Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘custard

It was a blissful afternoon of shopping in Portland. Alder & Co., Canoe, Flora, Hive and Woonwinkel were a modern collection of stores with curated homeware, jewellery, artworks and furniture. The contemporary aesthetics and stylish designs were stimulating! We re-caffeinated at Caffe Allora and joined the queue at Ken’s Artisan Pizza for dinner.

We were seemingly banished to wait at the back of the restaurant in the Bermuda Triangle of the dishwashing nook, an iron rack of logs for the wood fire oven and the bathrooms. I was surprised by a sprig of eucalyptus flower, leaves and gumnut at our table. I admired the vibrant hue as we sipped wine and whiled away two hours.

The wood fire oven is at the front of the restaurant where all the pizzas were made.

Paola‘s family serendipitously arrived as we were seated. It was nearly nine o’clock on a Friday night and Ken’s was buzzing.

Myra recommended the wood oven roasted vegetable plate. We ordered quickly as we were hungry and two of us were returning to Seattle afterwards. Clockwise from top right: carrots, chard, porcini and Asiago Vecchio; white runner beans, artichokes and tomato sauce; and polenta, kale, red pepper, almonds and chilli sauce. Tender and mellow, it was a requisite serving of vegetables.

We shared three pizzas. Ken’s crust was puffed and charred, a chewy dough that was sturdy support for the pizza toppings. The fennel sausage, onion, tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and hot Calabrian chilli pizza was spicy and bold.

I’m ambivalent to bacon but the guanciale pizza was a crispy homage to cured meat.

Last was my beloved prosciutto with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Generous ruffles of prosciutto di San Daniele were unctuous and sweet.

A creamy chocolate custard concluded our day in Portland. Paired with a quenelle of cream and studded with hazelnut crunch, the terracotta bowl was emptied with the assistance of an adorable mademoiselle!

Portland, we will return!


Seattle has a reputation for authentic Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines. I’ve had Tamarind Tree on my list and I finally dined there last month. In Asian Plaza on the corner of Jackson and Twelve, I had to circle the mall a couple of times to find the restaurant at the back.

Our group of five gathered for a weekday lunch. The modern interior was decorated in warm tones. A majestic pot of fuchsia and white orchids was on the bar.

We were seated by a thoroughfare with a view of the kitchen.

Featuring a classic wise men motif, the ceramic teapot was handmade Bát Tràng porcelain, as were all the serving plates and bowls.

A caddy of fiery condiments was on each table.

Myra recommended sửa đá chanh, a blended beverage of fresh lime, condensed milk and crushed ice. It was a refreshing milky drink laced with citrus notes, tempering the bold flavours of the meal.

We ordered several dishes to share. Spring rolls (gỏi cuốn) and egg rolls (chả giò chay) were appetising. Vegetables, herbs and rice noodles were wrapped in rice paper parcels.

A salad (gỏi đu đủ) of shredded green papaya, steamed prawns, pickled jicama, julienne carrot, roasted peanuts and fresh herbs was a symphony of tastes and textures.

A golden cratered crescent was filled with prawns, sliced pork, slivers of shiitake mushroom and bean sprouts. The rice flour and coconut milk crêpe batter was crispy and stuffed with ingredients, a delectable version of bánh xèo.

A favourite homely rice pot (cơm gà tươi Hải Nam), the rice was cooked in chicken broth and topped with Hainanese steamed chicken. It was fragrant and rich, brightened by splashes of ginger fish sauce (nước mắm).

The final savoury dish was bún chả Hà Nội, Hanoi grilled pork noodles. I wrapped grilled pork portions, rice noodles and herbs in lettuce leaves and ate the rolls by hand.

The waitress suggested two desserts. First was flan, a dense silky custard in a pool of caramel sauce.

The second dessert was bánh chuối nướng Cognac, Cognac red banana cake. We tipped the glass of warm Cognac coconut milk over the spongy cake, a sticky sweet adult treat.

I understand why the dining room was full for the two hours we were there!

Yum cha (飲茶) is a symbolic meal for me. In Cantonese the literal translation is ‘drink tea’. Families and friends gather at round tables for a casual lunch, sharing pots of tea, and selecting bamboo steamers and plates of dim sum (點心) from carts. An old couple read the newspaper in silence. Children eat barbecue pork buns (叉燒包) with their hands. Extended families spin the Lazy Susan laden with dishes. It is a tradition cherished in Chinese culture.

First on our Dim-sum-couver schedule was Vivacity (名都). Located in Richmond, a neighbourhood of Vancouver with the highest immigrant population in Canada and the majority is of Chinese heritage.

We were seated in a separate room where we were the only patrons. The menu doubled as a ordering form as Vivacity did not have carts. There were more than a hundred items on the menu! After some deliberation we marked our morning tea with a pencil.

First was deep fried pork dumplings (鹹水角). Golden and oval shaped, the slightly sweet and mochi like dumpling encased a savoury pork and vegetables filling.

Steamed rice rolls with Chinese doughnuts (炸兩) topped with pork floss (肉鬆) were a textural contrast. Light and crunchy Chinese doughnut (油炸鬼) were wrapped in slippery noodles and served with soy sauce, peanut sauce and hoisin sauce.

Pan fried radish cakes (蘿蔔糕) are one of my favourite dim sum comfort food. Squares of shredded radish were studded with Chinese sausage (臘腸), glutinous morsels with a seared edge.

Three globes of steamed beef balls (牛肉球) were on a curious mix of corn kernels and peas. The usual garnish of tofu skins was absent. Scissored in half, the tenderised meat was dipped in tangy Worcestershire sauce (喼汁) to accentuate the beef flavour.

Fried crispy milk custards (炸脆奶) were nuggets of delight. The batter crumbled with each bite and melded into the silky custard.

Last was steamed buns with egg custard (流沙包). Deceptively plain in appearance, the bland dough was the vessel for creamy saffron coloured custard.

I can count how many times I’ve been to yum cha this year and I’ve really missed it.

On our last visit to New York, we had a pizza picnic with friends at Madison Square Park. We sprawled out on the lawn amongst office workers, and nannies and their brood, good pizza and better company under a natural canopy on a humid spring day.

Ms H worked in the area so I asked her about Shake Shack. She said there’s always a queue but you can check the Shack Cam on their website for the length before you go to line up.

After elbowing through crowds at the Empire State Building, I strolled down to Madison Square Park for lunch at Shake Shack. There were about forty people in the queue and it took about forty five minutes from lining up to ordering and picking up my meal.

It was a pleasant day and the queue was in the shade. I perused the menu and exchanged text messages with Ms H for recommendations. I chuckled when I noticed the B-line sign. Why would you only get a drink or dessert?

I was split between the custard of the day and the concrete jungle, a blend of vanilla custard, hot fudge, bananas and peanut butter.

Once I ordered I joined the group pacing back and forth at the pick up window, staring at the staff assembling the dockets, clutching the paging device, willing it to vibrate and beep. There are plenty of tables and chairs for al fresco dining in the glorious post Hurricane Irene weather.

The ShackBurger was positioned upright against the side of the cardboard box, a tray of crinkle cut fries wedged in the middle, next to a melting cup of vanilla almond fudge custard.

Minced Angus beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce sandwiched in a bun, the ShackBurger was on par with In-N-Out! It was freshly cooked, juicy but not soggy, tasty but not messy.

I love the uniformity of crinkle cut fries, each baton is equally golden and crunchy. I was on alert for the hovering pigeons, watchful over my fries.

The custard was suffering in the heat. I scooped quickly, each spoonful of vanilla custard was studded with chopped almonds and I finally found the hot fudge swirled on the bottom of the cup!

I’m not a baker but I love desserts. A spoonful of sugar completes a meal.

In Sydney my favourite pâtisserie for dessert to take to dinner parties is Adriano Zumbo. He had my loyalty before his MasterChef Australia appearances! Macarons of every flavour and then some, seasonal and whimsical dessert concoctions, creative twists on classics, it’s Adriano and the Chocolate Factory.

Fuji Bakery reminds me of Adriano Zumbo in that I would like to order one of each! One each of the croissants, one each of the brioches, one each of the Danishes, one each of the cakes.

Painted a neutral colour and its name discreetly engraved on the window, Fuji Bakery is located at a busy intersection. There is an espresso machine serving Caffé D’arte coffee, and a couple of tables in the corner.

A curved pane of glass shields the two tiered display from prying fingers. There are some savoury items but the highlight is definitely the sweet baked goods.

After much deliberation, I selected four treats. Clockwise from top: fondant chocolat, custard cream, brioche Suisse and poire.

In a crimped foil wrapper, the mini cupcake sized fondant chocolat is made with bittersweet chocolate. The dense cake is baked until just set while the middle remains delightfully batter like.

Poire, the French word for pear, is a Danish topped with organic custard cream and pears cooked in Tahitian vanilla. The flaky pastry shell is a textural contrast to the soft, translucent and glossy pear slices.

Deceptively plain in appearance, the brioche is light and buttery, filled with an organic vanilla bean custard cream, and dusted with icing sugar.

Long and flat, the Grand Marnier flavoured chocolate custard oozes out of the brioche Suisse. The brioche dough is studded with orange peel and bittersweet chocolate, a rich and decadent combination best shared.

I shall cross the lake soon to visit the flagship store in Bellevue which has a comprehensive selection!

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