26 October 2010

Blogger Dinner at Poppy and Rediscovering Beechers Mac and Cheese in Seattle

Beechers Mac and Cheese

Well the weekend is over, and how much fun one girl can have is up for debate. On the weekend I headed to Seattle with a bus group that my friend Lynn organises... with 41 other women. As the years pass it is like a family reunion where you meet up with some special ladies to swap stories about grand kids, children and life in general. A lot of these ladies are near and dear to my heart. What is exceptional about this tour is that you can pretty much do your own thing. There is the group who come to gamble at the casinos, get their nails done and trip the light fantastic, those die hard 'shoppies' and then those like me who want to experience a glimpse of Seattle.

Without fail I always head to Pike Place Market with a few ladies in tow after shopping to my hearts content . I am sure there are many more places a foodie could hide out in Seattle but Pike Place Market and it's uniqueness always pulls me in. I love to see it through new eyes and after all these years I pretty much know it's streets like the back of my hand... and would even notice if something has changed. In wandering I even saw my friend Jan Marie Johnson of Seattle Food Bite Tours who was kind of enough to do a tour with our group of bloggers in the Spring.

 With the seasons Pike Place Market changes its blanket but it is still the place where everyone seems to love their job and there is never a frown in sight. Where else can I taste a flight of Italian wines from Italian artisan winemakers outside of Italy, have a pot of "bong coffee" from Seattle Coffeeworks, feast on an award winning clam chowder (or my favourite seared scallop chowder), or stick gum on a gum wall... all in one happy place.

A Seattle institution is Beechers Cheese. In the heart of Seattle's historic Pike Place Market people press their noses against the windows at Beecher's Handmade Cheese to witness a vat of creamy white milk transformed by the expert hands of the cheesemaker. A visit to Beecher's is a feast for the senses. The sights and sounds of the Pike Place Market provide a memorable backdrop. I always thought that Beecher's guarded their macaroni and cheese recipe with their life since they always say you will find the recipe in their book (which of course you would need to purchase). I have a special treat for you my friends, so check out their recipe below!

My time in Seattle also included a memorable dinner at Poppy with some heart-warming local Seattle area bloggers... some of whom I have met before when we took a tour of Pike Place Market with Jan Marie Johnson of Seattle Bites Tours. Don't you just love to spend time with people who are as passionate about food as you are and who don't wince when you pull out your camera to take a photo or two? There's me below and clockwise you see Sandy of Seattle Pastry Girl who has a pastry background, Krista of Rambling Tart who delves into travel and local foods , Janelle of Talk of Tomatoes (I am sure she is tired of hearing she looks like Julia Roberts), Sarah of O2 Seattle who has a handle on the local scene and Don of Sortachef our master of the woodburning oven.

Jerry Traunfeld's Capitol Hill restaurant brings a new style of dining to the Pacific Northwest. I was lucky enough to share this experience with these exceptional local area bloggers. The restaurants inspiration comes from the "thali," a platter served to each guest holding a variety of small dishes. The Hindi word "Thali" (meaning literally "plate") which is a selection of different main dishes, served in small bowls on a round silver tray and accompanied by some fresh from the tandoor Naan bread.

 Poppy's menu borrows the idea of the "thali" from India to present Jerry's own style of Northwest cooking, highlighting seasonal ingredients, fresh herbs, and spices. It's a modern northwest tasting menu where you get the opportunity to taste test from 7 - 10 dishes on the menu. The menu changes often with the seasons. We started with appetizers like Albacore Remoulade on Fried Green Tomatoes, Spice Crispies, and Eggplant Fries with Sea Salt and Honey. Our "thali" included choices such as Corn Cake with Goat Cheese Chanterelles and Autumn Vegetables; Roasted Black Cod with Beet Wasabi Sauce; Lavender Duck Leg with Parsnip Puree and Huckleberry Sauce; and Qualicum Scallops and Port Belly with Vanilla-Thyme Quince....and the list of exceptional dishes goes on.

My time at Poppy with my adopted bloggers is one for the memory books. Poppy is a must-experience restaurant. The food is prepared with care and the passion that goes into the creation of each and every dish stands out on your platter. The entire experience was one of unpretentious relaxation where I think we made a new taste memory that will last forever. Share this experience with heart -warming laughter and 5 like-minded food bloggers and you will be changed forever.

Since I am feeling all warm and fuzzy inside I will share this recipe for Beechers classic Macaroni and Cheese. Talk about your comfort food!!!!!When sick, or tired, or far from home, everyone seems to yearn for the gastronomic equivalent of a warm sweater, a kiss on the forehead, a favourite blanket.  Anyone that has tasted Beecher's heavenly cheesy goodness knows what I'm talking about!!!! It's definitely in my top 5. Imagine how excited I was to find the recipe shared on Martha Stewart's website. I've gladly posted it below in hopes that you'll invite me over for a taste.

**Beecher's Mac and Cheese**

6 ounces penne pasta
2 cups Beecher's Flagship Sauce (recipe follows)
1 ounce cheddar, grated ( 1/4 cup)
1 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated ( 1/4 cup)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter an 8-inch baking dish.

Cook the penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and set aside.

Combine cooked pasta and Flagship Sauce in a medium bowl and mix carefully but thoroughly. Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cheeses and then the chile powder. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

NOTE: If you double the recipe to make a main dish, bake in a 9-by-13-inch pan for 30 minutes.

Serves 4 as a side dish

**Beechers Flagship Cheese Sauce**
makes about 4 cups; enough for a double recipe

1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
14 ounces semi hard cheese, such as Beecher's Flagship, grated (about 3 1/2 cups)
2 ounces grated semi soft cheese, such as Beecher's Just Jack
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chile powder and garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to three days.

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  1. It looks like you had a greta time there. That Mac & Cheese looks and sounds delicious.



  2. What an awesome weekend! You met some of my favorite bloggers! I've always wanted to go to Pike's Market and Seattle. Maybe next year...

    This mac and cheese is definite comfort food. Delicious in every way.

  3. These are lovely pics dear Vall! and the recipe look yummy!! gloria

  4. I just loved sharing this adventure with you, Val! It was so great to finally meet you and know that you're just as lovely in person as you are on your blog. :-) The mac and cheese is absolutely divine, and now I'm craving it something fierce!! :-)

  5. That looks like one adventure I wish I was on!! Thanks for sharing,


  6. Very timely...I just this week started to entertain the thought of traveling through Canada next summer, including a trip to Seattle. This just piqued my interest even more. I plan to pick your brain when I see you in SF next week.

  7. Glad to hear you had a great time in Seattle Val...it's one place I really want to visit in the near future. A "bong" coffee? Ok...this I will need to google!!!! LOL!

  8. What a wonderful post. I fell in love with Seattle and Pike place Market when we visited last year. You brought back it all back for me; we took the Market tour and it was really worth it.
    Like you I wanted to make that Mac and cheese when I returned home. I found the recipe on the internet and made it a few times; just wonderful even if I didn't have the original Beacher's cheese; dound one at Costco that fit the bill.
    Thanks for the memories.

  9. Looks like u had a great time:)

  10. Val,
    It was so good to see you again. Thank you for pulling us all together for this incredible dinner and your mac and cheese came out looking scrumptious ! Looking forward to our next dining experience...wish I could make it to San Francisco-I'll be thinking of you...have a wonderful time.

  11. Now that's a trip! I love Seattle.

  12. I think this is your second post on Seattle? It's definitely on my "go to see" list.

    This mac n' cheese with chipotle powder is one I must try - fab idea!

  13. How wonderful, Val! Sounds and looks like a fantastic trip...and the mac 'n cheese...YUM!

  14. What a great time you had Val! LOVE the mac and cheese recipe with chipotle powder = DELISH!!

  15. Great post. I felt I was one othe girls walking around enjoying the weekend.

  16. Oh Val, this sounds like such a wonderful trip & experience. How lucky you are this is a yearly excursion! Will be trying this mac & cheese recipe---I've tried so many and am still searching for the perfect one :)

  17. Thanks for sneaking out that recipe for us...I've gotta try this one for sure.
    Great times in Seattle has given me the bug to stop by when I go towards the West coast.
    All your fun times has certainly brought out the exhileration you feel right through your post ;o)

    Have a great weekend,

  18. I have no idea why I've never been to Seattle, but I need to visit! Sounds like a great trip full of delicious food.

  19. thanks for a peek into this lighter side of life - the mac cheese looks so good too, I have never made a real mac cheese the way they make them in the American continent, but it looks like a sure winner

    Seattle looks like a vibrant city too - I have a friend who goes there often and uses it as a change in routine for her more conservative life in a less enticing US state

  20. What a great trip. One day I will get to Seattle! You make me want to go just to eat at Poppys!

    That mac and cheese recipe looks like it's to die for. Love the chipotle in there. What can't chipotle improve on?

  21. cheese sauce: perfect for pasta, fondue, and eating with a spoon. :)

  22. What a wonderful idea - a bus trip with your good friends!! I think I should start one of those...

    Love your pics of the market - it looks fantastic. As for the mac & cheese... swoon. Now all I need is a place to buy chipotle powder :(

  23. Such a fun dinner at poppy and so good to see you again! Thanks for organizing Val.

    P.S. LOVE your photo collages - I need to learn to do that! ;)

  24. What a great trip Val. Now I'm missing the West Coast a lot.

  25. AnonymousMay 12, 2011

    I live about 30 miles north of Seattle and have been to the Pike Street Market several times but never tasted this mac and cheese. Next time I go to Seattle, I'm going to have to track down Beecher's to get some of that tasty food you wrote about.



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