Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘sorbet

It was a glorious Monday in London and we spent the only clear weather we had outdoors. I gallivanted about Westminster in the morning fending off tourists with unwieldy maps and gargantuan DSLRs. We merrily roamed Kew Gardens in the afternoon, steamed in Victoria era glasshouses and felt the spring blades of grass between our toes.

Famished and fatigued, dinner at Nopi was a nourishing conclusion to a lovely day.

A lampshade of rustic bronze leaves greeted patrons.

The glare of the all white interior was diffused by the lighting creating a warm ambience.

A beautiful bouquet in pink hues marked the serving table where platters of salads and loaves of bread were displayed in a front corner of the dining room.

On the left was the grapefruit and lychee cooler, a fruity cocktail of lemon infused vodka, lychee and grapefruit juices, lemon, sugar and mint.

The menu was categorised into vegetables, fish and meat. We agreed to let our waiter order for us and our group of seven had nine dishes family style.

The first was roasted aubergine with black garlic, harissa and pine nuts. Eggplant halves were roasted until silky, its soft flesh contrasted with the crunch of the pine nuts.

I’m neutral on lentils so I only had a tiny spoonful of these green ones with shaved beetroot and radish, and berbere croutons. An African spice blend, the berbere was an appetising seasoning for the bland but nutritious lentils.

Sambal rubbed gurnard was wrapped in banana leaf. The fish fillet was succulent and fiery.

A sphere of burrata was paired with slices of blood orange and coriander seeds. The squeaky mozzarella oozed with cream, and the herby and citrus notes tempered the richness.

Portions of twice cooked baby chicken was dipped in chilli sauce and sprinkled with lemon myrtle salt. The distinct Mediterranean flavours were bold and vibrant.

A cube of pork belly was in a pool of grape mustard jus. The fatty meat was balanced by the wedges of caramelised nashi pear.

In a skillet was seared prawns tossed with feta, fennel and Pernod.

Two golden orbs were courgette and Manouri fritters. Dipped in a cooling lime yoghurt, the mixture of zucchini and Greek cheese were savoury bites.

The last of our waiter’s selection was a ‘cheesecake’. Valdeón, a Spanish blue cheese, was baked in a copper pot and garnished with pickled beetroot and thyme honey. I prefer this version to dessert cheesecakes!

This scoop of sorbet was the essence of pear.

A classic English treat, this Eton mess of meringue, sumac and rose syrup was topped with a quenelle of strawberry sorbet.

Delightfully warm and fluffy financiers were shared.

The Brits love Yotam Ottolenghi and a meal at Nopi epitomises his food philosophy.

New York is a walking city. When I was in the Big Apple during Hurricane Irene, stores, museums and the Subway were closed. Ms H and I traipsed from Times Square to 86th on the Upper East Side in a futile search for an open cinema. We whiled away the afternoon criss-crossing the subdued neighbourhoods, pausing for a glass of vino in an Irish pub.

We were blessed with pleasant spring weather this trip. We browsed the Union Square Greenmarket late Saturday morning and backtracked to Gramercy Tavern for lunch.

Located in a historic building, a painted wooden plaque reflected the botanical display in the entryway that greeted patrons.

The tavern has street frontage and the separate dining room is at the back. Only the tavern is open for lunch on weekends. An earthy arrangement of yellow buds, blooms and branches in terracotta pots was adjacent to our table.

Square canvases of modern murals fenced the ceiling.

On a wire stand at the end of the bar was a wild bouquet of corn coloured stems.

A disc of butter and sea salt preceded a basket of bread.

A jewel toned effervescent beverage, the cranberry crush of cranberries, lime and club soda was tart and refreshing.

Served in a shallow bowl, the chunks of smoked pork shoulder and cornbread were atop salsify and in a pool of bacon broth. The meat was luscious, the root vegetable tender and the broth rich, it was a soulful dish.

A crispy skinned chicken portion was paired with yu choy, spring onions and shiitake mushrooms. The yu choy purée had an intense leafy green flavour that accentuated the simplicity of the poultry.

We shared a selection of sorbets for dessert. Quenelles of blackcurrant, roasted pineapple and mango lime sorbets rested on shortbread crumbs. The sorbets were a trifecta of vibrant fruitiness.

Thanks to Adrian for the recommendation!

coterie (co·te·rie) – noun
A small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially one that is exclusive of other people.

A sister restaurant of both Tavern Law in Capitol Hill and Spur on the same block, The Coterie Room completes a trifecta of eateries by Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough. Located in a corner brick building with dual street frontage, expansive windows let light inside as afternoon faded into twilight.

The dining room is simply decorated with slate coloured window frames, wooden furniture and pale walls. Its elegance is accentuated by a sparkling crystal chandelier and mirrors.

Our table was next to the living wall, a vertical planter box of cascading leafy greenery.

Categorised into small plates, main courses and family style, the menu features hearty fare. It was torrential rain outside and we were comforted by a glass of red wine, and a warm Grand Central Bakery rosemary and ginger roll with a pot of salted butter.

Our waitress kindly explained the sizes of the dishes and we agreed that we must return with a coterie of friends to sample more of the menu! We opted for three small plates and one family style to share.

First was sweet onion mac and cheese with duck ham. Served in a small graphite cocotte, the cute cast iron container of orecchiette was topped with crispy shallots. The al dente and creamy pasta was punctuated by morsels of duck ham.

The second small plate was marinated beets. I love the deep magenta colour of beetroot, staining your fingers as you cut into the bulb. Roasted beets have an intense earthy sweetness, perfect in a salad of peppery arugula, crunchy pistachios and a dollop of Cowgirl Creamery cottage cheese.

Four portions of golden buttermilk fried chicken were presented with a flourish. The drumsticks and thigh cutlets nestled on a mound of potato and bacon hash. A tuft of frisee salad was the requisite fibre. Caramel and glossy, a puddle of chicken gravy was soon absorbed by the hash. Cooked sous vide and then deep fried, the crunchy crust protects the juicy protein.

A side of heirloom baby carrots were bright batons coated in coriander butter and Taggiasca olive vinaigrette, and dotted with parsley.

The dessert menu was concise with only three items.

Mr S is partial to fruity desserts and ordered the pear sorbet with brown butter soil and roasted pistachios. The subtle flavour of the pear sorbet was highlighted by the slightly salty condiments.

Egg shaped cinnamon fritters were dusted with icing sugar and accompanied by a caramel apple dipping sauce. These fluffy treats were reminiscent of the zeppole at Tavolàta .

The rain had subsided and we left content with boxed leftovers.

After we left the queues at the Mobile Food Rodeo, Carol drove us towards the airport to Cedarbrook Lodge for TomatoFare West 2011.

Located on a quiet street away from traffic, Cedarbrook Lodge is secluded and surrounded by luscious greens. Originally built by Washington Mutual as an exclusive corporate retreat, it is now a public hotel.

The grounds are beautifully landscaped and the interior is elegantly decorated in earthy tones with natural materials. The entrance is on a mezzanine level and the lobby overlooks a magnificent loft with a plush lounge area, Copperleaf Restaurant and floor to ceiling windows to the terrace.

TomatoFare celebrates the harvest of the season’s locally grown organic heirloom tomatoes. The festival has been held in Eastern Washington for several years and this is the second one in Seattle.

Pale, bland and mealy. We’ve all had bad tomatoes. Grown with love and nurtured, a quality tomato bursts with sunshine and has a sweetness and acidity to every bite.

The Jacqueline Tabor Jazz Band entertained the crowd on the terrace. Although an overcast day, it was pleasant to be outside and many enjoyed the autumn weather sipping wine and beer, and nibbling on tomatoes.

Stalls in French colours were set up on the lawn. On the right were restaurants, and on the left was tomato tasting.

As we arrived mid afternoon, some of the stalls had closed. A handful of people were hovering around the Copperleaf stall and we joined the group listening intently as the chef spoke passionately about sourcing produce and the importance of connecting with farmers.

A tasting board was laden with tomatoes and we sprinkled sea salt on the vibrant slices.

A shot glass of layered mousse was popular, there were people returning for seconds and thirds! On the bottom was Parmesan mousse, the middle was heirloom tomato mousse and on top was fresh basil purée with Niçoise olive nougatine. It was an intense combination, each spoonful had a different accent.

Next was Barking Frog, where the chefs were busily plating their heirloom tomato and watermelon salad.

It was an artist’s palette of heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, burrata mozzarella purée, toasted pine nuts, micro basil and ten year old balsamic vinegar.

The Blackboard Bistro platter was empty and they were packing up as we approached their stall. The chef kindly scraped the last of the geoduck and heirloom tomato ceviche with orange and mint onto a mini toast and cut it in half. It was my first taste of the weirdly shaped bivalve, a Pacific Northwest specialty.

We proceeded along the stalls to Little Water Cantina, a recent addition to Eastlake.

The chef assembled cute bite size tostadas of white habanero, heirloom tomatoes, house made queso fresco, micro cilantro, toasted sesame seeds and Mexican sea salt. These were delectable morsels, ideal as a hors d’oeuvre for cocktail parties!

Unfortunately we missed out on Lark, emmer&rye and Café Lago.

Our final stall was Seattle Cremes, an ice cream, sherbet and sorbet wholesaler. We sampled a scoop each of red heirloom tomato sorbet and yellow heirloom tomato sorbet. With garlic, sea salt, basil and Tabasco, the red one was savoury and highlighted the tomato as an ingredient. The yellow one was refreshing with mint, sea salt, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Glossy globes in shades of red, orange, yellow, green and purple were on display. Dozens of varieties were presented in and on stemware and laminated cards detailed their characteristics.

Tiny baubles on vine, these Mexican midgets were my favourite.

The lumpy red star is turban like and star shaped when sliced.

This is the legend. I just like the name. It is a Pacific Northwest variety cultivated by Oregon State University.

The stripy green zebra is a contrast to the red hues of the majority.

A hidden oasis close to the airport, Cedarbrook Lodge has serene ponds and manicured shrubbery.

The Copperleaf Restaurant is in an open area of about a dozen tables with a magnificent stone fireplace as the focal point.

We meandered into Tamarack Hall and one of the chefs directed us to the restaurant garden.

Four neat patches had rows of lettuce, herbs and of course, tomatoes.

Sincere thanks to Carol for inviting me to be her plus one. The complimentary tickets were courtesy of Richmond Public Relations.

I have a clear memory of my first spider. No, not an arachnid! The Australian slang term for ice cream float or ice cream soda is spider. I was about six or seven and at a hotel lobby café. My aunt ordered the drink for me and I slurped the sugary, fizzy concoction with delight.

After some errands, I visited the DRY Soda tasting truck to sample some of their flavours. The website has a profile on each of the flavours detailing characteristics, pairing ideas, mixology and nutrition facts, and there are also food and cocktail recipes.

I had a shot each of juniper berry, lemongrass and rhubarb. Unfortunately they were out of blood orange that day. The other flavours are vanilla bean, cucumber and lavender. The carbonated drinks are light and thirst quenching, with the flavours gently infused.

Used in Asian cuisines, lemongrass is common in curries and soups. Bold citrus tones made the lemongrass DRY Soda a highlight.

I returned later for a free ice cream float, a joint event with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. On a dull day, the cherry Lambic sorbet and vanilla bean DRY Soda float was happiness distilled in a cup. A tangy, effervescent mix, it was sweet and tart, and fragrant with vanilla and mint. A refreshing treat, it was the essence of summer!

Jeni Britton Bauer is on a tour to promote her cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. I spoke with her briefly and she was charming! We share a love for the now defunct Australian Vogue Entertaining + Travel magazine. I sadly had to recycle my collection when we moved countries but Jeni still has hers.

Jeni kindly signed my purchased copy of her cookbook. I don’t have an ice cream machine (yet!) but I’m enjoying reading Jeni’s ice cream stories, flavour descriptions, and learning about the ingredients and techniques. The recipes are divided into spring, summer, autumn and winter – produce is seasonal, ice cream is not!


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