Last night at the 6th Annual Voracious Tasting & Food Awards I

Last night at the 6th Annual Voracious Tasting & Food Awards I had the pleasure of presenting two awards in the food + drink category. As much as I love recognizing great talent in Seattle’s culinary world, it’s also somewhat agonizing having to pick among so many amazing contenders. Alas, the winners are…

For “Best Wine Experience:”


The best thing about Bottlehouse is that they make buying and drinking wine fun. Sometimes, it can be intimidating, or confusing, or just a chore, but it never feels that way at the Madrona bottleshop and wine bar. Part of it is the aesthetic: situated in a former home, it has a cozy feel that makes browsing for bottles more like checking out a friend’s cellar and less like shopping. Then there’s the wines being poured: equal parts classic varietals and more obscure offerings. Because flights and tastes are readily available, exploration is both encouraged and rewarded. And with summer approaching, they’ve got a gorgeous outdoor area which is often used for events and tastings. Beyond wine, they’ve got a diverse offering of beers, ciders, vermouths, and dessert wines, and have even managed to cobble together something of a cocktail list, which is impressive considering that they don’t have a full liquor license. Food offerings, like charcuterie, cheese, seasonal toast and salads, are mostly sharable and tasty. But most of all, Bottlehouse feels intimately placed within the Madrona neighborhood it inhabits, a vital part of a community that for years has lacked for local dining options. It truly serves as something of a model that others would do well to imitate in other places throughout the city.

For “The Innovation Award:”

Le Petit Cochon

When Derek Ronspies (brother to Dustin Ronspies of Art of the Table) opened Le Petit Cochon about two years ago in Fremont, I wrote in my review of them that “like Art of the Table, they indeed have an adventurous menu (changing weekly, even daily) with items like pig-face fritter, duck feet, blood sausage and pig-snout hash. But there’s far more happening on this menu–and on the plates–than the “throwaway” parts of an animal that may make some squeamish…He may like to be known as the offal guy, but he works just as much magic with vegetables and herbs.” I stand by that sentiment today. Derek never ceases to surprise me with the ingredients and spices he uses, and not just for shock-value, or to be on-trend. This is a chef who truly understands how to make diverse flavors work on a plate, how to push the envelope without sacrificing technique and taste. From meatballs floating in a matsutake broth and the best damn pork chop you’ll ever find in the city to a ricotta gnocchi with harissa, chickpeas, cauliflower and saffron creme fraiche and an incredible take on ramen, the food is always on point. The service, too, is friendly; the vibe at the bar and in the entire restaurant low-key. I’m not sure who controls their music playlist, but it’s always rad.

Congratulations to these two fine establishments, and stay tuned for a slideshow from the event next week!