Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘seafood

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.

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

I’m a slow grocery shopper. I browse the aisles for discounts, read the nutrition labels, convert measurements to metric, and compare brands. AmazonFresh delivers our non-perishable staples, and we’re lucky to live within walking distance to Melrose Market and Pike Place Market.

Whole Foods Westlake is my local supermarket and we’re there several times a week for vegetables, fruits and incidentals. Whole Foods has a reputation for being expensive (hence the moniker ‘Whole Paycheque’) but it is a greengrocer, butcher, baker, deli and purveyor of specialty goods all in one that is both of quality and convenient.

Located near Alderwood Mall just off I-5 exit 181B, the first Whole Foods in Snohomish County is opening this Thursday 15 March in Lynnwood.

My tour was scheduled on Friday at 9am and it was a surprisingly quick half hour drive to Lynnwood. The 33,000 square feet standalone store clad in Douglas-fir wood was a beacon on a bleak day.

Decorated in pastel colours throughout, the store was brightly lit and bustling with staff training and shelf stocking.

We breakfasted on muesli bars from the bakery.

A tray of berry muffins.

Of the 150 employees, fifty per cent currently work for Whole Foods so it’s a one to one training ratio. Founded in 1980 in Texas, Whole Foods is a natural food store. It stocks many organic products but it’s not certified organic. It has since expanded to Britain and Canada, and they’re considering sites in Alaska, Tacoma and West Seattle.

Denise Breyley is the Local Forager for the Pacific Northwest and I covet her job! She described it as being a ‘matchmaker’, sourcing products from local farmers and producers. There are seven recipients (Firefly Kitchens is one) of the Local Producer Loan Program in the Pacific Northwest. The money is for new equipment purchase, organic certification and other capital investments.

CB’s Nuts used the funds for a peanut butter jarring line which is in Mirracole Morsels‘ peanut butter cookie, and Middle Fork Roasters coffee is in their ‘pick me up’ cookie.

Mt Townsend Creamery is another beneficiary of the Local Producers Loan Program. These wheels of Trufflestack and Cirrus are from the first batch made with loan money.

The produce section is next where we sampled Sumo Citrus. A hybrid of Japanese Satsuma and Californian oranges, the citrus fruit is plump, seedless and bursting with sunshine.

Whole Foods Lynnwood will open with at least thirty items in the produce section, will increase to more than one hundred in the first month of trading and peaks at seventy per cent in summer.

Sold by weight, acrylic containers dispensed bulk cereals, dried fruits, flour, grains, lentils, nuts, rice, seeds and snacks. Buying in bulk is value for money and eliminates waste in packaging.

In the bulk section is the cooking department. The wooden counter will have computers for cooking resources, and the area will feature ingredients and local authors, Amy Pennington will be the first on 16 March.

The cheese department is in the back left corner. Patrons can sample all the cheeses, and they maintain a database of your purchases for your reference. You can buy shredded cheese by weight. There are also thirty varieties of olives for scooping.

Cold shelves were full of local pasta and sauces, Ethan Stowell‘s Lagana Foods, Cucina Fresca and Manini’s.

A lime sign above the seafood department encouraged us to ‘bring some local flavour home for dinner’. Each fish and crustacean is tagged with information and staff can assist with sustainability questions.

Whole Foods own Select Fish, a processing facility, for quality control. They partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium to rate by fishery and Whole Foods does not sell red rated or non-rated seafood. A non-affiliated third party audits farmed aquaculture annually for feed and water quality, and environmental impact. Whole Foods targets three per cent wastage or spoiled seafood which is composted.

A set of clocks indicated what time the beef was minced. The meat department is a full service butchery. Whole Foods applies Global Animal Partnership‘s five-step animal welfare rating system for all meats. A fridge was marked dry aged beef, done in-house for a minimum fourteen days.

The Whole Body department has a swap program where you can bring in two conventional products to exchange for private label equivalents.

Neatly stacked bars of Fran’s and Theo chocolates.

Cans of Zevia soft drink and bags of Kettle potato crisps.

My favourite, ice creams and frozen desserts!

Refrigerators with doors and energy efficient LED lights were installed for milk and juices.

Deli, sandwiches, taqueria, and greens, beans and grains will cater for lunches and dinners. FareStart students supply the packed salads. There is an organic salad bar in the prepared foods department, and rotating themed hot bars (Thai, Mexican, Indian and comfort food). The intention is for it to be a ‘one stop shop’ for meals.

The espresso bar serves Allegro Coffee.

And they have soft serve machines with a toppings selection!

The tour concluded with brownies and cookies from the bakery.

All the staff spoke with genuine passion about what they do. There is much excitement to be ‘part of the Lynnwood community’.

Whole Foods Lynnwood opens this Thursday 15 March with a bread breaking ceremony at 8am.

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.

I consider Seinfeld the seminal sitcom of my generation. I have much affection for the flawed characters and how they navigate the minutiae of life. Jerry Seinfeld has toured Australia a couple of times but I deemed the tickets too expensive. I was very happy when I found out he would be in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre at an affordable price. This was the first show we’ve attended since we moved here and I really miss live comedy and theatre.

Conveniently located near the Paramount Theatre, we had reserved a table at Blueacre Seafood for pre-show dinner. I have tasty memories of the food at the Barton Seaver event several months ago and was looking forward to our meal.

There was an enticing three courses for thirty dollars Harvest Moon special but we resisted the prix fixe and opted for the seasonal à la carte menu.

A curved oyster bar is at the front, the main dining room is elevated by a couple of steps and wooden panels divide the space. Tinted glass panes filter the view into the large kitchen and tinged the booths a royal blue.

I spotted both owners, Chef Kevin Davis was in the kitchen and General Manager Teressa Davis was on the floor.

There are some similarities between Blueacre and its sister restaurant, Steelhead Diner. Complimentary bread is served with triangles of seasoned butter and the crockery is branded with the logo. The butter was dressed with a squeeze of lemon and a dusting of salt, an appetising contrast.

We had fun designing combinations from the extensive menu. Mr S ordered a cup of duck and andouille gumbo for his first course. The small container was full of sliced sausage and duck pieces, the spiciness absorbed by a scattering of rice.

I chose the jumbo lump Dungeness crab cake. A deconstructed crab cake, the tender chunks of meat is pressed into shape with no binding agent. A squiggle of mustard lime sauce and topped with mirliton salad, it was homage to the sweet Dungeness crab.

Mr S selected the Hawaiian tuna for his main course. Thick medallions of peppercorn crusted and seared rare fish was paired with whipped potatoes, frizzled leeks and sauce au poivre. The sharpness of the crushed peppercorns was tempered by the pepper sauce soaked starch.

I had the Totten Inlet mussels in green curry of coconut milk, grilled lime, ginger and chilli. The aromatic broth was soothing and light, and the mussels were fresh and plump.

We shared a side of fried sweet corn. I renewed my love for corn with this dish. The juicy kernels were lightly charred and coated in butter, espelette and sea salt.

We concluded with German chocolate cake with black walnut ice cream and cocoa soil. The layered chocolate cake was glossy and dense, textured with shredded coconut and chopped walnuts.

Jerry Seinfeld was entertaining and it was invigorating to laugh at his vignettes of coffee, marriage and food!

‘Italy is Eataly.’ And Eataly is the size of all five David Jones Foodhalls in one location combined with the absurd Scandinavian navigation of IKEA.

I was exploring the Flatiron District after lunch at Shake Shack and I found myself at the entrance of Eataly. I stood on the sidewalk for several minutes, observing the speed of the foot traffic in and out. I finally walked in, thinking I’ll do a quick lap and exit.

All my senses were on alert. Cutlery clanging on china, diners conversing and shoppers ordering, the decibel of the din would be near noise pollution. The hum of human activity and the kaleidoscope of colours was a sight to behold. The aroma of freshly ground coffee wafted through the air. I breathed in deeply, to ease the anxious feeling of being enveloped in a large crowd, and to absorb caffeine!

I got lost in Eataly. Unlike IKEA, there were no arrows on the floor, no dividers for a path and no map. Directionally challenged, I weaved and wandered until I took a photo of every section and every restaurant.

The Eataly website lists twenty sections in their market and twelve places to eat. Below is a selection of them!

Wood fire ovens and counter seating at La Pizza and La Pasta for Neapolitan pizzas and al dente pasta.

Il Pesce serves fresh seafood including whole fish.

Paninoteca‘s chalkboard menu highlights regional specialties.

A pretty display of single portion cakes and tarts at Dolci.

With such a concentration of eateries, Eataly is ideal for progressive meals. Apéritif at Birreria, appetizer at one restaurant, main course at another, dessert at Dolci or Gelateria, and conclude with an espresso at Caffe Lavazza or Caffe Vergnano.

A stainless steel espresso machine is the centrepiece of Caffe Vergnano, a standing only espresso bar.

Caffe Lavazza is at the Fifth Avenue entrance and you can while away an afternoon people watching.

Cone, cup or to go, the Gelateria has three sizes and many flavours of gelati.

The market is well stocked with dried pasta.

Shelves are laden with sauces.

Marinated, stuffed and in brine, jars of olives aplenty.

Bottles of olive oil and vinegar of varying grades.

A multitude of packaged biscotti.

Preserves and conserves of every fruit.

Chilled local and imported beer.

Sliced and packaged salumi.

Boxes of cheese wedges.

The butcher has some local and organic meats.

The requisite hanging and dangling salumi.

The bakery bakes daily on site.

Bags of flour are stacked high for handmade fresh pasta.

‘The mozzarella you eat at Eataly is never more than two hours old.’

I had a fleeting urge to roll one of these Parmigiano Reggiano wheels around Eataly.

The fishmonger’s seafood is ‘never frozen’.

The fresh produce are piled high in wicker baskets.

The greens and root vegetables are neatly presented.

Beautiful trays of mushrooms.

Some on vine, others wrapped in protective foam, the tomatoes were glossy and vibrant.

A curated bookstore on Italian culinary culture.

Basic dinnerware and glassware.

Melamine glasses and bowls in rainbow hues.

A ten point manifesto and a motto, ‘eat better, cook simpler’.

I left contemplating how local European style delicatessens and providores can compete with a corporate marketplace that is Eataly.

Seattle is vibrant in late summer. The brilliant weather has us all out and about. Keen to be outdoors in the balmy dusk, we strolled through Pike Place Market to Lecosho. The patio emptied of Downtown workers as we perused the drinks menu.

Our table had a direct view into the main dining room. Furnished in muted tones and dark veneers, the lofty space had a long bar and an open kitchen in the corner. Sunlight streamed in through the floor to ceiling windows.

Our table was brightened by a jug of blossoming dahlias.

Lecosho is the Chinook slang for swine and there’s a chubby pig on their logo!

We nibbled Marcona almonds and olives as we pondered dinner choices. A round and stout variety of almonds, the Marcona had a fine texture, and were fried and salted.

Complimentary bread was from Columbia City Bakery. I like the dainty glass butter dish on a distressed wood board.

The gentlemen ordered the Catalan style fish soup. An abundance of prawns, clams, mussels and finfish mingled with a saffron sofrito broth. I had a spoonful and the soup was infused with the briny essence of the fresh seafood.

The ladies opted for the ricotta gnocchi with chanterelle mushrooms, asparagus and Pecorino Romano. Pan fried with a crisp shell, the gnocchi was pillowy soft inside and paired well with the crunchy spears of asparagus.

The gentlemen eschewed dessert for whisky and Scotch digestifs, poured by Jerry who was the sommelier at the Il Corvo Sardinia pasta and wine class.

Ms S picked the bittersweet chocolate torte served with a quenelle of cream about the same size as the torte. Cracked and sunken in appearance, the slice was rich and velvety.

I had the vanilla rice pudding with stewed rhubarb topped with a petite madeleine. Dotted with vanilla bean, the bowl of rice pudding was decadently creamy.

I ate the petite madeleine last as its sweetness would have overwhelmed the delicate vanilla perfume.

We agreed to return to taste the restaurant’s namesake which features on the menu as porchetta, rillettes, sausage and pork chop!

It was night by the time we left, the chill of autumn in the air.


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