Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘organic

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

Sydney is a urban sprawl. Streets are at odd angles and arterial roads twist through suburbs. North, south, east and west, to drive from the geographical centre of the city to its boundaries would take at least an hour.

Seattle is more compact. Neighbourhoods cluster around the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, it is a short distance from houses and malls to fields and forests. The abrupt transition is bewildering and we ponder the scenery as we navigated to Carnation for Feast on the Farm.

In contrast to the soggy spring visit to Yarmuth Farm with The Calf & Kid where we cuddled kids and sampled goat cheese, we were at Full Circle Farm on a hot summer day.

Full Circle hosted the dinner with Stewardship Partners, Salmon-Safe, and Chef Ethan Stowell and his team cooking a family style meal.

Full Circle delivers ‘farm-fresh, locally-sourced organic and sustainably-grown’ produce to consumers. The mission of Stewardship Partners is to ‘restore and preserve the natural landscapes of Washington State’. Salmon-Safe certification ‘requires management practices that protect water quality and restore habitat’.

Groups sheltered under the umbrella and marquee for reprieve from the blazing sun. Hats, sunglasses and sturdy shoes were requisite attire.

We stepped and stumbled on a milk crate to board the tractor tour. We perched on hay bales covered by a blanket as we gently looped the acres.

Andrew Stout, founder of Full Circle, was our guide. The engine chugged along the dusty path as Andrew spoke about the growth of Full Circle and how the land is being rehabilitated.

Our shadows!

Lettuce and kale were neatly planted in rows.

A serene vista.

The many hues of clouds, mountains, trees and farm buildings.

Symmetrically ploughed fields.

We snacked on smoky discs of Via Tribunali wood fire pizzas.

On the left is David Burger, executive director of Stewardship Partners, and Andrew Stout is on the left. My favourite quote of the event was ‘we’re in the business of killing plants’. The crowd chortled and snorted.

A still reflection on the creek.

Sal, the leggy mascot of Salmon-Safe, greeted us.

A country kitchen.

Currant bushes marked the field where perpendicular tables were set.

Our view of the second table.

Mason jars decorated the length of the table, posies interspersed with leafy produce.

From one end to the other.

Effervescent and mild, Dry Soda quenched my thirst.

First was Salumi charcuterie. We nibbled politely on thin slices of cured meats and Castelvetrano olives as introductions were made. I had sprayed my limbs with insect repellent and apologised to our dining companions for reeking of citronella. We were seated with an interesting group of people, there was much laughter and engaging conversations on culture, food and literature.

A mound of shredded Tuscan kale was garnished with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzled with anchovy dressing. This was one of three healthful salads served.

Chunks of roasted beets were topped with a dollop of house made ricotta. Pistachio kernels dotted the tender beets, it was an earthy combination of flavours.

Plump grains of farro were tossed with carrot and English peas. I had several spoonfuls of this toothsome salad.

Mediterranean mussels were roasted with guanciale, lemon and olive oil. The bivalves were aromatic and succulent.

In sunglasses, an apron and boat shoes, Chef Ethan Stowell generously donated two private dinners in Staple & Fancy‘s cellar room for auction to benefit Stewardship Partners.

Fennel and carrots were grilled, the former seasoned with bottarga and the latter with mint and orange.

This platter was double in size. The roasted king salmon were caught by Geoff Lebon of Halmia Fish. Portions of Salmon-Safe Draper Valley chicken were grilled with rosemary and garlic.

Dessert was a creamy panna cotta with mixed berries, slivered almonds and aged balsamic vinegar.

There was spirited bidding on auction items, and Mike McCready (guitar), Kim Virant (vocal) and Gary Westlake (bass) entertained us.

Each attendee was gifted a box of Full Circle produce which we happily carried home.

Carefully packed, the top layer was fennel, kale and lettuce.

On the bottom were apricots, cabbage, carrots, cherries, cucumber, onions and rockmelon.

Sincere thanks to Shirley and Full Circle for the opportunity to experience Feast on the Farm!

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Tilth, James Beard award winner Maria HinesOregon Tilth certified organic restaurant, has been on my restaurant list for many months. I’m yet to dine there but I attended a cooking class with Tilth’s chef de cuisine, Jason Brzozwy, at PCC Greenlake on Monday.Smaller and older than PCC Cooks in Redmond, the narrow stairs to the room is marked by an enormous balloon whisk and a wooden serving set.

The stainless steel kitchen had two cameras focused on the stove and the bench. The galley is stocked with accoutrements in an assortment of shapes, sizes and colours.

Each course was paired with a wine. From left to right: Terre Margaritelli Pietramala, Chinook Cabernet Franc Rosé, Lachini Pinot Noir and Château de Corneilla Muscat de Rivesaltes. The Muscat had a ‘quite the find‘ sticker on the bottle indicating that the wine is exclusive to PCC.

We snacked on marcona almonds as Jason welcomed us. He is from Chicago and has worked at Tilth for four years. He smiled as he recalled how as a child his attempt at boiling water for oatmeal ignited a fire. He discussed Tilth’s philosophy and how to ‘create memorable food’. We introduced ourselves and described what that meant to us.

A handsome man, Jason is affable and genuinely loves to cook. He demonstrated each recipe with aplomb.

First was a salad of figs, arugula, Rogue River blue cheese and marcona almonds. Jason explained that ripe figs are plump, heavy for their size and appear delicate. Another tip from the chef was to ‘dress the bowl, not the lettuce’ to avoid wilted greens. Sweet, peppery and pungent, it was a simple salad of complex flavours.

Next was gazpacho. Jason demonstrated his knife skills in cutting peppers into brunoise, eighth inch cubes, for the pepper jam. Fresh corn kernels and diced onions were seasoned and blended until a creamy consistency. Canola oil, lemon juice, black and white pepper, and salt are his staples. The pepper jam was reduced to a syrupy liquid and cooled.

To serve, the corn gazpacho was ladled over a quenelle of pepper jam, halved cherry tomatoes and basil. It was a piquant soup, a summery appetiser.

Tilth’s fisherman teaches anthropology at Seattle Central. Jason spoke with respect about what the fisherman does and the importance of letting the quality of the ingredients be the highlight of each dish.

The fleshy sockeye salmon was deboned with tweezers and portioned.

Atop a slice of heirloom tomato and in a shallow pool of tomato water, the seared Alaskan salmon was garnished with slivers of sugar snap peas and drizzled with edible flower vinaigrette. Cooked to a medium rare, the salmon was buttery with a crispy skin.

Dessert was macerated local raspberries, Greek yoghurt and honey tuiles. The tuile batter was spread on moulds, baked and draped over rolling pins to curl. The tart yoghurt balanced the sweet berries and the fragrant wafer.

The recipes are perfect for a summer dinner party!

Disclosure: This was a complimentary meal courtesy of Evolution Fresh. This is not a sponsored post.

My favourite Boost Juice is Passion Mango. An icy blend of mango, passionfruit, tropical juice, sorbet and yoghurt, it is my standard order for on-the-go sustenance. I like that they have a store at Sydney airport where it’s economical to pay seven dollars for a smoothie instead of double that for greasy noodles or oily pizza.

The second Evolution Fresh opened in Downtown Seattle last Friday. Located opposite Nordstrom on Pine, the space is subdivided from the adjacent Starbucks, the owner of the Evolution Fresh brand.

I had peeked into the first Evolution Fresh store in Bellevue when I was on the Eastside for lunch at Din Tai Fung. It has a salad bar and seating, whereas the Downtown Seattle one is compact, designed for ‘juice and food good to go’.

Banners line the wall with appetising photos of the signature bowls, a flowchart for cold pressed juices, and a whiteboard for customers to scrawl messages.

The shelves are laden with bottles of juices and pre-packed meals. Sweet treats were in glass cloches and jars.

Wire baskets of fruits, drink bottles, an apron and a chopping board were hooked onto metal rails in a corner of the tiny kitchen.

Six screens panelled the back wall display the beverages menu.

Eight juices are available on tap, including organic apple and organic carrot.

Lemon, ginger and cayenne pepper, the spicy lemonade piqued my interest.

Categorised into easy, balanced and green, a mix of six juices are in cleansing packs.

Breakfast items intermingled with snacks, signature bowls, sauces, sandwiches, salads and wraps. Each has a colourful nutrition label.

I scanned for the keyword, mango! Mango, papaya, pineapple and apple juice were a summery medley, the Smooth Mango was refreshing.

I was a frequent patron of Saladworks in Sydney and the signature bowls are a similar concept. Fast and fresh, each bowl has a healthful serving of vegetables, nuts and seeds. Spinach, julienned carrot, sugar snap peas, roasted red peppers, sautéed shiitake, grilled portabella, scallions, coriander and parsley were layered on top of cold buckwheat noodles.

The buckwheat noodles signature bowl was paired with tamari five spice sauce.

I drizzled the viscous dressing over the spinach leaves and gently tossed it through. It was crunchy and herbaceous, a substantial size for lunch.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Evolution Fresh is convenient and nourishing.

A group of Seattle food bloggers gathered at Myra‘s on a weekday evening to meet Sarah Matheny, blogger and author of Peas and Thank You.

A former family law attorney and meat eater, she left a full-time career ‘fighting over salt and pepper shakers’ to be a stay-at-home mother. With two young daughters, she created the Peas and Thank You blog to connect to adults.

As a lawyer her diet consisted of caffeinated drinks and energy bars to sustain a hectic schedule. As a mother she was conscious of how to feed her family, and recognised she needed to change and be a role model for a healthy lifestyle.

For a while she was cooking three separate meals for dinner – vegan for herself, one with meat for her husband, and children friendly ones for her daughters. An understanding and empathetic husband suggested transitioning the whole family to a vegan diet.

Her blog is a scrapbook of recipes, family stories and photos, a narrative of an ordinary family who are vegans. She found her voice through her blog and infused it with her personality. The cookbook is a collection of recipes that are on ‘rotation’ in her home, plant-based versions of classic family meals.

Sarah was articulate and persuasive, encouraging us to try meatless meals to improve our health and lower our grocery bills.

There is a pantry section in the cookbook and Sarah brought some of the ingredients with her. My first taste of tempeh was Ann Gentry‘s BLT tartines. A fermented soy product high in protein and fibre, Sarah likes to grate it and use it as a minced meat substitute.

We sampled the tempeh from her chipotle lime tempeh tacos recipe. It was spicy and had a meaty texture.

Chipotle lime tempeh tacos were garnished with non-dairy cheese. Sarah recommended the Daiya brand of dairy free cheese which is available in different flavours and melts.

We spread Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and sunflower seed butter on crackers. Sunflower seed butter is a delicious alternative to peanut butter, especially for children to take to school to avoid nut allergies.

Supermarkets stock many organic vegetarian and vegan products. Sarah was keen to demonstrate that vegan cooking is accessible and doesn’t require shopping at specialty stores.

Sarah baked a carrot cake and made a ‘cream cheese’ icing. She steamed and puréed the carrots, and all the ingredients are organic and vegan in the recipe. The cake was dense and moist but the frosting was too sweet for my palate.

Harlequin generously gifted each attendee with a copy of Peas and Thank You. The adorable pea theme is throughout the book and each recipe is accompanied by a family story, memory or anecdote. Sarah took most of the photos in her book. While the photos of the food are rustically beautiful, I love the ones of her family captured in moments of joy and cheekiness.

Sincere thanks to Myra Kohn for hosting and Sarah Matheny for sharing.

I’ve lived in cities all my life. While I spent my childhood in high rise apartment buildings, Mr S was roaming freely on a farm. I cannot garden except to water and I’ve drowned cactus and succulent plants!

The previous owners of our home in Sydney had a flourishing garden bed of garish tropical plants which Mr S dug up and dispose of over several weekends. The roots were deep and stubborn, and we hurriedly replaced them with Japanese maple trees and lilly pilly shrubs.

We returned from my first foray to a nursery with ceramic pots and herb seedlings. We had an abundance of basil but our chilli, cherry tomato and strawberry plants yielded only handful in total. The single chilli was mild, the two strawberries were fragrant and very sweet, and the three cherry tomatoes were juicy and flavoursome. I consider this a failure but at least the plants didn’t wither and die.

On a radiant Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, Myra gathered the Seattle food community to meet Margo True, Food Editor of Sunset magazine and author of The One-Block Feast.

I had intended on waking early and baking scones but my plan was foiled by a long dinner and a late movie the night before. Instead, I bought some coconut macaroons and berry biscuits from Dahlia Bakery. With a chewy crust and a moist centre, the coconut macaroon was perfect with a cup of tea.

Although expensive, I have indulged in several bowls of Rainier cherries this summer. The golden orbs have a delicate and refreshing sweetness that contrasts with the richness of the crimson variety.

Shirley arrived with several boxes from Fuji Bakery. The plain white boxes protected an array of freshly baked goods. There was a selection of flaky croissants, including pain au chocolat, almond croissant and croissant café mocha.

On the left is brioche Suisse. Buttery and golden, the brioche dough is studded with chocolate and orange peel, and filled with Grand Marnier chocolate custard.

My favourites were the fruit pastries. Glossy and blowtorched, the fruits were thinly sliced, fanned out symmetrically and baked until soft and translucent.

In her soft and soothing voice, Margo traced the conception of the One-Block Diet to the cookbook. The Sunset magazine office is on five acres of land and the One-Block Diet evolved from exploring how to report on local eating. The challenge was to grow every ingredient on the menu to embody the narrative.

Margo pointed out that the flaw was to plan the menu first and consider the growing second. The intention of the One-Block Diet was to replicate a suburban backyard, to demonstrate to readers that they too can grow food as part of their lifestyle.

The commitment to growing and sourcing every ingredient from their one block garden necessitated research into seasonality and production methods. Pantry staples such as cooking fat, sweetener and seasoning had to be made. The initial idea was to grow corn for oil but the team soon realised the corn to oil ratio was beyond their five hundred square feet, and peanuts grow in a colder climate than California. Olive groves were planted on the Sunset grounds in the ’50s and the team cultivated the single tree that was within the border of the block.

Bees were kept for a sweetener and to pollinate the garden. Chilli and herbs were grown for seasoning. For salt, the team ‘imported’ sea water from ten miles away, and they were gifted a vinegar ‘mother’ to brew their own. The one-block diet philosophy was if it cannot be grown, they will transform locally sourced ingredients by hand. Margo listed salt, vinegar and cheese as easy to make.

Wheat, barley and hops were planted for beer and the team hand-picked six hundred pounds of Syrah at a local winery and crushed the grapes by feet. Wine making was intense physical work for two, three weeks and then the wine was aged for one year.

The staff was divided into teams (Team Chicken, Team Bee, Team Vinegar et cetera) and the menu was the road map. Unfortunately the olive trees were infested with fruit maggots and Team Olive had to ‘import’ olives for grinding and pressing.

It was a delight to hear Margo describe how ingredients were grown and produced. ‘Ground olives look like chopped liver’, ‘pressed olive oil is a bright vibrant green colour’, ‘if vinegar smells like furniture polish, throw it out’ and ‘home made vinegar is strong and slightly fizzy, has to be diluted’.

Margo was animated when talking about the Sunset chickens, bees and cow. The entire team took turns to encourage the chickens to lay eggs with chants of ‘lay, lay!’. The free range farm fresh eggs were ‘velvety and voluptuous’, and every egg was different in shape and taste. Margo commented that it takes effort to standardise food for consumers.

The team visited a beekeeper who promised to ‘shift their paradigm’. ‘Humming, vibrating, electrifying’, bees are highly intelligent insects that are loyal, organised and industrious. The team also have a share in a neighbourhood cow, Holly the Jersey, who lives on a farm.

Margo spoke with eloquence and generously shared her passion. She explained how working closely together as a team to produce food has evoked an emotional response, a deep understanding for the ancient and natural rhythm of growing, nurturing, harvesting and eating.

Margo’s eyes sparkled as she declared it ‘profoundly satisfying to know how much of food is alive … it is our place in nature to create a habitat for other living organisms’. There is collective sadness when a chicken dies or a plant shrivels.

Margo has developed an appreciation for artisanal food and is more willing to pay for it now. As an example, the vinaigrette was made with four ingredients and it took one and half years’ of work to make.

Margo and the Sunset team are an inspiration. They were beginners and have documented their projects for readers to cook, grow, or both. Margo wrote with a quiet enthusiasm, a genuine love for her vocation. She happily detailed successes and disasters were narrated with humour. ‘Nature always leads, and a smart cook learns how to dance’ – this is the essence of Margo and the One-Block Feast.

I purchased the book and was gifted a small jar of honey from the Sunset bees. Hand-harvested, each batch has a distinctive smell and taste depending on where the bees have flown for blossoms!

Sincere thanks to Myra for hosting and to Margo for making the time for us at such short notice.

Summer may be late but spring definitely sprung in Seattle. On a pleasant warm day a few weekends ago, we moseyed down to Local 360 to try their spring menu.

A pretty posy greeted us at our table and I love the rustic feel of the décor. In the short time it’s been open Local 360 has become popular in the neighbourhood. Its local, organic and sustainable philosophy would be futile without wholesome, delicious food, and they deliver on both.

Interested in the origins of the eggs in your omelette? Curious about where the cream you just stirred into your coffee come from? The favourite vendors chalkboard looms large over the dining room, and the wait staff will either know the answer or go find out!

Mr S ordered the corned beef Rueben and there was a artistic swirl through the rye bread. On the outside, it seemed a basic sandwich.

The inside revealed layers of corned beef and sauerkraut with melted cheese. It was a juicy Rueben but I found the combination a little salty and in need of a side salad.

I opted for the lamb burger on the specials menu. The waiter mentioned they were butchering a whole lamb and the patty was minced in house. The burger was flavoursome but Mr S thought the cheese and aioli overshadowed the lamb.

I returned on the day Local 360 Mercantile opened. The Mercantile has its own entrance and frontage on Bell Street. The retail store is a much needed addition to the area for weeknight dinner groceries and forgotten ingredients.

Similar to the restaurant, the Mercantile had a featured chalkboard highlighting local producers.

A small vegetables section was at the front of the store but there were no fruits. Shelves lined the wall and were laden with carefully displayed packets, bottles and jars. At the back were beer and wine, and the in-house butcher.

Many of the vegetables were priced by count and not weight. The fridge stocked perishables such as milk, and loaves of bread and baguettes were available.

The Local 360 products were interspersed among branded ones. A good selection of muesli, pulses, herbs and spices, salad dressings, sauces, marinades, condiments and olive oils were neatly arranged.

Fresh pasta, house made preserves, eggs and cheeses were stacked in the deli part. A panini press was on top, with an enticing ‘available soon’ sign taped on.

The butcher had a variety of cuts and sausages. I enquired if they will expand into cured meats and the woman said hopefully in the coming weeks.

I bought some potatoes and beets and left a happy customer!

There is a homeliness to buffet style dining, an openness and a warm welcome to eating together. The toppings bar at Portage Bay Café has a similar feel. A popular spot for weekend brunch, it was nearly as busy for weekday breakfast. Vintage rowing boats are suspended upside down from the ceiling in the large dining room and the staff wears black t-shirts emblazoned with their philosophy, ‘eat like you give a damn’.

Omelettes, scrambles, Benedicts, hashes, combos, French toasts, pancakes and grains – it is a comprehensive menu! Service was brisk but friendly and we quickly ordered. Portage Bay Café is a lively place – the wait staff pace back and forth, weaving between the tables and benches of a diverse crowd.

The toppings bar is a hive of activity on weekends with parents navigating children between the fruits and nuts. I was alone on this weekday, leisurely selecting berries. The centrepiece among the red, yellow and purple hues was an overflowing mount of whipped cream – I wonder how many spoons have been lost in those fluffy clouds.

Ginger is an essential aromatic in my parents’ cooking. I grew up with it julienned on whole steam fish, grated in dipping sauces and sliced in soups, and yet I’ve developed an aversion to it as an adult.

I ordered the oven baked French toast with trepidation. The house made bread is soaked overnight in ginger and blackberry custard, then baked, sliced and griddled. Three thick soldier slices were drizzled with crème anglaise and I added raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries from the toppings bar.

I would have enjoyed the French toast without the ginger. Browned on the outside and moist and spongy on the inside, it paired well with crème anglaise instead of maple syrup. Unfortunately I found the ginger too overpowering and had to swap with Mr S.

Mr S had the chorizo scramble and it was a large serving of house made chorizo, organic bell peppers and tomatoes scrambled and topped with queso fresco, sour cream, salsa and green onions. On the side was a warmed flour tortilla and roasted red potatoes. It was a fun meal to eat by hand, using the tortilla to scoop up the sausage and eggs but the cheese and salsa required fork assistance.

Absent of the hovering weekend crowds, Portage Bay Café is relaxed and comfortable during the week for a before work breakfast, mid morning snack and coffee or business meeting.


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