Saturday, June 28, 2014

See's Candies in Woodinville

Woodinville now has a See's Candies! While wine tasting, you can now pop in and get one of the always free samples of their delicious candies. I was invited a media pre-opening event Thursday night, with candy samples, candy box packing races and more candy samples.

The evening started with sampling. Yes, anything we wanted from the display case. And not just the usual one free sample. This was the kind of sampling that required pacing. I had 4 samples within 10 minutes of walking in the door and that was more candy that I've eaten in a month.  It was also over the number of candies that Leanne from Rave and Review decided was the limit for her kids - good thing those kids aren't reading my blog.

See's Candies gives away 1 million pounds in free samples. After a brief break, I was back at the candies, trying things I'd never tried before and making sure that they get to that 1 million pounds this year.  I didn't get to try all of their one hundred different varieties because I was actually candied out. It was a great treat, but with all my clean eating, that was an incredible amount of sugar for me.

Look at that nicely filled candy box.
After a brief information session about the company, we were paired up for candy box filling races. We had to work for the chocolates they were going to give us to take home!  The local management team taught us how to snap out a single paper cup with one hand, while the other, tissue wielding hand would grab the chocolate and place it in the candy box.

I was hoping that it would be a "one for me, one for the box" situation, but we were too closely supervised. But with candy being so seasonal, they need workers at Christmas time and their employees can eat all they want (or can handle). I packed a box of Scotch Mallows, which unfortunately do not have any scotch in them (there is an idea, Mary See and its free)

My favorite candy from See's is the Dark Chocolate Bordeau, which happens to be the number one seller. What is your favorite candy?

See's Candies in Woodinville [store website] is located at 14013 Woodinville Duvall Rd, Woodinville, WA and opened to the public Friday, June 27th. At the time of writing, the shop hours are Mon-Thurs 10am - 6pm, Fri-Sat 10am - 7pm and Sun 12pm - 5pm.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, but I was plied with chocolates. I liked See's Candies before coming to visit and could name all my favorites when I walked in the door. This is my honest opinion plus a few facts I learned about the company along the way.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Northwest Region Grilling Gurus Semi-Finals

Saturday, Macy's in Alderwood Mall hosted the Culinary Council's Grilling Guru's semi-finals. Three west coast home cooks brought their grilling best and were judged by local chef Tom Douglas.  I had front row seats to watch the grilling, taste the dishes and even get samples cooked by Tom Douglas himself!

The Culinary Council is comprised of some of the nations culinary masters. Tom Douglas represents Seattle and the Northwest, with the aim of teaching Macy's customers to cook and shop like master chefs. I like this way of thinking and I try to embody that in all of my cooking endeavors.

The Northwest Region was represented by three grilling gurus, Jack Scalfani from California, Margee Berry from Washington and Edwina Gadsby from Idaho. Jack hosts a popular YouTube channel, Cooking With Jack. His rib recipe and techniques were passed down from his Mom.  Margee has been competing in food cook offs for over thirty years and her shrimp taco recipe was her own invention. Edwina has gone head to head with Margee several times over the years and taste tests her recipes on her husband and the bad ones end up on the dog's plate. Good recipe or not, they're both lucky guys.  The winning recipe is posted at the end...

The competitors had 1 hour to grill their dishes for Tom Douglas and with a '3, 2, 1 Go!' they were off. The grills were hot, the sun was hot, but none of the cooks showed any nervousness. To keep the audience entertained while the grilling was going on, KOMO 4's Seth Wayne hosted giveaways of The Dahila Bakery Cookbook and Q&A's with Tom Douglas.

While watching the competitors cooking, Tom and his crew whetted our appetites with some of his grilling. A big gulf shrimp with a kalamata olive and some beautiful planked salmon kept the audience at bay when the wind shifted just a bit and we could smell the deliciousness from the grills.

Tom didn't fail to entertain either. In his usual funny fashion, he joked about how far north he was from his South Lake Union restaurant domain saying, "I'm so far North, I might as well be in Canada!"  In addition to his funny commentary, he shared some valuable and interesting cooking tips.
  1. Too much oil when grilling can lead to soot. Grill marks are good, but soot is not.
  2. Grilled avocado is a hot thing in restaurants these days.
I've made milk shakes from avocados, but I'd never thought of grilling them. The soft texture doesn't seem like it would take to grilling well. It even got a rise from my Twitter followers.

It's worth giving it a try, especially since many of the avocados we buy need some additional time to ripen.

The competitors all finished before the allotted time and plated their food for Tom.  It seemed like the Jack's ribs were going to win, but the perfectly cooked salmon for the noodle salad was the ultimate winner. I'll agree, grilling salmon is a little bit on the challenging side, getting it to that just cooked all the way through, still slightly translucent in the center, Edwina nailed it.

There were five other semi-final events like this taking place across the United States. As the Northwest's winner, Edwina is on her way to New York City, to compete in the Culinary Council's Sizzle Showdown on June 28th. She'll be judged by Chefs Johnny Iuzzuni and Todd English, competing for a $10,000 Grand Prize.  Wish her luck!

The Winning Recipe
Grilled Sweet Chili Salmon Noodle Salad
Recipe compliments of Edwina G of Hayden, Idaho

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Culinary Council. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.