Posts Tagged ‘polenta’
It was a blissful afternoon of shopping in Portland. Alder & Co., Canoe, Flora, Hive and Woonwinkel were a modern collection of stores with curated homeware, jewellery, artworks and furniture. The contemporary aesthetics and stylish designs were stimulating! We re-caffeinated at Caffe Allora and joined the queue at Ken’s Artisan Pizza for dinner.
We were seemingly banished to wait at the back of the restaurant in the Bermuda Triangle of the dishwashing nook, an iron rack of logs for the wood fire oven and the bathrooms. I was surprised by a sprig of eucalyptus flower, leaves and gumnut at our table. I admired the vibrant hue as we sipped wine and whiled away two hours.
The wood fire oven is at the front of the restaurant where all the pizzas were made.
Paola‘s family serendipitously arrived as we were seated. It was nearly nine o’clock on a Friday night and Ken’s was buzzing.
Myra recommended the wood oven roasted vegetable plate. We ordered quickly as we were hungry and two of us were returning to Seattle afterwards. Clockwise from top right: carrots, chard, porcini and Asiago Vecchio; white runner beans, artichokes and tomato sauce; and polenta, kale, red pepper, almonds and chilli sauce. Tender and mellow, it was a requisite serving of vegetables.
We shared three pizzas. Ken’s crust was puffed and charred, a chewy dough that was sturdy support for the pizza toppings. The fennel sausage, onion, tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and hot Calabrian chilli pizza was spicy and bold.
I’m ambivalent to bacon but the guanciale pizza was a crispy homage to cured meat.
Last was my beloved prosciutto with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Generous ruffles of prosciutto di San Daniele were unctuous and sweet.
A creamy chocolate custard concluded our day in Portland. Paired with a quenelle of cream and studded with hazelnut crunch, the terracotta bowl was emptied with the assistance of an adorable mademoiselle!
Portland, we will return!
I celebrated Australia Day (26 January) with a private lunch at Salumi courtesy of Naomi. Founded by Mario Batali‘s father Armandino, Salumi is a family business that produces artisan cured meats with a retail store in historic Pioneer Square.
Resplendent in firecracker red, a tasselled Chinese lantern was sketched on the chalkboard. There was a Chinese New Year sandwich special on the menu for the Year of the Dragon.
A queue crammed in the narrow corridor and I weaved through the crowd to get to the back room. The blushed wall had a slot with a view of the communal table. A mosaic plaque was homage to the swine.
Opposite is a window into the storage facility where sausages dangled on a metal rack.
A pink chequered vinyl tablecloth brightened the room.
Translucent slices of salumi curled together.
Four rosy shades of salumi fanned around a platter.
A bowl of marinated mixed olives whetted our appetite.
We nibbled as introductions were made and wine was poured. The first course was tomato and mozzarella bruschetta, a classic.
Jalapeños were halved and stuffed with cream cheese and flecked with meaty fragments. Laced with heat, these morsels were bites of fun.
I was happy that the next course featured vegetables for a requisite serving of healthiness. Crunchy green beans and plump cherry tomatoes were tossed with slivers of bacon.
A traditional New Year dish, the cotechino and lentils were a taupe grainy mass studded with discs. With the exception of dal, I’m ambivalent to lentils but I liked the chewy texture of the boiled pork rind sausage.
Blistered and golden, next was a crisp edged frittata with cubes of fleshy potatoes.
A shallow bowl of aromatic soup was a welcomed palate cleanser. A deeply savoury broth, it reminded me of Chinese herbal soups that cure all ailments and enriches the soul.
A loyal carb lover, the highlight was the pappardelle with chicken, garlic, leeks and Vermouth. It was a symphony of harmonious flavours.
Just when we thought the meal was at its crescendo, the scent of truffles preceded the tray of polenta. I scooped a tasting portion on my plate and decanted some in a container to take home.
Dessert was wine poached pears cut into the shape of Dr Zoidberg from Futurama.
Shards of crackling concluded three hours of dining and wining, much as we did at Momofuku Seiōbo.
We slowly straightened from our chairs and waddled out for fresh air after indulging in the ‘chef’s whim menu’.
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Allan Aquila. This is not a sponsored post.
sozo (so·zo) – noun
To save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction. To save a suffering one from perishing, to make well, heal, restore to health.
Sozo is an artisan winemaker that selects quality grapes from vineyards to craft their own blends. The company partners with not-for-profit organisations to distribute a portion of sales to assist those in need. Each bottle of wine has a medallion affixed to its label to indicate its contribution to Sozo’s commitment to the community. For example, ’5 lives’ is equal to five meals supplied by local food banks.
Winemaker Cheryl Barber-Jones collaborated with Chef Peter Jahnke on the wine pairings for the five course tasting menu.
The first course was pear, caramelised onion and St André tart, and Sozo Humanity Riesling. Amber and flaky, the tart had a delicate sweetness that was accentuated by the mellow Riesling.
A generous fillet of salmon perched on a mound of mushroom risotto, and Sozo Potential Pinot Noir. Averse to fish skin, I gently peeled it from the perfectly cooked flesh. Both the salmon and creamy rice was well seasoned.
The third course was duck confit with lentils, and Sozo Abundant Mourvèdre Syrah Blend. I love duck but unfortunately this was a little dry and lacked the sumptuous texture of confit meat. Traditionally coupled with Pinot Noir, the Mourvèdre Syrah was a delightful match with the game.
Abundant Mourvèdre Syrah Blend, one of four Sozo wines sampled.
The penultimate dish of braised beef with blueberry barbecue glaze, polenta and kale, and Sozo Generosity Syrah Tempranillo Blend was my favourite of the evening. Tender chunks of slow cooked beef were atop luscious polenta and wilted kale.
We concluded with an affogato. A single shot espresso and a scoop of espresso gelato was presented in a coffee cup. The espresso and vanilla ice cream are served separately in a classic affogato. The caffeine and sugar were appreciated after four diverse savoury courses that highlighted the Sozo wines.
Charmed by the smooth Riesling, Mrs W and I both purchased a bottle.
We were gifted a bag of Yemen Mocca Sanani as we exited into the crisp night.
Sozo is on the wine list of more than seventy restaurants in Seattle. Next time you dine out, consider this socially responsible winemaker!
On our last day in Brisbane we bartered a ride to the airport for breakfast at The Little Larder. A popular café in the riverside neighbourhood of New Farm, it was quiet mid morning on a weekday. There was temporary reprieve from the heat and humidity of a subtropical spring.
A creative chalkboard in colourful calligraphy enticed passers-by.
Inside were birch tables, bold red walls and metal racks of newspapers and magazines. We were seated outside on a bench in the shade.
Stools were engraved with ‘Larder’.
A cute porcelain pot of sea salt flakes.
‘The lot’, a traditional British fry-up, will sustain you through the day! A large plate was piled with poached eggs, bacon, sausage, hash brown, caramelised onion, roasted tomato and toast.
The eggs Benedict was layered with grilled ham, ladled with a glossy Hollandaise sauce and topped with a crostini.
A healthy choice was poached eggs drizzled with dill mayonnaise on a square of crispy polenta served with roasted tomato, avocado slices, spinach and a wedge of lemon.
I have fond memories The Little Larder’s French toast with grilled banana and maple syrup so I ordered it again. Dusted with icing sugar, I saturated the eggy bread in the Canadian specialty. I savoured the sweet bananas, appreciating that it was still a treat after a cyclone damaged crops earlier this year.
We left content after a hearty breakfast, cups of coffee and glasses of cold pressed juices.
I grew up with communal dining at home and in restaurants. Why limit yourself to one item on the menu when you can sample several by sharing the dishes? To my delight, the small plates trend has continued. I stumbled upon Bisato scrawled on a Post-it stuck on the desk underneath a pile of papers. In my short time in Seattle, I have developed a haphazard note taking habit where restaurant names are scribbled on scrap paper, to be added to a computerised list later. I was intrigued by Bisato’s small plates approach and we find ourselves there for a mid-week dinner.
We nearly missed the nondescript entrance with minimal signage. There’s a small patio for sidewalk dining and I was worried the restaurant was closed as the outdoor chairs were stacked high. The interior is sparsely decorated with the long, curved bistro style bar its star. There’s a row of seats at the counter with a view of the open plan kitchen but we sat at an intimate table by the window.
Our waiter recommended two dishes per person to share and there’s also a comprehensive list of specials. We commenced our meal with the artisan bread with extra virgin olive oil. The bread was fluffy with a chewy crust, and the olive oil was pleasantly perfumed.
Mr S picked the red romaine lettuce salad with twenty year old balsamic and olive oil. Simple in appearance, it was a deceptively tasty salad. The separated leaves are piled in a large bowl and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Aged for twenty years, the premium grade balsamic had a sweet aroma and was smooth on the palate with a slight tang.
The salumi of the day was a choice between a selection of salami and prosciutto di Parma. While tantalised by dulce salami, Mr S yielded to my love of prosciutto.
We had inadvertently ordered only one hot dish – two quenelles of meat ragú were atop a rectangular block of polenta with a fonduta cheese sauce. The polenta was firm and the fonduta creamy but the highlight was the meat ragú. It tasted like puréed Bolognese sauce, an intense flavour that paired well with the polenta.
On the specials menu was bucatini in chives sauce with salmon roe. We were both surprised that the brightly coloured noodles were cold. The hollow spaghetti was slippery with the chives sauce and olive oil. Each mouthful was a perfect combination of freshness and salty, briny bursts of salmon roe.
I was pondering dessert and was keen on the lemon tart when our waiter impressed us with five dessert specials. The pineapple ravioli piqued my interest. Thinly sliced pineapple surrounded a single pineapple ravioli with rice pudding and pistachio, and a carafe of white chocolate jus was poured at the table. It might look odd and plain but it was a lovely summer dessert. Although I would have preferred a knife as it was challenge to cut the pineapple with spoon and fork!
Mr S opted for a cheese course of Pecorino Toscano baked on cedar with truffle honey. The wedge of cheese had small bubbles with a thin crust formed, and was soft and fragrant. It had a hint of smokiness and was just heavenly.
While the bill was more Sydney than Seattle, the food were creative interpretations of the traditional which made it a worthwhile dining experience.