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A couple of weeks ago I headed to Seattle for a girl’s weekend with a bunch of my book-nerd friends. We were there for the launch party of the next book in our favorite series, Outlander. In addition to getting our books signed by the author and getting to see a new trailer for the upcoming television version of Outlander coming to Starz this summer (August 9 to be exact), we were also there to support our friend Theresa of Outlander Kitchen, a food blog based on food and characters from the Outlander series, who was there for a meet and greet of her very own.

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With Theresa and friends from Florida, Minnesota and Texas

After our all-day event we were quite tired and wanted to find somewhere close to the house we rented to have a nice dinner. One flick of the finger on UrbanSpoon and we found Grub. It was close and the walk was (mostly) flat.

I started with the kale and cauliflower salad (see recipe below) and then moved on to the mussel special that night, which was local mussels served with house made chorizo sausage in a tomato mussel broth served with bread for dipping. It was out of this world good!

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As all of our book-nerd friends flew back to their respective homes, my husband and I took the ferry from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada as we headed home with Theresa, who lives on a small island off the coast of Vancouver Island. That evening, after having drinks on her deck, we made our way to Pender Bistro. The African yam and peanut soup was thick and creamy with the perfect amount of spice. We also thoroughly enjoyed a few glasses of wine from Sea Star Winery, a local winemaker. The Blanc de Noir is light and crisp and perfect for summer.

The second day on the island was quite busy with hike on the beach in the morning, running errands and having a relaxing coffee and cookie at Southridge Farms. Later, we adjourned to lunch at The Café at Hope Bay. The fish and chips were great, but the best thing about the café is the view.

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After a long day out and about on the island we decided to cook dinner at home that night. After all, we’re both chefs and we so very rarely get to cook together. On the menu was Mozambique-spiced lamb shoulder (see recipe below) with stinging nettle gnocchi (see link below) served with a salad of local cherry tomatoes we bought at the farm earlier in the day. Dinner was absolutely delicious, but the company made it perfect!

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The next day, Theresa and her husband traveled back to Victoria with us to show us the sights. Being the food obsessed people that we are, one of our stops was the Village Butcher, a butcher shop and the best salumeria I have ever seen.

After errands and some downtown adventure, we made our way to the water. Fisherman’s Wharf to be exact. Lunch was a fish (halibut) taco with fennel slaw next to where the tourists feed the world’s fattest seal.

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After lunch we did some sightseeing, went to the Vikings Exhibit at the Royal BC Museum and had a refreshing local beer at the Flying Otter by the water while we watched the seaplanes come and go. It was a lovely day with great friends. Since we did so much walking throughout the day we decided to have dinner in the restaurant inside our hotel. Dinner was delicious, but again the best part was the view.

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We had a wonderful trip! I cannot thank Theresa and her husband enough for their hospitality and generosity.

Recipes:

Kale and Roasted Cauliflower salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

  • 1 bunch kale, washed and stems trimmed away, cut in small bite-sized pieces
  • ½ head of cauliflower, cut into very small florets
  • 2 T avocado oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced finely
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T tahini
  • 2 T water
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 450˚. Toss cauliflower florets with avocado oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes until brown and soft.

While cauliflower is roasting, make the dressing: combine garlic, lemon juice, tahini in a small bowl. Add water to thin. Season with salt to taste and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Dress kale lightly with dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. When cauliflower is done, add to the kale. It will be hot and the kale will wilt slightly. Add more dressing if needed. Serve warm.

Mozambique-Spiced Lamb Shoulder (recipe courtesy of Theresa at Island Vittles)

  • 3-4 pound lamb shoulder
  • ½ onion, grated or chopped finely
  • 2 tsp annatto seed, ground
  • 2 tsp coriander, ground
  • 2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • ½ cup water

Move the rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400° F. Remove butcher’s netting/twine from roast, if necessary. Blot dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl, combine onion, annatto seed, coriander, cumin, oregano and olive oil to form a paste. Rub paste all over lamb shoulder. Place lamb in a dutch oven with ½ cup water, cover and bake in oven for at least 2 hours until lamb is done and very tender. Remove from oven and rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover, pour off fat. Shred meat with two forks. Serve hot.

We had our lamb with some stinging nettle gnocchi sautéd in butter with fried sage leaves.

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