Posts Tagged ‘cake’
If I had to name a favourite restaurant in Seattle it would be Lark. Seasonal ingredients, small plates, attentive service. I have dined there twice and both meals presented regional cuisine at its best and epitomised what I love about a restaurant experience.
The only blemish is the lighting. For a city ensconced in a melancholic grey for half the year, Seattle’s eateries are in the shadow of candles and dimmers. The Danish word ‘hygge’ is the perfect description of cosy ambience but I would like to read the menu without squinting!
The Lark dining room has a homely feel. Opaque curtains partition the centre tables and there is a row of booths along one side. It is intimate and comfortable.
Categorised into cheeses, vegetables and grains, charcuterie, fish and meat, the menu is designed for sharing and the wait staff can recommend the number of dishes depending on your appetite.
Wine was poured and bread buttered as our group of four chatted on a quiet Sunday evening in spring.
Asparagus featured in three of the courses and starred in this in Provençal style. Tender spears were sautéed in olive oil, garlic, rosemary and black olive.
On a terracotta plate were ribbons of La Quercia prosciutto garnished with figs and Parmigiano Reggiano shavings.
Three plump scallops were atop asparagus in an earthy broth.
The ubiquitous asparagus were paired with slices of rare Mishima Ranch wagyu hanger steak, roasted potatoes and a dollop of ramp butter.
A petite cocotte of pommes de terre Robuchon was smooth and buttery, an elegant mashed potatoes.
Dining with the French means duck. A crispy Liberty Ducks leg was served with spring onions and green chickpeas.
I neglected to note the third cheese but the other two were Kukulu Bleu de Brebis from the Pyrénées and Taleggio from Lombardy.
A compact round of hazelnut brown butter cake was adorned with whiskey poached figs and accompanied by a quenelle of salted caramel ice cream.
Light and ethereal, a generous mound of miniature madeleines was dipped in a tiny pot of Theo organic dark chocolate sauce.
Lark is simply splendid, a beacon for the Pacific Northwest.
All of Tom Douglas‘s restaurants are in our neighbourhood. Seventeen months in Seattle and we’ve dined at each of them except for Palace Kitchen. Every time I walk by I remind myself that we must have a meal there. And I finally did last week! Located on the corner of 5th and Lenora, it is adjacent to Palace Ballroom and in the midst of a couple of construction sites.
At the centre of Palace Kitchen is the bar, and two dining rooms are to its left and right. Window panes slide open for fresh air on warm nights and natural light filters in on long summer days.
A jewel toned goblet of strawberry lemonade was garnished with a lemon twist. A second beverage of sour cherry fizz was tart and minty.
Shirley and I shared three courses. First was ‘plin’, a Piedmontese style ravioli, filled with roast pork and chard. The pinched pasta were in a puddle of sage and parmesan butter. I spooned the fragrant sauce over each of the cute al dente morsels. Next time I’ll order a side of bread to mop the plate!
Palace Kitchen is famed for their applewood grill. The chicken wings were golden and sticky, laced with an intense smokiness. A sea foamed coloured coriander cream tempered the succulent poultry.
A vibrate mound of lettuce was studded with spicy garbanzo beans, fava beans, chopped boiled egg, drizzled with herbed dressing, and dotted with sliced radish. It was a healthful salad, spicy and crunchy.
Our second salad was compliments of Chef Dezi. Fava beans from Prosser Farm were grilled and tossed with ‘extra virgin’ (first press) fish sauce, ricotta salata, mint, radish greens and marinated peppers. The charred pods of tender beans were exquisite, a luscious contrast to the peppery greens.
An oval dish of silky orange blossom panna cotta was topped with seasonal strawberries and a brittle pistachio wafer.
Tiered discs of malted chocolate milk cake and cream were paired with shards of cocoa rice crispies and a quenelle of chocolate crémeux. A decadent treat, this was malty, chocolaty, and redolent of Milo and chocolate crackles.
I shall not wait another seventeen months before I dine at Palace Kitchen again!
I like cooked vegetables. I grew up eating leafy greens sautéed in garlic and ginger, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, blanched lettuce steeped in oyster sauce, and stir-fried carrots and peas. Salads were not in my diet as a child.
As an adult I have learnt to appreciate the healthfulness of salads. Roasted beets, chèvre and pistachio. Arugula, pear, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar. Spicy Thai salad with nam jim dressing. These are on regular rotation at home.
I have a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi‘s sumptuous Plenty and having dined at Nopi earlier in the week so I was keen to visit the original Ottolenghi in Notting Hill. Located on Ledbury Road, a manicured hedge and distinctive red font marked the entrance.
Tiers of buttermilk scones, viennoiseries, cakes, cookies, tarts, cheesecakes and brownies were displayed at the front window enticing passers-by. Tuck your elbows in and shuffle sideways as the front room is narrow!
Platters of vibrant salads lined the counter. A daily menu is published in the morning and on this May day there were:
* Roasted aubergine, sorrel and wild garlic yoghurt, roasted cherry tomatoes, parsley and pine nuts
* Mixed green beans, shaved asparagus and peas with spinach, chilli, garlic, tarragon, lemon zest and chervil
* Chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic
* Roasted squash with green olive yoghurt, roasted red onion, mint, capers and sumac
* Cucumber, celery and radish with nigella seeds, coriander and mint
* Butterbean hummus with roasted red pepper, hazelnut, lemon and parsley salsa
* Red rice and quinoa with cranberries, lemon, fried onion, mixed nuts, herbs, radicchio and arugula
* Heritage carrots with cumin seeds, garlic, lemon, coriander, pea shoots, arugula and pomegranate
* Beetroot and poached rhubarb salad with gorgonzola, red onion, and mixed herbs and leaves
There were also a selection of mains:
* Seared beef fillet with watercress, whole grain mustard, horseradish and sour cream
* Beef lasagne
* Seared sesame crusted tuna with coriander, ginger, chilli and sweet chilli, soy, pineapple and spring onion sauce
* Roasted chicken marinated in yoghurt and honey with mixed spices, chilli and coriander
* Grilled salmon with artichoke, pink peppercorn, preserved lemon and parsley salsa
* Smoked bacon quiche with sautéed leeks, parmesan and thyme
* Roasted tomato quiche with caramelised onion, goat cheese and thyme
Bold, herbaceous flavours with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences, my eyes feasted on the mounds of fresh salads.
Packages of bread sticks and Madeleines, and tubs of roasted spicy nuts cluttered the register as impulse purchases.
Shelves along the short set of stairs were laden with trays of produce, bottles of olive oil, jars of house made sauces and loaves of bread.
Downstairs was an all-white dining room with a communal table and Panton chairs, and an espresso nook. A grand mirror the size of the back wall created an optical illusion that widened and brightened the basement.
Pots of jams and cubes of butter were on a rustic wooden board.
I sipped a coffee.
And nibbled on a decadent chocolate and hazelnut brownie.
I did not order any salads because I had a special lunch booked at The Ledbury but my morning tea at Ottolenghi was splendid!
So I finally dined at Sitka & Spruce. Sunday closure, long waits and a forgotten scheduled delivery had foiled previous attempts and this was remedied by an early weekday lunch. Located in Capitol Hill’s beloved Melrose Market, Sitka & Spruce is charmingly rustic. A narrow corridor adjacent to Rain Shadow Meats is a compact pantry stocked with breads, spices, olive oils and salted caramels.
Red perpendicular sliding doors mark the entrance to the restaurant.
Eight by six glass panes saturate the dining room with natural light. There is counter seating by the window, half a dozen tables and the centrepiece is a wooden communal table adjoining the open kitchen.
The galley is along the back wall where bread was sliced and beverages were poured.
We perched on stools next to the terracotta mise en place where chefs plated dishes.
The local and seasonal ‘elevenses and lunch’ menu is sized to share.
Sparkling water is served in a mason jar with a wedge of lime.
A pot of butter sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes and Columbia City Bakery baguette.
We selected four items for our threesome. First was asparagus, Iowa smoked ham, hazelnuts and poached egg. A golden stream of yolk cascaded from the white cocoon. Flecked with dill, the buttery salumi, tender spears and crunchy nuts were a symphony of flavours.
Three portions of Pacific coast farmstead cheeses were drizzled with honey, its delicate sweetness accentuated the cow, sheep and goat notes.
Scattered with walnuts, a mound of peppercress shrouded a generous mass of chicken liver pâté and mustard. Silky on the palate, the intense richness of the pâté was moderated by the spicy mustard and greens.
Last was pan fried soft shell crab with aioli, radish and greens. The diminutive crustacean was cooked whole and the meaty morsels were unctuous and briny.
A glass cloche displayed a cake that we admired throughout our meal. We shared a wedge of gâteau Basque, crème pâtissière encased in an almond crust and topped with caramel and cacao nib crumble. It was an ethereal dessert, a fine balance of textures.
Fifteen months in Seattle and I can now recommend Sitka & Spruce!
Named after the owners’ son, the logo of a crown and lion’s head was prominent on a textured frame. The café was decorated in an eclectic style with chocolate walls and miniature Eiffel Towers dotted throughout.
Classic French techniques fused with Japanese influenced flavours to create intricate pastries.
On a tiered tray topped with a crown were guimauve (marshmallows), sablé (Earl Grey, sesame and matcha) and jams (peachy peach, and apple cinnamon and milk caramel).
On a crystal stand were glossy apple and banana Danishes streaked with chocolate.
Golden parcels of phyllo were dusted with powdered sugar.
An acrylic case protected the delicate rainbow macarons.
A couple of tables lined the wall and the counter seating had a candid view of the vacuum coffee makers with Lion’s father as the barista.
A vintage cabinet displayed the menu, and a dainty teacup and saucer.
We perused and purchased, the desserts carefully packed in a branded cardboard box.
Clockwise from top: mocha, chocolate and green tea. With a crispy crust and a chewy centre, the perfectly shaped macarons were ethereal.
Layers of coffee soaked sponge cake, ganache, buttercream and chocolate glaze, the opéra gâteau was exquisite.
We’re delighted that Lion’s parents are sharing their lovely pastries with us!
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.