Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘garlic

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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This is my third post on pizza in three weeks! Ballard Pizza Company is the first of Ethan Stowell‘s Grubb Brothers ‘production’ of casual eateries. After cocktails (a refreshing Inverness mule of Scotch, ginger beer and fresh lime juice) and Mackie’s potato crisps at MacLeod’s Scottish Pub, we joined the Saturday night queue at Ballard Pizza Company. Our group of four gathered at the communal bench and bopped to 80s and 90s hip hop as we ate.

I returned during the week for lunch with Shirley. A gargantuan wheel cutter was a beacon for pizza lovers. Painted pewter, a glass paned garage door rolls up on those beloved Seattle summer days. Play That Funky Music greeted us.

A New York style pizzeria, Ballard Pizza Company sells ‘fat slices’ and ‘whole pies’. Pasta and gnocchi were carb alternatives, and salads and soups were lighter meals. There were eight beers on tap with a flat price for pints and pitchers. Wine on tap was noted as ‘coming soon’.

Staff was rhythmically stretching dough on enormous wooden paddles. A cheese pie is the base and you can add any toppings priced per item.

A daily stromboli special had salami, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

There were six pizzas sold by the slice: cheese, pepperoni, ham and pineapple, tomato and rapini, sausage and mushroom, and broccoli and garlic confit.

We ordered and paid at the counter, and had the pizzeria to ourselves for several minutes. Timber and brick were the requisite rustic material on the walls, roof, chairs and tables.

Each table had three shaker jars of chilli flakes, dried oregano and grated Parmesan.

We shared slices of tomato and rapini, mushroom and sausage, and broccoli and garlic confit. The thin crust was a little firm with an even char. Bitter greens and juicy tomatoes were an appetising combination.

Florets of broccoli were interspersed with cloves of garlic confit. The garlic was sweet and mellow, and I would have been happy with just the caramel coloured morsels and mozzarella. The sausage and mushroom was a highlight. Peppered with Italian sausage and crimini mushrooms, the slice was spicy and meaty.

Ballard Pizza Company will be popular with the late night crowd!

I spent twelve hours in Portland last Friday. I had visited Vancouver three times in the past year but had not travelled south to Oregon. Crossing the Columbia River Bridge was a spectacular entrance into the state and city. Of Portlandia and tax-free shopping fame, Portlanders were friendly and I adored their boutiques. A stoic posy of daffodils defied the cool temperatures, sheltered by a flowering camellia tree.

Coffees and almond croissants at Barista fuelled our morning. A late lunch was at Pok Pok, the only restaurant I know of in Portland.

A curious structure of wooden beams, corrugated roofing and bamboo walls, the aesthetics were of Southeast Asian hawker stalls.

Festive lights twinkled and the heater glowed. Water was steeped in pandan leaves which tasted of toasted rice.

The dense menu detailed ingredients and cooking methods for each dish.

Although tempted by a Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, I was already buzzing from two caffeinated beverages. I selected a glass of cha manao instead, a Thai iced tea with fresh lime juice. It was refreshing and its delicate sweetness tempered the bold flavours.

Three of us shared four main courses and one dessert. The Pok Pok special was a plate of game hen (kai yaang) and papaya salad. Roasted on a rotisserie over charcoal, the portions of chicken were smoky and tender. The spicy sweet and sour, and tamarind dipping sauces were appetizing, so much so that I emptied the remainder onto coconut rice and sticky rice. Julienne green papaya, halved cherry tomatoes, batons of snake beans and crunchy peanuts were mixed with Thai chilli, lime juice, tamarind, fish sauce, garlic and palm sugar.

Next was gulf prawns grilled over charcoal (kung phao). The charred shell peeled easily and the succulent crustacean was swirled in the shallow bowl of lime, garlic, coriander root and chilli sauce.

Ike’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings are a Pok Pok signature. Marinated in fish sauce and palm sugar, deep fried, and tossed in caramelised Phú Quốc fish sauce (nước mắm) and garlic, the poultry was served with pickles, lettuce and slices of cucumber. The chicken wings were an ominous crimson and each bite numbed our mouths. Our lips tingled and our fingers sticky, they were a fiery highlight.

A classic Thai stir-fried rice noodles, the phat si ew was silky and peppery. A dark soy tan, and flecked with Carlton Farms pork, Chinese broccoli and egg, I would have been happy eating only this as my meal.

We ignored the durian dessert and ordered the coconut ice cream sandwich. Wedged in a brioche bun on a bed of sticky rice were four scoops of coconut jackfruit ice cream sprinkled with peanuts and drizzled with condensed milk. We requested no chocolate syrup and also abandoned the bread. Coconut, sticky rice, peanuts and condensed milk were a pleasing combination.

Pok Pok readied us for an afternoon of shopping!

I celebrated Australia Day (26 January) with a private lunch at Salumi courtesy of Naomi. Founded by Mario Batali‘s father Armandino, Salumi is a family business that produces artisan cured meats with a retail store in historic Pioneer Square.

Resplendent in firecracker red, a tasselled Chinese lantern was sketched on the chalkboard. There was a Chinese New Year sandwich special on the menu for the Year of the Dragon.

A queue crammed in the narrow corridor and I weaved through the crowd to get to the back room. The blushed wall had a slot with a view of the communal table. A mosaic plaque was homage to the swine.

Opposite is a window into the storage facility where sausages dangled on a metal rack.

A pink chequered vinyl tablecloth brightened the room.

Translucent slices of salumi curled together.

Four rosy shades of salumi fanned around a platter.

A bowl of marinated mixed olives whetted our appetite.

We nibbled as introductions were made and wine was poured. The first course was tomato and mozzarella bruschetta, a classic.

Jalapeños were halved and stuffed with cream cheese and flecked with meaty fragments. Laced with heat, these morsels were bites of fun.

I was happy that the next course featured vegetables for a requisite serving of healthiness. Crunchy green beans and plump cherry tomatoes were tossed with slivers of bacon.

A traditional New Year dish, the cotechino and lentils were a taupe grainy mass studded with discs. With the exception of dal, I’m ambivalent to lentils but I liked the chewy texture of the boiled pork rind sausage.

Blistered and golden, next was a crisp edged frittata with cubes of fleshy potatoes.

A shallow bowl of aromatic soup was a welcomed palate cleanser. A deeply savoury broth, it reminded me of Chinese herbal soups that cure all ailments and enriches the soul.

A loyal carb lover, the highlight was the pappardelle with chicken, garlic, leeks and Vermouth. It was a symphony of harmonious flavours.

Just when we thought the meal was at its crescendo, the scent of truffles preceded the tray of polenta. I scooped a tasting portion on my plate and decanted some in a container to take home.

Dessert was wine poached pears cut into the shape of Dr Zoidberg from Futurama.

Shards of crackling concluded three hours of dining and wining, much as we did at Momofuku Seiōbo.

We slowly straightened from our chairs and waddled out for fresh air after indulging in the ‘chef’s whim menu’.

The only Malaysian eatery I know of in Seattle is Malay Satay Hut. It’s been on the list for a while but I’m yet to make the drive to Redmond (and Portland too!) or walk to Chinatown for their traditional Malaysian fare. I was delighted that Banana Leaf was the penultimate restaurant on the Dimsumcouver (點心哥華) schedule.

Emerald wall, tangerine window frames and daffodil sign, the colourful street frontage was a contrast to the wooden interior.

The specials chalkboard piqued our interest as we waited for a table.

I always imagine a chef wielding a machete in the kitchen to slice a lid on the fresh coconut when I order one!

We sipped cocktails and coconut juice as we perused the extensive menu of curries, rice, noodles, stir-fries, seafood, salads and soups. We selected three classic dishes to share.

Roti canai, warm flaky flatbread, was served with a side of light dhal.

Glistening pieces of Hainanese chicken (海南雞飯) was surrounded by a moat of sliced cucumber and garnished with sprigs of coriander. Toasted peanuts, grated ginger, chilli garlic sauce and soy sauce were condiments. The tender meat was fragrant, the essence of the stock the chicken was poached in. The delicious comfort food was dipped in the sauces and paired with Hainanese rice.

A popular fast food at hawker stalls, char kway teow could be considered the national dish of Malaysia. Flat rice noodles were tossed with sweet soy sauce, chilli, egg, bean sprouts, prawns, fish cakes and squid. We happily nibbled on the starchy stir-fry.

I must get to Malay Satay Hut this year!

Dimsumcouver (點心哥華) continued onto Peaceful (和平飯店) in Yaletown. The smiling chef attached to the sign was a contrast to Peace Hotel, a violent Spaghetti Western film starring Chow Yun Fat (周潤發) of the same Chinese name as Peaceful Restaurant.

On a thoroughfare Peaceful was busy mid-afternoon. We were seated at the front window booth and pleased to connect to the free Wi-Fi as we sipped tea.

We ordered three items to share. Our enthusiastic waitress delivered each dish with flair. The first was xiao long bao (小籠包) or ‘soup dumplings’. A generous serving of eight, these had a thinner wrapping and lighter broth than the ones at No. 1 Shanghai Cuisine.

Sticky with hoisin sauce, four large portions of beef rolls were slices of five spice (五香粉) beef and green onions rolled in crispy flat bread.

The highlight at Peaceful was a bowl of blade sheared noodles (刀削麵). A thick tangle of handmade noodles was garnished with diced garlic, green onions and sizzling chilli oil. Steamed Chinese cabbage (白菜) tempered the heat. Each slippery noodle was swirled in the pungent sauce and slurped with glee.

As we waxed poetic about the blade sheared noodles, we noticed a Guy Fieri graffiti on the wall at the entrance.

I would drive to Vancouver just for another bowl of blade sheared noodles at Peaceful!

Disclosure: I received a demo product from Duo PR. This is not a sponsored post.

A dish that I’ve frequently reflected on from the Sharone Hakman and SousVide Supreme event is the eggs with asparagus and brioche croutons. The freshness of the ingredients was highlighted by cooking them sous vide, their essence presented on a plate.

The complimentary Lagana Foods campanelle from the Off The Menu dinner had a shelf life of two to three days. I followed this recipe for sous vide eggs and this recipe for carbonara for the pasta.

I was in a hurry to make a weekday dinner and the components were prepared and cooked in the time the eggs were in the SousVide Supreme Demi. I recommend using the freshest eggs as sous vide accentuates their flavour and colour.

The eggs are placed directly into the water oven without a food grade plastic pouch or vacuum seal. I experimented with different duration at the same temperature of sixty four degrees Celsius and the best consistency was cooking the eggs sous vide for forty minutes.

While the eggs were in the machine, I diced shallot, garlic and bacon, and sautéed them in olive oil with peas and chilli flakes. To serve, toss with pasta and toasted pine nuts, and crack a sous vide egg on top. Break the yolk and gently stir the egg through.

It was a simple yet delicious combination of quality ingredients, a versatile favourite!


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