Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘pork belly

I don’t remember where and when I’ve eaten Taiwanese food. The only dishes I know are oyster omelette (蚵仔煎) and ‘three cup’ chicken (三杯雞), both of which are common in Cantonese style restaurants.

Facing East was recommended by several people and our group of four gathered for a weekday lunch. I paced up and down Bellevue Way between 10th and 12th checking the numbers and had to call for directions. Similar to Tamarind Tree, Facing East is located in a mall with no street frontage.

A small dining room for a popular eatery, the space is modern and bright.

The glossy menu is categorised into snacks and sides, rice and noodles, chef’s specials, and desserts. Service was polite and we let our waiter guide our order.

On a wooden tray, the oolong tea (烏龍茶) was ceremoniously rinsed and poured. A petite ceramic teapot steeped the leaves and a miniature jug was enough for four tiny cups of oolong tea. Hot water refill was in a stainless steel thermos to quench our thirst.

First was Taiwanese pork burger. Reminiscent of the famed Momofuku pork bun, this is a comparable version. A snowy steamed bun was agape with a slab of pork belly, pickles, peanuts and sprigs of coriander. It was a decadent combination of meaty, fatty, sweet and sour.

It was National Fried Chicken Day so we had five spice fried chicken with basil. Lightly battered, the tender morsels were garnished with crisp Thai basil leaves and sliced pickles.

Portions of Painted Hills short rib were tossed in an appetising black pepper sauce. Pickled pearl onions tempered the richness of the succulent beef.

A modest size bowl of spicy pork stew with rice was savoury comfort food.

A mound of green beans sautéed in garlic was crunchy and sweet.

I have added Facing East to my list of quality Asian restaurants in the Seattle area!

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It was a glorious Monday in London and we spent the only clear weather we had outdoors. I gallivanted about Westminster in the morning fending off tourists with unwieldy maps and gargantuan DSLRs. We merrily roamed Kew Gardens in the afternoon, steamed in Victoria era glasshouses and felt the spring blades of grass between our toes.

Famished and fatigued, dinner at Nopi was a nourishing conclusion to a lovely day.

A lampshade of rustic bronze leaves greeted patrons.

The glare of the all white interior was diffused by the lighting creating a warm ambience.

A beautiful bouquet in pink hues marked the serving table where platters of salads and loaves of bread were displayed in a front corner of the dining room.

On the left was the grapefruit and lychee cooler, a fruity cocktail of lemon infused vodka, lychee and grapefruit juices, lemon, sugar and mint.

The menu was categorised into vegetables, fish and meat. We agreed to let our waiter order for us and our group of seven had nine dishes family style.

The first was roasted aubergine with black garlic, harissa and pine nuts. Eggplant halves were roasted until silky, its soft flesh contrasted with the crunch of the pine nuts.

I’m neutral on lentils so I only had a tiny spoonful of these green ones with shaved beetroot and radish, and berbere croutons. An African spice blend, the berbere was an appetising seasoning for the bland but nutritious lentils.

Sambal rubbed gurnard was wrapped in banana leaf. The fish fillet was succulent and fiery.

A sphere of burrata was paired with slices of blood orange and coriander seeds. The squeaky mozzarella oozed with cream, and the herby and citrus notes tempered the richness.

Portions of twice cooked baby chicken was dipped in chilli sauce and sprinkled with lemon myrtle salt. The distinct Mediterranean flavours were bold and vibrant.

A cube of pork belly was in a pool of grape mustard jus. The fatty meat was balanced by the wedges of caramelised nashi pear.

In a skillet was seared prawns tossed with feta, fennel and Pernod.

Two golden orbs were courgette and Manouri fritters. Dipped in a cooling lime yoghurt, the mixture of zucchini and Greek cheese were savoury bites.

The last of our waiter’s selection was a ‘cheesecake’. Valdeón, a Spanish blue cheese, was baked in a copper pot and garnished with pickled beetroot and thyme honey. I prefer this version to dessert cheesecakes!

This scoop of sorbet was the essence of pear.

A classic English treat, this Eton mess of meringue, sumac and rose syrup was topped with a quenelle of strawberry sorbet.

Delightfully warm and fluffy financiers were shared.

The Brits love Yotam Ottolenghi and a meal at Nopi epitomises his food philosophy.

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!

I missed the Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club in November as I was home in Australia. The food lovers sampled every dish on the Revel menu and then some! This whetted my appetite and I was keen to return to Revel for Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi‘s fusion of Korean, French and American flavours.

The metal clad facade of the restaurant was a welcomed sight after a windy walk to Fremont on another bleak day.

A modern design and minimally furnished, Revel is stylish and spacious. At its heart is the kitchen and a long, wide counter. Our huddle of three sat at a table for cosy conversations. The low overhead lights were a hazard for those seated on the bench!

I had a prime view of the open plan, stainless steel kitchen where salads are tossed, pancakes flipped, dumplings seared, noodles stir fried, rice bowls assembled and cookies sandwiched. The chefs shuffled quietly around each other and efficiently between stations.

A tray with four glass containers of condiments was presented at each table after ordering.

We shared two appetisers. The first was pork belly, kimchi and bean sprout pancake. Cut into quarters, each piece had a thin slice of marbled pork and a crispy edge.

The short rib dumplings were pressed together in a row and served with a mound of shallots and scallions. A spoon separated the dumplings easily. Each morsel was dense and firm, and in a scrumptious sticky sauce.

My dining companions both had the short rib rice bowl with sambal daikon, mustard green and a raw egg yolk.

I also had a rice bowl. Blackened tofu, king oyster mushroom confit, Chinese broccoli and a raw egg yolk were piled on top of a large serving of rice. It was a delicious combination of crunchy greens, pillowy tofu and meaty mushrooms.

The restaurant was lively and full for weekday lunch, and we left warmed by the heat of the kitchen!

On a gloomy day I challenged myself to walk up to emmer&rye. It was a crisp morning but I warmed up quickly on the Counterbalance. I had to pause for a couple of minutes after the steep inclines before entering the restaurant for a Keren Brown event with Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, authors of The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine.

An elegantly restored Victorian house in Queen Anne, emmer&rye has a homely porch, a cosy dining room on the street level and a private function room upstairs.

Through the curtains were a narrow staircase and vintage framed portraits line the wall.

Skylights brightened the loft and the space was decorated with antique furniture.

Chef Seth Caswell, a champion of ‘locally derived, seasonally inspired’ cuisine, was our host. Platters and trays of hors d’oeuvres, stemware and books were presented on a wooden bench anchored by two ornate candelabra dripped in wax.

Dolloped into dessert wine glasses, the braised lamb with leek purée and Yukon potato shooter was delightfully creamy.

On house made herb crackers were Tumalo Farms goat cheese with nectarine chutney which was a lovely contrast of savoury and sweet.

Cubes of farro fries were neatly stacked on a duck egg blue platter with a pot of sage yoghurt dipping sauce.

Bite size squares of rye toast were spread with lamb liver mousse and topped with caramelised onions.

My favourite was the crispy pork belly with pepper jelly on fried brioche, a delectable combination of fatty meat and crunchy bread.

Dessert was a decadently chewy hazelnut and whisky chocolate caramel slice.

We munched on the morsels, and sipped on Chemistry Wines White Blend and Saviah Cellars 2009 ‘The Jack’ Syrah while Karen and Andrew spoke eloquently about their eighth book, The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine.

Flavour and aroma influence our taste. Karen and Andrew added the ‘X factor’ which is contextual to our eating and drinking experience, it increases the flavour and aroma of food exponentially.

2011 is a ‘watershed year for wine’ in America. After seventeen consecutive years of growth, the US is now the number one consumer of wine in the world. Since 2002 every state in the US has been producing wines.

My face creased in shock when Karen quoted a survey that the average American eat a sandwich and drink a can of soda for dinner. Food and wine are intertwined, and Karen and Andrew are champions of enjoying food and wine together.

Many wine books published detail the history and technicality of wine, a France-centric approach to wine writing. Karen and Andrew wrote about how early settlers in Virginia were required to plant grapes to produce wines.

Karen and Andrew encourage people to drink wine and to find out what they like without the high culture. Food and wine are ‘both groceries, staples’. ‘You just need a glass’ to appreciate wine. ‘If you like it, damn it you like it!’

The authors advocate drinking in moderation for pleasure and comfort. Karen and Andrew recommend drinking local wines but also to sample other regions and styles to expand our palates which evolve and refine over time. They mentioned the Wine Century Club, where you qualify for membership by tasting at least one hundred varietals.

Some of their pairing highlights were foie gras and a century old Sauterne, and curry and Riesling. Karen and Andrew are emphatic that wine is about quality of life and can be consumed for health and happiness.

They commented on the importance of educating children about alcohol, and trepidation and judgement as barriers for adults. They waxed lyrical about sommeliers as ‘gifted linguists’. Sommeliers will suggest matches if you let them know what you like! They shared an anecdote of a friend asking for wine that ‘won’t make my mouth feel furry’.

Sincere thanks to Keren for connecting us with Karen and Andrew, and to Chef Caswell and the staff at emmer&rye for their hospitality.

I had a question mark next to the Mobile Food Rodeo on my calendar as Mr S was returning from a three week work trip on the same day. I hesitated when the lovely Carol offered me a spare ticket but Mr S assured me he would be sleeping off jet lag so I happily accepted.

It was cool and cloudy as we joined the queue just before midday. VIP ticket holders were to have an extra hour before general admission but they were delayed by the fire marshal inspection and thus had a cascading effect on us. Hungry and windswept, we finally entered just before one o’clock.

A barren bitumen block enclosed by a barbwire fence, about a dozen food trucks ringed the perimeter and there were a couple of canopies with stacked hay bales for seating.

The bright graffiti on the Skillet Street Food van greeted us.

We spotted a retro Jeep Fleetvan painted in Whole Foods Market green selling cold beverages. It reminded me of the British television series Heartbeat!

Next to the petite Whole Foods truck was Maximus Minimus, a pig with attitude in sunglasses!

Our first food truck was Curry Now. By the time we got our wristbands, I was shivering and in need of sustenance.

We shared a small chicken curry with rice and topped with cilantro. We ate this quickly and appreciated the spiciness.

Street Treats was adjacent and we peeked at the menu. Although tempted by ice cream cookie sandwiches we opted to purchase a salted brown butter crispy bar for later. We split this in the car and it was a sticky treat of sweet nuttiness.

A regular at Queen Anne Farmers Market, Parfait Organic Artisan Ice Cream was another sweet truck present. Street Donuts was there too.

When we were outside the line was moving steadily until we paused at Fusion on the Run. We noticed a menu leaning against a window and were intrigued by the coconut ginger chicken bánh mì.

As we were waiting for our bánh mì, a guy picked up his tacos order. On the left is ono, kalua pork with mango salsa and surfer sauce. The other two are KV fusion, marinated short rib with cilantro and onions.

A crusty baguette was filled with julienned and pickled carrots and daikon, lettuce, cilantro, sesame seeds and coconut ginger chicken. Each bite of the bánh mì was crunchy and juicy, the sour vegetables tempered the richness of the marinated chicken. This was the highlight of the Mobile Food Rodeo!

By now the crowds have at least quadrupled since we got in. Groups were huddled together, balancing plates and trays while standing. Those perched on hay bales were elbow to elbow.

We continued our rotation and walked by Lumpia World, Where Ya At and Kaosamai. After the bánh mì, we skipped burgers, sliders and sandwiches at Bistro Box, Buns on Wheels and Charlie’s Buns N’ Stuff.

The pig shaped chalkboard at The Box caught our attention! A recent addition to the fleet of local food trucks, they’re based in Kirkland.

We ordered a pork belly hum bao each and these were speedily assembled. Slow braised in soy and mirin, a generous slice of pork belly with a scattering of coleslaw was wedged between a steamed bun. The fresh and zingy slaw was a textural contrast to the yielding pork belly and the soft bun soaked up the tasty marinade.

A band entertained the crowds and later, Mayor McGinn appeared on the stage and a cupcake eating contest was held.

The sun had emerged and the atmosphere had livened up. There were some long queues so Carol lined up at Bigfood and I went searching for fries.

I was keen to try poutine, the Québec specialty. Surprised by only a handful of people lingering at Skillet, I joined the short queue just in time for the announcement that they were sold out.

Disappointed, I returned to the area where Bigfood was parked and caught a glimpse of the Happy Grillmore menu. Yukon gold fries with garlic and Parmesan? Yes please!

Unfortunately I was defeated by the wait time. The two chefs were cooking at a frantic pace but they were limited by space. The size of the event overwhelmed the charm of food trucks.

A jungle themed food truck, Bigfood also had a long queue but we were determined to try their grilled flatbreads.

On the left is sasquatch, spicy pulled pork shoulder with green mango chutney and coleslaw. On the right is yeti, braised beef with curried fruit and coleslaw. Colourful ingredients rested on fluffy flatbreads with perfect grill marks! These were tender and luscious, the grilled flatbread was a sturdy utensil for the shredded meat and fruity condiments.

And finally, a red velvet muffin. We scraped off the buttercream and halved the dense and buttery muffin.

Another new food truck, Snout & Co. has ‘soulful food from Cuba to South Carolina’.

As we exited, we were thankful that we arrived early and mostly avoided queuing by the dozens. Hopefully the organisation will improve for next year but it is a fun event to sample the diverse food trucks of Seattle and Portland.

Mobile Food Rodeo was a fundraiser for Solid Ground.

Bibimbap, bulgogi and kimchi are the only words in my Korean cuisine vocabulary. With the exception of Korean barbecues, I haven’t eaten much Korean food as I’m averse to fermented vegetables and have a low tolerance for spiciness.

I had read about the interesting backgrounds of the owners of Joule – a combination of classic French techniques, Korean heritage and American flavours is a formula for modern, creative dishes.

With a willing driver in Luuvu, it was a quick trip (compared to walking!) to Joule’s sister restaurant, Revel, for a weekday lunch. On a leafy suburban street, rusty sheets of metal cladded the corner of the building with the restaurant name stamped in.

Fairy lights were strung over at the entrance, and inside was a sleek, clean space with minimalistic design. The room was well lit and the open kitchen featured a long communal bench. The bar, Quoin, is at the back and there’s also a patio for al fresco dining.

We sat at the counter and watched the chefs in action. It was a quiet lunch service and a man spent the entire time we were there zesting limes! The chefs moved with speed and precision, stirring, flipping and plating with style and purpose.

Each table were presented with a tray of condiments. Three appeared to be fiery and the dark syrup was soy based. Our waitress detailed the ingredients in each and warned us about the chilli oil. I stared at each with suspicion.

Our waitress recommended three dishes to share and after much polite toing and froing we selected one each from the dumpling, noodle and rice sections. It was a compact menu and the other options were salad, pancake and sweet sandwich for dessert.

The dumplings were stuck together in a row. Both sides were seared, then covered and steamed with a splash of broth. A bite into the firm but silky dough revealed a lump of minced short rib which was rich and moist. The scattering of shallot and scallion freshened up the meaty parcel.

An alarmingly bright tangerine colour, the slippery rice noodles were stir-fried in a sweet chilli sauce with a generous amount of smoked pork belly. The just-enough-for-me spiciness cut through the fatty cubes of porcine delicacy. I could have greedily devoured the whole bowl myself! I didn’t eat any of the pale slices of sauerkraut though.

The rice was scooped into bowls with a large plastic paddle fork and the thick tines were used to fluff the plump grains. Our rice bowl consisted of albacore tuna, fennel kimchi and escarole.

A river of golden egg yolk swirled through the protein and vegetables. The mild sourness of the fennel kimchi and slight bitterness of the escarole balanced with the sweet and succulent tuna. The bean paste condiment paired well with the flavours of the rice bowl.

We forewent an ice cream sandwich for a gelato at D’Ambrosio for dessert but my curiosity is piqued and I shall return for a fusion brunch!


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