Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cascade Ice Water Giveaway


Over the last couple of years I have stayed away from just about every kind of drink except plain old boring water or non-decaf herbal teas. I drank no alcohol, pop, coffee or even juice due to a yeast overgrowth in my digestive system. I'm happy to report that is under control and I am now able to eat/drink fruits again but pop will probably never be back in my diet. I am trying to be more careful with what I eat and drink by avoiding processed foods and eating and drinking organic as much as possible.

The International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) came along where I got to try all kinds of awesome food and beverages and that's where I was introduced to Cascade Ice's sparkling waters. I had never tried them before the conference and I'm not sure why. It's much better than the plain water I've been drinking for so long. They are up to 31 different flavors and have some new additions: strawberry banana, coconut mango, coconut pineapple and for a limited time,  pumpkin spice. I got to try the pumpkin spice at the conference and it seems like a weird flavor for water but it really does taste like pumpkin and is perfect for this time of year.

Cascade Ice The best thing about Cascade Ice water is that they are sugar free, caffeine free, sodium free, gluten free and have zero calories so they are guilt free! My favorite is their organic selection which comes in four flavors: lemon zest, citrus twist, lemon lime and mixed berry. They sent me a sampling of all four to try and I've been enjoying each one. They're much more fulfilling than the plain water I've been drinking for so long and the bubbly almost makes it feel like I'm drinking pop but without all of the sugar. You can find their waters on Amazon and just about any convenience or grocery store.

Prize: 1 variety pack case of Cascade Ice Waters
Rules: Giveaway ends November 13th at 12am and is open to the US only.
How To Enter: Enter using the contest form below. Once the mandatory entry has been done, 5 more options to enter will be displayed.
Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by Cascade Ice and they are responsible for prize fulfillment. Cascade Ice provided me with a free sample of this product to review. The views expressed in this blog post are my own and I was not under any obligation to write a positive review. Winner will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Facing East

Facing EastI enjoy Asian food, especially when it's something different and served family style so I can try a little bit of everything. I prefer going with someone who is familiar with the cuisine and knows what's good. Facing East is just that kind of place and I went with a co-worker who did all the ordering for us.  It's probably her favorite restaurant so it had to be good. They serve Taiwanese cuisine and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've been to a Taiwanese restaurant so was looking forward to the adventure.

She picked out four courses for us to try and I know she wanted me to try the "Everything Shaved Ice" dessert but I managed to escape it this time. It seems to have gotten mixed reviews by another co-worker and I can't say it sounds all that appetizing.

She didn't save the best for last and instead we got the best first, a plate of Taiwanese Pork Burgers. I could have eaten a few orders of those for lunch and gone back to work happy. They are so full of flavor and the bun is kind of spongy and reminds me of hum bao. You might want to get a couple plates of these. Definitely a dish I would get again and again.

We also got a small plate of five spiced beef wraps. The thinly cut beef was wrapped, along with cucumber and cilantro, inside a thin flaky tortilla-like wrapper.  There is a jar of spicy sauce on the table and I recommend adding a few drops in the wrap for a little more flavor.

Next up seemed to be a traditional dish that families would eat a lot of at home, rice topped with a spiced pork stew. There's also a braised pork stew option. And the last dish we had is called Three Cup Chicken.  The chicken is served in an a cast iron pot coated in a spicy sauce with basil, garlic, ginger and chile peppers.  Loved that dish but it is a little messy as there are bones on the chicken so you gotta get your fingers dirty.

Taiwanese Pork Burger
Five Spiced Beef Wrap
Spiced Pork Stew over Rice
Three Cup Chicken
Facing East 1075 Bellevue Way N.E. #B-2​, Belleuve, WA 98004 (425) 688-2986

Facing East Taiwanese Restaurant 東來食府 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Veggie Grill

Veggie Grill EntranceIf you're a vegetarian, this is the restaurant for you. Veggie Grill is, as its name implies, a vegetarian restaurant chain. They have locations up and down the West coast from California to Washington. I've never been to one or really even heard of it until the International Food Blogger Conference but they have been in Washington for a little over a year. They were one of the restaurants serving up some good eats during the lunch culinary expo. I was very impressed with their kale salad and the carrot cake was amazing. They gave the conference attendees some coupons for the restaurant so I used one of them last week at the South Lake Union location. They also have one in University Village and they'll be opening soon in Bellevue and downtown on 4th.

Veggie Grill Tea and LemonadeThe restaurant was bright with lots of white, orange and green decor. Instead of pop they have a variety of lemonades and organic teas to quench your thirst though we didn't try any of them so unforunately can't report if they were tasty or not. They don't have meat but they do have chickin, fish, steak and crab made with soy and plant based proteins. All of their dishes are free of meat, dairy, eggs, cholesterol, animal fat and trans fat

I had the blackened chickin plate with steamed kale and quinoa pilaf. I was impressed with how much it actually tasted like chicken. If you have soy sensitivities though you will want to stick with one of their salads or ask them which items are soy free. I usually try to avoid soy because it doesn't always agree with me so I probably wouldn't get the chickin again for that reason. Many of their menu items are gluten free and they are labeled on their menu. Mark got the fish tacos which he seemed to enjoy. We didn't get any dessert but I still think of the carrot cake I had at IFBC. I still have a couple of coupons for Veggie Grill and look forward to going back and next time I plan on getting the carrot cake.
Blackened Chickin Plate
Blackened Chickin' Plate with papaya salsa, steamed kale and quinoa
Baja Fish Tacos
Baja "Fish" Tacos with roasted corn salsa and "bean me up" chile
Veggie Grill 446 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA (206) 623-0336   

Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pizzeria Credo

Pizzeria CredoPizzeria Credo is located in West Seattle on California Avenue.  Their rave reviews and gluten free pizza crust is what drew me to try them. I have to admit it's been a couple of years since I've actually had any pizza and this was my first gluten free pizza so this was a real treat I was looking forward to.  Their gluten free crust is only an extra $2.50 which is less than what I've seen other pizzeria's charge for gluten free options. Their gluten free crust comes from Great Harvest Bread which is just down the street.  They use fresh ingredients and make their own sausage chipoline. Their menu comes attached to a wooden cutting board and we happened to order an item that was misspelled on the menu (Finocchiata was spelled Fincocchiata). The restaurant was small and cozy and the walls were filled with quotes of all kinds.

Pizzeria Credo Menu Wall Quotes

Since I've never had gluten free pizza crust before I didn't have anything to compare it to other than the glutinous pizza crust I've eaten in the past. Unfortunately, it just wasn't the same.  It looked nice and crispy when it came out of the oven and onto the table but it just didn't have the crispiness I was hoping for.  The toppings (San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Caramelized Fennel, Leeks, Mozzarella & Sausage Chipoline) were great though I would have liked more of them.
Finocchiata Pizza

Pizzeria Credo 4520 California Ave SW Seattle, WA (206) 402-3784   

Pizzeria Credo on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thrive Cafe

ThriveThrive Cafe is a vegan restaurant located in Ravenna, not far from the University of Washington. They will will be opening another location in Bellevue Crossroads but not until winter 2014.  I'm not vegan or vegetarian but there are a lot of Seattlites that are and this lifestyle seems to be growing in popularity. The majority of their menu features raw organic foods and they have a great selection of juices and smoothies and even offer juice cleanse packages. They are much more than just a restaurant as they offer a variety of demo and hands on classes at Tummy Temple's kitchen down the street. They even have a store attached to the cafe where they sell books, health supplies and kitchen gadgets like dehydrators and juicers.
Thrive Bookstore
We stopped by for a quick bite to eat before a photography meetup at the University. We both went with grain bowls which are filled with steamed bhutanese red rice and quinoa and topped with a variety of fresh and organic vegetables and sauces. I love the flavors of thai food so I went with the thai bowl and Mark went with the buddha bowl which seemed to be a little bit of everything.  We tried each other's dishes as we usually do and we both preferred my thai bowl. We almost got it to go but decided to stay so I could get better presented photos of the dishes. It didn't really matter as it seems they use the same recycled bowls to go as they do to stay. We didn't try any of the juices or smoothies but I did check out the options. Apple appeared to be the base of most of their juices but their smoothies have a much wider variety of ingredients and in fact I didn't see one smoothie that was made with apple. They have fun names for all their drinks like Oh My Wonka, The Green Hornet and Coconutty. If we make it back I want to try one of their smoothies, I've heard they are delicious.
Thrive Thai Bowl
Thai Bowl
Thrive Buddha Bowl
Buddha Bowl
Thrive: 1026 NE 65th Street, #A102 Seattle, WA (206) 525-0300   

Thrive on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 07, 2013

IFBC Urbanspoon Dinner at Stumbling Goat Bistro

At IFBC this year they did something a little different. Urbanspoon made reservations for all of the attendees to have dinner at different restaurants all around town and even took into consideration those with dietary restrictions.  They didn't tell everyone where the dinners would be but we were told via our name tags when we registered what neighborhood and time the reservations would be. There were around 25 different groups and only one of them was a gluten free one.  I'm surprised there wasn't a bigger group of gluten free people but I was told I was in the only group and there ended up being 8 of us. I know a few people didn't show up for the dinner and I can't imagine why anyone would pass up such a wonderful meal. It was a fun experience despite our late reservation of 9:00 PM.  We did get a pre-dinner snack to tide us over until dinner but I didn't get home till around midnight. I definitely don't regret going and would do it again in a second.  They are planning on an even bigger IFBC 2014 conference next year and will do these secret spoon dinners again. I've already registered and am looking forward to it.
Stumbling Goat Entrance
House Made Gluten Free CrackersStumbling Goat was our destination. I had never been there before but have heard of it and have been wanting to go. They were very accommodating to everyone's food restrictions and made a custom 5 course meal just for our group including wine pairings. I think 5 courses of small sized plates is the perfect amount of food for me. Anything more than that and I wouldn't be able to eat it all. They have homemade gluten free crackers that we got to munch on which was paired with some dipping sauce. The crackers were crunchy with the perfect amount of salt, a great preparation for the wonderful meal to come. Thanks to Erica aka CeliacBeast for asking about them or we might not have gotten to try them.

1st Course - Corn & Chanterelle Bisque

Corn and Chanterelle BisqueWe started off with a corn and chanterelle bisque with Creme Fraiche, truffle oil and chives.  I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms but I didn't think the bisque was too mushroomy so I really enjoyed it and the truffle oil wasn't overpowering like you always see when they use it in cooking shows.

2nd Course - Pan Seared Black Cod

Pan Seared Black CodFor the second course, we had pan seared black cod with garbanzo beans, curry yogurt and black garlic vinaigrette.  The garbanzo beans were raw which I don't believe I've ever had before and they were quite good. They were soft yet kind of crunchy too. The cod was perfectly cooked, moist with a crispy skin, just the way I like it.

3rd Course - Black Currant Sorbet

Black Currant Sorbet
I always love when restaurants serve sorbet as a middle course. I always think of sorbet as a dessert item but it really works in the middle of the meal to break up all the heavy rich courses and cleanse your palette.  We had black currant sorbet and it fresh and not too sweet, just a perfect mid course dish.

4th Course - Rabbit Roulade

Rabbit Roulade
The fourth course was a beautiful rabbit roulade with smoked corn, red chard and cipollini onions.  It was very nicely presented and I think I've only had rabbit once before and it really does taste a lot like chicken. I would have never though looking at it that it was a rabbit, I always expect them to be so much smaller.

5th Course - Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake
The final course was a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, salted caramel gelato and espresso milk chocolate caramel. I haven't really eaten much if any dessert in the last couple of years. I've been trying to stay away from sugary, sweet things but I made an exception and ate this cake which was just divine.  It was much better than I thought it would be and I ate the whole piece. I'm not a fan of fudge and that's what I was picturing it would be like but it wasn't anything like fudge it was just rich, decadent chocolate and I want more of it.

You can find the bisque and flourless chocolate cake on their menu but they change their menu every season so there's no telling how long they will stay.
Stumbling Goat Bistro 6722 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 206.784.3535    

Stumbling Goat Bistro on Urbanspoon