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Jul 31, 2008 02:46 PM

New Foodie needs dinner menu help

Hey all. I am new here and kind of an amateur foodie. My wife and I live in eastern Washington in a small town called Ephrata. I am currently in Iraq and will be home soon and to say the least I am super excited to get to choose what I get to eat.

When I was home on R&R I was very busy and only really got to cook once for my mom as a thank you for helping my wife while I was away. I ran to the local Safeway and gathered what I could find and pretty much threw together a 5 course meal with a different wine for each course with a simple dessert. It was decent but I know I can do much better if I am prepared and take an opportunity to shop at a better location.

So I will be there in October to do this. I plan on 6 courses and have I a general idea, but I need help filling in the gaps, and getting the wine selection just right. I would like to stick with Pacific NW theme, but a menu that reflects my families travels around the world. So far we have been stationed in Alaska, Georgia, Alabama, Germany, and I have been deployed to Japan, Iraq and Afghanistan

1st Course

Halibut Ceveche (thinking tomato, avocado, onion, cilantro, lime juice) (Alaskan Halibut)
A Middle Eastern type flat bread cut into small strips for the ceveche (Iraqi style)

A Pinot Noir maybe? I am thinking a white to go with the fish, but some bite to match the onion lime cilantro. Maybe L’bicyclete?

2nd course

Old Style Smoked ham wrapped around arugula and kale with balsamic vinaigrette of some sort. Sprinkled with feta crumbles (German Style Smoked ham)

I was thinking a Franconia white halb-trocken for this. I can get it cheap on my way through Germany heading home(about 2 bucks a bocksbuttle)

3rd course

Crab Bisque with a small goat cheese crouton (had this at The Georgian and would like to duplicate) (Washington Crab, The goat cheese is reminiscent of Afghanistan)

Need wine ideas here. This dish was very rich a little went a long way. The wine I was served with this did not work at all but I forget what it was.


Beef Waygu (Had this at a Japanese congressman’s house)

Warm Sake for this course.


Quail Eggs (maybe with truffle? Never done that) in toast with Smoked Salmon (saw it in the recipe section on here, looks simple) (Washington)

Serve this with something from Cave B, but I’m not sure which(Cave B is 15 minutes away)


Grilled peaches, marinated in bourbon and coated with brown sugar (BBQ and peaches, it doesn’t get any more southern
)Top the peaches with homemade creamy vanilla ice cream

Serve with a Jack Daniels/Peach Ice tea mix, with mint sprigs

As you can see I still have some big gaps, but I have plenty of time. I also need advice on where I can get all of this. We will be making a trip to Seattle the day prior to round up what we can't get locally.

Thanks in advance, any and all comments are welcome!!

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  1. Looks like an ambitious menu. Good Luck! One thing I noticed - in the second course the balsamic vin doesn't seem to fit. Think about doing something with a viniagrette involving some pommegranate molasses and a good quality white wine vinegar or perhaps a sherry vinegar. The best place I know of to get the pommegranate molasses is Big John's PFI outlet.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ludwig867

      Would you happen to have an address for this Big John's?

      Also do you have a recipe I can follow? I haven't made any out of the ordinary vinegrettes and I am very out of practice.

      Thanks for your input.

      1. re: Alfalfa

        heres a link I think. you may have to copy and paste into your browser

    2. ceviche: how about a shooter-sized Aviation cocktail or Old Raj saffron gin/St Germain (elderflower liqueur, available in Seattle and Issaquah ) cocktail, or Moscow mule (use Canton ginger liqueur instead of ginger beer if you can)?
      crab bisque: how about a Don PX Riserva 1979 (from Spanish Table in Seattle)? provides some fig notes to complement the crab
      German ham: you may be able to pick up some Lebekase or other German ham at deLaurenti's in Seattle
      Wagyu: conventional wisdom would be that red would work better (an Amarone perhaps) but if you must have sake, maybe a rich sake readily available at Uwajimaya in Seattle like Gekkeikan Horin daiginjo or Wakatake Onikoroshi ginjo or daiginjo, served cold, not hot (or stop at Sake Nomi in Seattle for a better selection)

      5 Replies
      1. re: barleywino

        Wow! Way beyond my skill level LOL

        Aviation Cocktail sounds cool, since I am pilot everyone would really get a kick out of that. Would you happen to have a recipe? I found a couple online but its hard to know whats authentic. And would you use the St G in place of the Marchino Liquer?

        I also have a European Soda maker, I could carbonate them as well, might add a little something unique,

        Is the the Don PX reserva you are referring to?

        It sounds really expensive but isn't. Great for the army budget :


        Would you happen to have an address for LeberKase or Sake Nomi or Uwajimaya?

        I am not all that familiar with Seattle but I have a GPS :)
        Thanks for your advice!

        1. re: Alfalfa

          the Aviation as described by Gary Regan is a reliable recipe although as you say there are many versions; i would certainly feel free to substitute St G for Maraschino although you might have to rename it the Flying Dutchman (no wait, that's already taken)...yes that is the correct Don PX (2oz pour should be enough per person)....Uwajimaya (a mega Asian supermarket) is 600 5th ave south (their parking lot on 6th and Weller validates with purchase), Sake Nomi (where you can get free samples btw) is 76 south washington (between 1st and Western), Lebekase refers to the German "baloney" i've had over there...

          1. re: barleywino

            Great you have been a ton of help!

            I have had the LeberKase, can't say I'm a big fan. But I don't like Baloney either.

            I actually had a LeberKase sandwich from a bakery one moringing and thought it tasted like cat food. When I got to work a German friend explained that it was basically chopped and cured liver, which kinda explained the taste. Luckily the fresh Brotchen and Senf made it edible.

            1. re: Alfalfa

              PS Spanish Table is on 1426 WEstern ave near Pike st (not sure whether this is the new address or the old, they are on the same block but a few doors apart from each other)

              1. re: barleywino

                Cool, my wife is watching this as well so hopefully we can get this all mapped out and have a fun day shopping in Seattle.

                Thanks for your help!

      2. Crab Bisque: I think a sauvingon blanc from new zealand would add a nice crispness to break through the cream.

        2 Replies
        1. re: magfoodguy

          Hmm I'm not sure I have ever had a wine from NZ. Mostly european and a couple from AU.

          Any specific recomendations?

          Thanks for the input!

          1. re: Alfalfa

            your best bet for an inexpensive sauvignon blanc from NZ is Matua Valley. citrusy, slighty flinty, good acid. it's from the marlborough region, as most good NZ SV's are. young bottles are best [this particular wine won't improve with age], and a 2007 shouldn't set you back more than $10-11 if you can find it on sale. standard offline price these days seems to be about $12-13.

            i think it's amazing that you're planning all of this while you're off in iraq - your family is very lucky. get home safely, and enjoy your meal!

        2. I would hold off on the Pinot Noir with your Ceveche, pinot can be a might powerful that early in a wine heave dinner maybe start with some nice sparkling wine (who doesn’t love sparkles). Some really good ones out of Oregon include Argyle Brute and R Stuart’s Sparkling Rose, maybe with some oysters.

          You might have some problem finding fresh/ delicious peaches in October that is a bit past their season around here. Pears on the other hand will be delicious and are great grilled and might even work with the bourbon, not a combination I have tried but sounds ok in my imagination.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Charles

            Ah pears.. My mom has an ocardist friend that has access to some special wearhouse that he shared. Maybe I can get some from him if I can't find the peaches.

            I have a really good roasted pear recipes that I used to make in Germany.

            Are those Oregon wines readily availble or do I need to oreder them directly from the wineries?

            Thanks for your advice!

            1. re: Alfalfa

              if you're going to do peaches or pears, you might consider getting some peach or pear gelato at either Bottega Italiano (1st between Union and Pike in Seattle) or Gelatiamo (3rd and Union). If pears, get some Belle de Brillet pear cognac (n.a. in Washington state, must mail order) which uses 23 lbs of pears to make 1 bottle.

              1. re: barleywino

                Thats sounds really tasty! I might get some just for me.

                Thankls for the tip.

          2. What do you do in Iraq? What camp are you on?

            I'm in Iraq too and I am from Washington as well, Bremerton area.

            4 Replies
            1. re: jpc8015

              I am CH-47 Pilot. Currently in Basra, but my unit is in Balad. I have been alover this godforsaken place though.

              Where you at, odd are I have been there or will be soon.


              1. re: Alfalfa

                I work for KBR at Camp Taji just north of Baghdad. I have also spent time at Camp Bucca and in the Green Zone.

                1. re: jpc8015

                  I've been to Taji more time s than I can count. Atleast you guys have a decent chow hall there. They actually make the best Ruebans in country. Although there isn't much competition.

                  1. re: Alfalfa

                    Taji is not bad place to be. It sure beats Bucca.