Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Washington

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

Sydney is a urban sprawl. Streets are at odd angles and arterial roads twist through suburbs. North, south, east and west, to drive from the geographical centre of the city to its boundaries would take at least an hour.

Seattle is more compact. Neighbourhoods cluster around the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, it is a short distance from houses and malls to fields and forests. The abrupt transition is bewildering and we ponder the scenery as we navigated to Carnation for Feast on the Farm.

In contrast to the soggy spring visit to Yarmuth Farm with The Calf & Kid where we cuddled kids and sampled goat cheese, we were at Full Circle Farm on a hot summer day.

Full Circle hosted the dinner with Stewardship Partners, Salmon-Safe, and Chef Ethan Stowell and his team cooking a family style meal.

Full Circle delivers ‘farm-fresh, locally-sourced organic and sustainably-grown’ produce to consumers. The mission of Stewardship Partners is to ‘restore and preserve the natural landscapes of Washington State’. Salmon-Safe certification ‘requires management practices that protect water quality and restore habitat’.

Groups sheltered under the umbrella and marquee for reprieve from the blazing sun. Hats, sunglasses and sturdy shoes were requisite attire.

We stepped and stumbled on a milk crate to board the tractor tour. We perched on hay bales covered by a blanket as we gently looped the acres.

Andrew Stout, founder of Full Circle, was our guide. The engine chugged along the dusty path as Andrew spoke about the growth of Full Circle and how the land is being rehabilitated.

Our shadows!

Lettuce and kale were neatly planted in rows.

A serene vista.

The many hues of clouds, mountains, trees and farm buildings.

Symmetrically ploughed fields.

We snacked on smoky discs of Via Tribunali wood fire pizzas.

On the left is David Burger, executive director of Stewardship Partners, and Andrew Stout is on the left. My favourite quote of the event was ‘we’re in the business of killing plants’. The crowd chortled and snorted.

A still reflection on the creek.

Sal, the leggy mascot of Salmon-Safe, greeted us.

A country kitchen.

Currant bushes marked the field where perpendicular tables were set.

Our view of the second table.

Mason jars decorated the length of the table, posies interspersed with leafy produce.

From one end to the other.

Effervescent and mild, Dry Soda quenched my thirst.

First was Salumi charcuterie. We nibbled politely on thin slices of cured meats and Castelvetrano olives as introductions were made. I had sprayed my limbs with insect repellent and apologised to our dining companions for reeking of citronella. We were seated with an interesting group of people, there was much laughter and engaging conversations on culture, food and literature.

A mound of shredded Tuscan kale was garnished with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzled with anchovy dressing. This was one of three healthful salads served.

Chunks of roasted beets were topped with a dollop of house made ricotta. Pistachio kernels dotted the tender beets, it was an earthy combination of flavours.

Plump grains of farro were tossed with carrot and English peas. I had several spoonfuls of this toothsome salad.

Mediterranean mussels were roasted with guanciale, lemon and olive oil. The bivalves were aromatic and succulent.

In sunglasses, an apron and boat shoes, Chef Ethan Stowell generously donated two private dinners in Staple & Fancy‘s cellar room for auction to benefit Stewardship Partners.

Fennel and carrots were grilled, the former seasoned with bottarga and the latter with mint and orange.

This platter was double in size. The roasted king salmon were caught by Geoff Lebon of Halmia Fish. Portions of Salmon-Safe Draper Valley chicken were grilled with rosemary and garlic.

Dessert was a creamy panna cotta with mixed berries, slivered almonds and aged balsamic vinegar.

There was spirited bidding on auction items, and Mike McCready (guitar), Kim Virant (vocal) and Gary Westlake (bass) entertained us.

Each attendee was gifted a box of Full Circle produce which we happily carried home.

Carefully packed, the top layer was fennel, kale and lettuce.

On the bottom were apricots, cabbage, carrots, cherries, cucumber, onions and rockmelon.

Sincere thanks to Shirley and Full Circle for the opportunity to experience Feast on the Farm!

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Face masks and hair nets are synonymous with Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) in Sydney. Cooks are in silent huddles in the open kitchen, kneading dough and pleating dumplings (餃子). The public display of food safety is commendable but I feel awkward staring at the staff.

The signature spectacle is also at Din Tai Fung in Bellevue. Patrons can watch each step of the dumpling making process as each dumpling is rotated through several pairs of hands. Sans face masks and hair nets, brows are knitted in concentration and nimble fingers pinched and pressed.

Located in Lincoln Square, Din Tai Fung has a modern and spacious dining room. You may have to queue for a table during peak times but the maître d’ is excellent at estimating the wait and you can while away the minutes learning the art of dumplings!

Our group of four were seated in a comfortable booth. Each table has a condiments tray with bottles of soy sauce and vinegar, and a jar of chilli sauce.

The laminated menu has photos for reference and you can tick the items on the order sheet. Sweet and sour spareribs (排骨) whetted our appetite. More sweet than sour, these unctuous morsels were coated in a sticky marinade.

Famous for their soup dumplings (小籠包), ten xiao long bao were steamed in a bamboo basket. Dipped in vinegar to balance their richness, the delicate dumplings were savoured for their liquid centres.

Beneath the cloudy broth were prawn and pork wontons (雲吞). A popular meal with noodles in Cantonese cafés (茶餐廳), the silky wrapper encased a meaty filling. It was simple comfort food.

My favourite dish at Din Tai Fung is the spicy prawn and pork dumplings. Boiled wontons were tossed in a luscious sauce, each mouthful pungent and fiery.

Slippery strands of egg noodles were stir-fried with Napa cabbage (黃芽白), spinach and prawns for a toothsome plate of carbs.

Garlicky batons of green beans were bright and crunchy.

Dessert was a mango smoothie with tapioca pearls. An icy, fruity blend, it was a refreshing beverage.

And they have dessert dumplings too!

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!

Mark Bitterman is championing the salt renaissance. The owner of The Meadow and author of Salted hosted a dinner class at Lisa Dupar Catering a couple of weeks ago. At home we have small containers of Australian and English finishing salts and a large jar of French salt for brining, pasta water and roasting. I’m a cautious salter but I have learnt to embrace how sodium chloride is transformative in cooking.

Adjacent to Pomegranate Bistro, the catering kitchen is a labyrinth of stainless steel, storage and commercial sized accoutrement.

Catering staff has a view of the restaurant through square panes and vice versa.

A seven course tasting menu paired by Mark Bitterman and Lisa Dupar.

Rimmed with carbonated black takesumi bamboo salt, a spicy Bloody Mary apéritif greeted us.

Rows of tables were orientated to the preparation area where chefs plated our food.

Mark was as charming and engaging as I remembered. He spoke with passion and humour about the history of salt, and the composition and flavour profiles of our samples.

Coral coloured and glistening, the salmon was cured by being pressed between two Himalayan pink salt blocks. The gravlax had a firm texture and was absent of the sliminess that sometimes afflict cured fish.

Soft slices of house made bread were smeared with butter and sprinkled with fleur de sel. The sweetness of the butter accentuated the moist crystals and delicate crunch.

A trio of flake salts, clockwise from top right: Black Diamond from Cyprus, Murray River from Australia and Halen Môn Gold from Wales.

The pretty flake salts were savoured on rice cake with carrot, avocado and black sesame salad. A flat disc with a crispy edge, the plain rice cake was perfect for comparing the salts. I love the elegance of Murray River flake salt, a parochial favourite. The charcoal pyramids of the Black Diamond was bold and earthy. From Anglesey, the current home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the oak smoked salt had an intense aroma.

The highlight of the evening was Juan’s chilli relleno with Molokai red salt. A popular family meal at Pomegranate Bistro and Lisa Dupar Catering, a whole poblano pepper was roasted, stuffed, battered and deep-fried. Garnished with guacamole and tomato sauce, the cheesy filling laced with the heat of the pepper was rustic comfort food. From the volcanic clays of Hawaii, the mineral elements of the Molokai red salt brightened the chilli relleno.

Blushed strips of Painted Hills beef were on a bed of mashed celeriac and topped with threads of sweet potato. The luscious sel gris complimented the meatiness.

A bowl of Kauai guava smoked salt.

Dessert was burnt caramel cheesecake with salted pecan crust adorned with fresh blueberries and a white chocolate curl. Unfortunately this was too salty for me.

Mark recommended flake salt, fleur de sel and sel gris as the foundation set for the pantry. Which salt to use? Consider if the intent is chemical, seasoning or visual. The final advice was ‘don’t grind salt’!

There is a popular Malaysian eatery in Sydney with queues on the footpath day and night. We time our meals at Mamak to avoid the crowd by dining early or late. Mamak is famous for their roti. The street frontage has a wide window with a view into the kitchen where chefs efficiently stretch and twirl the pale unleavened dough. It is oiled and seasoned, cooked on the searing griddle where it blisters and colours, and morphs into flaky bread.

We haven’t had Malaysian cuisine since we’ve been in Seattle and I suggested dinner at Malay Satay Hut when we were in Redmond on a weeknight. Located in the Overlake East Shopping Centre, a familiar ‘congee, noodles, rice’ neon sign greeted us.

We walk through a thatched hut entrance into a spacious dining room. A bamboo roof shaded the bar.

A large poster of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur decorated the wall.

A whiteboard listed many specials. The gung pao frog legs and Milo ice piqued my interest!

Photos of Malaysian ingredients introduced the menu.

Singha, a Thai lager, was a refreshing contrast to the strong flavours of the food.

We ordered several dishes to share family style. Roti telur, slivers of sautéed onions were folded in golden layers of roti and dipped in a bowl of curry.

The restaurant’s namesake and signature appetiser, the satay chicken was a highlight. Slathered in chunky slurry of satay, the skewered chicken was tender and smoky. The cucumber nuggets emptied the satay bowl.

Half a Hainanese chicken was served with chilli and ginger sauces. Poached in stock, the boned poultry was fragrant and succulent.

String beans and shelled prawns were stir-fried in belecan (fermented shrimp paste). A peculiar umami taste, the beans were vibrant and the prawns toothsome.

A mound of coconut fried rice was studded with prawns and onions, and flecked with egg. The generous portion was light and aromatic.

To me Malay fare is synonymous with char kway teow. In a miniature wok was flat rice noodles tossed with bean sprouts, chives and egg. Supple strands intertwined with threads of vegetables.

Salt and pepper squid is an Asian staple. Crusted in a delicate batter, the pieces of molluscs yielded to bite, and was spiked with chilli and green onions.

I’m pleased that the original Malay Satay Hut is in Seattle!

I read the Modernist Cuisine blog post on Mayuri on the morning of the October Seattle Foodies lunch. I mentioned it to my dining companions at Café Juanita and Carol suggested that we drive to Redmond since we were already on the Eastside. I was curious about this Indian grocery store as I haven’t been to an ethnic supermarket in Seattle except for Uwajimaya.

In a neighbourhood shopping mall, Mayuri has a distinctive red and blue sign. A family business, Mayuri means peacock in Hindi and they also own restaurants of the same name in Bellevue and Bothell.

The inviting aromas of the Subcontinent greeted us. The compact store had aisles of dried herbs, spices, pulses, grains, flour, condiments, snacks, frozen goods, fresh produce, kitchen merchandise and pantry items.

Packets of dal, split lentils, peas and beans, were on sale.

Red baskets contained dried herbs and blended spices such as fenugreek, cumin and garam masala.

Jars and tins of ghee, clarified butter, were stocked in a variety of brands and sizes.

Shelves were laden with tapioca chips and other fried snacks.

Plastic boxes and cylinders dispensed the staples of grains, pulses and flour in bulk.

The fruit and vegetable section had fresh garbanzo beans.

Plentiful of okra and Thai chilli were sold by weight.

Bunches of fresh herbs were at the bargain price of ninety nine cents.

Mayuri is where to shop when cooking Indian cuisine!

My third trip to the Eastside in a week was for a cooking class with Lisa Dupar. In the kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro was held at PCC Redmond and I had the lovely company of Kimberly.

PCC Cooks is to the left of the entrance, a room with a gleaming modern kitchen and several rows of tables and chairs for attendees.

This was my first PCC Cooks class and I had registered on the day the autumn schedule was published a couple of months ago.

A Southern native who has been living in Seattle for three decades, Lisa Dupar is the owner of Lisa Dupar Catering and Pomegranate Bistro. She is an IACP Julia Child First Cookbook Award winner for ‘Fried Chicken & Champagne: A Romp Through the Kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro‘.

We were welcomed with a mug of warm mulled sangría, a spiced alcoholic beverage that evoked Christmas memories.

There were three cameras with three screens above the kitchen to view the demonstration.

Lisa was a delightful and successful woman with catering and restaurant stories to share. As she was making Jerry’s muffaletta mix, she told us about her children finally saying ‘I don’t like hairy fish’ after many pizzas with anchovies. Traditionally layered into a muffaletta with the bread soaking in the juices, Lisa served this with white corn tortilla chips. One of her cooks, Jerry from Louisiana, gave her a jar of the olive salad mix for Christmas one year and this was how she ate it!

On the bottom right of the screen is a simmering pot of aromatic chicken brine with blue agave syrup, bay leaves, garlic cloves, black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, Italian parsley and lime zest.

Radiant in chef’s red, Lisa laughed about being ‘out of kitchen shape’. Her comment reminded me of the episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain returns to Les Halles as a line cook.

As Lisa added salt to the chicken brine, she explained she’s using natural salt. She recently attended a salt class with Mark Bitterman at The Meadow in Portland and was shocked to learn that kosher salt is a desiccant and a manufactured chemical. She has rid her 14,000 square feet commercial kitchen of kosher salt! 

Next on the menu was a Mexican chopped salad with chilli lime vinaigrette. As Lisa was blending the dressing, she explained that a neutral oil will absorb the seasoning. Many of the components in dressings are natural preservatives so can be refrigerated for at least a couple of weeks. She recommended ‘smelling everything you cook with’, especially liquids to avoid rancid oil.

Crunchy with diced apples, cucumber and jicama, and raw corn, the salad was vibrant and appetising. The recipe can be seasonally adjusted. For example, radish and pear would be autumn additions or substitutes.

As Lisa carved the blue agave lime roasted chickens, she reminisced on a staff trip to Quillisaskit Farm. She was candid about her chef’s guilt. She loves to cook but dislikes slaughtering animals. When she expressed her apprehension, the farmer asked her ‘are you the mechanic for your car?’

‘Cooks are like carpenters’, tools are personal and about the ‘hand feel’. Lisa was at an event with The Chef in the Hat, Thierry Rautureau, and he was asked about his favourite knife. His response was ‘a sharp one!’

Brightly coloured bell peppers were roasted and stuffed with black quinoa. As she was splitting the bell peppers and spooning black quinoa, the fennel in the stuffing returned Lisa to her time in Switzerland. She noticed Italian dishwashers munched on fennel for digestion as they worked.

A seasoning salt recipe is included in the booklet and Lisa purchases her spices from MarketSpice. She had inherited her grandmother’s spice rack, an anecdote on how our approach to food has changed since then!

The main course was roast chicken on warm tortilla, bell pepper stuffed with quinoa and Juan’s jasmine rice. The dishes are hearty and rustic, a representation of Southern comfort food.

Dessert was ginger molasses cookies sandwiched with Coconut Bliss. These cookies are so popular that they have been nicknamed ‘crack cookie’ but to her family, they’re ‘typo cookie’. There was a mistake for the flour measurement in the first edition of the cookbook and each copy was patiently corrected by hand with a Sharpie!

Lisa emphasised the importance of resting the dough. Each batch of flour is different and the protein has to be activated. As she scooped the batter and rolled the dough balls in cinnamon sugar, she happily recalled foraging for mushrooms with a friend. Chanterelles and morels haven’t been cultivated. She also mentioned catering for President Obama and the Secret Service chef being in the kitchen!

These cookies were indeed delicious, a lovely balance of spices and sweetness. The ice cream sandwich was pre-made and we sampled cookies out of the oven which were soft and gooey on the inside.

With a hint of Southern lilt, Lisa was charming and gracious. I look forward to a meal at Pomegranate Bistro soon!


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