Posts Tagged ‘Washington’
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Full Circle. This is not a sponsored post.
Sydney is a urban sprawl. Streets are at odd angles and arterial roads twist through suburbs. North, south, east and west, to drive from the geographical centre of the city to its boundaries would take at least an hour.
Seattle is more compact. Neighbourhoods cluster around the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, it is a short distance from houses and malls to fields and forests. The abrupt transition is bewildering and we ponder the scenery as we navigated to Carnation for Feast on the Farm.
Full Circle delivers ‘farm-fresh, locally-sourced organic and sustainably-grown’ produce to consumers. The mission of Stewardship Partners is to ‘restore and preserve the natural landscapes of Washington State’. Salmon-Safe certification ‘requires management practices that protect water quality and restore habitat’.
Groups sheltered under the umbrella and marquee for reprieve from the blazing sun. Hats, sunglasses and sturdy shoes were requisite attire.
We stepped and stumbled on a milk crate to board the tractor tour. We perched on hay bales covered by a blanket as we gently looped the acres.
Andrew Stout, founder of Full Circle, was our guide. The engine chugged along the dusty path as Andrew spoke about the growth of Full Circle and how the land is being rehabilitated.
Lettuce and kale were neatly planted in rows.
A serene vista.
The many hues of clouds, mountains, trees and farm buildings.
Symmetrically ploughed fields.
We snacked on smoky discs of Via Tribunali wood fire pizzas.
On the left is David Burger, executive director of Stewardship Partners, and Andrew Stout is on the left. My favourite quote of the event was ‘we’re in the business of killing plants’. The crowd chortled and snorted.
A still reflection on the creek.
Sal, the leggy mascot of Salmon-Safe, greeted us.
A country kitchen.
Currant bushes marked the field where perpendicular tables were set.
Our view of the second table.
Mason jars decorated the length of the table, posies interspersed with leafy produce.
From one end to the other.
Effervescent and mild, Dry Soda quenched my thirst.
First was Salumi charcuterie. We nibbled politely on thin slices of cured meats and Castelvetrano olives as introductions were made. I had sprayed my limbs with insect repellent and apologised to our dining companions for reeking of citronella. We were seated with an interesting group of people, there was much laughter and engaging conversations on culture, food and literature.
A mound of shredded Tuscan kale was garnished with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzled with anchovy dressing. This was one of three healthful salads served.
Chunks of roasted beets were topped with a dollop of house made ricotta. Pistachio kernels dotted the tender beets, it was an earthy combination of flavours.
Plump grains of farro were tossed with carrot and English peas. I had several spoonfuls of this toothsome salad.
Mediterranean mussels were roasted with guanciale, lemon and olive oil. The bivalves were aromatic and succulent.
In sunglasses, an apron and boat shoes, Chef Ethan Stowell generously donated two private dinners in Staple & Fancy‘s cellar room for auction to benefit Stewardship Partners.
Fennel and carrots were grilled, the former seasoned with bottarga and the latter with mint and orange.
Dessert was a creamy panna cotta with mixed berries, slivered almonds and aged balsamic vinegar.
There was spirited bidding on auction items, and Mike McCready (guitar), Kim Virant (vocal) and Gary Westlake (bass) entertained us.
Each attendee was gifted a box of Full Circle produce which we happily carried home.
Carefully packed, the top layer was fennel, kale and lettuce.
On the bottom were apricots, cabbage, carrots, cherries, cucumber, onions and rockmelon.
Sincere thanks to Shirley and Full Circle for the opportunity to experience Feast on the Farm!
Face masks and hair nets are synonymous with Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) in Sydney. Cooks are in silent huddles in the open kitchen, kneading dough and pleating dumplings (餃子). The public display of food safety is commendable but I feel awkward staring at the staff.
The signature spectacle is also at Din Tai Fung in Bellevue. Patrons can watch each step of the dumpling making process as each dumpling is rotated through several pairs of hands. Sans face masks and hair nets, brows are knitted in concentration and nimble fingers pinched and pressed.
Located in Lincoln Square, Din Tai Fung has a modern and spacious dining room. You may have to queue for a table during peak times but the maître d’ is excellent at estimating the wait and you can while away the minutes learning the art of dumplings!
Our group of four were seated in a comfortable booth. Each table has a condiments tray with bottles of soy sauce and vinegar, and a jar of chilli sauce.
The laminated menu has photos for reference and you can tick the items on the order sheet. Sweet and sour spareribs (排骨) whetted our appetite. More sweet than sour, these unctuous morsels were coated in a sticky marinade.
Famous for their soup dumplings (小籠包), ten xiao long bao were steamed in a bamboo basket. Dipped in vinegar to balance their richness, the delicate dumplings were savoured for their liquid centres.
Beneath the cloudy broth were prawn and pork wontons (雲吞). A popular meal with noodles in Cantonese cafés (茶餐廳), the silky wrapper encased a meaty filling. It was simple comfort food.
My favourite dish at Din Tai Fung is the spicy prawn and pork dumplings. Boiled wontons were tossed in a luscious sauce, each mouthful pungent and fiery.
Slippery strands of egg noodles were stir-fried with Napa cabbage (黃芽白), spinach and prawns for a toothsome plate of carbs.
Garlicky batons of green beans were bright and crunchy.
Dessert was a mango smoothie with tapioca pearls. An icy, fruity blend, it was a refreshing beverage.
And they have dessert dumplings too!
I don’t remember where and when I’ve eaten Taiwanese food. The only dishes I know are oyster omelette (蚵仔煎) and ‘three cup’ chicken (三杯雞), both of which are common in Cantonese style restaurants.
Facing East was recommended by several people and our group of four gathered for a weekday lunch. I paced up and down Bellevue Way between 10th and 12th checking the numbers and had to call for directions. Similar to Tamarind Tree, Facing East is located in a mall with no street frontage.
A small dining room for a popular eatery, the space is modern and bright.
The glossy menu is categorised into snacks and sides, rice and noodles, chef’s specials, and desserts. Service was polite and we let our waiter guide our order.
On a wooden tray, the oolong tea (烏龍茶) was ceremoniously rinsed and poured. A petite ceramic teapot steeped the leaves and a miniature jug was enough for four tiny cups of oolong tea. Hot water refill was in a stainless steel thermos to quench our thirst.
First was Taiwanese pork burger. Reminiscent of the famed Momofuku pork bun, this is a comparable version. A snowy steamed bun was agape with a slab of pork belly, pickles, peanuts and sprigs of coriander. It was a decadent combination of meaty, fatty, sweet and sour.
It was National Fried Chicken Day so we had five spice fried chicken with basil. Lightly battered, the tender morsels were garnished with crisp Thai basil leaves and sliced pickles.
Portions of Painted Hills short rib were tossed in an appetising black pepper sauce. Pickled pearl onions tempered the richness of the succulent beef.
A modest size bowl of spicy pork stew with rice was savoury comfort food.
A mound of green beans sautéed in garlic was crunchy and sweet.
I have added Facing East to my list of quality Asian restaurants in the Seattle area!
Posted Monday 18 June 2012on:
Mark Bitterman is championing the salt renaissance. The owner of The Meadow and author of Salted hosted a dinner class at Lisa Dupar Catering a couple of weeks ago. At home we have small containers of Australian and English finishing salts and a large jar of French salt for brining, pasta water and roasting. I’m a cautious salter but I have learnt to embrace how sodium chloride is transformative in cooking.
Adjacent to Pomegranate Bistro, the catering kitchen is a labyrinth of stainless steel, storage and commercial sized accoutrement.
Catering staff has a view of the restaurant through square panes and vice versa.
A seven course tasting menu paired by Mark Bitterman and Lisa Dupar.
Rimmed with carbonated black takesumi bamboo salt, a spicy Bloody Mary apéritif greeted us.
Rows of tables were orientated to the preparation area where chefs plated our food.
Mark was as charming and engaging as I remembered. He spoke with passion and humour about the history of salt, and the composition and flavour profiles of our samples.
Coral coloured and glistening, the salmon was cured by being pressed between two Himalayan pink salt blocks. The gravlax had a firm texture and was absent of the sliminess that sometimes afflict cured fish.
Soft slices of house made bread were smeared with butter and sprinkled with fleur de sel. The sweetness of the butter accentuated the moist crystals and delicate crunch.
The pretty flake salts were savoured on rice cake with carrot, avocado and black sesame salad. A flat disc with a crispy edge, the plain rice cake was perfect for comparing the salts. I love the elegance of Murray River flake salt, a parochial favourite. The charcoal pyramids of the Black Diamond was bold and earthy. From Anglesey, the current home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the oak smoked salt had an intense aroma.
The highlight of the evening was Juan’s chilli relleno with Molokai red salt. A popular family meal at Pomegranate Bistro and Lisa Dupar Catering, a whole poblano pepper was roasted, stuffed, battered and deep-fried. Garnished with guacamole and tomato sauce, the cheesy filling laced with the heat of the pepper was rustic comfort food. From the volcanic clays of Hawaii, the mineral elements of the Molokai red salt brightened the chilli relleno.
Blushed strips of Painted Hills beef were on a bed of mashed celeriac and topped with threads of sweet potato. The luscious sel gris complimented the meatiness.
A bowl of Kauai guava smoked salt.
Dessert was burnt caramel cheesecake with salted pecan crust adorned with fresh blueberries and a white chocolate curl. Unfortunately this was too salty for me.
Mark recommended flake salt, fleur de sel and sel gris as the foundation set for the pantry. Which salt to use? Consider if the intent is chemical, seasoning or visual. The final advice was ‘don’t grind salt’!
There is a popular Malaysian eatery in Sydney with queues on the footpath day and night. We time our meals at Mamak to avoid the crowd by dining early or late. Mamak is famous for their roti. The street frontage has a wide window with a view into the kitchen where chefs efficiently stretch and twirl the pale unleavened dough. It is oiled and seasoned, cooked on the searing griddle where it blisters and colours, and morphs into flaky bread.
We haven’t had Malaysian cuisine since we’ve been in Seattle and I suggested dinner at Malay Satay Hut when we were in Redmond on a weeknight. Located in the Overlake East Shopping Centre, a familiar ‘congee, noodles, rice’ neon sign greeted us.
We walk through a thatched hut entrance into a spacious dining room. A bamboo roof shaded the bar.
A large poster of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur decorated the wall.
A whiteboard listed many specials. The gung pao frog legs and Milo ice piqued my interest!
Photos of Malaysian ingredients introduced the menu.
Singha, a Thai lager, was a refreshing contrast to the strong flavours of the food.
We ordered several dishes to share family style. Roti telur, slivers of sautéed onions were folded in golden layers of roti and dipped in a bowl of curry.
The restaurant’s namesake and signature appetiser, the satay chicken was a highlight. Slathered in chunky slurry of satay, the skewered chicken was tender and smoky. The cucumber nuggets emptied the satay bowl.
Half a Hainanese chicken was served with chilli and ginger sauces. Poached in stock, the boned poultry was fragrant and succulent.
String beans and shelled prawns were stir-fried in belecan (fermented shrimp paste). A peculiar umami taste, the beans were vibrant and the prawns toothsome.
A mound of coconut fried rice was studded with prawns and onions, and flecked with egg. The generous portion was light and aromatic.
To me Malay fare is synonymous with char kway teow. In a miniature wok was flat rice noodles tossed with bean sprouts, chives and egg. Supple strands intertwined with threads of vegetables.
Salt and pepper squid is an Asian staple. Crusted in a delicate batter, the pieces of molluscs yielded to bite, and was spiked with chilli and green onions.
I’m pleased that the original Malay Satay Hut is in Seattle!
I read the Modernist Cuisine blog post on Mayuri on the morning of the October Seattle Foodies lunch. I mentioned it to my dining companions at Café Juanita and Carol suggested that we drive to Redmond since we were already on the Eastside. I was curious about this Indian grocery store as I haven’t been to an ethnic supermarket in Seattle except for Uwajimaya.
In a neighbourhood shopping mall, Mayuri has a distinctive red and blue sign. A family business, Mayuri means peacock in Hindi and they also own restaurants of the same name in Bellevue and Bothell.
The inviting aromas of the Subcontinent greeted us. The compact store had aisles of dried herbs, spices, pulses, grains, flour, condiments, snacks, frozen goods, fresh produce, kitchen merchandise and pantry items.
Packets of dal, split lentils, peas and beans, were on sale.
Red baskets contained dried herbs and blended spices such as fenugreek, cumin and garam masala.
Jars and tins of ghee, clarified butter, were stocked in a variety of brands and sizes.
Shelves were laden with tapioca chips and other fried snacks.
Plastic boxes and cylinders dispensed the staples of grains, pulses and flour in bulk.
The fruit and vegetable section had fresh garbanzo beans.
Plentiful of okra and Thai chilli were sold by weight.
Bunches of fresh herbs were at the bargain price of ninety nine cents.
Mayuri is where to shop when cooking Indian cuisine!
Posted Monday 17 October 2011on:
Lake Washington is a mental divider. Across the bridge is the Eastside, ‘over there’ is suburbia. Having lived in Sydney, driving for twenty minutes to get to a restaurant is considered fast! We don’t own a car here and we like the convenience of Zipcar. And we’re lucky to have generous friends who kindly drive us to and from places in exchange for our pleasant company!
Winner of the 2008 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Northwest Award, Chef Holly Smith opened for lunch just for us. In serene surroundings, the L shaped restaurant has windows with a view of leafy trees.
Next to the entrance are a long kitchen and a multipurpose bench.
Polished stemware is proudly displayed and muted tones are brightened by pastel mint accents.
We nibbled on fluffy bread with salted butter, and Parmesan and herb crisps.
Served in an asymmetrical oval bowl, the Alaskan king crab with green apple sorbetto and crab butter powder was artistically presented. The crustacean leg was succulent and the taste of the ocean contrasted with the tart sorbetto. It was a delightful pairing that whetted our appetite for Holly’s food.
The main course was rabbit braised in Arneis with chickpea gnocchi, porcini and house made pancetta. I don’t eat rabbit but my dining companions liked the tender meat and the texture of the gnocchi.
I had an alternative main of quail stuffed with house made ricotta and pancetta in reduction sauce with sweetbreads and chanterelles. A syrupy sauce simmered over many hours and reduced from litres to cups, it had a piquancy that complemented the other components of the dish.
The highlight of the meal was dessert. Resting in a puddle of Cardoon blossom honey, the panna votta was speckled with vanilla salt. It was a perfectly balanced dessert – creamy yet light, fragrant and sweet with bursts of saltiness. Matching wines were available and the Cascina del Santuario 2009 Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont intensified the flavours of the silky panna cotta.
October’s lunch concluded with brutti ma buoni. These ‘ugly but good’ hazelnut meringues crumbled and melted, and would be lovely with a cup of tea.
Sincere thanks to Darryl and Holly for an ethereal dining experience!
After a long drive on the ‘other side’ (on the right and on the Eastside!) this Memorial Day long weekend, we stopped in Kirkland for lunch. We meandered along the waterfront and got a table at Milagro Cantina. It is a spacious restaurant – there is booth and table seating, a large bar area and a patio for al fresco dining. It is dark inside – shades of brown is the dominant theme, accentuated by a fountain of petrified wood with a flame centre and a pretty collection of stain glass lanterns hanging in the middle of the dining room.
The restaurant is mostly empty for Sunday lunch and the service is brisk. Small and flimsy in appearance, the menu is surprisingly varied, traversing from Tex-Mex to coastal Mexican. We decided to share the guacamole sampler and some tacos. The first is guacamole de la casa – roasted poblano peppers, garlic, tomatoes and cotija cheese; the second is guacamole de mango – with mango and pine nuts; and the third is guacamole de granada – with pomegranate seeds and almonds.
On wooden paddles, the tres guacamoles is served with red and green salsa, pickled vegetables and tostadas. The earthenware are filled with bright reds and greens. While the tres guacamoles were colourful, they were disappointingly bland. All three guacamole had the same avocado base, disguised as different by their toppings and desperately in need of seasoning. The red salsa and pickled vegetables fared better. The red salsa is syrupy, fragrant with smoked paprika. Mr S loved the heat of the red salsa and happily blended it with the guacamole, of which I’ve abandoned.
We were expecting sturdy triangular-shaped corn chips to scoop up the dips but to our surprise, a wire basket of brittle tostadas are placed on our table. The huge discs of toasted tortilla are dusted with spices. Despite the heavy coating, it was devoid of flavour. I ate some of the plain shards and it had a faint sweet taste.
At four dollars each, the tacos are good value and we ordered the barbacoa, camarones, pescado and chorizo. Our waitress asked if we would like the tacos in a combo and we decided to try one. Buttery rice and black beans bulk up the meal but if we knew it would cost fourteen dollars, we would have ordered an extra taco instead!
We picked a seafood and a meat taco each. A classic fish taco, the pescado had chunks of grilled mahi mahi marinated in coriander and lime on a bed of cabbage slaw and topped with pico de gallo and mayonnaise. Similarly, the camarones is filled with fried Baja style shrimp. Crisp vegetables, creamy sauce, soft and fluffy tortilla, fresh seafood – these were gobbled up quickly!
I love the complex flavours of chorizo – slow cooked in sugo, stirred through pasta or barbecued and sliced to snack on with toothpicks. Unfortunately the chorizo taco was ordinary, I could not identify the meat in the oily, salty pulp. My favourite taco was the barbacoa – the beef was tender and juicy, and pairs well with the pungency of the onions and coriander.
The opulent décor could not conceal some challenges on their menu but it has the potential to become a destination restaurant on Lake Washington!
We were introduced to Seattle happy hour by an expat. If you adjust your dinner time to early or late, you can eat at some quality restaurants for a bargain price. I like that happy hour encourage people to dine out but sometimes I ponder how sustainable it is for businesses to maintain such discounts.
After heavy traffic en route to Bellevue, I was in need of a beverage and nibbles. We were at Cypress Wine Bar with a group of expat Aussies. Cypress Wine Bar is in The Westin Bellevue – it is an open space with a high ceiling and wide windows, we were seated near a fireplace with small tables and diamond-shaped lounge chairs. The appetizers and small plates are half price between 5pm and 7pm and some drinks are also on discount. All their wines are local except for the champagne and I ordered a flight of dry white wines. For $11, I was expecting sample size glasses but they were served in stemware and half full!
We ordered several dishes to share and I sampled the crab cakes, ribs, Mediterranean plate and the complimentary ciabatta. The two puck like Dungeness crab cakes were in a pool of honey mustard sauce with a side of wilted spinach in a Belgian endive leaf. The sauce is pleasantly mild and there is plenty of crab in the crab cakes. They’re pan-fried to a golden hue and the crispy, caramelised edge is a lovely contrast to the moist crab inside.
The ribs were thick batons in a syrupy glaze. I’m indifferent to ribs and these were okay. There was enough meat to make the effort to eat them but it does not fall off the bone nor melt in your mouth.
The complimentary ciabatta was my favourite antipasto. The bread is fresh and dense, drizzled with olive oil and an abundance of ingredients are piled on top. There is char-grilled asparagus spears, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and pitted black olives. It is sunshine on a plate!
The after work catch up evolved into a progressive dinner – appetizer at Cypress Wine Bar, main at McCormick & Schmick’s and dessert at The Cheesecake Factory. It was more a regressive dinner for me – the restaurants got darker and I ate smaller portions.
I had half a serving of grilled wild Alaskan halibut with tomato confit and mushroom risotto which was a heavy dish. The risotto was creamy and buttery, and olive oil was swirled around the plate. In a gluttonous moment, I added a side of onion rings. I gasped when the waitress placed it on our table – they weren’t onion rings, they were onion bangles! They were coated in a thick batter that was crunchy and salty.
Our evening concluded with cheesecakes. One slice each of key lime cheesecake, Godiva chocolate cheesecake and white chocolate caramel macadamia cheesecake between eight people and there were still leftovers. It was a sticky sweet good night.