An Education in Food | What is an amuse-bouche? And while we’re at it, what’s the difference between tartare and ceviche?

Ever wonder what the difference between a tartare and a ceviche is? And perhaps you’ve heard about gnocchi, but what about gnudi? Is a Cinderella Pumpkin a real thing?

I recently attended Hotel 1000‘s Vintimate Winemaker’s Dinner in Seattle, Washington. The event is held in Hotel 1000’s Studio 1000, a warm and intimate setting perfect for wine-drinking, food-tasting, and friend-making.

studio 1000 at hotel 1000

We were joined by an array of wine-making and culinary talent, including: Todd Upland of Upland Estates (a winery on Eastern Washington’s Snipes Mountain), the folks from Oxbow Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment,┬áMi Suk Ahn (BOKA‘s amazing beverage director), and some appearances from the true star of the night, Angie Roberts, the executive chef at BOKA Kitchen + Bar.

Now, I always love me some good wine-pairings. I love to try new foods, and I love, love, love seeing innovative dishes especially when they truly showcase an area’s local and seasonal best.

Everything was lovely. The prosecco we started with was just the right amount of bubbly, the room was set in a beautifully warm and inviting manner, and I had a feeling we’d be friends with our new tablemates by the end of dinner (HI JIM! HI MEGAN!). Then the wine guy asked me,

“What’s the difference between a tartare and a ceviche?”

And I know it has something to do with how it’s “cooked” or … not cooked. And something about citrus! Or citric acid? I glanced at the rest of the menu and I realized that while I had an idea about what a demi (glaze) is or what I could expect with a parsnip puree, there was a definitely learning opportunity here. Being a food blogger is just as much trying new restaurants and recipes as it is a forever education in food, wine, and the community surrounding both of those things. The community of food really is the best part, isn’t it?

So, my foodie friends who (like me) haven’t gone to culinary school, but oh-my-heavens do we love trying new food, fun food, fancy food, dive bar food, and anything in between… let me educate us all on what some of these fancy food words actually mean.

This was a five-course meal (plus an amuse-bouche and entrements, which I’ll get to), so I broke this Fooducation Lession up into four more easily digestible (see what I did there?), separate posts:

  • Monday | Intro & Amuse-Bouche
  • Tuesday | Soup & Salad
  • Wednesday | Entrees: Demi-Glaze and Oxtail Sugo
  • Thursday | Entrements (“between two courses,” so think palate-cleanser) and Desserts
Let’s check out this menu, shall we?

Upland Estates & Oxbow CSA, with BOKA Kitchen + Bar at Hotel 1000

Winemaker’s Dinner | October 26, 2011 | An Education in Food Terminology


tuna tartare, parmesan cracker

paired with: prosecco

tuna tartare, parmesan cracker

According to Wikipedia, an Amuse-bouche is:

a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but, when served, are done so according to the chef’s selection alone. These, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served… to both prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking.

Well, if this was a glimpse into Chef Angie Roberts’ approach to cooking, then we were all in for a big treat. The tuna tartare was light and fresh, and the parmesan cracker was just the right amount of light and salty. My taste buds were dancing.

What is tartare?

Simply put, a tartare is “a preparation of finely chopped raw meat or fish” and is commonly served as a spread for toast (source: Wikipedia). Common types of tartares include beef, venison, salmon and tuna (like the one pictured above).

Ok, that’s easy enough.

What is ceviche?

Ceviche (seh-vee-chay), on the other hand, is a seafood dish, typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices like lemon or lime and spiced with chili peppers. It’s usually paired with side dishes such as lettuce, corn, or avocado – something that complements its flavors.

I was kind of on the right track when I knew that ceviche was prepared in citrus juices, but that’s where my knowledge ended.

What’s the difference between tartare and ceviche?

To recap: tartare is raw meat or fish, commonly served as a spread on toast or a cracker. Ceviche is more specificially a seafood dish that has been marinated in citrus juices and is served alongside something light and fresh.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s lesson, where I’ll answer questions such as: Is a Cinderella Pumpkin a real thing? What is little gem lettuce? Also, biscuits.


Doniree is based in Portland, Oregon, where she is pretty damn thrilled about the Pacific Northwest's focus on local and seasonal food and great wine. When she's not at home, she's on the hunt for the best brunch, the best happy hour, and the best whiskey bar a city has to offer.

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6 thoughts on “An Education in Food | What is an amuse-bouche? And while we’re at it, what’s the difference between tartare and ceviche?

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