Posts Tagged ‘duck confit’
Posted Thursday 29 March 2012on:
I was thrilled that the first Little Taste of the Dahlia this year was duck. I’ve never cooked duck at home and was keen to learn the basic skills of the game.
With crimson walls and amber lights, the Dahlia Lounge had a sultry feel. The dining room was set for the evening service.
The event was held in the private dining room, divided by sliding opaque glass panes.
Dahlia Lounge menus were creatively recycled as booklets with the duck and wine menu printed on the back, and blank pages for notes.
Beverage director Adam Chumas matched the duck dishes with 2008 Château Grande Cassagne Grenache Syrah Costières de Nîmes (right) and 2009 Selbach Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling (left).
Groups were seated at round tables and couples at bar tables. Our attention centred on Tom Douglas and Dahlia Lounge Chef Brock Johnson. The employer and employee was an entertaining pair. Duck has been on the menu since Dahlia Lounge opened more than two decades ago. It’s Tom’s favourite ingredient and he ‘would pick Chinese barbecue duck (烤鴨) over Texas barbecue any day’!
Pekin duck is native to China and Muscovy duck originated from South America. Restaurants cannot serve wild game and local ducks can be expensive. There was a discussion on the definition of local. Tom explained that the animals may be farmed locally but the butchering and packaging are often centralised. It may be branded and marketed as meat from Willamette Valley but the reality is it was processed in California.
A jar of duck liver mousse was sealed with rhubarb jelly. I spread a thick layer of the silky mousse on a slice of bread. Its intense, rich flavour was heightened by flecks of sweet jelly.
Tom commentated while Chef Brock demonstrated how to confit a duck leg, an ancient method of preserving. Rubbed with a herb salt as a dry brine overnight, the leg is then rinsed, submerged in rendered duck fat and slow cooked in 180°F for twelve hours. A five pound duck yields two to three cups of fat. It can be strained, frozen and reused.
The second course was duck confit with duck fried potato. A tumble of shredded meat was atop a halved fingerling potato.
Chef Brock expertly separated the breasts from a whole duck. The skin was scored, seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme, and pan fried on medium low heat. Tom emphasised it is better to err on lower heat. One of the ‘lost techniques of cooking is warmth’, once the stove is off, the residual heat will continue to cook. Rest for at least ten minutes, sprinkle with fresh thyme and the duck breast is ready to serve.
Dolloped with cherry preserve, the slice of Muscovy duck breast had a sliver of crispy skin attached.
Dahlia Lounge roasts an average of thirty ducks on the rotisserie per day. The Dahlia duck is stuffed with aromatics, wing tips clipped and trussed in slits of its skin. Tom recommended 425°F for half an hour and 325°F for forty five minutes in a home oven.
Our final course was the famous Dahlia duck bun. Similar to the versions at Momofuku Seiōbo and Wild Ginger, the tender duck was wedged in a soft bun with mandoline cucumbers, a squirt of hoisin sauce and a spring of coriander.
My appetite was subdued by a bout of laryngitis but the duck morsels roused my palate!
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Allan Aquila. This is not a sponsored post.
sozo (so·zo) – noun
To save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction. To save a suffering one from perishing, to make well, heal, restore to health.
Sozo is an artisan winemaker that selects quality grapes from vineyards to craft their own blends. The company partners with not-for-profit organisations to distribute a portion of sales to assist those in need. Each bottle of wine has a medallion affixed to its label to indicate its contribution to Sozo’s commitment to the community. For example, ’5 lives’ is equal to five meals supplied by local food banks.
Winemaker Cheryl Barber-Jones collaborated with Chef Peter Jahnke on the wine pairings for the five course tasting menu.
The first course was pear, caramelised onion and St André tart, and Sozo Humanity Riesling. Amber and flaky, the tart had a delicate sweetness that was accentuated by the mellow Riesling.
A generous fillet of salmon perched on a mound of mushroom risotto, and Sozo Potential Pinot Noir. Averse to fish skin, I gently peeled it from the perfectly cooked flesh. Both the salmon and creamy rice was well seasoned.
The third course was duck confit with lentils, and Sozo Abundant Mourvèdre Syrah Blend. I love duck but unfortunately this was a little dry and lacked the sumptuous texture of confit meat. Traditionally coupled with Pinot Noir, the Mourvèdre Syrah was a delightful match with the game.
Abundant Mourvèdre Syrah Blend, one of four Sozo wines sampled.
The penultimate dish of braised beef with blueberry barbecue glaze, polenta and kale, and Sozo Generosity Syrah Tempranillo Blend was my favourite of the evening. Tender chunks of slow cooked beef were atop luscious polenta and wilted kale.
We concluded with an affogato. A single shot espresso and a scoop of espresso gelato was presented in a coffee cup. The espresso and vanilla ice cream are served separately in a classic affogato. The caffeine and sugar were appreciated after four diverse savoury courses that highlighted the Sozo wines.
Charmed by the smooth Riesling, Mrs W and I both purchased a bottle.
We were gifted a bag of Yemen Mocca Sanani as we exited into the crisp night.
Sozo is on the wine list of more than seventy restaurants in Seattle. Next time you dine out, consider this socially responsible winemaker!
It snowed in Whistler on Christmas Day and I loved it. Snowflakes zigzagged gently from the sky and dusted every surface. I was delighted with my first white Christmas. The powdered slopes were serene and the magic carpet was quiet. We skied in the morning and relaxed in the afternoon.
Survivor like torches guarded the entrance of the restaurant.
A cascade of glass globes were strung together as a sparkling chandelier.
The interior was warm and welcoming. On the far left was a champagne bar and Belvedere Ice Room. The main dining room was buzzing with families and friends celebrating Christmas. We were seated at a table with a view of the busy kitchen. Service was traditional fine dining style with a cocktail cart, sommelier and a plethora of staff.
Enticed by the cocktail cart, we ordered apéritifs as we composed our three courses. The bartender was a little absent minded. Ms S asked for recommendations for a refreshing cocktail and he referred her to the menu. Intrigued by dehydrated beer as an ingredient, Mr L ordered a Caesar. Unbeknown to our group of Australians, Caesar is a Canadian cocktail with Clamato juice which was not listed. We had the same expression after one sip each and it was abandoned.
An amuse bouche of salmon tartare whetted our appetite.
My first course was arctic char. From left to right: gravlax and celeriac, tartare and blini, and smoked and sorrel. Similar texture and milder flavour to salmon and trout, the morsels were perfectly paired.
Photographing was a challenge in the dim lighting! Ms S selected the Pemberton beets and carrots with shaved ricotta salata, spicy greens and white balsamic. It was artistically presented and I sampled a lump of white beet which was sugary.
The gentlemen had the wild mushroom soup with truffles. Poured at the table, the soup was a thick liquid with an earthy aroma.
A tangy citrus granita was the palate cleanser between courses.
The sommelier recommended a local wine, Foxtrot 2008 Pinot Noir. It was a classic match for our game main courses.
Three rare slices of Yarrow Meadows duck breast rested on a plump duck confit ravioli, squash purée, cauliflower florets, beets and pumpkin seeds. The dish was well seasoned and the meat tender, and the components were a delectable combination.
Mr S chose the wild game tasting plate of wild boar wrapped in venison and braised bison short rib with wild mushroom and heirloom bean ragoût. The other couple picked the chef’s Christmas special of goose.
We spotted a cheese cart and the fromage expert was friendly and helpful. We shared a bleu, a local cheddar and a semi soft, with raisins, candied walnuts, fig jam and crisp fruit bread.
I was determined to photograph dessert and I persisted with the single flickering candle as my light source. Served on a slate plate, the geometrical coconut and pineapple had frozen coconut mousse, Meyer lemon and kafir lime sorbet, pineapple and espelette jelly, rum caramel macadamia and cilantro. It tasted like a sophisticated piña colada!
A deconstructed St Honoré was a log of vanilla crème chiboust, coffee Chantilly, crispy malt Irish cream and brown butter milk jam.
On a rectangle of bourbon cake, the apple and caramel had a wheel of salted caramel maple parfait, apple pavé sour cream ice cream and crumbled bacon.
Petit fours concluded our Christmas dinner. From left to right: nougat, peppermint bark, ginger snap and hazelnut ganache.
It was a fun festive season in Whistler!
After a lovely brunch experience a few weeks ago, we returned to re:public for dinner. The restaurant was lively with a convivial after work crowd enjoying the happy hour. We were seated at a booth and the relaxed atmosphere was conducive to good conversation.
Mr and Mrs W shared a heart of romaine salad for an appetiser while Mr S had the house smoked Chinook salmon with spicy yoghurt and wild watercress.
I selected the grilled asparagus with hot coppa, soft boiled duck egg and parmesan. This was another version of my Eat Pray Love moment at Le Pichet. A handful of quality ingredients assembled on a plate is pure enjoyment.
We rarely cook duck at home so one of us usually orders it if it’s on a restaurant menu! A confit duck leg and slices of seared duck breast was served with a corn purée and roasted root vegetables. The cooking method preserves the tenderness and moisture of the game, and the fattiness was tempered by the sweet and crunchy carrots and parsnips.
A hearty dish, house made pappardelle was tossed with lamb ragù, lightly dusted with Pecorino and presented with a sprig of mint. The wide strands of pasta were coated in the meaty sauce, a rich and scrumptious combination.
Mrs W chose the fish for her main. Two fillets of pan roasted Alaskan halibut rested in a creamy bisque of seasonable vegetables. The halibut was fresh and firm, and we had fun sampling and guessing one unknown vegetable. I think it was daikon.
Mr W didn’t need a serrated knife for the crispy pork shank with braised onions and peas. Golden and crispy, the meat yielded to gentle carving.
There was still daylight as we exited, a reminder to make the most of the long summer days.
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!
There’s been a buzz in Seattle about the opening of RN74. I felt a tingle of excitement every time I walked past the site at the corner of the Joshua Green building, with glamorous expectations preceded by his reputation. A native of Ellensburg, it is a welcome home to Washington for Michael Mina.
The website blurb explains that ‘the cuisine at RN74 aims to be a perfect complement to the wines – creative, modern, but simple interpretations of regional French cuisine punctuated with seasonal, fresh ingredients and bold flavuors, all executed with a signature original twist’.
We dropped in for some snacks prior to a Sounders match and it was happy hour in the bar area. I always flinch when I see the ‘no minors, no firearms’ sign - a little culture shock, a brief reminder that I’m in America.
The bar was crowded and we spotted many Sounders fans proudly wearing the team jerseys and scarves. Wooden shutters darken the space and there’s an eclectic collection of lanterns and spotlights framing the entrance. The signature real time wine list display in the style of traditional train and flight schedule boards is in the main dining room and there is a static version in the bar area.
We were lucky to be seated at a booth just as the table was cleared. Happy hour discounts selected items from the wine bar menu and we ordered the maitake mushroom tempura, duck confit arancini and pommes frites to share. Service was efficient – the kitchen speedily cooked small plates, and wines were poured, cocktails shaken and water glasses refilled by the polished wait staff.
Presented in a deep basket, there was an abundance of maitake mushroom tempura. Meaty and earthy, it was seasoned with yuzu salt and paired well with the green onion mousseline. Although a light batter, it was a rich snack and best shared among a group.
The duck confit arancini with Bing cherry jus was an aesthetically pleasing dish. The crumbed balls were a mini celebration of duck. I would recommend having one plate all to yourself!
We’ve eaten more burgers and fries in the five months we’ve been living in Seattle than the last three years in Sydney, they’re ubiquitous on restaurant menus here! The RN74 trio of pommes frites was styled as a tasting flight with dipping sauces of, left to right, basil aioli, ketchup and classic aioli. Each cylinder of French fries was dusted with a spice mix, black pepper and chicken salt respectively.
Restrooms are probably taboo on a blog about restaurants but there’s a unisex dressing room with mirrors and a long counter at RN74. As you exit, there’s a sign that kindly reminds you to ‘check your dress before leaving’!