Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘fennel

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.

In contrast to the soggy spring visit to Yarmuth Farm with The Calf & Kid where we cuddled kids and sampled goat cheese, we were at Full Circle Farm on a hot summer day.

Full Circle hosted the dinner with Stewardship Partners, Salmon-Safe, and Chef Ethan Stowell and his team cooking a family style meal.

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.

Our shadows!

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.

This platter was double in size. The roasted king salmon were caught by Geoff Lebon of Halmia Fish. Portions of Salmon-Safe Draper Valley chicken were grilled with rosemary and garlic.

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!

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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.

I have a vivid mental image of poutine. Mr S had queued patiently for forty minutes at Skillet Street Food and sent me a photo of his lunch. The poutine was a gloopy mess. Brown food is ugly and being doused in gravy makes it difficult. Appearance can be deceptive and the Quebec specialty is a classic example.

The pioneering food truck has since expanded to a bricks and mortar eatery opposite the recently relocated Restaurant Zoë in Capitol Hill. On a leafy corner, the eponymous skillets are on the Skillet Diner sign.

Mint seating and lemon walls, the interior is reminiscent of a classic American diner.

Stainless steel tables and an exposed loft ceiling render an industrial feel.

The all day menu is categorised into breakfast, greens, burgers, sandwiches and sides.

A creamy blend in a mason jar, the seasonal shake was flecked with desiccated coconut. The beverage evoked tropical memories!

Shirley and I split two sandwiches. The daily special was a meatloaf sandwich with chipotle caramelised onion and cheese. A stout bun supported a thick slab of well seasoned meatloaf, a respectable homage to American cuisine. A generous mound of French fries were crunchy batons of starch.

The second was the fried chicken sandwich. Two squares of pillowy potato bread contrasted with the crispy fennel seed crusted chicken. Tender and herbaceous, the poultry was paired harmoniously with tangy jalapeño aioli and healthful kale. A salad of mixed greens was tossed with a vibrant vinaigrette.

Skillet Counter is under construction in the Seattle Center Armory, adding culinary gravitas to the ‘food court’.

It was a glorious Monday in London and we spent the only clear weather we had outdoors. I gallivanted about Westminster in the morning fending off tourists with unwieldy maps and gargantuan DSLRs. We merrily roamed Kew Gardens in the afternoon, steamed in Victoria era glasshouses and felt the spring blades of grass between our toes.

Famished and fatigued, dinner at Nopi was a nourishing conclusion to a lovely day.

A lampshade of rustic bronze leaves greeted patrons.

The glare of the all white interior was diffused by the lighting creating a warm ambience.

A beautiful bouquet in pink hues marked the serving table where platters of salads and loaves of bread were displayed in a front corner of the dining room.

On the left was the grapefruit and lychee cooler, a fruity cocktail of lemon infused vodka, lychee and grapefruit juices, lemon, sugar and mint.

The menu was categorised into vegetables, fish and meat. We agreed to let our waiter order for us and our group of seven had nine dishes family style.

The first was roasted aubergine with black garlic, harissa and pine nuts. Eggplant halves were roasted until silky, its soft flesh contrasted with the crunch of the pine nuts.

I’m neutral on lentils so I only had a tiny spoonful of these green ones with shaved beetroot and radish, and berbere croutons. An African spice blend, the berbere was an appetising seasoning for the bland but nutritious lentils.

Sambal rubbed gurnard was wrapped in banana leaf. The fish fillet was succulent and fiery.

A sphere of burrata was paired with slices of blood orange and coriander seeds. The squeaky mozzarella oozed with cream, and the herby and citrus notes tempered the richness.

Portions of twice cooked baby chicken was dipped in chilli sauce and sprinkled with lemon myrtle salt. The distinct Mediterranean flavours were bold and vibrant.

A cube of pork belly was in a pool of grape mustard jus. The fatty meat was balanced by the wedges of caramelised nashi pear.

In a skillet was seared prawns tossed with feta, fennel and Pernod.

Two golden orbs were courgette and Manouri fritters. Dipped in a cooling lime yoghurt, the mixture of zucchini and Greek cheese were savoury bites.

The last of our waiter’s selection was a ‘cheesecake’. Valdeón, a Spanish blue cheese, was baked in a copper pot and garnished with pickled beetroot and thyme honey. I prefer this version to dessert cheesecakes!

This scoop of sorbet was the essence of pear.

A classic English treat, this Eton mess of meringue, sumac and rose syrup was topped with a quenelle of strawberry sorbet.

Delightfully warm and fluffy financiers were shared.

The Brits love Yotam Ottolenghi and a meal at Nopi epitomises his food philosophy.

A collaboration between CityLab7Olson Kundig Architects and Schuchart/Dow, the mushroom farm was installed at [storefront] in Pioneer Square.

Funded by Invoking the Pause, the Fertile Grounds project by CityLab7 partnered with local cafés, Caffe Umbria, Starbucks and Zeitgeist, to reuse coffee grounds to grow oyster mushrooms.

One of the events of the pop up concept was a mushroom farm harvest dinner hosted by Il Corvo.

A trough displayed the coffee grounds at the front window.

The structure is built with reclaimed plywood and cocooned in plastic.

22°C (71°F) temperature and 88% humidity, the subtropical atmosphere within the tent was calibrated for growing oyster mushrooms.

Bricks of coffee grounds were inoculated with mycelium and the spores germinated into fairy floss (cotton candy) like fibres, weaving a web on the surface of the caffeine soil.

Clusters of oyster mushrooms sprouted through the perforated skin.

The oyster mushrooms grow exponentially towards the end of the six week period.

These wide gills were ready for harvesting.

An illustrated mind map of urban food systems connections.

‘Counting and cultivating co-benefits of coffee culture.’

Handwritten comments were tacked on the wall.

Can you decipher these cute, neat notes? ‘I like to plant blueberries. I like to plant strawberries.’

And in an elegant script, ‘eating is the life’!

[storefront] is a bare space for creativity and thus a mobile kitchen was a couple of portable gas cookers.

The dining table and benches are made with salvaged wood, lovely lumbers that accentuated the sustainability theme.

We sipped Cava (Spanish sparkling wine), and nibbled on porcini and Parmesan grissini.

We settled into our seats and bottles of Elena Walch Schiava were poured. The first course was a simple salad of leafy greens, fennel, pine nuts, raw oyster mushrooms and vinaigrette. It was fresh and zingy, the crunch of the lettuce and pine nuts paired well with the firm and meaty mushrooms.

‘Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.’

Chef Mike Easton stirred the pot of risotto with an oar wooden spoon.

Cooked in porcini stock, seasoned with thyme and a bottle of wine, the oyster mushroom risotto was superb. A viscous bowl of comfort food, we savoured each spoonful of the vegetarian main dish.

Chewy discs of chocolate hazelnut cookies concluded a special meal. 1.5 kg of Nutella was in the batch of cookies for twenty people!

Sincere thanks to CityLab7, Il Corvo and Olson Kundig Architects for a unique experience!

It’s been nearly two months since our meal at Momofuku Seiōbo. David Chang‘s first restaurant outside of New York City is located in The Star. The owners of the only casino in Sydney spent one billion dollars on the refurbishment over two years.

Torrential rain and peak hour traffic had us worried we would be late. We walked briskly, determined to be on time. Except we didn’t know where we were going. Located on the ground floor, there were no signs to direct you through the labyrinth. I recognised the names of the new restaurants and when we stopped outside Adriano Zumbo I panicked as we were at an exit. I looked left and right, and finally spotted the signature peach.

A wall of white slats and tinted glass was the exterior of Momofuku Seiōbo. We stared at the mirrored peach, squinting for an inside glimpse and I hesitated on how to enter the restaurant. Push or pull? And on what? Thankfully the door was opened for us!

A little flustered, we sat at the bar for an apéritif as we waited for our dining companions. We had returned from Brisbane that afternoon and we got into a confusing conversation with the bartender and maître d’ about where we were from and how far we had travelled for this dinner!

The half a dozen tables in the dining room were empty as patrons were seated at the counter of the open plan kitchen. A modern design of concrete walls and slate tiles, the interior was accented with artwork.

The dim lighting and muted tones showcased the open plan kitchen, radiant in stainless steel and a mirrored ceiling. Four of us sat at a right angle corner with a perfect view of the busy but quiet kitchen. An eclectic soundtrack of eighties and nighties pop and rock played in the background.

There was no à la carte menu at Momofuku Seiōbo. The fifteen course tasting menu was AU$175 per person and an additional AU$95 for beverage pairings.

Snacks were eaten by hand. Clockwise from top right: mochi, shiitake chips, nori and unknown. I did not take any notes and some of the courses were different on the printed menu and thus, my apologies for the unknown which was listed as smoked potato.

I had been to Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Má Pêche in New York but the pork bun eluded me. Wedged in a pillowy steamed bun was tender pork belly garnished with cucumber and hoisin sauce. A cute bottle of Sriracha was optional condiment. If David Chang opened a pork bun food truck, people would queue for blocks for these. Christina Tosi bakes crack pie, David Chang makes crack bun.

Our first course with cutlery was lightly cured striped trumpeter with blood orange jelly and dusted with nori. Ethereal and fresh, this whetted our appetite for local ingredients.

Spears of caramelised white asparagus and green onions accompanied a lump of marron sprinkled with Szechuan pepper.

We were enjoying watching the chefs cook, plate and serve. We noticed a man at the back mixing a vat of by hand and we speculated that it was kimchee. The man looked up and we gasped. It was David Chang! He was in the kitchen most of the evening, supervising, tasting, steering. The chefs huddled and listened intently when he spoke.

In a large ceramic bowl, a beautiful layer of radish and edible flowers shielded mini cubes of beef, fermented black bean and burnt watermelon oil. It was pungent and had a distinct Chinese character.

Beneath charred chunks of Jerusalem artichoke were slivers of smoked eel and pink grapefruit.

There was a collective sigh as we ate our first bite of swimmer and spanner crab in butter and pepper sauce with Yorkshire pudding. It was delicate yet intense, an accent at the half way point.

Silky steamed egg custard was simply enhanced by toasted rice and brown butter broth.

The hand torn pasta was a curious but delicious course. Wide ribbons were covered with pickled cherry tomatoes, whipped goat cheese and deep fried basil leaves. Spiked with chilli and mint, it was a tangy, textural combination laced with heat.

After nine courses a glazed pork shoulder appeared at the plating station under a heat lamp. Various chefs took turns staring at it. We glanced at it between courses and mused that it could be a staff meal.

An encore from the striped trumpeter manifested as a fillet with fennel and wakame.

Seared lamb neck, halved pickled turnips and a quenelle of roasted puréed daikon was elegant. The acidity and bitterness balanced the meaty medallion.

A whimsical interpretation of cheese course, the sharpness of finely grated Pecorino was tempered by honey liquorice and bee pollen.

The first of two dessert courses was shards of chanterelle shaped milk skins stacked atop the wattleseed meringue, a native Australian bush food, and malt ice cream.

Asian cuisines are not known for desserts and I was surprised that there were two on the tasting menu. Separately, miso ice cream, pickled strawberries, toasted rice pudding and mochi seemed like a flavour sampler. Mixed together though and it was a delectable medley of sweet, sour and umami.

The degustation had progressed at a steady pace and the wine, beer and sake pairings were exceptional. We had whiled away two and a half hours and we were considering digestifs when we were presented with the slow cooked pork shoulder that we had been greedily eyeing! In a shallow pool of marinade, we gently pulled at the caramelised pork with our fingers and it was the perfect conclusion.

A printed copy of the tasting menu was souvenir for an impeccable experience.

Sydney has a high cost of living and this was the most expensive meal we’ve had. It’s been a challenge to articulate the details so please read the professional reviews by Pat Nourse and Terry Durack. Momofuku Seiōbo was my highlight of 2011!

I attended the annual Tom Douglas Cookbook Social held at the Palace Ballroom yesterday.

Christmas carols were playing and it was a convivial atmosphere. A food lover’s mistletoe, cookbooks tied with ribbon bows dangled from the ceiling.

Authors were dispersed around the room, their stalls laden with cookbooks and samples.

Cute CakeSpy illustrations greeted patrons. Love hearts and unicorns!

Jessie Oleson was as sweet as her treats! Her book is titled CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. On a bejewelled three tiered cake stand were rainbow cookies and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

Whimsically decorated cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

CakeSpy designed greeting cards.

Next was Amy Pennington, ‘go go green gardener’, and author of Apartment Gardening and Urban Pantry.

Kibbeh, a Middle Eastern meatball of bulgur and minced meat, was a nutty appetiser.

Opposite Amy was Tom Douglas, author of Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen, Tom’s Big Dinners and I Love Crab Cakes.

Scallop sized and golden, the Etta’s crab cake was a delectable morsel.

Tom was carving roast chickens rubbed with Chinese 12 Spice Rub.

The pieces of chicken were tender and juicy with a crisp skin.

Further along was Ethan Stowell, author of New Italian Kitchen.

A simmering pot of Mediterranean mussel soup with chickpea, fennel and lemon was spooned into little cups. It was a soothing combination of ingredients, perfect for a cold day.

At the back of Palace Ballroom was Cast Iron Skillet Big Flavours by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne.

Served in cupcake liners, the Dungeness crab and roasted poblano hushpuppies were cooked in an æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) maker.

Adjacent was Dining in Seattle cookbooks. The original volume was first published in 1977 and Past and Present is a compilation of recipes and menus celebrating Seattle restaurants then and now.

On the left of Dining in Seattle was Greg Atkinson, author of At the Kitchen Table.

Greg had trays of Yuletide cookies of faux-reos (fake Oreos), lime and pecan snowballs, turbinado sugar leaves, cocoa nib chocolate truffles and almond macaroons.

I zigzagged to Kurt Timmermeister, author of Growing a Farmer and owner of Kurtwood Farms.

Kurt was cutting wedges of Dinah’s Cheese, a creamy Camembert style cheese with a complex flavour profile.

A tower of glazed, frosted, dusted and sprinkled doughnuts was at the Top Pot table.

Becky Selengut, author of Good Fish, had a creative display with a fishing rod and tinned fish boxes on the hook.

I munched on dad’s sardines, gin drunk currants and caramelised onions on a cracker while calculating my guess for the number of Goldfish Crackers in the jar.

I was curious about the striped and cubed jellies. They were from The Seasonal Cocktail Companion by Maggie Savarino.

The Kit Kat shaped jelly shot was cherry daisy and the cube was Earl Grey infused gin. The wobbly orange square was an intense burst of bergamot.

A stack of books and an ice bucket of sparkling mineral water were manned by Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters.

He brought six home made bottles of bitters for tasting. A splash of sparkling mineral water and a couple of drops of bitters was a refreshing beverage.

And finally, Lisa Dupar had a lovely arrangement for Fried Chicken and Champagne.

The mini sausage corn dogs reminded me of the Easter Show in Sydney. Crumbly and meaty, the corn dog dipped in mustard sauce was scrumptious party food.

I was delighted to spot the ginger molasses sandwich cookies. The spiced sugary discs were the essence of the festive season.

The Palace Ballroom buzzed with energy and we were all there to support our local cookbook authors!


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