Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Gruyère

When I’m in a lift I have a tendency to exit at the next floor the door opens. Each level of my work building in Sydney was painted a different colour so it was discombobulating when I’m in the foyer of the wrong one.

Here in Seattle I’ve inserted a key into the wrong apartment and panicked when it wouldn’t turn. I looked at the number and realised I was three floors above home. I gasped, stumbled and ran down the stairs. And I counted the number of floors.

When Marisa was driving us to dinner at Gainsburg we took the scenic route. We were happily chatting until we crossed the Fremont Bridge and not the Aurora Bridge. We were going in the direction of Greenwood, and thankfully American blocks are perpendicular and numbered so our absentmindedness was easily rectified.

The exterior is ominously clad in black, a ‘dining room and cocktails’ sign beckoned.

It was dark inside. Amber lights diffused a sepia tone and the furniture was in moody shades of red and brown.

We perched on stools at the counter and quizzed the affable chef on the menu.

An ornate plate of charcuterie consisted of coppa, porcini ham, smoked duck breast, olives, cornichons, bread and mustard.

A pot of macaronis et fromage was served with a side salad. Molten Gruyère and Brie were stirred into penne seasoned with roasted garlic and thyme.

A narrow baguette was stuffed with slices of duck breast and brie, caramelised apple and fennel, arugula and Dijon mustard, and served with frites.

The cheesecake du jour was salted caramel. A fluffy cheesecake with a thin biscuit base, the saltiness was balanced by the drizzle of glossy caramel on top.

Layers of spongy chocolate cake and satiny fudge were an opulent dessert.

Appetites satiated and enriched by conversations, we returned across the Aurora Bridge and I alighted the lift on my floor!

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Seattle was blessed with consecutive weekends of glorious weather. The feeling of sunshine on bare skin is so restorative and we had a serene afternoon at the Washington Park Arboretum and the Japanese Garden, strolling and gazing at the blooming trees.

We leisurely looped the arboretum and garden, and had afternoon tea at Belle Epicurean.

Located at the Madison Park end of the botanic gardens, the second café by Carolyn Ferguson is in a spacious slate building.

A marble counter and glass cabinet displayed sweet treats.

The décor is Parisian chic with panes of vintage mirrors, framed black and white prints, and replica Thonet chairs and stools.

A gleaming espresso machine dispensed Caffé Vita coffee and there was a wine menu by the glass.

There were cake balls wrapped in mint and fuchsia foil, Rolo tart, and slices of raspberry mousse cake, Alhambra cake, red velvet crunch cake, opéra cake and coconut crème cake.

In the perpendicular cabinet were flat discs of pastel macarons and jars of pistachio, vanilla, rose water and orange buttercream.

Pastries included pain au chocolat, orange scented brioche and croissants.

There were also lemon brioche buns with citrus confit and spiced almond brioche bostocks.

Mr S ordered le feuillette, a savoury tart. Black Forest ham, Gruyère and Mornay sauce were encased in a flaky brioche crust. The golden, molten mass was buttery and cheesy.

My coconut crème cake was baked with coconut milk, pineapple juice and rum. The layers of sponge and coconut cream cheese frosting were decadent and textured with shredded coconut. The tang of pineapple and the residual alcohol of the rum tempered the sweetness, it was an adult dessert!

Belle Epicurean Provisions was connected by a doorway.

A wall of square shelves cellared hundreds of bottles of wines.

Opposite was Belle Epicurean branded dessert sauces, and cake and frosting mixes, Riedel glassware and cookbooks.

Bars of Michel Cluizel chocolates of various cacao percentages tempted us.

The fridge at the back was a trove of gourmet and artisan aioli, butter, chutney, compote, soup base, tapenade, vinaigrette, and ‘take and bake’ croissant, brioche, puff pastry and tart.

Belle Epicurean is a French trio of café, pantry and wine store!

Our French friends scheduled a weekend brunch with French acquaintances and I flippantly mentioned Café Presse. I had a moment of panic as we walked up to Capitol Hill and realised we would be sharing a meal with five French people at a French restaurant that I suggested. I was relieved when I remembered Café Presse has the same owners as Le Pichet.

At the intersection of 12th, Union and Madison, our group huddled in the crowded entrance as we waited for a table. With an exposed brick wall, skylights and a high ceiling, the dining room and bar was buzzing with energy. I scanned the diverse collection of publications on the newsstand and introductions were made.

We followed the maître d’ through to the back and were seated in the corner. The milky sky was surprisingly bright and we appreciated the natural light. A sideboard was laden with coffee and wine accoutrements.

We shuffled along the wooden bench as the tattooed and ringed waiter took our beverage orders. My Caffé Vita mocha was prettily decorated with a rosetta.

My favourite question of the menu was ‘how do you pronounce that’! I considered the pain au chocolat à l’ancienne (bittersweet chocolate melted on baguette) to nibble on while we perused the menu but I refrained. We sampled the assiette de charcuterie, a plate of country ham, sausage, terrine, rillettes and tongue with cornichons and bread.

We each ordered the croque madame or croque monsieur, some with a side of pommes frites. Topped with a glossy sunny side up egg, the sandwich of baked ham, Gruyère and béchamel bubbled and blistered. The viscous yolk and just set egg white tempered the saltiness of the meat and cheese layers. It was hearty French fare!

We whiled away the afternoon, our expat conversations interspersed with French.

In a hurry for lunch, I walked briskly to Pop Kitchen + Bar. Located at the Experience Music Project, it  has a dual entrance from the EMP and the street. Leafy shrubs surround a patio with crimson chairs that would be lovely in summer or with outdoor heaters in winter on a clear, still day. It would be entertaining to watch tourists board the Ride the Ducks!

The restaurant has gone through some changes in the short time it’s been opened, including reduced hours. We found this out when we were going to drop in for a quick dinner prior to an event at Key Arena several weeks ago. Dinner should be crossed off the sign!

Branded water bottles, and jars of house made apple butter and marmalade lined the shelves. The menu was displayed on screens, and biscotti and cookies were on the counter.

Bright colours splashed the walls, lamp shades and chairs. Curved white leather lounges with punctures resembled Swiss cheese.

Glowing in orange, the bar was well stocked and televisions played music videos.

The compact menu had sandwiches, salads and soups, and more substantial fare of pizza, pasta and burgers. There were also daily specials. I asked for recommendations and ordered the grilled chicken sandwich.

A bamboo skewer secured each half of the sandwich. Chunks of grilled chicken breast were layered with Gruyère, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelised onions, aioli and baby spinach in crusty ciabatta. The strong flavours of the sun-dried tomatoes were overwhelming but it was a tasty combination. The sandwich was served with a generous mound of house made potato crisps.

I was the only patron at such an early hour so service was speedy!

On a dreary weekend, we meandered towards Downtown in search of a warm lunch. We have walked by Icon Grill many times, its scaffolding shielding its entrance for months. A large banner draped over the metal rods declared the restaurant ‘open during construction’.

The menu is displayed in a glass case at the front and a colourful board advertises with the slogan ‘aroused Americana cooking’. We gasped at the photo of the chocolate cake and counted six layers!

Stepping inside is an opulent dining room. Chandeliers of freckled glass shells dangle in nets, there is a comfortable distance between tables and the seats are plush.

Juggling between the standard menu, the ‘blunch’ menu and the lunch specials menu, we ordered an apéritif to ponder the options. The orange drop was a mix of mandarin infused vodka, lemon and orange juice in a sugar rimmed glass.

A warm basket of complimentary bread was served with three globs of butter. Clockwise from top: salted, red pepper, and garlic and chives.

We picked two lunch specials to share. The hot Italian ciabatta sandwich was wedged with prosciutto, pepperoni, roasted red peppers, pesto mayonnaise, mozzarella and arugula. The toasted sandwich was served with a bowl of French onion soup and a tomato dip.

Topped with a slice of baguette and with Gruyère bubbling over, the French onion soup was scrumptious. I also relished dipping my half of the ciabatta into the thick tomato sauce.

Two pulled pork sliders with cherry barbecue sauce were accompanied by a pot of coleslaw and French fries. The meat was a little dry but was easily remedied with a spread of the sticky cherry barbecue sauce. The generous side of shoestring fries were light and crunchy.

Warmed by the cocktail and a hearty meal, we exited into the familiar Seattle drizzle.

In the Fremont Avenue North hub near Uneeda Burger and across from Paseo, and two doors up from the soon to be opened Book Larder, is Dot’s Delicatessen. On a temperamental autumn day, I met Myra and Shirley for lunch.

Two bay windows display butcher accoutrement and frame the entrance. Dot’s Delicatessen is etched in gold and an amber banner of keywords skirt the bottom of the glass panes.

A basic chalkboard on the sidewalk lists lunch and dinner items in cursive script.

The interior is clean and well lit. On the left is the counter and open plan kitchen. On the right is a narrow bench with stools and at the back are a handful of tables.

A refrigerated cabinet has platters of house made sausages and charcuterie.

Dot’s also stocks a variety of local meats.

Shelves are neatly lined with produce.

The menu is divided into sausages, sandwiches, charcuterie and sides. There’s also a happy hour section and daily specials.

A sausage drawing parodying the cow cuts is next to the register.

We pushed two tables together and settled in. The small dining room has a view into the open plan kitchen cladded in stainless steel.

We shared the large frites. Served in a take-away container, the thick batons of hand cut potatoes were crunchy.

I split the BLT and Rueben sandwiches with Shirley. House smoked bacon, lettuce and tomatoes were wedged in lightly toasted sourdough spread with aioli. Slices of juicy and sweet heirloom tomatoes were refreshing and the salty shards of bacon were delightfully crispy.

Generous layers of pastrami and mild sauerkraut were sandwiched together by molten Gruyère on rye. The Rueben sandwich was delicious with a distinctive house dressing.

We lingered for a while before relinquishing our table. Dot’s was doing brisk business during the lunch service!

A short walk to Uneeda Burger and we happily sipped on extra thick chocolate shakes for desserts. A lovely afternoon concluded with a brief visit to the Book Larder, scheduled to open on 12 October. I smiled when I spotted a shelf tagged ‘Aussie’.

There was an ominous feeling on the Saturday of Hurricane Irene. Blanket television coverage droning on about this, that and the other, the solemnity Mayor Bloomberg’s news conferences, declarations of state of emergency, mandatory evacuation orders, and the shutdown of the Subway and all New York airports all amplified the forboding.

Although I joined the grocery store queues and stocked up on bottled water, some muesli bars and a large bag of almonds, I felt safe in Midtown Manhattan.

The apocalyptic photos of an empty Grand Central Terminal and deserted Times Square were transmitted across the world. The streets were eerily devoid of people and silent of honking as the city stoically awaits the ferocious hurricane.

Most stores were closed and only a few eateries were open. Ms H did a search and found Marché du Sud on the Upper East Side.

We walked there from opposite directions in the torrential rain, thankful that the hurricane winds were still several hours away. The entrance to Marché du Sud is divided into the dining area and patio on the left, and the bakery and gourmet market on the right.

Cold and dripping wet, I was relieved to be indoors. A long and narrow room with the bar at the front and an open kitchen at the back, the space was homely and comfortable.

The laminated menu had a tabloid magazine as its cover. There were set menus available but curiously these were cash only.

We selected two items to share. The specialty is Alsatian tarte flambée or French pizza. Thin and crispy, the l’authentique had crème fraîche, lardon, caramelised onions and Gruyère. Plain in appearance, it was a delicious combination of flavours.

We should have ordered a second French pizza! The Belgian waffles were unfortunately a little dry but easily remedied with extra cream.

Hunger sated, we strolled a couple of blocks in search of gumboots for Ms H. You’ll smile at this cute photo!


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