Firebird Chocolate Giveaway

Today my little blog turns one. And what better way to celebrate than with chocolate?

Firebird Chocolate is the brainchild of Foodbeat Northwest’s founder, Michael Smith. Firebird Chocolate:

sources some of the world’s finest handmade, organic, better-than-Fair Trade chocolate. Our unique funding model puts more money into the hands that need it most, the farmers who provide the cocoa beans and other ingredients. Over half of the money earned in our sales go back to the farmers either directly (through acquisition of raw ingredients and profit-sharing) or indirectly (through the strategic partnerships we have set up with our vendors).

-Firebird’s Mission & Vision

I’m one of the only girls I know who isn’t a grab-it-by-the-handful-and-shovel-it-in chocolate lover. I only like good quality chocolate. Just like I only drink good quality wine. Subpar representations of what these two proofs that God loves me just aren’t worthy of my palate.

And, just like I only like good chocolate, I’m a sucker for good branding. Must be the former marketing professional in me. Similarly, I choose books by their cover.*  Firebird Chocolate definitely has cute labeling, which drew me in. And the bars fit in the palm of my hand, which provides perfect portion control. Although this chocolate is so creamy and rich, it is unnecessary to have more than one square at a time.

*Shh, I used to be a librarian, I didn’t say that.

The milk chocolate (41% cocoa) doesn’t have the chalky aftertaste I’ve come to know from mass-produced milk chocolate. Instead the flavor lingers in your mouth, long after the square has been consumed. But the star of the show is the dark chocolate espresso (70% cocoa). One bite sent me back to my days as a barista, filled with the glorious smell of espresso as shots were pulled for the waking. The chocolate isn’t just espresso flavored, but it has actual espresso beans chopped up and mixed inside. While, again, one bite is a sufficient after dinner treat, the flavor and calorie content make eating the entire bar in one sitting entirely appropriate. In fact, it might be a requirement.

That’s an ingredient list I can get behind. 

Firebird Chocolate is based out of Seattle and is available for purchase at small independent retailers and online. In Spokane you can find their chocolate at Atticus Coffee or Chocolate Apothecary.

When Michael realized my blog was about to turn one he was thrilled to celebrate with me, and is offering one lucky reader the chance to try three bars of their chocolate (Dark Chocolate Espresso, Milk Chocolate and Huckleberry Dark Chocolate).

To enter, simply visit Firebird Chocolate and tell me, by leaving a comment on this post, which chocolate from their currently available and/or future available chocolate you’re most interested in. They also take suggestions on flavors you’d like to see. I think a dark chocolate with sea salt would be divine.

You’ll receive an extra entry for tweeting about this giveaway (and leaving a separate comment). Stuck on what to say? Perhaps you could write:

@spinachandskittles is giving away Firebird Chocolate, which sources some of the world’s finest handmade, organic, better-than-Fair Trade chocolate

This giveaway closes at 11:59 p.m. Monday, December 26th.

*Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review, all thoughts and comments are entirely my own. Michael sent me a few chocolate bars along with a Christmas card because he is nice like that. I asked him if he would be interested in donating the bars for this giveaway. He happily agreed.
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Downtown Spokane Eats: Mizuna

Hey, hey, hey, it’s that time again. Restaurant review, Foodbeat NW style. You may remember the review on The Flying Goat I did a few months back.  This review, again, is written by me and brought to you in conjunction with Foodbeat NW.

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Foodbeat NW‘s mission is:

SUPPORT LOCAL FOOD. Committed to showcasing independent restaurants and food artisans around the Pacific NW. Keep coming back for fresh, releveant info about local dining in & dining out experiences.

Check out their facebook page to find foodie news from all over the Pacific Northwest. But until then, find out my thoughts on Mizuna below.

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Spokane is often scoffed at, considered the neglected redheaded, freckled, stepchild of Seattle. While chain restaurants still cloud the northern, southern and eastern corners of our city, the downtown scene has picked itself up, cleaned itself off, and is here to offer residents and travelers quite a few dining options.

 

One restaurant that has called downtown Spokane home for many years is Mizuna. Mizuna touts itself as Spokane’s leading vegetarian restaurant, and for good reason. While many restaurants offer one or two vegetarian options, Mizuna has an entire menu dedicated to the herbivore crowd. Carnivores have no fear; many local meat options are available as well.

All entrée options sound interesting at first glance, and I am pleased to report that the menu rotates seasonally and features local northwest organic ingredients, earning it a Foodbeat Northwest stamp of approval. Also full of local favorites is the rather extensive Northwest wine list, featuring many of my favorite Washington wineries.

While considering the menu options, including the Pan Seared Halibut, Sweet Chili Marinated Tempe and House-Made Seitan, we nibbled on bread dipped in house-infused garlic rosemary olive oil. They chose the Pappardelle Pasta with Eggplant Meatballs and Vegetarian Carbonara with Vegan Bacon, peas, shallots, herbs, cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan, (options I was salivating over). I selected the meat special of the evening: Lamb Shank Osso Buco with goat cheese polenta and gremolata braised carrots.

 

As a woman married to a bacon aficionado, (aren’t all men?), I enjoy a crispy slice every so often. I did not have high hopes for the vegan bacon in the Vegetarian Carbonara dish, but I was blown away! I couldn’t believe I was eating a vegan version of my beloved breakfast protein source. Equally enjoyable were the eggplant meatballs. These orbs were perfectly seasoned, smooth and moist in the center and crisp on the outside. I opted against stealing the entire plate and focused instead on my mouth watering, fall off the bone lamb osso buco. Although we were all rather full, we decided to split the famous vegan carrot cake. This vegan delight is hearty and chunky, and easily beats out any carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. I’m still slightly sad I did not order a second piece to take home.

 

All in all I was, and always am, very pleased with my Mizuna dining experience. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly and accommodating and you will be welcomed as though you were an old friend.

For the love of the goat

The Flying Goat that is.

Which, coincidentally, is where I am right now. The option to schedule a post during a time I know I will be neck deep in March Madness is a wonderful thing.

If you’ve been reading my blog for oh, a day or two, you may have noticed I kind of enjoy The Flying Goat. A quick glance at my tag cloud will reveal my slight obsession with this neighborhood eatery.

And if you’ve just stumbled upon my blog, welcome.

You may have found this post via Foodbeat NW. If not, have you heard of Foodbeat NW?

Foodbeat NW

Foodbeat NW is new to the Northwest foodie scene and it’s mission is to:

SUPPORT LOCAL FOOD. Committed to showcasing independent restaurants and food artisans around the Pacific NW. Keep coming back for fresh, releveant info about local dining in & dining out experiences.


(source)

The Flying Goat is one of the few locally owned, non-chain restaurants in Northwest Spokane, and features menu items named after streets in their neighborhood. After opening in late Spring 2010, The Flying Goat quickly grew in popularity. One look at their thin crust pies, fire pit patio seating, and mounted goat head can tell you why, The Flying Goat has personality. From their out of the ordinary pizza toppings to their fabulous bar and wait staff, The Flying Goat never fails to impress.

Meet Nate, your bartender.

Nate knows his brews, and if he doesn’t know if a certain beer will please your palate he will kindly offer a tasting.

The Flying Goat rotates its beers quite regularly, however, one will always be available: The Horned Aviator. The Flying Goat paired up with local brewery, Northern Lights, to create a truly local house beer. If beer doesn’t strike your fancy you can enjoy a glass of Goat Head Red, a mild red blend created by Townshend Winery.

Moving over to their food menu you will be pleased to discover the crust and sauce is made in house. Nothing beats fresh dough and sauce. The Flying Goat likes to support local Northwest businesses as well, purchasing their meat pizza toppings from Zoe’s of Seattle.

Speaking of homemade sauce, their pesto is out of this world delicious. This isn’t your average pesto. Instead of sweet basil, The Flying Goat uses spicy and bitter arugula as their green base. The arugula is complemented by the saltiness of the Parmesan, smoothness of olive oil and the nutty and earthy finish from the pine nuts. Although the Centennial Trail cheese bread appetizer does not come with arugula pesto, I always request a side of dipping goodness.

If you prefer to start your meal with a salad, don’t worry, they have a few options. My favorite is the Audubon Caesar. I’ve proclaimed my love of their Caesar before, and I will praise its name again. The Flying Goat really knows how to do a Caesar salad correctly. Sure, it has all your normal ingredients: bed of romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing. But it has so much more. The croutons are made on sight and are amazing. You may not believe me, as amazing is thrown around as an adjective all the time when describing food. However, I am someone who detests croutons. There is something about dried bread on my greens that I cannot stomach. But the freshly made croutons The Flying Goat has whipped up? There are no words. Also impressive is their ability to make a balanced house-made dressing and not drown their greens in the goodness. Spritz with a roasted lemon and your taste buds will tingle.

I’ve never eaten a Goat sandwich, as their pizza is what I’m really after. Pizza is the perfect food in my mind. If I could only have one food for the rest of my life, it would be pizza. The Flying Goat does not disappoint.

You can get some traditional pies: Kerry Lynn Margherita (mozzarella, basil, red sauce, and the option to add ham or heirloom tomatoes), Northwest Blvd. (Zoe’s pepperoni, caramelized onion, house cheese blend and red sauce), and the Gordon (Zoe’s pepperoni, Italian sausage, kalamata olives, oven roasted mushrooms, house cheese blend and red sauce), there are many more options available.

I’ve enjoyed many a pie at The Flying Goat, including my absolute favorite: the Cleveland, (roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, rosemary, garlic, caramelized onion, Fontina cheese and extra virgin olive oil). When you think pizza you normally don’t think potato. But trust me, this pie is to die for. The blend of the thinly sliced Yukon Golds with the buttery goodness of the roasted garlic is melt in your mouth magic.

You just can’t go wrong at The Flying Goat. The dining area caters to families, hipsters, nervous first-daters and young professionals alike. The bar features a laid back area, full of conversation and local breweries and wineries. So walk, ride your bike, catch a bus or drive over to The Flying Goat. You’ll probably see me there.