Posts Tagged ‘Pike Place Market’
I check the weather forecast every day. In Sydney it was the maximum temperature. In Seattle it’s the precipitation. There have been winter days where I turn on all the lights at home, in defiance of the stubborn clouds. Flickering candles and mugs of steaming tea are comforting but there is optimism and contentment derived from sunshine that I miss dearly. So on days when the ashen clouds dissipate, Seattleites rejoice and squint.
It’s been months since I’ve dined at Seatown and congee (粥) had lured my return.
The undercover patio is perfect for a summer sunset over Puget Sound, viewed with freshly shucked oysters and a chilled bottle of wine.
Nautical themed, a steering wheel greeted patrons at the entrance. A panoramic painting of the Seattle cityscape featured on a peach wall.
The bar is the centrepiece of the dining room.
A skewered wedge of lime balanced on the rim of a hibiscus coloured blood orange fizz.
I eagerly awaited my bowl of congee. A popular breakfast food in Southeast Asia, the rice porridge is also the equivalent to chicken noodle soup. The Seatown version is topped with a poached egg and a scattering of green onions, and with sides of braised pork, bean paste and Chinese doughnut (油炸鬼).
Opaque and gelatinous, the congee was thick and gooey. The yolk was just set and I stirred through the pork and a dollop of sauce.
Although a little oily, the three batons of golden Chinese doughnuts were pleasingly crunchy.
Shirley ordered the orange maple French toast with apple butter. We shared sides of hash brown and smoked chicken sausages.
Stout and plump, the meaty sausages had a hint of smokiness and were well seasoned.
A mural of a peculiar plant that flowered knives and tongs.
Seatown was full by lunch time. We gladly vacated our table to enjoy the weather.
A group of friends gathered at 106 Pine for mid week wine and cheese. Next to Chocolate Box, both are boutiques specialising in Northwest goods. With adjacent entrances and a common wall with two gaps, the joie de vivre of chocolate, wine and cheese are intertwined.
A wooden table in the bay window was laden with Christmas themed gifts and wine paraphernalia. Recycled wine bottles are converted into bright lights.
I sampled the Chocolate Shop wine at Seattleite and Gilt City Seattle’s Fall Comforts Taste the Season at Wing Luke Museum a couple of months ago. It was a favourite of Naomi‘s, an infused red wine with an intense chocolate aroma.
A view into Chocolate Box and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.
A map of Washington State‘s American viticultural areas.
Bottles of wine lined neatly against the wall.
A long communal table is at the centre of the room. The bar separates a handful of cosy tables at the back.
It was a busy evening but service was efficient. The menu recommended wine flights, and wines are priced by full glass and tasting size. Flights of red wine were customised, and charcuterie and cheese platters were ordered to share.
From top to bottom: Mt Townsend Cirrus camembert, Beecher’s market herb curds, Rogue Creamery blue, Rollingstone Chèvre and Boat Street Pickles pickled raisins. Presented on a plank covered by parchment, the camembert was delightfully creamy, the curds squeaky, the blue mild, and the goat cheese delicate. I was the only one who nibbled on the mini bowl of pickled raisins which were appetisingly acidic.
A smiling Ms S said ‘wine and cheese, just like in France … I’m happy’!
The last of the Aussie visitors has been in the Four Corners region for a couple of months. Ms W was enjoying a weekend in a city, and we had lunch with her in the heart of Seattle. Pike Place Market was crowded on Seafair weekend but we were seated quickly at Etta’s.
With a long street frontage, Etta’s has two dining rooms separated by the entrance foyer. Both have an abundance of natural light and have booths for cosy conversations.
Dozens of colourful glass lamp shades hang from the ceiling and vibrant paintings decorate the walls. The corner bar was full and the TV tuned to a sports channel.
We were all curious about the Bloody Freeman brunch cocktail and Ms W bravely ordered one. Our eyes widened and there was a collective exclamation when the waiter delivered it.
A roasted pork rib balanced precariously on a toothpick of olive and asparagus. The short glass of house Bloody Mary was thickly rimmed with salt and served with a ‘beer caddy’.
Ms W declared the meaty rib delicious. The Bloody Mary was strong and the beer chaser was a palate cleanser for her meal.
The burger fiend that he is, Mr S chose the Oregon beef burger with smoky Jack cheese, bacon and fries. We’re yet to get accustomed to being asked how we would like our patties cooked. ‘Well done’ is my automatic response for it’s not steak!
Mr S rated this burger ‘good’. The bun was a little large for the patty but the strips of bacon were crispy and the shoestring fries crunchy.
I was mulling over the Hangtown fry, bacon scramble with fried oysters and spicy sour cream. Mr S dislikes cooked oysters and advised against it so I opted for the fish fry. Encased in golden crumbs, the pieces of Alaskan cod were flaky and moist which I dipped repeatedly in the tangy tartare sauce.
We heard a deep rumble as we were leaving and looked out to see the Blue Angels roar across the sky in formation.
Ms W farewelled us with a party invitation and we weaved through the masses to fill our bag with summer fruits.
Pike Place Market thrives with activity in summer. Tourists queue patiently for a coffee from the original Starbucks, buskers are vying for the attention of passers-by, crowds linger at the fishmonger eager to witness a salmon throw, children climb on Rachel the Pig like an amusement park ride, and locals shop and eat in the heart of Emerald City.
When I reflect on summer in Seattle, these would be the fond memories I’ll retrieve to endure another winter. On a postcard day, I meandered down to Post Alley for a weekday lunch with La Modette. I have not walked this section of Post Alley before, an eclectic collection of trinket stores and restaurants.
My usually reliable mobile phone had ingested polyjuice potion and assumed the temperament of a diva. I could not, for it would not let me, search for the address of The Pink Door. I strolled up and down Post Alley looking for a sign when I realised there is literally a pink door. More beige than pink, two painted marble columns guard the entrance to The Pink Door.
A restaurant with free live entertainment by night (cabaret, trapeze, burlesque), a table on the terrace is highly coveted at lunch. With a panoramic view of Puget Sound, the terrace is shaded by a wooden lattice and I could easily while away the afternoon with a bottle of crisp white and nibbling on antipasti.
Service was brisk and we were seated quickly at a vinyl clothed table. We ordered a glass a house red, a generic Italian wine served in classic beer bottles. It was more than a standard drink at eight ounces!
La Modette opted for the antipasti, a generous plate of prosciutto, salami, grilled seasonable vegetables, tapenade and mozzarella.
I selected lasagna Pink Door, their signature meal. Presented in an oval baking dish, sheets of silky pasta were layered with besciamella and pesto, and doused in marinara sauce. Each mouthful was a complex blend of creamy, tangy and earthy – it was the definition of comfort food.
We exited through the anonymous pink door warmed by the sun, glowing from the vino and enriched by travel stories.
The French stormed the Bastille 222 years ago yesterday. On a cool and windy Seattle summer day, Francophiles celebrated Bastille Day across the city. I romanticise about France – the language, the food, the wine, the fashion. And the thirty five hour working week! I’m disappointed that our tentative plan for a short trip across the English Channel in autumn has been foiled but alas, we’ll have Paris someday.
Café Campagne had a shortened lunch service to prepare for hosting the Bastille Day party in Post Alley. I made an effort to get there early to ensure I got a table. Groups trickled in and by midday, the restaurant was full.
A pretty posy of carnations greeted me as I was seated. The dining room is decorated in muted tones with colourful vintage posters on the walls and fresh flowers at every table. There’s a narrow strip of al fresco dining lined with fairy lights in petite scalloped lamp shades.
I could see the baguettes neatly stacked on a shelf and I could hear the sawing behind the counter to slice through the crust! The complimentary bread was chewy and appetising.
There’s a prix-fixe option on the menu with soupe du jour (creamy mushroom) and salade Niçoise. The man at the table next to me had oeufs en meurette, poached eggs served on garlic croutons with pearl onions, bacon champignons in red wine-foie gras sauce with pommes frites. It looked rich and wintery, so much so that he left his basket of pommes frites untouched.
Blistered and browned, the croque-madame was decadence on a plate. To describe this as a grilled ham and cheese sandwich is sacrilege. The molten Gruyère oozed and formed a crisp, salty edge, and the fried egg was golden and runny. The simple mixed leaves salad with vinaigrette freshened up the meal. I ate half and brought home the other half for dinner.
I was sad that they didn’t have tarte tartin but the waitress recommended the terrine au chocolat. The chocolate dessert terrine had an intriguing texture. It tasted like ice cream except it was not cold. It was smooth and creamy, a little denser than mousse. I love the combination of chocolate and hazelnut, and there were enough toasted hazelnuts for each spoonful of terrine! The liquid ring was orange syrup but it had more a kumquat flavour than orange.
A belated vive le quatorze juillet et bonne fête à tous!
On a balmy Saturday evening a few weekends ago, a group of eight descended the Pike Place Hill Climb and into Il Corvo for a Sardinia pasta and wine class with Mike Easton and Jerry Tide.
Unlike my previous visit, Procopio Gelateria was empty.
Stools were moved outside, wines were chilling and decanted, and pasta machines lined the communal bench.
As usual I was early so I assisted with the antipasti. I heaped spoonful of braised squid and octopus onto sliced and toasted baguettes while Mike spread roasted and puréed eggplant, chilli and garlic onto another platter of bread.
Meaty and tender, the braised squid and octopus were mixed with capers, garlic, smoked paprika and lemon juice, and sprinkled with fresh parsley. The eggplant was smoky sweet, with a hint of heat from the chilli.
We sipped on Prosecco as Mike explained that we would be making fresh pasta in pairs. He printed copies of the recipe and emphasised the importance of taking our own notes on techniques.
Flour and egg makes pasta! Thankfully Mike prefers the metric system as I’m bad at imperial conversions. The basic ratio for making pasta is one hundred grams of flour and one egg for one person.
We carefully measured the flour on a metric scale imported from Australia, made a well and cracked the room temperature eggs in the middle. We gently whisked the eggs and slowly stirred in the flour to form a sticky dough. Our hands dusted with flour, we kneaded the dough until it was smooth and firm. The key is to rest the dough for at least half an hour to let the gluten relax. I was concerned about over-kneading the dough but Mike said you cannot do that with pasta!
Mike commented that ‘French food is about process and discipline; Italians cook because they love to eat’. Mike’s philosophy is to do less but use quality ingredients to create ‘simple and thoughtful combinations’.
We flatten the dough with the palms of our hands and Mike demonstrated how to roll the dough through the pasta machine. There’s a rhythm to this – dust dough with flour, feed in widest setting, fold in thirds, adjust dial, dust dough with flour, feed in next setting. This process was repeated six or seven times. The dough had softened with time but was relatively sturdy to handle. You’ll know when the dough is ready by touch and feel, it’ll be different each time you make it.
We breathed in the fresh aroma of the dough and were looking forward to tasting our handiwork.
We switched from the dough roller to the pasta cutter. The dough was cut into shorter pasta sheets. We cranked the handle and strands of fettuccine emerged at the bottom.
It was a delight to watch the pale strips of cascading dough. Just as the last inch of dough disappeared into the machine, you gently bunch the fettuccine to ensure it doesn’t tangle.
I dangled the freshly made pasta on my hand, like swinging tassels on a curtain.
And of course we made too much pasta so we each took a container home. It can be stored in the fridge for up to five days or frozen. I like that it doesn’t have to be defrosted before cooking!
Mike makes fresh pasta every day. The lunch menu changes daily at Il Corvo – short pasta, long pasta, filled pasta and gnocchi. He brought out a plate of cavatelli, a short curled pasta made with semolina flour.
Making cavatelli is a labour of love. The antique handheld tool produces one vavatelli with each rotation!
The star of the show was the pasta which cooks in ninety seconds. Mike simmered bruised cloves of garlic and chilli in olive oil.
The glistening ribbons were tossed with the infused olive oil and grated bottarga.
There was a collective sigh as we each had our first mouthful of artisan pasta. Cooked al dente, the slippery fettuccine was the perfect balance of the salty and briny bottarga, the mellow and aromatic garlic, and heat from the chilli. It was so delicious that I replicated the recipe at home with the leftover pasta.
While we were cleaning up and wiping flour from every surface, Mike was cooking our secondo – pesce arrostiti alla Sarda. Seared then baked, the whole trout was served with potatoes and olives.
In between all that, Jerry poured us glasses of Vermentino and Cannonau (Grenache). The Vermentino was light and summery, and the Cannonau was a pleasant pairing for the fish. There was also Lambrusco and I discovered I was partial to a nip of Amaro!
Hands-on and casual, it was a fun three hours. Sincere thanks to Mike and Jerry for sharing their passion and expertise for food and wine. Salute!
After sampling an ice cream float of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams‘ cherry Lambic sorbet and vanilla bean DRY Soda, we crossed the street to Le Pichet for lunch. An overcast and humid day, we dined al fresco, Parisian sidewalk style.
Le Pichet is a charming place with the menu in French first, then English. There is gold cursive French phrases etched in the glass pane and the window is adorned with a vase of beautiful pink blooms.
The lunch menu is divided into sections of snacks, salads, charcuterie, mains and cheeses. It was a quick French lesson for me! Ms K ordered the baguette and Ms M the lentils and beets salad. The second Ms K opted for two eggs broiled with ham and Gruyère, a brightly presented dish with the aromas wafting across the table.
I was keen on tasting more of the local spring asparagus and selected the dish with Gouda, poached egg and lemon vinaigrette. If only I could pronounce ‘asperges de notre région au vieux Gouda et son oeuf poché’!
The salad reminded me of the book Eat Pray Love. In Italy, the author buys a bunch of asparagus from the local market and cooks a simple lunch in her apartment. An emotional Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, ‘for the longest time I couldn’t even touch this food because it was such a masterpiece of lunch’. I did pause to admire the beauty of the assembled ingredients but did not hesitate to break the yolk!
I mopped up the leftover dressing with a side of pommes frites. These were delicious French fries - just the right thickness and the perfect homage to the humble potato.
Dessert as a first course, lovely company, delicious food - it’s the definition of joie de vivre!
I was lucky to attend the Seattle CityClub 2011 Gala Luncheon held last Friday at The Westin Seattle Grand Ballroom. The theme for this year was ‘Nourishing Community: The Business and Pleasure of Food in Washington‘.
The grand ballroom is enormous – rectangular tables are angled towards the stage, a motorised platform was used to change a light bulb in a chandelier and there were at least a dozen staff setting the table. I joined a group of volunteers to layout the table arrangements and place programmes on the chairs.
Sponsors had displays in the lobby area. The Neighbourhood Farmers Market Alliance had a shelf of flowering pot plants and sample produce.
Trays of fragrant strawberries lined the Hayton Farms table, enticing guests to admire the blushing beauties.
Full Circle is an organic produce delivery service. The baskets of radishes, parsnips and leafy green vegetables were seasonal and fresh.
I was seated late and one of the last to be served lunch so it was unfortunately cold. Despite the temperature, the herb-roasted free range chicken was moist and tender. I prefer the thigh part of chicken but the breast meat was not dry or chalky.
Accompanying the protein was a salad with Snohomish corn and cucumber, and an oil-cured panzanella with Kalamata olives, heirloom tomatoes and Pinot noir vinaigrette. The highlight was the heirloom tomatoes – delightfully sweet and fleshy. In contrast, the panzanella was soggy and bland.
There were many knowing glances and appreciative nods when dessert was announced. Tom Douglas remained on stage and told the story of the triple coconut cream pie from the lectern. The dessert was created for his first restaurant, Dahlia Lounge, to ‘convey a homespun-ness’ and ‘doesn’t taste like suntan lotion’.
The platters of Tom Douglas coconut pie bites were delivered with a flourish. We all looked left, then right, too polite to be the first to take one! I’ve already waxed lyrical about the signature triple coconut cream pie and I was lucky to take a couple of the leftovers home for Mr S.
While cutlery clinked on crockery and the bread and butter were passed around, the panel assembled on stage for the conversation part of the programme.
Moderated by Megan Karch, CEO of FareStart, it was an engaging discussion with:
* Chris Curtis, founder of Seattle’s first neighbourhood farmers market and the Neighbourhood Farmers Market Alliance;
* Tom Douglas, restaurateur, caterer and author;
* Michael Hebb, founder of One Pot; and
* Robin Pollard, executive director of Washington State Wine Commission.
Below are some comments that resonated with me.
Chris Curtis – director of Neighbourhood Farmers Market Alliance
* Farmers markets need space locally
* Passionate about how to activate and make the community thrive, and to recognise seasonality of food
Tom Douglas – restaurateur, caterer and author
* Pike Place Market is the heart and soul of the city
* The economics of the restaurant business is tough
Michael Hebb – founder of One Pot
* Challenged the audience to host a locally source dinner party, ‘fire, pot and table’
* Emphasised the importance of the dining table and what it symbolises
Megan Karch - CEO of FareStart
* Focus on educating youth so they can be informed consumers
* Encourage youth to pursue careers in the industry
Robin Pollard – executive director of Washington State Wine Commission
* Only 35% of Washingtonians drink local wines
* Need to invest in infrastructure in the region to make it world class
In her closing remarks, the president of the CityClub board of governors Olivia Lippens described CityClub as a bipartisan collective that nurture the community spirit and a convener of ideas that encourage diverse voices. And that encapsulated what ‘Nourishing Community: The Business and Pleasure of Food in Washington’ was all about!
I’m an impatient person. I dislike lateness and just tolerate timeliness. I’m almost always early which perpetuates my impatience! Cooking risotto is a mental challenge - like a child on a road trip, ‘are we there yet, are we there yet’. As for roasting, baking or grilling, I’ve been known to turn the oven light on and sit cross legged in front of the glass panel, staring, willing it to cook faster with my Jedi mind powers.
We thought we had enough time for brunch on Saturday prior to an appointment. We slid into a booth at Steelhead Diner and quickly ordered. The restaurant was busy, all the tables and booths were occupied and most of the counter seats were filled. Although crowded, there was a pleasant hum to the place, a rhythm to the shuffling waitstaff.
There is an Australian connection at Steelhead Diner and Chef Kevin Davis’s love of fly fishing is evident throughout the dining room. The fly, an artificial lure or bait, features prominently as the restaurant logo, is the design on the plates and are displayed in acrylic boxes along the booth dividers.
Our booth had a view into the kitchen via a framed wall cut-out and it was a hive of activity, there was a silent efficiency to the chefs’ movements in a confined space.
And so we waited. Mr S sipped his drip coffee and I drained my freshly squeezed orange juice. And we waited. The booths on either side of us were served their meals. And we continued to wait. At this point, I got really agitated as we were at risk of being late for our appointment, so I asked as politely as possible about our meals.
I explained that we were now in a hurry and the waiter was apologetic, so much so that he returned with a complimentary starter of a slice of caviar pie with traditional garniture. I had momentarily mistaken it for a slice of cheesecake!
The biscuit base was replaced by finely chopped boiled eggs, the cheese was crème fraiche and the topping were four types of caviar. It was a kaleidoscope of colours with capers and diced red onions scattered on the plate. Creamy and briny, it was a heavy dish to nibble on for two.
I’m usually a slow eater but we ate our meals in record time. I hoovered my eggs Benedict, my plate emptied before Mr S’s. On soft, chewy toast, the ‘sequimbled eggs’ had chunks of Dungeness crab with two perfectly poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce.
A gentle nudge with the knife released a golden ribbon of egg yolk, and it swirled through the sweet crab meat and mixed with the mild Hollandaise. I regretted not savouring each mouthful more.
A thick patty wedged in a Frisbee sized bun, the Wagyu beef burger was massive. With molten cheddar, sautéed onions and mushrooms, tomato and lettuce, the burger was rich and filling. I deftly snatched a couple of chips and the golden batons were crunchy and not oily, probably the best chips I’ve had in Seattle.
As we were paying the bill, one of the chefs poked his head out of the frame and apologised again for the lateness of our meals. Despite the rush, we appreciated the effort of both the waitstaff and the kitchen to redress the situation. And we made it to our appointment just in time!