Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Italian

Savoury and sweet pastizzis at The Original Maltese Café in Surry Hills Sydney.

Coffee art at Strand Arcade in Sydney.

Sardinian cooking class with Pilu at Freshwater‘s Giovanni Pilu at Accoutrement in Sydney.

Bacon and egg breakfast sandwich at Mr Stuzzichini in Hunters Hill Sydney.

Burrata and beet salad at Pendolino in Sydney.

Spectacular vista at Café Harbour View at Taronga Zoo in Mosman Sydney.

A country lunch at Grazing in Gundaroo.

Milanese cuisine at Balla by Stefano Manfredi in Pyrmont Sydney.

Pastries at Bécasse Bakery in Westfield Sydney.

Malaysian hawker food at Sassy’s Red by Chinta Ria in Westfield Sydney.

Regional Chinese fare at Spice Temple by Neil Perry in Sydney.

Scones at The Old Bakery Tea Rooms in Berrima.

Vegetarian cooking class with Poppy‘s Jerry Traunfeld at PCC West Seattle.

Lunch at Vessel in Downtown Seattle.

Dungeness crab, seaweed noodle, spicy red curry and crème fraîche at Revel in Fremont.

Chocolate tasting at Northwest Chocolate Festival.

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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!

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!

I’m an expert at booking tickets. I note the on sale details on my calendar and I’m on the website at the precise time to click ‘purchase’. Thanks to this quirk I have learnt to brine and roast chicken, knead and throw pizza dough, bake macarons, and pleat dumplings at The Pantry at Delancey.

Co-owners Brandi and Olaiya send a remainder email several days before the cooking class and the one for macarons recommended dinner prior. It was the perfect opportunity to dine at Delancey!

On a residential street in Ballard adjacent to Honoré Artisan Bakery, Delancey occupies two simply decorated rooms.

I was seated at the counter with a view of the custom made wood fire oven.

A row of lights above the counter were inverted cylindrical Weck jars.

The ornate silverware was engraved with an elegant cursive ‘D’.

Each setting was spaced with a votive candle, and dainty glass bowls of chilli and sea salt flakes.

Chef Brandon Pettit cooks every pizza at Delancey. An assistant stretches the dough and tops the wooden paddle with ingredients. Brandon then slides the pizza into the wood fire oven. As I was eating alone, I observed the dexterous pair in harmony.

I ordered the crimini mushroom pizza with olive oil, onion, mozzarella and thyme. Thin slices of crimini mushrooms were intertwined with slivers of onions and molten splotches of mozzarella. The textured crust had charred blisters, and was both crispy and chewy.

Each bite was a joyful union of flavours, the bread and toppings waltzed in time and sang in tune. After the pizza class with Brandon and being recommended by just about every Seattleite I know, I’m a Delancey convert.

I caressed my flat foil package of leftover pizza home for supper the same night.

I’m always nervous suggesting European restaurants to our French friends. Thankfully we loved the cosy ambience and homely fare of Dinette. I hummed the tune of ‘Four Seasons In One Day‘ by Crowded House all day. Snow, sleet, wind, rain. Repeat. There were moments of brilliant light, silver beams refracted off pewter clouds.

On Olive Way in Capitol Hill, Dinette’s seasonal menu has French, Italian and Spanish flavours.

Two adjoining rooms split the bar and dining areas. Powdered blue walls were accented by a cluster of serving trays. Tangerine damask lamps and glassybaby votive candles lit the counter.

A vertical piano was in the back of the dining room and Casey MacGill entertained us with the rhythmic melodies of swing jazz.

Neutral walls and embellished pillars, I adore the simple elegance of the décor.

A functional chalkboard listed the specials in block writing.

Infused with bergamot, the Earl Grey martini was a zesty apéritif.

We shared terrine and toasts as appetizers. A slice of rabbit, pistachio and bacon terrine was paired with grained mustard and pickled rhubarb. My aversion of rabbit continues and I had one bite of the terrine spread on crostini.

A three by four grid of toasts were presented on a wooden paddle. From left to right: prosciutto, croque monsieur and pesto. My favourite was the pesto, molten Beecher’s Flagship and spicy pickled peppers.

Ms S had the rainbow trout with French lentils, ruby chard and lemon aioli which was pleasingly fresh.

A generous portion, the spaghetti carbonara was tossed with bacon, peas and topped with an organic egg yolk. Mr S twirled a forkful for me to taste and it was a robust pasta.

An apt dish for March, Ms LM’s lamb was braised in Guinness, on a pillow of mashed rutabaga, leeks and peas, and garnished with grated horseradish.

I ordered the crispy skin chicken thighs. The butterflied dark meat was well seasoned, and the cauliflower purée was creamy and sweet.

The second terrine of the meal was Valrhona chocolate with whipped cream and nut brittle.

Our dessert was a retro bread pudding with raisins soaked in Tuaca, a dollop of whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce.

Quality ingredients, cooked splendidly!

I have two pizza classes scheduled within a month. I was at Serious Pie Downtown on a Wednesday morning for the first one. The pizza classes are held on weekdays and Saturdays before the restaurant opens. The city felt lethargic on a cloudy midweek day and it was a little odd walking into an empty Serious Pie.

Coffee and banana chocolate walnut loaves greeted us. I nibbled on the sweet, nutty bread as I leafed through the printed notes.

The Kitchen Table is the new private dining room at Serious Pie Downtown. For dough-shaping and dining parties, the dual purpose room was rustic and decorated in warm tones. Twinkling lights were strung overhead.

Vases of dried flowers lined the window sill as an organic curtain. Metal shelves were laden with commercial size tubs of World Spice herbs and spices.

I was happy to spot a large container of Murray River flake salt in their inventory.

Chef Audrey Spence was ill so Cari kindly shared her expertise with us. The Serious Pie dough recipe is a secret but there is a modified version for the home cook. Cari detailed the three-day dough making process. Bread flour, semolina flour, biga starter, olive oil, honey, salt and water are mixed, proofed and hand-shaped. Cari demonstrated how to stretch the dough.

Silky and supple, the wet dough wobbled and yielded easily to touch. We each dusted the wooden surface with flour and stretched a ball of tacky dough. Gentle and nimble fingers were the key! We sprinkled the pizza board with semolina flour and slid the dough on top.

Mise en place: basil, caramelised onions, clams, fennel sausages, hedgehog mushrooms, pancetta, potatoes, olive oil, roasted garlic, roasted peppers and tomato sauce.

Parmigiano, Provolone, Feta, Mozzarella and herbs were in terracotta dishes for us to sample.

Clockwise from top right: Provolone, tarragon and Parmigiano.

I created a half and half pizza. On the left: olive oil, hedgehog mushrooms and caramelised onions. On the right: tomato sauce, pancetta, roasted red peppers and basil.

My half and half pizza on the rack in the queue for the oven.

Our cheeks were rosy from the heat of the apple wood burning pizza oven.

Gauge of the wood fire pizza oven indicated a temperature of 658 °F (348 °C).

The pizza was placed at the edge of the fiery glow and in one swift motion the board was displaced. An enormous stainless steel paddle pushed the raw pizza to the side and back where it blistered and crisped. After five minutes, Cari dabbed on the Provolone, and the pizza was rotated and cooked for another two to three minutes.

A pinch of marjoram perfected the seasoning. I wielded the mezzaluna and sliced the pizza into eighths.

We settled into the dining room with our artisanal, personalised pizzas.

A selection of Italian varietals was paired with our pizzas. I sipped a glass of Villa Giada Surí Rosso Barbera d’Asti, a fruity red.

It was deeply satisfying to eat the pizza I had handmade, and without any clean up afterwards!

It was fun to be in the Serious Pie kitchen to learn some of the techniques of their famous pizzas!

In the heart of Sydney is the historical area of The Rocks. Narrow laneways and steep stairs wind around cobblestone footpaths, sandstone buildings and timber wharves, I have fond memories of the Walsh Bay precinct. Home of the Sydney Theatre Company, the waterfront has a spectacular view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park.

Across from The Wharf is Fratelli Fresh, a boutique providore. Poppy coloured aluminium chairs and sun umbrellas lined the sidewalk for al fresco dining.

Several aisles of produce are on the right and Café Sopra is on the left. The seasonal menu was handwritten on a wall chalkboard in a spacious and well lit dining room.

At the entrance was a rectangular bar and I was seated at the counter for a leisurely weekday lunch.

Dotted with coin sized red tiles, the counter was set with printed placemats.

A zucchini flower was stuffed with five Italian cheeses and lightly battered. The delicate crisp shell encased a molten mass of cheeses.

There are several permanent items on the seasonal menu and one of my favourites is the farfelle with mixed mushrooms, green peppercorns and Pecorino. A large serving of al dente pasta, it was a hearty dish with the earthy flavours of fungi.

A classic English dessert, the banoffee pie has a biscuit crust, dulce de leche, sliced bananas, cream and grated chocolate. The decadent layers were a sweet treat.

It was another delicious meal at Café Sopra!


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