Posts Tagged ‘chèvre’
A group of friends gathered at 106 Pine for mid week wine and cheese. Next to Chocolate Box, both are boutiques specialising in Northwest goods. With adjacent entrances and a common wall with two gaps, the joie de vivre of chocolate, wine and cheese are intertwined.
A wooden table in the bay window was laden with Christmas themed gifts and wine paraphernalia. Recycled wine bottles are converted into bright lights.
I sampled the Chocolate Shop wine at Seattleite and Gilt City Seattle’s Fall Comforts Taste the Season at Wing Luke Museum a couple of months ago. It was a favourite of Naomi‘s, an infused red wine with an intense chocolate aroma.
A view into Chocolate Box and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.
A map of Washington State‘s American viticultural areas.
Bottles of wine lined neatly against the wall.
A long communal table is at the centre of the room. The bar separates a handful of cosy tables at the back.
It was a busy evening but service was efficient. The menu recommended wine flights, and wines are priced by full glass and tasting size. Flights of red wine were customised, and charcuterie and cheese platters were ordered to share.
From top to bottom: Mt Townsend Cirrus camembert, Beecher’s market herb curds, Rogue Creamery blue, Rollingstone Chèvre and Boat Street Pickles pickled raisins. Presented on a plank covered by parchment, the camembert was delightfully creamy, the curds squeaky, the blue mild, and the goat cheese delicate. I was the only one who nibbled on the mini bowl of pickled raisins which were appetisingly acidic.
A smiling Ms S said ‘wine and cheese, just like in France … I’m happy’!
I grew up in a household that weaned off salt over time. My parents cooked with it sparingly in a salt reduced diet that was advocated by dieticians and nutritionists. As adults we had the same shaker of supermarket brand iodised salt in our pantry for many years, its only purpose was to salt the water to boil pasta in.
A couple of evenings ago Myra gathered a group of food lovers for a salt themed potluck with Mark Bitterman. Owner of The Meadow and author of Salted, Mark was visiting from Portland and hosted a dinner at Spring Hill on Sunday.
I bought some leftover heirloom tomatoes at the TomatoFare for the bargain price of two dollars a pound. I made an insalata Caprese as my contribution to the potluck. Heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella and basil were layered, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with Murray River salt flakes.
There were a variety of salts at the potluck and each had a story. Some were favourites, others were gifts, and mine reminds me of home.
Carol brought this beautiful Himalayan pink salt crystal for display.
The Secret Stash vanilla salt was speckled and moist.
I love the cute Sugarpill container!
Chuck made his own applewood smoked Maldon salt with lemon thyme.
There were several salads and one other insalata Caprese. Darryl‘s was geometrically styled compared to my rustic approach!
Ashleigh‘s salad of heirloom tomatoes, chèvre and mint was a kaleidoscope of colours.
The soup of the evening was by Kristin, pumpkin soup with salted pumpkin seeds.
Hors d’oeuvres included a cocoa nibs studded chèvre log with applewood salt by Karen.
Bite size hickory smoked salt pretzels, a recipe in Salted made by Carol.
Charred and fanned out on a bamboo tray, Shirley grilled maitake mushrooms and shishito peppers.
She brought three types of Japanese salts to taste with the vegetables – wasabi salt, dashi salt and shichimi tōgarashi blended with salt.
Chuck assembled fresh farm cheese and sungold tomato jam crostinis with his own applewood smoked Maldon salt and lemon thyme.
These sticky nuts were salted orange blossom honey almonds by Lisa.
Kim baked a tin of salted cranberry and pistachio biscotti.
Carol’s second recipe from Salted was Himalayan pink salt brittle.
Nazila dipped vanilla marshmallows in chocolate with salt on top.
Carol made her signature alderwood smoked salt caramels.
We piled our plates with the delectable selection and ate as we listened to Mark, a James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner. An eloquent speaker, we were all mesmerised by his salt narrative. Salt is a ‘universal food, a defining ingredient of the world’s culinary traditions’. He described himself as a vagabond writer and a ‘ravenous and perennial eater’.
When he opened The Meadow, he felt all he was doing was putting contents of his basement into jars! Salt connects people and he stocks over one hundred varieties of salts in his store. They also sell flowers, chocolates and bitters.
He realised there was no original research on salt and its behaviour on food. Salt is a powerful flavour enhancer, a nutritional necessity and the only mineral we eat. It is not just a chemical, it is a substance made by hand.
The Meadow has recently opened a store in New York for retail customers, and they supply food manufacturers and restaurateurs.
Salt makers have an intimate relationship with nature, a deep understanding of complex conditions. Saltiness is modulated by the shape and size of the crystals. Salts have different moisture levels. Fleur de sel has about ten percent residual moisture and is resilient in food, it glistens as it dissolves to spark our palate. Eighty pounds of salt yields one pound of fleur de sel for a ‘luxurious, sensual experience’!
Japan has the most sophisticated and obsessive salt culture. To make takesumi bamboo salt, sea water is extracted from three thousand feet under the ocean, sprayed onto bamboo to dry and stirred continuously with a wooden paddle while simmering until evaporated.
Hundreds of millions of years old, Himalayan salt blocks can function as tableware or cookware. It’ll slightly cure sashimi or Carpaccio, and can be heated up for sautéing.
The ‘manifesto’ is the byline of his book and this is clear when he declared that kosher salt is a stainless steel cleaner! Kosher salt is a desiccating agent that extracts moisture. It is a refined chemical manufactured for industries and it is Mark’s ‘mission in life to eradicate kosher salt’.
Salted has three sections: the life of salt, a history; salt guide, varieties and profiles; and salting, techniques and recipes.
We concluded the evening with a peek inside his case of sample salts. Mark had a bottle of nigari, or magnesium chloride. At the Spring Hill dinner the attendees had experimented with droplets into bourbon, adding a complex bitterness.
So for Kate, salt is not just salt!
Sincere thanks to Myra for her hospitality, Mark for his insights, and the Seattle food community for a delicious and informative potluck!
My only visit to Seattle prior to moving here was during winter a couple of years ago. A fog blanket cocooned the city the entire three days and it was the coldest climate I’ve been in except for skiing.
On our first day we exited the hotel in search of coffee. Shivering and waddling in bulky clothes, we nearly crossed the street for Starbucks to escape the chilly wind. Thankfully Mr S spotted Belle Epicurean in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel and we shuffled inside for breakfast.
It’s a charming café and I have fond memories of sitting in the bay window, drinking giant (by Australian standard) cups of coffee and eating pastries.
A bell chimed as I opened the door to signal my entrance. Belle Epicurean was near empty for my late lunch. Most patrons ordered food and beverages to take-away.
Sparsely furnished with marble tables and lacquered chairs, the chequered floor enhance the Parisian feel. The walls are decorated with framed reviews and the owner’s Le Grand Diplôme from Le Cordon Bleu Paris.
There are trays of baked goods on display and a refrigerated section with a selection of delectable desserts.
I sipped on Perrier as I waited for my lunch order. My mother likes sparkling water and the distinctive emerald bottles were omnipresent in my childhood.
I was in need of comfort food. A wintery meal of wild mushroom soup and roasted beet salad was satisfying. Dotted with flecks of puréed chanterelle and porcini mushrooms, the soup was earthy and warming.
A mound of cubed beets and sliced onions rested on a bed of mixed greens drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. The salad was served with herbed chèvre crostini.
Each mouthful was a blend of sweet and acidic, a pleasant contrast to the creamy soup. Spread on a thick wedge of soft baguette, the molten goat cheese was fragrant and flavoursome.
Belle’s Buns was the genesis of the café. The owner, Carolyn Ferguson, sold these at her local farmers’ market before opening Belle Epicurean.
Brioche buns are the specialty of Belle Epicurean. There is a variety to choose from and I picked the mini cinnamon.
Tanned and tightly rolled with a dollop of cinnamon paste on top, the brioche had a light crisp shell and a buttery centre. A perfect size for a sweet addition to lunch!
Belle Epicurean was as chic as I remembered, and in a convenient location!
I have a vague memory of visiting the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, evidenced only by a souvenired exhibition guide. The temporary accommodation during our first month in Seattle was at the barren wasteland that is the west bank of Lake Union. Going into Downtown by foot necessitated a walk along Westlake, pre Amazon occupation. On those wintery mornings, I liked peering into the Tesla Store to admire the gleaming machinery. Sometimes I would stop and read the menu outside re:public, making a mental note to dine there.
I had read that re:public was now serving weekend brunch. Mr S was dubious of this as there are no hours or menu listed on the website. We compromised on Brave Horse Tavern as a backup option in the area. The South Lake Union neighbourhood has evolved in the six months we’ve been living in Seattle. It is now thriving with workers and restaurants. I noticed last week that food trucks were congregating in the car park near the corner of Harrison and Fairview.
re:public had an industrial chic feel with high ceiling, exposed air ducts and concrete floor. The televisions at the ends of the bar were on and there was a small crowd watching the Women’s World Cup final.
Mr S ordered the Dungeness crab omelette with asparagus, chèvre and arugula. I continue to be baffled by roasted potatoes at breakfast. Why not a slice of toast for the requisite carbohydrates? Is it merely to reduce white space on the plate? I digress. Chunks of crab meat, stalks of asparagus and dollops of goat cheese were cocooned in fluffy eggs.
I was intrigued by the duck confit crépinette. Served with a rösti and a sunny side up duck egg, the crépinette was a thick patty of duck confit. The flat and crispy rösti was the foundation for the rich disc of duck confit and a perfectly fried duck egg. Tender and gamey, it was a large portion of meat for breakfast. Thankfully a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice washed away the fattiness.
I’m happy that re:public has expanded to weekend brunch!
‘I don’t remember it being this steep’, I wailed. I’m oblivious to gradients when driving but you feel every degree when walking. We trekked up to Capitol Hill on a weeknight for a screening of Stephen Sondheim’s Company at the Egyptian Theatre. On a plateau opposite Cal Anderson Park is Cure, a small bar specialising in cheese and charcuterie.
A simple sign indicates the entrance to the bar and it’s a long and narrow space inside. There’s counter seating and bar tables at the back. A glass panel has the dual purpose of being a menu board and enclosing the charcuterie section where the cured meats are sliced.
It was a quiet place to recover from our walk as we sat and watched the playful action on the tennis and basketball courts across the park. Cure has a short menu with a selection of individual meats and cheeses, house plates, side dishes and specials.
The gentleman guided us through the menu and helpfully answered our questions. We ordered a customised trio house plate of culatello, lomo ibérico and queso patacabra, and the lemon, basil and garlic olives.
Garlic was the dominant flavour in the olives with hints of lemon and basil. We broke off shards of the sliced baguette to dip into the brine.
The menu described culatello as ‘the little backside, like prosciutto but better’. That is an emphatic statement to make to a prosciutto lover! I was sceptical of the claim, unwavering in my loyalty. Of a lighter hue than prosciutto, the culatello was delicate and tender. It had a similar melt in mouth feel to prosciutto but with a mellower taste.
Iberian pigs are fattened by a diet of acorns and the lomo ibérico, cured tenderloin, was meaty. A Spanish aged goat cheese, I found the queso patacabra to be a firmer texture and lighter flavour version of chèvre, a pleasant pairing for the cured meats.
This production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company with the New York Philharmonic was staged and filmed in April 2011. The stellar cast included Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Patti LuPone and Christina Hendricks. ‘Here’s to the ladies who lunch … I’ll drink to that!’
Mr L is a creature of habit. Every other weekend we would get a late morning phone call for brunch and Dahlia Lounge is a favourite of his. The original Tom Douglas restaurant, Dahlia Lounge is genuine and charming. Dimly lit booths create an intimate atmosphere in a large dining room, which is also a dismal environment for photos.
I had a delicious Asian breakfast dish here a couple of months ago but sadly it wasn’t on the menu. It was a noodle soup in a clear broth with ham hock and spring onions topped with a poached egg, and a mild chilli sauce on the side.
Predictably, Mr L ordered the eggs Benedict. The spring version had smoked pork loin, baby arugula and poached eggs on English muffin with horseradish Hollandaise and roasted potatoes. The smoked pork loin looked grey and drab but Mr L assured us it was tender and flavoursome.
Mr A opted for an omelette of sweet pea, Laura Chenel goat cheese and smoked ham with pork loin, biscuit and roasted potatoes. A lovely pale yellow colour, the omelette was beautifully cooked and filled with heady goat cheese.
French toast is a weakness of mine and I couldn’t resist this one with strawberry compote, Chantilly cream, almond clusters, maple syrup and bacon. Pan fried in butter, the bread was spongy with a crispy edge to soak up the compote and maple syrup. The piped Chantilly cream was delightfully airy.
For years, I equated French toast to the ‘western toast’ you get in Hong Kong ‘tea cafés’ where the bread is deep fried and served with a thick slice of butter and drenched in golden syrup. The golden hues are sometimes enhanced with oozing peanut butter in the middle. It is a rich and irresistible, albeit bastardised version of French toast.
I love Dahlia Lounge for its consistency and seasonal menu and will happily return again and again!