Showing posts with label lamb. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lamb. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Croquer: Lark

With a glaze of contentment still lingering from pre-dinner drinks, we entered Chef John Sundstrom's Lark already with love in our hearts. And from its accolades, a bubbling anticipation for what was to come.
The interior has an intimate, homey ambiance. One part dated Northwest contemporary and one part dinner party at the neighbors'. The service was warm and quick to arrive. I felt the precedence of care.
We selected a 2009 Zolo Malbec (Argentina, Mendoza), vibrant black fruit and velvety texture making this a lovely versatile wine for our smorgasbord of menu selections.
The pork rillettes with ficelle toast and spiced watermelon pickle was a perfect starter. Melt in your mouth pig beauty! But not an easy act to follow.
The simple sounding corn soup with truffle butter and Summer chantrelles was bright and clean, the nuance from its accoutrement creating a memorable balance.
While burrata is always a welcomed delight on the table, Lark's burrata with Billy's tomatoes, shiso, pickled eggplant and olive oil croutons was slightly eclipsed by the other dishes. That said every juicy tomato slice and morsel of creamy burrata was devoured within minutes.
The manila clams with guanciale, oregano, garlic and pickled habanero was so tasty I obviously couldn't be bothered to make sure I got a focused photograph. The lush, soft tones do however express the sapid and gorgeous notes in this dish. The fragrant meaty broth at the bottom of the cast iron pot could have been served alone with clam shells as spoons and I'd have been overjoyed.
We split two mains, one of which was a special - a lamb sugo ravioli with goat cheese, olives and petronne peppers. I enjoyed the pasta, substantial and supple, however the lamb sugo was light on flavor, saved by torn bits of piquant green olives.
The crispy Liberty Farm duck leg with piperade and duck cracklings on the other hand was toothsome tender goodness through and through. A fine way to finish the meal!
Though I think we all could have done without dessert, we shared a black fig tarte tatin with grappa caramel and goat cheese sorbet and an appropos Theo dark chocolate pave with salted toffee ice cream and cashews. Both had clout, but the latter was something special. As we finished our wine, a certain chef in a hat was seated in the booth beside us, another mark that we were definitely in the right place. And boy were we.

926 12th Ave. Seattle, WA 98122; 206.323.5275
Lark on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 13, 2010

IFBC 2010 Opening Night

It felt like the first day of school. With clammy hand I adjusted my camera strap and entered the lobby of the Hotel Monaco in downtown Seattle, registration headquarters for the International Food Blogger Conference. I'd been looking forward to this weekend for months and now it was upon me, like the name badge awkwardly lassoed around my neck. I nervously wondering if I'd make any friends or like my teachers...
Luckily as soon as I descended the stairs to the kick off party I was among countless food and wine vendors and immediately felt eased. After a few tastes of Jordan wines, I stumbled upon a molecular gastronomy exhibition by Modernist Cuisine where process beyond my comprehension composed an incredibly flavorful and frothy caramelized carrot soup with young ginger, licorice root and carotene butter. It was astounding in texture and character. I smiled, not wanting to be anywhere else.
Lisa Dupar's spread (representing her Pomegranate Bistro and Lisa Dupar Catering) included a tasty grilled steak Bahn Mi with house-made mango sriracha and a Tonnino Tuna salad - Tonnino had their own booth in the next room, hemorrhaging with recipe samples and complimentary jars of their premium product.
I sipped some wines from Chateau Ste Michelle while I manhandled one of the most popular bites of the evening, the succulent "lamp pops" from American Lamb. Still wiping wine and meaty juices from my lips, I sampled several incredible olive oils from Spain (who knew Spain was the #1 producer of olive oil in the world?)
Next I even surprised myself by accepting a sample of geoduck ceviche from Taylor Shellfish Farms. Ever since the Pac NW episode of No Reservations where Tony partakes in a geoduck harvest I've been fascinated and frightened by the... rather suggestive beast. I have to say, the crudo was actually quite toothsome and not so scary whatsoever.
I brushed up on my knowledge of endives with Rodger Hedwig of California Vegetable Specialties, not realizing endives actually "bloom" in the dark. 
A wonderful food book shop was present for our drooling and consumption thanks to Readers to Eaters, a wonderful company that promotes community food literacy so that children and families become active participants in their local food culture.
Morgan Spurlock was the featured speaker of the evening, discussing his documentary Super Size Me and American food culture with moderator Warren Etheredge (founder of The Warren Report). By that time all the wine tastings and Pom-tinis were beginning to go to my head and I got squirmy during the talk, so lingered in the back, finding a tray of truffles, my first taste of Theo ubiquity that would lavishly fill the coming weekend.
I picked up the MASSIVE gift bag of kitchen gadgets courtesy of Sur La Table on the way out and met back up with my friends Nicole and Jon for the after-party. En route we met the ladies of Wikia Inc who kindly invited us to join them for a glass of wine at Sip before the official Urban Spoon after-party.
A couple of bottles and a cheese plate later we made it to Purple Café and Wine Bar as the Urban Spoon party was wrapping up, but we shared their last bottle of Sémillon and toasted to a successful kick off of what promised to be a valuable and enjoyable foodie weekend in a city that knows the subject well.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Voyager Bien: New Orleans, Day 3

The forecast said rain, but on my third NOLA morning, sun streamed in through the window and the Southern birds were chirping. Our rental car for the day was parked on the curb outside and we were packing up for a day trip to visit Laura Plantation, an authentic Créole sugar cane plantation on the bank of the Mississippi.The splashy color is what distinguished a French Créole home from the common white columned American manor houses (the Créole were a proud people who didn't want to be mistaken as American by passersby). Built by the Duparc family (and originally called l'habitation Duparc) in 1804, the sugar plantation was run for four generations by the matriarch of the family, lastly the plantation's namesake, Laura Locoul.Not the family's primary residence, the plantation house served as office headquarters for the business as well as the site for all manner of social entertainment - probably why the dining room is the largest, central room of the house. The front room served as an office.
The brick plot in front of the animal coops here is where a 2,500 square foot detached kitchen once stood behind the main house.These clay pots were buried to the rim in the moist and cold swamp earth and used to "refrigerate" milk and other perishable foods.Approximately 400 feet behind the house was a road, going south, perpendicular to the river, lined on both sides with slave cabins and stretching a distance of 3.5 miles.I am still kicking myself for not purchasing a jar of Laura pure sugarcane syrup.. But did pick up my favorite new cookbook in their gift shop - River Road Recipes: "The Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine". It is loaded with Southern staples that I can not wait to get fat making and enjoying.After the tour, a magical treat was uncovered back at the car. Before we left Peter had picked up a giant muffaletta at Central Grocery Co. for us to share. I was stoked to compare the "original" muffaletta (Signor Lupo Salvatore, owner of the Central Grocery, claims to have invented this sandwich in 1906 when he started making sandwiches for the men who worked the nearby wharves and produce stalls of the French Market) to the one I had tried previously at Napoleon House. No question, this sandwich from Central Grocery was far superior! Moist sesame bread, tender meats and cheese with just-greasy-enough-to-be-awesome-and-not-sinful tangy olive tapenade. Perfect balance. We also munched on several bags of Zapp's Louisiana potato chips as we pulled back onto the main road, that rain we'd been promised appearing from nowhere and pelting the windshield, misty sheets sweeping across the sugar cane fields outside.

Darkness fell over the French Quarter and the anticipation over our big splurge dinner was teeming. We had reservations at Susan Spicer's acclaimed Bayona. I was practically skipping on the wet bricks as we clambered through the corriders in the rain, bumping umbrellas and shouldering the icy runoff (hard to believe it had been 84 degrees that morning!).After shaking off the rain, we were lead upstairs to a round table in Bayona's wine room. We stuck by the classic and ordered a round of Sazeracs, which were dreamily perfect.We decided on three appetizers, starting with the seared sea scallops with baby fennel, barigoule (a Provençal mushroom), Kalimata olives, thyme, and orange. Refreshing and balanced!Next, the foie gras torchon with apple butter, cider vinegar caramel, brioche and celery salad. I will admit it, I do not love foie gras - but this was quite delightful and may start me leaning. A flawless plate.I was nervous about the veal sweetbreads in lemon caper butter, but our affable server convinced me that if I was curious, this was the place to try it (and that it doesn't get any better!). Plus I had already established an adventurous mission for myself this week, so sweetbreads it was! The cornmeal-fried bits were not untasty, delicately seasoned and rather enjoyable. Done and done!On to the big guns. I ordered an '06 Fiddlestix Pinot Noir once I decided on my entrée, the rabbit duo. This gorgeous plate consisted of a liver and bacon-stuffed rabbit roulade, paneed leg, with portobello mushrooms, marsala sauce, polenta, and Lacinato kale. Holy delicious. Though I adored my meal at Jacques-Imo's, this paneed rabbit leg was far more tender and lightly breaded, the roulade heavenly rich and hearty.Alex ordered the grilled duck with pepper jelly and wild rice which was just stunning, moist and flavorful.Michael ordered my runner-up, a peppered lamb loin with goat cheese and zinfandel sauce. It too was beyond satisfying. I didn't get to try Peter's pan roasted halibut with brussels sprouts, chantrelle mushrooms and sherry brown butter, but I could tell from his clean plate it passed the test.
We finished with an espresso and two desserts to share. The semolina cake with autumn compote and fresh pomegranite seeds was super moist and not overly-sweet. An unexpected flavor that grew on me as I, well, finished it off!
The other dessert was a satsuma curd empanada with pumpkin brittle and frozen banana milk punch. Every element was popping with flavor and creativity, but I did feel it was a little overwhelmed and scattered.. But frozen banana milk punch!It was a lovely meal with great company and the best birthday present I could have ever asked for (thank you Michael!). After dinner we retired to the St. Philip for cocktails in the owner's flat and then off to Halloween 26's Friday night party. Yes, this is a life I could get used to!

Bayona Restaurant
430 Dauphine St. New Orleans, LA; 504.525.4455
Bayona Restaurant on Urbanspoon