Posts Tagged ‘goat cheese’
Posted Thursday 09 August 2012on:
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Starbucks. This is not a sponsored post.
The first coffee I drank was from Starbucks. It was early morning and I was bleary eyed when I entered a Starbucks in Sydney and ordered an iced mocha. Espresso. Chocolate. Milk. Ice. Its cold sweetness was jolting, the caffeine sharpened my senses. Thus I welcomed coffee into my life, a daily embrace with a chocolaty, milky beverage that focuses my mind.
A proud Seattle company, Starbucks pilots new concepts such as Starbucks Evenings here. Stores such as Olive Way and Terry and Republican have pioneered an after 4pm menu of wine, beer and small plates. ‘Drop in after work, with friends, after yoga, by yourself, after a long day or after a great day’ for an apéritif or digestif from your friendly barista!
Located in the Amazon hub at South Lake Union, Terry and Republican is a lively Starbucks. About half a dozen tables are in the sunken courtyard.
A sign advertised Starbucks Evenings with a sketch of a wedge of cheese, a wine glass and a beer bottle.
A radiant sun: coffee, tea, pastries and sandwiches. A crescent moon: red wine, white wine, small plates and desserts.
The interior is spacious and modern with exposed ducts, cement pillars, wood panelling and industrial lights. Floor-to-ceiling windows brightened the muted tones. The Starbucks logo is spray-painted on a wall made from salvaged bicycle tires.
As you wait for your coffee you’re reminded of Starbucks Evenings with more chalkboard art.
We were seated behind the counter and we peeked through the open shelves to the nimble baristas and crowd of patrons.
We perched on stools and were greeted with Starbucks designed Riedel glassware, a glass of ‘refreshing’ Villa Sandi Prosecco DOC Treviso Il Fresco from Italy topped with a petite bowl for spiced pepitas.
Each glass is etched with a whimsical saying such as ‘take a moment or three’ and ‘permission to relax’. We also sampled a ‘crisp’ Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon, ‘fruity’ Rosa Regale Brachetto from Italy and a ‘full-bodied’ Bergevin Lane Syrah She-Devil from Columbia Valley.
A bowl of rosemary and brown sugar cashews were warm and crunchy.
A wedge of triple cream blue brie was paired with walnut cranberry bread and fig preserves.
Deglet Noor dates were stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon. A drizzle of piquant balsamic glaze tempered the decadent morsels.
An oval flatbread of marinated artichoke hearts, red peppers, dry Jack and goat cheese was appetisingly spicy.
A bouquet of vegetable spears was served with a pot of smoky chipotle hummus. I munched on the plain crudités as a palate cleanser between the small plates.
Two tender skewers of panko and Parmesan crusted chicken were dipped in a tangy honey Dijon sauce.
Truffle macaroni and cheese was in a shallow dish to maximise the surface area of the golden herbed Parmesan breadcrumbs.
The pièce de résistance was the chocolate fondue. A cookie tray was filled with luscious dark chocolate. Threesomes of madeleines, marshmallows and strawberries were the perfect shapes for plunging into the viscous pool with our fingers.
Ms D-R and I lingered for a while afterwards, enjoying the ambience and discussing gathering friends for Starbucks Evenings.
A group of friends gathered at 106 Pine for mid week wine and cheese. Next to Chocolate Box, both are boutiques specialising in Northwest goods. With adjacent entrances and a common wall with two gaps, the joie de vivre of chocolate, wine and cheese are intertwined.
A wooden table in the bay window was laden with Christmas themed gifts and wine paraphernalia. Recycled wine bottles are converted into bright lights.
I sampled the Chocolate Shop wine at Seattleite and Gilt City Seattle’s Fall Comforts Taste the Season at Wing Luke Museum a couple of months ago. It was a favourite of Naomi‘s, an infused red wine with an intense chocolate aroma.
A view into Chocolate Box and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.
A map of Washington State‘s American viticultural areas.
Bottles of wine lined neatly against the wall.
A long communal table is at the centre of the room. The bar separates a handful of cosy tables at the back.
It was a busy evening but service was efficient. The menu recommended wine flights, and wines are priced by full glass and tasting size. Flights of red wine were customised, and charcuterie and cheese platters were ordered to share.
From top to bottom: Mt Townsend Cirrus camembert, Beecher’s market herb curds, Rogue Creamery blue, Rollingstone Chèvre and Boat Street Pickles pickled raisins. Presented on a plank covered by parchment, the camembert was delightfully creamy, the curds squeaky, the blue mild, and the goat cheese delicate. I was the only one who nibbled on the mini bowl of pickled raisins which were appetisingly acidic.
A smiling Ms S said ‘wine and cheese, just like in France … I’m happy’!
The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg at Emmer and Rye – Queen Anne, Seattle
Posted Monday 05 December 2011on:
On a gloomy day I challenged myself to walk up to emmer&rye. It was a crisp morning but I warmed up quickly on the Counterbalance. I had to pause for a couple of minutes after the steep inclines before entering the restaurant for a Keren Brown event with Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, authors of The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine.
An elegantly restored Victorian house in Queen Anne, emmer&rye has a homely porch, a cosy dining room on the street level and a private function room upstairs.
Through the curtains were a narrow staircase and vintage framed portraits line the wall.
Skylights brightened the loft and the space was decorated with antique furniture.
Chef Seth Caswell, a champion of ‘locally derived, seasonally inspired’ cuisine, was our host. Platters and trays of hors d’oeuvres, stemware and books were presented on a wooden bench anchored by two ornate candelabra dripped in wax.
Dolloped into dessert wine glasses, the braised lamb with leek purée and Yukon potato shooter was delightfully creamy.
On house made herb crackers were Tumalo Farms goat cheese with nectarine chutney which was a lovely contrast of savoury and sweet.
Cubes of farro fries were neatly stacked on a duck egg blue platter with a pot of sage yoghurt dipping sauce.
Bite size squares of rye toast were spread with lamb liver mousse and topped with caramelised onions.
My favourite was the crispy pork belly with pepper jelly on fried brioche, a delectable combination of fatty meat and crunchy bread.
Dessert was a decadently chewy hazelnut and whisky chocolate caramel slice.
We munched on the morsels, and sipped on Chemistry Wines White Blend and Saviah Cellars 2009 ‘The Jack’ Syrah while Karen and Andrew spoke eloquently about their eighth book, The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine.
Flavour and aroma influence our taste. Karen and Andrew added the ‘X factor’ which is contextual to our eating and drinking experience, it increases the flavour and aroma of food exponentially.
2011 is a ‘watershed year for wine’ in America. After seventeen consecutive years of growth, the US is now the number one consumer of wine in the world. Since 2002 every state in the US has been producing wines.
My face creased in shock when Karen quoted a survey that the average American eat a sandwich and drink a can of soda for dinner. Food and wine are intertwined, and Karen and Andrew are champions of enjoying food and wine together.
Many wine books published detail the history and technicality of wine, a France-centric approach to wine writing. Karen and Andrew wrote about how early settlers in Virginia were required to plant grapes to produce wines.
Karen and Andrew encourage people to drink wine and to find out what they like without the high culture. Food and wine are ‘both groceries, staples’. ‘You just need a glass’ to appreciate wine. ‘If you like it, damn it you like it!’
The authors advocate drinking in moderation for pleasure and comfort. Karen and Andrew recommend drinking local wines but also to sample other regions and styles to expand our palates which evolve and refine over time. They mentioned the Wine Century Club, where you qualify for membership by tasting at least one hundred varietals.
Some of their pairing highlights were foie gras and a century old Sauterne, and curry and Riesling. Karen and Andrew are emphatic that wine is about quality of life and can be consumed for health and happiness.
They commented on the importance of educating children about alcohol, and trepidation and judgement as barriers for adults. They waxed lyrical about sommeliers as ‘gifted linguists’. Sommeliers will suggest matches if you let them know what you like! They shared an anecdote of a friend asking for wine that ‘won’t make my mouth feel furry’.
Sincere thanks to Keren for connecting us with Karen and Andrew, and to Chef Caswell and the staff at emmer&rye for their hospitality.
I grew up in a household that weaned off salt over time. My parents cooked with it sparingly in a salt reduced diet that was advocated by dieticians and nutritionists. As adults we had the same shaker of supermarket brand iodised salt in our pantry for many years, its only purpose was to salt the water to boil pasta in.
A couple of evenings ago Myra gathered a group of food lovers for a salt themed potluck with Mark Bitterman. Owner of The Meadow and author of Salted, Mark was visiting from Portland and hosted a dinner at Spring Hill on Sunday.
I bought some leftover heirloom tomatoes at the TomatoFare for the bargain price of two dollars a pound. I made an insalata Caprese as my contribution to the potluck. Heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella and basil were layered, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with Murray River salt flakes.
There were a variety of salts at the potluck and each had a story. Some were favourites, others were gifts, and mine reminds me of home.
Carol brought this beautiful Himalayan pink salt crystal for display.
The Secret Stash vanilla salt was speckled and moist.
I love the cute Sugarpill container!
Chuck made his own applewood smoked Maldon salt with lemon thyme.
There were several salads and one other insalata Caprese. Darryl‘s was geometrically styled compared to my rustic approach!
Ashleigh‘s salad of heirloom tomatoes, chèvre and mint was a kaleidoscope of colours.
The soup of the evening was by Kristin, pumpkin soup with salted pumpkin seeds.
Hors d’oeuvres included a cocoa nibs studded chèvre log with applewood salt by Karen.
Bite size hickory smoked salt pretzels, a recipe in Salted made by Carol.
Charred and fanned out on a bamboo tray, Shirley grilled maitake mushrooms and shishito peppers.
She brought three types of Japanese salts to taste with the vegetables – wasabi salt, dashi salt and shichimi tōgarashi blended with salt.
Chuck assembled fresh farm cheese and sungold tomato jam crostinis with his own applewood smoked Maldon salt and lemon thyme.
These sticky nuts were salted orange blossom honey almonds by Lisa.
Kim baked a tin of salted cranberry and pistachio biscotti.
Carol’s second recipe from Salted was Himalayan pink salt brittle.
Nazila dipped vanilla marshmallows in chocolate with salt on top.
Carol made her signature alderwood smoked salt caramels.
We piled our plates with the delectable selection and ate as we listened to Mark, a James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner. An eloquent speaker, we were all mesmerised by his salt narrative. Salt is a ‘universal food, a defining ingredient of the world’s culinary traditions’. He described himself as a vagabond writer and a ‘ravenous and perennial eater’.
When he opened The Meadow, he felt all he was doing was putting contents of his basement into jars! Salt connects people and he stocks over one hundred varieties of salts in his store. They also sell flowers, chocolates and bitters.
He realised there was no original research on salt and its behaviour on food. Salt is a powerful flavour enhancer, a nutritional necessity and the only mineral we eat. It is not just a chemical, it is a substance made by hand.
The Meadow has recently opened a store in New York for retail customers, and they supply food manufacturers and restaurateurs.
Salt makers have an intimate relationship with nature, a deep understanding of complex conditions. Saltiness is modulated by the shape and size of the crystals. Salts have different moisture levels. Fleur de sel has about ten percent residual moisture and is resilient in food, it glistens as it dissolves to spark our palate. Eighty pounds of salt yields one pound of fleur de sel for a ‘luxurious, sensual experience’!
Japan has the most sophisticated and obsessive salt culture. To make takesumi bamboo salt, sea water is extracted from three thousand feet under the ocean, sprayed onto bamboo to dry and stirred continuously with a wooden paddle while simmering until evaporated.
Hundreds of millions of years old, Himalayan salt blocks can function as tableware or cookware. It’ll slightly cure sashimi or Carpaccio, and can be heated up for sautéing.
The ‘manifesto’ is the byline of his book and this is clear when he declared that kosher salt is a stainless steel cleaner! Kosher salt is a desiccating agent that extracts moisture. It is a refined chemical manufactured for industries and it is Mark’s ‘mission in life to eradicate kosher salt’.
Salted has three sections: the life of salt, a history; salt guide, varieties and profiles; and salting, techniques and recipes.
We concluded the evening with a peek inside his case of sample salts. Mark had a bottle of nigari, or magnesium chloride. At the Spring Hill dinner the attendees had experimented with droplets into bourbon, adding a complex bitterness.
So for Kate, salt is not just salt!
Sincere thanks to Myra for her hospitality, Mark for his insights, and the Seattle food community for a delicious and informative potluck!
‘I don’t remember it being this steep’, I wailed. I’m oblivious to gradients when driving but you feel every degree when walking. We trekked up to Capitol Hill on a weeknight for a screening of Stephen Sondheim’s Company at the Egyptian Theatre. On a plateau opposite Cal Anderson Park is Cure, a small bar specialising in cheese and charcuterie.
A simple sign indicates the entrance to the bar and it’s a long and narrow space inside. There’s counter seating and bar tables at the back. A glass panel has the dual purpose of being a menu board and enclosing the charcuterie section where the cured meats are sliced.
It was a quiet place to recover from our walk as we sat and watched the playful action on the tennis and basketball courts across the park. Cure has a short menu with a selection of individual meats and cheeses, house plates, side dishes and specials.
The gentleman guided us through the menu and helpfully answered our questions. We ordered a customised trio house plate of culatello, lomo ibérico and queso patacabra, and the lemon, basil and garlic olives.
Garlic was the dominant flavour in the olives with hints of lemon and basil. We broke off shards of the sliced baguette to dip into the brine.
The menu described culatello as ‘the little backside, like prosciutto but better’. That is an emphatic statement to make to a prosciutto lover! I was sceptical of the claim, unwavering in my loyalty. Of a lighter hue than prosciutto, the culatello was delicate and tender. It had a similar melt in mouth feel to prosciutto but with a mellower taste.
Iberian pigs are fattened by a diet of acorns and the lomo ibérico, cured tenderloin, was meaty. A Spanish aged goat cheese, I found the queso patacabra to be a firmer texture and lighter flavour version of chèvre, a pleasant pairing for the cured meats.
This production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company with the New York Philharmonic was staged and filmed in April 2011. The stellar cast included Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Patti LuPone and Christina Hendricks. ‘Here’s to the ladies who lunch … I’ll drink to that!’