I Ate Here: Beau Legs (Southern Cuisine)

 

Review: Beau Legs, Lacey, WA

Somewhere along the evolutionary chain between fish and chicken, emerged frogs. Sometime in history, a primitive human slaughtered an amphibian and discovered it was tasty. We’ve been eating the part land-dwelling  and part water-dwelling slimy critters ever since. (Fun Fact: Some researchers suggest some of the first frog legs ever eaten occured over 10,000 years ago in ancient Wiltshire, England)

Frog legs are one of the star dishes at Beau Legs, located in Lacey, Wash. For foodies brave enough to try frog legs, their flavor profile is just that–a cross between a chicken and a fish. Frog legs have a history of being braised or roasted Asian and European dishes (mainly French.) However, at Beau Legs, frog legs are prepared Southern style: drenched in a cajun-spiced flour mixture and then deep fried like chicken wings. (If you’ve never seen frog legs before, picture a longer, more slender chicken wing without the pointy tips on the end).

 Southern-style deep fried frog legs at Beau Legs in Lacey, WA

Southern-style deep fried frog legs at Beau Legs in Lacey, WA

Beau legs has a plethora of other Southern Style offerings, such as gumbo ( a stew-like concoction with beans, spices, andouille sausage over rice)  mac and cheese, jambalaya (much like gumbo, but not a stew), deep fried chicken, alligator po’ boys, and fried okra. (Note: When I ate at Beau Legs recently, they were out of the alligator po’ boys. The waitress who served us said the alligator is sometimes a difficult-to-get-item from local suppliers. So if you want to try some alligator, call ahead.)

My fiance and I decided to try this restaurant after reading lots of positive reviews on yelp. My notes on overall dining experience:

Appearance:The decor doesn’t immediately scream ‘southern style’ save for a couple of mardi-gras masks on the wall. The interior dawns shades of a nautical blue, the same that you would find at most fish and chip establishments. The dining room is quaint, with about five tables and five booths. Though most tables were occupied and seating limited, it  was very clean and did not feel crowded.

Frog legs: The frog legs are coated in the same flour mixture as is used as the fried chicken. The texture of the frog legs met the expectation of what any flour-fried meat should be: golden brown, soft on the inside and with crispy on the edges. The meat was moist, easy-to-separate from the bones and cooked all the way through.

Catfish: The catfish was coated in cornmeal mix of seasonings with salt, pepper and I believe a hint of paprika. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the catfish was fried. I’ve tried many a fish rolled in cornbread and fried that was either greasy (which happens when you don’t wait long enough for the oil in the pan to heat up to the right temperature for frying and the piece of food you are trying to cook absorbs the oil) or the oil was too hot and the cornmeal burned too quickly. The catfish was neither oily or burned. The salt brought out the oceany flavor of the catfish and the cornmeal provided a lightly crunchy texture.

Tartar Sauce: Instead of handing out tartar sauce packets or having customers squirt out a generic brand through a pump,Beau Legs uses a fresh tartar sauce. The horseradish flavor is distinct, but not overly-sharp. The horseradish mix is finely minced and gives the tartar sauce a smoother consistency, unlike some brands of mass-produced tartar sauce,which have huge chunks of horseradish in them. There’s also a layer of sweetness to the tartar sauce (presumably from lemon), and chopped dill that adds a tangy element to the sauce that counterbalances the sweetness. They need to bottle this sauce and sell it!

Fried Prawns: The prawns were coated in a panko breadcrumbs. The prawns were quite large and plump. The ratio of breadcrumbs to prawns was equally proportional, allowing me to taste the buttery, juicy texture of the prawns.

Red Beans and Rice: Red beans were molded on top of the rice like the top of Mt. Rainer and it was great fun to dig down to find the rice and mix it up with my spoon! The rice was fluffy, but still firm. All of this was mixed in with creole seasonings and chunks of andouille sausage.

A cup of Beau Legs' red beans and rice

A cup of Beau Legs’ red beans and rice

Hush Puppies: My biggest surprise of the whole meal! I was apprehensive about tying the hushpuppies at first because 1) the hush puppies were a darker brown instead of a golden brown that I am used to seeing in photos 2) The first time I tried hush puppies at a national fast food chain and they had absolutely no flavor at all. They were just burned cornmeal balls. This was about five years ago and I never ate another hush puppy again.

The Beau Legs version of hush puppies were like a flavor explosion in your mouth. Crunchy on the outside and soft and spongy on the inside. There were some onions that were finely chopped (in the same way as the horseradish in the tartar sauce) that gave the inside of the hush puppies wonderful sweetness that complimented the herbs inside (I could not decide if the herb was parsley or thyme). If this is how hush puppies are supposed to taste, I have been missing out because of one bad experience long ago.

Beau Legs Fish and Chips

8765 Tallon Ln NE Ste G, Lacey, WA 98516

(360) 915-6328

Hours:

11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday

11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Noon- 7 p.m. Sunday

Menu price range: $3.99 for most sides $9-$15 for entrees and special dishes

 

 

I Ate Here: Cebu, A Taste of The Philippines

CebuLumpia-300x225

Lumpia Shanghi is a traditional appetizer in the Philippines. It is made using spring roll wrappers and is often filled with pork and finely shredded carrots.

I am half Filipino. My mother immigrated to the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s, and it was always a special treat when her extended family members visited us and she, my grandmother and aunts and uncles would cook prepare things like lumpia(kind of like an eggroll,but CRUNCHIER)  and pancit (a vegetable and meat noodle dish). The flavors of the Philippine islands are part of my heritage and I was thrilled to find a restaurant in the South Sound that specializes in that cuisine. It’s very nostalgic for me whenever I eat there, and I’m happy to introduce some of my culture with you.

Cebu – A Taste of Traditional Philippine Cuisine

By Rachel Thomson

Angel Vano wants to take diners on a culinary tour of the Philippines. His passion is introducing locals to a culture rich with history and international influence, which they may not be familiar.

Vano is the owner and cook at Cebu (pronounced SAY-boo), a restaurant offering Filipino cuisine. Named after one of the more than 7,100 islands in the Philippines, Cebu has been offering traditional Filipino dishes to diners since 2001.

“I enjoy promoting culture and heritage through food,” Vano says. “Filipino food transports you to another place.”

The Philippines’ history and influences borrowed from other countries are evident in the culinary offerings found on Cebu’s menu.

An example of this is Cebu’s adobo, a meat dish slowly marinated and stewed with vinegar originating from Spain. In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain, thus marking the beginning of a 300-year rule by Spain. The Spanish version of adobo is made with oregano, salt, vinegar and paprika, which gives it a spicy flavor. However, paprika was not a spice common in the Philippines, so the Filipino version features ingredients such as soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and black pepper, which allows the tanginess of the vinegar to come through.

Another example of Asian fusion on Cebu’s menu can be found in the restaurant’s take on pancit (PAN-set). In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Chinese established colonies in the Philippines. With them, the Chinese brought noodle dishes and bean curds. The Cebu version of pancit starts with your choice of three different types of sautéed noodles: sotanghon (bean thread), bihon (rice), or canton (egg), which are then mixed with your choice of chicken, pork, prawns or tofu and vegetables like carrots, yellow peppers and red cabbage.

CebuPancit-300x225

Pancit can be made with various types of noodles. (bean sprout noodles, egg noodles, rice noodles) Pictured here is pancit canton, made with egg noodles.

Cebu also offers appetizers such as lumpia (pronounced Loomp-YA), which are similar to Chinese egg rolls. However, lumpia are stuffed with mainly pork and shredded carrots and their wrappers are thinner, which gives the lumpia a pronounced crunch. Cebu’s dessert items allude to the Philippines’ Polynesian roots, featuring a Halo Halo (pronounced HALL-oh, HALL-oh) shaved ice that is mixed with tropical fruits and topped with ice cream.

Vano opened Cebu in Olympia with his wife, Kim, in 2001. He met his wife in Cebu and they immigrated to the United States more than two decades ago. Van attended Pacific Lutheran University, earned a degree in business, and worked in the banking industry for 11 years. However, he says opening his own restaurant has “always been a dream” of his. One day, he decided to leave the banking world, but put his knowledge of business to work into his restaurant.

“It was kind of a now or never kind of dream,” Vano says.

Cebu’s menu is created from family recipes that have been passed down for generations. Vano considers himself the sous chef and says most of the recipes come from his wife’s family. Prior to immigrating to the United States, Kim worked as a dietician and nutritionist and prepared meals for nuns at a hospital.

Since opening the restaurant on Marvin Road, Vano says he’s been able to educate the community about Filipino culture and heritage. He is the president of theFilipino American Community of South Puget Sound (FACSPS). The organization, which started in 1982, is a non-profit committed to promoting and preserving Filipino American heritage in the United States. The organization runs a “Visiting Artists” program, which hosts performing artists such as The Philippine Ballet Troupe and choral singers. The group also runs a humanitarian relief program called “Uhaw,” derived from a tagalong word meaning “thirst.” The organization also sends basic aid to victims of mass disasters and crises in the Philippines and the United States. Recently, FACSPS held a benefit dinner to send aid to victims of the category 5 typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands of people in 2013. The group also provides a limited number of scholarships to local graduating seniors in Thurston County schools and regularly participates at the annual Ethnic Celebration at Saint Martin’s University.

CebuAngelVano-300x225Vano says the best thing about running Cebu is the opportunity he gets to educate the community about the cultural diversity of the Philippines. He remembers a group of students from an Asian and International Studies course at South Puget Sound Community College who came in for lunch one day for an assignment. They had to try an international type of food and discuss it in class. Vano says none of the students had tried Filipino food before and they began taking pictures and writing notes.

“I’m glad to be here to represent that cuisine,” Vano says. “I didn’t think that educating people would be such a big effect of opening a restaurant, but it bloomed into that. Food is culture and I like being able to bridge culture through food.”

Cebu

9408 Martin Way

Olympia, WA 98516

Hours: Monday – Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Saturday: noon – 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: Closed

Price Range for entree: $8-12

Cebu also hosts special Filipino buffets on holidays such as Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which features a wider variety of Filipino food not on the regular menu, and Cebu also offers a full-service catering menu. For more information call

Cebu at 360-455-9128.

 

 

I Ate Here: Brinnon ShrimpFest

It was pretty hard to get my hands on some Hood Canal spot shrimp at ShrimpFest today. There was only one booth selling packages of the coveted shellfish to take home and only one vendor–Uncle Jim’s Smokehouse of Chehalis, Wash. had some cooked shrimp to sample. I had to wait about 20 minutes in line to sample the shrimp, but it was well worth the wait.

battered shrimp

battered and fried Hood Canal spot shrimp skewer

 

Uncle Jim’s Smokehouse primarily serves garlic sausage, but had added a special shrimp selection on the menu fort the festival. Each skewer had five plump, juicy, succulent pieces of shrimp (which were rather large in size, I think they could technically be described as prawns). Each piece was shelled and had spent two hours in a smoker.Then they were dipped into a light, fluffy seasoned batter and deep fried until golden with crispy edges and a pillowy center. The shrimp had the perfect combination of smokey, and salty and sweet flavors and reminded me of hickory smoked bacon, only it was seafood.

The festival continues Sunday, May 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  In addition to the shrimp skewers, festival organizers say there will be another vendor selling a hood canal shrimp paella, a Spanish rice and seafood dish that is slow-cooked in a pan over an open flame often seasoned with saffron and rosemary.

Preview: Hood Canal Spot Shrimp Abound at this weekend’s Brinnon Shrimp Fest

I lived on the Washington Coast for almost four years and the crustacean people went ga-ga over in that region was the Dungeness crab. But apparently one of the most popular shelled critters to eat on the Hood Canal region of Puget Sound is the Spot Shrimp. I did not know there was shrimp in our Puget Sound waters. (Hood Canal residents are probably guffaw-ing as they read this)

The species is named after the “spot” at the base of its tail. They are quite large prawns, which can grow up to nine inches and can only be caught for a few days a year.  The folks I interviewed for the piece say the shrimp are soft, succulent and sweet and ‘melt in you mouth like butter.’  I’m looking forward to expanding my culinary horizons and sampling some of these critters at Shrimpfest, which takes place from 10-6 Saturday and 10-5 Sunday in Brinnon, which is about halfway between Shelton and Port Townsend.  After you read the preview, feel free to leave comments below and tell me about your experiences with Hood Canal Shrimp.

singleshrimp

 

baconshrimpShrimpFest Comes to Brinnon This Weekend

13,000 Pounds of Shrimp Caught For Festival

By Rachel Thomson

Benjamin Buford Blue, otherwise known as Bubba to Forrest Gump fans, was right.

Shrimp is the fruit of the sea,” Phil Thenstedt says, borrowing a quote from the shrimp fanatic in the movie Forrest Gump. Thenstedt is the president of the Emerald Towns Alliance, the organization hosting the 22nd Annual Shrimpfest this weekend.

The Hood Canal’s famous spot shrimp will be star of the festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Yelvick General Store Field in Brinnon. Active duty and retired military members get in free, as do kids 12 and under. Admission for the general public is $4 or $6 for a two-day pass.

There isn’t any bad way to cook shrimp,” Thendstedt says. “What makes spot shrimp so special is that it’s a sweeter tasting shrimp and it doesn’t require a lot of seasoning. It melts in your mouth like lobster.”

Several vendors will be at the festival offering creative and tasty recipes for shrimp-lovers to try, like lightly-smoked shrimp skewers and freshly-cooked shrimp served over a bed of Japanese-style soba noodles. On Sunday, there will also be the chance to taste local shrimp in paella, a Spanish rice and seafood dish that is slow-cooked in a pan over an open flame often seasoned with saffron and rosemary. Also on Sunday will be the belt sander races, which take place at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

And of course, there will be shrimp for festival goers to buy and take home to incorporate in their own culinary creations.

Last week marked the end to the short shrimping season. The Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlilfe allowed only four days of shrimping in May. During that time, local shrimpers caught more than 13,000 pounds of the crustaceans for the festival.

In addition to shrimp, there will also be booths with other local seafood, sandwiches and carnival goodies. There will also be arts, crafts, games and live music performances. A complete schedule of events can be found at www.brinnonshrimpfest.org.

If You Go:shrimpkebobs

What: Brinnon Shrimpfest

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Yelvik General Store Field, 303375 Highway 101 (3 miles north of downtown Brinnon)

Cost: Free for retired and active duty military members and children 12 and under; $4 one-day pass or $6 two-day pass

For More Info: visit www.shrimpfest.org or call (360) 796-4456

A shuttle will be available throughout the festival at Doesewallips State Park and Pleasant Harbor Marina.

 

All photos courtesy Brinnon ShrimpFest.

Foodie Profile: Sierra Rumble

Check out this feature I did on Sierrra Rumble. She’s only 16 years old, but she’s already a talented pastry chef! She is based out of Thurston County and runs an unofficial business with her mom. She’s an AMAZING food artist!

sierraMost sixteen year olds are excited about getting their driver’s license and shopping for the perfect prom dress – not trying out a new hand mixer or getting their hands covered in flour and granulated sugar while experimenting with pastry recipes.

But that’s how Sierra Rumble likes to spend most days after school. The junior at North Thurston High School has plans on becoming a pastry chef one day. Though she’s had no professional culinary training, she’s already getting lots of recognition for her sweet treats.  READ MORE

Check out some of her edible artistry!  Visit her website

cake

 
cupcake  skellingtonfondant