Posts Tagged ‘quail’
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!
Posted Monday 01 August 2011on:
Cellar door tastings are free at most Australian wineries. We did a couple of day tours of California Wine Country on bicycles last year and we were shocked that we had to pay up to fifteen dollars for a flight of wines in the Napa Valley.
When I read that Soul Wine and Tom Douglas Restaurants were hosting Renato Ratti Winery, I called immediately to reserve spots. At twenty five dollars for the Piedmontese wine tasting and food pairing, it was exceptional value.
Ting Momo was an ideal space for the size of the group. Two long tables were set in the narrow room.
The afternoon sun shone brilliantly and a cool breeze drifted in through the open windows.
Behind Brave Horse Tavern and above Cuoco in the Terry Avenue Building, Ting Momo serves Tibetan dumplings for weekday lunches. Aluminium tables, wicker chairs and wooden benches add to a casual feel.
Seven wines and five dishes were on the menu and the wines were generously discounted for order.
Cuoco Chef Stuart Lane briefly described how each of the dishes was cooked.
Tom Douglas Restaurant Executive Chef Eric Tanaka assisted in the kitchen. The dishes were plated on the Ting Momo counter.
I love the vintage style labels on the Renato Ratti wine bottles.
Many Australian and New Zealand wines are twist tops. We’ve used our wine opener more in the last six months than in the previous six years!
We sipped on the first wine, 2009 Dolcetto d’Alba Colombè, as attendees trickled in. One of those was Tom Douglas!
The melodic sound of wine being poured into a glass, swirling the ruby liquid to release the aromas, caressing the stemware to reflect light, staring contemplatively at the wine legs - the beautiful ritual of wine tasting!
On the right is Michael Teer, owner of Soul Wine. Michael introduced his friend, Pietro Ratti on the left. Pietro’s father, Renato, worked in Brazil for the Cinzano company before returning to Piedmont and bought his first vineyard in 1965. Pietro inherited the winery from his father and he applies the same philosophy and approach as Renato. Pietro spoke with passion and humour, and we were all charmed by his Italian accent!
The region is also known for white truffles and Pietro joked that it’s better than the French ‘black potatoes’. Pietro explained that the Renato Ratti Winery owns parcels of land throughout the region and is not an estate. Grapes vary depending on soil (sandy or clay) and altitude (temperature); there are different microclimates within a distance of less than twenty miles.
Barolo is labour intensive, and it is manual and not mechanical. The viticulture is only on a hillside facing the sun at specific latitude. The grapes are tasted to determine when and where to pick. Each cluster of grapes is cut by hand. Cotton gloves are worn to protect the wax (natural water proofing) and yeast (natural fermentation) on the grapes.
The grapes are then crushed by equipment to replicate the gentle movement of feet. By law, Barolo has to age for at least twenty four months. Pietro recommended ‘drinking ’07 and cellaring ’06′.
Tom Douglas queried why Pietro doesn’t produce Rosato. Pietro responded that the yield is small and it interrupts the summer! Pietro mingled among the groups as we ate and drank and he happily answered our questions.
An earthenware plate with a slice of marinated red pepper was brightened by grassy green fava beans. Marinated in vinegar, the red pepper was a lovely balance of sweet and sour.
Carne cruda is a traditional Piedmontese dish. Similar to tartare, this was made with lightly seasoned minced lamb and drizzled with olive oil. This was the first time I’ve eaten raw meat and it was less meaty than expected, more like tuna.
Perched on the Barbera braised onions was a wedge of Toma. The layers of translucent onions were daintily sweet and their edges dyed by the wine. A Piedmontese cheese, the mild and creamy Toma highlighted the flavours of the small bulbs. Chef Stuart Lane noted the key to cooking onions is to lose rawness but retain freshness.
A tiny leg of quail was atop a smear of liver pâté. Golden and crispy on the outside, the quail was plump and moist. Mr S exalted the smooth and buttery liver pâté.
The final course was Nebbiolo Kobe beef cheeks with spiced lardo toast. Dark and chunky, the beef was easily pulled apart with only a fork. It was tender and enriched by the Nebbiolo.
Chef Stuart Lane commented on the interplay between food and wine, that it is a transformative relationship. Each bite and sip reveals depth and complexity to the food and wine.
Sincere thanks To Pietro Ratti for visiting Seattle, Soul Wine for organising the tasting event, Ting Momo for hosting, and Cuoco for the food pairings. Grazie!
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.