Posts Tagged ‘ham’
Our French friends scheduled a weekend brunch with French acquaintances and I flippantly mentioned Café Presse. I had a moment of panic as we walked up to Capitol Hill and realised we would be sharing a meal with five French people at a French restaurant that I suggested. I was relieved when I remembered Café Presse has the same owners as Le Pichet.
At the intersection of 12th, Union and Madison, our group huddled in the crowded entrance as we waited for a table. With an exposed brick wall, skylights and a high ceiling, the dining room and bar was buzzing with energy. I scanned the diverse collection of publications on the newsstand and introductions were made.
We followed the maître d’ through to the back and were seated in the corner. The milky sky was surprisingly bright and we appreciated the natural light. A sideboard was laden with coffee and wine accoutrements.
We shuffled along the wooden bench as the tattooed and ringed waiter took our beverage orders. My Caffé Vita mocha was prettily decorated with a rosetta.
My favourite question of the menu was ‘how do you pronounce that’! I considered the pain au chocolat à l’ancienne (bittersweet chocolate melted on baguette) to nibble on while we perused the menu but I refrained. We sampled the assiette de charcuterie, a plate of country ham, sausage, terrine, rillettes and tongue with cornichons and bread.
We each ordered the croque madame or croque monsieur, some with a side of pommes frites. Topped with a glossy sunny side up egg, the sandwich of baked ham, Gruyère and béchamel bubbled and blistered. The viscous yolk and just set egg white tempered the saltiness of the meat and cheese layers. It was hearty French fare!
We whiled away the afternoon, our expat conversations interspersed with French.
We travelled from Vancouver to Whistler on a beautiful day. We revelled in blue sky, marshmallow clouds and brilliant sunshine as we ascended. It was a blissful moment when I spotted the first snow-capped mountain.
We were famished so we dropped our baggage at the hotel and walked quickly to La Bocca for a late lunch.
Painted poppy throughout, La Bocca shared a kitchen with the Amsterdam pub next door. We removed our layers and settled into a cosy corner. The brunch menu had breakfast items, share plates, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas and stir-fries.
Mr L ordered the Benedict trio. Anticlockwise from top: spicy Benedict with hot coppa and crispy onion ring, traditional Benedict with ham and BC Benedict with smoked sockeye salmon. All three were served on an English muffin topped with a soft poached egg and citrus Hollandaise sauce.
Mr S also selected a breakfast dish. The skillet of Montreal smoked meat hash had smoked meat, hash brown, sautéed onions and capsicum, signature sauce, and topped with poached eggs.
I craved a hearty meal in the cold weather and compromised on the chilli prawn wok. A generous amount of tiger prawns were sautéed in garlic butter and tossed with crisp vegetables and steamed noodles in a Thai sweet chilli sauce. I switched from chopsticks to a fork as the noodles were slippery! It was a little sweet and lacked ‘wok breath’ (鑊氣) but the ingredients were fresh and plentiful.
Warmed by a full stomach, we exited to explore Whistler Village.
On our last day in Brisbane we bartered a ride to the airport for breakfast at The Little Larder. A popular café in the riverside neighbourhood of New Farm, it was quiet mid morning on a weekday. There was temporary reprieve from the heat and humidity of a subtropical spring.
A creative chalkboard in colourful calligraphy enticed passers-by.
Inside were birch tables, bold red walls and metal racks of newspapers and magazines. We were seated outside on a bench in the shade.
Stools were engraved with ‘Larder’.
A cute porcelain pot of sea salt flakes.
‘The lot’, a traditional British fry-up, will sustain you through the day! A large plate was piled with poached eggs, bacon, sausage, hash brown, caramelised onion, roasted tomato and toast.
The eggs Benedict was layered with grilled ham, ladled with a glossy Hollandaise sauce and topped with a crostini.
A healthy choice was poached eggs drizzled with dill mayonnaise on a square of crispy polenta served with roasted tomato, avocado slices, spinach and a wedge of lemon.
I have fond memories The Little Larder’s French toast with grilled banana and maple syrup so I ordered it again. Dusted with icing sugar, I saturated the eggy bread in the Canadian specialty. I savoured the sweet bananas, appreciating that it was still a treat after a cyclone damaged crops earlier this year.
We left content after a hearty breakfast, cups of coffee and glasses of cold pressed juices.
Preceding All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Halloween isn’t observed in Australia. Some family neighbourhoods would have trick-or-treat for children but it’s not as commercialised as in America.
Pumpkins, candy and costumes. Decorative and carving pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and varieties were piled high into grocery stores, bags of candy and chocolate stacked the shelves of supermarkets, and feathers, sequins, glitter and taffeta were fashionable for one night only.
On All Hallow’s Eve, we avoided the ghoulish crowds by enjoying a civilised dinner at Pintxo. Pintxo, toothpick or skewer snacks, are a northern Spanish specialty.
The narrow street frontage has a view into the kitchen through the window. Although there is an exhaust extractor, the restaurant was a little smoky from the exposed kitchen. A blackboard divided the liquor bottles from the pantry items.
Modern art cluttered the walls and an ornate mirror enlarged the dining room.
We shared a carafe of sangria that was devoid of fruit except for a wedge of lemon as garnish. The wine punch was a refreshing accompaniment to the meal.
The first pintxo was bacon wrapped dates. Three morsels of medjool dates were stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon. It was an appetising sweet saltiness.
Three slices of toast were scattered with jamón serrano and topped with sunny side up quail eggs. It was a decadent combination of buttery ham and creamy yolk.
The second pintxo style dish was Moorish chicken skewers. Marinated in an almond and garlic spice rub and grilled, the skewers were served with Tunisian couscous, cherry tomatoes and tzatziki.
Macrina baguette was dipped in olive oil and a tangy salsa.
Cauliflower florets and halved cherry tomatoes were sautéed in garlic infused oil.
Beige in appearance, patatas and chorizo were braised in gravy until tender.
Speared by a bamboo stick, three citrus cinnamon braised pork sliders were smothered in chimichurri and doused in a balsamic reduction.
Similar to a crème brûlée, the crema Catalana had a caramelised sugar crust, and the custard was perfumed by cinnamon and lemon.
And lastly, the charred bread pudding with dulche de leche had the consistency of a dense cake.
Howls and sirens echoed through the night as I pondered why the dishes were in sets of threes.