Posts Tagged ‘risotto’
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!
Disclosure: I received a demo product from Duo PR. This is not a sponsored post.
I discriminate against the chicken breast. I grew up eating the tender meat of thigh fillets and drumsticks, and the tough, dry and bland breasts were relegated to soups or shredded for sandwiches. This makes the chicken breast perfect for cooking sous vide. Poaching food in a vacuum sealed pouch cooks it evenly and gently, retains moisture in the protein, and infuses the seasoning.
I followed this recipe for basic sous vide chicken and added tarragon. Although I’d be reluctant to have the machine on without me being home, it doesn’t require the supervision and vigilance of a stove. I sprinkled the chicken breasts liberally with tarragon, salt and pepper, vacuumed sealed each in individual bags, and refrigerated until two hours prior to dinner.
While the chicken breasts were submerged in 63.5 degrees Celsius, I chopped and sautéed vegetables for the accompanying risotto. The SousVide Supreme Demi is silent and does not emit heat. I lift the lid several times out of curiosity and steam fogs up my glasses.
The final step of the recipe suggests searing in butter until golden. I would have if I was using a skillet or pan for another part of the meal already but I wasn’t so I minimised dishwashing by skipping it. The chicken breast was tinged a pale pink and it sliced with ease.
Chicken and tarragon are a classic pairing and the fragrant herb lingered. It had a soft, yielding texture and was delectable with the slight crunch of the vegetables in the risotto.
The chicken breast is redeemed by sous vide!
‘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.
We were introduced to Seattle happy hour by an expat. If you adjust your dinner time to early or late, you can eat at some quality restaurants for a bargain price. I like that happy hour encourage people to dine out but sometimes I ponder how sustainable it is for businesses to maintain such discounts.
After heavy traffic en route to Bellevue, I was in need of a beverage and nibbles. We were at Cypress Wine Bar with a group of expat Aussies. Cypress Wine Bar is in The Westin Bellevue – it is an open space with a high ceiling and wide windows, we were seated near a fireplace with small tables and diamond-shaped lounge chairs. The appetizers and small plates are half price between 5pm and 7pm and some drinks are also on discount. All their wines are local except for the champagne and I ordered a flight of dry white wines. For $11, I was expecting sample size glasses but they were served in stemware and half full!
We ordered several dishes to share and I sampled the crab cakes, ribs, Mediterranean plate and the complimentary ciabatta. The two puck like Dungeness crab cakes were in a pool of honey mustard sauce with a side of wilted spinach in a Belgian endive leaf. The sauce is pleasantly mild and there is plenty of crab in the crab cakes. They’re pan-fried to a golden hue and the crispy, caramelised edge is a lovely contrast to the moist crab inside.
The ribs were thick batons in a syrupy glaze. I’m indifferent to ribs and these were okay. There was enough meat to make the effort to eat them but it does not fall off the bone nor melt in your mouth.
The complimentary ciabatta was my favourite antipasto. The bread is fresh and dense, drizzled with olive oil and an abundance of ingredients are piled on top. There is char-grilled asparagus spears, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and pitted black olives. It is sunshine on a plate!
The after work catch up evolved into a progressive dinner – appetizer at Cypress Wine Bar, main at McCormick & Schmick’s and dessert at The Cheesecake Factory. It was more a regressive dinner for me – the restaurants got darker and I ate smaller portions.
I had half a serving of grilled wild Alaskan halibut with tomato confit and mushroom risotto which was a heavy dish. The risotto was creamy and buttery, and olive oil was swirled around the plate. In a gluttonous moment, I added a side of onion rings. I gasped when the waitress placed it on our table – they weren’t onion rings, they were onion bangles! They were coated in a thick batter that was crunchy and salty.
Our evening concluded with cheesecakes. One slice each of key lime cheesecake, Godiva chocolate cheesecake and white chocolate caramel macadamia cheesecake between eight people and there were still leftovers. It was a sticky sweet good night.