Posts Tagged ‘pancetta’
I have two pizza classes scheduled within a month. I was at Serious Pie Downtown on a Wednesday morning for the first one. The pizza classes are held on weekdays and Saturdays before the restaurant opens. The city felt lethargic on a cloudy midweek day and it was a little odd walking into an empty Serious Pie.
Coffee and banana chocolate walnut loaves greeted us. I nibbled on the sweet, nutty bread as I leafed through the printed notes.
The Kitchen Table is the new private dining room at Serious Pie Downtown. For dough-shaping and dining parties, the dual purpose room was rustic and decorated in warm tones. Twinkling lights were strung overhead.
Vases of dried flowers lined the window sill as an organic curtain. Metal shelves were laden with commercial size tubs of World Spice herbs and spices.
I was happy to spot a large container of Murray River flake salt in their inventory.
Chef Audrey Spence was ill so Cari kindly shared her expertise with us. The Serious Pie dough recipe is a secret but there is a modified version for the home cook. Cari detailed the three-day dough making process. Bread flour, semolina flour, biga starter, olive oil, honey, salt and water are mixed, proofed and hand-shaped. Cari demonstrated how to stretch the dough.
Silky and supple, the wet dough wobbled and yielded easily to touch. We each dusted the wooden surface with flour and stretched a ball of tacky dough. Gentle and nimble fingers were the key! We sprinkled the pizza board with semolina flour and slid the dough on top.
Mise en place: basil, caramelised onions, clams, fennel sausages, hedgehog mushrooms, pancetta, potatoes, olive oil, roasted garlic, roasted peppers and tomato sauce.
Parmigiano, Provolone, Feta, Mozzarella and herbs were in terracotta dishes for us to sample.
Clockwise from top right: Provolone, tarragon and Parmigiano.
I created a half and half pizza. On the left: olive oil, hedgehog mushrooms and caramelised onions. On the right: tomato sauce, pancetta, roasted red peppers and basil.
My half and half pizza on the rack in the queue for the oven.
Our cheeks were rosy from the heat of the apple wood burning pizza oven.
Gauge of the wood fire pizza oven indicated a temperature of 658 °F (348 °C).
The pizza was placed at the edge of the fiery glow and in one swift motion the board was displaced. An enormous stainless steel paddle pushed the raw pizza to the side and back where it blistered and crisped. After five minutes, Cari dabbed on the Provolone, and the pizza was rotated and cooked for another two to three minutes.
A pinch of marjoram perfected the seasoning. I wielded the mezzaluna and sliced the pizza into eighths.
We settled into the dining room with our artisanal, personalised pizzas.
It was deeply satisfying to eat the pizza I had handmade, and without any clean up afterwards!
It was fun to be in the Serious Pie kitchen to learn some of the techniques of their famous pizzas!
With bravado we ventured to Spinasse on Saturday without a reservation. Their dinner service commences at five o’clock and I expected a short wait arriving at seven thirty. The restaurant was full with a wait list and the maître d’ recommended Artusi next door.
We were directed to the back where a corridor connects the restaurant and bar. Fresh pasta sheets were draped on rods across the windows of the spacious kitchen, ready to be hand cut.
Opened by Spinasse Chef Jason Stratton, Artusi is named after Italian cookbook author Pellegrino Artusi. Self-published in 1891, La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene (The science of cooking and the art of eating well) was a seminal recipe collection of Italian cuisine.
Hexagonal tiled tables line the floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar is at the centre of the room and there are two counter seating areas. Cylindrical shades funnel light for a soft ambience.
The cosy table was lit with a single tea light candle. Wines were served in carafes and flat glassware.
Categorised into stuzzichini, antipasti, primi and piatti di Artusi, the menu is designed for sharing. First was bruschetta with roasted cauliflower purée, toasted cumin and sesame. Spread onto thick slices of bread, it tasted like hummus.
Piled into an oval bowl, the roasted young carrots with pancetta, sage and garlic were a generous portion. Sweet and tender, the rustic root vegetable was simple yet scrumptious. This was the only warm part of our meal.
We ordered Columbia City Bakery filone not for the Ligurian olive oil it was served with but to scoop up the caponata, and mushroom and egg salad.
I had sampled the Artusi caponata at the Fall Comforts Taste the Season event and loved it. Described as eggplant and stone fruit caponata with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes on the menu, it was announced as squash caponata by the waitress and absent of eggplant and cherry tomatoes. I missed the smokiness of the eggplant but it was still a balanced dish.
And finally, shaved white mushrooms and egg salad with salsa ‘Apicius’ (a reference to fifth century Roman recipe compilation). Thinly sliced and liberally coated in a dressing of pine nuts, vinegar, honey and colatura (anchovy essence), it was a surprisingly appetising combination of flavours and textures.
The service was a little abrupt and we were coveting Spinasse pasta but Artusi was a casual alternative with light Italian fare.
Posted Monday 17 October 2011on:
Lake Washington is a mental divider. Across the bridge is the Eastside, ‘over there’ is suburbia. Having lived in Sydney, driving for twenty minutes to get to a restaurant is considered fast! We don’t own a car here and we like the convenience of Zipcar. And we’re lucky to have generous friends who kindly drive us to and from places in exchange for our pleasant company!
Winner of the 2008 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Northwest Award, Chef Holly Smith opened for lunch just for us. In serene surroundings, the L shaped restaurant has windows with a view of leafy trees.
Next to the entrance are a long kitchen and a multipurpose bench.
Polished stemware is proudly displayed and muted tones are brightened by pastel mint accents.
We nibbled on fluffy bread with salted butter, and Parmesan and herb crisps.
Served in an asymmetrical oval bowl, the Alaskan king crab with green apple sorbetto and crab butter powder was artistically presented. The crustacean leg was succulent and the taste of the ocean contrasted with the tart sorbetto. It was a delightful pairing that whetted our appetite for Holly’s food.
The main course was rabbit braised in Arneis with chickpea gnocchi, porcini and house made pancetta. I don’t eat rabbit but my dining companions liked the tender meat and the texture of the gnocchi.
I had an alternative main of quail stuffed with house made ricotta and pancetta in reduction sauce with sweetbreads and chanterelles. A syrupy sauce simmered over many hours and reduced from litres to cups, it had a piquancy that complemented the other components of the dish.
The highlight of the meal was dessert. Resting in a puddle of Cardoon blossom honey, the panna votta was speckled with vanilla salt. It was a perfectly balanced dessert – creamy yet light, fragrant and sweet with bursts of saltiness. Matching wines were available and the Cascina del Santuario 2009 Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont intensified the flavours of the silky panna cotta.
October’s lunch concluded with brutti ma buoni. These ‘ugly but good’ hazelnut meringues crumbled and melted, and would be lovely with a cup of tea.
Sincere thanks to Darryl and Holly for an ethereal dining experience!
‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’ Samuel Johnson
I was delayed by Hurricane Irene in New York for two days and my direct flight London was rescheduled to one connecting via Amsterdam. Thank goodness I arrived in time to attend the wedding but I was reduced to just Saturday in London.
We missed the wedding of dear friends earlier this year in Australia. They have since moved to London and I had lunch with the newlyweds at Jamie’s Italian.
The flagship Covent Garden restaurant is spacious and lively. Seasonal produce are stacked in crates by the entrance, fresh pasta is handmade at the front, a bench is laden with crusty loaves of bread and the dining room features a charcuterie counter with legs of prosciutto di Parma dangling on hooks.
White tiles with black accents line the walls, Jamie Oliver branded products and cookbooks are neatly displayed on shelves, and wooden tables are matched to red lacquered chairs. Patrons sang a jovial rendition of ‘happy birthday’ when a cake with candles was delivered to a nearby table by staff.
The menu is divided into nibbles, antipasti, pasta, secondi and sides. As I browsed the menu, I could hear Jamie Oliver’s distinctive Essex accent reading it to me! We picked our courses between convivial conversations.
Mr M ordered crispy squid as an appetiser. Lightly floured and served with ‘really garlicky mayo’, a squeeze of lemon freshened the tender tentacles.
Mrs M and I had a crispy courgette flower each. Stuffed with four cheeses, lemon and mint, the golden zucchini flower was drenched in a puddle of olive and tomato sauce. I prefer battered to crumbed but it was rich and tangy.
Mr and Mrs M both selected main courses with squid ink. Mr M had scallop and squid ink spaghetti with chilli, parsley, anchovies, wine and capers. The snowy scallops contrasted with the black pasta. I twirled a few strands around my fork and it was deliciously briny.
Night on a plate, the crab and squid ink risotto had a mound of shredded crab meat and ‘crunchy herby breadcrumbs’.
A beautiful lemon colour, my bucatini carbonara was coated with egg and parmesan and dotted with pancetta and leek. The slippery buccatini is hollow in the middle and it was a smoky and simple lunch.
Mr M was full but the ladies welcomed the dolci menu with glee! A decadent treat, Mrs M selected a slice of chocolate and espresso tart with glazed figs and orange crème fraîche.
I defaulted to my favourite of tiramisù. On a rustic plate, the wedge of Italian dessert was layered sideways and covered with lemon zest.
It was lovely to spend the afternoon with Aussie friends, strolling the cobbled streets of ye olde London.