Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘soup

This is my third post on pizza in three weeks! Ballard Pizza Company is the first of Ethan Stowell‘s Grubb Brothers ‘production’ of casual eateries. After cocktails (a refreshing Inverness mule of Scotch, ginger beer and fresh lime juice) and Mackie’s potato crisps at MacLeod’s Scottish Pub, we joined the Saturday night queue at Ballard Pizza Company. Our group of four gathered at the communal bench and bopped to 80s and 90s hip hop as we ate.

I returned during the week for lunch with Shirley. A gargantuan wheel cutter was a beacon for pizza lovers. Painted pewter, a glass paned garage door rolls up on those beloved Seattle summer days. Play That Funky Music greeted us.

A New York style pizzeria, Ballard Pizza Company sells ‘fat slices’ and ‘whole pies’. Pasta and gnocchi were carb alternatives, and salads and soups were lighter meals. There were eight beers on tap with a flat price for pints and pitchers. Wine on tap was noted as ‘coming soon’.

Staff was rhythmically stretching dough on enormous wooden paddles. A cheese pie is the base and you can add any toppings priced per item.

A daily stromboli special had salami, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

There were six pizzas sold by the slice: cheese, pepperoni, ham and pineapple, tomato and rapini, sausage and mushroom, and broccoli and garlic confit.

We ordered and paid at the counter, and had the pizzeria to ourselves for several minutes. Timber and brick were the requisite rustic material on the walls, roof, chairs and tables.

Each table had three shaker jars of chilli flakes, dried oregano and grated Parmesan.

We shared slices of tomato and rapini, mushroom and sausage, and broccoli and garlic confit. The thin crust was a little firm with an even char. Bitter greens and juicy tomatoes were an appetising combination.

Florets of broccoli were interspersed with cloves of garlic confit. The garlic was sweet and mellow, and I would have been happy with just the caramel coloured morsels and mozzarella. The sausage and mushroom was a highlight. Peppered with Italian sausage and crimini mushrooms, the slice was spicy and meaty.

Ballard Pizza Company will be popular with the late night crowd!

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I celebrated Australia Day (26 January) with a private lunch at Salumi courtesy of Naomi. Founded by Mario Batali‘s father Armandino, Salumi is a family business that produces artisan cured meats with a retail store in historic Pioneer Square.

Resplendent in firecracker red, a tasselled Chinese lantern was sketched on the chalkboard. There was a Chinese New Year sandwich special on the menu for the Year of the Dragon.

A queue crammed in the narrow corridor and I weaved through the crowd to get to the back room. The blushed wall had a slot with a view of the communal table. A mosaic plaque was homage to the swine.

Opposite is a window into the storage facility where sausages dangled on a metal rack.

A pink chequered vinyl tablecloth brightened the room.

Translucent slices of salumi curled together.

Four rosy shades of salumi fanned around a platter.

A bowl of marinated mixed olives whetted our appetite.

We nibbled as introductions were made and wine was poured. The first course was tomato and mozzarella bruschetta, a classic.

Jalapeños were halved and stuffed with cream cheese and flecked with meaty fragments. Laced with heat, these morsels were bites of fun.

I was happy that the next course featured vegetables for a requisite serving of healthiness. Crunchy green beans and plump cherry tomatoes were tossed with slivers of bacon.

A traditional New Year dish, the cotechino and lentils were a taupe grainy mass studded with discs. With the exception of dal, I’m ambivalent to lentils but I liked the chewy texture of the boiled pork rind sausage.

Blistered and golden, next was a crisp edged frittata with cubes of fleshy potatoes.

A shallow bowl of aromatic soup was a welcomed palate cleanser. A deeply savoury broth, it reminded me of Chinese herbal soups that cure all ailments and enriches the soul.

A loyal carb lover, the highlight was the pappardelle with chicken, garlic, leeks and Vermouth. It was a symphony of harmonious flavours.

Just when we thought the meal was at its crescendo, the scent of truffles preceded the tray of polenta. I scooped a tasting portion on my plate and decanted some in a container to take home.

Dessert was wine poached pears cut into the shape of Dr Zoidberg from Futurama.

Shards of crackling concluded three hours of dining and wining, much as we did at Momofuku Seiōbo.

We slowly straightened from our chairs and waddled out for fresh air after indulging in the ‘chef’s whim menu’.

Disclosure: This was a complimentary meal courtesy of JGA PR. This is not a sponsored post.

Weekday lunch can be a functional meal. There were times in Sydney where I gobbled sushi rolls, rice paper rolls and salads at my desk in between meetings. But a benefit of working in the city was being within walking distance to many restaurants. Some with a prix fixe menu, others à la carte, weekday lunch was brisk business. Friends gathered to gossip or colleagues mingled to celebrate a project milestone, a lunch sans office were always welcomed!

I had a late lunch reservation at The Capital Grille on a manic Monday for their ‘plates’ lunch menu.

Located at the corner of 4th Avenue and University Street, The Capital Grille is conveniently located for a weekday lunch.

The stately dining room was decorated with oil paintings on canvas, hunting trophies, plush carpet and leather upholstery.

Generously spaced and kindly lit, the tables and booths seated couples and groups in business discussions and birthday cheers.

For sixteen dollars, you select one dish from each of the three columns of the seasonal ‘plates’ menu.

An enormous shard of water cracker and a warm crusty seeded roll was served with a triangle of salted butter.

In the soup or salad column was clam chowder, field greens and roasted red pepper soup. A deep bowl of soothing liquid, the roasted red pepper soup had a mild sweetness brightened by freshly cracked pepper.

My soup spoon for your sabre!

The sandwich options were two mini tenderloins, lobster roll, and wagyu cheeseburger with fried egg and crisp onions; and sides of fresh green beans, truffle fries or roasted root vegetables. I was tempted by the cheeseburger and fries but after an indulgent festive season, I ordered the lobster roll and roasted root vegetables.

A mound of lobster salad was wedged in a toasted roll. Chunks of lobster and diced celery were lightly coated in a creamy dressing and balanced on lettuce leaves. I wielded the knife and cut the lobster roll into edible portions.

Fragrant with rosemary, the parsnip and butternut squash were yielding, and the heirloom carrots had a pleasant crunch.

I love the pairing of chocolate and hazelnut and The Capital Grille had chocolate hazelnut cake on their dessert menu. A gargantuan slice of cake was presented with a puddle of crème Anglaise, toasted hazelnuts and a wafer. Layers of dense chocolate cake and chocolate mousse were frosted with hazelnut chocolate ganache.

I nibbled the edge of the decadent cake and the remainder was boxed with a tag from Chef Mark.

Service was attentive and efficient, and the ‘plates’ menu is perfect for weekday lunch!

I dislike mornings. With enough sleep, I still wake up in a fog. I perfected a silent routine in Sydney with the singular goal of hugging a cup of coffee at my work desk. I breathed in the caffeine aroma and slowly sipped the warm bittersweet liquid. A skim mocha was prerequisite to my human interactions.

I have weened myself off caffeine since moving to Seattle. My two, three cups a week are less functional and more enjoyment. And I indulged in one nearly every day we were in Whistler. Resting indoors with a hot beverage while snow flurries fluttered by the window were idyllic, a romanticised white Christmas for a Southern Hemisphere native.

The Starbucks near our hotel was crowded one afternoon and we crossed into a laneway to the provocatively named Hot Buns Bakery.

A cosy café with optimistic al fresco tables and chairs under an awning, Hot Buns Bakery is open for breakfast and lunch.

Above the entrance was a risqué surfboard adorned with the eponymous ‘hot buns’.

Vintage skis and boots dangled from the ceiling.

Framed sepia portraits lined the walls and the dining room was marked with a manual parking meter.

Sweet and savoury crêpes, panini, soups and pastries were on the menu.

A frothy cup of Lavazza was welcomed.

We shared a cinnamon bun, a Hot Buns Bakery specialty. A sticky scroll of dense dough swirled with a gritty cinnamon paste and glazed, it was a delightful sweet treat.

I spotted a banana Nutella crêpe at the next table and it was a decadent snack. Conveniently located in Whistler Village, Hot Buns Bakery was a pleasant retreat after several hours on the slopes.

It snowed in Whistler on Christmas Day and I loved it. Snowflakes zigzagged gently from the sky and dusted every surface. I was delighted with my first white Christmas. The powdered slopes were serene and the magic carpet was quiet. We skied in the morning and relaxed in the afternoon.

Bearfoot Bistro was recommended by Naomi and was conveniently located across from our hotel.

Survivor like torches guarded the entrance of the restaurant.

A cascade of glass globes were strung together as a sparkling chandelier.

The interior was warm and welcoming. On the far left was a champagne bar and Belvedere Ice Room. The main dining room was buzzing with families and friends celebrating Christmas. We were seated at a table with a view of the busy kitchen. Service was traditional fine dining style with a cocktail cart, sommelier and a plethora of staff.

Enticed by the cocktail cart, we ordered apéritifs as we composed our three courses. The bartender was a little absent minded. Ms S asked for recommendations for a refreshing cocktail and he referred her to the menu. Intrigued by dehydrated beer as an ingredient, Mr L ordered a Caesar. Unbeknown to our group of Australians, Caesar is a Canadian cocktail with Clamato juice which was not listed. We had the same expression after one sip each and it was abandoned.

An amuse bouche of salmon tartare whetted our appetite.

My first course was arctic char. From left to right: gravlax and celeriac, tartare and blini, and smoked and sorrel. Similar texture and milder flavour to salmon and trout, the morsels were perfectly paired.

Photographing was a challenge in the dim lighting! Ms S selected the Pemberton beets and carrots with shaved ricotta salata, spicy greens and white balsamic. It was artistically presented and I sampled a lump of white beet which was sugary.

The gentlemen had the wild mushroom soup with truffles. Poured at the table, the soup was a thick liquid with an earthy aroma.

A tangy citrus granita was the palate cleanser between courses.

The sommelier recommended a local wine, Foxtrot 2008 Pinot Noir. It was a classic match for our game main courses.

Three rare slices of Yarrow Meadows duck breast rested on a plump duck confit ravioli, squash purée, cauliflower florets, beets and pumpkin seeds. The dish was well seasoned and the meat tender, and the components were a delectable combination.

Mr S chose the wild game tasting plate of wild boar wrapped in venison and braised bison short rib with wild mushroom and heirloom bean ragoût. The other couple picked the chef’s Christmas special of goose.

We spotted a cheese cart and the fromage expert was friendly and helpful. We shared a bleu, a local cheddar and a semi soft, with raisins, candied walnuts, fig jam and crisp fruit bread.

I was determined to photograph dessert and I persisted with the single flickering candle as my light source. Served on a slate plate, the geometrical coconut and pineapple had frozen coconut mousse, Meyer lemon and kafir lime sorbet, pineapple and espelette jelly, rum caramel macadamia and cilantro. It tasted like a sophisticated piña colada!

A deconstructed St Honoré was a log of vanilla crème chiboust, coffee Chantilly, crispy malt Irish cream and brown butter milk jam.

On a rectangle of bourbon cake, the apple and caramel had a wheel of salted caramel maple parfait, apple pavé sour cream ice cream and crumbled bacon.

Petit fours concluded our Christmas dinner. From left to right: nougat, peppermint bark, ginger snap and hazelnut ganache.

It was a fun festive season in Whistler!

This is our first full winter in Seattle and I’m learning the art of layering, and loving the essential quartet of coat, scarf, gloves and boots. I’m searching for a hat and considering ear muffs! There is only one walking pace on a frigid day and that is brisk. My glasses fogged up when I entered King Noodle for lunch with Naomi.

A banner tacked to the window announced the opening of the restaurant. A small room with about half a dozen tables, the décor is simple and homely. A blue bird and cherry blossom decal is featured on a cream wall.

The compact menu is printed with checkboxes for self ordering. Customised noodle soup is the specialty and other dishes include congee and clay pots. There is a selection of soup bases, noodles, vegetables, proteins and other ingredients.

I ordered a red bean and sago coconut milk as it reminded me of my childhood. Served in a bubble tea cup, it’s always fun to pierce the sealed lid with the thick straw. The beverage was an icy blend of red bean paste, starchy sago pearls and sweetened coconut milk.

We pondered the noodle soup combinations and submitted our pieces of paper. We spotted a condiments bar which had a variety of chilli oils, soy sauces and fermented bean pastes.

An enormous steaming bowl of flat rice noodles, sliced mushrooms, chives (mistakenly listed as leeks on the menu), wontons and barbecued duck swirled in chicken broth. It was soothing to slurp the slippery noodles and the wontons were a flavour delight.

Naomi had a medley of QQ noodles (Taiwanese), tofu skins (bean curd sheets), sliced mushrooms and chives in spicy Szechuan soup.

I shall return for congee and clay pots!

I attended the annual Tom Douglas Cookbook Social held at the Palace Ballroom yesterday.

Christmas carols were playing and it was a convivial atmosphere. A food lover’s mistletoe, cookbooks tied with ribbon bows dangled from the ceiling.

Authors were dispersed around the room, their stalls laden with cookbooks and samples.

Cute CakeSpy illustrations greeted patrons. Love hearts and unicorns!

Jessie Oleson was as sweet as her treats! Her book is titled CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. On a bejewelled three tiered cake stand were rainbow cookies and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

Whimsically decorated cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

CakeSpy designed greeting cards.

Next was Amy Pennington, ‘go go green gardener’, and author of Apartment Gardening and Urban Pantry.

Kibbeh, a Middle Eastern meatball of bulgur and minced meat, was a nutty appetiser.

Opposite Amy was Tom Douglas, author of Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen, Tom’s Big Dinners and I Love Crab Cakes.

Scallop sized and golden, the Etta’s crab cake was a delectable morsel.

Tom was carving roast chickens rubbed with Chinese 12 Spice Rub.

The pieces of chicken were tender and juicy with a crisp skin.

Further along was Ethan Stowell, author of New Italian Kitchen.

A simmering pot of Mediterranean mussel soup with chickpea, fennel and lemon was spooned into little cups. It was a soothing combination of ingredients, perfect for a cold day.

At the back of Palace Ballroom was Cast Iron Skillet Big Flavours by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne.

Served in cupcake liners, the Dungeness crab and roasted poblano hushpuppies were cooked in an æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) maker.

Adjacent was Dining in Seattle cookbooks. The original volume was first published in 1977 and Past and Present is a compilation of recipes and menus celebrating Seattle restaurants then and now.

On the left of Dining in Seattle was Greg Atkinson, author of At the Kitchen Table.

Greg had trays of Yuletide cookies of faux-reos (fake Oreos), lime and pecan snowballs, turbinado sugar leaves, cocoa nib chocolate truffles and almond macaroons.

I zigzagged to Kurt Timmermeister, author of Growing a Farmer and owner of Kurtwood Farms.

Kurt was cutting wedges of Dinah’s Cheese, a creamy Camembert style cheese with a complex flavour profile.

A tower of glazed, frosted, dusted and sprinkled doughnuts was at the Top Pot table.

Becky Selengut, author of Good Fish, had a creative display with a fishing rod and tinned fish boxes on the hook.

I munched on dad’s sardines, gin drunk currants and caramelised onions on a cracker while calculating my guess for the number of Goldfish Crackers in the jar.

I was curious about the striped and cubed jellies. They were from The Seasonal Cocktail Companion by Maggie Savarino.

The Kit Kat shaped jelly shot was cherry daisy and the cube was Earl Grey infused gin. The wobbly orange square was an intense burst of bergamot.

A stack of books and an ice bucket of sparkling mineral water were manned by Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters.

He brought six home made bottles of bitters for tasting. A splash of sparkling mineral water and a couple of drops of bitters was a refreshing beverage.

And finally, Lisa Dupar had a lovely arrangement for Fried Chicken and Champagne.

The mini sausage corn dogs reminded me of the Easter Show in Sydney. Crumbly and meaty, the corn dog dipped in mustard sauce was scrumptious party food.

I was delighted to spot the ginger molasses sandwich cookies. The spiced sugary discs were the essence of the festive season.

The Palace Ballroom buzzed with energy and we were all there to support our local cookbook authors!


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