Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Fremont

We returned from a sodden and blustery week in London to a glorious Seattle spring weekend. I check the weather forecast morning and night, converting Fahrenheit to Celsius and scrutinise the predicted precipitation. I wither in the blistering sun in Australia and I wilt in the shades of grey of the Pacific Northwest. C’est la vie!

It was a rejuvenating walk to Fremont for the second Mobile Food Rodeo. Clear sky, a gentle breeze, geese and their goslings pecking the grassy banks of Lake Union, the fresh air soothed the jet lag.

Parallel to the Fremont Sunday Market the Mobile Food Rodeo changed its venue to a closed street this year.

There was no wait to enter with free admission and the atmosphere was congenial. Families picnicked, friends gathered and couples strolled with their dogs.

I patiently queued at Maximus Minimus while Mr S browsed the row of food trucks. Our appetiser was from Happy Grillmore of Portland.

Steadied by a toothpick, the pulled pork slider with jalapeño lime aioli and spicy pineapple coleslaw was a little small for the price but was juicy and tangy. The sweet potato fries were pleasantly crunchy.

The customised pig is back for another season with attitude. I was bewildered the first time I saw Maximus Minimus grunting on a Downtown street!

Wedged in a doughy bun were chunks of Maximus pulled pork. Marinated in a sticky sauce, the pork was tender and spicy. A side of Maximus coleslaw flecked with coriander was refreshing.

A toothy Mohawk tomato is the mascot for Tokyo Dog.

Wrapped in chequered wax paper, the signature Tokyo dog of smoked cheese bratwurst was seasoned with teriyaki grilled onions, furikake, tonkatsu sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. The meaty hot dog had bold umami flavours. We shared a bottle of Calpico Mango, a Japanese yoghurt drink.

Our final food truck was Parfait Organic Artisan Ice Cream, my favourite local ice creamery that delivers!

We happily licked scoops of toasted coconut and chocolate peanut butter cup in sugary waffle cones as we weaved through the Fremont Sunday Market.

The inaugural kinks have been untangled and it was a better organised Mobile Food Rodeo.

We dined at El Camino with expats during our first week in Seattle. It felt shockingly cold transitioning from a sweltering southern hemisphere summer. I shivered in the dim enclosed patio, a wattage that I have since learnt is standard in Pacific Northwest restaurants. We returned to El Camino during daylight a couple of weekends ago. Painted a powdered blue, the Mexican eatery is located in the heart of Fremont.

The eclectic interior is decorated with paintings, posters, poppy chairs, and tangerine and lime walls.

Wrought iron gates sectioned off the spacious dining room from the bar and patio.

We were seated by the window in a near empty restaurant. A string of festive lanterns dangled above.

An ominous bottle of habanero sauce was at every table with a salt bowl.

A beverage of sparkling wine and pomegranate juice was appetisingly sour.

In a lotus shape, saffron coloured plantain chips were on a mound of salsa fresca and guacamole. The tostones de platano macho con guacamole was a starchy alternative to corn chips.

On a bed of black beans were white corn tortillas sautéed in tomatillo cream and topped with shredded chicken, queso fresco, diced onion and a dollop of sour cream. Described as cooked nachos, the chilaquiles de chile verde was a balanced lunch.

Two tacos were grilled steak parcels double wrapped in white corn tortillas. Garnished with diced onions and coriander, the tacos de carne asada were served with a pot of tomatillo salsa, and a generous scoop of rice and beans.

It would be a lovely summer evening on the El Camino patio!

I missed the Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club in November as I was home in Australia. The food lovers sampled every dish on the Revel menu and then some! This whetted my appetite and I was keen to return to Revel for Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi‘s fusion of Korean, French and American flavours.

The metal clad facade of the restaurant was a welcomed sight after a windy walk to Fremont on another bleak day.

A modern design and minimally furnished, Revel is stylish and spacious. At its heart is the kitchen and a long, wide counter. Our huddle of three sat at a table for cosy conversations. The low overhead lights were a hazard for those seated on the bench!

I had a prime view of the open plan, stainless steel kitchen where salads are tossed, pancakes flipped, dumplings seared, noodles stir fried, rice bowls assembled and cookies sandwiched. The chefs shuffled quietly around each other and efficiently between stations.

A tray with four glass containers of condiments was presented at each table after ordering.

We shared two appetisers. The first was pork belly, kimchi and bean sprout pancake. Cut into quarters, each piece had a thin slice of marbled pork and a crispy edge.

The short rib dumplings were pressed together in a row and served with a mound of shallots and scallions. A spoon separated the dumplings easily. Each morsel was dense and firm, and in a scrumptious sticky sauce.

My dining companions both had the short rib rice bowl with sambal daikon, mustard green and a raw egg yolk.

I also had a rice bowl. Blackened tofu, king oyster mushroom confit, Chinese broccoli and a raw egg yolk were piled on top of a large serving of rice. It was a delicious combination of crunchy greens, pillowy tofu and meaty mushrooms.

The restaurant was lively and full for weekday lunch, and we left warmed by the heat of the kitchen!

‘Have you done the Theo Chocolate Factory Tour?’ This is a frequently asked question in the ten months I’ve been living in Seattle. Now I can answer yes! I was in the Fremont neighbourhood for the Momofuku Milk Bar event with Christina Tosi at Book Larder so I scheduled in the Theo Chocolate Factory Tour.

Located at a quiet corner in a heritage brick building, the factory is fronted by a retail store.

Perfumed with chocolate, the bright and spacious room tempted chocolate lovers at every table and on every shelf. Pretty displays of chocolate bars were interspersed with plates and bowls of tasting shards. The seasonal bars were at the entrance with festive flavours of gingerbread spice, nutcracker toffee and peppermint stick.

Coral coloured ribbons and pastel yellow paper cranes draped branches where boxes of salted caramels were stacked.

Whimsical drawings are printed on the covers of the fantasy bars.

An assortment of exotic flavours included chai tea, bread and chocolate, fig, fennel and almond, and coconut curry. The coconut curry had strong spices with a sweet coconut finish.

Tins of sipping chocolate should be a pantry staple and box sets such as the colourful Theo Classic Library make for a generous gift.

Ivory pedestals in the glass counter accentuated the rich colours and patterns of ganache.

Each ganache is identified by its unique decoration.

I stretched the net over my hair as we were seated in the presentation room. The guide for our small group was enthusiastic and friendly. She had a series of laminated photos of cacao trees, pods and beans as she spoke about the cultivation and harvest of cacao. Cacao pods grow on both the trunks and branches of the trees. Fresh cacao beans are pale and encased in pulpy flesh.

Seventy per cent of the world’s cacao is farmed in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. She described the equator as the ‘chocolate belt’. It is a labour intensive crop and yield to chocolate ratio is low.

Our guide explained the difference between a chocolate maker and a chocolate melter. Theo Chocolate is one of seventeen chocolate makers in the United States where cacao beans are purchased and made into chocolate. Named after the botanical name of the cacao, theobroma, Theo Chocolate is both organic and fair trade certified.

A flowchart of the ‘method of true chocolate making’ detailed the machine and purpose of each step of the process. Many of the machines are vintage and imported from Europe. The factory has the capacity to produce 26,000 bars of chocolate in 24 hours.

‘The destoner cleans the exterior of the beans.’

‘The roaster removes humidity and develops flavour. The winnower separates the husks from the nibs.’

Chocolate is piped from machine to machine, transporting it from paste to mixer and refiner, and tempering to cooling.

After the chocolate is tempered, ‘inclusions are added’ and poured by hand into the depositer where moulds set the chocolate into bars.

The busy kitchen was piping ganache and caramels as we nibbled on sample sized Chinese five spice, fig fennel and rum raisin ganache. These contrasted sharply with the ninety one per cent cacao we tasted which was intensely bitter.

‘One of each!’ But alas, chocolate is not tax deductible. I returned home with grey salted vanilla caramels, hazelnut crunch and a complimentary box of ginger and noir ganache.

I left on a sugar high, thanks Theo Chocolate for a sweet experience!

I attended my first event at Book Larder yesterday. A community cookbook store in Fremont, it is a warm and welcoming space with the kitchen at its heart. A large group gathered for Christina Tosi, author, chef and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar.

A vintage stove is salvaged as a window display.

Cookbooks are categorised and neatly stacked. I’m enamoured by the teal walls, a regal shade against the stark white shelves.

Wooden tables are focal points for new releases and local authors.

A snapshot of the Australian section! In stock were Frank CamorraMargaret Fulton, Bill Granger, Rachel Grisewood, Donna HayLuke Nguyen and David Thompson.

The kitchen is equipped with modern appliances and accoutrements. 

On the cover of Christina’s cookbook is the neon ‘milk’ sign of Momofuku Milk Bars.

A container of cereal milk mix.

The view of the kitchen through a glass of cereal milk. Milk infused with cornflakes, sugar and salt, the sugary beverage replicates the taste of the liquid left at the bottom of a breakfast bowl.

The air was perfumed with butter and there was an abundance of sweet treats.

We munched on sample containers of cereal crunch, a caramelised cornflakes snack.

A platter of cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies.

Deceptively plain in appearance, these corn cookies were chewy with a distinct corn flavour.

Sugar, butter, cream, eggs, milk, cream and oats. The core ingredients of crack pie. Its magical ratios are whisked, kneaded, cooled, baked and frozen into a dense, sticky and crumbly dessert.

Christina described Momofuku Milk Bar as a bakery that serves cookies and cakes with a personality. As a child she was a ‘picky eater with a sweet tooth’. She enrolled in culinary school in New York as an aspiring pastry chef to do what she loves which is to ‘eat sweets all day’! After she graduated she worked in fine dining restaurants. She enjoyed the challenge but was questioning her career direction when she was introduced to David Chang.

David had ‘drive and courage but no infrastructure’ and Christina was hired for the ‘etcetera’ role of ‘everything non-kitchen’ related. She would work during the day, bake at home at night and bring her baked goods into the office to share. There were no desserts on the menu at Noodle Bar or Ssäm Bar. The restaurants were chef focused where the chefs did the payroll and trained the wait staff. It was endearing but masculine.

After a couple of jokes, David was serious about Christina making desserts for the restaurants. She introduced one at a time while still doing her ‘etcetera’ role and transitioned to full-time chef. When the real estate next to Ssäm Bar became vacant, David decided Christina should open the Milk Bar. It is this passion and intuition that characterises David Chang.

Christina commented that the Milk Bar was a ‘lady approach to opening a Momofuku’. Christina built a team of small and talented people that operate the Milk Bars. Each item at the Milk Bars has intention and story behind it. Favourite components of desserts are deconstructed and reconstituted.

David opened Momofuku Seiōbo in Sydney last week and I asked Christina if she’ll follow with a Milk Bar. She explained the business has grown rapidly over the last three years and her fear is to split her team and fracture the creative process. She noted there was space available for the expansion!

Another question asked was about home cooking. Christina said the essence is home cooking but she references her formal training. She likened milk powder to ‘MSG for the baker’. She worked at wd~50 prior to joining Momofuku and it was there that she learned to think about the science of food. Her cooking is ‘tangible in unexpected ways’.

The final question was about working with David Chang. Christina spoke with respect and affection on her relationship with David. Working with David requires commitment and tenacity, they have a deep understanding and trust that is ‘silently dynamic’. She is stubborn and David knows it!

Christina brought boxes of cookies from the Milk Bar. From top right: corn cookie, cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie, compost cookie, blueberry and cream cookie, and confetti cookie.

I purchased a copy of the book and I look forward to reading about the ‘intention and story’ of each of the recipes.

Congratulations to the Book Larder for a stellar calendar of events and sincere thanks to Christina Tosi for sweetening our Tuesday evening.

In the Fremont Avenue North hub near Uneeda Burger and across from Paseo, and two doors up from the soon to be opened Book Larder, is Dot’s Delicatessen. On a temperamental autumn day, I met Myra and Shirley for lunch.

Two bay windows display butcher accoutrement and frame the entrance. Dot’s Delicatessen is etched in gold and an amber banner of keywords skirt the bottom of the glass panes.

A basic chalkboard on the sidewalk lists lunch and dinner items in cursive script.

The interior is clean and well lit. On the left is the counter and open plan kitchen. On the right is a narrow bench with stools and at the back are a handful of tables.

A refrigerated cabinet has platters of house made sausages and charcuterie.

Dot’s also stocks a variety of local meats.

Shelves are neatly lined with produce.

The menu is divided into sausages, sandwiches, charcuterie and sides. There’s also a happy hour section and daily specials.

A sausage drawing parodying the cow cuts is next to the register.

We pushed two tables together and settled in. The small dining room has a view into the open plan kitchen cladded in stainless steel.

We shared the large frites. Served in a take-away container, the thick batons of hand cut potatoes were crunchy.

I split the BLT and Rueben sandwiches with Shirley. House smoked bacon, lettuce and tomatoes were wedged in lightly toasted sourdough spread with aioli. Slices of juicy and sweet heirloom tomatoes were refreshing and the salty shards of bacon were delightfully crispy.

Generous layers of pastrami and mild sauerkraut were sandwiched together by molten Gruyère on rye. The Rueben sandwich was delicious with a distinctive house dressing.

We lingered for a while before relinquishing our table. Dot’s was doing brisk business during the lunch service!

A short walk to Uneeda Burger and we happily sipped on extra thick chocolate shakes for desserts. A lovely afternoon concluded with a brief visit to the Book Larder, scheduled to open on 12 October. I smiled when I spotted a shelf tagged ‘Aussie’.

Bibimbap, bulgogi and kimchi are the only words in my Korean cuisine vocabulary. With the exception of Korean barbecues, I haven’t eaten much Korean food as I’m averse to fermented vegetables and have a low tolerance for spiciness.

I had read about the interesting backgrounds of the owners of Joule – a combination of classic French techniques, Korean heritage and American flavours is a formula for modern, creative dishes.

With a willing driver in Luuvu, it was a quick trip (compared to walking!) to Joule’s sister restaurant, Revel, for a weekday lunch. On a leafy suburban street, rusty sheets of metal cladded the corner of the building with the restaurant name stamped in.

Fairy lights were strung over at the entrance, and inside was a sleek, clean space with minimalistic design. The room was well lit and the open kitchen featured a long communal bench. The bar, Quoin, is at the back and there’s also a patio for al fresco dining.

We sat at the counter and watched the chefs in action. It was a quiet lunch service and a man spent the entire time we were there zesting limes! The chefs moved with speed and precision, stirring, flipping and plating with style and purpose.

Each table were presented with a tray of condiments. Three appeared to be fiery and the dark syrup was soy based. Our waitress detailed the ingredients in each and warned us about the chilli oil. I stared at each with suspicion.

Our waitress recommended three dishes to share and after much polite toing and froing we selected one each from the dumpling, noodle and rice sections. It was a compact menu and the other options were salad, pancake and sweet sandwich for dessert.

The dumplings were stuck together in a row. Both sides were seared, then covered and steamed with a splash of broth. A bite into the firm but silky dough revealed a lump of minced short rib which was rich and moist. The scattering of shallot and scallion freshened up the meaty parcel.

An alarmingly bright tangerine colour, the slippery rice noodles were stir-fried in a sweet chilli sauce with a generous amount of smoked pork belly. The just-enough-for-me spiciness cut through the fatty cubes of porcine delicacy. I could have greedily devoured the whole bowl myself! I didn’t eat any of the pale slices of sauerkraut though.

The rice was scooped into bowls with a large plastic paddle fork and the thick tines were used to fluff the plump grains. Our rice bowl consisted of albacore tuna, fennel kimchi and escarole.

A river of golden egg yolk swirled through the protein and vegetables. The mild sourness of the fennel kimchi and slight bitterness of the escarole balanced with the sweet and succulent tuna. The bean paste condiment paired well with the flavours of the rice bowl.

We forewent an ice cream sandwich for a gelato at D’Ambrosio for dessert but my curiosity is piqued and I shall return for a fusion brunch!


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