Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Keren Brown

‘Winter is coming.’ In boots and coat, and accessorised by an umbrella, I splashed to Foodportunity on a sodden Seattle day.

ART Restaurant: vodka vegetable soup in petite jam jar rimmed with lentils and sweet potato panna cotta with shaved romanesco.

WA Beef: blind taste test of grass-finished, grain-finished and naturally-raised beef.

KuKuRuZa: Hawaiian salted caramel popcorn.

Chan: steak tartare of Painted Hills tenderloin, Korean pear, toasted sesame and pine nuts with Korean soy garlic dressing on yucca chip.

Hitchcock: mussels.

Trace: braised short rib with pumpkin purée and Korean pepper sauce.

Din Tai Fung: spicy vegetable wontons.

The Food and Cooking of Scandinavia by Judith Dern, Janet Laurence and Anne Mosesson: geitost, Norwegian goat and cow milk cheese.

Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga: in conversation with blogger Cannelle et Vanille.

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance: grilled cheese with Fontina and caramelised broccoli rabe.

Peaks Frozen Custard: pumpkin frozen custard with chocolate sauce.

Rusty’s Famous Cheesecake: Basil Hayden‘s bourbon pumpkin cheesecake with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and honey infused caramel on a buttery and crisp Graham pecan crust.

Marx Foods: Sichuan buttons. The flower buds of an African plant, the petals have a grassy, herbal flavour that converts into an intense effervescence. It tingles and numbs, like hyperactive popping candy.

The Sichuan buttons was an electrifying conclusion to another successful Foodportunity!

I attended my first Foodportunity yesterday evening at the Palace Ballroom, a networking event founded by the inimitable Keren Brown.

A screen projected the live Foodportunity Twitter feed.

The lovely Keren spoke briefly to thank Foodportunity’s sponsors and supporters, and drew the winners of the business card raffle.

My first taste was at Metropolitan Market, the main sponsor of Foodportunity. Imported wheels of Zola Gouda were stacked on the table.

A generous portion of creamy macaroni and cheese was sprinkled with bread crumbs and Parmesan.

I interspersed savoury dishes with desserts. Next was Fat Cat Fudge, a smooth chocolate fudge that was moderately sweet.

I spotted The Coterie Room in the corner and happily crunched on a decadent snack of ham crackling dipped in black truffle fondue.

In the same area was Inn at Langley. On a wooden paddle was a disc of smouldered spruce panna cotta with truffle honey foam and pine nut sugar.

The Chef in the Hat was momentarily absent but the silver forks of coffee cured salmon with celeriac by Rover’s were scrumptious.

One of the few restaurants with signs of their food, Local 360 had a rustic chalkboard written in cursive script and illuminated by tea light candles.

Except I didn’t notice the sign until after I ate the bacon wrapped rabbit saddle with cheesy grits and maple truffle jus. I don’t eat rabbit. But the meaty cylinder topped with a jelly cube was an appetising pairing.

Mike Easton was resplendent in a customised apron and demonstrated artisan pasta making.

Cooked on an induction stovetop at the stall, the malloreddi alla Siciliana was exceptional.

Fumie’s Gold had silver platters of sweet treats. I sampled the green tea cookie and it had a balanced matcha flavour.

The profiteroles and tiramisu were tempting!

My first loop concluded at the entrance where Mt Townsend Creamery was. Cirrus is a favourite and there were nibbles of Seastack.

Light and citrusy fromage blanc was spread on apple crisps.

I meandered back to the restaurants I had skipped due to crowds. At Blackfish from Tulalip was house smoked sockeye salmon with chèvre cucumber purse on a bamboo square. The salmon was surprisingly dense, tempered by the mandolined cucumber and goat cheese.

On a wooden board at Volunteer Park Café was crimped puff pastry with caramelised onion, a smear of chèvre and black trumpet mushrooms. I have fond memories of their grilled figs at Keren’s book launch party and these morsels were a highlight too!

The last dessert was by Main Street Cookie Company. Made with quality ingredients, the chocolate chunk and dark chocolate cookies were perfectly baked.

I hovered at Lucky Palate, curious about the contents of the paper cups. A vegetarian meal delivery company, the quinoa and farro were both textured and healthy.

A scarlet tablecloth greeted us at Tipu’s Chai. Steeped in herbs and spices, chai is a traditional Indian beverage.

A stainless steel and glass dispenser poured the Tipu’s Chai Now, a vegan instant chai. It was soothing and aromatic.

The penultimate was Tabby Cat Pickling Co.

Jars of pickles were scooped into bowls and the curried cauliflower floret was piquant.

And just before I exited, a friend‘s mother recommended the sizzling sausage by Tom Douglas.

Fluffy buns encased a spicy pork belly and octopus chorizo with fennel. It was a warming conclusion to a fun first Foodportunity.

Sincere thanks to Keren for connecting the Seattle food community!

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 attended the annual Tom Douglas Cookbook Social held at the Palace Ballroom yesterday.

Christmas carols were playing and it was a convivial atmosphere. A food lover’s mistletoe, cookbooks tied with ribbon bows dangled from the ceiling.

Authors were dispersed around the room, their stalls laden with cookbooks and samples.

Cute CakeSpy illustrations greeted patrons. Love hearts and unicorns!

Jessie Oleson was as sweet as her treats! Her book is titled CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. On a bejewelled three tiered cake stand were rainbow cookies and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

Whimsically decorated cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

CakeSpy designed greeting cards.

Next was Amy Pennington, ‘go go green gardener’, and author of Apartment Gardening and Urban Pantry.

Kibbeh, a Middle Eastern meatball of bulgur and minced meat, was a nutty appetiser.

Opposite Amy was Tom Douglas, author of Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen, Tom’s Big Dinners and I Love Crab Cakes.

Scallop sized and golden, the Etta’s crab cake was a delectable morsel.

Tom was carving roast chickens rubbed with Chinese 12 Spice Rub.

The pieces of chicken were tender and juicy with a crisp skin.

Further along was Ethan Stowell, author of New Italian Kitchen.

A simmering pot of Mediterranean mussel soup with chickpea, fennel and lemon was spooned into little cups. It was a soothing combination of ingredients, perfect for a cold day.

At the back of Palace Ballroom was Cast Iron Skillet Big Flavours by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne.

Served in cupcake liners, the Dungeness crab and roasted poblano hushpuppies were cooked in an æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) maker.

Adjacent was Dining in Seattle cookbooks. The original volume was first published in 1977 and Past and Present is a compilation of recipes and menus celebrating Seattle restaurants then and now.

On the left of Dining in Seattle was Greg Atkinson, author of At the Kitchen Table.

Greg had trays of Yuletide cookies of faux-reos (fake Oreos), lime and pecan snowballs, turbinado sugar leaves, cocoa nib chocolate truffles and almond macaroons.

I zigzagged to Kurt Timmermeister, author of Growing a Farmer and owner of Kurtwood Farms.

Kurt was cutting wedges of Dinah’s Cheese, a creamy Camembert style cheese with a complex flavour profile.

A tower of glazed, frosted, dusted and sprinkled doughnuts was at the Top Pot table.

Becky Selengut, author of Good Fish, had a creative display with a fishing rod and tinned fish boxes on the hook.

I munched on dad’s sardines, gin drunk currants and caramelised onions on a cracker while calculating my guess for the number of Goldfish Crackers in the jar.

I was curious about the striped and cubed jellies. They were from The Seasonal Cocktail Companion by Maggie Savarino.

The Kit Kat shaped jelly shot was cherry daisy and the cube was Earl Grey infused gin. The wobbly orange square was an intense burst of bergamot.

A stack of books and an ice bucket of sparkling mineral water were manned by Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters.

He brought six home made bottles of bitters for tasting. A splash of sparkling mineral water and a couple of drops of bitters was a refreshing beverage.

And finally, Lisa Dupar had a lovely arrangement for Fried Chicken and Champagne.

The mini sausage corn dogs reminded me of the Easter Show in Sydney. Crumbly and meaty, the corn dog dipped in mustard sauce was scrumptious party food.

I was delighted to spot the ginger molasses sandwich cookies. The spiced sugary discs were the essence of the festive season.

The Palace Ballroom buzzed with energy and we were all there to support our local cookbook authors!

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.

I love live events. Plays, musicals, comedy shows, festivals – there is something intensely intimate and vulnerable about a live performance. Seattle has finally awaken from its winter slumber, emerged from hibernation to embrace a full calendar of cultural activities.

Usually a wallflower in a room with strangers, I was apprehensive about attending What We Talk About When We Talk About Food (WWTAWWTAF) alone. Thankfully the lovely Kimberly spotted me and we were also warmly welcomed by Myra, the hostess with the mostest of the Andrew Scrivani food photography workshop.

This was the first WWTAWWTAF without its founder Kim Ricketts. I did not know Kim but I felt the love for her that emanated from the crowd in the Palace Ballroom.

We nibbled on hors d’œuvres as groups mingled. Clockwise from top: salumi and olives cone, fava and garlic skordalia with shallot pita, radish and chive butter toast and smoked trout devilled eggs.

The devilled eggs were very retro and the skordalia was creamy and heady with garlic. The simplicity of the radish toast was a palate cleanser.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Food (I affectionately pronounce the acronym as ‘what-ta-what-taf’) showcased the local talents of, from left to right:
* Amy Pennington of GoGoGreenGarden blog and author of Urban Pantry and Apartment Gardening;
* Anna Roth, food and travel writer and author of West Coast Road Eats;
* Becky Selengut of Chef Reinvented blog and author of Good Fish;
* and Keren Brown of Frantic Foodie blog, founder of Foodportunity and author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle.

Moderated by Amy Pennington, it was a relaxed atmosphere and a convivial panel discussion. There was much laughter at the friendly banter and the rapport between the women were endearing.

Each author also read snippets from their books. My favourite was Becky Selengut’s headnote for her tom yum goong recipe. She had me giggling that the heat rating is WGS – white girl safe.

Below are some anecdotes from each of the authors that I jotted down.

Keren Brown – Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle
* Recommended Mustafa’s harissa as her go-to flavour enhancer
* Felt strongly that tourist landmarks should be included in her guide book

Amy Pennington – Apartment Gardening
* Most people plant in pots that are too shallow for what they’re growing
* Rabbits and bees can make a small space productive (the rabbit section was omitted from her book in editing)

Anna Roth – West Coast Road Eats
* Emphasised the importance of the eateries’ context in and connection to their communities
* The thrill of eating in the moment transforms an excursion into an adventure

Becky Selengut – Good Fish
* Fish species ebb and flow; currently (pun intended) anchovies are ebbing and sardines are flowing
* Suggested mussels, clams, farm trout, squid and of course, sardines as cheap and sustainable seafood for now

I lingered for a while and moseyed across to the Palace Kitchen for supper with Myra, Kimberly and Kate McDermott, pie baker extraordinaire. The aromas of the grilled asparagus and braised pork cheeks were enticing but I opted for a dessert of chocolate Ovaltine panna cotta with cinnamon milk. Genuine conversation, delicious food – a lovely conclusion to a fun evening!

And finally, I’m proud to be the first to purchase a copy of Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle. Where are my Post-it flags?


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