Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘scallop

If I had to name a favourite restaurant in Seattle it would be Lark. Seasonal ingredients, small plates, attentive service. I have dined there twice and both meals presented regional cuisine at its best and epitomised what I love about a restaurant experience.

The only blemish is the lighting. For a city ensconced in a melancholic grey for half the year, Seattle’s eateries are in the shadow of candles and dimmers. The Danish word ‘hygge’ is the perfect description of cosy ambience but I would like to read the menu without squinting!

The Lark dining room has a homely feel. Opaque curtains partition the centre tables and there is a row of booths along one side. It is intimate and comfortable.

Categorised into cheeses, vegetables and grains, charcuterie, fish and meat, the menu is designed for sharing and the wait staff can recommend the number of dishes depending on your appetite.

Wine was poured and bread buttered as our group of four chatted on a quiet Sunday evening in spring.

Asparagus featured in three of the courses and starred in this in Provençal style. Tender spears were sautéed in olive oil, garlic, rosemary and black olive.

On a terracotta plate were ribbons of La Quercia prosciutto garnished with figs and Parmigiano Reggiano shavings.

Three plump scallops were atop asparagus in an earthy broth.

The ubiquitous asparagus were paired with slices of rare Mishima Ranch wagyu hanger steak, roasted potatoes and a dollop of ramp butter.

A petite cocotte of pommes de terre Robuchon was smooth and buttery, an elegant mashed potatoes.

Dining with the French means duck. A crispy Liberty Ducks leg was served with spring onions and green chickpeas.

I neglected to note the third cheese but the other two were Kukulu Bleu de Brebis from the Pyrénées and Taleggio from Lombardy.

A compact round of hazelnut brown butter cake was adorned with whiskey poached figs and accompanied by a quenelle of salted caramel ice cream.

Light and ethereal, a generous mound of miniature madeleines was dipped in a tiny pot of Theo organic dark chocolate sauce.

Lark is simply splendid, a beacon for the Pacific Northwest.

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It was a pleasant May in Seattle. I did not feel sodden as I did last spring and we were blessed with many glorious days as a prelude to the northern summer. On a pleasant Saturday we enjoyed apéritifs at Tavern Law and sauntered down to Momiji (紅葉) for dinner with a group of Australian expats and tourists.

The sister restaurant of Umi Sake House in Belltown, Momiji is Japanese for maple. Painted burgundy, the front bar featured a curious white latticed lampshade and was saturated in natural light.

With the exception of the wide street frontage, the layout of Momiji is the same as Umi’s. A corridor opened to a spacious dining room. The counter had a prime view of the sushi chefs deftly slicing sashimi and shaping nigiri.

At the centre was a serene Japanese garden.

We perused the comprehensive menu as I sipped a summery cocktail, The Getaway. In a tall glass was Hendrick’s Gin, Pimm’s and soda topped with a lychee.

We ordered an array of dishes among the seven of us. First was ahi pokē. Diced ahi tuna and cucumber were tossed with onion slivers, shichimi (Japanese seasoning), soy sauce and sesame seeds. The first time I ate pokē was at a Flying Fish cooking class. A Hawaiian salad, it had a luscious contrast of textures.

A plate of prawn and vegetable tempura was coated in a lumpy batter and pleasingly crunchy.

Poached beets, and a mound of arugula and shiso were drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.

Portions of grilled king crab was paired with ponzu dipping sauce and mixed greens. A generous serving, the crustacean was charred and meaty.

Soft shell crabs were pan fried to golden brown. The spindly morsels were sweet and succulent.

Wrinkled and charred, the half dozen prawn and scallop gyoza were juicy parcels of seafood encased in a thin wrapper.

Buckwheat noodles were stir-fried with cubes of tofu and an assortment of vegetables. Garnished with green onions, pickles and nori, the triangular bowl of yakisoba was a symphony of flavours.

With casual ambience and quality ingredients, Momiji is a delicious addition to 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill.

‘David Thompson‘s name is synonymous with Thai cuisine.’ From Darley Street Thai to Sailors Thai, he pioneered Thai eateries in Sydney. He is the Australian chef who opened a Thai restaurant in Bangkok. I was missing Asian food dearly and was delighted that the original Nahm in London was located near our hotel. In the boutique The Halkin, Nahm was an intimate dining experience.

Decorated in shades of tan and caramel, a row of round tables were in the middle of the dining room and the chairs were comfortable.

We snacked on meaty morsels of ma hor, an appetising amuse bouche courtesy of the chef. Minced prawns and chicken simmered in palm sugar, fried shallots, garlic and peanuts were atop segments of fresh pineapple and mandarin.

We ordered a selection of dishes to share between three. The first was latiang, chicken and crab egg nets with caramelised coconut and lemongrass. Popularised by Longrain chef Martin Boetz on MasterChef Australia, this version of egg nets was presented in a roll. A light lattice of fine egg strands encased a moist and fragrant filling.

Our waiter recommended the yam hua bplii gung, a fresh and zingy salad of grilled prawns and banana blossoms tossed with chilli jam.

Scottish scallops were stir fried with chillies and wild ginger. Plump discs paired with crunchy greens, the hoi shenn pat prik thai orn was simple yet luscious.

All three of us were duck lovers and the pbet yang pat tor huu yii was superb. Chinese style roast duck was on a bed of bean curd, basil and Siamese watercress. The savoury sauce and grassy herbs tempered the fatty duck.

A classic Thai curry, the geng mussaman neua had tender chunks of beef in a viscous paste of aromatics including cassia, cloves, cumin and shallots. Generous dollops were savoured on steamed rice.

The others sipped coffee while I perused the dessert menu. A silver bowl contained rock sugar which had a mellow sweetness.

Kanom mor geng peuak, a scoop of charred coconut pudding were angled on a taro fritter. The two white blobs were kao mao bot, ancestor biscuits with a young coconut filling.

It was an expensive but delectable meal!

I had neglected the final post from our Christmas trip to Whistler. Teppan Village had been floundering at the bottom of my draft folder until I noticed it this week. I clicked on it with a wry smile, the lapse in time a contrast to the speed of the meal. Our teppanyaki (鉄板焼き) was cooked and served within half an hour, a frantic eating pace.

Whistler enchanted us with twinkling lights and snow flurries, a winter wonderland for Antipodeans who celebrated previous festive seasons in air-conditioning.

Conveniently located in Whistler Village, Teppan Village was spacious with several squares of tables and griddles.

We shared a plate of tempura prawns and vegetables, and a bowl of steamed edamame as appetisers.

An ingredients cart was laden with oils, sauces and aromatics.

A shallow tray of condiments was dispensed with flair.

Our group of four ordered the teppan tasting menu. The first course was a crunchy salad of iceberg lettuce, shredded cabbage and matchstick carrots, and a soothing bowl of miso soup.

Chef Taka introduced himself and demonstrated his dexterity. He holstered his tools in his apron pocket and he expertly manoeuvred the spatula and knives. A pyramid of onion rings were flambéed into a fiery volcano.

Shelled prawns were fanned out and curled as they sizzled.

Batons of vegetables were sautéed until tender.

Plump scallops were seared to perfection. I’m a slow eater and my warmed cast iron plate was already nearly full!

The teriyaki salmon was deftly portioned and well seasoned.

Juicy cubes of filet mignon were a highlight and we chewed these slowly to savour the intense beefy flavour.

The aromas of the teppanyaki lingered.

We only knew a handful of people when we moved to Seattle. Ms D-R, an Irish American, has been hospitable and introduced us to some of her friends. We joined them this month at Poppy for their restaurant club. The ‘host’ is rotated each month and is responsible for selecting the restaurant and booking a table.

At the Lake Union end of Broadway East in the gentrified neighbourhood of Capitol Hill, Poppy has a modern décor in a comfortable and spacious room. Birch toned with poppy accents and exposed brick walls; an open plan kitchen is lined with glass jars of herbs and spices.

I was early so I sat at the bar and sipped a glass of ‘Poppy hour’ Tempranillo and was entertained by the bar staff’s stories from the dining room. The menu was held upright with a wooden peg.

I was thankful the restaurant was moderately lit and the din was just a gentle hum.

There were about a dozen appetisers and the specialty was thali, an Indian meal. The definition of thali was printed on the front of the menu, ‘a round tray on which a variety of small dishes are served, all at once, to each guest’.

After we ordered I took a peek at the herb garden which is at the back of the restaurant. The wooden beds were full of thriving plants.

Our group shared the eggplant fries with sea salt and honey, and batata wada, potato fritters with cilantro lime sauce. The lightly battered batons were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Batata wada were spicy balls of starch and the citrus sauce was refreshing.

There were various combinations of seven and ten item thalis and vegetarian options. Our patient waitress explained we could substitute and add components. I was starving and chose the ten item thali.

Clockwise from top: beet yoghurt soup with avocado cream, Swiss chard gratin (hidden), nigella poppy naan, roasted cauliflower with apple and dill, seared scallops with lentils, pickled onions and black pepper lime Hollandaise, radicchio salad, pickled Asian pear, persimmon salad, and Berkshire pork ribs with pear, chestnut and vanilla.

The salads of radicchio and persimmon were crunchy and zingy.

Ladled into a mini cup, the beet yoghurt soup had a concentrated earthy flavour.

Bite size cubes of pickled Asian pear were a palate cleanser. Charred and caramelised, the roasted cauliflower with apple and dill were mildly sweet.

I have an aversion to pumpkin and squash. Roasted, puréed or in a pie, I generally won’t eat it. I tasted a spoonful of the mashed delicata squash and was surprised by the smooth, spiced purée. The Swiss chard gratin was a favourite comfort food; the leafy nutritious greens were baked with bread crumbs until browned.

Two plump scallops were grilled and rested on a bed of lentils in black pepper lime Hollandaise sauce and topped with threads of pickled onions. The bivalves were well cooked, its briny freshness highlighted by the acidic garnish.

The chunky Berkshire pork rib was tender and fatty, and pear, chestnut and vanilla was a classic pairing with a twist.

Mr S swapped the Berkshire pork rib for wagyu coulotte steak. Grilled to medium rare, the richness of the premium marbled beef was tempered by the garlic chive and caper salsa verde.

We were too full to be tempted by the dessert thali!

I succumbed to a Groupon deal a couple of months ago. I paid twenty five dollars for fifty dollars worth of food and beverages at Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar. We were at the Kangaroo and Kiwi Pub in the early hours of Sunday morning to cheer on the Wallabies in the Rugby World Cup. Alas we were disappointed with the result and woke up lethargic. Within walking distance, the voucher was perfect for a lazy dinner.

As with many restaurants in Seattle, Seastar is dimly lit. The restaurant was full so we sat in the bar. A spacious area with individual tables, a communal bench and counter seating, it was a busy evening being the first day of the autumn Seattle Restaurant Week. A single glassybaby was our source of light to read the menu.

The menu was a combination of hot and cold seafood. We selected a soup, a sushi roll and the raw bar sampler to share. The large bowl of Dungeness crab and corn bisque was warming. Absent of corn kernels, the bisque had chunks of Dungeness crab and was drizzled with a Madeira reduction and fresh chives. The Port added a depth of flavour to the bisque.

We misread the menu and expected a plate of tempura but it was futomaki tempura! Coated in tempura batter, the sushi roll had cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, asparagus, green onion and daikon pickle. It was an odd sensation to eat warm sushi but the vegetables were pleasingly crunchy.

The three tiered raw bar sampler was presented with a flourish. On the bottom was scallop ceviche with mango-kiwi relish, lemon, lime and cilantro. Unripe fruits and acidic juices masked the sweetness of the scallops.

In the middle was a California roll of Dungeness crab, avocado and cucumber. These bite size morsels had plenty of fresh crab.

And on the top was ahi pokē. Cubes of tuna were marinated in soy, chilli, Maui onions and sesame seeds. Wafer thin taro crisps were the utensil topped with strands of daikon radish and green onions.

On a glass tile, the aloha roll was bursting with ahi, hamachi, salmon, avocado, cucumber and chilli. This sushi roll lacked the finesse of Japanese cuisine but had an abundance of glistening sashimi.

Service was mostly absent but it was value for money!

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

I like wine. A simple statement, yet meaningful. Moments in life are celebrated or commiserated with wine. Champagne flutes at weddings, a bottle of red to listen to a friend, decanters at dinner parties or a glass while cooking. Our ‘cellar’ in Sydney, a cupboard underneath the staircase, was partial to bold Australian reds and fruity whites. We were blessed with wine regions in each state and proximity to New Zealand. I considered French, Italian and Spanish wines as special and for restaurant wine lists as they tend to be expensive.

We have drunk more ‘foreign’ wines in the eight months we’ve been here than we did the last three years in Sydney. They’re affordable and of quality. We’ve sampled Piedmontese wines and learned about French wines from Gallic friends. My knowledge of Spanish wines was limited to Tempranillo and Pedro Ximénez so I was keen to attend the eighteenth annual Wines from Spain Great Match ‘featuring Spain’s vivacious varietals’ held at the Washington Athletic Club (WAC).

Leslie Sbrocco hosted a Rías Baixas (means lower estuaries) tasting. The Denominación de Origen (Denomination of Origin, DO) in Galicia is located in northwest Spain and there are five sub zones. It’s wet and lush in the Atlantic climate and the grapes are grown over pergolas for air circulation, to ripen the fruit and to prevent mildew. An intense minerality of the wines is from the granite in the area. Leslie noted that Albariño is a balanced wine that is flexible with food pairings. Local dishes such as roasted Padrón peppers, tetilla cheese (‘nipple’ cheese) and percebes (goose barnacles) are eaten with Albariño.

We tasted eight wines – five from the Val do Salnés sub zone, two from O Rosal and one from Condado do Tea. Of varying shapes, sizes and colours, the eight bottles are a reflection of the diverse culture of Rías Baixas!

From left to right: Condes de Albarei Albariño 2010, Burgáns Albariño 2010, Mar de Frades Albariño 2010, Albariño de Fefiñanes 2010, Laxas Albariño 2010, Valmiñor Albariño 2010, Santiago Ruiz Albariño 2010 and Pazo Señoráns Albariño 2010.

Wine glasses were placed on a numbered piece of paper. As we swirled, sniffed and sipped, Leslie talked us through each wine and the audience commented on the aromas and flavours. The Rías Baixas DO has 9,000 acres planted and 6,500 growers with half an acre being the average plot of land. Leslie quoted a grower that ‘it’s like a garden’. It is a mountainous topography with thick foliage.

My favourite was the Albariño de Fefiñanes, a vibrant and elegant wine from an old winery. The Mar de Frades Albariño has a thermo-sensitive logo of a ship that only appears on the label when the wine is chilled to a serving temperature of approximately 55°F. The label of the Santiago Ruiz Albariño is hand drawn by the owner as a map for his daughter’s wedding.

After tasting eight wines and only eating a couple of thin slices of baguette, I was in need of food to absorb the alcohol before the main tasting. A handful of clothed tables were decorated with a bowl of spiced Marcona almonds and a saffron coloured Dahlia.

Tiered platters of charcuterie had a selection of cheeses and cold cuts including Manchego, tetilla, jamón serrano and chorizo.

A large salad of greens, tomatoes, corn, Manchego, red onions and vinaigrette was fresh and tangy.

The tortilla de patatas is a soothing wedge of comfort food and I devoured the Spanish omelette with potatoes and onions.

Bain-marie stations had spicy chicken empanadas, and bamboo skewers of marinated and grilled scallop, salmon and halibut.

Albondigas, meatballs in tomato sauce, were neatly lined in a tray.

A spoonful of paella was topped with saffron seared scallop.

I was so happy there was lamb. Seasoned with garlic and parsley, the lamb chops were tender and juicy, and slightly pink in the middle.

Nourished and hydrated, I walked a couple of laps of the Crystal Ballroom. A beautiful bouquet was the centrepiece.

Hundreds of WAC branded wine glasses were gleaming.

A grand room lit by chandeliers, it was buzzing with wine lovers.

I spotted Salty Seattle who introduced me to The GastroGnome. We drank merrily, and had convivial conversations with representatives from Lane PR, Embassy of Spain and Trade Commission, and Wines from Spain.

The highlight was the Conde de Valdemar Reserva 2005 and Gran Reserva 2004, both spicy and rich Tempranillo. The terms Reserva and Gran Reserva are governed by law in Spain, stipulating a minimum period of aging in barrel and bottle.

I concluded my tasting with the Finca Antigua Moscatel and La Guita Manzanilla. Syrupy and smooth, the Moscatel would be a sweet end to a meal. In contrast, the Manzanilla was delicate and light.

It was a fun afternoon and I can now select Spanish wines with some confidence.


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