Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Keren Brown Media

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.

The Good Food Guide is the Sydney and Melbourne equivalent of the Michelin Guide. Similar to the Michelin star ratings, restaurants are awarded one, two or three hats on a scale of twenty points. Published yearly to coincide with the Sydney International Food Festival, I purchase it as soon as it’s released and the book had a permanently spot on our coffee table.

When we moved here, I was searching for a comprehensive listing of Seattle restaurant recommendations to assist in our gastronomic navigation through our new city. I was very excited when I read about the impending publication of Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle, eager to use the guide book to explore the neighbourhoods of Seattle.

Author Keren Brown introduced herself to me after I bought a copy at What We Talk About When We Talk About Food by Kim Ricketts Book Events as I was the first person to officially purchase the book!

Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle has replaced the Sydney Good Food Guide on our coffee table and is now our primary reference for a snapshot of Seattle dining.

To celebrate the publication of her book, Keren hosted a launch party at the Shilshole Bay Beach Club which was also a fundraiser for FareStart. With a panoramic view of Puget Sound, the Beach Club was a spacious venue for tasting bite size samples from various eateries while gazing at the still water and moody sky.

I heard the click of the Wheel of Fonté all evening with guests spinning it out of nostalgia, or lured by the aroma of freshly ground coffee and the chimes of the espresso machine.

Punjab Sweets attracted crowds with a vibrant display and silver platters of burfi. Hidden in the foil trays were spicy samosas.

My favourite bakery was there to showcase their breads and pastries. Boulangerie Nantaise had baskets of croissants, Danishes, buns, scones and cookies.

High teas are popular in Australia because of our British heritage but I haven’t encountered it in Seattle. Pretty in pink, the Tuscan Tea Room enticed with three tiers of strawberry jam sponge cake.

Tom Douglas Restaurants served farro salad with cucumbers from their Prosser Farm.

Slices of Prosser Farm cucumbers were topped with a dollop of tzatziki and dotted with glistening jewels from the Seattle Caviar Company.

The definition of self-control, I restricted myself to two pieces of Theo Chocolate! A shard of toasted coconut dark chocolate was rich and smooth, and Mr S would have liked the intense Scotch ganache.

A whimsical arrangement of cascading sausages was at the Fonté Café table.

Louisa’s Café and Bakery tempted attendees with petite caramel cream pies.

A spiral of spicy tuna empanada at Olivar were crispy and flavoursome.

I love the Blackboard Bistro logo! Oink! I watched the chefs expertly assemble these salsa verde pork sliders in double time.

These grilled figs from Volunteer Park Café were a delectable combination of sweet and savoury, creamy and crunchy.

Piñata and a game of Twister concluded a convivial evening.

Congratulations again Keren!

I attended a Keren Brown Seattle food blogger event several weeks ago with Chef Barton Seaver, author of the new cookbook For Cod and Country. Graciously hosted by owners Kevin and Terresa Davis at Blueacre Seafood restaurant, it was an evening of eating, networking and learning.

Blueacre Seafood is the sister restaurant of Steelhead Diner at Pike Place Market. Terresa greeted me and she recognised my Australian accent. The Davises are expat Aussies from Adelaide and have been living in America for two decades. She introduced me to Barton Seaver and we chatted briefly as wines were poured.

Platters of food were placed on the buffet table as groups mingled and balanced plates of delectable seafood and glasses of wine.

Clockwise from top: natural oyster, smoked salmon on rye, salmon roe and crème fraiche fritter, poached salmon salad, fried calamari, baked scallop, and shredded and sautéed vegetables. The highlights of this plate were the fresh and briny oyster, and the crispy calamari. A lovely crust formed over the shell hiding a plump scallop, although the bread crumb mixture was a little spicy.

Clockwise from top: oyster shell, crab cake, pork belly pie, fried quail with biscuit and gravy, and scallop shell. I would return to Blueacre just to eat these. The crab cake was overflowing with chunks of sweet crab meat, the petite sized pork belly pie was rich and moreish, and the quail leg was tender and well seasoned.

Hunger sated, we were seated for Barton’s speech. Kevin and Terresa commented that for Seattleites ‘the path to the future is to take care of the Pacific Northwest’ and this philosophy informs the cooking at their restaurants.

Jon Rowley, an inductee of the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, introduced National Geographic Fellow, Barton Seaver. Jon described Barton as an advocate of seafood sustainability, an effective spokesperson and a recipient of the Seafood Choices Alliance Seafood Champion award.

A charming and enigmatic man, Barton spoke with passion and conviction. He asked us to ‘listen as a witness, not as an expert’. With intrepid cooks as parents, Barton had an intimate relationship with food growing up. His parents cultivated his respect for food and his understanding of where food comes from.

The ‘guiding hand in natural selection is the chef’ – there is a dichotomy in the burden to destroy and the responsibility to restore. In his work with National Geographic, ‘food is the common lens of exploration’. Barton made the bold statement that our world today is about ‘making sense of the knowledge we already have and not about new discoveries … the next great leap in evolution is from civilised to humanised’.

He cited examples from Peru and Switzerland to support this. In Peru, anchovies (anchovetas) were transformed from by-products to being sold for human consumption. In Switzerland, creative use of a geothermal spring was attributed to the economic resurgence of a hamlet with greenhouses producing bananas and other tropical fruits, and a Siberian sturgeon caviar farm. These stories are about better utilisation and nourishing of existing resources and not finding new ones.

Barton has a different approach to environmentalism and sustainability. The current narrative is focused on healing our wounded planet and how ecosystems are impacted by our footprint. He believes it should be the opposite – nature is not in peril but our reality in nature is at risk. He is a proponent of responsible consumption, a restorative dialogue is needed on not just what we use but how we use it. He mentioned the biblical loaves and fishes miracle as an allegory of taking only what we need and sharing the leftover.

Barton concluded that the ‘long arm of the industrial revolution is deconstructed organism’ where the human element is removed from food.

Sterling Epicure generously gifted each attendee with a copy of For Cod and Country. In his introduction ‘Delicious is the New Environmentalism’, Barton quotes John Hersey – ‘in our quest for food we begin to find our place within the systems of the world’. This encapsulates Barton’s belief in responsible and restorative consumption.

The cookbook is divided into seasons and there are sections on techniques and pantry staples such as spice rubs, marinades, sauces and dressings. There are some non-seafood recipes and a chapter on the seafood showcased in the cookbook. Flicking through the pages, the recipes are relatively simple and most have a short list of ingredients. They’re designed to let the freshness and flavours of the seafood shine.

Sincerely thanks to Keren Brown for organising, Kevin and Terresa Davis at Blueacre for hosting and Barton Seaver for sharing.


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