Posts Tagged ‘geoduck’
Posted Thursday 22 September 2011on:
I have an aversion to raw food. I dislike crunchy salads and have been eating sashimi for just over a year. I’m suspicious that the glistening flesh will be slimy and fishy. I now love salmon and tuna sashimi, and progressing with oysters.
I attended the Little Taste of the Dahlia with Oyster Bill from Taylor Shellfish Farms earlier this week. Keen to learn about shellfish, I was delighted that Bill Whitbeck, or Oyster Bill, was the guest for the return of the series.
Held in the private dining room of the Dahlia Lounge, it was an intimate space with cosy round tables brightened with posies of sunflowers.
Tom Douglas was resplendent in his oyster shucking sunglasses. He demonstrated the calmness required which bemused Oyster Bill.
Geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck) is a very ugly species of clam. The room descended into naughty giggles as the phallic shellfish was passed around.
Virginica oysters and Mediterranean mussels were displayed on ice. Tom Douglas welcomed the group and explained the purpose of the Little Tastes of Dahlia series is to connect with and learn from suppliers. He introduced Oyster Bill from Taylor Shellfish Farms. They recently opened a store in Melrose Market on Capitol Hill.
Tom mentioned that he’ll eat oysters smoked, poached and broiled but not raw. Tom and Bill demonstrated their shucking techniques, twist not pry! Tom’s first job in the restaurant industry was shucking oysters for a buffet.
The first course was a Virginica oyster with heirloom melon, cucumber, lemon and mint. I don’t know how to eat an oyster gracefully so I pick up the half shell and slid its contents into my mouth. And I didn’t slurp! Shimmering and briny, the Virginica oyster had a delicate flavour that was enhanced by the diced accompaniments.
Farmed in Totten Inlet in south Puget Sound, the Virginica oysters grow in mineral rich waters. They’re the same species as the Atlantic oysters but have a different flavour profile. Ocean acidification has affected supply and Bill commented that it is a global warming issue.
Land is leased from private owners for farming. Specific conditions including fresh water and salinity level are needed as the oysters are not fed once released from the hatchery. The oysters eat algae and are all natural.
Chef Brock Johnson detailed the ingredients of each dish. The seared Qualicum Beach scallop was paired with batons of Ruby Jon apples and seaweed, and served with cracked pepper and drizzled with olive oil. Plump and tender, the simple dressing highlighted the freshness of the scallop.
Geoducks are unique to the Pacific Northwest. They can live to more than a hundred years old. The older geoducks have darker meat, and can be tough and chewy. If caught in the wild, you cannot return them. Taylor Shellfish farms geoducks and they are harvested at about eight years old.
Like trees, geoducks and oysters have ridges on their shells to indicate age. Geoducks burrow in sand and live below the surface. Only an inch or two of the snout is visible. Considered a delicacy in Asia, the largest export market is China. Tom shared an anecdote that a geoduck chow mein was on the opening menu of Dahlia Lounge more than twenty years ago!
To prepare the geoduck, blanch it in boiling water until the skin blisters. Remove the sausage casing like skin, glide knife along the shells to detach the muscles and the geoduck is ready for consumption. The belly is best for sautéing or in a stir fry and the siphon can be sliced for sashimi or ceviche.
A deconstructed chowder, the geoduck essence was steeped into mashed satina potatoes. Geoduck sashimi and bacon salt perched on a dollop of infused mashed potatoes, a tiny portion and yet so scrumptious. The geoduck was succulent and toothsome, close your eyes and you can feel the sand between your toes, hear the waves lapping and smell the salty air.
The final course was Mediterranean mussel with linguiça and pickled peppers in a tomato saffron broth. Brock noted that Mediterranean mussels spawn in winter and peak in summer which coincides perfectly with tomato season. You generally cannot overcook Mediterranean mussels, they tend to retain suppleness.
The heady combination would make a delicious moules frites, the mussel absorbed the intense aromatic broth and the spices in the salty Portuguese cured pork sausage.
Beer is a classic match with mussels and we were lucky to sample a glass of Elysian Brewery Saison of the Witch. A collaborative effort, the beer is brewed by Elysian Brewery and Brave Horse Tavern with Prosser Farm pumpkins and wild fennel. The Halloween themed, Belgian farmhouse beer was pleasant to drink and I think it’s a festive season beer!
Little Taste of the Dahlia with Oyster Bill was another quality Tom Douglas event and I look forward to the next in the series!
Located on a quiet street away from traffic, Cedarbrook Lodge is secluded and surrounded by luscious greens. Originally built by Washington Mutual as an exclusive corporate retreat, it is now a public hotel.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped and the interior is elegantly decorated in earthy tones with natural materials. The entrance is on a mezzanine level and the lobby overlooks a magnificent loft with a plush lounge area, Copperleaf Restaurant and floor to ceiling windows to the terrace.
TomatoFare celebrates the harvest of the season’s locally grown organic heirloom tomatoes. The festival has been held in Eastern Washington for several years and this is the second one in Seattle.
Pale, bland and mealy. We’ve all had bad tomatoes. Grown with love and nurtured, a quality tomato bursts with sunshine and has a sweetness and acidity to every bite.
The Jacqueline Tabor Jazz Band entertained the crowd on the terrace. Although an overcast day, it was pleasant to be outside and many enjoyed the autumn weather sipping wine and beer, and nibbling on tomatoes.
Stalls in French colours were set up on the lawn. On the right were restaurants, and on the left was tomato tasting.
As we arrived mid afternoon, some of the stalls had closed. A handful of people were hovering around the Copperleaf stall and we joined the group listening intently as the chef spoke passionately about sourcing produce and the importance of connecting with farmers.
A tasting board was laden with tomatoes and we sprinkled sea salt on the vibrant slices.
A shot glass of layered mousse was popular, there were people returning for seconds and thirds! On the bottom was Parmesan mousse, the middle was heirloom tomato mousse and on top was fresh basil purée with Niçoise olive nougatine. It was an intense combination, each spoonful had a different accent.
Next was Barking Frog, where the chefs were busily plating their heirloom tomato and watermelon salad.
It was an artist’s palette of heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, burrata mozzarella purée, toasted pine nuts, micro basil and ten year old balsamic vinegar.
The Blackboard Bistro platter was empty and they were packing up as we approached their stall. The chef kindly scraped the last of the geoduck and heirloom tomato ceviche with orange and mint onto a mini toast and cut it in half. It was my first taste of the weirdly shaped bivalve, a Pacific Northwest specialty.
We proceeded along the stalls to Little Water Cantina, a recent addition to Eastlake.
The chef assembled cute bite size tostadas of white habanero, heirloom tomatoes, house made queso fresco, micro cilantro, toasted sesame seeds and Mexican sea salt. These were delectable morsels, ideal as a hors d’oeuvre for cocktail parties!
Our final stall was Seattle Cremes, an ice cream, sherbet and sorbet wholesaler. We sampled a scoop each of red heirloom tomato sorbet and yellow heirloom tomato sorbet. With garlic, sea salt, basil and Tabasco, the red one was savoury and highlighted the tomato as an ingredient. The yellow one was refreshing with mint, sea salt, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Glossy globes in shades of red, orange, yellow, green and purple were on display. Dozens of varieties were presented in and on stemware and laminated cards detailed their characteristics.
Tiny baubles on vine, these Mexican midgets were my favourite.
The lumpy red star is turban like and star shaped when sliced.
This is the legend. I just like the name. It is a Pacific Northwest variety cultivated by Oregon State University.
The stripy green zebra is a contrast to the red hues of the majority.
A hidden oasis close to the airport, Cedarbrook Lodge has serene ponds and manicured shrubbery.
The Copperleaf Restaurant is in an open area of about a dozen tables with a magnificent stone fireplace as the focal point.
We meandered into Tamarack Hall and one of the chefs directed us to the restaurant garden.
Four neat patches had rows of lettuce, herbs and of course, tomatoes.
Sincere thanks to Carol for inviting me to be her plus one. The complimentary tickets were courtesy of Richmond Public Relations.