Ocho! Plaka Estiatorio!

Ok, so here is a food post for ya.  Ocho in Ballard is an absolute must!  Especially if you are with some real good friends or your boyfriend.  I got to go twice so far, once with each.  If you love Spanish tapas and small plates to share, this is your place.

Above you will see the famous $10 Maragrita.  I kid you not, it is THE BEST margarita I have ever tasted! And I probably don't have to tell you that I have tied many a margarita on! I can only describe it like Sarah did, piney and not at all too sweet.  My reaction after gulping one down was like, oh my lordy, can you mainline those?!

A few weeks back Maurisa and Sarah and I got to have a night out in Ballard with our intention being to eat our way around Ballard until it was time to go.  We started at Ocho and ended up at a fantastic little Greek place called Plaka Estiatorio

Here you can see the chalkboard menu and a slice of the tiny kitchen at Ocho.

First though, let me tell ya a little more about Ocho's menu.  Like many of my lovely friends, I like to consider myself, at the very least, an amateur foodie.  I like things fresh, in season, local, organic, and beautiful.  I like the flavors to make sexy with my mouth and I enjoy it when my taste buds have little orgasms.  Yes, I pretty much equate good food with good sex.  Both can get me hot and bothered, in a really good way! 

So at Ocho they have things like Huevo del Diablo which is deviled eggs, salmon roe, pickled onion, tomato dust, fried capers and dill.
Um, hello, can you say yum!
And they have Jamon Serrano: cured spanish ham.  We ate some of that.  Well, more like some of that melted in our mouths.
And Croquetas Borrachas: fried goat cheese with roasted red pepper almond sauce.  Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside and oh, so delicious.
Setas de Jerez: sherried mushrooms on olive oil toast with arugula.  Earthy yet sweet.  Wish this grew on a tree in my garden.
Albondigas: lamb meatballs with brandy carrot sauce and golden raisins.  Amazing.
Gambas al Ajillo: spicy garlic prawns.  Perfect.
And the evening Chad and I were there I had an asparagus gazpacho that was cooling and refreshing.

But I gotta say.  The one thing I had both times that I could eat all day, every day, day in, day out, over and over is the La Carolina: pancetta wrapped blue cheese stuffed dates in a balsamic reduction.  People!  Is this a dessert?  It was better than dessert.  I wish it were a food group you were required to have 5 servings of per day.  I dream about these little beauties.  And in my dreams they just magically appear in my fridge every time I open it!  Oh, to have it be so.  I didn't even get a picture of them.  I got greedy and ate them fast.  I think Chad got one.  I hope.
Several of the items on the menu have a little star by them and when you look at the key at the bottom of the menu it says: contains raw food, which could kill you.  Blunt.  To the point. And makes me grin.  Love it.
And I haven't even mentioned any of the other fancy cocktails they mix up in this little pixie size space.  You just gotta go see for yourself.  You wont be disappointed.

Plaka is the other place Sarah and Maurisa and I ate at in Ballard.  I thought it was great and again we shared small plates, or Mezedes, as it's called here.  We had our hunk of a waiter pick a wine for us and it was just right.  We shared Patzaria: beets with garlic, fennel, vinegar and olive oil.  Loukaniko: grilled pork sausage.  Octopodi: octopus braised in herbs with lemon and olive oil.  Roasted red pepper and feta dip.  And I think we had some roasted seasonal veggies and potatoes.  It was all delicious.  Although I am pretty much a sucker for anything that has lemon and olive oil.  And the owner of Plaka was so kind and attentive.  He gave me a gorgeous calendar when we left so I can hang it on my wall and daydream about when I get to go to Greece.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, actually, I was in such wonderful company and having such a lovely evening immersed in girl talk, I did not take any pictures here. 

So I will leave you with a few photos from Old Town Ale House,  Chad and I stopped in here the other night to grab a drink and snack before seeing Breathe Owl Breathe at The Tractor.  I will post more about seeing them later but for now I will show you the super cute artwork on the Belgium Trappist Ale I drank.  It made the beer taste extra good!  And those of you who know me, know I have a thing for snails.  Here ya go: