Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘bakery

I like cooked vegetables. I grew up eating leafy greens sautéed in garlic and ginger, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, blanched lettuce steeped in oyster sauce, and stir-fried carrots and peas. Salads were not in my diet as a child.

As an adult I have learnt to appreciate the healthfulness of salads. Roasted beets, chèvre and pistachio. Arugula, pear, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar. Spicy Thai salad with nam jim dressing. These are on regular rotation at home.

I have a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi‘s sumptuous Plenty and having dined at Nopi earlier in the week so I was keen to visit the original Ottolenghi in Notting Hill. Located on Ledbury Road, a manicured hedge and distinctive red font marked the entrance.

Tiers of buttermilk scones, viennoiseries, cakes, cookies, tarts, cheesecakes and brownies were displayed at the front window enticing passers-by. Tuck your elbows in and shuffle sideways as the front room is narrow!

Platters of vibrant salads lined the counter. A daily menu is published in the morning and on this May day there were:
* Roasted aubergine, sorrel and wild garlic yoghurt, roasted cherry tomatoes, parsley and pine nuts
* Mixed green beans, shaved asparagus and peas with spinach, chilli, garlic, tarragon, lemon zest and chervil
* Chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic
* Roasted squash with green olive yoghurt, roasted red onion, mint, capers and sumac
* Cucumber, celery and radish with nigella seeds, coriander and mint
* Butterbean hummus with roasted red pepper, hazelnut, lemon and parsley salsa
* Red rice and quinoa with cranberries, lemon, fried onion, mixed nuts, herbs, radicchio and arugula
* Heritage carrots with cumin seeds, garlic, lemon, coriander, pea shoots, arugula and pomegranate
* Beetroot and poached rhubarb salad with gorgonzola, red onion, and mixed herbs and leaves

There were also a selection of mains:
* Seared beef fillet with watercress, whole grain mustard, horseradish and sour cream
* Beef lasagne
* Seared sesame crusted tuna with coriander, ginger, chilli and sweet chilli, soy, pineapple and spring onion sauce
* Roasted chicken marinated in yoghurt and honey with mixed spices, chilli and coriander
* Grilled salmon with artichoke, pink peppercorn, preserved lemon and parsley salsa
* Smoked bacon quiche with sautéed leeks, parmesan and thyme
* Roasted tomato quiche with caramelised onion, goat cheese and thyme

Bold, herbaceous flavours with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences, my eyes feasted on the mounds of fresh salads.

Packages of bread sticks and Madeleines, and tubs of roasted spicy nuts cluttered the register as impulse purchases.

Shelves along the short set of stairs were laden with trays of produce, bottles of olive oil, jars of house made sauces and loaves of bread.

Downstairs was an all-white dining room with a communal table and Panton chairs, and an espresso nook. A grand mirror the size of the back wall created an optical illusion that widened and brightened the basement.

Pots of jams and cubes of butter were on a rustic wooden board.

I sipped a coffee.

And nibbled on a decadent chocolate and hazelnut brownie.

I did not order any salads because I had a special lunch booked at The Ledbury but my morning tea at Ottolenghi was splendid!

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I’m a little homesick after a week in London. An Antipodean feels at home in the Old Dart. The accent, the vocabulary, the cuisine, the flag, ‘it’s the vibe‘!

Our local bakery in Sydney was on my route home from work. I was tempted by their afternoon discounts of croissants, lamingtons, apple pies and vanilla slices, and their sponge cakes and fruit tarts were lovely gifts for dinner parties. I have many fond memories of sharing their sweet treats with family and friends.

Crumble & Flake, Neil Robertson’s new patisserie opened on Sunday and was sold out by midday. A Canlis and MistralKitchen alum, the Seattle food community was abuzz with Neil’s crumbles and flakes. He had baked the Momofuku Milk Bar crack pie for the Christina Tosi cookbook event at the Book Larder last year and it was a perfect replica of the sugary dessert.

Located on the same block as Dinette in Capitol Hill, I met the ladies at Crumble & Flake for morning tea.

A tiny glass storefront with an open plan stainless steel kitchen, the modern and minimalist patisserie had a one-to-one ratio of staff to customer when we were in there. They had already sold out of croissants for the day and Neil was apologetic on Twitter about the daily quantities.

Rectangular cabinets and white trays displayed the classic techniques of the bearded chef. On the left were fig and olive tapenade rolls and currant scones were on the right.

Rows of peanut butter cookies and ‘filled-to-order’ cream puffs in two sizes.

On the top shelf were ‘Cheweo’, an Oreo style cookie sandwich, and below were lemon and caipirinha macarons.

There were two left each of the double brownie and rhubarb financier.

We strolled up to Arabica Lounge, ordered coffees and sampled our purchases.

Two decadent discs of chocolate cookies were pressed together with a thick layer of cream. The Cheweo was indeed chewy, each bite was soft and luscious.

A cute golden orb, the mini cream puff was piped with vanilla custard. The crisp choux shell was a sturdy vessel for the silky fragrant cream.

Wide and flat, the lemon macaron had an intense citrus filling. The meringue was a little thin but the lemony paste was a highlight.

It was a saccharine welcome to Crumble & Flake!

Seattle was blessed with consecutive weekends of glorious weather. The feeling of sunshine on bare skin is so restorative and we had a serene afternoon at the Washington Park Arboretum and the Japanese Garden, strolling and gazing at the blooming trees.

We leisurely looped the arboretum and garden, and had afternoon tea at Belle Epicurean.

Located at the Madison Park end of the botanic gardens, the second café by Carolyn Ferguson is in a spacious slate building.

A marble counter and glass cabinet displayed sweet treats.

The décor is Parisian chic with panes of vintage mirrors, framed black and white prints, and replica Thonet chairs and stools.

A gleaming espresso machine dispensed Caffé Vita coffee and there was a wine menu by the glass.

There were cake balls wrapped in mint and fuchsia foil, Rolo tart, and slices of raspberry mousse cake, Alhambra cake, red velvet crunch cake, opéra cake and coconut crème cake.

In the perpendicular cabinet were flat discs of pastel macarons and jars of pistachio, vanilla, rose water and orange buttercream.

Pastries included pain au chocolat, orange scented brioche and croissants.

There were also lemon brioche buns with citrus confit and spiced almond brioche bostocks.

Mr S ordered le feuillette, a savoury tart. Black Forest ham, Gruyère and Mornay sauce were encased in a flaky brioche crust. The golden, molten mass was buttery and cheesy.

My coconut crème cake was baked with coconut milk, pineapple juice and rum. The layers of sponge and coconut cream cheese frosting were decadent and textured with shredded coconut. The tang of pineapple and the residual alcohol of the rum tempered the sweetness, it was an adult dessert!

Belle Epicurean Provisions was connected by a doorway.

A wall of square shelves cellared hundreds of bottles of wines.

Opposite was Belle Epicurean branded dessert sauces, and cake and frosting mixes, Riedel glassware and cookbooks.

Bars of Michel Cluizel chocolates of various cacao percentages tempted us.

The fridge at the back was a trove of gourmet and artisan aioli, butter, chutney, compote, soup base, tapenade, vinaigrette, and ‘take and bake’ croissant, brioche, puff pastry and tart.

Belle Epicurean is a French trio of café, pantry and wine store!

It was ice cream weather in New York. After shopping for a couple of hours, I criss-crossed Midtown Manhattan to Momofuku Milk Bar for a sweet treat. Located in the foyer of Momofuku Má Pêche, Christina Tosi‘s neon pink homage to baking was reprieve from the humidity.

The chalkboard menu spanned the wall. Neatly printed in rainbow colours, the menu was categorised into soft serve, merchandise, cookies, flavoured milks, pies, milkshakes, cake truffles, coffee, whole cakes and daily breads.

In contrast the opposite wall was plain. Birch shelves had wire baskets of cookies, stacks of cardboard boxes and branded merchandise.

David Chang’s ‘quarterly print journal’ Lucky Peach, the Momofuku cookbook, and Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar were displayed with bottles of Cereal Milk mix, cookie mix, t-shirts and totes.

Individually packaged blueberry and cream cookies.

Momofuku Milk Bar served Stumptown coffee. An illuminated milk sign projected a magenta glow over the croissants and bagels.

The centrepiece behind the counter was a machine dispensing Cereal Milk and pineapple upside down cake flavoured soft serve.

The Cereal Milk soft serve was squeezed into a paper cup and dropped into a larger plastic one. The double cupping insulated warm fingers and there was no dripping. I’m a slow eater and the frozen dessert was surprisingly sturdy, retaining its shape for several minutes without melting. Smooth and creamy, the Cereal Milk soft serve was luscious.

I purchased a bottle of Cereal Milk mix, a fun dessert for the next dinner party.

I will return to Momofuku Milk Bar for their savoury items, bagel bomb (bacon, scallion and cream cheese) or volcano bread (caramelised onion, potato gratin, Gruyère, bacon and pancetta)!

This is a belated final post of my trip home in November. It’s been just over three months since I was in Australia and in that time we’ve had our first full winter in Seattle. There’s been plenty of rain, snow, sleet, wind and hail. But there have also been enough glorious days to sustain us through the darkest and wettest of the Pacific Northwest season. Sydney has suffered a drenched summer with mild temperatures and we experienced the prelude during our two weeks there. Thankfully our last day in Sydney was a lovely souvenir, a sundress and bare limbs day.

I had five items on my must eat list.
1. Chinese
2. Thai
3. Momofuku Seiōbo
4. Jamie’s Italian
5. Adriano Zumbo

We walked to The Star in the afternoon to complete number five.

We have been loyal patrons at Adriano Zumbo since it opened in 2007. His sweet treats have special meaning for us as the talented and passionate pâtissier made our wedding cake (croquembouche) and desserts (macarons in four flavours). The original Balmain patisserie is a narrow room with a glass counter displaying his whimsical creations where the queue was regularly out on the footpath. He has since expanded to several locations and the one at The Star greeted us with a radiant neon pink sign.

The concept store has a patisserie on the left and a dessert train on the right which was closed on Sunday.

Each year Adriano Zumbo celebrates his birthday with Zumboron Day. This year there were sixty flavours of macarons!

A sample of each flavour was lined along the window to tempt us. Left to right: finger bun (Australian iced bread), fried chicken, and gin and tonic.

Left to right: liquorice, Margherita pizza and mandarin.

Left to right: toasted marshmallow, vanilla ecstasy and Vegemite.

The interior of the patisserie was bright and funky. Desserts in cone stands enticed passers-by, a bathtub was topped with high tea tiers and Zumbo, Adriano’s cookbook, and the table has purple shoes!

A 360 degree view of each dessert with a description card.

Ovens warmed savoury quiches, pies and sausage rolls.

Peach boxes encased seasonal macarons.

‘In case of emergency break glass’ for sugar hit!

I heart Zumbo.

The stainless steel kitchen with containers of ingredients.

Trolleys of macarons for Zumboron Day.

Man Goes Peanuts: peanut butter crunch, mango compote, mango burnt honey mousse and pain d’épices. Peanut butter and mango were a curious combination in this layered and textural dessert.

Tarte aux fruits de la passion: passionfruit curd and pâte sucrée. The passionfruit tart and opera gâteau are my favourites at Adriano Zumbo. A glossy two toned disc was studded with passionfruit seeds, a perfect balance of luscious piquancy.

We savoured our last night in Sydney with a bottle of Champagne and macarons.

Our cache of of macarons: butterscotch caramels, chocolate orange, cinnamon doughnut, coffee, pandan and coconut, passionfruit and yoghurt, rice pudding, salted butter popcorn, toasted marshmallow, and vanilla ecstasy.

These colourful jewels were a sentimental farewell to Down Under.

My beloved Sydney, I miss you dearly.

A delicious yum cha (飲茶) lunch at Vivacity (名都) whetted our Dim-sum-couver (點心哥華) appetite. On the next block was Kam Do Bakery (金都餐廳餅店). A delectable selection of pastries and buns were displayed in glass cabinets. There were golden pastries filled with red bean, green bean, lotus seed, taro and date pastes. We each bought a paper tray to take home. Mine had their speciality, wife cake (老婆餅), and my favourite, pineapple bun with custard cream (菠蘿奶黃包).

Flat and round, wife cake is a traditional Chinese pastry filled with winter melon and almond paste. The disc was flaky and the glutinous winter melon and almond blend was mellow. Pineapple in appearance and not in flavour, the crumbly crust was the highlight of the pineapple bun with custard cream.

Sadly the third place on our schedule was closed on Wednesdays. The photo menu at HK BBQ Master (明家燒臘專家) enticed us to return at the next Dim-sum-couver for their Chinese barbecued meats.

It was a short stroll to No. 1 Shanghai Cuisine (滬上). I’ve visited Richmond several times and the blocks of malls still confuse me. I’m thankful for Naomi and Sally Simpleton‘s directions!

We were at No. 1 Shanghai Cuisine for their bao (包). We shared a serving each of xiao long bao (小籠包) and sheng jian bao (生煎包).

Steamed in a bamboo basket were six pleated xiao long bao or ‘soup dumplings’. Dipped in black rice vinegar, I nibbled the top off the delicate parcel to release steam and carefully slurped the broth. The wrapping was a little thick but the pork mince was well seasoned in a pool of intense liquid. We ate these in silent appreciation.

Five large sheng jian bao or pan fried buns were sprinkled with black sesame and shallots. The seared bottom was crispy and these were doughy versions of the xiao long bao. The juicy bun squirted with each bite!

The Shanghai (上海) dumplings were warming and soothing on a wintry day.

I dislike mornings. With enough sleep, I still wake up in a fog. I perfected a silent routine in Sydney with the singular goal of hugging a cup of coffee at my work desk. I breathed in the caffeine aroma and slowly sipped the warm bittersweet liquid. A skim mocha was prerequisite to my human interactions.

I have weened myself off caffeine since moving to Seattle. My two, three cups a week are less functional and more enjoyment. And I indulged in one nearly every day we were in Whistler. Resting indoors with a hot beverage while snow flurries fluttered by the window were idyllic, a romanticised white Christmas for a Southern Hemisphere native.

The Starbucks near our hotel was crowded one afternoon and we crossed into a laneway to the provocatively named Hot Buns Bakery.

A cosy café with optimistic al fresco tables and chairs under an awning, Hot Buns Bakery is open for breakfast and lunch.

Above the entrance was a risqué surfboard adorned with the eponymous ‘hot buns’.

Vintage skis and boots dangled from the ceiling.

Framed sepia portraits lined the walls and the dining room was marked with a manual parking meter.

Sweet and savoury crêpes, panini, soups and pastries were on the menu.

A frothy cup of Lavazza was welcomed.

We shared a cinnamon bun, a Hot Buns Bakery specialty. A sticky scroll of dense dough swirled with a gritty cinnamon paste and glazed, it was a delightful sweet treat.

I spotted a banana Nutella crêpe at the next table and it was a decadent snack. Conveniently located in Whistler Village, Hot Buns Bakery was a pleasant retreat after several hours on the slopes.


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