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