Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Para Español, marque Ocho.

Ballard seems like it's in an entirely different city than Seattle. Getting there, three buses later and two hours of my time wasted, does not usually seem worth it. Don't get me wrong, I really like Ballard. Some of my best friends live in that neck of the woods. There are a ton of great restaurants and artisanal shops worth going to on that side of the water, but our lakes make it a pain to get over there. There is not straight shot to Ballard, even though it seems like I can throw a rock and hit it from up here on Capitol Hill. Sometimes though, you just have to suck it up and start the trek (okay, so I had a ride this time). So last night I made my way to Ballard to meet with a few friends, two of which were in town from Pittsburgh. We hopped around from a few bars (Bastille was extremely beautiful) until we made it to what would be our final destination of the night. Ocho is a small unassuming joint on the corner of 24th and Market St. I was told that it used to be a hot dog shop a few years back but now it is home to some of the most delicious Spanish tapas in Seattle. The room is small and if you don't arrive early you might miss out. Luckily it was a rainy Monday evening and we didn't have to wait very long for a table. A few glasses of Mont Marcal Cava Reserva later we were seated. The meal unfolded with Jamón Serrano. I could pretty much eat Jamon Serrano every day for every meal for the rest of my life. Perfectly sliced paper thin, it was salty and tangy and melted in your mouth. Served with a sliced WA pink lady apple and baguette for a complete bite. My mouth was watering because I saw what was coming next. I almost go up to help the server bring over the Ocho Deviled Eggs. I have a serious weakness for deviled eggs and these little pillowy soft chicken eggs stuffed with pimenton spiked deviled yolks and topped with pickled onion and salmon roe did not disappoint. During my deviled egg orgasm we were brought the Patatas Bravas, which translates as "potatoes for the brave". Large diced fried potatoes with a smokey/spicy brava sauce and green olive tarragon allioli. Crunchy on the outside, heavenly soft on the inside. These are my new movie watching snack. The next wave suddenly hit in the form of Croquetas Borrachas. Fried goat cheese with roasted pepper almond sauce. I won't repeat how my lovely, yet filthy minded friend described them to me (as much as I would love to) but lets just say that they were creamy little bits of heaven. I was starting to get full but the dishes kept coming and I knew that I would find room for whatever came our way. Next the Setas de Jerez arrived. Sherried mushrooms on olive oil toast with arugula and an herb that I drunkenly identified as tarragon. I love fresh mushrooms with sherry. To me it's like eggs and bacon, or salt and pepper, or Spam and nori seaweed. Ya know, it just goes together. So here's the thing. I'm not a very big chocolate fan (although I am apparently a big fan of horrible segues). However, the Pan con Chocolate sent shivers up my spine. Olive oil toast topped with bitter Spanish chocolate, crushed almonds, fleur de sal, and truffle oil. There was also a little mace mixed in there to spice things up. Slightly mind blowing. Last up on the table was the La Carolina They were pancetta wrapped, blue cheese stuffed dates with a balsamic reduction. You can pretty much wrap a tire with bacon and I would eat it. These were sweet and salty and bacony and tasty. I was pleasantly stuffed and a maybe little drunk and I knew it was time to head back to The Hill. So maybe it's not so bad leaving my neighborhood once in a while and with places like Ocho populating the streets of Ballard, perhaps I will brave the excursion over the lakes to get a bite to eat. (photo courtesy of Ocho)

24th & Market in Ballard
4pm-2am daily / Saturday and Sunday, 11am-2pm

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