Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’
Coffee art at Strand Arcade in Sydney.
Bacon and egg breakfast sandwich at Mr Stuzzichini in Hunters Hill Sydney.
Burrata and beet salad at Pendolino in Sydney.
A country lunch at Grazing in Gundaroo.
Scones at The Old Bakery Tea Rooms in Berrima.
Lunch at Vessel in Downtown Seattle.
Chocolate tasting at Northwest Chocolate Festival.
When I’m in a lift I have a tendency to exit at the next floor the door opens. Each level of my work building in Sydney was painted a different colour so it was discombobulating when I’m in the foyer of the wrong one.
Here in Seattle I’ve inserted a key into the wrong apartment and panicked when it wouldn’t turn. I looked at the number and realised I was three floors above home. I gasped, stumbled and ran down the stairs. And I counted the number of floors.
When Marisa was driving us to dinner at Gainsburg we took the scenic route. We were happily chatting until we crossed the Fremont Bridge and not the Aurora Bridge. We were going in the direction of Greenwood, and thankfully American blocks are perpendicular and numbered so our absentmindedness was easily rectified.
The exterior is ominously clad in black, a ‘dining room and cocktails’ sign beckoned.
It was dark inside. Amber lights diffused a sepia tone and the furniture was in moody shades of red and brown.
We perched on stools at the counter and quizzed the affable chef on the menu.
An ornate plate of charcuterie consisted of coppa, porcini ham, smoked duck breast, olives, cornichons, bread and mustard.
A pot of macaronis et fromage was served with a side salad. Molten Gruyère and Brie were stirred into penne seasoned with roasted garlic and thyme.
A narrow baguette was stuffed with slices of duck breast and brie, caramelised apple and fennel, arugula and Dijon mustard, and served with frites.
The cheesecake du jour was salted caramel. A fluffy cheesecake with a thin biscuit base, the saltiness was balanced by the drizzle of glossy caramel on top.
Layers of spongy chocolate cake and satiny fudge were an opulent dessert.
Appetites satiated and enriched by conversations, we returned across the Aurora Bridge and I alighted the lift on my floor!
Posted Thursday 09 August 2012on:
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Starbucks. This is not a sponsored post.
The first coffee I drank was from Starbucks. It was early morning and I was bleary eyed when I entered a Starbucks in Sydney and ordered an iced mocha. Espresso. Chocolate. Milk. Ice. Its cold sweetness was jolting, the caffeine sharpened my senses. Thus I welcomed coffee into my life, a daily embrace with a chocolaty, milky beverage that focuses my mind.
A proud Seattle company, Starbucks pilots new concepts such as Starbucks Evenings here. Stores such as Olive Way and Terry and Republican have pioneered an after 4pm menu of wine, beer and small plates. ‘Drop in after work, with friends, after yoga, by yourself, after a long day or after a great day’ for an apéritif or digestif from your friendly barista!
Located in the Amazon hub at South Lake Union, Terry and Republican is a lively Starbucks. About half a dozen tables are in the sunken courtyard.
A sign advertised Starbucks Evenings with a sketch of a wedge of cheese, a wine glass and a beer bottle.
A radiant sun: coffee, tea, pastries and sandwiches. A crescent moon: red wine, white wine, small plates and desserts.
The interior is spacious and modern with exposed ducts, cement pillars, wood panelling and industrial lights. Floor-to-ceiling windows brightened the muted tones. The Starbucks logo is spray-painted on a wall made from salvaged bicycle tires.
As you wait for your coffee you’re reminded of Starbucks Evenings with more chalkboard art.
We were seated behind the counter and we peeked through the open shelves to the nimble baristas and crowd of patrons.
We perched on stools and were greeted with Starbucks designed Riedel glassware, a glass of ‘refreshing’ Villa Sandi Prosecco DOC Treviso Il Fresco from Italy topped with a petite bowl for spiced pepitas.
Each glass is etched with a whimsical saying such as ‘take a moment or three’ and ‘permission to relax’. We also sampled a ‘crisp’ Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon, ‘fruity’ Rosa Regale Brachetto from Italy and a ‘full-bodied’ Bergevin Lane Syrah She-Devil from Columbia Valley.
A bowl of rosemary and brown sugar cashews were warm and crunchy.
A wedge of triple cream blue brie was paired with walnut cranberry bread and fig preserves.
Deglet Noor dates were stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon. A drizzle of piquant balsamic glaze tempered the decadent morsels.
An oval flatbread of marinated artichoke hearts, red peppers, dry Jack and goat cheese was appetisingly spicy.
A bouquet of vegetable spears was served with a pot of smoky chipotle hummus. I munched on the plain crudités as a palate cleanser between the small plates.
Two tender skewers of panko and Parmesan crusted chicken were dipped in a tangy honey Dijon sauce.
Truffle macaroni and cheese was in a shallow dish to maximise the surface area of the golden herbed Parmesan breadcrumbs.
The pièce de résistance was the chocolate fondue. A cookie tray was filled with luscious dark chocolate. Threesomes of madeleines, marshmallows and strawberries were the perfect shapes for plunging into the viscous pool with our fingers.
Ms D-R and I lingered for a while afterwards, enjoying the ambience and discussing gathering friends for Starbucks Evenings.
The main meal of the day, taken either around MIDDAY or in the EVENING.
A formal evening meal, typically one in honour of a person or event.
From Old French disner
I’m a frequent snacker. I enjoy long, leisurely meals but at home I munch on McVitie’s, fruits, nuts and muesli bars throughout the day. It’s both sustenance and habit.
With a 9:45pm reservation for our anniversary dinner, I had to prepare for a late night meal. I had a substantial lunch, potato crisps from the minibar and a Kind bar in the afternoon, and napped prior to going to the Mandarin Oriental for Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. We waited for our table at the bar with a glass of wine and nibbled on a bowl of rice crackers in a lively atmosphere.
Dinner is the younger sibling of Heston Blumenthal‘s famous The Fat Duck. It has one Michelin star and debuted at number nine, the highest new entry, on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Named for ‘British quirky history and linguistic playfulness’, Dinner’s menu is a homage to traditional recipes cooked with modern techniques and local ingredients.
An elegant dining room with a panoramic view of Hyde Park, chocolate furniture and ivory walls complemented the high ceiling.
Clusters of jelly moulds made whimsical lights on pillars.
Nearing 10pm and feeling hungry, I was delighted to nibble on complimentary bread. I love the succinct menu in the format of dish, year originated, components and price.
Circa 1730, the hay smoked mackerel was garnished with lemon salad and gentleman’s relish, and drizzled with olive oil. The greens tempered the pungent, oily fish.
A couple of seasons ago MasterChef Australia contestants had to replicate several of Heston Blumenthal’s signature dishes and I was fascinated by meat fruit, circa 1500. A sphere of chicken liver parfait is dipped in glossy mandarin jelly. I discarded the authentic stem, and cut into the skin and flesh of the meat fruit. Spread thickly on grilled bread, the silky smooth parfait was tinged with citrus notes. It was soft and rich, best shared with the complimentary bread.
The Hereford ribeye, circa 1830, was the star of the plate. A tender cut, the beef was seasoned and perfectly medium rare.
The steak was paired with triple cooked chips and mushroom ketchup. Crunchy and luscious, the chips were starchy batons of joy.
Our waiter explained that umbles are offal and the phrase ‘eating humble pie’ is derived from the medieval specialty of umble pie. Morsels of umbles dotted the powdered duck breast, circa 1670. Portions of succulent duck and supple confit fennel were in a pool of savoury jus.
Fresh and bright, a side of green beans and shallots was the requisite vegetable.
On a wooden board was a Staub cocotte of brioche and a strip of spit roast pineapple. Circa 1810, the tipsy cake was ethereal and aromatic. Sweetly caramelised, the tropical fruit was a textural contrast to the custard soaked brioche.
We had watched the nitro ice cream trolley being wheeled from couples to groups all evening and I gleefully replied ‘yes please’ when asked. Liquid nitrogen is poured with a flourish and the handle cranked to churn the vanilla ice cream. Scooped into a dainty thin sugar cone, the ice cream was dipped in a selection of toppings. The freeze dried raspberries had a concentrated flavour and the popping candy was fun!
Our celebration concluded with chocolate ganache and caraway biscuit, courtesy of the chef with exquisite penmanship.
It was midnight, and patrons lingered at the restaurant and bar as we exited into the cold London spring, contented by the Heston Blumenthal experience.
I had noticed construction at Westlake Woodwerk several months ago. I always peeked into the wooden toy workshop when I walked by where the craftsmen working by the window in the natural light. The owners of Eurostyle Your Life has opened Café Suisse in the space.
I had visited Switzerland once when I was a child and our couple of days there coincided with their national day. There was much flag waving and cowbell ringing! Colourful tassels decorated the leather strap of a large gold cowbell on the door of Café Suisse, a traditional Swiss greeting!
Café Suisse is cheerful and welcoming, cloches of baked goods displayed on the counter.
Glass tiers were stacked with Swiss treats and homeware from Eurostyle Your Life.
Diminutive by name, we were tempted by the selection of dainty petits fours.
The macarons were from MistralKitchen.
A happy cow guarded the tip jar.
Westlake Woodwerk now occupies a room at the back of the café with a view through a window in the shape of the Swiss cross.
We perched on felt stools, sipped coffee and had a leisurely afternoon. A tiny oblong had layers of ganache, a delicate chocolaty morsel. A complimentary piece of Douceurs des Cimes gianduja tasted like Nutella.
The back wall was covered with vintage Swiss tourism posters, and shelves were laden with chocolate bars and Swiss paraphernalia.
A short corridor connected Café Suisse to Eurostyle Your Life.
Eurostyle Your Life stocks a curated collection of bags, homeware, accessories, interior décor, toys and games.
I spotted a copy of Miroslav Sasek’s This is Australia.
Café on the right, shopping on the left!
It was a blissful afternoon of shopping in Portland. Alder & Co., Canoe, Flora, Hive and Woonwinkel were a modern collection of stores with curated homeware, jewellery, artworks and furniture. The contemporary aesthetics and stylish designs were stimulating! We re-caffeinated at Caffe Allora and joined the queue at Ken’s Artisan Pizza for dinner.
We were seemingly banished to wait at the back of the restaurant in the Bermuda Triangle of the dishwashing nook, an iron rack of logs for the wood fire oven and the bathrooms. I was surprised by a sprig of eucalyptus flower, leaves and gumnut at our table. I admired the vibrant hue as we sipped wine and whiled away two hours.
The wood fire oven is at the front of the restaurant where all the pizzas were made.
Paola‘s family serendipitously arrived as we were seated. It was nearly nine o’clock on a Friday night and Ken’s was buzzing.
Myra recommended the wood oven roasted vegetable plate. We ordered quickly as we were hungry and two of us were returning to Seattle afterwards. Clockwise from top right: carrots, chard, porcini and Asiago Vecchio; white runner beans, artichokes and tomato sauce; and polenta, kale, red pepper, almonds and chilli sauce. Tender and mellow, it was a requisite serving of vegetables.
We shared three pizzas. Ken’s crust was puffed and charred, a chewy dough that was sturdy support for the pizza toppings. The fennel sausage, onion, tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and hot Calabrian chilli pizza was spicy and bold.
I’m ambivalent to bacon but the guanciale pizza was a crispy homage to cured meat.
Last was my beloved prosciutto with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Generous ruffles of prosciutto di San Daniele were unctuous and sweet.
A creamy chocolate custard concluded our day in Portland. Paired with a quenelle of cream and studded with hazelnut crunch, the terracotta bowl was emptied with the assistance of an adorable mademoiselle!
Portland, we will return!
My previous attempts to visit The Meadow in Portland and New York were cancelled by illness and foiled by Hurricane Irene. I was enchanted by the charismatic Mark Bitterman at a potluck last year and had imagined The Meadow as a quaint boutique. Located on the hip Mississippi Avenue in Portland, The Meadow is a purveyor of salts, chocolates, wines, bitters and flowers.
A chalkboard, pails of flowers and stacks of Himalayan salt blocks framed the mint window sill.
The view of The Meadow through the doorway.
A rustic wooden table was laden with mixed vases of vibrant flowers. Their floral fragrances scented the whole room.
A printed missive stated ‘throw away your table salt’. Mark is an advocate for artisan salts.
A wall of shelves was full of glass jars with azure labels. There were sections of curing salts, flake salts, fleur de sel, Hawaiian salts, Italian salts, Japanese salts, Korean salts, rock salts and sel gris.
The salt starter set, left to right: fleur de sel, sel gris Noirmoutier, Maldon, black diamond, Molokai red and Kauai guava smoked.
The Meadow salt set, left to right: Pangasinan star, sel gris, Marlborough flaky, amabito no moshio, haleakala ruby and Halen Môn gold.
Peppers, infused salts, smoked salts, and salt and pepper mills.
Salt accoutrements displayed on Himalayan salt blocks.
Neat rows of wine were at the back of the store.
Colourful bottles of bitters were behind the counter.
A curated collection of chocolates.
The Meadow stocked a variety of local and international chocolates and caramels.
I spotted this cute tin of sardine shaped chocolates.
Individual chocolate bars and salted caramels tempted patrons at the register.
My purchases, clockwise from top right: François Pralus Mini Tropical Pyramid, ceramic bowl and pewter spoon, Paris Caramels with Charentes-Poitou butter, Pineau des Charentes and fleur de sel, Sahagún Almond Bergamot, and Santander semi dark chocolate bar 53% cacao.
I only have six French salted caramels left!
This is a belated final post of my trip home in November. It’s been just over three months since I was in Australia and in that time we’ve had our first full winter in Seattle. There’s been plenty of rain, snow, sleet, wind and hail. But there have also been enough glorious days to sustain us through the darkest and wettest of the Pacific Northwest season. Sydney has suffered a drenched summer with mild temperatures and we experienced the prelude during our two weeks there. Thankfully our last day in Sydney was a lovely souvenir, a sundress and bare limbs day.
We walked to The Star in the afternoon to complete number five.
We have been loyal patrons at Adriano Zumbo since it opened in 2007. His sweet treats have special meaning for us as the talented and passionate pâtissier made our wedding cake (croquembouche) and desserts (macarons in four flavours). The original Balmain patisserie is a narrow room with a glass counter displaying his whimsical creations where the queue was regularly out on the footpath. He has since expanded to several locations and the one at The Star greeted us with a radiant neon pink sign.
The concept store has a patisserie on the left and a dessert train on the right which was closed on Sunday.
Each year Adriano Zumbo celebrates his birthday with Zumboron Day. This year there were sixty flavours of macarons!
A sample of each flavour was lined along the window to tempt us. Left to right: finger bun (Australian iced bread), fried chicken, and gin and tonic.
Left to right: liquorice, Margherita pizza and mandarin.
Left to right: toasted marshmallow, vanilla ecstasy and Vegemite.
The interior of the patisserie was bright and funky. Desserts in cone stands enticed passers-by, a bathtub was topped with high tea tiers and Zumbo, Adriano’s cookbook, and the table has purple shoes!
A 360 degree view of each dessert with a description card.
Ovens warmed savoury quiches, pies and sausage rolls.
Peach boxes encased seasonal macarons.
‘In case of emergency break glass’ for sugar hit!
I heart Zumbo.
The stainless steel kitchen with containers of ingredients.
Trolleys of macarons for Zumboron Day.
Man Goes Peanuts: peanut butter crunch, mango compote, mango burnt honey mousse and pain d’épices. Peanut butter and mango were a curious combination in this layered and textural dessert.
Tarte aux fruits de la passion: passionfruit curd and pâte sucrée. The passionfruit tart and opera gâteau are my favourites at Adriano Zumbo. A glossy two toned disc was studded with passionfruit seeds, a perfect balance of luscious piquancy.
We savoured our last night in Sydney with a bottle of Champagne and macarons.
Our cache of of macarons: butterscotch caramels, chocolate orange, cinnamon doughnut, coffee, pandan and coconut, passionfruit and yoghurt, rice pudding, salted butter popcorn, toasted marshmallow, and vanilla ecstasy.
These colourful jewels were a sentimental farewell to Down Under.
My beloved Sydney, I miss you dearly.