Posts Tagged ‘seafood’
It was a pleasant May in Seattle. I did not feel sodden as I did last spring and we were blessed with many glorious days as a prelude to the northern summer. On a pleasant Saturday we enjoyed apéritifs at Tavern Law and sauntered down to Momiji (紅葉) for dinner with a group of Australian expats and tourists.
With the exception of the wide street frontage, the layout of Momiji is the same as Umi’s. A corridor opened to a spacious dining room. The counter had a prime view of the sushi chefs deftly slicing sashimi and shaping nigiri.
At the centre was a serene Japanese garden.
We ordered an array of dishes among the seven of us. First was ahi pokē. Diced ahi tuna and cucumber were tossed with onion slivers, shichimi (Japanese seasoning), soy sauce and sesame seeds. The first time I ate pokē was at a Flying Fish cooking class. A Hawaiian salad, it had a luscious contrast of textures.
A plate of prawn and vegetable tempura was coated in a lumpy batter and pleasingly crunchy.
Poached beets, and a mound of arugula and shiso were drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.
Portions of grilled king crab was paired with ponzu dipping sauce and mixed greens. A generous serving, the crustacean was charred and meaty.
Soft shell crabs were pan fried to golden brown. The spindly morsels were sweet and succulent.
Wrinkled and charred, the half dozen prawn and scallop gyoza were juicy parcels of seafood encased in a thin wrapper.
Buckwheat noodles were stir-fried with cubes of tofu and an assortment of vegetables. Garnished with green onions, pickles and nori, the triangular bowl of yakisoba was a symphony of flavours.
With casual ambience and quality ingredients, Momiji is a delicious addition to 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill.
I succumbed to a Groupon deal a couple of months ago. I paid twenty five dollars for fifty dollars worth of food and beverages at Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar. We were at the Kangaroo and Kiwi Pub in the early hours of Sunday morning to cheer on the Wallabies in the Rugby World Cup. Alas we were disappointed with the result and woke up lethargic. Within walking distance, the voucher was perfect for a lazy dinner.
As with many restaurants in Seattle, Seastar is dimly lit. The restaurant was full so we sat in the bar. A spacious area with individual tables, a communal bench and counter seating, it was a busy evening being the first day of the autumn Seattle Restaurant Week. A single glassybaby was our source of light to read the menu.
The menu was a combination of hot and cold seafood. We selected a soup, a sushi roll and the raw bar sampler to share. The large bowl of Dungeness crab and corn bisque was warming. Absent of corn kernels, the bisque had chunks of Dungeness crab and was drizzled with a Madeira reduction and fresh chives. The Port added a depth of flavour to the bisque.
We misread the menu and expected a plate of tempura but it was futomaki tempura! Coated in tempura batter, the sushi roll had cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, asparagus, green onion and daikon pickle. It was an odd sensation to eat warm sushi but the vegetables were pleasingly crunchy.
The three tiered raw bar sampler was presented with a flourish. On the bottom was scallop ceviche with mango-kiwi relish, lemon, lime and cilantro. Unripe fruits and acidic juices masked the sweetness of the scallops.
In the middle was a California roll of Dungeness crab, avocado and cucumber. These bite size morsels had plenty of fresh crab.
And on the top was ahi pokē. Cubes of tuna were marinated in soy, chilli, Maui onions and sesame seeds. Wafer thin taro crisps were the utensil topped with strands of daikon radish and green onions.
On a glass tile, the aloha roll was bursting with ahi, hamachi, salmon, avocado, cucumber and chilli. This sushi roll lacked the finesse of Japanese cuisine but had an abundance of glistening sashimi.
Service was mostly absent but it was value for money!
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Lane PR. This is not a sponsored post.
I like wine. A simple statement, yet meaningful. Moments in life are celebrated or commiserated with wine. Champagne flutes at weddings, a bottle of red to listen to a friend, decanters at dinner parties or a glass while cooking. Our ‘cellar’ in Sydney, a cupboard underneath the staircase, was partial to bold Australian reds and fruity whites. We were blessed with wine regions in each state and proximity to New Zealand. I considered French, Italian and Spanish wines as special and for restaurant wine lists as they tend to be expensive.
We have drunk more ‘foreign’ wines in the eight months we’ve been here than we did the last three years in Sydney. They’re affordable and of quality. We’ve sampled Piedmontese wines and learned about French wines from Gallic friends. My knowledge of Spanish wines was limited to Tempranillo and Pedro Ximénez so I was keen to attend the eighteenth annual Wines from Spain Great Match ‘featuring Spain’s vivacious varietals’ held at the Washington Athletic Club (WAC).
Leslie Sbrocco hosted a Rías Baixas (means lower estuaries) tasting. The Denominación de Origen (Denomination of Origin, DO) in Galicia is located in northwest Spain and there are five sub zones. It’s wet and lush in the Atlantic climate and the grapes are grown over pergolas for air circulation, to ripen the fruit and to prevent mildew. An intense minerality of the wines is from the granite in the area. Leslie noted that Albariño is a balanced wine that is flexible with food pairings. Local dishes such as roasted Padrón peppers, tetilla cheese (‘nipple’ cheese) and percebes (goose barnacles) are eaten with Albariño.
We tasted eight wines – five from the Val do Salnés sub zone, two from O Rosal and one from Condado do Tea. Of varying shapes, sizes and colours, the eight bottles are a reflection of the diverse culture of Rías Baixas!
From left to right: Condes de Albarei Albariño 2010, Burgáns Albariño 2010, Mar de Frades Albariño 2010, Albariño de Fefiñanes 2010, Laxas Albariño 2010, Valmiñor Albariño 2010, Santiago Ruiz Albariño 2010 and Pazo Señoráns Albariño 2010.
Wine glasses were placed on a numbered piece of paper. As we swirled, sniffed and sipped, Leslie talked us through each wine and the audience commented on the aromas and flavours. The Rías Baixas DO has 9,000 acres planted and 6,500 growers with half an acre being the average plot of land. Leslie quoted a grower that ‘it’s like a garden’. It is a mountainous topography with thick foliage.
My favourite was the Albariño de Fefiñanes, a vibrant and elegant wine from an old winery. The Mar de Frades Albariño has a thermo-sensitive logo of a ship that only appears on the label when the wine is chilled to a serving temperature of approximately 55°F. The label of the Santiago Ruiz Albariño is hand drawn by the owner as a map for his daughter’s wedding.
After tasting eight wines and only eating a couple of thin slices of baguette, I was in need of food to absorb the alcohol before the main tasting. A handful of clothed tables were decorated with a bowl of spiced Marcona almonds and a saffron coloured Dahlia.
Tiered platters of charcuterie had a selection of cheeses and cold cuts including Manchego, tetilla, jamón serrano and chorizo.
A large salad of greens, tomatoes, corn, Manchego, red onions and vinaigrette was fresh and tangy.
The tortilla de patatas is a soothing wedge of comfort food and I devoured the Spanish omelette with potatoes and onions.
Bain-marie stations had spicy chicken empanadas, and bamboo skewers of marinated and grilled scallop, salmon and halibut.
Albondigas, meatballs in tomato sauce, were neatly lined in a tray.
A spoonful of paella was topped with saffron seared scallop.
I was so happy there was lamb. Seasoned with garlic and parsley, the lamb chops were tender and juicy, and slightly pink in the middle.
Nourished and hydrated, I walked a couple of laps of the Crystal Ballroom. A beautiful bouquet was the centrepiece.
Hundreds of WAC branded wine glasses were gleaming.
A grand room lit by chandeliers, it was buzzing with wine lovers.
I spotted Salty Seattle who introduced me to The GastroGnome. We drank merrily, and had convivial conversations with representatives from Lane PR, Embassy of Spain and Trade Commission, and Wines from Spain.
The highlight was the Conde de Valdemar Reserva 2005 and Gran Reserva 2004, both spicy and rich Tempranillo. The terms Reserva and Gran Reserva are governed by law in Spain, stipulating a minimum period of aging in barrel and bottle.
It was a fun afternoon and I can now select Spanish wines with some confidence.
I consider Seinfeld the seminal sitcom of my generation. I have much affection for the flawed characters and how they navigate the minutiae of life. Jerry Seinfeld has toured Australia a couple of times but I deemed the tickets too expensive. I was very happy when I found out he would be in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre at an affordable price. This was the first show we’ve attended since we moved here and I really miss live comedy and theatre.
Conveniently located near the Paramount Theatre, we had reserved a table at Blueacre Seafood for pre-show dinner. I have tasty memories of the food at the Barton Seaver event several months ago and was looking forward to our meal.
There was an enticing three courses for thirty dollars Harvest Moon special but we resisted the prix fixe and opted for the seasonal à la carte menu.
A curved oyster bar is at the front, the main dining room is elevated by a couple of steps and wooden panels divide the space. Tinted glass panes filter the view into the large kitchen and tinged the booths a royal blue.
I spotted both owners, Chef Kevin Davis was in the kitchen and General Manager Teressa Davis was on the floor.
There are some similarities between Blueacre and its sister restaurant, Steelhead Diner. Complimentary bread is served with triangles of seasoned butter and the crockery is branded with the logo. The butter was dressed with a squeeze of lemon and a dusting of salt, an appetising contrast.
We had fun designing combinations from the extensive menu. Mr S ordered a cup of duck and andouille gumbo for his first course. The small container was full of sliced sausage and duck pieces, the spiciness absorbed by a scattering of rice.
I chose the jumbo lump Dungeness crab cake. A deconstructed crab cake, the tender chunks of meat is pressed into shape with no binding agent. A squiggle of mustard lime sauce and topped with mirliton salad, it was homage to the sweet Dungeness crab.
Mr S selected the Hawaiian tuna for his main course. Thick medallions of peppercorn crusted and seared rare fish was paired with whipped potatoes, frizzled leeks and sauce au poivre. The sharpness of the crushed peppercorns was tempered by the pepper sauce soaked starch.
I had the Totten Inlet mussels in green curry of coconut milk, grilled lime, ginger and chilli. The aromatic broth was soothing and light, and the mussels were fresh and plump.
We shared a side of fried sweet corn. I renewed my love for corn with this dish. The juicy kernels were lightly charred and coated in butter, espelette and sea salt.
We concluded with German chocolate cake with black walnut ice cream and cocoa soil. The layered chocolate cake was glossy and dense, textured with shredded coconut and chopped walnuts.
Jerry Seinfeld was entertaining and it was invigorating to laugh at his vignettes of coffee, marriage and food!
I was exploring the Flatiron District after lunch at Shake Shack and I found myself at the entrance of Eataly. I stood on the sidewalk for several minutes, observing the speed of the foot traffic in and out. I finally walked in, thinking I’ll do a quick lap and exit.
All my senses were on alert. Cutlery clanging on china, diners conversing and shoppers ordering, the decibel of the din would be near noise pollution. The hum of human activity and the kaleidoscope of colours was a sight to behold. The aroma of freshly ground coffee wafted through the air. I breathed in deeply, to ease the anxious feeling of being enveloped in a large crowd, and to absorb caffeine!
I got lost in Eataly. Unlike IKEA, there were no arrows on the floor, no dividers for a path and no map. Directionally challenged, I weaved and wandered until I took a photo of every section and every restaurant.
The Eataly website lists twenty sections in their market and twelve places to eat. Below is a selection of them!
Wood fire ovens and counter seating at La Pizza and La Pasta for Neapolitan pizzas and al dente pasta.
Il Pesce serves fresh seafood including whole fish.
Paninoteca‘s chalkboard menu highlights regional specialties.
A pretty display of single portion cakes and tarts at Dolci.
With such a concentration of eateries, Eataly is ideal for progressive meals. Apéritif at Birreria, appetizer at one restaurant, main course at another, dessert at Dolci or Gelateria, and conclude with an espresso at Caffe Lavazza or Caffe Vergnano.
A stainless steel espresso machine is the centrepiece of Caffe Vergnano, a standing only espresso bar.
Caffe Lavazza is at the Fifth Avenue entrance and you can while away an afternoon people watching.
Cone, cup or to go, the Gelateria has three sizes and many flavours of gelati.
The market is well stocked with dried pasta.
Shelves are laden with sauces.
Marinated, stuffed and in brine, jars of olives aplenty.
A multitude of packaged biscotti.
Preserves and conserves of every fruit.
Chilled local and imported beer.
Sliced and packaged salumi.
Boxes of cheese wedges.
The butcher has some local and organic meats.
The requisite hanging and dangling salumi.
The bakery bakes daily on site.
Bags of flour are stacked high for handmade fresh pasta.
‘The mozzarella you eat at Eataly is never more than two hours old.’
I had a fleeting urge to roll one of these Parmigiano Reggiano wheels around Eataly.
The fishmonger’s seafood is ‘never frozen’.
The fresh produce are piled high in wicker baskets.
The greens and root vegetables are neatly presented.
Beautiful trays of mushrooms.
Some on vine, others wrapped in protective foam, the tomatoes were glossy and vibrant.
A curated bookstore on Italian culinary culture.
Basic dinnerware and glassware.
Melamine glasses and bowls in rainbow hues.
A ten point manifesto and a motto, ‘eat better, cook simpler’.
I left contemplating how local European style delicatessens and providores can compete with a corporate marketplace that is Eataly.
Seattle is vibrant in late summer. The brilliant weather has us all out and about. Keen to be outdoors in the balmy dusk, we strolled through Pike Place Market to Lecosho. The patio emptied of Downtown workers as we perused the drinks menu.
Our table had a direct view into the main dining room. Furnished in muted tones and dark veneers, the lofty space had a long bar and an open kitchen in the corner. Sunlight streamed in through the floor to ceiling windows.
Our table was brightened by a jug of blossoming dahlias.
Lecosho is the Chinook slang for swine and there’s a chubby pig on their logo!
We nibbled Marcona almonds and olives as we pondered dinner choices. A round and stout variety of almonds, the Marcona had a fine texture, and were fried and salted.
Complimentary bread was from Columbia City Bakery. I like the dainty glass butter dish on a distressed wood board.
The gentlemen ordered the Catalan style fish soup. An abundance of prawns, clams, mussels and finfish mingled with a saffron sofrito broth. I had a spoonful and the soup was infused with the briny essence of the fresh seafood.
The ladies opted for the ricotta gnocchi with chanterelle mushrooms, asparagus and Pecorino Romano. Pan fried with a crisp shell, the gnocchi was pillowy soft inside and paired well with the crunchy spears of asparagus.
The gentlemen eschewed dessert for whisky and Scotch digestifs, poured by Jerry who was the sommelier at the Il Corvo Sardinia pasta and wine class.
Ms S picked the bittersweet chocolate torte served with a quenelle of cream about the same size as the torte. Cracked and sunken in appearance, the slice was rich and velvety.
I had the vanilla rice pudding with stewed rhubarb topped with a petite madeleine. Dotted with vanilla bean, the bowl of rice pudding was decadently creamy.
I ate the petite madeleine last as its sweetness would have overwhelmed the delicate vanilla perfume.
We agreed to return to taste the restaurant’s namesake which features on the menu as porchetta, rillettes, sausage and pork chop!
It was night by the time we left, the chill of autumn in the air.
I’m an omnivore. I love roasted and stir-fried vegetables, and my daily sugar intake is mostly from fruits. I also love barbecued lamb cutlets, pulled pork tacos, traditional roasts, duck confit, prosciutto and Hainan chicken rice. But I feel no love for steak.
A slab of meat on a plate swimming in its own juices and oozing blood is how I think of steak. It was with trepidation that I descended the steps into Morton’s The Steakhouse for dinner with two visiting Aussies.
In contrast, Mr S was buzzing with anticipation. A metallic cow sculpture dangled ominously over the staircase as we lowered ourselves into the basement restaurant.
We sat at the bar and sipped apéritifs as we waited for our dining companions. Russet coloured wood panels and dim lighting created a Mad Men like atmosphere, thankfully the smoke haze was absent.
My lemon drop was sharp and tart, and I discreetly licked all the sugar off the rim of the cocktail glass!
Fast talking and in a suit, our waiter presented the menu with a flourish. A trolley was wheeled over by our table, laden with all the cuts of beef and a basket of vegetables. ‘And this is the potato.’ He said in his deep voice with such gravity that I find myself nodding in agreement, ‘yes that is indeed a potato’.
After much deliberation over the menu, where the word ‘jumbo’ featured prominently, our waiter delivered the complimentary bread. Pillowy and warm, the size and shape of the gigantic bun reminded me of a damper. I was starving so I tore at this with gusto but Mr H reminded me of the impending courses.
We each selected a seafood appetiser of which there was total photo fail due to the poor lighting. We played musical chairs with our food so we had a taste of all four dishes.
The essence of lobster was distilled into the creamy bisque. The jumbo lump crabmeat cocktail and colossal shrimp Alexander were aptly named, jumbo and colossal respectively. Succulent and juicy, the broiled sea scallops were perfect without the bacon jacket they were wearing.
I deftly averted a Brussel sprouts crisis and we shared sides of grilled jumbo asparagus and jumbo potato skins. The drum sticks size spears were unfortunately overcooked but the potato skins were charred and chewy.
Below is the prime rib bone-in double cut that Mr S ordered. I didn’t take a photo of my medium well steak as it was blackened. I stared at my chunk of protein for several minutes, inspecting it from all angles. I finally picked up the serrated knife and carved in. The caramelised surface had protected the meat, it was tender and a little fatty. I ate a third and took the leftover home.
I was in need of a sweet conclusion to this heavy meal and I opted for their ‘legendary hot chocolate cake’. Small in comparison to every other dish on the menu, this dessert was a delight.
A gentle nudge of the spoon broke the shell and a torrent of molten chocolate cascaded over the plate. The vanilla ice cream cuddled up to the warm pudding and each mouthful was a lovely blend of the two flavours and temperatures.
When I caught a glimpse of this, I thought the waiter had brought the complimentary bread by mistake. This is the raspberry soufflé for two!
We slowly ascended into the night, with two large bags as evidence of our Morton’s experience.
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.
On the edge of Downtown and in an apartment building, Barolo has a beautiful dining room in muted tones lit by candlelight. But as we enter, we turn left into the small bar area with counter seating and a single row of narrow tables. We’re here for an early dinner to take advantage of their happy hour. We squeezed into the last available table, next to a rowdy group of four sampling every dish on the bar menu.
Service is efficient as the waitstaff understand patrons are keen to make the most of the fifty percent discount! A substantial section of the bar menu is seafood, although we had previously enjoyed the rigatoni with beef and veal ragú, hanger steak and lamb burger. We chewed thoughtfully on the complimentary focaccia and tapenade, trying to distinguish what the sweet ingredient was. There was a mild sweetness to the focaccia but the tapenade also had a sugary aftertaste.
Due to the size of the table, we were constantly shifting glassware and plates throughout the meal – definitely elbows off! The Parma prosciutto plate is presented on a large wooden board and there are a dozen translucent slices of porcine delight. The coral coloured prosciutto di Parma is delicate to handle and simply melts in your mouth. I would happily eat layer after layer of this, gently peeling it off the wax paper and rolling it into prosciutto cigars, sipping on a glass of pinot grigio.
We made the rookie mistake of thinking that one pound of sautéed mussels would be plentiful. We’re accustomed to one kilo pot of mussels, which is just over two pounds. Our one pound of mussels was steeped in a white wine sauce with garlic and chilli, garnished with finely chopped parsley. The mussels were small but tender, and the broth pairs well with the briny molluscs. A side of chunky hand cut fries (moules frites!) would bulk up the meal.
Mr S added the ahi tuna carpaccio to our order and it was a mosaic of Christmas colours. Celery, red onions, capers and parsley dot the pink hued tuna, drizzled with horseradish cream. It is a lovely balance of flavours.
I chose the eggplant parmigiana, a hearty vegetarian dish. The thick discs of eggplant are soft and silky, smothered in molten cheese and tomato sauce.
We were tempted by desserts and Mr S liked his pera al vina bianco e cioccolato - poached pear with chocolate and hazelnut gelato. While I’m lukewarm about mixing fruit and chocolate in desserts, I adore hazelnuts and the gelato was pleasantly nutty. My tiramisu was unfortunately overloaded with mascarpone and didn’t have enough savoiardi for a spongy texture.
Happy hour at Barolo is a stylised experience – service is polished and so is the silverware. But at its core, it is delicious food at a good price in a relaxed atmosphere which qualifies it as quintessentially Seattle.