So, yesterday morning I realized I had no leftovers to bring to work for lunch. This is normally fine on Mondays, as Mondays are traditionally the day to Skillet. The verb, 'to Skillet', being to go to Skillet. A little back story: while still certainly not that of Portland's, Seattle's street food scene is experiencing a bit of a boom lately, with Maximus Minimus and Marination Mobile being two of the more noticeable. But my personal favorite, one which I discovered almost two years ago, is Skillet. Created by Chef Josh Henderson as a means of providing delicious food made from high quality ingredients, Skillet is served out of an old Airstream trailer that has been rigged to be a full-kitchen. They're two original staples were 'The Burger' (organic, grass-fed, local beef [previously Wagyu], arugula, cambanzola cheese and their homemade bacon jam on a toasted brioche bun) and poutine (which for those who have never had it is the wonderfully delicious and fattening Quebecois creation of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds). For a little extra, you can even get the french fries that come with the burger to be 'poutined' for the ultimate in midday food comas.
Skillet offers two or three other choices (usually one other sandwich, a salad and a soup) which change every one or two weeks. Some of my favorites have included king salmon and confit of duck which were priced under $10 with their sides. It became so beloved and such a part of my weekly routine that I went almost every week for the last year and a half. Hell, the only downside was that if you didn't go right after they opened at 11, it could take a while to place your order and get your food. Recently, though, Skillet has been expanding. They opened a 'walk-up window' in SODO, started going to Mariners and Seahawks games, and built a second trailer to serve the Eastside. Slowly the prices started creeping up, different people began working (a sad day when they no longer knew my name when I came), and I could tell that the winds of change were in the air. But I was surprised when last Monday David and I went to find that in an effort to streamline order time they have decided to concentrate solely on burgers. The new burger is a little bigger and can come with a variety of different types of bacon jams (they are also working on a veggie burger). While this is saddening that there will be less variety, the real kicker came when we found out that after revisiting their books, they realized they would need to raise the prices again. Now it is $10.50 for just a burger and $13.50 for the burger with fries. This seems to put their food in a new price bracket, one which has not yet been visited by street food. Even at sit-down restaurants, $13.50 would be a lot for a burger with fries (even of the awesome quality that is their's), but part of the appeal of street food is that you curb your need for service and seating in exchange for lower prices and well....the curb. As much as I love Skillet, I can't see being able to go every week anymore. I still plan to go once a month, but it feels like the Skillet that I've known and loved is evolving into something I no longer recognize.
Wow, now that I've completed my super-long-winded introduction: Armenian Apricot Lentil Soup! Back when I started the project, my friend Maggie recommended a blog she frequents, both because of the quality of the commentary and recipes, but also because it has been arranged by ingredients (and one of those tabs was lentils). So knowing that I had no food at home and would need to go the the co-op, yesterday I thumbed through the recipes and decided that this one looked good. The recipe is from the 'Soup Peddler', a man in Austin, Texas who has started a business by making soups and delivering them weekly to people on his bicycle: an awesome idea. The ingredients are simple: onion, carrot, red lentils, cumin, dried apricots, olive oil and water. That's it. Super simple preparation, too. Saute and sweat onions and carrots, add lentils and water to cook, add apricots and hit it with my all-time favorite kitchen appliance: the stick blender! Then ladle and you're done! Amazing! I <3 soup.
The soup was a nice integration of the red lentils' 'meatiness' and the sweet tang of the apricots. Also, it wasn't quite as earthy as say a butternut squash or other similar type of soup, which was nice seeing as how it is still 86 degrees and sunny here in Seattle. (For being the 'Rainy City', we've probably only had eight days and one inch of rain since May.) Still, for anyone who wants to try it, I recommend it in the beginning of October, when the last remnants of summer fade away to the blanket of fall.
Not sure what I'll make next, perhaps Alton Brown's Lentil Cookies!