Friday, March 23, 2012

My favorite Seattle sandwiches - Salumi's!

About a decade ago, I almost never ate sandwiches.  I had that stereotypical 5 year old's taste in sandwiches: bread (preferably wheat), mustard, meat (preferably ham).  The end.  I know, this is pathetic.  The good news is I can't even recall the last time I ate a sandwich like that.  I am a changed woman!

Since moving to Seattle, I lost access to some of my favorite sandwich places like Jason's Deli.  Get the turkey muffaletta half sandwich.  It's nomful.  Since I can't get that sandwich up here, I had to start trying out some other places.  Here is one of my favorites:

Salumi's Artisan Cured Meats
located in Pioneer Square
309 3rd Avenue South Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 621-8772

This place is to die for!  Salumi is the Italian word for salami, so as you can probably guess, they sell their own cured meats.  Mario Batali's father is the owner.  He worked for Boeing for 30 years.  After retiring, he went to Italy to learn to cure meats.  When he came back, he created Salumi's.  This is one of my absolute favorite places in all of Seattle!  My "dude" is the Yelp check-in duke at Salumi's.  He is the person who showed me this place.  I am so glad he did!

You do need to know a few things about this restaurant before coming in.  They are only open Tuesday-Friday, 11 am - 4 pm.  That's it.  They don't need to be open on the weekends.  There is a line out the door every single day, and they sell out of stuff FAST!  I have an insider's tip that I won't share publicly, but you'll have to reach out to me personally if you want to hear it.  To find the place, just look for the line of people and the orange penant flag with the picture of the pig on it.  They do accept credit cards, and they only have street parking available.  They do host private parties, though I've never done one myself.  I am very tempted to do so one of these days. 

If you are never able to make it here during their operating hours, fear not!  You can find some of their sliced salami at Metropolitan Market near the deli section.  Delaurenti's in Pike Place also sells some of their salamis.  Also, several restaurants in the Seattle area use their cured meats in their dishes.  One of my personal fav's is Pagliacci Pizza.  They serve Salumi's spicy pepperoni.  I always order their grand salami primo, and I have them substitute the regular pepperoni for Salumi's pepperoni.  I also add onions to it.  It is a superb pizza!  They used to sell Salumi's San Marino salami on their pizzas, but they are no longer able to obtain enough salami for their demand.

Usually, every Tuesday is gnocchi day, and they fly one of their aunts in to make it.  It is definitely worth the trip on a Tuesday.  It's best to call a few days in advance to find out when they will have it next, because sometimes she can't make it.  They vary the sauces with each day's serving of gnocchi, so you could order it every time and not grow tired of it.  They only have a few tables with about a total of 20 seats in the restaurant, and they will not serve the gnocchi to go.  If you don't eat the gnocchi fresh, it will just congeal and stick together.  I truly appreciate their dedication to quality food, though some days I wish I could take my chances and take my order to go!  Otherwise you're just going to have to sit at a table for 10 and get used to the fact that you will be sitting at a table with other patrons.  Don't worry, you already have one wonderful thing in common with them, so conversation topics will be easy to find.

Every day they vary their specialty items on the menu (soup, pasta, veggies, sandwich of the day), but almost every time, I get the muffo sandwich.  It's become a comfort food for me.  It has a wonderful olive tapenade, genoa salami, regular salami, provolone cheese, and it's served on a type of ciabatta bread.  They have their bread delivered fresh every morning.  They only offer their sandwiches on 2 types of bread - sticcole and giuseppe.  If you like olives - even just a little bit - you will LOVE this sandwich.  I would probably request it as part of my "last meal"!

A few times I've visited, I've seen people in line wondering what they are going to pick.  They look so puzzled and anxious.  It's like they're on the game show "Let's Make a Deal" and they don't know if they should keep the $500 in their hand, or if they should go with what's behind door #1, door #2, or door #3.  The thing with Salumi's is: pick anything.  You'll win.  There are no zonks at Salumi's.  Or you could just get the muffo and you'll be safe.

They also sell their salumi chubs and small bags of sliced salami to go.  Additionally, they sell pancetta, coppa, culatello, prosciutto, lomo, and guanciale to take home.  Sure, it's not quite the same as having a sandwich ready to go.  If you want to bring a treat back home to family on the other side of the planet, there you go.  Make sure you ask them for tips on storing the cured meats.  They won't last forever, but they will last a little longer if they're still in "solid" form (vs. sliced).  They do ship, so that's an added bonus!

You can also visit their website to find about more information:

Last, but most definitely not least, I found this little gem.  I was doing research for this blog post, and I found this recipe (link below) as a tribute for the Batali's family beloved Aunt Izzy.  She passed away in 2008, and she used to make their gnocchi.  Though I never had the opportunity to meet her, I sure wish I could have met such a woman who could make gnocchi like nobody's business!  Her years of experience may not be easy to mimick, but it's definitely worth trying.  I personally haven't tried it, but I will come back and provide an update when I have the time.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

I like food!

I know I'm really late joining this whole blogosphere thing, but here I am.  Yes, yes, I know, *yawn* yet another blog about food.  They're a dime a dozen these days.  The thing is, food is something I have really developed a passion for, so I am someone who really should be blogging about it!  Food is something I could talk about for hours on end.  When I hear someone say they're going to cities where I've had great food, I suddenly feel an urge to give them a food itinerary.  I'm probably really annoying in that regard.

I hold a very strict (yet lenient) policy on food: I eat what tastes good! That's right, folks. If it tastes good, chances are, I'll eat it! Over the last few years, I have really expanded my food palate by trying out many different foods. I have been so pleasantly surprised to find so many wonderful recipes, restaurants, and cuisines that I thoroughly enjoy! You can't really diss something until you've tried it, right? I was a very finicky eater when I was a child, but I mostly blame that on my mother's bad cooking (sorry mom, love you!  I know you were still learning, and you did your best with what we had!). It took me years to get over my distaste for a lot of dishes.

The thing I enjoy the most is perfectly prepared food.  I'm talking about things done with perfect quality ingredients, fresh ingredients, ingredients that are in season, food that is prepared properly, food that is served at the proper temperature, and food that is paired well with other foods and beverages.  I actually spend a lot of time, money, and effort when I cook for others because I want to make sure they experience food the way it's supposed to be - no substitutions (unless they're absolutely necessary)!  I could easily spend $100-300 in groceries on one dinner alone, but I guarantee you it will be fine specimen of a dinner!  It should be for $100-$300, right? :)

Let me give you some examples of the foods I love and hate:

The good:
bacon (obviously)
steak and beef in general
chicken - when cooked properly
shrimp and practically every other seafood on the planet
French fries
fiddlehead ferns
Ethiopian food
Indian food
French food
Italian food
berries of any kind

The bad:
McDonald's burgers
Dick's Drive-in burgers (I get that there's a certain level of nostalgia, but duuuuuude, they're just bad)
Taco Bell (I don't feel the need to defend this one)
practically any form of liver
overpowering amounts of bleu (or any marbled) cheeses

Now, there are plenty of other foods I could lump in the good and bad category based on my personal taste.  I think this is a good starting point.  I know a lot of "gross" foods people like are a result of us being introduced to them when we are young, and they can grow to be "comfort foods" for us.  I also have a few foods that I just cannot stomach due to past experiences.

Some of my comfort foods that many people find gross: (Hey!  Don't you judge me!)

cottage cheese
eating dry pasta
Long John Silver's fish, chicken, and fried clams
pizza Hut pan pizza
almond milk bubble tea (this one is odd when you see the next list)
fried pickles
fried okra
pan dulces

Foods I don't like due to bad experiences:

egg yolks (depending on the medium, if it has a strong "eggy" flavor, chances are it will gross me out.  There's a story here, I assure you)
mayo/Miracle Whip
Menudo (yes, it merits a double mention!)
things with a strong bell pepper flavor
breakfast sausages and most sausages with that heavy "Italian" flavor

Here's the thing though: we all like what we like.  That's just the way we humans operate in regards to food, love interests, qualities we see in other people, and every other interest in our lives.  I also really enjoy introducing other people to new foods they've never tried before.  I usually ask questions to find out what kind of foods they like.  I know there are a lot of "polarizing" foods out there - things people love or hate - like avocados, olives, onions, bell peppers, coconut, mustard vs. mayo, seafood, etc.  I usually will do a little query to find out what people like to eat - or can't eat due to allergies and sensitivities - and then I will make a recommendation based on my findings. 

In case you haven't figured it out, I like helping people find the food they like.  Sometimes that means we have to make it ourselves since there is no way we would be able to find it where we live.  I have learned that lesson the hard way! 

Part of helping people find the food they like means perfecting recipes and methods of food preparation.  So stay tuned to this blog for tips, recipes, and restaurant recommendations!  I hope each one of my (probably very few) readers will find something helpful on here.

If you have any questions or suggestions for future blog posts, feel free to add comments!

Thanks for reading :)