Meandering through museums and absorbing great works of art inspires and energizes but also can make one just plain hungry.
That's where the SAM cafe, TASTE, comes in. When I visited after the museum closed, the cafe was packed, and a tour group was making merry in a large back room. But gluten free diners can take heart in that there are several "naturally gluten free" options on the menu. As of this writing, I have not been able to talk to the chef directly, but one kitchen employee was very helpful in tracking down the gluten free-ness of the ice cream, which I asked about first, as ice cream is one of those areas that can bedevil gluten free eaters: one would like to believe that all ice cream is gluten free, but it isn't.
In any case, at TASTE, according to the kitchen employee (who, I believe, consulted with a chef), all but the malt ice cream is gluten free (malt is derived from barley; hence, is never gluten free).
Now, before I list several of the mouth-watering items on the TASTE menu which appear to be naturally gluten free, I must do so with a caveat: nothing on the TASTE website discusses food allergies/intolerances or gluten. Hmmm . . .
On the plus side, several "to go" options are displayed at the cash register, including the absolutely delectable Lara Bars and Kind Bars, both of which are gluten free. Yeah!
Below, after I discuss the exhibit (the art upstairs at SAM is, after all, a very good reason to dine at TASTE), I will launch into a more detailed description of the TASTE offerings.
Circling back from the food to the "The Treasures of Kenwood House" exhibit: The SAM website summarizes this opportunity to see many grand paintings by some of the world's great masters -- many of which have never left Europe -- as follows:
"Within the neoclassical Kenwood House at Hampstead Heath on the outskirts of London, resides a magnificent painting collection known as the Iveagh Bequest. Kenwood is home to an exceptional collection of Old Master paintings, including major works by Gainsborough, Hals, Rembrandt, Reynolds, Romney, Turner, Van Dyck, and many others. The Iveagh Bequest was donated to Great Britain by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh (1847–1927) and heir to the world’s most successful brewery."
Not only, however, does the exhibit feature stunning works in gorgeous gold leaf frames from the Iveagh Bequest, but also paintings of the same era from the private collections of Seattleites: several rooms of these are on view, in fact. In addition, an entire wall is lined with etchings.
Some of my personal highlights were as follows:
"Old London Bridge," circa 1630, by Claude de Jongh. This painting is surreal yet golden. The buildings of London, the bridge and arches of the bridge are all painted in variations on a palatte of sand and copper so that they recede into the background, with vessels on the Thames and their passengers drawing our attention. Most of the passengers are attired in black or brightly-colored garments: we wonder, across the centuries, who they were. One vessel carries a load covered with what looks like a thick blanket of crimson and gold.
But, what truly distinguishes this painting is the reflected sunlight of a late afternoon sunset; some of the buildings in the foreground are illuminated brilliantly even while they are not the focal point of the work.
Of course, Rembrandt's "Portrait of an Artist" circa 1665, is a seminal piece in the exhibit. Rembrandt himself appears somber, almost world-weary, humble, yet astute. The background color is a gorgeous brownish-green sedge; the easel and paintbrush are painted in rich rust tones.
Another portrait -- of Lady Louise Manners, 1779, by Sir Joshua Reynolds -- is captivating in its use of color. The ivory tones of Lady Manners' skin and gown are perfectly set off with the burnished brown Reynolds employed for Lady Manners' hair and the foliage in the foreground. It is a magnificent portrait.
The sumptousnes of all these works and the good living they imply inspires, again, a desire for great gluten free food. Down again at TASTE, brunch, for instance, includes several offerings which appear to be naturally gluten free (check for sure with the chef when you go): "Louie Louie" shrimp salad, Olsen's cheesy potatoes, and Eggs benny (Hempler's ham is used, which declares itself to be gluten free; ask about the hollandaise sauce).
See the show!
(Image above is just a nice one from Creative Commons; use of the image or discussion of the SAM show does not imply endorsement of this site by SAM.)