Posts Tagged ‘sliders’
Preceding All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Halloween isn’t observed in Australia. Some family neighbourhoods would have trick-or-treat for children but it’s not as commercialised as in America.
Pumpkins, candy and costumes. Decorative and carving pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and varieties were piled high into grocery stores, bags of candy and chocolate stacked the shelves of supermarkets, and feathers, sequins, glitter and taffeta were fashionable for one night only.
On All Hallow’s Eve, we avoided the ghoulish crowds by enjoying a civilised dinner at Pintxo. Pintxo, toothpick or skewer snacks, are a northern Spanish specialty.
The narrow street frontage has a view into the kitchen through the window. Although there is an exhaust extractor, the restaurant was a little smoky from the exposed kitchen. A blackboard divided the liquor bottles from the pantry items.
Modern art cluttered the walls and an ornate mirror enlarged the dining room.
We shared a carafe of sangria that was devoid of fruit except for a wedge of lemon as garnish. The wine punch was a refreshing accompaniment to the meal.
The first pintxo was bacon wrapped dates. Three morsels of medjool dates were stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon. It was an appetising sweet saltiness.
Three slices of toast were scattered with jamón serrano and topped with sunny side up quail eggs. It was a decadent combination of buttery ham and creamy yolk.
The second pintxo style dish was Moorish chicken skewers. Marinated in an almond and garlic spice rub and grilled, the skewers were served with Tunisian couscous, cherry tomatoes and tzatziki.
Macrina baguette was dipped in olive oil and a tangy salsa.
Cauliflower florets and halved cherry tomatoes were sautéed in garlic infused oil.
Beige in appearance, patatas and chorizo were braised in gravy until tender.
Speared by a bamboo stick, three citrus cinnamon braised pork sliders were smothered in chimichurri and doused in a balsamic reduction.
Similar to a crème brûlée, the crema Catalana had a caramelised sugar crust, and the custard was perfumed by cinnamon and lemon.
And lastly, the charred bread pudding with dulche de leche had the consistency of a dense cake.
Howls and sirens echoed through the night as I pondered why the dishes were in sets of threes.
Sous vide is synonymous with molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine. I know the basic concept is to poach food in vacuum sealed bags at a controlled temperature for consistent cooking, to retain nutrients and enhance flavours.
But sous vide has always conjured an image in my mind of scientists in stained lab coats and oversized goggles, distilling and decanting between technicolour beakers, with evil intentions.
Commercial sous vide machines are expensive and the SousVide Supreme was developed for the home kitchen. A local company, CEO Bob Lamson was optimistic that the seed has been planted for ‘Seattle to become the sous vide capital’ and to be at a leader of small appliances innovation, citing Nathan Myhrvold, Tavern Law and Crush as examples of Seattleites championing sous vide.
After much trial and error throughout the design and build process, the unit was rigorously tested by Heston Blumenthal before he launched it. The Fat Duck has more than seventy sous vide machines in its kitchen!
Bob extolled the quality of taste and texture of sous vide food, and stated that vegetables cooked sous vide is forty percent more nutritious than boiling and twenty percent more nutritious than steaming.
The water oven is easy to use and temperature can be set in Celsius (I still can’t convert °F!) or Fahrenheit. Ingredients and seasoning are vacuum sealed in pouches that can be prepared quickly, making it convenient and is also energy efficient.
There were many questions about what could be cooked in the SousVide Supreme. Meat, vegetables, fruits, stocks and cocktail infusions were all mentioned but the most decadent recipe was replacing the water with butter and cooking a whole lobster in it!
Bob shared with us an anecdote of a customer returning the product with a note declaring it the ‘worst deep fryer ever’. It’s not a Crock-Pot and it’s not a deep fryer! There is a perception that sous vide is complicated or hifalutin, and Bob was emphatic that it is scientifically proven to be a safe method of cooking.
Chef Sharone Hakman of MasterChef fame entertained us as he cooked a seven course tasting menu. He was engaging, amiable and knowledgeable. Sharone and the team from Duo Public Relations had been preparing the meals for several hours. We shared the dishes family style and there was an abundance of food!
Our first course was a refreshing wild hibiscus spritzer infused with raspberries and rose water.
The second course was wild king salmon with fennel, radish and turmeric butter. Succulent and flaky, the salmon was fresh and simple. Cooked sous vide and then braised, the wedges of fennel held its shape.
There were audible gasps when Sharone presented the 61 degree eggs, glossy and wobbling on a plate. A little jet lagged, I forgot to ask how the shells were peeled! The eggs were scooped on asparagus, drizzled with truffle oil and served with brioche croutons. Silky, crispy, crunchy, the textural combination was bursting with sunshine.
Chicken breasts were cooked sous vide and Sharone seasoned and seared them for presentation. Sliced and rested on pea purée and parmesan crisps, the chicken was tender and juicy. The highlight was the pea purée - vibrant in colour and taste, the sweetness contrasted with the salty cheese wafer.
Sharone displayed a tray of sous vide short rib with pride. The sliders are his favourite and the short ribs are marinated in his own brand of sauce, Hak’s BBQ.
Rich and sticky, the thick protein was tempered by the coleslaw. Perched on a stool far from the kitchen bench, I struggled eating this without making a mess! The chipotle bourbon sauce was scrumptious and I’m craving carnitas tacos with the gifted bottle of Hak’s BBQ sauce!
The final savoury dish was coffee and pepper crusted filet with fig infused Pinot Noir reduction.
Sous vide is ‘forgiving on the backend of cooking’ and the filet was evenly medium rare.
There was silent appreciation from the crowd as Sharone cut into each filet, the thick medallions of filet were a beautiful blush inside.
Rarer than I prefer my beef, I sampled a small portion and it pairs well with the fig and wine reduction.
As a child my mother would poach pears for me when I was ill. Warm and soft, they’re a healthy comfort food. Atop mascarpone, this adult version is poached in Zinfandel and dusted with cinnamon.
It was a fun, informative and delicious evening, learning and eating sous vide.
Sincere thanks to Myra Kohn for hosting, Bob Lamson for his insights, Sharone Hakman for his culinary expertise, and Duo Public Relations for organising.
Posted Wednesday 27 July 2011on:
The Good Food Guide is the Sydney and Melbourne equivalent of the Michelin Guide. Similar to the Michelin star ratings, restaurants are awarded one, two or three hats on a scale of twenty points. Published yearly to coincide with the Sydney International Food Festival, I purchase it as soon as it’s released and the book had a permanently spot on our coffee table.
When we moved here, I was searching for a comprehensive listing of Seattle restaurant recommendations to assist in our gastronomic navigation through our new city. I was very excited when I read about the impending publication of Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle, eager to use the guide book to explore the neighbourhoods of Seattle.
Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle has replaced the Sydney Good Food Guide on our coffee table and is now our primary reference for a snapshot of Seattle dining.
To celebrate the publication of her book, Keren hosted a launch party at the Shilshole Bay Beach Club which was also a fundraiser for FareStart. With a panoramic view of Puget Sound, the Beach Club was a spacious venue for tasting bite size samples from various eateries while gazing at the still water and moody sky.
I heard the click of the Wheel of Fonté all evening with guests spinning it out of nostalgia, or lured by the aroma of freshly ground coffee and the chimes of the espresso machine.
Punjab Sweets attracted crowds with a vibrant display and silver platters of burfi. Hidden in the foil trays were spicy samosas.
My favourite bakery was there to showcase their breads and pastries. Boulangerie Nantaise had baskets of croissants, Danishes, buns, scones and cookies.
High teas are popular in Australia because of our British heritage but I haven’t encountered it in Seattle. Pretty in pink, the Tuscan Tea Room enticed with three tiers of strawberry jam sponge cake.
Slices of Prosser Farm cucumbers were topped with a dollop of tzatziki and dotted with glistening jewels from the Seattle Caviar Company.
The definition of self-control, I restricted myself to two pieces of Theo Chocolate! A shard of toasted coconut dark chocolate was rich and smooth, and Mr S would have liked the intense Scotch ganache.
A whimsical arrangement of cascading sausages was at the Fonté Café table.
Louisa’s Café and Bakery tempted attendees with petite caramel cream pies.
A spiral of spicy tuna empanada at Olivar were crispy and flavoursome.
I love the Blackboard Bistro logo! Oink! I watched the chefs expertly assemble these salsa verde pork sliders in double time.
These grilled figs from Volunteer Park Café were a delectable combination of sweet and savoury, creamy and crunchy.
Piñata and a game of Twister concluded a convivial evening.
Congratulations again Keren!
I love the convenience of AmazonFresh. We don’t have to borrow a car to do grocery shopping like we did in Sydney, or multiple stair climbs lugging bags from the garage. And they deliver beer and wine to your home! Our wines and spirits are either stored at my parents’ house or we gifted them to friends as we couldn’t pack them in the container to ship here.
You cannot purchase alcohol at supermarkets or convenience stores in Australia but we were mystified by the absence of liquor from AmazonFresh and the aisles of supermarkets. We did not know that that the state government has a monopoly over the wholesale and retail distribution of liquor in Washington!
Mr S was sad to part with a bottle of Scotch whisky that we bought from the distillery in Wick. Surprisingly we have spotted the distinctive Old Pulteney bottle at 9 Million in Unmarked Bills, The Whisky Bar and this week, at the Bookstore Bar.
With street frontage, the Bookstore Bar is affiliated with the Library Bistro which is inside the Alexis Hotel. A long and narrow room, there were shelves laden with books and interspersed with dozens of bottles of whisky. Auburn lamps lined the bar with more bottles of whisky cluttering the counter.
There were chalkboards advertising whisky flights and beers on tap. A small espresso machine was wedged next to a wine rack.
It was an eclectic collection of bottles and books, the place lively with football fans en route to the Sounders match against Manchester United. We quickly sat down at the last empty table for happy hour.
A condensed version of their main menu, there are about ten items available priced from three to seven dollars. We ordered three dishes to share – three cheese mac, Dungeness crab cakes and pulled pork sliders.
My first memory of pasta was macaroni, albeit a fusion interpretation. Cooked in a broth with diced ham, peas and corn, it is a popular side with a western breakfast at fast food restaurants in Hong Kong. I still eat it when I visit for nostalgia but I prefer macaroni with cheese!
Sometimes mac and cheese can be overwhelmingly creamy but this one had just enough cheese stirred through and not too salty. I would have liked more of the herbed bread crumbs for extra crunch to each mouthful!
Two small patties, the Dungeness crab cakes rested on mashed avocado and were doused with red pepper aioli. The deep brown crust protected the shredded crab. The richness of the avocado and aioli paired well with the sweet crab.
Mr S repeatedly said the pulled pork slider was spicy. I took a bite and it confirmed my suspicion that it was a ploy to distract. It was tender and juicy, smoky and caramelised. The bun soaked up every drip of the house made barbecue sauce. And that is why Mr S coveted my portion of the pulled pork slider!
An entertaining match, our seats were near a group of South Korean supporters who cheered loudly every time Park Ji-Sung touched the ball. Here’s the video of the coin toss at the top of the Space Needle and a fun video of the Sounders playing Kinect.
Weekday lunch with Mr S is a rarity so we make an effort when our schedules align. Already late for the Mariners game, we walked briskly to Built Burger hoping for a quick meal. We nearly missed it as there is no sign on its frontage, identifiable only by a sidewalk board.
Painted blue and white, the interior is plain and narrow with two rows of tables and chairs. The focal point of the space is the ordering counter framed by a vintage banner of a boy yelling ’we want beef’ into a megaphone.
On one side of the wall is a Built Burger poster advertising their online store.
On the other wall is the Built Burger guarantee, the standard menu and the specials chalkboard. The burgers are creatively named and there are tasting plates of sliders and sides available.
I shuffled back and forth as we queued. The group before us were taking their time ordering, with questions about every item. Murphy’s Law!
The dining room was sparsely occupied. As we watched the kitchen we reminisced about our first baseball game, a New York local derby. We caught the Subway there and back, snacked on hot dogs and it reminded us of cricket.
As we were in a hurry, it felt like a relatively long wait for our burgers. Mr S chose the Magnificent Chorizo which was a patty of Mexican chorizo, beef and roasted poblano peppers served with Cotija and cilantro lime slaw. It was a small and juicy burger but I couldn’t detect a distinct chorizo flavour in the bite I had.
We shared a side of hand cut fries with horseradish mustard which were a little oily and limp, although the condiment was deliciously pungent.
I selected the 21 Gleason special burger with a thick grass fed beef patty, roasted garlic aioli and arugula wedged between toasted brioche. This was a simple burger that highlighted the quality of the meat. The buttery brioche, peppery arugula and mild aioli combined well with the tasty chunks of beef.
We left satisfied and ready for our second baseball game but we were not as enthused as the cartoon man!