Seattle Underground Market: Garlic, Ice Cream, Gumbo and more!

Like I wrote about in my last post, I went to the Seattle Underground Market for the first time last Saturday. The underground market is a members-only monthly event where local foodies get together with up-and-coming chefs who are still cooking at home, catering, or just starting out with a restaurant and trying to make it in the big bad restaurant world. They get exposure and feedback; we get inexpensive, delicious, and innovative foods to try.

The first thing I saw were these Shipwreck Honey and Lush Farm Bibb lettuce wraps with braised 5-spiced pork butt, black honey foie gras aioli, and napa cabbage kimchi purée.* Wow, just reading that is making me feel hungry! I can almost feel all that yummy spice in my belly.

I didn’t try a wrap because I didn’t want my first purchase at the market to have a $5 price tag, and I was so overwhelmed by the sudden transition from being outside in the rain to light and warmth and crowds and lines and interesting yummy foods that all I could do was wander in a daze snapping pictures of everything in sight until I saw, like a beam of sunlight breaking through the grey…. ice cream.

Caramelized Cider ice cream. Black Fig custard with a swirl of black mission fig balsamic vinegar preserves. VanDuck: French vanilla bean-duck egg custard. Brown Sugar Walnut ice cream. Fig-Amontillado Sherry. Belgian Chocolate Sorbet. Last Harvest Plum.

Ice cream was to be my first purchase. At $2 a cone I didn’t feel any wallet guilt, and don’t those flavors sound tantalizing? I tried a sample of the Brown Sugar Walnut and it was perfectly sweet and comforting and soft. I wanted to be adventuresome, so I pointed at the deep rose colored concoction and asked to try it as well. It turned out to be the Last Harvest Plum, a gentle ice cream with just a few all-natural ingredients. The plum was the only ice cream made without egg, which gave it a lighter and icier taste. Plum is a soft subtle fruit, and its flavor came across perfectly in the ice cream, but I’m generally a black cherry kind of girl. I opted for the brown sugar walnut instead.
Continuing on the comfort food trail, my next snack were some very garlicky mashed potatoes. The food being showcased were not the mashed potatoes, but the garlic! That’s my kind of place!

The special garlic these people were trying to sell is called GarLic It… and I honestly don’t really get it. The website reads, “Do you love garlic, but hate the taste of raw or burned garlic in your home-cooked meals?” I do love garlic, and I love cooking garlic. I’m pretty good at cooking garlic.** I even enjoy the taste of raw garlic and burnt garlic!

GarLic It is sold as jars of processed garlic with oils and flavors like savory basil, spicy chipotle, and Thai peanut. Each flavor of GarLic It contains canola oil and olive oil as well as other ingredients. I like to pretend it’s okay that I consume the amount of olive oil that I do, but all other oils make me nervous. I don’t think I am GarLic It’s market customer; I prefer to cook things myself than to buy pre-packaged. GarLic It is probably best for restaurants or people who like to cook more quickly and fancily than I do.

However, I must say that the mashed potatoes I tried were absolutely delicious!

They were the perfect combination of chunky and creamy, had a VERY strong garlic flavor, and the oil definitely added to their consistency and flavor. I’m not saying I don’t like oil; it just makes me health-nervous. At just $2, I would definitely recommend that anyone try GarLic It mashed potatoes if they had the chance… if only to help me figure out what this GarLic It is really all about!

First off, which would you choose? Salivate and think about that for a minute.

I tried the chicken kelaguen, because what is an oxtail? Just googled: Oxtail is literally the tail of cattle! It is “a bony, gelatin-rich meat, which is usually slow-cooked as a stew”! So, no oxtail for me, thanks. But chicken kelaguen? Kelaguen is is “a Chamorro dish from the Mariana Islands” that uses “a pickling marinade of lemon juice, fresh coconut, green onions, salt, and hot red chilies” over chicken. And the chicken was amazing! Very delicious, very flavorful, had a spice but was not overpowering.

I didn’t love the wrap because I am not a bread lover. I see the bread on a sandwich as a means to an end (ie: the yummy fillings), not an integral part of the sandwich itself. In this wrap, I just wanted more chicken. By the end, I was pulling out yummy chicken pieces with my fingers and throwing the wrap bread away! However, for a normal person, the wrap might have been perfect. It certainly was grilled perfectly. Tightly wrapped, and look at those grill marks! Beautiful.

Like the lettuce wraps, I didn’t try these Seductive mini BLTs, but right now I wish that I had.

I also didn’t try these savory cupcakes. What do you think, would you try one? The Kiss The Pig BLT cupcake has a light corn flour cake with smoked bacon, shallots, and Gouda cheese and a “frosting” of sundried tomato cream. The Swimming Upstream cupcake has a zucchini and fresh thyme savory cake and a “frosting” of smoked salmon mousse.

I did try a goddess nectar mocktail, but regretted it. It was made up of apricot juice, blueberries, and Limonata Pellegrino. Like plum, I see apricot as being a pretty weak flavor. To me, the nectar just tasted thick and sweet.

I would have preferred to try the witch’s poisoned blackberry pumpkin spice foggy iced tea or the blood orange creamsicle with mint. Yes, those were actual drinks for sale at the underground market! Shame on me for not trying everything!

I did not try these raspberry mascarpone cheese filled boats, getting away from the witch’s furious sparkling volcano on a scary warm blackberry ocean (sold by the same people as the witch’s poisoned foggy iced tea).

I did not try these wontons. Drummin’ Up Wontons was the most popular booth at the market and I’m not a girl to wait on long lines. However, the flavors–mac & cheese with black peppercorn bacon, crab rangoon, death by chocolate fudge brownie, and pumpkin cheesecake–sound like they’re worth the wait.

Other great-sounding foods I did not have the chance to enjoy: Sweet ginger maple cream pumpkin empanadas. Homemade squid ink soba stir-fried with wasaba and topped with pickled daikon radish and scallions. Grilled pineapple funnels with a ginger-vanilla bean dipping sauce. A warm fall salad of butternut squash, arugula, gnocchi, bacon and Chanterelles, tossed with Oregon black truffle oil and aged balsamic and topped with Mt Townsend Creamery Seastack cheese.

Some of those I feel like I didn’t even see! I did try to get that warm fall salad, but it was all sold out.

Last and BEST was this gumbo. At $5, it was my most expensive purchase (not counting the French macarons). Contrary to Drummin’ Up Wontons and their wrap-around line, no one was breaking down the door at the gumbo stand. I kept walking past the cute duo behind the pot and finally felt compelled to give them a try, due to both pity and curiosity. I used to work at a New Orlean-style restaurant that served a mean gumbo, and I wanted to see what these folks had to offer.

Oh. My. God. I am so regretful I didn’t grab their card as I have no clue who cooked this delicacy (UPDATE: It was Oh Boy! Gumbo by Aaris). The gumbo was amazing! It had a thin but immensely flavorful broth that was full of andouille sausage, pulled chicken, and some sort of crawfish. I added my own cilantro and green onions… liberally. And then BAM! I scarfed this gumbo while waiting on line for the macarons, and could not stop burning my mouth on both the heat and spice. It was too good to slow down. I am now crying with remorse that I cannot eat this gumbo every day for the rest of my life.

Overall, I enjoyed a chicken wrap, mashed potatoes, gumbo, ice cream, and a drink (and brought home macarons and a cookie) for a little under $40. Of that, over half went to the entrance fee and the macarons alone! (oops) I only stayed for an hour because I was there by myself–I definitely would have preferred to bring Ben or a friend and to share food, something the market suggested in one of their emails. This definitely would have been best as a social, sharing experience.

So all you foodies out there: check out the website, sign up to be a member, and enjoy the November market with some friends. I hope to take a nose dive in some gumbo and push myself to test out some more unusual flavors. See you there!

*Many of the food descriptions in this post were adapted from the menu emailed to me by the Seattle Underground Market. They are more knowledgeable about ingredients than I am.

**If anyone wants a garlic recipe from me, please ask in the comments and then I will feel so happy and proud that I’ll do it.

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About Emily Suggests

Pineapple rock, lemon platt, butter scotch. A sugarsticky girl shovelling scoopfuls of creams for a christian brother.

17 responses to “Seattle Underground Market: Garlic, Ice Cream, Gumbo and more!”

  1. Ray A says :

    Yeah! Shame on you for not trying everything! LOL. If you would like go my web page or Facebook page and steal a pic from the “Foggy Iced Tea”

    Ray

  2. Aaris says :

    Oh Boy! Gumbo by Aaris

    Glad to hear you enjoyed our dish out of lets say curiosity :).

    We can be reached at
    aariscooks@yahoo.com or 425-623-3274

  3. Helyn Williams says :

    I was at this event also and enjoyed the Gumbo from Oh Boy the best too! It was really delicious and I liked adding the onions and cilantro as something different to try. Yummy!

  4. justinclegaspi says :

    Awesome seeing you mention the Spoon Project! I work at the Harvest Vine with Caroline and Amelia and they are so ecstatic at how well their first Underground Market went! Great read! =]

  5. trudi skea says :

    who was the guy with the incredible cookie stand by the entrance, caddy corner to the lettuce wraps. heavenly cookies. best Ever! and he was very nice, too. 🙂 if anybody knows, would love more info.

  6. Sheena says :

    I’m all for honest and open comments….but some of yours seem negative to me– not encouraging to these chefs who are trying to launch or propel.

    I can’t speak about the Gumbo because I didn’t try it, but your $5-Fear caused you to miss out on those lettuce wraps! Wow. Yum. Plus it included a super cute mini honey bear with local honey and an encounter with super nice people. To answer one of your questions– yes, the savory cupcakes were great. Hands down they get the award for best presentation in all aspects of their food and display booth— something I personally appreciate. I too was sorry I couldn’t try everything– I was MAD I got so full so quickly. I did take the good advice on the site and brought containers to bring things home– highly recommend. I also recommend filling them early in the evening because some things sold out. The won-ton line was long, but WORTH the wait– although I admit being there with friends made the line much better. I did feel bad for the booth that got swallowed and blocked by the line! I really enjoyed the event and am looking forward to the one.

    • angela says :

      Hello Sheena,

      I guess you and I are different. I WANT negative and positive comments, I want HONEST comments. If a report of this length is ALL positive, then it’s probably leaving something out and not being honest since very few events of this type are all positive. And if the chefs “who are trying to launch or propel” do not get HONEST feedback, negative as well as positive, they lose out on a chance to improve.

      Maybe you care to see the world in rose-colored glasses but most of us like honest reports. If a report on an event is going to leave out the negative, it doesn’t give us the info we want as to whether to attend next time.

      • Emily says :

        Thanks to both Sheena and Angela! I strive to be honest because I want to relate the real experience for me. And I hope constructive criticism will help chefs to improve their products.

        At the same time, I definitely was not as adventurous at this SUM as I would’ve liked to be. Maybe it was because I was self-conscious about being alone so I made up for that with comfort food. I really played it safe by trying mashed potatoes and ice cream and was too scared to eat a savory cupcake! Next time I’ll try harder to push my limits.

      • Sheena says :

        I had an “aha” moment. I realize now my initial reaction was due to the fact I thought this blog post was intended to be a complete recap of the event that represented the views of and for SUM. I realize now its one person’s experience/perspective and does not necessarily represent and never intended to represent the views of SUM or its members (Duh).

        Angela, I don’t see the world through rose colored glasses, but things do turn out rosier for those who use EFFECTIVE ways to improve themselves (and this case, the food). I’d love to see some kind of optional comment card we could leave at the event. Wouldn’t that be SO much more helpful and appreciated more by the vendors?

        Not to say people shouldn’t continue to feel free to express it here (you’ll hear my 2 cents again next month), but I bet the HONESTY (and usefulness) would be off the charts if MORE people gave positive AND negative feedback that night, while it’s FRESH.

  7. angela says :

    Nice post but how were the crowds?

    • Emily says :

      Not bad at all. There was a lot of room to navigate while balancing food in one hand and trying to take pictures with my iPod in the other 🙂 At the same time, I didn’t choose to try any foods that had particularly long lines, like those wontons. I tend to go to the lonely looking booths, which sometimes have the greatest treasures (like that gumbo!!)

  8. Mr. Mirepoix says :

    1st visit to your blog. Can’t wait to try the Portland version just signed up. Keep cooking (& eating garlic!)

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