Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘pie

We had intended on going to Oxford on our first day in London. But alas, the weather conspired to confine us to indoor activities. Our umbrella gallantly shielded us from rain and wind as we waited for The Wolseley to open for breakfast. Thanks to Paola for the recommendation, the eggs Benedict, croissant and classic English (eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, black pudding, tomato and mushroom) were superb. So much so that we returned with a Canadian and a French on our last morning in the Old Dart!

Dried, warmed and nourished, we strolled to The National Gallery and shuffled with the crowd to admire the mastery of Cézanne, Constable, Monet, Turner and van Gogh. We ordered a canvas of Monet’s The Thames below Westminster and had lunch at The National Dining Rooms while it was printing. A ‘proudly and resolutely British’ restaurant by Peyton and Byrne, chef Simon Duff ‘seek out, celebrate and transform the finest British regional produce into exquisite modern dishes that represent the best of Britain’s abundant food treasures’.

A contemporary design, the mirrored restaurant shimmered. The main dining room has a view of Trafalgar Square and the café area is adjacent to the entrance.

Peyton and Byrne branded lilac tins lined the shelves.

Sweet treats were displayed on the counter, colourful swirls of icing on cupcakes contrasted with mounds of green salads.

I quenched my thirst with a freshly squeezed orange juice.

The smoked haddock, salmon and Parmesan pie was hearty fare. The flaky crust encased a creamy filling with morsels of fish, reminiscent of the Scottish specialty Cullen skink. A side salad of leafy greens and celeriac remoulade was the requisite vegetable serving.

My traditional pork pie was crimped and cold. A warm dough made with lard, the hot water pastry was thick and rich. A dense pink mass, the pork had the texture of spam but had a delicate flavour perfumed by herbs and spices.

The leaden clouds dissipated and silver beams illuminated our afternoon walk to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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This is a belated final post of my trip home in November. It’s been just over three months since I was in Australia and in that time we’ve had our first full winter in Seattle. There’s been plenty of rain, snow, sleet, wind and hail. But there have also been enough glorious days to sustain us through the darkest and wettest of the Pacific Northwest season. Sydney has suffered a drenched summer with mild temperatures and we experienced the prelude during our two weeks there. Thankfully our last day in Sydney was a lovely souvenir, a sundress and bare limbs day.

I had five items on my must eat list.
1. Chinese
2. Thai
3. Momofuku Seiōbo
4. Jamie’s Italian
5. Adriano Zumbo

We walked to The Star in the afternoon to complete number five.

We have been loyal patrons at Adriano Zumbo since it opened in 2007. His sweet treats have special meaning for us as the talented and passionate pâtissier made our wedding cake (croquembouche) and desserts (macarons in four flavours). The original Balmain patisserie is a narrow room with a glass counter displaying his whimsical creations where the queue was regularly out on the footpath. He has since expanded to several locations and the one at The Star greeted us with a radiant neon pink sign.

The concept store has a patisserie on the left and a dessert train on the right which was closed on Sunday.

Each year Adriano Zumbo celebrates his birthday with Zumboron Day. This year there were sixty flavours of macarons!

A sample of each flavour was lined along the window to tempt us. Left to right: finger bun (Australian iced bread), fried chicken, and gin and tonic.

Left to right: liquorice, Margherita pizza and mandarin.

Left to right: toasted marshmallow, vanilla ecstasy and Vegemite.

The interior of the patisserie was bright and funky. Desserts in cone stands enticed passers-by, a bathtub was topped with high tea tiers and Zumbo, Adriano’s cookbook, and the table has purple shoes!

A 360 degree view of each dessert with a description card.

Ovens warmed savoury quiches, pies and sausage rolls.

Peach boxes encased seasonal macarons.

‘In case of emergency break glass’ for sugar hit!

I heart Zumbo.

The stainless steel kitchen with containers of ingredients.

Trolleys of macarons for Zumboron Day.

Man Goes Peanuts: peanut butter crunch, mango compote, mango burnt honey mousse and pain d’épices. Peanut butter and mango were a curious combination in this layered and textural dessert.

Tarte aux fruits de la passion: passionfruit curd and pâte sucrée. The passionfruit tart and opera gâteau are my favourites at Adriano Zumbo. A glossy two toned disc was studded with passionfruit seeds, a perfect balance of luscious piquancy.

We savoured our last night in Sydney with a bottle of Champagne and macarons.

Our cache of of macarons: butterscotch caramels, chocolate orange, cinnamon doughnut, coffee, pandan and coconut, passionfruit and yoghurt, rice pudding, salted butter popcorn, toasted marshmallow, and vanilla ecstasy.

These colourful jewels were a sentimental farewell to Down Under.

My beloved Sydney, I miss you dearly.

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!

I attended my first event at Book Larder yesterday. A community cookbook store in Fremont, it is a warm and welcoming space with the kitchen at its heart. A large group gathered for Christina Tosi, author, chef and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar.

A vintage stove is salvaged as a window display.

Cookbooks are categorised and neatly stacked. I’m enamoured by the teal walls, a regal shade against the stark white shelves.

Wooden tables are focal points for new releases and local authors.

A snapshot of the Australian section! In stock were Frank CamorraMargaret Fulton, Bill Granger, Rachel Grisewood, Donna HayLuke Nguyen and David Thompson.

The kitchen is equipped with modern appliances and accoutrements. 

On the cover of Christina’s cookbook is the neon ‘milk’ sign of Momofuku Milk Bars.

A container of cereal milk mix.

The view of the kitchen through a glass of cereal milk. Milk infused with cornflakes, sugar and salt, the sugary beverage replicates the taste of the liquid left at the bottom of a breakfast bowl.

The air was perfumed with butter and there was an abundance of sweet treats.

We munched on sample containers of cereal crunch, a caramelised cornflakes snack.

A platter of cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies.

Deceptively plain in appearance, these corn cookies were chewy with a distinct corn flavour.

Sugar, butter, cream, eggs, milk, cream and oats. The core ingredients of crack pie. Its magical ratios are whisked, kneaded, cooled, baked and frozen into a dense, sticky and crumbly dessert.

Christina described Momofuku Milk Bar as a bakery that serves cookies and cakes with a personality. As a child she was a ‘picky eater with a sweet tooth’. She enrolled in culinary school in New York as an aspiring pastry chef to do what she loves which is to ‘eat sweets all day’! After she graduated she worked in fine dining restaurants. She enjoyed the challenge but was questioning her career direction when she was introduced to David Chang.

David had ‘drive and courage but no infrastructure’ and Christina was hired for the ‘etcetera’ role of ‘everything non-kitchen’ related. She would work during the day, bake at home at night and bring her baked goods into the office to share. There were no desserts on the menu at Noodle Bar or Ssäm Bar. The restaurants were chef focused where the chefs did the payroll and trained the wait staff. It was endearing but masculine.

After a couple of jokes, David was serious about Christina making desserts for the restaurants. She introduced one at a time while still doing her ‘etcetera’ role and transitioned to full-time chef. When the real estate next to Ssäm Bar became vacant, David decided Christina should open the Milk Bar. It is this passion and intuition that characterises David Chang.

Christina commented that the Milk Bar was a ‘lady approach to opening a Momofuku’. Christina built a team of small and talented people that operate the Milk Bars. Each item at the Milk Bars has intention and story behind it. Favourite components of desserts are deconstructed and reconstituted.

David opened Momofuku Seiōbo in Sydney last week and I asked Christina if she’ll follow with a Milk Bar. She explained the business has grown rapidly over the last three years and her fear is to split her team and fracture the creative process. She noted there was space available for the expansion!

Another question asked was about home cooking. Christina said the essence is home cooking but she references her formal training. She likened milk powder to ‘MSG for the baker’. She worked at wd~50 prior to joining Momofuku and it was there that she learned to think about the science of food. Her cooking is ‘tangible in unexpected ways’.

The final question was about working with David Chang. Christina spoke with respect and affection on her relationship with David. Working with David requires commitment and tenacity, they have a deep understanding and trust that is ‘silently dynamic’. She is stubborn and David knows it!

Christina brought boxes of cookies from the Milk Bar. From top right: corn cookie, cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie, compost cookie, blueberry and cream cookie, and confetti cookie.

I purchased a copy of the book and I look forward to reading about the ‘intention and story’ of each of the recipes.

Congratulations to the Book Larder for a stellar calendar of events and sincere thanks to Christina Tosi for sweetening our Tuesday evening.

I find it difficult to define Australian cuisine. It’s a fusion of British traditions, multicultural flavours and classic techniques.

I don’t miss Australian food per se. What I do miss are our local eateries in Sydney – the pub with a view of Sydney harbour, the Italian restaurant with vinyl tablecloths, the efficient staff at the Thai take-away, the lovely Italian couple and their deli, the smoky smell of chickens roasting over charcoal. And the bakery.

The bakery with shelves full of flaky croissants, nutty cookies, crusty loaves of bread, fluffy sponge cakes, pretty fruit tarts, creamy vanilla slices, squares of rich brownies and light lamingtons. And pie.

A savoury pie for lazy weekend lunch. A sweet pie for weeknight dessert. A large pie for potluck dinner. A small pie to share as snack. It’s always pie time!

I love pie and other baked goods but I’m not a baker. Precise measurements, leavening agents and electric mixers – I’m lost in the science of it. The Art of the Pie Workshop with Kate McDermott has changed this. Teaching is her vocation and I’m privileged to have been her student.

Four strangers gathered at Kate’s home on Saturday afternoon to learn how to make pie. We left with pies and so much more. A genuine and happy soul, Kate warmly welcomed us and openly shared her life experiences.

A plate of ‘tasties’ greeted us. Made with leftover dough and rolled in cinnamon sugar, these delectable bites were indeed a taste of what we would be making.

Kate had purchased a bounty of fresh fruits from farmers’ markets. The mulberries were delightfully sweet and we all agreed we could easily consume a punnet to ourselves.

A vibrant red, the tart Montmorency cherries were ideal for a pie filling. We had fun taking turns pitting these.

Kate sourced these plump blueberries from a private farm in Prosser.

A late night pitting cherries by hand produced this beautiful pie.

Kate demonstrated her dough, generously noted hints and tips, and answered our questions with aplomb.

No sifting and no levelling, we scooped flour with a tea cup and made our dough confidently and quickly. Each batch is different and you have to use cold hands to feel if it’s ready.

I gleefully emptied containers of mulberries and tumbled blueberries into my pie dish.

Sugar, liqueur and thickener were gently stirred through the fruit and scooped into the pie dish.

The crust is next. Weaving the lattice was surprisingly easy. You can also use cookie cutters and arrange a pattern as the crust.

With our four pies in the oven, it was time to eat Kate’s cherry pie!

There was a moment of silence after the first forkful. Some closed their eyes, others exalted. I stared at my plate and wished my pie would taste half as delicious.

Fresh from the oven, the pies oozed and bubbled. We each hovered an ear over our pie, listening and breathing in the aromas.

Pie philosophy, baking with love and insightful conversations – it was an enlightening time.

A sincere thank you to Kate McDermott – pie maker extraordinaire, ‘practitioner of kindness’.

Unlike baseball, ‘pie for six’ was music to my ears. After the Mariners‘ clean sweep loss, we were in need of Serious Pie to sate our appetite and reflect on this peculiar bat and ball game.

The weekday mid afternoon happy hour was just about full. This was our first visit to the original Serious Pie and it’s smaller and cosier than the Westlake loft.

Painted tiles line the olive green walls and we were seated at the back by the bay window. Service was a little haphazard and this was the first time in Seattle that I’ve had to do some hand waving to get the attention of the wait staff.

Mr S called it a ‘retiree dinner’ – early and discounted! At two-thirds the size and less than half the price of the standard ones, the mini pies were outstanding value.

It’s remarkable how consistent the pies are across both locations. The dough is always a lovely combination of crispy and chewy, and never soggy. A generous scattering of ingredients cover the hand stretched crust.

The chanterelle mushroom and truffle cheese pie is my favourite. I would be very sad if this is removed from the menu. Only two ingredients and yet the pie was rich and perfumed. I chewed slowly, savouring each bite for all its flavour.

The sweet fennel sausage, roasted peppers and provolone pie was almost as delectable. There was a delicious sweet spiciness to it, freshened by the tomato base.

One benefit of an early dinner was we returned home with many hours of daylight left, with baseball all but forgotten!

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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