Posts Tagged ‘duck’
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!
If I had to name a favourite restaurant in Seattle it would be Lark. Seasonal ingredients, small plates, attentive service. I have dined there twice and both meals presented regional cuisine at its best and epitomised what I love about a restaurant experience.
The only blemish is the lighting. For a city ensconced in a melancholic grey for half the year, Seattle’s eateries are in the shadow of candles and dimmers. The Danish word ‘hygge’ is the perfect description of cosy ambience but I would like to read the menu without squinting!
The Lark dining room has a homely feel. Opaque curtains partition the centre tables and there is a row of booths along one side. It is intimate and comfortable.
Categorised into cheeses, vegetables and grains, charcuterie, fish and meat, the menu is designed for sharing and the wait staff can recommend the number of dishes depending on your appetite.
Wine was poured and bread buttered as our group of four chatted on a quiet Sunday evening in spring.
Asparagus featured in three of the courses and starred in this in Provençal style. Tender spears were sautéed in olive oil, garlic, rosemary and black olive.
On a terracotta plate were ribbons of La Quercia prosciutto garnished with figs and Parmigiano Reggiano shavings.
Three plump scallops were atop asparagus in an earthy broth.
The ubiquitous asparagus were paired with slices of rare Mishima Ranch wagyu hanger steak, roasted potatoes and a dollop of ramp butter.
A petite cocotte of pommes de terre Robuchon was smooth and buttery, an elegant mashed potatoes.
Dining with the French means duck. A crispy Liberty Ducks leg was served with spring onions and green chickpeas.
I neglected to note the third cheese but the other two were Kukulu Bleu de Brebis from the Pyrénées and Taleggio from Lombardy.
A compact round of hazelnut brown butter cake was adorned with whiskey poached figs and accompanied by a quenelle of salted caramel ice cream.
Light and ethereal, a generous mound of miniature madeleines was dipped in a tiny pot of Theo organic dark chocolate sauce.
Lark is simply splendid, a beacon for the Pacific Northwest.
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.
‘David Thompson‘s name is synonymous with Thai cuisine.’ From Darley Street Thai to Sailors Thai, he pioneered Thai eateries in Sydney. He is the Australian chef who opened a Thai restaurant in Bangkok. I was missing Asian food dearly and was delighted that the original Nahm in London was located near our hotel. In the boutique The Halkin, Nahm was an intimate dining experience.
Decorated in shades of tan and caramel, a row of round tables were in the middle of the dining room and the chairs were comfortable.
We snacked on meaty morsels of ma hor, an appetising amuse bouche courtesy of the chef. Minced prawns and chicken simmered in palm sugar, fried shallots, garlic and peanuts were atop segments of fresh pineapple and mandarin.
We ordered a selection of dishes to share between three. The first was latiang, chicken and crab egg nets with caramelised coconut and lemongrass. Popularised by Longrain chef Martin Boetz on MasterChef Australia, this version of egg nets was presented in a roll. A light lattice of fine egg strands encased a moist and fragrant filling.
Our waiter recommended the yam hua bplii gung, a fresh and zingy salad of grilled prawns and banana blossoms tossed with chilli jam.
Scottish scallops were stir fried with chillies and wild ginger. Plump discs paired with crunchy greens, the hoi shenn pat prik thai orn was simple yet luscious.
All three of us were duck lovers and the pbet yang pat tor huu yii was superb. Chinese style roast duck was on a bed of bean curd, basil and Siamese watercress. The savoury sauce and grassy herbs tempered the fatty duck.
A classic Thai curry, the geng mussaman neua had tender chunks of beef in a viscous paste of aromatics including cassia, cloves, cumin and shallots. Generous dollops were savoured on steamed rice.
The others sipped coffee while I perused the dessert menu. A silver bowl contained rock sugar which had a mellow sweetness.
Kanom mor geng peuak, a scoop of charred coconut pudding were angled on a taro fritter. The two white blobs were kao mao bot, ancestor biscuits with a young coconut filling.
It was an expensive but delectable meal!
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!
I’ve been desperately searching for quality Asian restaurants in Seattle. When I ask for recommendations, there are Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese eateries but sadly no Chinese or Thai. ‘How’s the yum cha in Chinatown?’ My hope is instantly deflated by the hesitant response. Several have suggested a road trip to Richmond. As in British Columbia, Canada. Three hours’ drive to a different country.
I miss the ‘wok breath’ of stir-fried dishes, scalding bowls of laksa in dingy food courts, aromatic massaman curry with chunks of melt-in-mouth beef, the simple and nourishing flavours of a whole steamed fish … I could go on and on!
It was with trepidation that we entered Wild Ginger for a late Friday dinner. Really, what is ‘eastern Pacific Rim’ cuisine? I had expected the restaurant to be constricted to the dining room along Union Street and I was surprised to find booth seating and a mezzanine level in the lofty space. We were seated in a corner with street view and it was cosy without being too dim.
There was an extensive standard menu and also a one page specials menu. As is tradition with many Asian cuisines, the dishes are designed to be shared. There was a satay section with various proteins, soups, salads, curries, noodles and sides, and seafood featured prominently.
Mr S enjoyed a Tsingtao beer as we discussed what to order. Thankfully most dishes were available in two sizes. The first stop on our food tour of Asia was Thailand. The peasant’s chicken were two skewers of chicken marinated in coconut curry and served with Thai peanut sauce, pickled vegetables and a cube of sticky rice. These satay sticks reminded Mr S of ones he grew up with at Parap Markets in Darwin. Tender and charred, the fragrant chicken was lovely with the spicy sauce.
We crossed borders into Vietnam for soft-shell crab with garlic, lemongrass and pepper. Ugly in appearance, these crustaceans were soaking in a delectable sauce. Although a little oily, the legs were delightfully crispy, and the body creamy and juicy.
For the main, we returned to Thailand for Wild Ginger’s signature duck. Spiced with cinnamon and star anise, the pieces of duck are hidden under sprigs of cilantro. Gently pry open the fluffy steamed buns, dollop on sweet plum sauce, wedge in as much duck as possible, top with cilantro leaves and you have an Asian burger! Chewing slowly, we ate these in silence.
A side of wild mushrooms with pea pods were distinctively Cantonese. Coated in oyster sauce, the thick slices of mushrooms were meaty and the snow peas crunchy.
We opted to share the dessert special of coconut sticky rice with fresh mango. Grocery stores and farmers markets are stacked with trays of mangoes in an Australian summer. I savoured each bite of the yellow flesh, firm and sweet. The ball of sticky rice had a curious caramel glaze and a light dusting of toasted coconut flakes.
I think we have found a restaurant to temporarily sate my Asian palate, albeit a fusion approach!