Fierce in Seattle: No Reservation
a blogumn by Kelli Bielema
This week marks the end of my free lunch era. My pal, Jon, will be leaving his Seattle food critic job to be the lead critic at a weekly in San Francisco. He was my neighbor in my first Seattle apartment. I remember meeting him after I signed my lease and being very excited that I had a cute new gay-bor. And one that wrote about food. We were going to get along just fine.
Jon invited me to several of his reviews and they were always exciting. I was so nervous the first time. I didn’t want to blurt out “OH MY GOD HE’S A FOOD CRITIC AND WE ARE JUDGING YOU ON EVERYTHING! NOW!” I managed to keep my cool and received further requests to join him dining. It became much easier as it was just a great opportunity to get together while he was on the job. It simply meant meeting him at his office of the day, be it Tilth, Café Juanita, Spring Hill. Sure beats my daily grind. But the thing I did learn was that reviewing was a job, and one that could take a toll on your waistline. Again, tough job, but somebody haaaaad to do it.
Another thing I learned was that I have, apparently, a discernible palate. According to my critic friend, I would make a great sommelier. If only I could pronounce Cotes du Rhone like a Frenchman, I may have found my calling. Regardless, I have opened my taste buds to new combinations and discovered foods that I thought I hated (beets, mushrooms, brussel sprouts) to be my new cooking obsessions. Being vegetarian definitely challenged my repertoire when I first ditched animal products and continues to give me a multitude of options. It’s amazing the variety of foods and minimal flavor that can pump up something as ordinary as cabbage. I’m currently making my new favorite Slovak comfort dish, haluski, at least once a week.
I’ll continue to explore new restaurants on my own, but it surely won’t be the same without Jon. Talking about food, drooling about food, eating food, and mostly sharing food are great elements for any outing with a friend. He taught me a lot about how to eat out and he really just had one simple rule that “you either like it or you don’t.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.