Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Palace Ballroom

A Tom Douglas fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy.

Local restauranteurs and Seattleites supporting the relief efforts.

Tini Bigs poured Manhattans.

Ma’Ono‘s Talde Hawaiian bread bun with Portuguese sausage, pickled cucumber, garlic vinegar mayonnaise and coriander.

Spur‘s Katz’s pastrami sliders.

Dahlia Lounge‘s Momofuku pork bun.

CanlisEleven Madison Park black truffle and foie gras macarons.

Skillet‘s linguine with clams.

Staple & Fancy‘s Esca crudo.

Hot Cakes‘ chocolate egg creams and chocolate chip cookies.

Seattle hearts New York City!

I’m in a New York state of mind…


‘Winter is coming.’ In boots and coat, and accessorised by an umbrella, I splashed to Foodportunity on a sodden Seattle day.

ART Restaurant: vodka vegetable soup in petite jam jar rimmed with lentils and sweet potato panna cotta with shaved romanesco.

WA Beef: blind taste test of grass-finished, grain-finished and naturally-raised beef.

KuKuRuZa: Hawaiian salted caramel popcorn.

Chan: steak tartare of Painted Hills tenderloin, Korean pear, toasted sesame and pine nuts with Korean soy garlic dressing on yucca chip.

Hitchcock: mussels.

Trace: braised short rib with pumpkin purée and Korean pepper sauce.

Din Tai Fung: spicy vegetable wontons.

The Food and Cooking of Scandinavia by Judith Dern, Janet Laurence and Anne Mosesson: geitost, Norwegian goat and cow milk cheese.

Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga: in conversation with blogger Cannelle et Vanille.

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance: grilled cheese with Fontina and caramelised broccoli rabe.

Peaks Frozen Custard: pumpkin frozen custard with chocolate sauce.

Rusty’s Famous Cheesecake: Basil Hayden‘s bourbon pumpkin cheesecake with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and honey infused caramel on a buttery and crisp Graham pecan crust.

Marx Foods: Sichuan buttons. The flower buds of an African plant, the petals have a grassy, herbal flavour that converts into an intense effervescence. It tingles and numbs, like hyperactive popping candy.

The Sichuan buttons was an electrifying conclusion to another successful Foodportunity!

Presented by Book Larder, the dessert party with Gail Simmons was held at the Palace Ballroom and coincided with the Top Chef season 9 finale on leap day. I love MasterChef Australia but I haven’t watched Top Chef so I was curious about Gail‘s memoir, Talking with My Mouth Full.

Banners of each chapter in cursive font and a symbolic illustration decorated the space.

The dessert menu was three chalkboards tied together with string.

Clockwise from top: schnecken, apple cake, derby tartlet, and chocolate meringue pie. The recipe of Tom Douglas’ grandmother, the schnecken was sticky sweet rolled and glazed pastry sprinkled with chopped nuts. Gail’s plum cake made with apple was scented and light. Chewy and nutty, the derby tartlet was a bite size treat. A pillowy twirl of burnished meringue rested on a chocolate filled crust, the mini pie was the highlight of the dessert party.

Rhubarb dump with crème Anglaise in a ramekin.

Tom Douglas welcomed us to the desert party, and introduced Amy Pennington and Gail Simmons. Amy is the host of Check, Please! Northwest which premieres this Thursday 8 March at 7pm on KCTS 9.

Both ladies listened to each other with intent and were animated in conversation. Gail’s mantra of ‘the harder you work, the luckier with are’ resonated with me.

Gail cited Survivor and Fear Factor as the stigma of the reality television genre when she filmed her first episode of the inaugural season of Top Chef in 2005. Many hours of footage from many cameras were edited for each show. Instead of applying a formula to the judging panel, their styles developed as a team.

Gail’s father was born in South Africa. He moved to Canada in the 60s and met her mother in Montreal on a blind date. Gail’s mother operated a cooking school out of her home kitchen and wrote a regular column for Canada’s national newspaper, The Global and Mail.

Gail graduated with a liberal arts degree with majors in anthropology (she ‘really likes monkeys’!) and Spanish (the language of kitchens). Gail wrote reviews of ‘ghetto’ restaurants for her university newspaper.

Her mother’s best friend, Linda, inspired Gail to enrol in culinary school to learn the science of cooking. Linda encouraged Gail to write down what she loves, and on the piece of paper was ‘eat, write, travel, cook’. Culinary school is a modern construct, and to speak and write ‘with authority’, she needed to know the subject.

In New York Gail worked for the esteemed Vogue food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten. Gail described her former boss as an extraordinary mind, a meticulous researcher and self-deprecating. It was ‘an education’ to be Steingarten’s assistant, a difficult job that has ‘opened doors’.

Gail recalled a dry aged meat experiment for an article where Steingarten left the meat on the counter to rot. Dry aging of meat is a calibrated process in a precise environment and Gail cleaned up the putrid meat with maggots before Steingarten returned from overseas!

Gail noted that physical strength is an attribute required in kitchens, it is gruelling manual labour to ‘execute a chef’s vision’. A key to success to knowing ‘when to keep mouth shut’! Gail emphasised the importance of goals and to be flexible with the path to achieve them.

As a judge she uses descriptive words (‘oozy’!) and assesses each dish objectively. She recommends Stephanie Izard‘s Girl and the Goat in Chicago, Spike Mendelsohn‘s Good Stuff Eatery in Washington DC and Harold Dieterle‘s Perilla in New York of the Top Chef contestants.

An audience question about Gail’s health was controversial. Amy stated that the question would not have been posed to a man. Gail responded that it is an ‘occupational hazard’. She tastes food in two or three bites, is attentive of her diet off camera, is active and while she is not American, she walks like a New Yorker!

Gail was gregarious and energetic, and I intend on reading chapter eight, ‘Alone with rotten meat: the Vogue years’, first!

I attended my first Foodportunity yesterday evening at the Palace Ballroom, a networking event founded by the inimitable Keren Brown.

A screen projected the live Foodportunity Twitter feed.

The lovely Keren spoke briefly to thank Foodportunity’s sponsors and supporters, and drew the winners of the business card raffle.

My first taste was at Metropolitan Market, the main sponsor of Foodportunity. Imported wheels of Zola Gouda were stacked on the table.

A generous portion of creamy macaroni and cheese was sprinkled with bread crumbs and Parmesan.

I interspersed savoury dishes with desserts. Next was Fat Cat Fudge, a smooth chocolate fudge that was moderately sweet.

I spotted The Coterie Room in the corner and happily crunched on a decadent snack of ham crackling dipped in black truffle fondue.

In the same area was Inn at Langley. On a wooden paddle was a disc of smouldered spruce panna cotta with truffle honey foam and pine nut sugar.

The Chef in the Hat was momentarily absent but the silver forks of coffee cured salmon with celeriac by Rover’s were scrumptious.

One of the few restaurants with signs of their food, Local 360 had a rustic chalkboard written in cursive script and illuminated by tea light candles.

Except I didn’t notice the sign until after I ate the bacon wrapped rabbit saddle with cheesy grits and maple truffle jus. I don’t eat rabbit. But the meaty cylinder topped with a jelly cube was an appetising pairing.

Mike Easton was resplendent in a customised apron and demonstrated artisan pasta making.

Cooked on an induction stovetop at the stall, the malloreddi alla Siciliana was exceptional.

Fumie’s Gold had silver platters of sweet treats. I sampled the green tea cookie and it had a balanced matcha flavour.

The profiteroles and tiramisu were tempting!

My first loop concluded at the entrance where Mt Townsend Creamery was. Cirrus is a favourite and there were nibbles of Seastack.

Light and citrusy fromage blanc was spread on apple crisps.

I meandered back to the restaurants I had skipped due to crowds. At Blackfish from Tulalip was house smoked sockeye salmon with chèvre cucumber purse on a bamboo square. The salmon was surprisingly dense, tempered by the mandolined cucumber and goat cheese.

On a wooden board at Volunteer Park Café was crimped puff pastry with caramelised onion, a smear of chèvre and black trumpet mushrooms. I have fond memories of their grilled figs at Keren’s book launch party and these morsels were a highlight too!

The last dessert was by Main Street Cookie Company. Made with quality ingredients, the chocolate chunk and dark chocolate cookies were perfectly baked.

I hovered at Lucky Palate, curious about the contents of the paper cups. A vegetarian meal delivery company, the quinoa and farro were both textured and healthy.

A scarlet tablecloth greeted us at Tipu’s Chai. Steeped in herbs and spices, chai is a traditional Indian beverage.

A stainless steel and glass dispenser poured the Tipu’s Chai Now, a vegan instant chai. It was soothing and aromatic.

The penultimate was Tabby Cat Pickling Co.

Jars of pickles were scooped into bowls and the curried cauliflower floret was piquant.

And just before I exited, a friend‘s mother recommended the sizzling sausage by Tom Douglas.

Fluffy buns encased a spicy pork belly and octopus chorizo with fennel. It was a warming conclusion to a fun first Foodportunity.

Sincere thanks to Keren for connecting the Seattle food community!

Mr S has Scottish ancestry and we travelled through the countryside several years ago. I fell in love with the fields of heather, the glens (valleys), lochs (lakes), bens (mountains) and castles, the lilting accents, and the hearty Scottish fare. Every village, town and city honoured its history and were blessed with natural beauty.

We celebrated the life and works of Scottish poet Robert Burns at Slàinte at the Palace BallroomBurns Supper is traditionally held on the national bard’s birthday, 25 January.

The Palace Ballroom was set up with round tables and a handful of bar tables. A slideshow of Scottish scenery was projected on screens, although it was morbidly paused on a photo of gravestones for a while. A trio of musicians entertained us on a platform.

We perched on bar stools and sipped an apéritif of Rusty Nail which is a cocktail of Johnnie Walker and Drambuie garnished with a lemon twist.

We feasted on a menu and Scotch pairings by Dahlia Lounge chef Brock Johnson.

Our table was cluttered with glassware and silverware.

Dahlia Bakery scones were first and we mused if they would be American biscuits or British scones. A napkin in a weaved basket cushioned two ‘scones’ that were sweet flat squares of crumbly dough.

A square plate was layered with yoghurt, smoked trout and toast, and dotted with steelhead roe. The intense smokiness of the fish was tempered by the creamy yoghurt. The accompanying Scotch was a 12 year old Glenkinchie from the Lowlands.

A thin wedge of Black Sheep Creamery St Helen was served with a mini oatcake, slices of apple and a blob of apple jelly. I preferred the syrupy jelly with the washed rind cheese than the tart fruit. This dish was teamed with a 15 year old Dalwhinnie from the Highlands.

Two rare medallions of venison loin were veiled by a mound of black trumpet mushrooms and dressed with Douglas fir jus. The meaty flavours were balanced by the peaty 14 year old Oban from the west coast.

We stood while the piper led the haggis procession. A gentleman with a Scottish accent recited a lively rendition of Burns’ Address to A Haggis.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer
Gie her a haggis!

Diced offal, minced onion, oatmeal and seasoning were mixed with stock and stuffed in a sheep’s stomach. The haggis was pierced and boiled. The casing was cut at the crescendo of the poem and the savoury filling was eaten with mashed neeps (parsnips) and tatties (potatoes). A robust sixteen year old Lagavulin from the Isle of Islay was complementary.

The final course was sticky toffee pudding, Macallan caramel sauce and smoked cherry ice cream. A deceptively light sponge cake, this classic dessert was rich and toothsome. The last Scotch was a twelve year old Macallan from Speyside.

It was a cheerful evening warmed by a wee dram (or five!). To good health, slàinte mhòr!

I attended the annual Tom Douglas Cookbook Social held at the Palace Ballroom yesterday.

Christmas carols were playing and it was a convivial atmosphere. A food lover’s mistletoe, cookbooks tied with ribbon bows dangled from the ceiling.

Authors were dispersed around the room, their stalls laden with cookbooks and samples.

Cute CakeSpy illustrations greeted patrons. Love hearts and unicorns!

Jessie Oleson was as sweet as her treats! Her book is titled CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. On a bejewelled three tiered cake stand were rainbow cookies and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

Whimsically decorated cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

CakeSpy designed greeting cards.

Next was Amy Pennington, ‘go go green gardener’, and author of Apartment Gardening and Urban Pantry.

Kibbeh, a Middle Eastern meatball of bulgur and minced meat, was a nutty appetiser.

Opposite Amy was Tom Douglas, author of Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen, Tom’s Big Dinners and I Love Crab Cakes.

Scallop sized and golden, the Etta’s crab cake was a delectable morsel.

Tom was carving roast chickens rubbed with Chinese 12 Spice Rub.

The pieces of chicken were tender and juicy with a crisp skin.

Further along was Ethan Stowell, author of New Italian Kitchen.

A simmering pot of Mediterranean mussel soup with chickpea, fennel and lemon was spooned into little cups. It was a soothing combination of ingredients, perfect for a cold day.

At the back of Palace Ballroom was Cast Iron Skillet Big Flavours by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne.

Served in cupcake liners, the Dungeness crab and roasted poblano hushpuppies were cooked in an æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) maker.

Adjacent was Dining in Seattle cookbooks. The original volume was first published in 1977 and Past and Present is a compilation of recipes and menus celebrating Seattle restaurants then and now.

On the left of Dining in Seattle was Greg Atkinson, author of At the Kitchen Table.

Greg had trays of Yuletide cookies of faux-reos (fake Oreos), lime and pecan snowballs, turbinado sugar leaves, cocoa nib chocolate truffles and almond macaroons.

I zigzagged to Kurt Timmermeister, author of Growing a Farmer and owner of Kurtwood Farms.

Kurt was cutting wedges of Dinah’s Cheese, a creamy Camembert style cheese with a complex flavour profile.

A tower of glazed, frosted, dusted and sprinkled doughnuts was at the Top Pot table.

Becky Selengut, author of Good Fish, had a creative display with a fishing rod and tinned fish boxes on the hook.

I munched on dad’s sardines, gin drunk currants and caramelised onions on a cracker while calculating my guess for the number of Goldfish Crackers in the jar.

I was curious about the striped and cubed jellies. They were from The Seasonal Cocktail Companion by Maggie Savarino.

The Kit Kat shaped jelly shot was cherry daisy and the cube was Earl Grey infused gin. The wobbly orange square was an intense burst of bergamot.

A stack of books and an ice bucket of sparkling mineral water were manned by Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters.

He brought six home made bottles of bitters for tasting. A splash of sparkling mineral water and a couple of drops of bitters was a refreshing beverage.

And finally, Lisa Dupar had a lovely arrangement for Fried Chicken and Champagne.

The mini sausage corn dogs reminded me of the Easter Show in Sydney. Crumbly and meaty, the corn dog dipped in mustard sauce was scrumptious party food.

I was delighted to spot the ginger molasses sandwich cookies. The spiced sugary discs were the essence of the festive season.

The Palace Ballroom buzzed with energy and we were all there to support our local cookbook authors!

I love live events. Plays, musicals, comedy shows, festivals – there is something intensely intimate and vulnerable about a live performance. Seattle has finally awaken from its winter slumber, emerged from hibernation to embrace a full calendar of cultural activities.

Usually a wallflower in a room with strangers, I was apprehensive about attending What We Talk About When We Talk About Food (WWTAWWTAF) alone. Thankfully the lovely Kimberly spotted me and we were also warmly welcomed by Myra, the hostess with the mostest of the Andrew Scrivani food photography workshop.

This was the first WWTAWWTAF without its founder Kim Ricketts. I did not know Kim but I felt the love for her that emanated from the crowd in the Palace Ballroom.

We nibbled on hors d’œuvres as groups mingled. Clockwise from top: salumi and olives cone, fava and garlic skordalia with shallot pita, radish and chive butter toast and smoked trout devilled eggs.

The devilled eggs were very retro and the skordalia was creamy and heady with garlic. The simplicity of the radish toast was a palate cleanser.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Food (I affectionately pronounce the acronym as ‘what-ta-what-taf’) showcased the local talents of, from left to right:
* Amy Pennington of GoGoGreenGarden blog and author of Urban Pantry and Apartment Gardening;
* Anna Roth, food and travel writer and author of West Coast Road Eats;
* Becky Selengut of Chef Reinvented blog and author of Good Fish;
* and Keren Brown of Frantic Foodie blog, founder of Foodportunity and author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle.

Moderated by Amy Pennington, it was a relaxed atmosphere and a convivial panel discussion. There was much laughter at the friendly banter and the rapport between the women were endearing.

Each author also read snippets from their books. My favourite was Becky Selengut’s headnote for her tom yum goong recipe. She had me giggling that the heat rating is WGS – white girl safe.

Below are some anecdotes from each of the authors that I jotted down.

Keren Brown – Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle
* Recommended Mustafa’s harissa as her go-to flavour enhancer
* Felt strongly that tourist landmarks should be included in her guide book

Amy Pennington – Apartment Gardening
* Most people plant in pots that are too shallow for what they’re growing
* Rabbits and bees can make a small space productive (the rabbit section was omitted from her book in editing)

Anna Roth – West Coast Road Eats
* Emphasised the importance of the eateries’ context in and connection to their communities
* The thrill of eating in the moment transforms an excursion into an adventure

Becky Selengut – Good Fish
* Fish species ebb and flow; currently (pun intended) anchovies are ebbing and sardines are flowing
* Suggested mussels, clams, farm trout, squid and of course, sardines as cheap and sustainable seafood for now

I lingered for a while and moseyed across to the Palace Kitchen for supper with Myra, Kimberly and Kate McDermott, pie baker extraordinaire. The aromas of the grilled asparagus and braised pork cheeks were enticing but I opted for a dessert of chocolate Ovaltine panna cotta with cinnamon milk. Genuine conversation, delicious food – a lovely conclusion to a fun evening!

And finally, I’m proud to be the first to purchase a copy of Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle. Where are my Post-it flags?

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