19 November 2013

From the Realtor ~ Near Year's End, Here's a Snapshot of How Values Fared

The market keeps humming right along here in the tri-county area.  The Seattle Times link below illustrates what we are currently and have been experiencing for most of the past two years.  At year's end, we'll achieve by far the most robust growth we've seen since before the fall of the market in 2007.  With such low inventory, chances of increasing values seem probable.  

What's the value of your home?  We're all curious.  I am always happy to help you understand where you stand in terms of market value!

 King County median home price up 15% over year ago

From the Chef ~ Rosemary Kebabs with Monkfish, Pancetta and Bread

This awesome recipe comes from “The Naked Chef” Jamie Oliver via FoodNetwork.com!  Lots of big flavors packed onto one kebab, and are they ever harmonious and addictive together!  This is a very easy recipe—prep the ingredients, assemble on skewers, bake, drizzle and indulge.  Substitute fresh, local white fish like true cod, lingcod or halibut—scallops would be nice, too!—or stick with monkfish if you can find it.  Likewise with the pancetta; good bacon or even prosciutto is well-suited to this preparation.  And please, don’t waste your money on several packages of stubby, lifeless rosemary!  Just give a call—I’ve got plenty of long, fresh twigs that will crush whatever you can find at the store and I’m ready to share!

1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Cut up 1 lb. white fish into roughly 1” cubes and set aside in bowl.  Cut up about 2 cups of quality bread (I am thinking ciabatta loaves from Essential Bakery or Como Bread from Grand Central) into roughly 1” cubes and add to fish. 

2. Keeping the top 2” of rosemary leaves, run your thumb and forefingers down the length of four 10” fresh rosemary twigs, removing all leaves.  Bash these leaves up in a pestle and mortar with a clove or two of roughly chopped garlic.  Mix with 5-6 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil.  Pour this over fish and bread and mix thoroughly.

3. Cut off tip of rosemary at an angle so the twig is sharp.  Sting fish and bread cubes, alternating until skewer is full. Lightly season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Loosely wrap a slice (or two, if necessary) of pancetta, bacon or prosciutto around each kebab, weaving it in and around the fish and bread.

4. Place skewers on a roasting tray, sprinkle with any leftover oil and rosemary, and bake in preheated over for 15-20 minutes, until bread is crisp and golden.  Drizzle a little bit of good balsamic vinegar over each piece of fish, then a little extra olive oil and any juice from the tray.  Serve simply with a salad and some white wine or cold beer.  Or make shorter skewers for fancy hors d’oeurves to pass around with prosecco at a holiday cocktail party.

20 September 2013

From the Chef ~ Things to Do With Clams

We have an abundance of tasty bivalves just ready for savoring here in the Pacific Northwest.  So get out there, dig some clams, pick some up at one of our fine local seafood purveyors, and enjoy these recipes below!

Horse Clam or Geoduck Sashimi 

We unearthed several horse clams on Vashon this summer, and my, was it worth the effort!  We've poked and prodded for a squirt and wondered at resided below for years.  Little did we know that we had not geoducks, but horse clams, a smaller cousin (a big one can still weigh a couple of pounds) that sits only 12-24 inches below the surface and can live for over 150 years.  These are fantastic in chowder and especially awesome when served raw as an antipasta or as sashimi.

Click on the link below and follow the instructions in this video for cleaning and preparing these giant bivalves - it's easy.  There's a sashimi and a fritter recipe, and the chef does a fine job in his presentation.  You will absolutely love this preparation!  The flesh is firm and crisp but not chewy, and has a sweet, clean flavor of the sea.  I enjoy it with a drizzle of good olive oil, a touch of salt, and a squeeze of lemon.  Soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger are also nice accompaniments.

Best Clam Chowder
Published in Casa Fiore July-September, 2013

We have all the makings of a great clam chowder right here in the Great Northwest.  And if you find a beach with clams, you can dig your own.  On a recent trip to Vashon, I made a delicious chowder with the clams you see above—cockles on the left and a big ol’ horse clam on the right.  The cockles were easy to find; they seemed to have popped themselves out of the sand just begging to be collected.  Horse clams, though not nearly as deep and difficult as their geoduck big cousins, require a low tide, a good deal of shoveling, and the willingness to get drenched in sandy saltwater, all efforts well worth undertaking!

1. Slice 3 strips of bacon into 1/2” pieces and fry until browned but not crisp. Set aside. Add 1 tbsp. butter to the pan and sauté 1 cup each finely chopped onion and thinly sliced celery until translucent. Optional:  add 1/2 cup medium chopped red pepper for color and added flavor.

2. Add 2 cups cream and 4 cups fish stock. Whenever possible, I make my own from fish trimmings and onerous crab legs. Add 1.5-2 cups chopped raw or lightly steamed clams (if steamed, reserve clam juice and use as stock), 2 cups parboiled and diced potatoes, salt and ground pepper to taste, 2 bay leaf, and a pinch of nutmeg. Bring to a low simmer, cook for ten minutes, and eat when ready.

Aunt De's Baked Clams on the Half Shell
This is a scrumptuous preparation and a tradition at our big, Italian Christmas Eve party!  Scroll down to my January 19, 2012 post, and this will become your new-favorite recipe.

26 June 2013

Nicola “Pop” Buono 1910—2013 ~ Old-School Seattle Real Estate Investor and World-Class Eater

My grandfather Nicola Buono, who recently passed away at nearly 103 years of age, taught me many things in life.  As my professor in the School of Good Times, he taught me a lot about food, drink and laughter.  He also taught me, at the risk of sounding a bit too fancy, the advantages of long-hold real estate investment.  Through his life he accumulated many rental properties, mostly on Capitol Hill.  After decades of ownership and appreciation, you can imagine the benefits he gained from his holdings.  Two of his last properties on 18th Avenue East just sold on hallowed Seattle real estate, and if you check out the other side, you’ll see what wise investing can do for you.  My favorite lessons centered around the simple pleasures in life.  Here are some of Pop’s tidbits for you!

Cucina Povera.  Orecchietti (Casa Fiore #58—March, ’11).  Aglio olio (Casa Fiore #29—April—May, ‘07).  Raw ciccoria—aka as dandelion greens. Capuzelle (you don’t want to know what that is.) Squid eyes for breakfast. These are all dishes that help formed my ethic both in and out of the kitchen.  The Cucina Povera of Southern Italy, or literally “Poor Kitchen”, is frugal cuisine, and it’s very much in vogue.  In honor of Pop, I am reposting the above recipes on CasaFioreOnline.com—see below.
Know Your Fig Trees.  Long before the foodie locavore craze of today, Pop knew of every single fig tree (and many other edibles) all around Seattle.  Very conveniently, he also personally “knew” every owner of said trees and other found fruits and vegetables.  I very painfully had this lesson reinforced when a luscious stand of overwintered chard mysteriously disappeared from my garden one day while I was at work.
How to Shuck an Oyster.  Christmas Eve morning was and still is the party before the party, and Pop could mutilate an oyster better than any average chef.  And, boy, did he show me the finer points on how to suck ‘em down when no one else was looking. 
Cent’Erba.  There are many stories that center around this Italian elixir of literally “100 herbs”.  100 herbs for 100+ years—I guess that was an adage to live by! 
RECIPE:  Lupini.   These odd legumes were home-cured by Pop and were always a hit at the table.  Great with beer and other munchies.  Like peanuts at the ballgame (Pop was a great baseball fan, and as the mascot for the Seattle Rainiers, he once met Babe Ruth!), lupini are equally food and pastime.  Here is a simple recipe—be sure to always pop them out of their rubbery shell before eating!  Just use dried beans and soak them in lightly salted water for 2-3 weeks. Try to change the water every day. Try the beans occasionally. If they are not done they will be very bitter out of the shell. Sometimes a scum will appear but just ignore it and change the water. When done, drain and rinse and store indefinitely in a jar of water in the refrigerator.
Orecchiette con Cim’ d’Rabb

  1. Gather, clean, and coarsely chop any variety of greens available in your garden. If purchasing greens, you can stick to the traditional recipe and use 1. 5 lbs. of broccoli rapa.
  2. Meanwhile, boil 1 lb. orecchiette pasta or any other noodle until “al dente”.
  3. Sauté 6 tbsp. olive oil and 6 cloves of minced garlic over  low heat until translucent but not brown. (Adding a few fillets of anchovy is a nice option at this stage!)
  4. Add fresh greens, salt, and pepper to garlic sauté. Cook until just tender. Drain pasta, add to greens, add a few drops of pasta water reserved from the pot, and sauté for a few minutes to meld ingredients. Serve with grated romano cheese.
Aglio Olio
  1. Boil water for 1 lb. of dry pasta, which is preferred over its fresh counterpoint for this dish. Mince lots of garlic—6-8 large cloves at least. Sauté over lowest heat in a pan generously coated in olive oil (1/3 cup) until translucent.
  2. Pat oil from 1 tin of anchovies, chop coarsely, and add to garlic. Sauté until anchovies melt. Throw pasta into boiling water. Throw a large handful of chopped parsley into garlic-anchovy-oil sauce.
  3. Drain pasta when al dente (or literally, “at the teeth”, firm and not soft and soggy), reserving a couple of tbsp. of the water. Then mix pasta, sauce, and water together and, if you like, season with spoonfuls of pecorino romano cheese.

Live a Charmed Life in Sunset Hill

7740 33rd Avenue NW
Charming brick Tudor on classic Sunset Hill avenue lined with cherry blossoms! This one's a life-style choice: serene setting, enchanting, mature  gardens to enjoy, endearing dayrooms, sunny & bright kitchen, original millwork, and the scent of The Sound just outside your window. 2nd story offers several options right now and is an excellent candidate for future expansion. Just a block away is Sunset Park, perfect for gorgeous sundowns overlooking Shilshole, Puget Sound, & The Olympics. This one will charm your socks off!

Love the 15th East Lifestyle! Introducing 335B 16th Avenue East.

Excellent value right where you want to be! Fantastic condo alternative - where else on The Hill can you get this much home in this location with a private garage and NO DUES?! Enjoy the 15th East lifestyle right at your doorstep:  stellar cafes, eateries and shops and easy access to Pike/Pine, Broadway, and Volunteer Park. Deluxe, 480 ft² top floor master suite with 5-piece bathroom, soaking tub, 2nd fireplace, and walk-in closet. High ceilings, gorgeous cherry floors, natural stone and ceramic tile throughout, crown molding, stainless steel appliances!

05 June 2013

Put Your Roots Down on The Hill!

1229 18th Avenue East
Open Houses:  
Thursday, June 6th, 11-1 
Sunday, June 9th, 1-3
Darling two-story on classic street!  Details aplenty:  large dining room with box beam ceilings and pocket doors, sweet curb appeal, 3-beds up, leaded glass, high ceilings, circular floor plan, and welcoming front porch and entry.  Rare, big, and brand new 2-car garage, newer roof, and roomy lot.  Just steps from favorite Capitol Hill environs:  19th and 15th eateries, Volunteer Park, and Interlaken Blvd.  Enjoy right away, dream big for tomorrow!

Have you heard the news?  The market has improved dramatically!  When the time comes to sell or buy your home, please let me know how I can help!

24 April 2013

Classic and Dreamy Capitol Hill Bungalow

Opportunity Knocks!  Tons of upside at this classic and dreamy Capitol Hill address!  Level 4800 square foot lot on darling street near fantastic schools!  Amenities abound:  stroll to 15th and 19th cafes and watering holes, enjoy Volunteer Park & Interlaken Drive recreation opportunities, and Downtown, South Lake Union, the UW and 520 are just on the horizon.  Gararge plus one off-street spot, newer roof, high ceilings, dining room.  First time on market since the 1960s!  Come with your contractor, see the possibilities, and spend a lifetime!    

It is a great time to be a seller!  Please let me know if I can help get you started on a marketing strategy that will get your home sold!

22 February 2013

From the Chef ~ Menu for Mangia Italia 101

Mangia Italia 101 is a very special cooking class and wine pairing dinner to benefit Assumption-St. Bridget School.  Five lucky couples are in for an unforgetable evening of food, wine and laughter!  Here is the menu:

13 February 2013

Exciting New Modern Capitol Hill Homes!

Ground was just broken for the construction of a pair of fantastic 5-star Built Green contemporary homes on a gorgeous tree-lined street in the shadow of a noble bell tower just blocks from Pine and Pike and booming 12th Avenue!  Under the thoughtful construction of Benjamin Custom Homes, these homes will offer 2100+ square feet, 3 bedrooms including stellar master bedrooms, very large and cool roof top decks, nice views, open and flexible living spaces, garage or off-street parking, in-floor radiant heat and triple pane windows.  Architect Julian Weber's deft design guarantees a style that will make an impression.  Completion is May 2013.  Please let me know if I can answer any questions or provide you with floor plans for this very special site!

Seattle Real Estate Update ~ A Sellers' Market

Here are the latest statistic from Windermere.  Bottom-line:  it is a great time to be a Seller!  Think you are underwater?  Think again, you may not be any longer.  As always, let me know how I can help you.  Give me a call and we can discuss a custom strategy for you as a Seller or as a Buyer.

From the Chef and Il Pescatore ~ Calamari Ripieni

It’s tough to beat the tenderness of fresh, line-caught calamari.  I make it sounds so romantic, but really it entails a late, cold night on the piers of Downtown Seattle.  It’s quite an adventure, especially when you have to get up for work in just a couple of hours , but it’s well worth the effort.  I have shared with you my marinated squid recipe (Casa Fiore #58—March, ’11)  Calamari fritti and squid sautéed in a nice tomato sauce and served over pasta are other great ways to enjoy these abundant cephalopods.  Today, however, I share with you the best recipe I know for squid.  It’s fairly common—check out the recipes on the web— and thoroughly irresistible.  Below is my recipe.  I’ll see you down at the piers! 
  • Start with 1 lb. cleaned calamari.  Finely chop tentacles and set aside.  Sauté the following in 1/4 cup olive oil until translucent:  1/2 cup minced onion, 1/4 cup minced celery, and 2 cloves minced garlic.  Add tentacles and sauté briefly. 
  •  Add the following:  1 cup minced finely chopped arugula, 1/4 cup mince parsely, 2 tbsp. each minced celery greens and fresh thyme and a splash of white wine.  Add 4 filets chopped anchovies, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste and sauté a bit more.  Let cool slightly. 
  • Add one beaten egg, 2 tsp. grated parmigiano, 1 cup chopped stale bread, and juice of 1/2 lemon.  Add filling to zip lock bag, cut end, and pipe in filling.  Seal top with toothpick.  Salt and drizzle with olive oil.  Grill on high heat for roughly 7-8 min., turning once.
  • Dust with good salt and drizzle with quality olive oil and serve with lemon wedges.  Enjoy with white wine or crisp lager or ale.  I like them best when they are hot.