Posts Tagged ‘cauliflower’
I’ve never owned a car. I’ve always lived in cities with an integrated public transport system where it’s cheap and convenient to navigate work and play on buses, ferries and trains. By American standard, Seattle has an adequate (and expanding) network of buses and light rail. The one exception that has foiled me time and again is getting to the University District from Downtown. There is no direct bus route! Thankfully generous friends have driven me there for meals at Shun (sadly closed), and iced chocolates at Fran’s. We deviated from routine a couple of weeks ago for lunch at U:Don.
A ‘fresh Japanese noodle station’, there was a sign at the entrance outlining the order process.
There were eight styles of udon on the menu in three sizes.
An extensive list of tempura and sides were neatly written on a chalkboard.
Black and white prints, red accent walls and birch furniture, the dining room was minimally modern. We watched the chef dunk and scoop udon and customise the bowl, and like a cafeteria, slid the tray along to select tempura and sides which were priced per item.
I gripped my tray tightly and perched precariously on the square stool. In a steaming dashi broth, my udon was garnished with grated daikon and ginger, green onions and shredded nori, and topped with an ontama (coddled egg). The broth was light and clear, and the house made noodles firm.
Kakiage, a vegetable tempura fritter, had starchy strips of root vegetables and cauliflower florets. I love eggplant but the fanned wedge was a little raw.
It was a speedy experience at U:Don!
I’m always nervous suggesting European restaurants to our French friends. Thankfully we loved the cosy ambience and homely fare of Dinette. I hummed the tune of ‘Four Seasons In One Day‘ by Crowded House all day. Snow, sleet, wind, rain. Repeat. There were moments of brilliant light, silver beams refracted off pewter clouds.
On Olive Way in Capitol Hill, Dinette’s seasonal menu has French, Italian and Spanish flavours.
Two adjoining rooms split the bar and dining areas. Powdered blue walls were accented by a cluster of serving trays. Tangerine damask lamps and glassybaby votive candles lit the counter.
A vertical piano was in the back of the dining room and Casey MacGill entertained us with the rhythmic melodies of swing jazz.
Neutral walls and embellished pillars, I adore the simple elegance of the décor.
A functional chalkboard listed the specials in block writing.
Infused with bergamot, the Earl Grey martini was a zesty apéritif.
We shared terrine and toasts as appetizers. A slice of rabbit, pistachio and bacon terrine was paired with grained mustard and pickled rhubarb. My aversion of rabbit continues and I had one bite of the terrine spread on crostini.
A three by four grid of toasts were presented on a wooden paddle. From left to right: prosciutto, croque monsieur and pesto. My favourite was the pesto, molten Beecher’s Flagship and spicy pickled peppers.
Ms S had the rainbow trout with French lentils, ruby chard and lemon aioli which was pleasingly fresh.
A generous portion, the spaghetti carbonara was tossed with bacon, peas and topped with an organic egg yolk. Mr S twirled a forkful for me to taste and it was a robust pasta.
An apt dish for March, Ms LM’s lamb was braised in Guinness, on a pillow of mashed rutabaga, leeks and peas, and garnished with grated horseradish.
I ordered the crispy skin chicken thighs. The butterflied dark meat was well seasoned, and the cauliflower purée was creamy and sweet.
The second terrine of the meal was Valrhona chocolate with whipped cream and nut brittle.
Our dessert was a retro bread pudding with raisins soaked in Tuaca, a dollop of whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce.
Quality ingredients, cooked splendidly!
We only knew a handful of people when we moved to Seattle. Ms D-R, an Irish American, has been hospitable and introduced us to some of her friends. We joined them this month at Poppy for their restaurant club. The ‘host’ is rotated each month and is responsible for selecting the restaurant and booking a table.
At the Lake Union end of Broadway East in the gentrified neighbourhood of Capitol Hill, Poppy has a modern décor in a comfortable and spacious room. Birch toned with poppy accents and exposed brick walls; an open plan kitchen is lined with glass jars of herbs and spices.
I was early so I sat at the bar and sipped a glass of ‘Poppy hour’ Tempranillo and was entertained by the bar staff’s stories from the dining room. The menu was held upright with a wooden peg.
I was thankful the restaurant was moderately lit and the din was just a gentle hum.
There were about a dozen appetisers and the specialty was thali, an Indian meal. The definition of thali was printed on the front of the menu, ‘a round tray on which a variety of small dishes are served, all at once, to each guest’.
After we ordered I took a peek at the herb garden which is at the back of the restaurant. The wooden beds were full of thriving plants.
Our group shared the eggplant fries with sea salt and honey, and batata wada, potato fritters with cilantro lime sauce. The lightly battered batons were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
Batata wada were spicy balls of starch and the citrus sauce was refreshing.
There were various combinations of seven and ten item thalis and vegetarian options. Our patient waitress explained we could substitute and add components. I was starving and chose the ten item thali.
Clockwise from top: beet yoghurt soup with avocado cream, Swiss chard gratin (hidden), nigella poppy naan, roasted cauliflower with apple and dill, seared scallops with lentils, pickled onions and black pepper lime Hollandaise, radicchio salad, pickled Asian pear, persimmon salad, and Berkshire pork ribs with pear, chestnut and vanilla.
The salads of radicchio and persimmon were crunchy and zingy.
Ladled into a mini cup, the beet yoghurt soup had a concentrated earthy flavour.
Bite size cubes of pickled Asian pear were a palate cleanser. Charred and caramelised, the roasted cauliflower with apple and dill were mildly sweet.
I have an aversion to pumpkin and squash. Roasted, puréed or in a pie, I generally won’t eat it. I tasted a spoonful of the mashed delicata squash and was surprised by the smooth, spiced purée. The Swiss chard gratin was a favourite comfort food; the leafy nutritious greens were baked with bread crumbs until browned.
Two plump scallops were grilled and rested on a bed of lentils in black pepper lime Hollandaise sauce and topped with threads of pickled onions. The bivalves were well cooked, its briny freshness highlighted by the acidic garnish.
The chunky Berkshire pork rib was tender and fatty, and pear, chestnut and vanilla was a classic pairing with a twist.
Mr S swapped the Berkshire pork rib for wagyu coulotte steak. Grilled to medium rare, the richness of the premium marbled beef was tempered by the garlic chive and caper salsa verde.
We were too full to be tempted by the dessert thali!
Preceding All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Halloween isn’t observed in Australia. Some family neighbourhoods would have trick-or-treat for children but it’s not as commercialised as in America.
Pumpkins, candy and costumes. Decorative and carving pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and varieties were piled high into grocery stores, bags of candy and chocolate stacked the shelves of supermarkets, and feathers, sequins, glitter and taffeta were fashionable for one night only.
On All Hallow’s Eve, we avoided the ghoulish crowds by enjoying a civilised dinner at Pintxo. Pintxo, toothpick or skewer snacks, are a northern Spanish specialty.
The narrow street frontage has a view into the kitchen through the window. Although there is an exhaust extractor, the restaurant was a little smoky from the exposed kitchen. A blackboard divided the liquor bottles from the pantry items.
Modern art cluttered the walls and an ornate mirror enlarged the dining room.
We shared a carafe of sangria that was devoid of fruit except for a wedge of lemon as garnish. The wine punch was a refreshing accompaniment to the meal.
The first pintxo was bacon wrapped dates. Three morsels of medjool dates were stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon. It was an appetising sweet saltiness.
Three slices of toast were scattered with jamón serrano and topped with sunny side up quail eggs. It was a decadent combination of buttery ham and creamy yolk.
The second pintxo style dish was Moorish chicken skewers. Marinated in an almond and garlic spice rub and grilled, the skewers were served with Tunisian couscous, cherry tomatoes and tzatziki.
Macrina baguette was dipped in olive oil and a tangy salsa.
Cauliflower florets and halved cherry tomatoes were sautéed in garlic infused oil.
Beige in appearance, patatas and chorizo were braised in gravy until tender.
Speared by a bamboo stick, three citrus cinnamon braised pork sliders were smothered in chimichurri and doused in a balsamic reduction.
Similar to a crème brûlée, the crema Catalana had a caramelised sugar crust, and the custard was perfumed by cinnamon and lemon.
And lastly, the charred bread pudding with dulche de leche had the consistency of a dense cake.
Howls and sirens echoed through the night as I pondered why the dishes were in sets of threes.