Posts Tagged ‘TomatoFare’
I grew up in a household that weaned off salt over time. My parents cooked with it sparingly in a salt reduced diet that was advocated by dieticians and nutritionists. As adults we had the same shaker of supermarket brand iodised salt in our pantry for many years, its only purpose was to salt the water to boil pasta in.
A couple of evenings ago Myra gathered a group of food lovers for a salt themed potluck with Mark Bitterman. Owner of The Meadow and author of Salted, Mark was visiting from Portland and hosted a dinner at Spring Hill on Sunday.
I bought some leftover heirloom tomatoes at the TomatoFare for the bargain price of two dollars a pound. I made an insalata Caprese as my contribution to the potluck. Heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella and basil were layered, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with Murray River salt flakes.
There were a variety of salts at the potluck and each had a story. Some were favourites, others were gifts, and mine reminds me of home.
Carol brought this beautiful Himalayan pink salt crystal for display.
The Secret Stash vanilla salt was speckled and moist.
I love the cute Sugarpill container!
Chuck made his own applewood smoked Maldon salt with lemon thyme.
There were several salads and one other insalata Caprese. Darryl‘s was geometrically styled compared to my rustic approach!
Ashleigh‘s salad of heirloom tomatoes, chèvre and mint was a kaleidoscope of colours.
The soup of the evening was by Kristin, pumpkin soup with salted pumpkin seeds.
Hors d’oeuvres included a cocoa nibs studded chèvre log with applewood salt by Karen.
Bite size hickory smoked salt pretzels, a recipe in Salted made by Carol.
Charred and fanned out on a bamboo tray, Shirley grilled maitake mushrooms and shishito peppers.
She brought three types of Japanese salts to taste with the vegetables – wasabi salt, dashi salt and shichimi tōgarashi blended with salt.
Chuck assembled fresh farm cheese and sungold tomato jam crostinis with his own applewood smoked Maldon salt and lemon thyme.
These sticky nuts were salted orange blossom honey almonds by Lisa.
Kim baked a tin of salted cranberry and pistachio biscotti.
Carol’s second recipe from Salted was Himalayan pink salt brittle.
Nazila dipped vanilla marshmallows in chocolate with salt on top.
Carol made her signature alderwood smoked salt caramels.
We piled our plates with the delectable selection and ate as we listened to Mark, a James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner. An eloquent speaker, we were all mesmerised by his salt narrative. Salt is a ‘universal food, a defining ingredient of the world’s culinary traditions’. He described himself as a vagabond writer and a ‘ravenous and perennial eater’.
When he opened The Meadow, he felt all he was doing was putting contents of his basement into jars! Salt connects people and he stocks over one hundred varieties of salts in his store. They also sell flowers, chocolates and bitters.
He realised there was no original research on salt and its behaviour on food. Salt is a powerful flavour enhancer, a nutritional necessity and the only mineral we eat. It is not just a chemical, it is a substance made by hand.
The Meadow has recently opened a store in New York for retail customers, and they supply food manufacturers and restaurateurs.
Salt makers have an intimate relationship with nature, a deep understanding of complex conditions. Saltiness is modulated by the shape and size of the crystals. Salts have different moisture levels. Fleur de sel has about ten percent residual moisture and is resilient in food, it glistens as it dissolves to spark our palate. Eighty pounds of salt yields one pound of fleur de sel for a ‘luxurious, sensual experience’!
Japan has the most sophisticated and obsessive salt culture. To make takesumi bamboo salt, sea water is extracted from three thousand feet under the ocean, sprayed onto bamboo to dry and stirred continuously with a wooden paddle while simmering until evaporated.
Hundreds of millions of years old, Himalayan salt blocks can function as tableware or cookware. It’ll slightly cure sashimi or Carpaccio, and can be heated up for sautéing.
The ‘manifesto’ is the byline of his book and this is clear when he declared that kosher salt is a stainless steel cleaner! Kosher salt is a desiccating agent that extracts moisture. It is a refined chemical manufactured for industries and it is Mark’s ‘mission in life to eradicate kosher salt’.
Salted has three sections: the life of salt, a history; salt guide, varieties and profiles; and salting, techniques and recipes.
We concluded the evening with a peek inside his case of sample salts. Mark had a bottle of nigari, or magnesium chloride. At the Spring Hill dinner the attendees had experimented with droplets into bourbon, adding a complex bitterness.
So for Kate, salt is not just salt!
Sincere thanks to Myra for her hospitality, Mark for his insights, and the Seattle food community for a delicious and informative potluck!
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!
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.