutella and banana.

Did I mention that it also contains fresh whipped cream (none of the canned junk here) and sliced almonds?

I have a really hard time eating it. It’s not lip-smackingly delicious whatsoever.

Oh, and their coffee is insane. Like crazy, I-need-five-more-cups delicious. And that’s coming from a coffee snob. Plus they’re inexpensive. Our weekend breakfasts usually run about $15.

Oh, weekend Lucy. If you would ever learn the concept of sleeping past 6:30 we wouldn’t be left twiddling our thumbs waiting for Javasti to open at 7.

Oh no! I made her sad.

Little faker. I give. You’re so damn cute that you can get up whenever you want. As long as when you’re old enough to ride a bike you fetch me an Americano from Javasti in the mornings.

Give this place a try soon. They’ve got 2 locations you can read all about on their website.

Happy monday!

-RDG

luna park cafe

‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house

every creature was itching to get the heck out.

So we traveled afar, the car filled with prattle,

and landed in a mystical land called West Seattle.

The Luna Park Cafe would quell all our hungers

with burgers and milkshakes to make our thighs thunder.

Alright. I’ll stop rhyming in meter now.

This spot is sort of a Seattle classic (or West Seattle classic, if you want to get technical). We’d only been once before, and since the in-laws are in town for the holidays, we thought we’d give ‘em another try.

The decor is kitschy and vintage—someone did quite a bit of junking to come up with all this stuff. Try not singing the Batman theme while staring at this guy.

It’s got a cool old amusement park-type feel to it.

But the decor is not what we trekked to West Seattle for.

This may surprise you, my friends, but we like to eat.

This chocolate malt (husband’s–not mine) tasted like a Whopper. Not many chocolate malts actually taste malty. This place does em right.

While waiting for our food it was Lucy’s turn to eat.

Or point at things.

Or laugh at Nana.

Or stare at the camera. Okay, it was her turn to do anything but eat.

Lunchtime! Husband ordered the bacon and blue cheese burger–medium rare, of course.

Pops-in-law went with the Southwest burger. Mmmmmm. Green Chilies.

And I, because I’m 12, went with the grilled ham ‘n cheese.

And my childish intuition did not lead me astray.

Neither did my husband’s ever-present ability to order the best burger on the menu….

…and to douse his fries in bacon salt.

Thanks, Luna Park Cafe, for a lovely post-Christmas lunch, and for feeding my hungry clan so tastily.

Merry (second) day after Christmas!

-RDG

bakery nouveau

The day after Thanksgiving was the most bee-youtiful day I’ve seen here in the Emerald City for quite some time.

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The sun was out, the air was cool and crisp, and we were hungry.

I could not think of a better time to explore a new bakery.

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Bakery Nouveau is a small trek from our humble abode. It’s in West Seattle, or West Emerald City, as we like to call it–an area you don’t really go to unless you live there.

It’s cute.

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It’s charming.

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And, apparently, they’re hiding all the delicious baked goods there.

Cases upon beautiful cases of baked goods.

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But what to order?

At 9 am, I couldn’t exactly justify ordering what I really wanted to order.

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Could I?

See, you probably thought I meant ordering one slice of carrot cake.

I meant the whole dang row.

But I restrained myself. Back to the drawing board.

It wasn’t exactly lunch time either, so I didn’t feel right ordering this lovely baguette sandwich.

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You could wrap a sardine and liver sandwich in brown paper and raffia and I’d still order it.

I’m a sucker for packaging.

And speaking of packaging…

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Have you ever seen chocolates this gorgeous?

I haven’t. But I couldn’t order 25 chocolates for breakfast without banishing myself to the treadmill all day.

Then, the perfect item came to me. It was right under my nose.

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An entire chocolate raspberry mousse cake.

No? Not a nutritious breakfast? Alright.

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How about just the mini version?

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Or the lovely mini purple one?

Still no?

Okay, okay. I get it, conscience. You just have to get in the way of everything.

Finally, I settled on a beautiful and not-so-over-the-top pastry.

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A turkey and swiss croissant. It was pretty. It was flaky.

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The cheese was melty, the turkey was smoky, and the buttery layers were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. All around, the perfect savory croissant.

Husband went with a different variety:

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Cranberry vanilla bean. He goes for the sweet stuff, that husband ‘o mine.

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And boy did he make a good choice. The croissant part was just as superb as my turkey version, and the filling consisted of tart cranberries in a sweet vanilla-flavored sauce. My oh my.

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He also ordered a hot chocolate (husband doesn’t do coffee, thankfully–he’s sort of like Speedy Gonzalez if he consumes caffeine), which was creamy and delicious.

All in all, the perfect bakery experience.

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I’ve got to hand it to you, Bakery Nouveau: you’re charming and delicious.

When I feel lazy, I will call you to do my baking. When I feel hungry, I will visit you for lunch. When I am carrot cake deficient, I will come by for fresh supplies.

You are all the way in West Seattle, but you do hold the keys to my sweet (and savory)-toothed heart.

With all my love and devotion,

-RDG