Let's eat!

Hi. My name's Carol, and I love food. No, you don't understand. I love food. If I were on the Titanic, I'd be in the galley (kitchen) eating up the chocolate pudding and the roasted quail. I go to most events, activities and parties just for the food. The company and the conversation are secondary. Here, I'll try to document everything that goes into my mouth. Aren't we excited? Oh, hey, are you gonna eat that?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I liked the name. It promised a quiet, soothing time.

When we walked into Ristorante Picolinos in Ballard, we walked into understated ambience, fragrant Italian food, a hidden garden out back, a bakery to the right, and an open expanse of tables and chairs, with clean, starched-white linens, white plates, wine and water glasses, small vases of backyard flowers, candles, and just a sense of calm.

I can imagine coming here regularly when life gets me bogged down. Alone. With my family. Drag my friend over after a stressful day for some wine, a few antipasti, maybe salad and pasta. We had all that at a musician friend's 60th birthday party.

I was starving to death, having only eaten one zucchini muffin in the morning. Good thing they served us early arrivers lots of clean, fresh, Italian appetizers. These were good enough for a full meal. Add a salad and call it a night.

And oh the appetizers the management picked out for the occasion! We had trays upon trays arriving at our long table laden with bruschettas -- olive tapenade, tomato, smoked salmon and capers, cheeses -- bleu, triple cream Brie, salami, pickled artichoke hearts, olives, grilled zucchini rolled up with sweet creamy mascarpone inside, Caprese salad on toothpicks, finger slices of bread served with parsley oil... Usually we have to wait for the main party to show up and subsist on water.

But this was a special day.

They then served everybody two kinds of salads, all you can eat: a tangy Caesar and a tangier Mixed Green with cucumbers, sliced baby tomatoes, shaved Parmesan.

Pastas! Penne with tomato sauce, perfectly seasoned... Penne with Chicken, asparagus spears, eggplant, maybe green beans, mushrooms, in a kind of creamy Alfredo sauce... Huge goat cheese Ravioli in brown butter tomato sauce.

I died and went to Italian heaven.

I thought we weren't highbrow Italian types. More East Coast, basic spaghetti and meatballs fare. But this is a different animal altogether. It's somewhere in between. It's accessible, not snobby, it's the kind of mezzo food you crave when you've found yourself parked on a grassy knoll at sunset overlooking the water, small bites out of a quaint picnic basket, wine and cheese, fresh bread and olives, a perfect slice of tomato with the best olive oil.

It's home.

I'm already plotting ways to return.

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