Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘queso fresco

We dined at El Camino with expats during our first week in Seattle. It felt shockingly cold transitioning from a sweltering southern hemisphere summer. I shivered in the dim enclosed patio, a wattage that I have since learnt is standard in Pacific Northwest restaurants. We returned to El Camino during daylight a couple of weekends ago. Painted a powdered blue, the Mexican eatery is located in the heart of Fremont.

The eclectic interior is decorated with paintings, posters, poppy chairs, and tangerine and lime walls.

Wrought iron gates sectioned off the spacious dining room from the bar and patio.

We were seated by the window in a near empty restaurant. A string of festive lanterns dangled above.

An ominous bottle of habanero sauce was at every table with a salt bowl.

A beverage of sparkling wine and pomegranate juice was appetisingly sour.

In a lotus shape, saffron coloured plantain chips were on a mound of salsa fresca and guacamole. The tostones de platano macho con guacamole was a starchy alternative to corn chips.

On a bed of black beans were white corn tortillas sautéed in tomatillo cream and topped with shredded chicken, queso fresco, diced onion and a dollop of sour cream. Described as cooked nachos, the chilaquiles de chile verde was a balanced lunch.

Two tacos were grilled steak parcels double wrapped in white corn tortillas. Garnished with diced onions and coriander, the tacos de carne asada were served with a pot of tomatillo salsa, and a generous scoop of rice and beans.

It would be a lovely summer evening on the El Camino patio!


After we left the queues at the Mobile Food Rodeo, Carol drove us towards the airport to Cedarbrook Lodge for TomatoFare West 2011.

Located on a quiet street away from traffic, Cedarbrook Lodge is secluded and surrounded by luscious greens. Originally built by Washington Mutual as an exclusive corporate retreat, it is now a public hotel.

The grounds are beautifully landscaped and the interior is elegantly decorated in earthy tones with natural materials. The entrance is on a mezzanine level and the lobby overlooks a magnificent loft with a plush lounge area, Copperleaf Restaurant and floor to ceiling windows to the terrace.

TomatoFare celebrates the harvest of the season’s locally grown organic heirloom tomatoes. The festival has been held in Eastern Washington for several years and this is the second one in Seattle.

Pale, bland and mealy. We’ve all had bad tomatoes. Grown with love and nurtured, a quality tomato bursts with sunshine and has a sweetness and acidity to every bite.

The Jacqueline Tabor Jazz Band entertained the crowd on the terrace. Although an overcast day, it was pleasant to be outside and many enjoyed the autumn weather sipping wine and beer, and nibbling on tomatoes.

Stalls in French colours were set up on the lawn. On the right were restaurants, and on the left was tomato tasting.

As we arrived mid afternoon, some of the stalls had closed. A handful of people were hovering around the Copperleaf stall and we joined the group listening intently as the chef spoke passionately about sourcing produce and the importance of connecting with farmers.

A tasting board was laden with tomatoes and we sprinkled sea salt on the vibrant slices.

A shot glass of layered mousse was popular, there were people returning for seconds and thirds! On the bottom was Parmesan mousse, the middle was heirloom tomato mousse and on top was fresh basil purée with Niçoise olive nougatine. It was an intense combination, each spoonful had a different accent.

Next was Barking Frog, where the chefs were busily plating their heirloom tomato and watermelon salad.

It was an artist’s palette of heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, burrata mozzarella purée, toasted pine nuts, micro basil and ten year old balsamic vinegar.

The Blackboard Bistro platter was empty and they were packing up as we approached their stall. The chef kindly scraped the last of the geoduck and heirloom tomato ceviche with orange and mint onto a mini toast and cut it in half. It was my first taste of the weirdly shaped bivalve, a Pacific Northwest specialty.

We proceeded along the stalls to Little Water Cantina, a recent addition to Eastlake.

The chef assembled cute bite size tostadas of white habanero, heirloom tomatoes, house made queso fresco, micro cilantro, toasted sesame seeds and Mexican sea salt. These were delectable morsels, ideal as a hors d’oeuvre for cocktail parties!

Unfortunately we missed out on Lark, emmer&rye and Café Lago.

Our final stall was Seattle Cremes, an ice cream, sherbet and sorbet wholesaler. We sampled a scoop each of red heirloom tomato sorbet and yellow heirloom tomato sorbet. With garlic, sea salt, basil and Tabasco, the red one was savoury and highlighted the tomato as an ingredient. The yellow one was refreshing with mint, sea salt, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Glossy globes in shades of red, orange, yellow, green and purple were on display. Dozens of varieties were presented in and on stemware and laminated cards detailed their characteristics.

Tiny baubles on vine, these Mexican midgets were my favourite.

The lumpy red star is turban like and star shaped when sliced.

This is the legend. I just like the name. It is a Pacific Northwest variety cultivated by Oregon State University.

The stripy green zebra is a contrast to the red hues of the majority.

A hidden oasis close to the airport, Cedarbrook Lodge has serene ponds and manicured shrubbery.

The Copperleaf Restaurant is in an open area of about a dozen tables with a magnificent stone fireplace as the focal point.

We meandered into Tamarack Hall and one of the chefs directed us to the restaurant garden.

Four neat patches had rows of lettuce, herbs and of course, tomatoes.

Sincere thanks to Carol for inviting me to be her plus one. The complimentary tickets were courtesy of Richmond Public Relations.

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