October 03, 2004

A Little Loaf of Cinnamon Heaven

I recently was introduced to perhaps the very best cinnamon bread I have ever tasted. The very thought of it brings a tear of yearning to my eye: it's been a week since I last tasted it.

I write of the Cinnamon Chip bread served up by Great Harvest Bread. Specifically, I refer to that baked by the folks at the shops in Factoria (at 3610C Factoria Blvd. SE, in Lohmann's Plaza next to Starbucks) and in Redmond (at 17192 Redmond Way in Bear Creek Village). Since Great Harvest is a franchising operation, there can be substantial differences between shops; these two are owned by the same couple.

Upon walking into the shop in Factoria, I was immediately struck by the marvelous informality of the place, with its open racks of fresh-baked loaves, display cases of yummy-looking cookies, and friendly employees slicing thick slabs off several loaves as free samples for the customers. Just our luck, they started a fresh loaf of the Cinnamon Chip just as we came in. There's a big bowl of butter there so that you can slather it onto your sample to your heart's content (and probably doom).

Of course, fresh-baked bread of any sort is one of life's great treasures, but this Cinnamon Chip stuff is from the next level of Heaven up from the rest. The lovely chewiness of the body is the perfect complement to the zingy wonderfulness of the melted streaks of little cinnamon power pellets, and the butter just capped it off, leaving us unable to speak intelligently until the slice was but an aching memory.

My informant tells me that this stuff also makes a fabulous french toast, but I have a hard time imagining any lasting long enough to be used that way.

Oh, that they were still open at 9pm on a Sunday night!

September 27, 2004

Normally I don't approve of shaving, but...

Kathleen and I had dinner again recently at Shanghai Café, at 12708 SE 38th St. in Factoria, and once again we were pretty darned happy at the end of the meal.

We were introduced to this place by some friends who read about it in a "Best of Seattle" book. They were smart enough to pick it up shortly after they moved here, recently, from Switzerland. (Somehow, it never occurred to us to buy a reference book about the place we'd moved to. Maybe it seemed like cheating.)

Anyway, the specialty of Shanghai Café is their "hand-shaven" noodles. They have two sorts: regular and barleygreen, with the latter being the best, in our humble opinion. Both are very irregularly shaped, thick, substantial, and very tasty. Our favorite "vehicle" for enjoying them is the house special chow mein (yes, really), which combines them with shrimp, scallops, chicken, and various vegetables. My first thought upon seeing these noodles was that any noodle that thick simply must be doughy, but fear not: they're as light and supple and yummy as any noodles I've had anywhere.

It should, I suppose, be pointed out that the Shanghai Café in Factoria is an offshoot of the Shanghai Gardens restaurant in Seattle's International district. The Factoria location is much more convenient to our house, though...