Posts Tagged ‘dessert’
All of Tom Douglas‘s restaurants are in our neighbourhood. Seventeen months in Seattle and we’ve dined at each of them except for Palace Kitchen. Every time I walk by I remind myself that we must have a meal there. And I finally did last week! Located on the corner of 5th and Lenora, it is adjacent to Palace Ballroom and in the midst of a couple of construction sites.
At the centre of Palace Kitchen is the bar, and two dining rooms are to its left and right. Window panes slide open for fresh air on warm nights and natural light filters in on long summer days.
A jewel toned goblet of strawberry lemonade was garnished with a lemon twist. A second beverage of sour cherry fizz was tart and minty.
Shirley and I shared three courses. First was ‘plin’, a Piedmontese style ravioli, filled with roast pork and chard. The pinched pasta were in a puddle of sage and parmesan butter. I spooned the fragrant sauce over each of the cute al dente morsels. Next time I’ll order a side of bread to mop the plate!
Palace Kitchen is famed for their applewood grill. The chicken wings were golden and sticky, laced with an intense smokiness. A sea foamed coloured coriander cream tempered the succulent poultry.
A vibrate mound of lettuce was studded with spicy garbanzo beans, fava beans, chopped boiled egg, drizzled with herbed dressing, and dotted with sliced radish. It was a healthful salad, spicy and crunchy.
Our second salad was compliments of Chef Dezi. Fava beans from Prosser Farm were grilled and tossed with ‘extra virgin’ (first press) fish sauce, ricotta salata, mint, radish greens and marinated peppers. The charred pods of tender beans were exquisite, a luscious contrast to the peppery greens.
An oval dish of silky orange blossom panna cotta was topped with seasonal strawberries and a brittle pistachio wafer.
Tiered discs of malted chocolate milk cake and cream were paired with shards of cocoa rice crispies and a quenelle of chocolate crémeux. A decadent treat, this was malty, chocolaty, and redolent of Milo and chocolate crackles.
I shall not wait another seventeen months before I dine at Palace Kitchen again!
I like cooked vegetables. I grew up eating leafy greens sautéed in garlic and ginger, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, blanched lettuce steeped in oyster sauce, and stir-fried carrots and peas. Salads were not in my diet as a child.
As an adult I have learnt to appreciate the healthfulness of salads. Roasted beets, chèvre and pistachio. Arugula, pear, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar. Spicy Thai salad with nam jim dressing. These are on regular rotation at home.
I have a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi‘s sumptuous Plenty and having dined at Nopi earlier in the week so I was keen to visit the original Ottolenghi in Notting Hill. Located on Ledbury Road, a manicured hedge and distinctive red font marked the entrance.
Tiers of buttermilk scones, viennoiseries, cakes, cookies, tarts, cheesecakes and brownies were displayed at the front window enticing passers-by. Tuck your elbows in and shuffle sideways as the front room is narrow!
Platters of vibrant salads lined the counter. A daily menu is published in the morning and on this May day there were:
* Roasted aubergine, sorrel and wild garlic yoghurt, roasted cherry tomatoes, parsley and pine nuts
* Mixed green beans, shaved asparagus and peas with spinach, chilli, garlic, tarragon, lemon zest and chervil
* Chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic
* Roasted squash with green olive yoghurt, roasted red onion, mint, capers and sumac
* Cucumber, celery and radish with nigella seeds, coriander and mint
* Butterbean hummus with roasted red pepper, hazelnut, lemon and parsley salsa
* Red rice and quinoa with cranberries, lemon, fried onion, mixed nuts, herbs, radicchio and arugula
* Heritage carrots with cumin seeds, garlic, lemon, coriander, pea shoots, arugula and pomegranate
* Beetroot and poached rhubarb salad with gorgonzola, red onion, and mixed herbs and leaves
There were also a selection of mains:
* Seared beef fillet with watercress, whole grain mustard, horseradish and sour cream
* Beef lasagne
* Seared sesame crusted tuna with coriander, ginger, chilli and sweet chilli, soy, pineapple and spring onion sauce
* Roasted chicken marinated in yoghurt and honey with mixed spices, chilli and coriander
* Grilled salmon with artichoke, pink peppercorn, preserved lemon and parsley salsa
* Smoked bacon quiche with sautéed leeks, parmesan and thyme
* Roasted tomato quiche with caramelised onion, goat cheese and thyme
Bold, herbaceous flavours with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences, my eyes feasted on the mounds of fresh salads.
Packages of bread sticks and Madeleines, and tubs of roasted spicy nuts cluttered the register as impulse purchases.
Shelves along the short set of stairs were laden with trays of produce, bottles of olive oil, jars of house made sauces and loaves of bread.
Downstairs was an all-white dining room with a communal table and Panton chairs, and an espresso nook. A grand mirror the size of the back wall created an optical illusion that widened and brightened the basement.
Pots of jams and cubes of butter were on a rustic wooden board.
I sipped a coffee.
And nibbled on a decadent chocolate and hazelnut brownie.
I did not order any salads because I had a special lunch booked at The Ledbury but my morning tea at Ottolenghi was splendid!
Seattle was blessed with consecutive weekends of glorious weather. The feeling of sunshine on bare skin is so restorative and we had a serene afternoon at the Washington Park Arboretum and the Japanese Garden, strolling and gazing at the blooming trees.
We leisurely looped the arboretum and garden, and had afternoon tea at Belle Epicurean.
Located at the Madison Park end of the botanic gardens, the second café by Carolyn Ferguson is in a spacious slate building.
A marble counter and glass cabinet displayed sweet treats.
The décor is Parisian chic with panes of vintage mirrors, framed black and white prints, and replica Thonet chairs and stools.
A gleaming espresso machine dispensed Caffé Vita coffee and there was a wine menu by the glass.
There were cake balls wrapped in mint and fuchsia foil, Rolo tart, and slices of raspberry mousse cake, Alhambra cake, red velvet crunch cake, opéra cake and coconut crème cake.
In the perpendicular cabinet were flat discs of pastel macarons and jars of pistachio, vanilla, rose water and orange buttercream.
Pastries included pain au chocolat, orange scented brioche and croissants.
There were also lemon brioche buns with citrus confit and spiced almond brioche bostocks.
Mr S ordered le feuillette, a savoury tart. Black Forest ham, Gruyère and Mornay sauce were encased in a flaky brioche crust. The golden, molten mass was buttery and cheesy.
My coconut crème cake was baked with coconut milk, pineapple juice and rum. The layers of sponge and coconut cream cheese frosting were decadent and textured with shredded coconut. The tang of pineapple and the residual alcohol of the rum tempered the sweetness, it was an adult dessert!
Belle Epicurean Provisions was connected by a doorway.
A wall of square shelves cellared hundreds of bottles of wines.
Opposite was Belle Epicurean branded dessert sauces, and cake and frosting mixes, Riedel glassware and cookbooks.
Bars of Michel Cluizel chocolates of various cacao percentages tempted us.
The fridge at the back was a trove of gourmet and artisan aioli, butter, chutney, compote, soup base, tapenade, vinaigrette, and ‘take and bake’ croissant, brioche, puff pastry and tart.
Belle Epicurean is a French trio of café, pantry and wine store!
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.
Posted Monday 05 March 2012on:
Presented by Book Larder, the dessert party with Gail Simmons was held at the Palace Ballroom and coincided with the Top Chef season 9 finale on leap day. I love MasterChef Australia but I haven’t watched Top Chef so I was curious about Gail‘s memoir, Talking with My Mouth Full.
Banners of each chapter in cursive font and a symbolic illustration decorated the space.
The dessert menu was three chalkboards tied together with string.
Clockwise from top: schnecken, apple cake, derby tartlet, and chocolate meringue pie. The recipe of Tom Douglas’ grandmother, the schnecken was sticky sweet rolled and glazed pastry sprinkled with chopped nuts. Gail’s plum cake made with apple was scented and light. Chewy and nutty, the derby tartlet was a bite size treat. A pillowy twirl of burnished meringue rested on a chocolate filled crust, the mini pie was the highlight of the dessert party.
Rhubarb dump with crème Anglaise in a ramekin.
Both ladies listened to each other with intent and were animated in conversation. Gail’s mantra of ‘the harder you work, the luckier with are’ resonated with me.
Gail cited Survivor and Fear Factor as the stigma of the reality television genre when she filmed her first episode of the inaugural season of Top Chef in 2005. Many hours of footage from many cameras were edited for each show. Instead of applying a formula to the judging panel, their styles developed as a team.
Gail’s father was born in South Africa. He moved to Canada in the 60s and met her mother in Montreal on a blind date. Gail’s mother operated a cooking school out of her home kitchen and wrote a regular column for Canada’s national newspaper, The Global and Mail.
Gail graduated with a liberal arts degree with majors in anthropology (she ‘really likes monkeys’!) and Spanish (the language of kitchens). Gail wrote reviews of ‘ghetto’ restaurants for her university newspaper.
Her mother’s best friend, Linda, inspired Gail to enrol in culinary school to learn the science of cooking. Linda encouraged Gail to write down what she loves, and on the piece of paper was ‘eat, write, travel, cook’. Culinary school is a modern construct, and to speak and write ‘with authority’, she needed to know the subject.
In New York Gail worked for the esteemed Vogue food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten. Gail described her former boss as an extraordinary mind, a meticulous researcher and self-deprecating. It was ‘an education’ to be Steingarten’s assistant, a difficult job that has ‘opened doors’.
Gail recalled a dry aged meat experiment for an article where Steingarten left the meat on the counter to rot. Dry aging of meat is a calibrated process in a precise environment and Gail cleaned up the putrid meat with maggots before Steingarten returned from overseas!
Gail noted that physical strength is an attribute required in kitchens, it is gruelling manual labour to ‘execute a chef’s vision’. A key to success to knowing ‘when to keep mouth shut’! Gail emphasised the importance of goals and to be flexible with the path to achieve them.
As a judge she uses descriptive words (‘oozy’!) and assesses each dish objectively. She recommends Stephanie Izard‘s Girl and the Goat in Chicago, Spike Mendelsohn‘s Good Stuff Eatery in Washington DC and Harold Dieterle‘s Perilla in New York of the Top Chef contestants.
An audience question about Gail’s health was controversial. Amy stated that the question would not have been posed to a man. Gail responded that it is an ‘occupational hazard’. She tastes food in two or three bites, is attentive of her diet off camera, is active and while she is not American, she walks like a New Yorker!
Gail was gregarious and energetic, and I intend on reading chapter eight, ‘Alone with rotten meat: the Vogue years’, first!
Named after the owners’ son, the logo of a crown and lion’s head was prominent on a textured frame. The café was decorated in an eclectic style with chocolate walls and miniature Eiffel Towers dotted throughout.
Classic French techniques fused with Japanese influenced flavours to create intricate pastries.
On a tiered tray topped with a crown were guimauve (marshmallows), sablé (Earl Grey, sesame and matcha) and jams (peachy peach, and apple cinnamon and milk caramel).
On a crystal stand were glossy apple and banana Danishes streaked with chocolate.
Golden parcels of phyllo were dusted with powdered sugar.
An acrylic case protected the delicate rainbow macarons.
A couple of tables lined the wall and the counter seating had a candid view of the vacuum coffee makers with Lion’s father as the barista.
A vintage cabinet displayed the menu, and a dainty teacup and saucer.
We perused and purchased, the desserts carefully packed in a branded cardboard box.
Clockwise from top: mocha, chocolate and green tea. With a crispy crust and a chewy centre, the perfectly shaped macarons were ethereal.
Layers of coffee soaked sponge cake, ganache, buttercream and chocolate glaze, the opéra gâteau was exquisite.
We’re delighted that Lion’s parents are sharing their lovely pastries with us!
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!
Disclosure: I received a demo product from Duo PR. This is not a sponsored post.
I love desserts but rarely bake at home. A balance of precision and intuition, measurement and touch, it is both a science and an art. And I have neither the talent nor the patience to bake every week. When I do bake, I mostly make scones and biscuits (biscuits and cookies for Americans!), and sometimes banana bread.
Pears were in season and I bought a couple of Beurré Bosc pears with the SousVide Supreme Demi in mind. Sharone Hakman poached them in Zinfandel, dusted the halves with cinnamon and served them on a pillow of mascarpone at the SousVide Supreme event.
Peel, core and cube pears, and place into food grade plastic pouch. Pour in syrup and apply Archimedes’ principle to remove air from the pouch before zipping the seal. Cook in the water oven at eighty five degrees Celsius for twenty five minutes.
Perfumed by vanilla, the delicate flesh had an intense pear flavour that paired well with a scoop of ice cream.
I recommend using ripe fruit and adjusting the ratio of sugar in the poaching liquid, and pour yourself a glass of wine while preparing this non-baked dessert!
I did not know who Adam Gopnik was. I noticed he was going to be at both Book Larder and Town Hall Seattle, and the title of his new book, The Table Comes First, piqued my interest. An internet search listed Adam Gopnik as New Yorker staff writer, essayist and novelist.
A crowd gathered on a wintry Friday evening at Town Hall Seattle to listen to Adam Gopnik wax lyrical about ‘how we eat trumps what we eat’.
An affable and charming man, Gopnik read excerpts from his book, discussed the context of ‘family, France and the meaning of food’ and the language of gastronomy, and shared anecdotes of his trip to Spain.
He described food as the cypher to our morals and beliefs. He used the humorous example of sliced local zucchinis sprinkled with fleur de sel versus Ritz crackers spread with cream cheese to symbolise the political spectrum. Our obsession with food is in its nutrition and as entertainment, the human and historical context is missed. It is not just a need or function but it defines who we are. ‘Food is from the soil up, the book is from the heart down.’
Gopnik referenced Brillat-Savarin throughout his speech. France is where the key ideas about Western eating originated. ‘The table is a place where need becomes want, chew with molars and eat with minds.’
‘All primates love sweets.’ Honey and fruit were previously served during the meal but the table has tilted dessert to the end of the meal. Gopnik read extensively from his chapter on Spain. He spent time with Albert Adrià, Ferran’s brother. Being a pastry chef is not just techniques but about developing a library of flavours, and smell and taste sensations. Hot ice cream is the Holy Grail for the Adrià brothers! Tastes change over time. What we eat now would be ‘unappetising in 25 years, indigestible in 50 years and inedible in 100 years’.
Food is our deepest need and represents soft power, our sensory experience correlates with intellectual concepts. Gopnik quoted a letter written by a French resistance fighter and how he remembered the meals shared with his family, the ritual of the table. Gopnik pondered the phrase ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’. His response was ‘have cake, eat cake, savour it, remember it’.
Gopnik concluded that ‘cooking is faith that raw ingredients can turn into a meal’. And that wine is a prerequisite to food, for drinking water is a meal for prisoners. Cheers to that!