Saturday, December 20, 2014

Foodie Review: Tray Kitchen, Seattle, WA

When people ask me to name my favorite restaurant in Seattle, I usually tell them that would be like choosing a favorite child.  I am one of those people who chooses where to eat based on what dish or type of dishes I am currently craving.  However, lately my answer to the favorite restaurant question has been Tray Kitchen in between the Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods of Seattle.  Chef Heong Soon Park (known for Chan in Pike Place Market) got the idea for Tray Kitchen after eating at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco.  State Bird earned a James Beard "Best New Restaurant" award in 2013 and holds one Michelin star.  The name of their game is "dim sum style" small plates that are brought around the restaurant on either trays or carts.  We were lucky to get a reservation at State Bird Provisions (thanks to a dear friend) when we visited San Francisco in October and loved it, so imagine how excited we were to find a new restaurant in our hometown with the same concept!  Tray Kitchen also does dim sum style small plates with pricing between $3 and $10, and many of the dishes have a Korean twist.  We first dined at Tray Kitchen last month around my birthday, and then just went again last night for another fix.  They recently started serving brunch, and we are planning to check out the brunch menu next weekend as well.  Chef Park has an active role right now in Tray Kitchen, bringing food to tables and making connections with diners.  Little gestures like that go a long way in growing a repeat customer base, so I have a feeling they will continue to be a hot spot in the Fre-lard neighborhood.  Please read on for photos and details of our first meal at Tray Kitchen around my birthday - we had a party of six and were able to try a large portion of the menu.

All of the small plates are presented on these trays (that happen to be made in Seattle) with price markers, dim sum style.  I love the spontaneity of waiting to see what delicious dishes show up at your table.

Brussel sprout salad with bacon and apple.

Soy sauce cured Alaskan king salmon, Asian pear, crème fraîche, cilantro.

Smoked trout mousse with avocado, sriracha, and shallots, served with nori potato chips.  This was a favorite of our table - everyone loved the spicy kick!

Wild mushroom farro with house made chanterelle mushroom whipped ricotta.

Fall quinoa tabouleh with butternut squash, currant, baby arugula, mint, and lemon.  I loved the addition of mint and lemon to this dish - it was so refreshing.

Maple glazed pork ribs with apple slaw.

Honey roasted carrots with fennel seeds, feta, sunflower seeds, and smoked paprika.

Mussels in green curry broth with cilantro.  The broth was so good - we got extra bread to mop it up.

Roasted bone marrow with kale, maitake mushrooms, pink peppercorn, and grilled sourdough.

K.F.C. (Koren Fried Chicken) wings, sunflower seeds, Korean chili sauce.  This is Tray Kitchen's signature dish.

Soy braised beef brisket, roasted winter vegetables, mustard greens.  This was my favorite dish of the evening!

Roasted cauliflower with hazelnuts and raisins.

Steak tartare.

Beet ganache, hazelnut brittle, house-made cinnamon ginger ice cream.

Are you hungry yet?  I sure am after typing this out and looking through all of the photos again!  If you are in the Seattle area, I definitely recommend a visit to Tray Kitchen.  If you want to learn more about this restaurant, check out the website below:

Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Outfit Idea: Skater Skirt + Fur Vest + Peter Pan Collar Necklace

Tis the season for holiday parties with family, friends, and colleagues.  It is easy to run out of dresses and outfit ideas with so many events to attend, so today I want to share with you one way to dress up some existing closet pieces for the holidays.  Today's outfit is a variation of an ensemble that I wore earlier this season to a supplier holiday appreciation event at our office.  The bright red skirt, booties, and lips are a color that is always in style, but especially festive during the holidays.  This simple grey sweater is plain on its own, but I added a gold and crystal peter pan collar necklace to take it up a notch.  This necklace plus the fur vest, metallic clutch, and gold accessories glam up a basic outfit and make it party-perfect.  Mixing existing pieces like these create an outfit that is perfect for a work or casual holiday event without impacting your holiday gift budget.

 Skirt: "Factory Flared Skirt" in bright poppy (available in four other colors), $54.50 at J Crew Factory here
Sweater: "Factory Merino Charley Sweater" in heather grey (available in nine other colors), $54.50 (on sale!) at J Crew Factory here
Vest: Steve Madden via Poshmark, currently loving the "Grey Faux Fur Vest," $80 at White House Black Market here
Booties: Enzo Angiolini (no longer available), check out the BCBGeneration "Carolyn Cutout Suede Bootie" in cherry (available in three other colors), $128.95 at Nordstrom here
Peter Pan Collar Necklace: Modcloth (old), similar Z Designs "Peter Pan Collar Necklace" in gold (also available in silver), $19 (on sale!) at Pink Mascara here
Clutch: Coach (old), currently loving the "Eileen Metallic Minaudiere" in gold (also available in silver), $39.95 at Sole Society here
Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs "Henry" in gold, $250 at Dillard's here
Bracelet: old, similar Kate Spade New York "Idiom - Good as Gold Bangle" in gold, $36 (on sale!) at Nordstrom here
Rings: "Gilded Band Ring" in gold, $39.50 at Banana Republic here and "Hammered Ring Set" in gold, $3.90 at Forever 21 here

Today's outfit proves that you don't have to buy a new dress for every holiday event this season.  Check out my picks for holiday party perfect skirts, all priced at $119 or less:

How would you style a festive skirt this holiday season?  Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a great rest of your week!

Linking up with Happiness at Mid-Life, Sincerely Jenna Marie, and Style Elixir.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Style Remix: Horse Print Dress + Black Moto Jacket

I can't believe there are only ten days left until Christmas!  This month is flying by with wonderful holiday events as well as time spent with family and friends.  Today I am sharing a casual outfit that I wore this weekend for lunch at Pike Place Market with my grandmother and sister.  I restyled a few older pieces for this outfit: a horse print dress seen before here topped with a black mixed media moto jacket seen before here.  Black tights and low-heeled booties were perfect for walking around outside on a sunny winter day.  This plaid lambswool scarf I bought in Ireland, a crossbody satchel, and lipstick add a pop of my favorite color.  I've also been wearing my glasses for the last week, and while looking up the style realized that this is the same brand of glasses worn by Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 and 3!  The brand is Initium, and the style I am wearing is called the "Charmer."  The style that Tony wears is called the "London Calling."

Dress: French Connection (old), similar "Sure Are Rockin' This Dress," $49.99 at Modcloth here
Mixed Media Moto Jacket: Purchased in Shanghai, currently loving the BCBGMAXAZRIA "Cassie Mixed Media Moto Jacket With Leather Sleeves" in black/white, $174 (on sale!) at Amazon here
Crossbody Satchel: Coach (old), check out the "Small Kelsey Crossbody" in light gold/red currant pebbled leather, $258 at Coach here
Boots: Me Too "Colt Bootie" in black, $116.95 (on sale!) at here
Tights: "Everyday Opaque Tights" in black, $15 at Nordstrom here
Lambswool Plaid Scarf: John Hanly & Co LTD, same style current colors here or currently loving the Glen Lossie "Plaid Lambswool Scarf" in grey, $34.11 at ASOS here
Ring: "Gilded Band Ring" in gold, $39.50 at Banana Republic here
 Lipstick: Sonia Kashuk "Satin Luxe Lip Color SPF 16" in very berry, $9.99 at Target here

Printed dresses in shades of black, white, and grey make perfect winter layering pieces.  Check out my picks for printed dresses currently available online and all priced under $100:
How would you style a printed dress this winter?  Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a great week!

Linking up with More Pieces of Me, On the Daily Express, and Rhea, Et Cetera.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wool Cape + Striped Pencil Skirt + Fedora

If you follow me on Instagram, you already got a peek at this outfit when I posted a layout the day before Thanksgiving.  I have worn variations of this outfit to work a few times already this winter, because my office feels like an old drafty building and layers are essential for dealing with meeting rooms on different floors with completely different temperaturesI am sure I am not the only person who finds the temperature variance within the same office building annoying.  However, this problem is easy enough to fix with the right layering pieces.  I found this black wool cape several years ago at Nordstrom Rack, and it is perfect for layering because it is the weight of a wool sweater rather than a coat.  For today's outfit, I wore this wool cape over a lightweight turtleneck sweater, then added a striped pencil skirt, faux leather trim fedora, DVF tall boots, and a leopard fold-over clutch for a perfect winter day to night look.

Cape: Cullen (old)
Sweater: old, similar Merona "Women's Long Sleeve Turtleneck Sweater" in black, $8.40 (on sale!) at Target here
Skirt: The Fifth Label "Hey Blondie Skirt" in black/white, $34.97 at Piperlime here
Boots: DVF via Poshmark, currently loving the Tory Burch "Sullivan 85mm Boot" in coconut/coconut (also available in black), $550 at Zappos Couture here or budget option B.P "Transit Tall Boot" in chocolate (also available in black & taupe), $97.96 at Nordstrom here
Clutch: Express (no longer available online), check out the "Faux Leather-Paneled Leopard Clutch" in brown/black (also available in light grey/black, $5.90 at Forever 21 here
Fedora: BCBGeneration "Pleather and Flannel Panama" hat, latte and pebble grey colors available for $42 at Zappos here
Rings: "Hammered Ring Set" in gold, $2.73 at Forever 21 here
Lipstick: Sonia Kashuk "Satin Luxe Lip Color SPF 16" in very berry, $9.99 at Target here

A cape is a stylish alternative to a blazer or jacket for winter wear, and there are plenty of great options currently available online.  Check out my picks for capes priced at $200 and under:

How would you style a cape this winter?  Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a great rest of your week!

Linking up with Happiness at Mid-Life, Mix & Match Fashion, Sincerely Jenna Marie, and Style Elixir.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sloan-Fit Faux-Leather Ankle Pant + Fold-Over Leopard Clutch

Leather and faux-leather pants are everywhere this year, and I love the fact that there are a variety of approachable and affordable styles in the market.  Leather pants have evolved from the skin-tight leggings worn by 80's rock stars and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to a multitude of options that can be styled for everyday wear.  A pair of leather or faux-leather pants can even replace your standard work pants if you keep the rest of the outfit professional.  It depends on your office, of course, but today's outfit is an example of one way you can style a faux-leather pant for work.  I chose to keep the top of the outfit neutral and conservative by pairing my Sloan-Fit Faux-Leather Ankle Pants with a polka dot button-up shirt, grey sweater, khaki blazer, and statement necklace.  I then added a pair of studded pumps and a fold-over leopard clutch (another great fall trend) for the day to night transition.  I really like how these pants and clutch turn an otherwise basic outfit into one that is trendy and chic.

Also, today is the last day to enter the $650 EXPRESS group giveawayIf you have not yet entered, click here for details.

Pants: "Sloan-Fit Faux-Leather Ankle Pant" in black, $110 at Banana Republic here
Clutch: Express (no longer available online)
Blazer: H&M (old), similar "Women's Tailored Blazer" in gazelle brown (available in 4 other colors), $34.99 at Target here
Sweater: "Factory Merino Charley Sweater" in heather grey (available in 9 other colors), $39.50 at J Crew Factory here
Shirt: Urban Outfitters (old), similar "Women's Polka Dot Button Front Shirt" in neutral camel (available in 2 other colors), $20 (on sale!) at Old Navy here
 Pumps: old, check out the Jessica Simpson "Carlin Pointed-Toe Pumps" in bisque (also available in black & brown), $83.40 (on sale!) at Dillard's here
Necklace: c/o Conversation Pieces Boutique (no longer available), currently loving the "Polished Hostess Statement Necklace," $32 at Conversation Pieces Boutique here
Lipstick: Sonia Kashuk "Satin Luxe Lip Color SPF 16" in very berry (available in 12 other shades), $9.99 at Target here

Faux leather pants and leopard clutches are two trends that add a bit of edge to an otherwise conservative outfit, and both can be easily acquired without breaking the bankCheck out my picks for faux leather pants and leopard clutches, all currently available online and priced under $100:
How would you style a pair of faux leather pants and a leopard clutch for winter?  Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a great week!

Linking up with Fizz & Frosting, More Pieces of Me, On the Daily Express, Rhea, Et Cetera, and Style-Blueprint.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Foodie Review: Alinea, Chicago, IL

Today's post is truly a treat for any epicurean.  We recently scored tickets to dinner at Alinea, Chef Grant Achatz' (rhymes with "jackets") critically acclaimed restaurant in Chicago that holds 3 Michelin stars and is ranked #9 in the world.  To dine at Alinea, you buy "tickets" 2-3 months in advance and pay for your meal in full ahead of time.  The meals are fixed per-person prices depending on that day's menu.  This works out well for the restaurant, of course, but also for the diners because you only have to think about whether you want to add on a supplemental course, cocktails, or a wine pairing the day of your dinner.  If you are not successful 2-3 months in advance of your desired date when that day's tables are released, don't give up.  Alinea also releases tables via Twitter or Facebook--often same day or the same week.  I know that there are many reviews out on the web of Alinea, but this restaurant has been on our list for some time since we decided to work our way through the World's 50 Best restaurant list.  We jumped at the chance to fly to Chicago Halloween weekend to dine at Alinea and also see the city, and I hope you will enjoy my take on dining at Alinea.  Please read on for photos and details of our amazing meal.

Spying on Chef Achatz when we first arrived.  The kitchen is downstairs, and the dining rooms are both downstairs and upstairs.  Our table was in one of the upstairs rooms, but we were able to take a peek into the kitchen when we first arrived and checked out coats.  The kitchen was organized and efficient--everyone was swiftly executing their assigned tasks like a well-oiled machine.  We were excited that Chef Achatz was on site that day, because he had previously been in New York and we were not sure if we would get our chef celebrity sighting.

Osetra caviar from the Osetra sturgeon, only slightly less expensive than Beluga caviar.  This was served with a glass of Pierre Moncuit Blanc des Blancs Brut NV.

Salsify "Branch Camouflage." This "nest" of twigs and branches was brought to the table, and we were tasked with finding the four pieces of salsify, which is an edible root that looks like a twig itself.

One of the pieces of salsify found in the twig basket.  This root had been soaked in chili and sugar, so it basically tasted like jerky.

Skate fish with a brown butter, lemon, and herb sauce served in a palm shaped plate.

Ebi (shrimp), ogo (edible seaweed), clam shells, and several types of bean "pebbles" for a dish with an ocean/sea feel.

Setting up for the next corn dish.

This dish looks like corn on the cob, but it is so much more.  The top layer is the charred corn kernels, but underneath is a bed of corn grits with truffle, manchego, and sherry.  So good!

Cubes of raw trout with white pepper, vietnamese coriander, and broccoli.  The trout bites were served on a piece of wood cut from a bourbon barrel, which added a sweet flavor and aroma to the dish.

The trout bones were situated in the middle of the wood slab, they were crispy and totally edible.  I tried a little bite, but have to admit the bones were not my favorite.

One more close up of the trout.

"Lily Bulb" palate cleanser with rambutan (a tropical tree fruit) and distillation of caviar lime.

Hamachi "smores" with shishito pepper, bean, and served on a pine branch.  This was a fun little activity - we "toasted" the hamachi over the flames for a few seconds before eating this tasty bite.

The next dish was also served immediately: matsutake mushrooms with pine, abalone, and tapioca.  The staff toasted the mushrooms with a blow torch as well.  I am not the biggest fan of mushrooms, but this dish was very good!

Next up was our surprise dish of the night.  When we toasted our hamachi over the flames, we thought there were just coals on top of the block of wood.  However, those "coals" were hiding our next course.

The staff uncovered chunks of pork belly and parsnips by cutting away the charred edges.

The plated version: pork belly, parnsip, black trumpet mushroom, and kombu (an edible kelp).

"Hot Potato:" a classic Alinea dish.  It's a little hard to see, but there is a cold potato and black truffle  suspended by a thin metal rod over a cold potato soup made with black truffle and butter.  We were instructed to remove the needle so that the cold potato and truffle immersed in the soup, and then drink the dish in one bite like a shooter.  These shooters were so rich and tasty - when we saw trays of them going by we kept trying to get the staff to give us another round.

Tender squab with beet, and orange in a sweet, dark sauce.

"Graffiti:" an edible chalky consistency "concrete" (meringue maybe?  I don't have the details unfortunately) with hazelnut and perigord truffle sprayed with balsamic vinegar.

 Blueberries poached in red wine vinegar with bubblegum flavored strings, lilac flavored meringue, sorrel, and lemon pudding.

The balloon: by far the most entertaining dish of the evening! This was a green apple flavored balloon made of a thin candy complete with a green apple candy string.  The balloon was filled with helium, so you can guess how they told us to eat it, right?  We were encouraged to suck in the helium and sing our favorite song or talk like a munchkin, so of course we had to oblige.  It was messy but super fun.  We were definitely the most fun group in our room that night (probably because we were the youngest), but we had so much fun chatting and joking with the staff as they came and went.

The grand finale dessert, also an Alinea classic served tableside by Chef Achatz and his executive Chef Mike Bagale.  The chefs take turns explaining step by step the ingredients that they add to the table.

"Tropical Fruit" deconstruction with rum, vanilla, kaffir lime.  The chefs lay down the ingredients like paint strokes on a canvas, including two white balls of liquid nitrogen frozen mousse that they tapped with a spoon at the very end to break into glittering pieces and even sprinkled glitter on top.  It was fantastic to watch: dinner and a show!

Two happy gals...

...and two happy guys.  What an amazing meal!

I hope you enjoyed this visual tour of Alinea, and that I was able to convey to some extent what a treat this dinner truly was.  This was one of the best meals I have eaten thus far in my lifetime, and I am so grateful that we were able to get a table.  Dinner at Alinea was the reason we booked flights to Chicago Halloween weekend, and the meal alone was worth the plane tickets.  Of course, we also enjoyed many other things about Chicago and will return sometime soon - early summer sounds like a good idea because I will not even try to deal with a Chicago winter, ha!  If you want to read more about Alinea, the website is below:

Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a great weekend! 
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