Posts Tagged ‘maitake mushroom’
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!
There’s been a buzz in Seattle about the opening of RN74. I felt a tingle of excitement every time I walked past the site at the corner of the Joshua Green building, with glamorous expectations preceded by his reputation. A native of Ellensburg, it is a welcome home to Washington for Michael Mina.
The website blurb explains that ‘the cuisine at RN74 aims to be a perfect complement to the wines – creative, modern, but simple interpretations of regional French cuisine punctuated with seasonal, fresh ingredients and bold flavuors, all executed with a signature original twist’.
We dropped in for some snacks prior to a Sounders match and it was happy hour in the bar area. I always flinch when I see the ‘no minors, no firearms’ sign - a little culture shock, a brief reminder that I’m in America.
The bar was crowded and we spotted many Sounders fans proudly wearing the team jerseys and scarves. Wooden shutters darken the space and there’s an eclectic collection of lanterns and spotlights framing the entrance. The signature real time wine list display in the style of traditional train and flight schedule boards is in the main dining room and there is a static version in the bar area.
We were lucky to be seated at a booth just as the table was cleared. Happy hour discounts selected items from the wine bar menu and we ordered the maitake mushroom tempura, duck confit arancini and pommes frites to share. Service was efficient – the kitchen speedily cooked small plates, and wines were poured, cocktails shaken and water glasses refilled by the polished wait staff.
Presented in a deep basket, there was an abundance of maitake mushroom tempura. Meaty and earthy, it was seasoned with yuzu salt and paired well with the green onion mousseline. Although a light batter, it was a rich snack and best shared among a group.
The duck confit arancini with Bing cherry jus was an aesthetically pleasing dish. The crumbed balls were a mini celebration of duck. I would recommend having one plate all to yourself!
We’ve eaten more burgers and fries in the five months we’ve been living in Seattle than the last three years in Sydney, they’re ubiquitous on restaurant menus here! The RN74 trio of pommes frites was styled as a tasting flight with dipping sauces of, left to right, basil aioli, ketchup and classic aioli. Each cylinder of French fries was dusted with a spice mix, black pepper and chicken salt respectively.
Restrooms are probably taboo on a blog about restaurants but there’s a unisex dressing room with mirrors and a long counter at RN74. As you exit, there’s a sign that kindly reminds you to ‘check your dress before leaving’!