Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘The GastroGnome

I miss Asian food. I still cook stir-fries and curries at home but we’ve rarely eaten Thai, Chinese, Indian or Malaysian, all favourites in multicultural Sydney. I’ve been feeling dejected about having to cross the border to sate my love for these cuisines. With the exception of Din Tai Fung, the American palate for Asian food seems sweet.

Naomi gathered a group of intrepid food lovers on a weekday evening for a family style dinner at Chiang’s Gourmet (敘香園).

Located on Lake City Way with plenty of parking, Chiang’s had a bright and spacious dining room. Chinese watercolour paintings and calligraphy decorated the walls. To go orders were brisk business as we perused the Chinese and American menus. I giggled at the American menu of sweet and sour pork, and lemon chicken.

Tea was poured as we chatted and the lazy Susan was full of dishes as the waiter shuffled plates and bowls. An apt name, the spicy hot fish fillet on Romaine lettuce (水煮魚) was fiery and appetising. Succulent white fish fillets were doused in a saffron coloured sauce, its heat tempered by crunchy cos leaves.

Flatbread filled with minced green onions, the green onion pancake (蔥油餅) was light and crispy.

The enoki and black mushrooms wrapped in bean curd (素黃雀) was plain in appearance. I could eat half a dozen of these flavoursome, wrinkly parcels.

Served in a basket lined with aluminium foil, there were equal qualities of chicken and chilli in the five star spicy hot chicken (辣子雞). Similar to popcorn chicken, the morsels were coated in a spiced batter and despite the amount of chilli, were surprisingly mild.

The requisite mound of sautéed green vegetables was refreshing.

Tender and earthy, pieces of tea smoked duck (精緻樟茶鴨) were wedged in steamed buns and eaten by hand.

A platter of homemade pan fried noodles Shanghai style (上海粗炒麵) was rustic comfort food. Dense noodles were tossed with slivers of pork and spinach.

A literal translation, steamed tofu of strong odour (蒸臭豆腐) was a bubbling crimson pot. You can smell the fermented tofu before you see it and it is a traditional street food of Hong Kong.

From Xinjiang, an autonomous region of northwest China, the spicy hot lamb with cumin flavour (新疆羊肉) was pungent. Slices of lamb, onions and chilli were homely and warming.

And lastly, a side of steamed corn bread bun (窩窩頭). Steamed in bamboo, the cone shaped corn bread was hollow for scooping up sauces.

Our delectable feast concluded with fortune cookies from Tsue Chong. I will have an opportunity!

Sincere thanks to Naomi for introducing me to Chiang’s Gourmet!

Online shopping is easy in America. There are many aggregate websites that curate brands with cheap delivery and free return. I like browsing the ones with a short sales period such as One Kings Lane and Gilt as there tend to be bargains for items that are on your wish list.

When Gilt City launched in Seattle I was curious as to how it would be positioned in a crowded market. They seem to have targeted a demographic keen on a lifestyle of culture, health, fashion and food. Maybe I’m one of those people as I’ve purchased vouchers!

Gilt City Seattle and Seattleite hosted the Fall Comforts Taste the Season event at Wing Luke Museum yesterday evening. The autumn gastronomic celebration coincided with the ‘Fields to family: Asian Pacific Americans and food‘ exhibition.

Concentric circles are suspended from the ceiling at the entrance. The bells can be rung with a donation, to ‘clear the air, send a wish, say hello’.

This list of restaurants was what enticed me to attend! (Image courtesy of Seattleite website.)

The GastroGnomeLovely Lanvin and her neighbourly friend Phia were my dining companions. The GastroGnome and I needed a cool drink after a brisk walk on a mild day. Golden Beetle was mixing two cocktails and I had the Cargill. Hendrick’s gin, lavender liquor, black pepper syrup and lemon juice was a refreshing apéritif.

The tasting room was resplendent in Chinese red. Tables surrounded the perimeter and were decorated with an autumn theme.

Our first sample was the cassoulet from RN74. A generous ladle eaten with a petite spoon, the bean stew was peppery and warming, and crunchy from a scattering of bread crumbs.

Pork rib was braised in foie gras nage and wild mushroom, and topped with harissa jam. This morsel from The Chef in the Hat was tender with intense earthy flavours.

A mini tray of Foodz Catering brie and truffle mac and cheese was al dente and creamy.

Foodz Catering also had peppers stuffed with feta and pistachios, a sweet and savoury snack on a bamboo skewer.

Platters of corned lamb Rueben with sauerkraut and green curry aioli were substantial from Revel.

Artusi had scoops of eggplant and stone fruit caponata with cherry tomato and toasted pine nuts. The vinegar was balanced with the sweet fruits and the silky eggplant contrasted with the seeds.

Pork cheek pibil with potatoes was stacked in a cup by Poquitos. The chunk of meat was a little chewy but the diced potatoes were spiced and crispy.

Bastille had mussels with Rockridge hard cider, young ginger and fennel pollen with potato chips. In an aromatic broth, the plump bivalves were briny and fresh.

My favourite dish was pasta fagioli from Staple & Fancy, served by Ethan Stowell! Borlotti bean and ditaloni pasta in broth made with Parmesan rinds and bacon, and sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano. This was the definition of hearty comfort food!

We meandered through the Fields to Family exhibition. It was an interactive display of the ‘sights, sounds, tastes and smells of foods in the homes and restaurants of diverse Asian Pacific Americans’.

Wok accoutrement hung on the wall.

On the left is a fortune cookie machine, and on the right is a noodle press and dough roller.

Framed photos of Chinese restaurant neon signs.

The story of Bing cherries.

We returned to Spur for dessert. Chefs McCracken and Tough paired freeze dried house made cereal with whole milk ice cream.

It was theatrical to watch the canister of liquid nitrogen being poured. The ice cream tasted of wholesome milk and cereal flakes were the sweetener.

A final treat was dianne’s Delights cake pops. Pumpkin, chocolate or vanilla, these whimsical desserts on a stick were popular.

Cheers to Gilt City Seattle for a food and drink event where the chefs were present!

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.

I concluded my tasting with the Finca Antigua Moscatel and La Guita Manzanilla. Syrupy and smooth, the Moscatel would be a sweet end to a meal. In contrast, the Manzanilla was delicate and light.

It was a fun afternoon and I can now select Spanish wines with some confidence.


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