03 December 2014

From the Chef ~ Giovanina's Cartellate

After the Feast of the Seven Fishes, this is my dream platter of Christmas Eve sweets! Chocolate and almond stuffed figs, deep fried zeppole, and my very favorite, cartellate drenched in honey (bottom left)—all from the hands of sweet Giovanina Buono, who will be dearly missed this Christmas Eve. Problem is, like so many classics from the home kitchen, there was no written recipe and no one quite knows how she made her beautiful cartellate. Certainly, you will not find these at ANY bakery anywhere, so it’s now up to you and I to continue this tradition. Below is a rendition from CookingWithNonna.com that I will try. For a visual, check out this great how-to demonstration at CasaFioreOnline.com

Thank you, sweet Giovanina! This Christmas Vigil is for you!

1. In a standing mixer, combine 1¾ dry white wine with ½ cup olive oil. Add 2 lbs. flour and mix until dough is firm.
2. Cut a handful of dough and pass through a manual pasta machine set at 3 until you have a long, flat strip of dough about 3” wide and 10” long. Lay strip on wood cutting board and cut into 1” wide strips with a ravioli cutter.
3. Roll up strip into a pinwheel shape and press end of strip so it is secure.  Repeat with all remaining dough.
4. Fry all cartellate in olive oil until they are lightly golden.
5. Heat 2 cups vin cotto or honey in a pan. Dip each cartellate until completely covered. Drain any excess vin cotto or honey and place on a platter for serving. Enjoy!

15 October 2014

From the Chef ~ Salmon Dreams: Smoked Salmon Roe and Lox!

I recently got my hands on several fresh coho salmon and turned them into jewels to savor. I threw a couple in the smoker, then brined and cured some roe, and then vacuum packed a fish or two for "salmon dinners" this fall.  Next it was time to cure a bunch as savory lox; I've included a link below for an easy lox recipe I like.  We'll horse these down this winter drizzled with basil-scented olive oil and dusted with good Sicilian capers and fresh garden herbs like fennel and chives as seen on the antipasto plate above.  I then followed my whimsy and filled my smoker not once but twice with whole skeins of salmon roe.  Goodness, these turned out so, so good - my recipe is below for you to try.  I then threw some fillets on the grill for supper, grabbed a beverage, and called it a day.



Smoke Salmon Roe 

I had a hunch about smoked salmon roe.  I've cured it in years past, but something about the rich, ocean flavor of roe and alder smoke lurked in my imagination.  And the experiment paid off.  Here's my process:

1.  Soak one or up to 20 whole skeins of fresh salmon roe in a brine consisting of 1 gallon water (tap water is fine), 1 cup kosher salt, and 2 cups sugar.  Soak for 60 minutes; soak smaller skeins for 30 minutes. Pull from brine and let sit for 30-60 minutes.  

2.  Now fire up the smoker with alder chips.  Line the grates of your smoker with foil.  Smoke larger skeins for 90 minutes or slightly longer.  Again, smaller skeins need about half the time.  Pull from the smoker and enjoy.

Smoked roe is great with cream cheese or sour cream or marscapone (as seen above) and crackers or crusty bread.  Or how about with fresh pasta and marscapone or cream and maybe some fresh chopped chives.  Or try it simply over white rice to lengthen the flavor.  Avocado, herbs, cucumber, soy sauce, a little hot pepper or sweet red bell pepper all sound delicious to me. Or straight up with bourbon or beer or grappa or vecchia romagna or smokey tequila. Champagne or prosecco, too.  Enjoy!

Urban Palace by Barcelo Homes

Modern luxury, Built Green pre-sale home near Downtown Seattle with a sleek and efficient design!  This home features 4 large bedrooms, wonderful ceiling height on all levels, amazing light, entertainment-size flex area and many other impressive amenities including a 1000+ sq ft roof top view deck. Exceptional open and flowing floor plan on the main level with large decks on both the west and east ends that create a mega entertaining space. This home sits on a roomy corner lot, boasts energy-efficient systems, a deep 2-car garage, and loads of storage. With the ability for customization, this will be not only a one-of-a-kind home, but a one-of-a-kind buying opportunity.  Completion:  January 1st, 2015.

From the Chef ~ Uncle Mario's Fish Tacos

My brother recently conquered a mammoth lingcod (see above) on a fishing excursion. Gnarly to the eye but luscious to the taste, the big fish inspired us to take our stab at fish tacos, and we knocked it out of the park! There are many good recipes on the internet, including some with yummy beer-battered, deep-fried fish. Here’s our version!  Pacific cod, halibut, mahi mahi, rockcod, tilapia, or any white fish will work. The balance of spice and heat with cooling white sauce and fresh, firm fish made a taco muy bueno with which to swill our Cerveza Pacifico! Aloha, Buen Provecho, and Down the Hatch!

1. Make white sauce:  Mix thoroughly together 4 tbsp. sour cream, 3 tbsp. mayonnaise, 1+ tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 clove minced garlic, kosher salt to taste, and 1 tsp. lime zest.  Set aside.
2. Rub 1 lb. of fresh fish with 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Adding any combo of cayenne, cilantro, cumin, or lime juice is a nice option as well.  Set aside for 15-30 min.
3. Prepare garnishes:  jalepenos both pickled and raw, shredded cabbage, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and green onions, avocado slices or guacamole, assorted salsas including hot sauce like Tapatio brand.
4. Grill fish.  Serve with warm tortillas (corn or wheat, your call) and garnish as desired.  I personally like fish, cabbage, lots of cilantro, white sauce and Tapatio hot sauce.

When a Home is More Than Just Property, Even for a Realtor

Resort living in North Tacoma! Over half an acre estate with Commencement Bay and Vashon Island views, a pool, Jacuzzi, tennis court, grand circular driveway, and lush grounds! Super cool, custom-built 1965 home with vaulted ceilings, over 3,500 square feet, a kitchen fit for food TV, and a Frank Sinatra wet bar. The slower-paced Tacoma market ignited for this one-of-a-kind home. We got three offers in short order and the price went significantly higher than expected. 

Sometimes homes are more than just property, even for Realtors. I've never had to say goodbye personally or professionally to a home like this, as this was my grandparents’ much-beloved home. While I am sad to see it go, I am delighted for the happy new owners who get to make their own memories at this lovely residence.

01 April 2014

And the Winner is... Who is the Favorite Stager at the Yale Avenue East project by Dep Homes?

In just a few days on the market, we have been able to sell two of four high end Eastlake town homes (see post below).  There are a number of reasons for our success, including the influence of astute staging.  We had three professional staging companies come out and stage this entire stunning Eastlake project by Dep Homes.  The feedback was tremendous!  Buyers and brokers alike identified with the different styles and moods created by the stagers.  Moreover, visitors were impressed by a builder willing to make a real splash with the presentation of his homes.  In the end, this trio of true professionals proved the power of staging by making beautiful raw spaces feel like unique and desirable homes.  Thank you very much to our stagers!

The votes have been cast, the ballots have been tallied, and the winner is...


Final tally:

Modernous Staging - 2218B:  54%  (In the post below, see photo #5.)

David Robertson Design - 2218A:  32%  (In post below, see photo #3 and #6.)

Seattle Staging and Design - 2220 and 2222:  14%

There is still time to take a look at this spectacular site!  Open houses will held in the coming days, including this Sunday, April 6th, 1-3.  Please contact me for future open house times or to schedule a private showing.  Come on out, enjoy this wonderful project and be captivated by this fanciful staging effort!

28 March 2014

Quintessentially Eastlake! Four State-of-the-Art Homes by Dep Homes, $647,950-$749,950

Quintessentially Eastlake! Four unique and thoughtfully drawn floor plans at four price points! Amble to eateries? Zip to work? Kayak to fun? Or stay home and entertain with dazzling Downtown Seattle and Lake Union views from your towering roof top deck. Built for the discerning, urbane Seattleite intent on enjoying design, natural beauty and convenience: 4-star Built Green targeted, 2 bedrooms + den, cozy in-floor heat, gorgeous tile, quartz counters, and wood flooring, Abodian cabinetry & luxurious Bertazzoni & Paykel Fisher appliances.  Enjoy!

2218A, 2218B, 2220 and 2222 Yale Avenue East , $647,950 - $749,950

These homes are brought to you by Dep Homes and designed by Julian Weber.  What's more, all four homes are uniquely staged by three different stagers!  Come out, say hello, see these homes for yourself and vote for your favorite stager... and pick you new home!

Open Houses:
Saturday, March 29th, 1-3PM - Hosted by Fiore Pignataro,Windermere
Sunday, March 30th, 1-4PM - Hosted by Joy Rothrock, Windermere

12 March 2014

What They're Saying About Fiore

"Thanks, Fiore!  I’ll spread your name to any potential home buyers!  You have been instrumental to my success. I’ve learned a lot with you and am having fun along the way—no one else said that yesterday at my buyers class.  Thanks again!"

—Erinn L., Ballard

“Fiore, Thanks for all your help and hard work in helping us buy our first home.  We love the place we ended up with and couldn’t be happier with how things turned out, setbacks included.  Please put me on your recipe list and I’ll be sure to refer anyone I know who’s looking to buy a home to you.”

—Curtis C. and Jenn I., Greenwood

“We are in the house and we love it more that we imagined.  It is very livable and feels like our home.  It will change our lives in many good ways.  And Lucia absolutely loves it!  She is so excited.  The attic is her room to do whatever she wants and there are no words to explain how happy that makes her.  Thank you so much.”

—Kristin M., Ravenna

“I have loved working with you, not just because you are so knowledgeable and thorough, but because you also understand how stressful the process is for your clients.  I felt supported and reassured throughout the process.  You are the best!”

—Pam P., Sunset Hill

From the Realtor ~ Super Awesome New Homes at Two Locations!

Spring is afoot, and the newness of the season is bringing on several new construction projects destined to excite.  Here are three new sites I am listing.  We are buttoning these up just in time for you to plant your spring garden!  Please let me know what questions you have regarding any of these super awesome new homes!

One-of-a-kind View Home in West Seattle by Maston Properties  ~  5421 15th Avenue SW 

Nowhere in Seattle can you find a new construction project on a lot like this.  Love big views of the Cascades and Downtown Seattle?  Love the secluded feel of being bordered by acres and acres of trees and trails?  This home borders the West Duwamish Greenbelt, home to eagles, red-legged frogs and fox.  Love having a 200' private driveway to your home?  Love 4 bedrooms upstairs, a master bedroom with en suite 5-piece bathroom, and energy efficient systems designed to save you money each month?  Then come check out this one-of-a-kind home!  Buyer customizations still possible.  Late March completion.  

Contemporary Homes by Barcelo Homes in Booming North Beacon Hill  ~  South State Street

A new and cool niche neighborhood is forming at the foot of North Beacon Hill.  Minutes from The ID, Downtown, booming 12th Avenue, and Central Area amenities and with killer views from sprawling roof top decks on quiet residential streets, one can see the appeal of this pocket neighborhood.  Cutting edge design, sensible floor plans, and 4-star Built Green systems are the cherry on top of fine urban living.  Late March through late April completion.

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town! From the Local ~ Great Seattle Walks

Call me a Seattle homer, but I love taking a walkabout in my town!  One of my favorite recent walks?  Stepping out of Piecora’s Pizzeria on East Madison St. and walking throughout downtown Seattle with a dozen friends the night we won the Super Bowl.  Think of high-fiving euphoric strangers and literally dancing in the streets to Maclemore.  Here are some other walks that will surely put some joy in your step!

Seattle Sculpture Park—Myrtle Edwards Park—Waterfront—Le Panier for coffee and pastries.  Just did this on a windy Sunday morn and what a range of images, from cutting edge art to the urban nature of the Sound to the rustic Pike Place market.  And Le Panier serves up still-wicked chocolate croissants at the end!

Beach Drive—Alki Beach—Harbor Avenue.  The scenic, residential curves of Beach Drive move you to the friendly funkiness of Alki (don’t miss Lady Liberty and the lighthouse!) and on to the jaw-dropping views of our cityscape.  Towards the end, try Marination Ma Kai near the water taxi for great Hawaii food.

West Duwamish Greenbelt.  You know that giant patch of forest you see as you approach West Seattle? This is Seattle largest greenbelt and it features miles of trails and loads of urban wildlife including fox (seriously?) and red-legged frogs.  This one’s labeled urgent on my bucket list—I’ll let you know how it goes!

Other Great Walks:  Blake Island (grab a picnic, get a lift, and enjoy this state park), Foster Island and the Arb (almost in full bloom!), Lake Union (nearly six miles in circumference—end in South Lake Union and check out what’s going on in this brand new “city” within our city).  Aren’t we lucky!

From the Chef ~ Cavolfiore con Olive Nere ~ Cauliflower with Black Olives

Here is another wonderful vegetable dish from one of my favorite recipe books/kitchen memoirs The Heart of Sicily:  Recipes and Reminiscences of Regaleali.  If you missed the last one, scroll down to stuffed pepper recipe below - so tasty!  This recipe calls for green cauliflower, a seldom seen heirloom variety.  I have substituted our typical white variety, and the author suggests Swiss chard, broccoli rapa, or other flavorful greens as alternatives.  Another optional ingredient is a few anchovy filets.  As they show up often in vegetable dishes like this one, I introduced them here.  This works well with both hearty winter roasts and summer grilled meats.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way!

1. Cut one head cauliflower (give or take 2 lbs.) into 2-inch florets and boil in well-salted water until al dente, about 4 minutes, then drain.  Meanwhile, sauté 1 small, minced onion in 1/4 cup olive oil until slightly golden, 2-3 minutes.  (Optional:  Add 3-4 chopped anchovies and sauté  with onions.)  Remove pan from heat and add 1/2 cup pitted and sliced oil-cured black olives.  Set mixture aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375º.  Oil an 8 x 12-inch baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Combine cauliflower and olive mixture in dish.  If desired, mix in up to 1/4 cup olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the olives and the cheese to come are salty as well. 
3. Toss with 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or parmigiano cheese.  Now top with 1/2 lb. shredded mozzarella and 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or parmigiano cheese.  Bake for 20-30 min. or until top is nice and golden.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

04 March 2014

From the Realtor ~ What's the True Value of an Experienced Realtor

I love that old saying, "This is not my first rodeo."  And now, in my 11th year in real estate, I have license to say that.  I really enjoy all aspects of this job:  analyzing the value of homes and neighborhoods, tweaking contracts, negotiating for the interests of my sellers and buyers, and most of all, helping my awesome clients get to the next space and next step in their lives.  More importantly, however, I've been seasoned by the various swings in the market:  I started in real estate during a balanced market, thrived during the big boom, honed my craft during the long, four-year bust, and now I am busier than ever during our recent resurgence.  From all of this I've learned that experience is paramount in real estate.  What's the value of hiring a veteran, expert Realtor when it comes time to entering the real estate market?  Don't let me try to convince you, check out the Wall Street Journal article below.  It turns out that there is quite a difference, both monetarily and experientially, when working with an agent who really knows how to ride the bull.  Yee haw! 

Wall Street Journal:  The Price of Real-Estate Experience:  $25,000

Here is another link to a Realtor.com which describes the advantages of working with a Realtor.

Why Use a Realtor? 


23 January 2014

Fiore Honored as Five-Star Realtor by Seattle Magazine for Sixth Time

Fiore Pignataro honored by
Seattle Magazine as

Five Star Realtor 2013

“Best in Client Satisfaction”
Every year Seattle Magazine identifies the top Realtors in our area.  Hundreds of homebuyers, mortgage lenders, and title companies cast a ballot to nominate the top agents in Seattle each year.  Upon review by a blue-ribbon panel of local real estate experts, less than 7% of all Realtors are identified as the most exceptional in our area.  Fiore was recognized in this elite group in the December edition of Seattle Magazine.

From the Chef ~ Sicilian-style Peperoni Ripieni

Oh my goodness, these are good!  This stuffed pepper dish comes from a stunning recipe book entitled The Heart of Sicily:  Recipes and Reminiscences of Regaleali.  The author traces the food of a country estate through the four seasons.  (You might recognize the name Regaleali, as they produce wines occasionally available locally.)  This book is much more than a collection of trusted recipes; in addition, the reader gets an insider’s narrative of the foodways that impact the entire life of the estate.  The dishes are both rustic and regal and illustrate the many diverse influences upon not only the cuisine but the overall culture of this famed island.  The simple color photographs capture the bounty of this idyllic Mediterranean land.  Grab this book if you get a chance—it’s a journey in and of itself.  And this dish in particular is a real keeper!

1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Sauté 1 finely chopped medium red onion in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil until golden.  Stir in 3/4 cup bread crumbs and cook 2-3 min. to toast.  Add 1/2 cup minced parsley and 5 tbsp. each dried currants (soak in water if dry), olives (I like black oil-cured olives, but the choice is yours!), pine nuts, and capers.
2. Add 1/4 cup mix of freshly-squeezed lemon and orange juice—if too sour, add a bit of sugar.  Now season filling with salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste and let cool.
3. Cut off the top of 4 large peppers just as you would when carving a pumpkin.  I like an assortment—more exotic home-growns are best, but sweet red and yellow bell peppers and smoky poblanos add variety and are readily available.  Remove inner seeds and membranes.  Stuff with filling and fasten top on with a toothpick.  Bake for 40-45 min. until soft.  Serve warm or at room temperature.