Posts Tagged ‘cinnamon’
The renovated Westfield is at the heart of the Sydney shopping district. Mirrors and polished metal feature throughout and the intersecting levels are just as confusing as the old one. Sydneysiders are shopping at the flagship stores and eating at the restaurants. From burgers to fish and chips, I love its interpretation of a food court.
On a gloomy morning I rolled up my jeans and splashed in puddles in flip-flops en route to Bécasse Bakery. Justin and Georgia North have relocated their two hatted restaurant to Westfield Sydney and expanded with a bakery and Quarter Twenty One, a restaurant, store, cookery school and catering business.
Conveniently positioned near the express escalator, Bécasse and Quarter Twenty One is on the left as you alight and the bakery is on the right. There is a long narrow window with a view of the bakers kneading, shaping, glazing and piping. An L shaped glass counter was lined with delectable sweet and savoury items.
A hessian sack and coffee beans on display.
From left to right: petit gateau opera, petit carrot cake, petit pistachio friand and pear tart.
From left to right: lemon tart, and banana and salted peanut brittle tartlet.
From left to right: gateau Saint Honoré, vanilla bean and passionfruit cheesecake, and mille feuille.
From left to right: pineapple and coconut muffin, gluten free brownie, and brioche flower.
From left to right: almond croissant, mixed berry danish and danish sultana snail.
Bread loaves and rolls.
Chocolate and hazelnut are a perfect pairing and a favourite of mine. The snail was dense and spread with a thick chocolate hazelnut paste.
The cinnamon sugar twist was fragrant and flaky. It was a delight to uncurl the pastry with sticky fingers.
I meandered across to Quarter Twenty One afterwards. The name is a reference to the purported weight of the human soul and Quarter Twenty One ’put our soul into the food we prepare’.
A glass wall and a row of bright lights flaunted the wine racks.
The store stocked a selection of local and imported artisan produce, house cured charcuterie and take-home meals.
We shall have a meal at Bécasse or Quarter Twenty One on our next trip home!
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.
The weather was spectacular in New York the days after Hurricane Irene. Cornflower blue sky and a gentle breeze was perfect condition for a long walk around Central Park.
I love the urban oasis in the middle of Manhattan, at the heart of the city. Locals run, cycle and walk their dogs, and tourists meander along the paths and follow landmark signs.
I strolled through The Mall and hummed Auld Lang Syne with the statue of Sir Walter Scott on my right and Robert Burns on my left, I paused at the expanse of Bethesda Terrace, and I leisurely looped around the tranquil Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.
Painted a pastel yellow, there is an espresso machine in the truck serving Intelligentsia Coffee and pastries are also available.
A message from the owners is printed in scrawling script on the side of the truck, espousing their ethos.
Neon Post-it notes flag the sold out flavours. My favourite, hazelnut, was unfortunately one of them. A chalkboard listed some intriguing specials – English tarragon, rosewater cardamom, basil black pepper and nectarine.
I ordered Earl Grey and cinnamon in a cup and found a table in the shade. While others munched on tacos from the adjacent food truck, I relished the cold sweet treat.
With the exception of an ice chip, the ice cream was smooth and rich. The Earl Grey had subtle hints of bergamot, and the cinnamon tasted like a doughnut.
Refreshed and cooled, I continued to explore Central Park.
Sous vide is synonymous with molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine. I know the basic concept is to poach food in vacuum sealed bags at a controlled temperature for consistent cooking, to retain nutrients and enhance flavours.
But sous vide has always conjured an image in my mind of scientists in stained lab coats and oversized goggles, distilling and decanting between technicolour beakers, with evil intentions.
Commercial sous vide machines are expensive and the SousVide Supreme was developed for the home kitchen. A local company, CEO Bob Lamson was optimistic that the seed has been planted for ‘Seattle to become the sous vide capital’ and to be at a leader of small appliances innovation, citing Nathan Myhrvold, Tavern Law and Crush as examples of Seattleites championing sous vide.
After much trial and error throughout the design and build process, the unit was rigorously tested by Heston Blumenthal before he launched it. The Fat Duck has more than seventy sous vide machines in its kitchen!
Bob extolled the quality of taste and texture of sous vide food, and stated that vegetables cooked sous vide is forty percent more nutritious than boiling and twenty percent more nutritious than steaming.
The water oven is easy to use and temperature can be set in Celsius (I still can’t convert °F!) or Fahrenheit. Ingredients and seasoning are vacuum sealed in pouches that can be prepared quickly, making it convenient and is also energy efficient.
There were many questions about what could be cooked in the SousVide Supreme. Meat, vegetables, fruits, stocks and cocktail infusions were all mentioned but the most decadent recipe was replacing the water with butter and cooking a whole lobster in it!
Bob shared with us an anecdote of a customer returning the product with a note declaring it the ‘worst deep fryer ever’. It’s not a Crock-Pot and it’s not a deep fryer! There is a perception that sous vide is complicated or hifalutin, and Bob was emphatic that it is scientifically proven to be a safe method of cooking.
Chef Sharone Hakman of MasterChef fame entertained us as he cooked a seven course tasting menu. He was engaging, amiable and knowledgeable. Sharone and the team from Duo Public Relations had been preparing the meals for several hours. We shared the dishes family style and there was an abundance of food!
Our first course was a refreshing wild hibiscus spritzer infused with raspberries and rose water.
The second course was wild king salmon with fennel, radish and turmeric butter. Succulent and flaky, the salmon was fresh and simple. Cooked sous vide and then braised, the wedges of fennel held its shape.
There were audible gasps when Sharone presented the 61 degree eggs, glossy and wobbling on a plate. A little jet lagged, I forgot to ask how the shells were peeled! The eggs were scooped on asparagus, drizzled with truffle oil and served with brioche croutons. Silky, crispy, crunchy, the textural combination was bursting with sunshine.
Chicken breasts were cooked sous vide and Sharone seasoned and seared them for presentation. Sliced and rested on pea purée and parmesan crisps, the chicken was tender and juicy. The highlight was the pea purée - vibrant in colour and taste, the sweetness contrasted with the salty cheese wafer.
Sharone displayed a tray of sous vide short rib with pride. The sliders are his favourite and the short ribs are marinated in his own brand of sauce, Hak’s BBQ.
Rich and sticky, the thick protein was tempered by the coleslaw. Perched on a stool far from the kitchen bench, I struggled eating this without making a mess! The chipotle bourbon sauce was scrumptious and I’m craving carnitas tacos with the gifted bottle of Hak’s BBQ sauce!
The final savoury dish was coffee and pepper crusted filet with fig infused Pinot Noir reduction.
Sous vide is ‘forgiving on the backend of cooking’ and the filet was evenly medium rare.
There was silent appreciation from the crowd as Sharone cut into each filet, the thick medallions of filet were a beautiful blush inside.
Rarer than I prefer my beef, I sampled a small portion and it pairs well with the fig and wine reduction.
As a child my mother would poach pears for me when I was ill. Warm and soft, they’re a healthy comfort food. Atop mascarpone, this adult version is poached in Zinfandel and dusted with cinnamon.
It was a fun, informative and delicious evening, learning and eating sous vide.
Sincere thanks to Myra Kohn for hosting, Bob Lamson for his insights, Sharone Hakman for his culinary expertise, and Duo Public Relations for organising.
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!