Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘flatbread

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

The first coffee I drank was from Starbucks. It was early morning and I was bleary eyed when I entered a Starbucks in Sydney and ordered an iced mocha. Espresso. Chocolate. Milk. Ice. Its cold sweetness was jolting, the caffeine sharpened my senses. Thus I welcomed coffee into my life, a daily embrace with a chocolaty, milky beverage that focuses my mind.

A proud Seattle company, Starbucks pilots new concepts such as Starbucks Evenings here. Stores such as Olive Way and Terry and Republican have pioneered an after 4pm menu of wine, beer and small plates. ‘Drop in after work, with friends, after yoga, by yourself, after a long day or after a great day’ for an apéritif or digestif from your friendly barista!

Located in the Amazon hub at South Lake Union, Terry and Republican is a lively Starbucks. About half a dozen tables are in the sunken courtyard.

A sign advertised Starbucks Evenings with a sketch of a wedge of cheese, a wine glass and a beer bottle.

A radiant sun: coffee, tea, pastries and sandwiches. A crescent moon: red wine, white wine, small plates and desserts.

The interior is spacious and modern with exposed ducts, cement pillars, wood panelling and industrial lights. Floor-to-ceiling windows brightened the muted tones. The Starbucks logo is spray-painted on a wall made from salvaged bicycle tires.

As you wait for your coffee you’re reminded of Starbucks Evenings with more chalkboard art.

We were seated behind the counter and we peeked through the open shelves to the nimble baristas and crowd of patrons.

We perched on stools and were greeted with Starbucks designed Riedel glassware, a glass of ‘refreshing’ Villa Sandi Prosecco DOC Treviso Il Fresco from Italy topped with a petite bowl for spiced pepitas.

Each glass is etched with a whimsical saying such as ‘take a moment or three’ and ‘permission to relax’. We also sampled a ‘crisp’ Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon, ‘fruity’ Rosa Regale Brachetto from Italy and a ‘full-bodied’ Bergevin Lane Syrah She-Devil from Columbia Valley.

A bowl of rosemary and brown sugar cashews were warm and crunchy.

A wedge of triple cream blue brie was paired with walnut cranberry bread and fig preserves.

Deglet Noor dates were stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon. A drizzle of piquant balsamic glaze tempered the decadent morsels.

An oval flatbread of marinated artichoke hearts, red peppers, dry Jack and goat cheese was appetisingly spicy.

A bouquet of vegetable spears was served with a pot of smoky chipotle hummus. I munched on the plain crudités as a palate cleanser between the small plates.

Two tender skewers of panko and Parmesan crusted chicken were dipped in a tangy honey Dijon sauce.

Truffle macaroni and cheese was in a shallow dish to maximise the surface area of the golden herbed Parmesan breadcrumbs.

The pièce de résistance was the chocolate fondue. A cookie tray was filled with luscious dark chocolate. Threesomes of madeleines, marshmallows and strawberries were the perfect shapes for plunging into the viscous pool with our fingers.

Ms D-R and I lingered for a while afterwards, enjoying the ambience and discussing gathering friends for Starbucks Evenings.

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

I had had lunch at Pop Kitchen + Bar prior to going home to Australia in November. I returned yesterday to sample their happy hour fare courtesy of GreenRubino. An afternoon downpour was looming and I was glad to be indoors. Located in the Experienced Music Project Museum, Pop Kitchen + Bar has changed management since it opened and it is now operated by Wolfgang Puck.

A signature textured metallic crumble, the café has a spectacular view of the Frank Gehry designed EMP.

The interior is modern with white benches and lemon chairs.

Screens looped music videos above the bar. A generous glass of Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon was smooth and fruity.

Vases of daisies in vibrant hues decorated the buffet table.

Layered into a plastic container, the Chinese chicken salad was spiked with a pair of chopsticks. Mixed greens were tossed with shredded chicken, pickled ginger, coriander and shards of crispy wonton skins.

My favourite item on the happy hour menu was the spring salad of mixed greens, sliced strawberries, shaved Manchego and candied walnuts. A piquant vinaigrette was tempered by the sweetness of the fruit and nut.

A fluffy flatbread was topped with mandolined potatoes, cubes of pancetta and dotted with ricotta and Pecorino. I also nibbled on a wedge of cheese pizza of molten mozzarella, Gouda, chèvre and Parmesan.

A healthy vegan option, the cute slider was skewered by a cherry tomato and stacked with a white bean and quinoa patty.

Dessert was ginger molasses and chocolate chip cookies. The ginger molasses cookie had a rich caramelised flavour and the chocolate chip cookie was delightfully chewy.

I left with a gift box which I had guessed were cookies but was surprised by half a dozen macarons.

I had one of each flavour for supper!

On the edge of Belltown at a quiet corner is a cosy shared plates ‘gastro-tavern’. A casual neighbourhood eatery and bar, Black Bottle is becoming a local favourite to gather friends for a family style dinner and a bottle of wine.

A handful of small tables line the sidewalk, encouraging patrons to enjoy the last vestige of summer. A long dining room, the interior is lit by candles and framed by floor to ceiling windows. I recommend the tables in the bay windows, an intimate space at the front for good conversations and people watching.

We welcomed Ms C to Seattle on Friday evening. The restaurant was full by six thirty so we settled into one corner of the bar. The minimalist décor suits the narrow space. Clusters of tables are on one side and a birch counter is on the other. Two wall shelves are laden with neatly ordered bottles, one for liquor and one for wine.

There are six categories on the menu – meat, seafood, vegetables, flatbread, miscellaneous and dessert. I selected two, and Ms C and Mr S one each.

There is no sequencing to how the dishes are served and the first was roasted tomato Caprese with fresh oregano. Ripen and shrivelled tomato quarters were strewn amongst a row of fresh mozzarella. The salad was garnished with oregano instead of basil, a twist on the classic Caprese.

Next was the prosciutto and béchamel flatbread. Baked in a rectangular tart pan, the rustic flatbread was doughy and stretchy with molten cheese.

We inhaled the aroma of the house smoked wild boar ribs. Rubbed with spices, the ribs had an intense earthiness and the meat was tender and yielding.

Our last savoury course was masala chicken drums. Three large portions of chicken on the bone were paired with a chickpea and onion stew. The rusty hues of the masala paste were flavoursome and the drumsticks were well cooked.

We spotted the chocolate cake and vanilla gelato as we entered and it was a unanimous decision to split this between us. A caramel pattern surrounded the two tiered cake scattered with slivered almonds. Entombed was a scoop of vanilla gelato, a cool contrast to the dense and rich chocolate cake. One dessert, three spoons, an empty plate!

The hearty menu is perfect for the cold season, delicious comfort food for the winter months.

I had a question mark next to the Mobile Food Rodeo on my calendar as Mr S was returning from a three week work trip on the same day. I hesitated when the lovely Carol offered me a spare ticket but Mr S assured me he would be sleeping off jet lag so I happily accepted.

It was cool and cloudy as we joined the queue just before midday. VIP ticket holders were to have an extra hour before general admission but they were delayed by the fire marshal inspection and thus had a cascading effect on us. Hungry and windswept, we finally entered just before one o’clock.

A barren bitumen block enclosed by a barbwire fence, about a dozen food trucks ringed the perimeter and there were a couple of canopies with stacked hay bales for seating.

The bright graffiti on the Skillet Street Food van greeted us.

We spotted a retro Jeep Fleetvan painted in Whole Foods Market green selling cold beverages. It reminded me of the British television series Heartbeat!

Next to the petite Whole Foods truck was Maximus Minimus, a pig with attitude in sunglasses!

Our first food truck was Curry Now. By the time we got our wristbands, I was shivering and in need of sustenance.

We shared a small chicken curry with rice and topped with cilantro. We ate this quickly and appreciated the spiciness.

Street Treats was adjacent and we peeked at the menu. Although tempted by ice cream cookie sandwiches we opted to purchase a salted brown butter crispy bar for later. We split this in the car and it was a sticky treat of sweet nuttiness.

A regular at Queen Anne Farmers Market, Parfait Organic Artisan Ice Cream was another sweet truck present. Street Donuts was there too.

When we were outside the line was moving steadily until we paused at Fusion on the Run. We noticed a menu leaning against a window and were intrigued by the coconut ginger chicken bánh mì.

As we were waiting for our bánh mì, a guy picked up his tacos order. On the left is ono, kalua pork with mango salsa and surfer sauce. The other two are KV fusion, marinated short rib with cilantro and onions.

A crusty baguette was filled with julienned and pickled carrots and daikon, lettuce, cilantro, sesame seeds and coconut ginger chicken. Each bite of the bánh mì was crunchy and juicy, the sour vegetables tempered the richness of the marinated chicken. This was the highlight of the Mobile Food Rodeo!

By now the crowds have at least quadrupled since we got in. Groups were huddled together, balancing plates and trays while standing. Those perched on hay bales were elbow to elbow.

We continued our rotation and walked by Lumpia World, Where Ya At and Kaosamai. After the bánh mì, we skipped burgers, sliders and sandwiches at Bistro Box, Buns on Wheels and Charlie’s Buns N’ Stuff.

The pig shaped chalkboard at The Box caught our attention! A recent addition to the fleet of local food trucks, they’re based in Kirkland.

We ordered a pork belly hum bao each and these were speedily assembled. Slow braised in soy and mirin, a generous slice of pork belly with a scattering of coleslaw was wedged between a steamed bun. The fresh and zingy slaw was a textural contrast to the yielding pork belly and the soft bun soaked up the tasty marinade.

A band entertained the crowds and later, Mayor McGinn appeared on the stage and a cupcake eating contest was held.

The sun had emerged and the atmosphere had livened up. There were some long queues so Carol lined up at Bigfood and I went searching for fries.

I was keen to try poutine, the Québec specialty. Surprised by only a handful of people lingering at Skillet, I joined the short queue just in time for the announcement that they were sold out.

Disappointed, I returned to the area where Bigfood was parked and caught a glimpse of the Happy Grillmore menu. Yukon gold fries with garlic and Parmesan? Yes please!

Unfortunately I was defeated by the wait time. The two chefs were cooking at a frantic pace but they were limited by space. The size of the event overwhelmed the charm of food trucks.

A jungle themed food truck, Bigfood also had a long queue but we were determined to try their grilled flatbreads.

On the left is sasquatch, spicy pulled pork shoulder with green mango chutney and coleslaw. On the right is yeti, braised beef with curried fruit and coleslaw. Colourful ingredients rested on fluffy flatbreads with perfect grill marks! These were tender and luscious, the grilled flatbread was a sturdy utensil for the shredded meat and fruity condiments.

And finally, a red velvet muffin. We scraped off the buttercream and halved the dense and buttery muffin.

Another new food truck, Snout & Co. has ‘soulful food from Cuba to South Carolina’.

As we exited, we were thankful that we arrived early and mostly avoided queuing by the dozens. Hopefully the organisation will improve for next year but it is a fun event to sample the diverse food trucks of Seattle and Portland.

Mobile Food Rodeo was a fundraiser for Solid Ground.

On a cool and drizzling Saturday morning, we were indoors at On the Fly for a cooking class with Chef Christine Keff. We laughed at the irony of recipes for summer parties in this flippant Seattle weather.

Christine relocated Flying Fish from Belltown, where Local 360 is, to South Lake Union about a year ago. Next door is On the Fly, a popular spot for weekday lunch for the surrounding offices.

The walls displayed wines for sale and clusters of cookbooks defied gravity, seemingly suspended in mid air without support.

Neat rows of chairs faced the counter where Christine would be demonstrating the recipes. A door conveniently opened to the Flying Fish kitchen where Christine sought assistance from her team as needed.

Christine was finalising her preparation as we were seated. She unfurled a black knife roll and sharpened her gleaming tools.

We had expected Christine to demonstrate three recipes but flicking through the booklet, there were nine recipes plus the grilled whole salmon not printed! Affable and knowledgeable, Christine entertained us with her commentary and encouraged us to ask questions as she cooked each dish.

The first was the ahi tuna pokē, a Hawaiian marinated raw fish recipe. Pokē is often likened to ceviche but no citrus is used to ‘cook’ the fish and it doesn’t require time to marinate.

Christine recommended Pike Place Market for fresh salmon, halibut and crab as they sell large quantities daily, and Uwajimaya and Mutual Fish for other seafood such as tuna. We learned that tuna doesn’t have to be a dark colour to be fresh; translucence and shine are better indicators for quality.

Scooped into a brittle lumpia cone, the pokē was succulent and infused with the flavours of sambal, soy, sesame, onions and chives. If you have a chopping board and a knife, you can make this deceptively simple hors d’oeuvre! Christine suggested spiking the cones in a bowl of rock salt for presentation. I never deep fry at home so I would serve this on crisp flatbread.

My mother often made potato salad for potluck dinners with family and friends when I was a child. I loved the mixture of waxy potatoes, wedges of hardboiled eggs and crunchy cubes of apples – very retro!

Christine’s version catered for adult tastebuds with green beans and mustard. Boiled in their skins in generously salted water, the potatoes were peeled, cut and combined while warm to soak in the dressing.

Christine shucked and grated ears of fresh corn for the next recipe. There was a lively discussion when she was cooking the creamed corn and poblano. Christine explained that the heat of the chilli is in its membrane and not the seeds. She also warned us not to wash the poblano pepper when peeling the skin as it would dilute it.

The recipe stated one to two tablespoons of heavy cream with optional in brackets. Christine poured in at least half a cup! She declared an additional one to two tablespoons was optional.

The creamed corn bubbled as it reduced, its sweet and smoky aroma wafted through the room. Saffron coloured and studded with kernels, there is something alluring about creamed corn. We each sampled a spoonful and I would have licked the pan if I could!

As Christine sautéed the ingredients for caponata, she elaborated on her remark about the locovore movement. She joked that we would be eating kale for nine months of the year if we only ate food grown in the Pacific Northwest, and we would have to abstain from drinking coffee and using lemons!

Christine supports local producers and she elaborated that food has been shipped for centuries and her preference is to develop cleaner transport than to limit our diet.

We could smell the caponata slowly caramelising as Christine mashed hardboiled egg yolks for sauce gribiche. Olive oil was trickled into the bowl and whisked to form a paste.

The final recipe in On the Fly was cantaloupe agua fresca. Agua fresca translates to fresh water and the cantaloupe was blended and strained with sugar and lime juice adjusted depending on the ripeness of the fruit.

The group walked through the kitchen into the restaurant for the flatbread and whole grilled salmon recipes. Clean and tidy, the kitchen overlooked the dining room.  

Christine rolled out a ball of dough the size of a lime. She then seasoned the sockeye salmon and oiled both sides of the whole fish for grilling.

Flying Fish doesn’t have a weekend lunch service so we were the only people in the restaurant. Two long tables were set up for our buffet lunch. The interior is modern with colour accents.

The first course of our feast was the cantaloupe agua fresca. An orange sherbet colour, the fruit flavoured water was refreshing and summery. 

Charred skin and just cooked, the salmon was grilled to perfection with the flesh flaking easily off the bones.

The potatoes were sliced for the potato salad which maximised the surface area for dressing coverage.

There were audible moans as the pork belly melted in our mouths. A tip from Christine was to cut the pork belly larger than bite size as the chunks will shrink as the fat renders. I’m usually averse to fruits in savoury dishes but this was an exception as the juicy cubes of watermelon cut through the fatty and rich pork belly.

A deep red wine colour, the caponata stained the warm flatbread. The eggplant was silky and imbued with heady spices.

It was a challenge to eat the creamed corn with a fork but we all persisted!

My buffet lunch buffet, clockwise from top: creamed corn with poblano, caponata, grilled sockeye salmon with sauce gribiche, potato salad with green beans and mustard, flatbread, and pork belly and watermelon salad.

A palate cleanser, the rhubarb soda was too sugary for me. It was a pretty drink with the pink hues of the rhubarb syrup at the bottom and the effervescent water poured over it.

We rested our full stomachs for a while and some people were ready to leave to enjoy the emerging sunshine. They were stopped as there was dessert!

A blob of cream dotted with dark chocolate malt balls hid the salted caramel pot de crème. Although smooth and velvety, I had to abandon this as I unfortunately dislike salted caramel.

At $55 per person for recipes, three course meal and matching wines, it is exceptional value. I highly recommend the cooking classes with Chef Christine Keff at Flying Fish!


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