Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To Gotham



















A Life of Food will be taking a break over the next few days as we visit New York City. We promise many reports and profiles on the wonderful food offerings of New York, including a visit to Industria Argentina, Tribeca's hipster hang where everything -- food, wine, furniture, art and staff -- is made in Argentina!

Be well and enjoy your own life of food during our brief absence.

Turning Japanese



















Last night was my friend Tova's birthday and she wanted to have her party in a tatami room at Fuji Sushi, in Seattle's International District. I never go down to the ID -- partly because I think it's filthy and smells of centuries of old fish and other vices, and partly because my spirit is not, shall we say, moved by typical Asian food.

That's why I jumped at the chance to try this more traditional and, I assured delicious, approach to Japanese cuisine.

Our room, pictured above, was a plain wood floor (what about the tatami mats?) and there was a pit in the floor under the table into which one's feet dangled -- this made it much more comfortable than trying to fold your legs up under the table. I purposefully did not wear my tight hipster jeans because I thought I would die of a leg-folding embolism; next time I come I will know to wear them!
















Before our food came we all made origami chopstick rests. Mine was a tour de force, as you can see.

This tomfoolery was quickly brought to an end by a steady parade of food. Sashimi (including a delectable mirugai and fresh hirame), sushi (unagi! toro!) and various rolls, broths and salads. All of this was washed down with jug after jug of crisp, cold sushi.















The grande finalé, as advised by our charming and vastly efficient waitress, was a fresh Spanish mackerel sashimi. It arrived, as shown above, with a breathtaking presentation -- the iridescence of the flesh was like beaten silver leaf. After we ate the meat, the waitress had the bones deep fried and brought them back to us: a crispy, lightly fishy treat.

All in all, I can't say I was converted to becoming an Asian food maniac over this one meal, but I can say that I was reminded how delicious Asian food -- in this case, Japanese cuisine -- can be and I certainly now have a destination next time I am feeling the sashimi urge.

Fuji Sushi is located at 520 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98104-2753 (206) 624-1201. You must reserve tatami rooms in advance.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Manna 'Bout Town















When confronting the task of baking the most elemental prepared foodstuff on the planet -- bread -- I must admit that a simple loaf of white or whole wheat held little appeal. I wanted to go after something more challenging. But what?

Memories of a European breakfast breads came to mind, and these memories quickly converged on the vaunted English bacon "bap," a crusty roll with rashers of bacon and HP Sauce. Hmmm...how about a loaf of bread that is a bacon bap, all in one? Finding nothing on splendidtable.org, I next turned to epicurious.com and found not bacon bread, but, alluringly, salami and rosemary bread.

Good enough!

After a quick trip to Salumi for the meat and my garden for the rosemary, I prepared the bread by closely following the recipe, however, I reduced the amount of flour by one cup as it seemed to be a dry enough dough after 5 cups. How could I, a virgin breadbaker, tell what made a good dough? I have no idea -- I'm just arrogant, I guess!

After two risings, the dough appeared as in the photo above. The loaf had spread out more than I thought it would, so I reduced the cooking time from 15 minutes at 450 and then 30 minutes at 350 down to 10 minutes at 450 and 20 minutes at 350. That turned out to be perfect.
















The loaf emerged from the oven brown and beautiful. The density was perfect -- proving bread flour really is worth using over all-purpose flour in baking bread.

My satisfaction of having made this fundamental baked good was palpable as I smelled the wheat, spiced meat and rosemary, felt the warmth in my hand and, after cutting off a still warm slice and watching the butter melt into the pitted texture, tasted delicious. Success!















The bread's world premiere was aside a smoked salmon salad made of mixed greens and friseé, pumpkin seeds, roasted red pepper, roasted red pepper aioli and a dressing of lime juice, cherry juice, walnut oil, and a drop of white truffle oil.

I'm ready to try new breads now -- what do you think would be a fun challenge for me to tackle next? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ay, dios mio!















Tonight I am making carnitas tacos for some friends. I have never tried this before, but the slow cooking pork butt is filling the house with amazing smells! The 5lb butt has been slow braising in 5 cups of water, 2 cups of fresh-squeezed orange juice and some salt. That's all it got and that's all it's going to get...nothing need hide this amazing meat's goodness. Right now, it's just basically meat and bubbling rendered fat (good god, forgive me!), well on its way to an eventual lightly carmelized crispness.

I plan to serve the carnitas with chopped onion, cilantro, cotijo and manchego cheeses on organic corn tamales that smell incredibly fresh (duh, cuz they are!). Topping the tacos with an avocado-tomatillo guacamole will hopefully seal the deal.

If this works well I am going to make it again and again, if only for the aroma my house is filled with right now!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blogophilia















This blog is what I want to be when I grow up.

Indispensables



















It seems inconceivable that -- long ago in the swirling mists of time -- people had to suffer through lumpy gravies, make pesto by hand, and pound almonds to smithereens for tart crusts.

The Cuisinart, by virtue of the fact that it has delivered us from these and so many other culinary sins and trials, has achieved generic, mono-named status, like Xerox. That said, I'd never buy anything but the real, original-brand deal. It's sturdy and strong, the blades are quality steel and it assembles and breaks down for washing with ease.

I highly recommend buying the largest capacity Cuisinart you can afford. Mine is 14 cups...I wouldn't go smaller than that unless it's simply an issue of affordability.

Functional, beautifully designed, durable...and indispensable. My Cuisinart!

How has your Cuisinart food processor changed your cooking life for the better? Let me know in Comments.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Consider the Brussels Sprout















A formal assessment would result as such: The Brussels (or brussels) sprout (Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group) of the Brassicaceae family, is a cultivar group of wild cabbage cultivated for its small (typically 2.5–4 cm or 1–1.5 in diameter) leafy green buds, which resemble miniature cabbages.

All well and good. But what does the Brussels sprout truly entail? I posit that it is the Berlin Wall of food: you are either on one side or the other, and people have died trying to cross from one to the other. One loves it or one hates it. It is welcome or reviled. It is the ne plus ulta or c'est dommage.

For a lowly, round green ball, this is a heavy mantel. The emotion around these green orbs is resolutely outsized as compared to its mass.

So far as I am concerned, the Brussels sprout is a wonderful, magical foodstuff, capable of holding its most common complimentary flavors of butter, duck fat, bacon, balsamic reduction...it's a heavy lifter. A crane against the skyline. People who despise this vegetable are merely jealous.

Serve 'em up. Brussels sprouts are a welcome entity.

Another Lazy Blog Post













Shame on me! Here I go again, mining someone else's content instead of creating my own.

Yet, so great is my talent that even when I go a-poaching, my brand promise to you, dear readers, is that the purloined goods will be, at the very least, utilitarian. By way of proof, let me ask you: Have you ever wondered what the 100 top chefs, food writers and otherwise swell-type folks thought were the easiest, fastest recipes?

I knew you did. I can read you like a book. Or a food blog.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On My Wavelength














Today, the local NPR station KUOW had an interview with three local food bloggers. The interview covered some very interesting aspects of the food blog experience, most compelling of which was "Why do you do it?"

Listen to it here.

My Namesake















When deciding what name to go by on this blog -- I have no desire to use my own true name in this age of internet identity theft, stalkers, and other unsavory shenanigans -- I chose La Tagliata.

This is because, in all my dining experience, the Montepertuso, Italy, restaurant by that name captures the perfect blend of anticipation, rarity, exceptional food, beautiful surroundings and, of course, convivial service. And it doesn't hurt that they have lots of soccer photos on the wall -- the restaurant has sponsored the local team for many years.

One approaches La Tagliata via a vertiginous mountain road -- in a minibus supplied by the restaurant that serves the hotels in Positano, down the mountain. The restaurateurs are smart enough to know that, faced with the task of driving up that impossible road, most tourists would never reach their tables. Once collected at your hotel, you go up...up...up...through switchbacks and tiny villages, even a soccer pitch in Nocelle. And then you arrive at La Tagliata.















A farmhouse style dining room -- simple wood tables and chairs, tablecloths of varying patterns, majolica dishware, fieldstone walls and floors -- has as its focal point a large open grill, on which the restaurant's specialty meats are cooked. You are greeted warmly, and then, if you are lucky, led to a table that is literally perched at the lip of a cliff that drops thousands of feet to the Mediterranean below. Not that the other tables are bad, it's just that the window tables take your breath away.


















The best approach is to just sit back and let the restaurant feed you their choice of courses. You'll walk out stuffed and happy. Meals typically begin with an antipasto, followed by a Caprese salad of the freshest mozzarella -- likely made down the road, and so fresh that when you stick it with a fork the milk runs out -- several different pasti in rich red sauce and then, the best part of the whole meal, a plate of grilled meats. I can safely say that the lamb at La Tagliata is the finest I have ever enjoyed, no doubt assisted by the surroundings, but incredible on its own. There is no special sauce, no special herb, per se...it's just fresh and beautifully cooked.
















And a word about that grill master! He is on the far right in the photo above, and he's a genius. My waiter three summers in a row was the fellow on the left. The restaurant is run by family: uncles, sons, cousins, a mishmash of interrelated locals who have made La Tagliata the family business. They have done a magnificent job of it.

Your final course, if you can squeeze it in, is a dolce -- will sir have the tiramisu? Yes, sir will.

Then, after hearty farewells and promises to return the following summer, you board your bus and slowly, meanderingly, descend from the Olympus of food to your waiting bed below, there to dream about how wonderful a life of food can be when there are places like La Tagliata to enjoy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Birthday to Todd!



















My friend Todd recently celebrated his 30th (ahem) birthday, and so, to celebrate, über chefs Nory (R) and Zephyr (L) put together a gorgeous, sky-high chocolate cake -- covered with nuts and topped with spikes of brown spun sugar -- and served it last night to a very appreciative group of friends.

As you can see in the picture above, Nory is a singularly focused cook, and Zephyr is a helpful teammate as they make chocolate history together.















The final wedge stood valiantly, but I suspect did not last 24 hours...nor should it have. Great cakes are made to be eaten! Thanks for this delicious treat, Nory and Zephyr!

A Remembrance of Things (Ante)Past















Last night's crab dip had the privilege of being part of Peter & Marty's spectacular hors d'oeuvre tray, which was hand assembled by Peter out of lumber, and then painted creamy white. Marty had the inspired idea to place the crackers and bread slices between the various dishes, ensuring that the world's largest appetizer tray was exciting to the eye (and the stomach) across every inch.














Some of the delicious features were a ratatouille, hummus, eggplant caviar, a creamy onion dip, crudités...and even some pitas baked by Marie's mom.

Magnificent!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Care for a Dip?















Tonight I'm attending a farewell party to be given for my good friend Todd -- he's moving to Washington, DC. Last night, I had dinner with the hosts and they told me they had settled on heavy hors d'oeuvre, arranged on a large table, in lieu of a formal dinner. This made a lot of sense because of the number of people attending. In short order, I was assigned a comestible and immediately volunteered to make a crab dip.

This is not because I am particularly good at making crab dip, but the thought appealed to me as I remembered my mother's crab dips from long ago bridge parties and other social events she and my father hosted at our home.

To find a good recipe, I first consulted www.splendidtable.org, but finding none there, I next visited www.epicurious.com, where I found this wonderful recipe for a crab-brie-artichoke dip with fresh garlic, tarragon, dill and parsley.

The only changes I made were to use celery salt instead of sea salt, Italian parsley instead of common parsley and I added some smoked paprika. I also used substantially more herbs and a 1/4 cup more cream, because it seemed wasteful to keep the small remainder of the heavy cream in the fridge for who knows what -- I simply do not use heavy cream often at all.

I'm looking forward to the party tonight, and hope that my dip is a hit with the Essential Bakery baguette slices that will accompany it!

What's your favorite dip for parties? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sherman, Set the WABAC Machine To...















...June 2, 1953.

The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the other Commonwealth realms were that day celebrating the coronation of their new Queen: Elizabeth II. Around the world, subjects rich and poor gathered around tables grand and simple to celebrate the crowning of their new Queen Regnant.

But what, you may wonder, did Her Majesty and family have for dinner that historic evening? As it turns out, something rather simple, which, given the excruciatingly choreographed ceremonies of the day, was likely a welcome respite. That evening, the table at Buckingham Palace was set with:

Consommé Royale
Fillet de Boeuf Mascotte
Salade
Glace a la Mangue

In the Queen's English, that translates as:

Chicken Consommé with cubes of egg custard
Fillet of beef with quartered artichoke bottoms, tossed in butter with cocotte potatoes and truffle slices
Salad
Mango ice cream

I know you're dying to be a queen yourself and enjoy this dinner, so, without any further adieu, I give you the key recipes:

Consommé A La Royale (from Classic Culinary Arts)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Beat eggs with a spoon, and add milk and salt
  • Turn into a buttered cup, and place in a pan of warm water
  • Cook in a slow oven until firm in the centre
  • Set away to cool
  • Cut into small and prettily-shaped pieces
  • Put the pieces into a tureen, and pour one quart of boiling consommé or clear stock on it
Cocotte Potatoes -- I'm assuming you can figure out the beef and artichoke quarters! (from Tallyrand's Culinary Fare)
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 cup beef fat
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Peel and turn the potatoes into barrel shapes, approximately 2 inches long and 1 inch thick at the midpoint; you can also do 2 inch balls
  • Place in water and bring to the boil
  • Drain immediately and shake in hot beef fat on the stove until completely sealed.
  • Place on baking sheet in oven to cook
  • When cooked (approx. 40 - 50 mins) remove and drain well
  • Serve brushed with melted butter for an added glaze
Salad -- do your own thing

Mango Ice Cream (from About.Com)
  • 1/2 plus 1/4 cup caster's sugar
  • 2 cups fresh mango (about 3 mangoes)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 to 3 handfuls of toasted coconut, as garnish
  • 1 handful of mint leaves, as garnish
  • Cut and score the mango fruit into bite-sized pieces. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar with the mango pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Puree the mango and the sugar syrup. Add the lime juice and puree again. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and puree one more time.
  • Whisk together the egg with remaining 1/4 cup sugar.
  • Warm the milk and cream over low heat. Add 1/2 cup into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking. Continue adding cream, 1/2 and then 1/4 cup at a time, whisking all the while.
  • Add the egg and cream back into the warming milk/cream mixture. Turn up the heat as needed and whisk for about 8 - 10 minutes, until just beginning to thicken and the cream lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Strain into a bowl. Cool. (Place the bowl in another bowl of cold water to cool quickly).
  • Stir in the pureed mango. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. Garnish with the toasted coconut and mint sprigs if desired.
Thanks to The Old Foodie, a blog about food history, for inspiring this post. Enjoy your royal feast!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book 'Em



















I'm so ambivalent about cookbooks. Most of the ones I love, I love because they make fascinating reading: revealing unknown flavor/texture combinations; linking known techniques to unknown utilizations and vice versa; or, most pruriently, flashing lots of pretty pictures of food. I don't really ever hover over a recipe and copy it item for item, quantity for quantity...I'm much more interested in Cookbook As Guide versus Cookbook as Gospel.

Except for one: Jamie's Dinners, by Jamie Oliver. Oh sure, it's beautifully photographed and easy to follow, but it's glory is in the fact you don't want to change a thing with the recipes! And many of them are basic fundamentals of cooking -- Oliver opens the book with "The Top Ten," a magnificent procession of culinary delight: sausage and mash with onion gravy; burger and chips (fries...remember, this is a British book!); lasagne; baked potato with a half dozen stuffing options; salmon; apple pie...oh Jamie, you had me at sausage!

Further chapters are divided into intuitive and helpful chapters: sarnies (sandwiches); salads; soups; meat; fish; and, desserts, for example. Two particularly helpful chapters are Five Minute Wonders -- surprisingly creative meals one can prepare in 1/12th of an hour, such as Parmesan fish fillets with avocado and cress salad or beef with pak choi, mushrooms and noodles -- and The Family Tree, wherein Oliver builds extensive menus from the basic platforms of pesto, simple tomato sauce, slow-cooked lamb, stewed fruit and puff pastry...dozens of menu items grow from this "family tree" of basics, leading to a dizzying number of potential combinations.

Oliver wraps up his book with a brief chapter addressing the basics of kitchen utensils, cookware, appliances and cooking tips.

Throughout Jamie's Dinners, a casual tone drives the written and photographic content...smeared clothes and faces (gotta love kids and spaghetti!), people in comfortable clothes, chopping block tables set with paper napkins and carry-out packages -- this is no Gordon Ramsay. And therein lies its charm, its capacity to win one over and lead a cook to follow its recipes more closely because a) it seems possible to do so and b) the food looks so darn good you want to make it look exactly like that on your own table.

That said, many of the items on display here in their working class guise look just as beautiful on a fine dining table. Only a few of the items -- burger and chips, fish and chips, and the cheat's dessert come to mind -- are simply too inelegant to serve to His and Her Grace from the castle down the street.

Thanks to my friend Stu, who gave me this book for Christmas in 2004, I've enjoyed learning some basic cooking techniques and combinations. The cover and pages are stained with the memories of many happy meals and good times with friends. If the best books open doorways to new ideas and experiences, this Jamie Oliver cookbook may very well be on the next Booker Prize shortlist.

What's your favorite cookbook? Why do you like it? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let's Go To the Hop















The infallible Smith chef Eliot Guthrie last night joined with the formidable brewers from Schooner Exact to unveil a new exclusive-to-Smith beer; and, at the same time, feed about 20 brewing aficionados course after course of delicious food.

We lucky diners sat at the beautifully set communal table in the middle of the house, jealously observed by the "regulars" in booths and tables arrayed around us. Preston and I were lucky enough to be sat directly next to the Schooner Exact team: Heather McClung (The Boss); Matt McClung (Alchemist); and, Marcus Connery (Minister of Propaganda). They explained to me how the company began by brewing one batch at a time, testing different ingredients, until they settled on their current offerings (an IPA, a Pale Ale, a Hefeweizen and a seasonal Winter Ale) and began to market their wares. In addition to Smith, Schooner Exact products are poured at dozens of regional pubs. As an IPA lover, I heartily recommend their version; it's hoppy and bold as it should be, but doesn't blister the inside of your mouth with obscene hoppiness as some other local IPAs do.

Back to the food...

The first course, served with the IPA, was paper cones of french fries and assorted marinated olives.

Next came a beautiful orange and white pumpkin soup, so rich and flavorful that it seemed like Autumn in a bowl (did I taste roasted parsnips in there, too?). Following that was a salad of frisée, chilled steamed green beans and cauliflower on a paste of Kombucha squash. These were served with Schooner's Pale Ale.















Then Eliot fired the big guns: house-ground lamb-pork sausage the size of zeppelins and just-pink in the middle, on a bed of slow-cooked haricot beans and sauerkraut -- pretty much a cassoulet without the bread crumbs -- and a glorious ratatouille. The sausages were so mild they allowed the earthy beans and sweet tang of sauerkraut to assert themselves, and the perfectly cooked ratatouille showcased the consistent freshness of Smith's vegetables. Speaking of which, the very fun Gloria Wu, of Frank's Quality Produce, was seated to my left and we had a lot of fun discussing produce sales, romanesco, torn up napkins and other topics.

Quite rightly, this course featured the new Smith beer, of which I am pleased to provide a world premier review: from an ESB-style base, the brewers added special malts, rye, wheat and the crucial and inspired sweet orange peel to produce the perfect compliment to Smith's meat-forward menu. Abundant spice with just the right amount of citric sweetness and a pleasant balance in its effervescence...wow! I can't wait for the beer to make it to Smith full-time. Watch this space!















The final course, accompanied by a sweet Belgian Trappist Ale, was a frozen yoghurt huckleberry sorbetto. And if there had been one "wafer thin mint" offered in addition, I would have exploded.

Schooner Exact impressed me, not only with their beers but with the passion and commitment that the owners so clearly feel for their business. I wish them every success. And, once again, Eliot Guthrie made it all happen. Is there a better young chef in Seattle? You're really going to have to convince me otherwise. We're living in a special time in local culinary history...get to Smith and take a bite of it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Snack Hall of Fame



















Pret A Manger is my favorite fast food business on the planet. Fresh, organic, delicious, efficient...I can hardly think of enough positive adjectives to list when speaking about them.

In London, I eat one of their egg-and-cress sandwiches daily. They opened a branch in New York City a block away from my office and my preferred hotel (on Bryant Park, FYI).

But above every offering they provide, their pickled onion crisps are supreme. Slightly thicker than Walker's crisps, they deliver a double-whammy punch of pungent onion and tart, lip pursing vinegar. With a beer, or when craving salty goodness, there's nothing better on this good green earth.

Just Desserts












About seven years ago, something amazing happened in the little high street area of North 56th Street in Seattle's quaint Tangletown neighborhood (so named because its streets were purposefully laid out in anything but straight lines when it was developed decades ago): Hiroki Inoue opened his small storefront (with tables and chairs in back for in-house dining) and began to provide the world (or at least, Seattle) with dessert excellence, baked on the premises.

Since that time, Hiroki has gone from strength to strength. Today, he prepares desserts for several restaurants around town (including Victrola coffee shops), has been featured in the "Best of Seattle" list of Seattle Magazine, and on the KCTS "Chefs" program. Not exactly an unknown quantity, then, but still a generally exclusive treat, known to neighborhood locals and many of the more discerning sweet-teeth around the city.

While the offerings in the two glass-faced dessert cases rotate, there are several stand-bys that one can generally count on finding every time they visit, including...










...the gorgeous scarlet of the cassis mousse torte, and...










...the candy-hued lilikoi haupia (Hawaiian passion fruit-coconut cake).

Hiroki also features seasonal surprises, such as these pumpkin-cream stuffed puff pastries:










On a quiet Saturday early evening, I sat down with Hiroki amidst the orchids and local art that grace his dining area to talk to him about food, faith, the "second smile" and cakes shaped like sports cars.

INTERVIEW WITH HIROKI – OCTOBER 9, 2009

DID YOU STUDY COOKING?

Yes, at the Art Institute of Seattle. I took the culinary program for chefs, not the pastry program.

WHEN DID YOU BEGIN TO COOK PROFESSIONALLY?

When I opened my store here [in Tangletown], so about 7 years ago.

WHY DO YOU HAVE A PASSION FOR DESSERTS?

I like to make people happy by providing them with good food – but it can be hard to do. Many people provide a good meal that can make people smile, and I think desserts can provide a second smile. I like to give the “second smile!”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DESSERT TO MAKE?

Puff pastry or a baked fruit, something rustic and baked dark in the European style.

YOU SEEM TO HAVE A REAL ATTENTION TO THE BEAUTY OF YOUR FOOD. DO YOU CONSCIOUSLY TRY TO CONVEY A CONCEPT OF BEAUTY IN YOUR FOOD?

I don’t really think about it too much – it tends to come naturally because I like simple beauty….clean and sophisticated. You won’t find me making a cake decorated with dinosaurs or shaped like a sports car.

WHAT WAS THE MOST PRODUCTIVE “ACCIDENT” YOU EVER HAD?

Once, one of my team forgot the baking powder in a lavender cake, and it came out very dense…too dense to sell on its own. But we found that, in slices, it worked very well with the chiffon roll cakes; its texture was the perfect compliment to the cream filling.

WHAT WAS THE SMARTEST BUSINESS DECISION YOU EVER MADE?

Staying small, staying local. This allows me to have the quality control I require. Having personal relationships with my customers and being seen as a neighbor brings people back to my shop.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NON-DESSERT FOOD?

Pasta, but I cannot eat it anymore because I have a gluten allergy. Really, I love anything Italian.

YOUR BUDDHISM IS IMPORTANT TO YOU – HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR FOOD AND YOUR BUSINESS?

I think it drives me to see the shop as more than a business. I want people to come to me, to talk with me, to interact with them. And I always try to show compassion to all my customers. You know, I have faith in good people…because good people bring more good people. I have been lucky because I have only had good customers.

IS IT CORRECT TO SAY THAT YOUR CULINARY INFLUENCES ARE GENERALLY FRENCH AND ASIAN?

Yes, some of both. But I also bring my own original ideas, so I would say that my cooking is bigger than the sum of its influences.

You can find Hiroki Desserts on the Web here. Even better, you can visit in-person at 2224 North 56th Street, Seattle, WA 98103. The phone # is 206 . 547 . 4128, and hours are Wednesday - Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Weekends feature some extra special savoury items like sausage rolls, and the world's best orange rolls and berry cream cheese rolls.

Hiroki is a gift to our city. He's a wonderful soul with the ability to bake the perfect cake. What a combination!

What's your favorite Hiroki dessert? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Go to Meating

I've only lately discovered the joys of sautéed or baked calamari. Like many, my experience with Mr. Squid was limited almost exclusively to either the fried version (love the tentacle clusters!) or the cold white rings in some kind of ceviché or whatnot.















So for this week's Sunday Table, I stuffed calamari tubes with Dungeness crab, cilantro, bread crumbs, shredded Parmesan, egg, spring onion and chili flakes. Then I baked them at 350 for 20 minutes. Once they were done, I placed them atop a bed of arugula and frisée and dressed the lot with a dead simple drizzle of mayonnaise, caper juice, Champagne vinegar, powdered Parmesan and a pinch of ground black pepper. I sprinkled paprika around the plate for presentation. I really like the Whole Foods 365 brand paprika because it is flavorful and more vividly orange-red than other brands.
















Dinner was a gorgeous Chuck roast of beef (cooked at 350 until 140 degrees at the center - perfectly medium rare) with red currant-balsamic reduction butter and green beans topped with diced shallots sautéed in butter and a dash of white truffle oil.

















Dessert was a chestnut cream Charlotte -- with the world's smallest lady fingers -- from Hiroki.

How was your Sunday?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Favorite Diners















Hello, Brian (L) and Mike (R). Two peas out of the same pod. And what a pod it was.

These two are my newest favorite diners.

They're trouble, though. Be careful.