Posts Tagged ‘chorizo’
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.
Posted Wednesday 06 June 2012on:
Our home in Sydney had a small L shaped garden in the courtyard. The previous owners had planted tropical specimens that were coarse and prickly and it took many hours to dig out all the roots. We replaced the grotesque fluorescent plants with evergreen hedges and Japanese maple trees.
We had terracotta pots of herbs and vegetables which yielded produce sporadically. We had a stubborn lettuce that was determined to grow up so all we had were stalks and no leaves. The singular chilli we patiently cultivated was pecked at and spat out by a bird. But we did have an abundance of basil. My only gardening skill is watering. I was excellent at that!
The workshop is the bakery for all the Tom Douglas restaurants. Serious Pie Westlake is on the mezzanine level with a view over the commercial kitchen.
We were greeted with a rhubarb lemonade in a mason jar. Macerated rhubarb was strained and mixed with lemonade, a refreshingly tart beverage.
Our snacks were courtesy of Serious Pie. Buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce and fresh basil, and Penn Cove clams, pancetta and lemon thyme pizzas sated our hunger.
A stack of recipe cards were tied in a bow.
A cardboard tray of Prosser Farm vegetables had asparagus, oregano, Chinese cabbage and mustard green seedlings.
We gathered around Dev as he and chatted chatted with us about farming in Prosser.
We tasted a trio of greens. Clockwise from top: baby mustard greens, mustard greens and Chinese cabbage. The peppery red mustard greens contrasted with the grassy green variety.
An orange coriander vinaigrette was in a spray bottle. A spritz of the citrusy dressing on the red mustard green leaves alleviated the spiciness.
Dev peeled stalks of rhubarb with a paring knife which he reserved for colouring. The yoghurt and asparagus are from their neighbours. There are no asparagus on Prosser Farm as it requires space and takes three to four years for the crops to develop. The sheep milk yoghurt is from Mercer Sheep.
Thick and creamy, the piquant yoghurt balanced the mellow sweetness of the poached rhubarb. Tossed with crunchy asparagus spears, crisp green leaves and slivered almonds, it was a unique salad.
Dev foraged a handful of devil’s club for us to nibble on. There were murmurs as we considered the flavour. It was herbal, like juniper berries in gin. These can be eaten raw in salads or pickled.
Green garlic is straight and garlic scapes are curved. The former is young garlic and the latter are the stalks of garlic. Both have mild, dulcet notes that differentiate them from the pungency of garlic cloves.
These curious curls are fiddlehead ferns. The fronds have to be carefully cleaned, and can be blanched or seared.
We were surprised with chorizo made by former Harvest Vine chef Joseba Jimenez and they were smoky paprika morsels.
Dev explained that hard boiled just laid eggs are difficult to peel. The egg whites thicken after three days.
Coddled in 145 °F water for 35 minutes, the glossy eggs were gently cracked into individual bowls and briefly warmed.
Dev sautéed kale and green garlic, and spinach was wilted in stock.
The greens were puréed.
And simmered with brown butter, and cooled in an ice bath.
Mushroom slides and A ladle of green garlic broth were topped with a coddled egg. Luscious and healthy, the broth was the definition of spring.
Currently Prosser Farm is supplying 300 pounds of food to the Tom Douglas restaurants per week. It will peak at 1000 pounds in summer. There are quince, fig and peach trees on the property. Last year the restaurants did not have to purchase any tomatoes and only had to supplement lettuces. Next will be eggplant and peppers.
Dev answered all our questions with aplomb and recommended rhubarb leaves as rain shields!
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.
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Lane PR. This is not a sponsored post.
I like wine. A simple statement, yet meaningful. Moments in life are celebrated or commiserated with wine. Champagne flutes at weddings, a bottle of red to listen to a friend, decanters at dinner parties or a glass while cooking. Our ‘cellar’ in Sydney, a cupboard underneath the staircase, was partial to bold Australian reds and fruity whites. We were blessed with wine regions in each state and proximity to New Zealand. I considered French, Italian and Spanish wines as special and for restaurant wine lists as they tend to be expensive.
We have drunk more ‘foreign’ wines in the eight months we’ve been here than we did the last three years in Sydney. They’re affordable and of quality. We’ve sampled Piedmontese wines and learned about French wines from Gallic friends. My knowledge of Spanish wines was limited to Tempranillo and Pedro Ximénez so I was keen to attend the eighteenth annual Wines from Spain Great Match ‘featuring Spain’s vivacious varietals’ held at the Washington Athletic Club (WAC).
Leslie Sbrocco hosted a Rías Baixas (means lower estuaries) tasting. The Denominación de Origen (Denomination of Origin, DO) in Galicia is located in northwest Spain and there are five sub zones. It’s wet and lush in the Atlantic climate and the grapes are grown over pergolas for air circulation, to ripen the fruit and to prevent mildew. An intense minerality of the wines is from the granite in the area. Leslie noted that Albariño is a balanced wine that is flexible with food pairings. Local dishes such as roasted Padrón peppers, tetilla cheese (‘nipple’ cheese) and percebes (goose barnacles) are eaten with Albariño.
We tasted eight wines – five from the Val do Salnés sub zone, two from O Rosal and one from Condado do Tea. Of varying shapes, sizes and colours, the eight bottles are a reflection of the diverse culture of Rías Baixas!
From left to right: Condes de Albarei Albariño 2010, Burgáns Albariño 2010, Mar de Frades Albariño 2010, Albariño de Fefiñanes 2010, Laxas Albariño 2010, Valmiñor Albariño 2010, Santiago Ruiz Albariño 2010 and Pazo Señoráns Albariño 2010.
Wine glasses were placed on a numbered piece of paper. As we swirled, sniffed and sipped, Leslie talked us through each wine and the audience commented on the aromas and flavours. The Rías Baixas DO has 9,000 acres planted and 6,500 growers with half an acre being the average plot of land. Leslie quoted a grower that ‘it’s like a garden’. It is a mountainous topography with thick foliage.
My favourite was the Albariño de Fefiñanes, a vibrant and elegant wine from an old winery. The Mar de Frades Albariño has a thermo-sensitive logo of a ship that only appears on the label when the wine is chilled to a serving temperature of approximately 55°F. The label of the Santiago Ruiz Albariño is hand drawn by the owner as a map for his daughter’s wedding.
After tasting eight wines and only eating a couple of thin slices of baguette, I was in need of food to absorb the alcohol before the main tasting. A handful of clothed tables were decorated with a bowl of spiced Marcona almonds and a saffron coloured Dahlia.
Tiered platters of charcuterie had a selection of cheeses and cold cuts including Manchego, tetilla, jamón serrano and chorizo.
A large salad of greens, tomatoes, corn, Manchego, red onions and vinaigrette was fresh and tangy.
The tortilla de patatas is a soothing wedge of comfort food and I devoured the Spanish omelette with potatoes and onions.
Bain-marie stations had spicy chicken empanadas, and bamboo skewers of marinated and grilled scallop, salmon and halibut.
Albondigas, meatballs in tomato sauce, were neatly lined in a tray.
A spoonful of paella was topped with saffron seared scallop.
I was so happy there was lamb. Seasoned with garlic and parsley, the lamb chops were tender and juicy, and slightly pink in the middle.
Nourished and hydrated, I walked a couple of laps of the Crystal Ballroom. A beautiful bouquet was the centrepiece.
Hundreds of WAC branded wine glasses were gleaming.
A grand room lit by chandeliers, it was buzzing with wine lovers.
I spotted Salty Seattle who introduced me to The GastroGnome. We drank merrily, and had convivial conversations with representatives from Lane PR, Embassy of Spain and Trade Commission, and Wines from Spain.
The highlight was the Conde de Valdemar Reserva 2005 and Gran Reserva 2004, both spicy and rich Tempranillo. The terms Reserva and Gran Reserva are governed by law in Spain, stipulating a minimum period of aging in barrel and bottle.
It was a fun afternoon and I can now select Spanish wines with some confidence.
Weekday lunch with Mr S is a rarity so we make an effort when our schedules align. Already late for the Mariners game, we walked briskly to Built Burger hoping for a quick meal. We nearly missed it as there is no sign on its frontage, identifiable only by a sidewalk board.
Painted blue and white, the interior is plain and narrow with two rows of tables and chairs. The focal point of the space is the ordering counter framed by a vintage banner of a boy yelling ’we want beef’ into a megaphone.
On one side of the wall is a Built Burger poster advertising their online store.
On the other wall is the Built Burger guarantee, the standard menu and the specials chalkboard. The burgers are creatively named and there are tasting plates of sliders and sides available.
I shuffled back and forth as we queued. The group before us were taking their time ordering, with questions about every item. Murphy’s Law!
The dining room was sparsely occupied. As we watched the kitchen we reminisced about our first baseball game, a New York local derby. We caught the Subway there and back, snacked on hot dogs and it reminded us of cricket.
As we were in a hurry, it felt like a relatively long wait for our burgers. Mr S chose the Magnificent Chorizo which was a patty of Mexican chorizo, beef and roasted poblano peppers served with Cotija and cilantro lime slaw. It was a small and juicy burger but I couldn’t detect a distinct chorizo flavour in the bite I had.
We shared a side of hand cut fries with horseradish mustard which were a little oily and limp, although the condiment was deliciously pungent.
I selected the 21 Gleason special burger with a thick grass fed beef patty, roasted garlic aioli and arugula wedged between toasted brioche. This was a simple burger that highlighted the quality of the meat. The buttery brioche, peppery arugula and mild aioli combined well with the tasty chunks of beef.
We left satisfied and ready for our second baseball game but we were not as enthused as the cartoon man!
There is a homeliness to buffet style dining, an openness and a warm welcome to eating together. The toppings bar at Portage Bay Café has a similar feel. A popular spot for weekend brunch, it was nearly as busy for weekday breakfast. Vintage rowing boats are suspended upside down from the ceiling in the large dining room and the staff wears black t-shirts emblazoned with their philosophy, ‘eat like you give a damn’.
Omelettes, scrambles, Benedicts, hashes, combos, French toasts, pancakes and grains – it is a comprehensive menu! Service was brisk but friendly and we quickly ordered. Portage Bay Café is a lively place – the wait staff pace back and forth, weaving between the tables and benches of a diverse crowd.
The toppings bar is a hive of activity on weekends with parents navigating children between the fruits and nuts. I was alone on this weekday, leisurely selecting berries. The centrepiece among the red, yellow and purple hues was an overflowing mount of whipped cream – I wonder how many spoons have been lost in those fluffy clouds.
Ginger is an essential aromatic in my parents’ cooking. I grew up with it julienned on whole steam fish, grated in dipping sauces and sliced in soups, and yet I’ve developed an aversion to it as an adult.
I ordered the oven baked French toast with trepidation. The house made bread is soaked overnight in ginger and blackberry custard, then baked, sliced and griddled. Three thick soldier slices were drizzled with crème anglaise and I added raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries from the toppings bar.
I would have enjoyed the French toast without the ginger. Browned on the outside and moist and spongy on the inside, it paired well with crème anglaise instead of maple syrup. Unfortunately I found the ginger too overpowering and had to swap with Mr S.
Mr S had the chorizo scramble and it was a large serving of house made chorizo, organic bell peppers and tomatoes scrambled and topped with queso fresco, sour cream, salsa and green onions. On the side was a warmed flour tortilla and roasted red potatoes. It was a fun meal to eat by hand, using the tortilla to scoop up the sausage and eggs but the cheese and salsa required fork assistance.
Absent of the hovering weekend crowds, Portage Bay Café is relaxed and comfortable during the week for a before work breakfast, mid morning snack and coffee or business meeting.