Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘beef

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!

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din·ner
(noun)
The main meal of the day, taken either around MIDDAY or in the EVENING.
A formal evening meal, typically one in honour of a person or event.
From Old French disner

I’m a frequent snacker. I enjoy long, leisurely meals but at home I munch on McVitie’s, fruits, nuts and muesli bars throughout the day. It’s both sustenance and habit.

With a 9:45pm reservation for our anniversary dinner, I had to prepare for a late night meal. I had a substantial lunch, potato crisps from the minibar and a Kind bar in the afternoon, and napped prior to going to the Mandarin Oriental for Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. We waited for our table at the bar with a glass of wine and nibbled on a bowl of rice crackers in a lively atmosphere.

Dinner is the younger sibling of Heston Blumenthal‘s famous The Fat Duck. It has one Michelin star and debuted at number nine, the highest new entry, on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Named for ‘British quirky history and linguistic playfulness’, Dinner’s menu is a homage to traditional recipes cooked with modern techniques and local ingredients.

An elegant dining room with a panoramic view of Hyde Park, chocolate furniture and ivory walls complemented the high ceiling.

Clusters of jelly moulds made whimsical lights on pillars.

Nearing 10pm and feeling hungry, I was delighted to nibble on complimentary bread. I love the succinct menu in the format of dish, year originated, components and price.

Circa 1730, the hay smoked mackerel was garnished with lemon salad and gentleman’s relish, and drizzled with olive oil. The greens tempered the pungent, oily fish.

A couple of seasons ago MasterChef Australia contestants had to replicate several of Heston Blumenthal’s signature dishes and I was fascinated by meat fruit, circa 1500. A sphere of chicken liver parfait is dipped in glossy mandarin jelly. I discarded the authentic stem, and cut into the skin and flesh of the meat fruit. Spread thickly on grilled bread, the silky smooth parfait was tinged with citrus notes. It was soft and rich, best shared with the complimentary bread.

The Hereford ribeye, circa 1830, was the star of the plate. A tender cut, the beef was seasoned and perfectly medium rare.

The steak was paired with triple cooked chips and mushroom ketchup. Crunchy and luscious, the chips were starchy batons of joy.

Our waiter explained that umbles are offal and the phrase ‘eating humble pie’ is derived from the medieval specialty of umble pie. Morsels of umbles dotted the powdered duck breast, circa 1670. Portions of succulent duck and supple confit fennel were in a pool of savoury jus.

Fresh and bright, a side of green beans and shallots was the requisite vegetable.

On a wooden board was a Staub cocotte of brioche and a strip of spit roast pineapple. Circa 1810, the tipsy cake was ethereal and aromatic. Sweetly caramelised, the tropical fruit was a textural contrast to the custard soaked brioche.

We had watched the nitro ice cream trolley being wheeled from couples to groups all evening and I gleefully replied ‘yes please’ when asked. Liquid nitrogen is poured with a flourish and the handle cranked to churn the vanilla ice cream. Scooped into a dainty thin sugar cone, the ice cream was dipped in a selection of toppings. The freeze dried raspberries had a concentrated flavour and the popping candy was fun!

Our celebration concluded with chocolate ganache and caraway biscuit, courtesy of the chef with exquisite penmanship.

It was midnight, and patrons lingered at the restaurant and bar as we exited into the cold London spring, contented by the Heston Blumenthal experience.

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.

A trio of flake salts, clockwise from top right: Black Diamond from Cyprus, Murray River from Australia and Halen Môn Gold from Wales.

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’!

‘David Thompson‘s name is synonymous with Thai cuisine.’ From Darley Street Thai to Sailors Thai, he pioneered Thai eateries in Sydney. He is the Australian chef who opened a Thai restaurant in Bangkok. I was missing Asian food dearly and was delighted that the original Nahm in London was located near our hotel. In the boutique The Halkin, Nahm was an intimate dining experience.

Decorated in shades of tan and caramel, a row of round tables were in the middle of the dining room and the chairs were comfortable.

We snacked on meaty morsels of ma hor, an appetising amuse bouche courtesy of the chef. Minced prawns and chicken simmered in palm sugar, fried shallots, garlic and peanuts were atop segments of fresh pineapple and mandarin.

We ordered a selection of dishes to share between three. The first was latiang, chicken and crab egg nets with caramelised coconut and lemongrass. Popularised by Longrain chef Martin Boetz on MasterChef Australia, this version of egg nets was presented in a roll. A light lattice of fine egg strands encased a moist and fragrant filling.

Our waiter recommended the yam hua bplii gung, a fresh and zingy salad of grilled prawns and banana blossoms tossed with chilli jam.

Scottish scallops were stir fried with chillies and wild ginger. Plump discs paired with crunchy greens, the hoi shenn pat prik thai orn was simple yet luscious.

All three of us were duck lovers and the pbet yang pat tor huu yii was superb. Chinese style roast duck was on a bed of bean curd, basil and Siamese watercress. The savoury sauce and grassy herbs tempered the fatty duck.

A classic Thai curry, the geng mussaman neua had tender chunks of beef in a viscous paste of aromatics including cassia, cloves, cumin and shallots. Generous dollops were savoured on steamed rice.

The others sipped coffee while I perused the dessert menu. A silver bowl contained rock sugar which had a mellow sweetness.

Kanom mor geng peuak, a scoop of charred coconut pudding were angled on a taro fritter. The two white blobs were kao mao bot, ancestor biscuits with a young coconut filling.

It was an expensive but delectable meal!

I love Korean barbecue. My aunt has a favourite in Hong Kong that I’ve been to several times. A gas grill is at the centre of the table and you order an assortment of marinated meats, seafood and vegetables. The communally cooked morsels are dipped in a variety of condiments and eaten with half a dozen side dishes.

In Seattle I’ve had delicious meals at Revel in Fremont and another Korean restaurant has just opened in Inn at the Market. The lovely Kimberly invited me as her plus one to Chan’s opening party.

The kimchi hangover soup piqued my interest!

We peeked in prior to the event to take photos of the interior. The open kitchen was buzzing with activity as chefs busily prepared the tasting menu.

A sideboard was laden with stemware, ice buckets and wine bottles.

Earthy tones decorated the dining room.

We chatted over coffee at Le Pichet and returned to a crowded Chan to sample their fusion fare. I eschewed the cocktails and opted for a glass of Champagne.

A square plate had a mound of ahi tuna slivers with slices of avocado. The tuna tartare was seasoned with an appetising soy ginger sauce and chilli oil.

A ball of rice was doused in sweet and spicy sauce, and surrounded by julienned vegetables. The bowl of bibimbap was served cold and mixed through for a pleasant combination of flavours and textures.

The highlight was the bulgogi slider. A charred bun had a dollop of chilli mayonnaise and tender pieces of marinated beef topped with cucumber kimchi. The dense bread was a sturdy container for the burger contents.

More sweet than chilli, fried chicken wing portions were dusted in a light batter, drizzled with a chilli caramel glaze, and garnished with peanuts and green onions.

Crispy and sticky, these must been eaten with fingers!

Dessert was a tiny pot of ginger crème brûlée. I cracked the candy top with the back of my spoon and underneath was a smooth and aromatic custard.

Our evening concluded with supper at The Coterie Room where Carol and I introduced Kimberly to the savoury crunch of ham cracklings dunked in fondue!

Located in the same courtyard as Marché and Watson Kennedy, Chan is a welcomed addition to the diverse collection of restaurants in Pike Place Market. We attended the opening party courtesy of Social Magnet.

I had neglected the final post from our Christmas trip to Whistler. Teppan Village had been floundering at the bottom of my draft folder until I noticed it this week. I clicked on it with a wry smile, the lapse in time a contrast to the speed of the meal. Our teppanyaki (鉄板焼き) was cooked and served within half an hour, a frantic eating pace.

Whistler enchanted us with twinkling lights and snow flurries, a winter wonderland for Antipodeans who celebrated previous festive seasons in air-conditioning.

Conveniently located in Whistler Village, Teppan Village was spacious with several squares of tables and griddles.

We shared a plate of tempura prawns and vegetables, and a bowl of steamed edamame as appetisers.

An ingredients cart was laden with oils, sauces and aromatics.

A shallow tray of condiments was dispensed with flair.

Our group of four ordered the teppan tasting menu. The first course was a crunchy salad of iceberg lettuce, shredded cabbage and matchstick carrots, and a soothing bowl of miso soup.

Chef Taka introduced himself and demonstrated his dexterity. He holstered his tools in his apron pocket and he expertly manoeuvred the spatula and knives. A pyramid of onion rings were flambéed into a fiery volcano.

Shelled prawns were fanned out and curled as they sizzled.

Batons of vegetables were sautéed until tender.

Plump scallops were seared to perfection. I’m a slow eater and my warmed cast iron plate was already nearly full!

The teriyaki salmon was deftly portioned and well seasoned.

Juicy cubes of filet mignon were a highlight and we chewed these slowly to savour the intense beefy flavour.

The aromas of the teppanyaki lingered.

Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Allan Aquila. This is not a sponsored post.

After a brisk walk into Downtown and a quick browse in the SAM Shop I crossed the street to Fonté Café for the Sozo winemaker dinner.

sozo (so·zo) – noun
To save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction. To save a suffering one from perishing, to make well, heal, restore to health.

Sozo is an artisan winemaker that selects quality grapes from vineyards to craft their own blends. The company partners with not-for-profit organisations to distribute a portion of sales to assist those in need. Each bottle of wine has a medallion affixed to its label to indicate its contribution to Sozo’s commitment to the community. For example, ‘5 lives’ is equal to five meals supplied by local food banks.

Winemaker Cheryl Barber-Jones collaborated with Chef Peter Jahnke on the wine pairings for the five course tasting menu.

The first course was pear, caramelised onion and St André tart, and Sozo Humanity Riesling. Amber and flaky, the tart had a delicate sweetness that was accentuated by the mellow Riesling.

A generous fillet of salmon perched on a mound of mushroom risotto, and Sozo Potential Pinot Noir. Averse to fish skin, I gently peeled it from the perfectly cooked flesh. Both the salmon and creamy rice was well seasoned.

The third course was duck confit with lentils, and Sozo Abundant Mourvèdre Syrah Blend. I love duck but unfortunately this was a little dry and lacked the sumptuous texture of confit meat. Traditionally coupled with Pinot Noir, the Mourvèdre Syrah was a delightful match with the game.

Abundant Mourvèdre Syrah Blend, one of four Sozo wines sampled.

The penultimate dish of braised beef with blueberry barbecue glaze, polenta and kale, and Sozo Generosity Syrah Tempranillo Blend was my favourite of the evening. Tender chunks of slow cooked beef were atop luscious polenta and wilted kale.

We concluded with an affogato. A single shot espresso and a scoop of espresso gelato was presented in a coffee cup. The espresso and vanilla ice cream are served separately in a classic affogato. The caffeine and sugar were appreciated after four diverse savoury courses that highlighted the Sozo wines.

Charmed by the smooth Riesling, Mrs W and I both purchased a bottle.

We were gifted a bag of Yemen Mocca Sanani as we exited into the crisp night.

Sozo is on the wine list of more than seventy restaurants in Seattle. Next time you dine out, consider this socially responsible winemaker!


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