Posts Tagged ‘balsamic vinegar’
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Full Circle. This is not a sponsored post.
Sydney is a urban sprawl. Streets are at odd angles and arterial roads twist through suburbs. North, south, east and west, to drive from the geographical centre of the city to its boundaries would take at least an hour.
Seattle is more compact. Neighbourhoods cluster around the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, it is a short distance from houses and malls to fields and forests. The abrupt transition is bewildering and we ponder the scenery as we navigated to Carnation for Feast on the Farm.
Full Circle delivers ‘farm-fresh, locally-sourced organic and sustainably-grown’ produce to consumers. The mission of Stewardship Partners is to ‘restore and preserve the natural landscapes of Washington State’. Salmon-Safe certification ‘requires management practices that protect water quality and restore habitat’.
Groups sheltered under the umbrella and marquee for reprieve from the blazing sun. Hats, sunglasses and sturdy shoes were requisite attire.
We stepped and stumbled on a milk crate to board the tractor tour. We perched on hay bales covered by a blanket as we gently looped the acres.
Andrew Stout, founder of Full Circle, was our guide. The engine chugged along the dusty path as Andrew spoke about the growth of Full Circle and how the land is being rehabilitated.
Lettuce and kale were neatly planted in rows.
A serene vista.
The many hues of clouds, mountains, trees and farm buildings.
Symmetrically ploughed fields.
We snacked on smoky discs of Via Tribunali wood fire pizzas.
On the left is David Burger, executive director of Stewardship Partners, and Andrew Stout is on the left. My favourite quote of the event was ‘we’re in the business of killing plants’. The crowd chortled and snorted.
A still reflection on the creek.
Sal, the leggy mascot of Salmon-Safe, greeted us.
A country kitchen.
Currant bushes marked the field where perpendicular tables were set.
Our view of the second table.
Mason jars decorated the length of the table, posies interspersed with leafy produce.
From one end to the other.
Effervescent and mild, Dry Soda quenched my thirst.
First was Salumi charcuterie. We nibbled politely on thin slices of cured meats and Castelvetrano olives as introductions were made. I had sprayed my limbs with insect repellent and apologised to our dining companions for reeking of citronella. We were seated with an interesting group of people, there was much laughter and engaging conversations on culture, food and literature.
A mound of shredded Tuscan kale was garnished with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzled with anchovy dressing. This was one of three healthful salads served.
Chunks of roasted beets were topped with a dollop of house made ricotta. Pistachio kernels dotted the tender beets, it was an earthy combination of flavours.
Plump grains of farro were tossed with carrot and English peas. I had several spoonfuls of this toothsome salad.
Mediterranean mussels were roasted with guanciale, lemon and olive oil. The bivalves were aromatic and succulent.
In sunglasses, an apron and boat shoes, Chef Ethan Stowell generously donated two private dinners in Staple & Fancy‘s cellar room for auction to benefit Stewardship Partners.
Fennel and carrots were grilled, the former seasoned with bottarga and the latter with mint and orange.
Dessert was a creamy panna cotta with mixed berries, slivered almonds and aged balsamic vinegar.
There was spirited bidding on auction items, and Mike McCready (guitar), Kim Virant (vocal) and Gary Westlake (bass) entertained us.
Each attendee was gifted a box of Full Circle produce which we happily carried home.
Carefully packed, the top layer was fennel, kale and lettuce.
On the bottom were apricots, cabbage, carrots, cherries, cucumber, onions and rockmelon.
Sincere thanks to Shirley and Full Circle for the opportunity to experience Feast on the Farm!
I was exploring the Flatiron District after lunch at Shake Shack and I found myself at the entrance of Eataly. I stood on the sidewalk for several minutes, observing the speed of the foot traffic in and out. I finally walked in, thinking I’ll do a quick lap and exit.
All my senses were on alert. Cutlery clanging on china, diners conversing and shoppers ordering, the decibel of the din would be near noise pollution. The hum of human activity and the kaleidoscope of colours was a sight to behold. The aroma of freshly ground coffee wafted through the air. I breathed in deeply, to ease the anxious feeling of being enveloped in a large crowd, and to absorb caffeine!
I got lost in Eataly. Unlike IKEA, there were no arrows on the floor, no dividers for a path and no map. Directionally challenged, I weaved and wandered until I took a photo of every section and every restaurant.
The Eataly website lists twenty sections in their market and twelve places to eat. Below is a selection of them!
Wood fire ovens and counter seating at La Pizza and La Pasta for Neapolitan pizzas and al dente pasta.
Il Pesce serves fresh seafood including whole fish.
Paninoteca‘s chalkboard menu highlights regional specialties.
A pretty display of single portion cakes and tarts at Dolci.
With such a concentration of eateries, Eataly is ideal for progressive meals. Apéritif at Birreria, appetizer at one restaurant, main course at another, dessert at Dolci or Gelateria, and conclude with an espresso at Caffe Lavazza or Caffe Vergnano.
A stainless steel espresso machine is the centrepiece of Caffe Vergnano, a standing only espresso bar.
Caffe Lavazza is at the Fifth Avenue entrance and you can while away an afternoon people watching.
Cone, cup or to go, the Gelateria has three sizes and many flavours of gelati.
The market is well stocked with dried pasta.
Shelves are laden with sauces.
Marinated, stuffed and in brine, jars of olives aplenty.
A multitude of packaged biscotti.
Preserves and conserves of every fruit.
Chilled local and imported beer.
Sliced and packaged salumi.
Boxes of cheese wedges.
The butcher has some local and organic meats.
The requisite hanging and dangling salumi.
The bakery bakes daily on site.
Bags of flour are stacked high for handmade fresh pasta.
‘The mozzarella you eat at Eataly is never more than two hours old.’
I had a fleeting urge to roll one of these Parmigiano Reggiano wheels around Eataly.
The fishmonger’s seafood is ‘never frozen’.
The fresh produce are piled high in wicker baskets.
The greens and root vegetables are neatly presented.
Beautiful trays of mushrooms.
Some on vine, others wrapped in protective foam, the tomatoes were glossy and vibrant.
A curated bookstore on Italian culinary culture.
Basic dinnerware and glassware.
Melamine glasses and bowls in rainbow hues.
A ten point manifesto and a motto, ‘eat better, cook simpler’.
I left contemplating how local European style delicatessens and providores can compete with a corporate marketplace that is Eataly.
Located on a quiet street away from traffic, Cedarbrook Lodge is secluded and surrounded by luscious greens. Originally built by Washington Mutual as an exclusive corporate retreat, it is now a public hotel.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped and the interior is elegantly decorated in earthy tones with natural materials. The entrance is on a mezzanine level and the lobby overlooks a magnificent loft with a plush lounge area, Copperleaf Restaurant and floor to ceiling windows to the terrace.
TomatoFare celebrates the harvest of the season’s locally grown organic heirloom tomatoes. The festival has been held in Eastern Washington for several years and this is the second one in Seattle.
Pale, bland and mealy. We’ve all had bad tomatoes. Grown with love and nurtured, a quality tomato bursts with sunshine and has a sweetness and acidity to every bite.
The Jacqueline Tabor Jazz Band entertained the crowd on the terrace. Although an overcast day, it was pleasant to be outside and many enjoyed the autumn weather sipping wine and beer, and nibbling on tomatoes.
Stalls in French colours were set up on the lawn. On the right were restaurants, and on the left was tomato tasting.
As we arrived mid afternoon, some of the stalls had closed. A handful of people were hovering around the Copperleaf stall and we joined the group listening intently as the chef spoke passionately about sourcing produce and the importance of connecting with farmers.
A tasting board was laden with tomatoes and we sprinkled sea salt on the vibrant slices.
A shot glass of layered mousse was popular, there were people returning for seconds and thirds! On the bottom was Parmesan mousse, the middle was heirloom tomato mousse and on top was fresh basil purée with Niçoise olive nougatine. It was an intense combination, each spoonful had a different accent.
Next was Barking Frog, where the chefs were busily plating their heirloom tomato and watermelon salad.
It was an artist’s palette of heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, burrata mozzarella purée, toasted pine nuts, micro basil and ten year old balsamic vinegar.
The Blackboard Bistro platter was empty and they were packing up as we approached their stall. The chef kindly scraped the last of the geoduck and heirloom tomato ceviche with orange and mint onto a mini toast and cut it in half. It was my first taste of the weirdly shaped bivalve, a Pacific Northwest specialty.
We proceeded along the stalls to Little Water Cantina, a recent addition to Eastlake.
The chef assembled cute bite size tostadas of white habanero, heirloom tomatoes, house made queso fresco, micro cilantro, toasted sesame seeds and Mexican sea salt. These were delectable morsels, ideal as a hors d’oeuvre for cocktail parties!
Our final stall was Seattle Cremes, an ice cream, sherbet and sorbet wholesaler. We sampled a scoop each of red heirloom tomato sorbet and yellow heirloom tomato sorbet. With garlic, sea salt, basil and Tabasco, the red one was savoury and highlighted the tomato as an ingredient. The yellow one was refreshing with mint, sea salt, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Glossy globes in shades of red, orange, yellow, green and purple were on display. Dozens of varieties were presented in and on stemware and laminated cards detailed their characteristics.
Tiny baubles on vine, these Mexican midgets were my favourite.
The lumpy red star is turban like and star shaped when sliced.
This is the legend. I just like the name. It is a Pacific Northwest variety cultivated by Oregon State University.
The stripy green zebra is a contrast to the red hues of the majority.
A hidden oasis close to the airport, Cedarbrook Lodge has serene ponds and manicured shrubbery.
The Copperleaf Restaurant is in an open area of about a dozen tables with a magnificent stone fireplace as the focal point.
We meandered into Tamarack Hall and one of the chefs directed us to the restaurant garden.
Four neat patches had rows of lettuce, herbs and of course, tomatoes.
Sincere thanks to Carol for inviting me to be her plus one. The complimentary tickets were courtesy of Richmond Public Relations.
I grew up with communal dining at home and in restaurants. Why limit yourself to one item on the menu when you can sample several by sharing the dishes? To my delight, the small plates trend has continued. I stumbled upon Bisato scrawled on a Post-it stuck on the desk underneath a pile of papers. In my short time in Seattle, I have developed a haphazard note taking habit where restaurant names are scribbled on scrap paper, to be added to a computerised list later. I was intrigued by Bisato’s small plates approach and we find ourselves there for a mid-week dinner.
We nearly missed the nondescript entrance with minimal signage. There’s a small patio for sidewalk dining and I was worried the restaurant was closed as the outdoor chairs were stacked high. The interior is sparsely decorated with the long, curved bistro style bar its star. There’s a row of seats at the counter with a view of the open plan kitchen but we sat at an intimate table by the window.
Our waiter recommended two dishes per person to share and there’s also a comprehensive list of specials. We commenced our meal with the artisan bread with extra virgin olive oil. The bread was fluffy with a chewy crust, and the olive oil was pleasantly perfumed.
Mr S picked the red romaine lettuce salad with twenty year old balsamic and olive oil. Simple in appearance, it was a deceptively tasty salad. The separated leaves are piled in a large bowl and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Aged for twenty years, the premium grade balsamic had a sweet aroma and was smooth on the palate with a slight tang.
The salumi of the day was a choice between a selection of salami and prosciutto di Parma. While tantalised by dulce salami, Mr S yielded to my love of prosciutto.
We had inadvertently ordered only one hot dish – two quenelles of meat ragú were atop a rectangular block of polenta with a fonduta cheese sauce. The polenta was firm and the fonduta creamy but the highlight was the meat ragú. It tasted like puréed Bolognese sauce, an intense flavour that paired well with the polenta.
On the specials menu was bucatini in chives sauce with salmon roe. We were both surprised that the brightly coloured noodles were cold. The hollow spaghetti was slippery with the chives sauce and olive oil. Each mouthful was a perfect combination of freshness and salty, briny bursts of salmon roe.
I was pondering dessert and was keen on the lemon tart when our waiter impressed us with five dessert specials. The pineapple ravioli piqued my interest. Thinly sliced pineapple surrounded a single pineapple ravioli with rice pudding and pistachio, and a carafe of white chocolate jus was poured at the table. It might look odd and plain but it was a lovely summer dessert. Although I would have preferred a knife as it was challenge to cut the pineapple with spoon and fork!
Mr S opted for a cheese course of Pecorino Toscano baked on cedar with truffle honey. The wedge of cheese had small bubbles with a thin crust formed, and was soft and fragrant. It had a hint of smokiness and was just heavenly.
While the bill was more Sydney than Seattle, the food were creative interpretations of the traditional which made it a worthwhile dining experience.