Thursday, April 23, 2015

This Year's Lettuce Varieties

In addition to planting a bunch of tomato and kale varieties, I've also planted quite a few lettuces (7 of them) and they are just about ready to harvest. There are a few more varieties I will be starting soon to replace these after harvesting. I had originally planned to put the lettuce in the same bed as the kale but saw a video where someone suggested planting lettuce between rows of onions to control weeds and thought it was a brilliant idea! It is what allowed me to plant more kale.

Since they are getting close to harvest I am able to post a photo to go along with each one. I started them all indoors in February and transplanted them into the garden in March. I had a little trouble with germination on the Paris Island Cos and only ended up with 3 plants. They all made it through a couple of frosts with no problem.

Batavian Full Heart Escarole - from a seed exchange but the seed originally came from Hudson Valley Seed Library. I started this one a little later than the others. It's a bitter green in the chicory family and is packed full of vitamins and minerals.
Buttercrunch - from Seattle Seed Co. end of year sale. It is one of the most popular garden lettuces and has a soft buttery texture.
White Stemmed Pac Choy - from High Mowing. Pac Choy is also known as Bok Choy. It may not be a lettuce but I planted it in the same bed as the lettuces so decided to include it. It's a Chinese cabbage that is most often used in stir fry.
Paris Island Cos - from Seattle Seed Co. end of year sale. This is one I had never heard of and only got it because it was on sale. It looks a lot like romaine and after looking it up it is even described as a romaine type lettuce. The germination percentage was not as good as the romaine.
Romaine - from Seattle Seed Co. end of year sale. Everyone knows romaine lettuce. It's found in every grocery store and used in caesar salads. I may not have bought it or at least not planted it at the same time as Paris Island since they are so similar if I had known Paris Island was a romaine also.
Red Romaine - from a seed exchange but the seed originally came from Baker Creek. Mine has a much deeper red coloring than the photo on Baker Creek. They say cooler weather will give you a deeper red color.
Rossa di Verona Endive - from Mike the Gardener, a seed of the month club. It's an Italian chicory, also known as radicchio. I actually had no idea it was a radicchio until I looked it up. I'm not much of a fan of raw radicchio but it is great grilled.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Peach Delivery

They just started offering Peach lunch delivery at my office in Redmond. I had never heard of it before the announcement that it was coming the week before. After looking the company up, I discovered it launched in the summer of 2014, started by a few ex-Amazon engineers. They aren't the first restaurant delivery service to pop up in the Seattle area though. Other delivery services include Caviar, Eat24, Bitesquad, Postmates, GrubHub, Seamless and Munchery. Even Amazon has a restaurant delivery service now. Peach currently delivers to over 150 offices in the Greater Seattle area. You'll need to go to their website to see their delivery locations.

Where does the food come from?

The food is prepared by a variety of different local area restaurants. The first week of deliveries at my office featured 5 different restaurants from Mexican, American, Asian and Greek. The three options are categorized Meat, Veg and Lite. From the website you can view a photo of each dish, the type of cuisine and a list of common allergens.

How much is it?

The first week it was offered at my office, all lunches were only $5 which is about half the normal price. I took advantage of the discount by getting 3 lunches the first week. After the introductory week the lunches go to the normal price which averages around $10. They do have a referral program that gives you and the referral a $5 lunch once they place their first order.

How does it work?

Peach will send out an email on Sunday showing you what 3 options you have for lunch each day that week with an option to pre-order. If you don't order anything you will get three text messages with photos each morning showing you what the options are and the ability to text back to order. If you pre-ordered or uncheck the texting option, you won't get the text messages. When the lunch is ready (between 12:00-12:30) for pickup you will get a text message indicating where to pick it up. ie. Front Desk of Building 1. The lunches will have a sticker on the packaging indicating Lite, Veg, or Meat. Check the sticker to be sure you got the right one.
Local Burger Sticker Peach Delivery

 What did I think?

I had an oops moment with my first order. I received the email on Sunday before I put my credit card info in the system so when I went to make an order it went to another page to do that and when finished it took me back to the order page but not the same page so I ended up ordering the wrong thing and had to cancel it. To cancel you simply send an email requesting a cancel and they refund your payment and they did it fairly quickly and sent a confirmation.

I heard from another source that they are disorganized and I would have to agree a bit with that. The first day, the delivery person handed out the lunches without checking off any names. I asked for the "grilled chicken" (the Lite option) and was handed the Meat option, which was pork by the way, because well chicken is a meat right? So I had to go back and exchange my lunch for the correct one. Next time I will be sure to specify Meat, Veg or Lite rather than what is in the box because the delivery person apparently doesn't know. For the second pick-up, our security guard ended up being the one handing out the lunches and he at least took down names while doing so. By the third time they seemed to get it right and had a list of names and you had to sign by your name when you pick it up from the building security guard.

It is nice that they include a list of allergens with the menu but only if they are consistent with it. My salad from Local Burger listed no allergens so I figured there weren't any. There appeared to be a lot of toasted peanuts on the salad which last I checked is one of the most common allergens. Luckily I do not have a peanut allergy.

In the text message for pickup it also asks you to provide a rating and feedback. I used this for my first lunch from Pho Ever and gave a 2 out of 5 rating because the chicken was very dry and they texted back apologizing for the dry chicken and said they would let the restaurant know which is nice. I also rated the last lunch, a tuna poke salad from Sen Japanese Gourmet, giving it a 4 out of 5. Definitely the best of the three lunches I tried and only one I thought was worth more than $5.

How can the service be improved?

  • List allergens consistently
  • Have a gluten free option
  • Be sure restaurant includes plasticware (1st lunch did, 2nd lunch did not, 3rd lunch did)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Gregarious Wine Maker's Dinner

Our favorite local winery put on a wine maker's dinner at their home/winery atop High Rock in Monroe. There's not a wine of theirs that I haven't liked. We joined four other couples for a four course meal paired with a variety of Gregarious Cellars wines. We all picked out name tags which had various titles from Wino to Master Gardener. I chose "Farm Girl" for my name tag. We nibbled on cheese, crackers, nuts and a glass of sparkling wine while enjoying the view of the valley and chatted with the other guests before heading downstairs for dinner. Between courses we also tried a few other wines including a barrel tasting of the new Merlot. Merlot is my least favorite but oddly I've really enjoyed Gragarious' Merlots and even though this one has a few more months in the barrel before it's ready to bottle, it tasted like it would be another winner.

Spicy Shrimp and PolentaThe first course was a spicy shrimp and polenta paired with a rosé. This was a great start. Polenta isn't something I've had much of before and have never tried making it myself. I need to add that to my to do list.

3 Bean and Sausage SoupThe second course was an Italian 3 bean and sausage soup paired with Barrel 46, a blend of cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. I could have eaten another bowl of soup if we didn't still have two more courses to go. It was cooked to perfection and paired nicely with the blend which was probably my favorite wine of the night.

Truffle Pasta with Shitake Mushroom Sauce and pork MedalionsThe third course was truffle pasta with a shiitake mushroom sauce and pork medallions paired with my second favorite wine, the Syrah.  Syrah's have always been my favorite which is probably why I liked the blend so much. I believe syrah makes up the majority of their blend. I'm not usually a very big mushroom fan but was surprised to really enjoy the shiitake mushrooms in the dish. I didn't even pick them out like I usually did and could have eaten more. The pasta was my favorite, loaded with garlic and that tasty sauce.

Chocolate Lava Cake with Raspberries and GelatoThe 4th and final course was a divine molten lava cake with vanilla gelato and ripe raspberries, paired with Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a great ending to the meal. I don't often eat desserts so it was a real treat and the cake wasn't overly sweet like they somethings are.
It was a fun dinner and a great meal. Greg and Diana are wonderful hosts and we enjoyed meeting their cute and tiny little dog too. We hope to attend their upcoming blending party this summer which is yet to be scheduled.

More Wine Merlot from the Barrel