Thursday, September 27, 2012

Penny Profiler #49

Sarah Reker.  Have you ever heard of the artist Pimp Rekker?  There is no known relation but there is a correlation.  Sarah is a master mixer of media and marketing in such a rhythmic and funky fashion that could challenge the stylistic beats of the aforementioned Pimp.  Check it out for yourself at 

I have had the great pleasure of getting to know this amazing woman as her passions in food and wine undoubtedly collided with mine in Post Alley.  And hers, leading to a wonderful career assisting industry members with their digital sea legs. 

We break bread and drink wine when busy schedules permit and often fantasize about getting friend together for travels far away to sip the indigenous beverages, sample the nosh and meet the locals.  I’ll have to start saving more than just pennies.  Thanks to her penny saving efforts though, I’ll have her sweet mojo within the walls of Brimmer someday.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Local Inspirations (Part VI)

Local Inspirations (Part VI)
I do like to cook but I LOVE to go out.  Often my to-do list is filled with places that I haven’t been to but my inspirations are mostly drawn from are those who have been at it for a little or a long while, as below. 

Maneki: Is my favorite traditional Japanese restaurant located in the heart of the International District that has been in Seattle for more than 100 years.  As quoted by Nancy Leson from the Seattle Times reflecting on their extensive customer base: ” That's what happens when a restaurant withstands two World Wars, Japanese internment, a move, the distinction of having a former dishwasher go on to become the 66th prime minister of Japan and — amazingly enough — only a handful of ownership changes in a century.”  Impressive hardly describes it.

Beloved dish: anything from their daily specials and Ankimo (Monkfish liver) if I’m lucky
Special detail: Private Tatami rooms for 4-10 people
Favorite server:  I’m not sure if she is still bartending part time but it is the best treat if Fusae Yokoyama, aka "Okasan" or "Mom" is behind the bar
Delicious drink: sake!


Spinasse: Since opening in 2008, this little Italian joint has caught the attention of those seeking salvation in Piedmontese cuisine.  Chef Jason Stratton and his team create daily fresh staples that are beautiful simple yet refined and word has it from those in the know… authentic.

Beloved dish: I would eat every single one of his pasta dishes every single day of my life for the rest of my life if my heart and hips could take it.
Special detail: sit at the counter, the pasta equivalent of the sushi counter
Delicious drink: I’m a sucker for their Dolcetto collection

Friday, September 21, 2012

Penny Profiler #48

Ashlyn Forshner.  House sitting for a stranger is an unusual way to get acquainted with someone but it worked.  Our homes tell a lot about us and hers screamed a love of animals, food, gardens and music.  Thank goodness I have been able to dig deeper as her travels returned her to Seattle.  Southern roots give her a sweet side like “bless your heart”, while her life path lends a sort of Bette Davis attitude. 

If you’re lucky enough to rent a room from her VRBO property ( you’ll be treated to a dreamy piece of land complete with her Southern hospitality, homemade tea foraged from her property, fresh flowers, and the most delicious home cooked breakfast a girl could ever ask for.

In true Ashlyn fashion, her pennies don’t fit in with the rest.  She brought hers back from a month long excursion to France.  Dis-moi à quoi tu penses, et je te donnerai 20 sous.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Strategies Seminar

I recently attended a complementary seminar on Strategies for Increasing Restaurant Sales in the South Lake Union neighborhood.  In partnership with the Office of Economic Development and the Community Capital Development a panel of industry experts gathered to discuss analyzing operations, opportunities to improve sales, customer loyalty, promotions and branding.  Collectively the speakers had decades of experience and shared their perspective on how to gain an edge in this competitive market.   

Overall I thought it was a quite an informative session with a variety of attendees ranging from small coffee shop owners, a baker wanting to expand her wholesale kitchen, an international hotel chain looking for ideas in their restaurant operations as it pertained to the Seattle market, and so on.  One thing is clear; there is no cookie cutter solution to any problem.  If we are open to looking at things from a different perspective, there are plenty of tools at our fingertips.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Penny Profiler #47

Andrew Peate.  A man of many words and a few pennies in his pocket when we last visited.  He has a youthful shell but an old cantankerous male interior, both of which are marinated in old soul.  He is from these parts originally but his genius musical prowess landed him a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music.  Naturally gifted in rhythm, this background in music helped to guide his contemporary work in writing.   Now with a few screenplays under his belt and hoping to be discovered, I know it’s just a matter of time before the whole world sees what a talented savant is in the wings.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Draughts aren’t just for beer!

Most drinkers (myself included) froth at the mouth over a perfectly poured beer, the beautiful head and anticipatory aromas of flavors waiting.  And now debuting all over the country, restaurants and bars are offering cocktails, shots, and wine served on tap, just like beer. Cooks, bartenders, and most importantly the patrons seem to be gushing about its brutal efficiency and consistency. 

From my vantage point the benefits to a bar program include:
  • Ease of service (it takes only a few seconds to deliver)
  • Consistency of the drink
  • Novelty of the experience
  • Pouring a taste to allow a guest to preview
  • Reducing the amount of cans, bottles, cups, and other components necessary to make a custom cocktail, equals a significant reduction in waste
  • Endorsement the establishment is giving the patron… we like this cocktail so much, we made a 100 liters of it!
  • Preservation of wine vs. random open bottles

Maintenance seems to mirror the upkeep of draft systems for beer with only a few exceptions, and the kegged cocktails/wine can retain a high quality for weeks.  Putting additional beverages on tap can make work easier for bartenders, but the kegs with cocktails do require occasional shaking to prevent ingredients from separating.

The legitimate cons for me seem to be centered around the technical aspects like matters of oxidation or setting up the proper equipment.  Other downfalls are that kegs can also make it more likely to lose ounces of the cocktails, which can add up over time, due to over-pouring, samples and self service.

Some talk however seems to be about the culture of drinking and the customer experience. In an age of perfecting the perfect cocktail and charging for it, are we undoing the notion that a great cocktail takes time?  That very ritual, watching a drink come together, constructed one element at a time. I can imagine myself missing that—if an establishment didn’t also serve traditional cocktails.  What are the perceptions if the bartender doesn’t have to do anything other than pour it? 

Timing is everything right?  So on Tuesday when the bar isn’t crowded, maybe I’ll go for the elaborate multi-ingredient, double strained, layered cocktail.  On Saturday when it’s 3 deep at the bar and I want a beverage, that fizzy Negroni served at the same price as the rest of the cocktails with a bigger pour is sounding pretty damn tasty.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Penny Profiler #46

BJ Shannon.  For a man with east coast roots and that moved to Seattle (relatively) recently, he knows everyone, or perhaps everyone knows him.  You’ll find him at the newest rock show, at random dive bars, or the latest trendy restaurant. He’s one fine world traveler and experience collector.

I have been a huge fan of his (and the entire Shannon clan) since our paths crossed many moons ago.  His penny investment assures me his mojo will be in the house when Brimmer & Heeltap finally opens and I’ll do my best to get his butt in a seat with some sort of regularity!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Memory of sweet Yancy Noll

It is with a very heavy heart that I say farewell to a beloved friend and colleague.  His life was tragically taken too early and rather than sink into the doldrums surrounding his murder, I want to honor this vivacious, hilarious, confident, smart, and passionate friend. 

Our paths first crossed (sometime in the late 90’s) when I picked up weekend shifts at Esquin Wine Merchants while I was working for the Washington Wine Commission.  Our foundation was gelled with an instant brotherly/sisterly bond and he watched my back, guided me in what to do and what not to do.  We frequently shared belly laughs (and those who knew him can attest to his infectious laugh), Indian food, amazing beer and wine.  It became quite evident that I would need to practice saying no and meaning it when Yancy would come to me on a regular basis proclaiming “OMG, Jen, you’ve got to get this wine.  This shit is amazing!” His philosophy was to buy 3, 6 or 12 bottles of a wine you really liked.  Drink one immediately and the others in some sort of aged procession based on the quantity purchased.   

Fast forward and countless speeches under his belt of how I needed to buy this one or that one.  One day he had come to me with the same old story and I replied with something to the effect of “Zip it!  I’m not falling for this Yancy.  I need to save money”.  His retort was “you’re making the biggest mistake of your life.  You WILL regret not buying this wine and I won’t share any if you don’t get at least one bottle.”  We both laughed and laughed because I finally stepped into the big leagues this time and purchased three bottles.  Weeks later, like ‘em or not, the Wine Spectator came out and named this one of the top three wines in the world. 

Well as luck would have it, I still have a bottle in the cellar.  In the coming weeks a friend has organized a few industry colleagues to gather for a little tribute and bring a special bottle to honor our dear friend.  I know what I’ll be pouring.  You can bet your bottom dollar that I will toast my spirited cohort and recall many fond stories as I relish in how precious our time really is.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Penny Profiler #45

Jennifer or Jen, but definitely not Jenny, Miller. I also owe a shout out to the fabulous men in her corner, Andrew, Mitch, and Austin. I have known Jen almost my entire life.  Her family moved in when we were just babies.  Today I have seen her babies grow up and we’ve played witness to just about every high & low in each others lives.  There are a myriad of inside jokes and nostalgic tales of yesteryear.  We have countless embarrassing moments documented in the mind’s eye, maybe even a few on film.  Our history might read like a Judy Blume and Huck Finn novel combined.  This penny installation would not be complete without a few anchors in my life and Jen is among them. Now if only we were neighbors and could go play Sardines or Truth or Dare for old time sake!    

Friday, September 7, 2012

One man’s trash is another woman’s treasure…

I am the proud new mama of a few sets of seats from the old Fort Gamble Theater.   Maybe they’ll be part of a large dining table or booth?  I love that they are adorned with a few graffiti marks from lovers of yesteryear (or maybe still today)?  KH + BE or Cane + CJ.  Some of them still have gum on their underside.  Ew!

The historic Port Gamble Theater was build during the boom times of this Pacific Northwest Victorian mill town near the turn of the last century.  Used for community theater, vaudeville and eventually a movie house.  It was vacant and in a preserved state since 1956, when the last movie reel ended.  History seeps from this space and I feel SO fortunate to have secured a few pieces of historic remnants.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Penny Profiler #44

Karin & Kevin Schminke.  What do you get when you cross a talented artist ( with a clever and witty professor?  A darling couple that I am lucky to call friends! 

For the sake of this post, I’ll call Kevin ‘a collector’.  (Karin might call him something that resembles a person that doesn’t want to throw anything away.)  The history is bleak behind the impressive collection of coins deposited into the proverbial piggy bank.  Kevin’s best guess was they’ve been in storage and collected from the days when they moved in their Kenmore home 18 years ago!

Kevin is clearly a professor – I explained that I counted them as I received them so I had an idea of how many square feet I was working with.  He appropriately schooled me on how to expedite the process, “it’s simple” he said, “just weigh them.”  Well I took his advice and 173 pennies = 1 lb.  Where was he for the 43 other counting’s?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Penny Profiler #43

Julia & Casey Selfridge.  Absolut-ly priceless.  I first crossed paths with Casey while I was training for the London Marathon. At that time, he was a wonderful coach for the Team in Training organization (also known by the acronym TNT, is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's endurance sports training program. They provide training for a half marathon, marathon, triathlon, century bike ride, or a cross-country ski marathon.)  For more info check out

Never look a gift horse in the mouth right?  Ha.  After shaking the vodka bottle for what felt like an eternity to retrieve these little coins, I contemplated whether it would be worthwhile to clean up broken glass or continue shaking the bottle until every last drop was out?  Fact: the neck of an Absolut bottle isn’t much bigger than a penny and the bottle can store at least 1230 pennies.

As for the pennies themselves, Casey is quite certain he”scored the bottle from a new year’s party freshman year in college.”  The bottle was filled by or before he graduated and he never knew what to do with them so they have been a highly ornate bookend for the better part of the last decade.  Casey and his wife (especially) are glad they have found a new home.