Saturday, August 21, 2010


One of the big reasons I was excited to go to Seattle for Chrissy's wedding was Delancey, where we ate dinner on Sunday night.
The backstory: I picked up Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life last spring, and I was completely charmed by it.  It reads like a bunch of extended blog posts, chronicling various episodes in Molly's life and sharing recipes for each.  From her childhood memories of visiting Paris with her father to her more recent life and how she met her husband, Brandon, the writing is both personal and funny.  It's like reading a note from your best friend, but my best friends don't tend to talk about food quite that much. :)
After finishing the book, I checked out her blog, Orangette, and learned that she and Brandon were in the process of opening a pizza restaurant in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.  At the time, I had no idea where that was in relation to anything else, and I had no immediate plans to visit Seattle anyway.  (I didn't learn of Chrissy's engagement until January.)  All I knew was that it would be on my list if I ever got around to visiting her.

Happily, Delancey was open by the time Chrissy got married, and it was easy enough to get to by bus.  We had to catch the bus in Wallingford and take it west to Ballard, then transfer to a different one that ran up 15th Ave NW to NW 70th St.  I planned it such that we'd get there with some time to spare before the restaurant opened at 5pm.  That way, we'd be sure to get in with the first wave of diners.  The only hitch we ran into was the lateness of the second bus.  We sat on the bench waiting for it for at least half an hour before it finally came.  As a result, we arrived at Delancey later than I would have liked.  We still got there before the doors opened, but we were further back in line than I had intended.

It all worked out, though.  The little dining room was filling up, so the hostess asked if we'd like to sit at the bar.  It turned out to be one of the best places to sit.  There probably wasn't as much light for pictures as there would have been next to a window, but we got to soak up some of the heat from the pizza oven, which was quite welcome after sitting outside at the bus stop for so long.

We sat down at the bar, looked at the menu, and admired the place.  I liked the mismatched silverware, the concrete table top, and the lights hanging above us, which were made from jars.  It was a mix of rustic, traditional, modern, and creative re-purposing; and it was perfect.

To start, we ordered the burrata with asparagus.  The asparagus was roasted in the wood oven and had wonderful flavor as a result.  We later learned while watching the asparagus episode of Good Eats that cooking asparagus using dry vs. wet methods brings out different flavors.  If I remember correctly, dry methods bring out more meatiness.  In any case, the wood oven did great things for that asparagus.  (This was the year that I started to like asparagus at all.)  The cheese, olive oil, and aged balsamic vinegar didn't hurt either.

The other up-side to sitting at the bar was that we got to watch the pizzas being made.  That's Brandon on the right, spooning mascarpone onto a white pizza.
We ordered the sausage pizza, which had housemade pork fennel sausage and their usual combination cheeses: fresh and aged mozzarella and Grana.  It was a fabulous pizza with one of the better crusts I've had.  My only regret is that we couldn't try more of the pizzas on the menu.  Now that I know for sure that I'm not allergic to mushrooms—and I like them—I'm eager to try the crimini mushroom pizza with thyme.  They also do a pizza with padron peppers, but they weren't in season yet when we were there.

As we munched on our pizza, we ended up chatting with the guy next to us and with Brandon as he kept up with the pizzas in the oven.  It was a lot of fun talking to them about the various places we had eaten so far in Seattle and where we often eat in SF.  Our favorite neighborhood restaurant (Contigo in Noe Valley, SF) came up, and Brandon expressed his jealousy.  He knows the chef/owner, Brett, but he hadn't made it to Contigo yet.
While we waited for dessert, Brandon poured us half a glass of each of the ports on the menu so that we could try them.  Steve and I both preferred the lighter one in the foreground.

For dessert, we ordered the rhubarb shortcake, which the guy next to us recommended.  It felt very "Molly" with its rustic shortcake, fruity rhubarb, Grand Marnier, and mascarpone cream.  Relatively simple and homey, but good.  I think this may have been my first time eating rhubarb, and I liked it a lot.  I'm not as obsessed as Molly, though.

The other dessert we selected was the bittersweet chocolate chip cookie with gray salt.  It's pretty much the only dessert that stays on Delancey's menu year-round, and I wanted to try it.  That's about all I did that night, however.  I was so full that I was only able to take a bite or two.  We took the rest back with us in a little bag, and I ate it during our flight home on Tuesday.  It was still good, and I probably enjoyed it even more.  There was good dark chocolate in the middle of every bite, as well as the occasional pop of salt.  And it felt just the tiniest bit healthy, with more substance than your average cookie.

Before we left, Brandon was also generous enough to write out his pizza dough recipe for Steve, since they had been talking about it.  We knew we wouldn't be back to Seattle very soon, so it was cool to take a bit of Delancey home with us.  The recipe requires a little more rising time (i.e., forethought) than our usual one, but it's a good pizza dough.  It comes out more crisp and less doughy.
Obviously, we really enjoyed Delancey.  It lived up to the picture I had in my head: good food, impeccable taste/style, and a friendly neighborhood restaurant vibe.  We were quite happy as we left to catch the bus back to our hotel.

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