Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘macaroni and cheese

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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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.

Seattle enjoyed a week of sunshine in late January. The Emerald City shone, and residents and visitors dispersed outdoors to revel in its glorious beauty. I uttered the phrase ‘the mountains are out’ with glee, admiring the snow-capped range reflecting light in the solitary distance.

After a Keren Brown event with authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg in December, I returned to emmer&rye for lunch with Shirley on a spring like day.

At the pinnacle of the Queen Anne Counterbalance, the restaurant is located in an elegantly restored Victorian house.

Upstairs is a private event space and downstairs are connecting dining rooms. We were seated in the front room where natural light filtered in through the bay and stained glass windows.

Shirley recommended the farro fries and, macaroni and cheese. Rectangular planks of golden farro were served with a sage yoghurt dipping sauce. Dense and crispy, the ‘fries’ were well seasoned and a nutty appetiser.

We also shared a beet salad of mixed lettuce, smoked blue cheese and hazelnut vinaigrette. A classic salad, sweet and tender slices of crimson beets contrasted with pungent cheese, crunchy lettuce and piquant dressing.

The fresh salad balanced the decadent mac and cheese. A generous portion of creamy yet light pasta was sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs. It was a hearty, wintry dish.

emmer&rye has the motto ‘locally derived, seasonally driven’. On the website each menu item has links to the ingredients’ local producers. For example, the mac and cheese pasta is from Lagana Foods, and cheeses are from Beecher’s and Mt Townsend Creamery. Bravo Chef Seth Caswell for supporting our community!

coterie (co·te·rie) – noun
A small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially one that is exclusive of other people.

A sister restaurant of both Tavern Law in Capitol Hill and Spur on the same block, The Coterie Room completes a trifecta of eateries by Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough. Located in a corner brick building with dual street frontage, expansive windows let light inside as afternoon faded into twilight.

The dining room is simply decorated with slate coloured window frames, wooden furniture and pale walls. Its elegance is accentuated by a sparkling crystal chandelier and mirrors.

Our table was next to the living wall, a vertical planter box of cascading leafy greenery.

Categorised into small plates, main courses and family style, the menu features hearty fare. It was torrential rain outside and we were comforted by a glass of red wine, and a warm Grand Central Bakery rosemary and ginger roll with a pot of salted butter.

Our waitress kindly explained the sizes of the dishes and we agreed that we must return with a coterie of friends to sample more of the menu! We opted for three small plates and one family style to share.

First was sweet onion mac and cheese with duck ham. Served in a small graphite cocotte, the cute cast iron container of orecchiette was topped with crispy shallots. The al dente and creamy pasta was punctuated by morsels of duck ham.

The second small plate was marinated beets. I love the deep magenta colour of beetroot, staining your fingers as you cut into the bulb. Roasted beets have an intense earthy sweetness, perfect in a salad of peppery arugula, crunchy pistachios and a dollop of Cowgirl Creamery cottage cheese.

Four portions of golden buttermilk fried chicken were presented with a flourish. The drumsticks and thigh cutlets nestled on a mound of potato and bacon hash. A tuft of frisee salad was the requisite fibre. Caramel and glossy, a puddle of chicken gravy was soon absorbed by the hash. Cooked sous vide and then deep fried, the crunchy crust protects the juicy protein.

A side of heirloom baby carrots were bright batons coated in coriander butter and Taggiasca olive vinaigrette, and dotted with parsley.

The dessert menu was concise with only three items.

Mr S is partial to fruity desserts and ordered the pear sorbet with brown butter soil and roasted pistachios. The subtle flavour of the pear sorbet was highlighted by the slightly salty condiments.

Egg shaped cinnamon fritters were dusted with icing sugar and accompanied by a caramel apple dipping sauce. These fluffy treats were reminiscent of the zeppole at Tavolàta .

The rain had subsided and we left content with boxed leftovers.

I love the convenience of AmazonFresh. We don’t have to borrow a car to do grocery shopping like we did in Sydney, or multiple stair climbs lugging bags from the garage. And they deliver beer and wine to your home! Our wines and spirits are either stored at my parents’ house or we gifted them to friends as we couldn’t pack them in the container to ship here.

You cannot purchase alcohol at supermarkets or convenience stores in Australia but we were mystified by the absence of liquor from AmazonFresh and the aisles of supermarkets. We did not know that that the state government has a monopoly over the wholesale and retail distribution of liquor in Washington!

Mr S was sad to part with a bottle of Scotch whisky that we bought from the distillery in Wick. Surprisingly we have spotted the distinctive Old Pulteney bottle at 9 Million in Unmarked Bills, The Whisky Bar and this week, at the Bookstore Bar.

With street frontage, the Bookstore Bar is affiliated with the Library Bistro which is inside the Alexis Hotel. A long and narrow room, there were shelves laden with books and interspersed with dozens of bottles of whisky. Auburn lamps lined the bar with more bottles of whisky cluttering the counter.

There were chalkboards advertising whisky flights and beers on tap. A small espresso machine was wedged next to a wine rack.

It was an eclectic collection of bottles and books, the place lively with football fans en route to the Sounders match against Manchester United. We quickly sat down at the last empty table for happy hour.

A condensed version of their main menu, there are about ten items available priced from three to seven dollars. We ordered three dishes to share – three cheese mac, Dungeness crab cakes and pulled pork sliders.

My first memory of pasta was macaroni, albeit a fusion interpretation. Cooked in a broth with diced ham, peas and corn, it is a popular side with a western breakfast at fast food restaurants in Hong Kong. I still eat it when I visit for nostalgia but I prefer macaroni with cheese!

Sometimes mac and cheese can be overwhelmingly creamy but this one had just enough cheese stirred through and not too salty. I would have liked more of the herbed bread crumbs for extra crunch to each mouthful!

Two small patties, the Dungeness crab cakes rested on mashed avocado and were doused with red pepper aioli. The deep brown crust protected the shredded crab. The richness of the avocado and aioli paired well with the sweet crab.

Mr S repeatedly said the pulled pork slider was spicy. I took a bite and it confirmed my suspicion that it was a ploy to distract. It was tender and juicy, smoky and caramelised. The bun soaked up every drip of the house made barbecue sauce. And that is why Mr S coveted my portion of the pulled pork slider!

An entertaining match, our seats were near a group of South Korean supporters who cheered loudly every time Park Ji-Sung touched the ball. Here’s the video of the coin toss at the top of the Space Needle and a fun video of the Sounders playing Kinect.


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