Monday, August 19, 2013

On a previous trip to Dundee, Oregon, I fell in love with Argyle's Blackberry Brut.  This weekend was our anniversary, we journeyed to Portland and ate at some of our favorite places and hopped in the car for a short trek to Dundee for a couple bottles of Black Brut for this year's Thanksgiving. I know that is a ways off, I'll try to stay distracted.

It began with an arduous trip to Portland, beginning with the stop and go 2 hour drive from Seattle to Olympia, it was a drive that began on a late friday afternoon.   We arrived to meet our friends at Accanto on Belmont, the sister restaurant to the long time Genoa neighborhood restaurant.  Arriving in Portland at 8:30pm, leaving Seattle at 4pm, it was definitely a time for cocktails.  I began with the Guadalahara, a sublime mix of a blanco tequila, honey, lime and St Germain and an order of pan fried padron peppers and of course, for the table the fritto misto. 

The padrons are also known as Shishito peppers, which I blister for a few minutes in a pan with a Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and finished with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. The difference in preparation is that the peppers are not overwhelmed by the charring and have a little more texture and crunch with the slight blistering.

I was more interested, unfortunately, with the hydrating than eating.  I did order the petite portion of risotto with the summer squash and topped with a dollop of creamy ricotta.  My husband ordered the roasted chicken prepared with a bread and mizuna salad.  I snatched a portion of his perfectly seared chicken, so creatively seasoned, it is as delicious as I remembered.  

We polished off the evening with a chocolate rum and amaretti flan with a dollop of whip and incredibly aromatic coffee.

The next day was St Honore bakery for Kouign Amann pastry, sweet sugar crust with a sprinkling of salt and a deep cup of coffee.

Off to Dundee, we had the bubbly tasting at Argyle and secured our Black Brut and a bottle of their reisling.  We finished off our time with a trip to Sokol Blosser and their newly opened tasting facility.

We went off to the Kitchen, to have a cheese and wine pairing.  Say cheeeese!  We have several minute tastings of cheeses and with a goat cheese truffle paired with a 2010 pinot and a creamy truffled cheese paired with their 2011 pinot reserve and finished off the tasting of late harvest with an Oregon blue cheese, incredible.  Food and wine, what could be better.

Our anniversary dinner was at the Lucia hotel downtown Portland, Imperial, Vitaly Paley's new location.  The place is warm and inviting.  We began with bubbly and the oyster trio, with roasted lemon and freshly grated horseradish topping.  I enjoyed the special soft shell crab, served on a bed of sour cream and cucumber salad.  My husband had the quail with the roasted carrots and tomatoes and cottage cheese.  We finished off the evening with slice of pie with ice cream, the husband's favorite.  I love dessert, in my constant search for incredible desserts, I wanted to enjoy a unique sweet that I could re-create at home.  I was surprised at the hominess of the desserts offered, oh well.

The morning began with our breakfast trip to the Lovejoy Bakery in the Pearl district, for breakfast, scrambled egg sandwich with tapenade and 16 oz latte.  Our next stop was at the Elephant Deli (always a necessary trip) to perouse the table top items, I have found the best glasses and pantry items, as well as salts, olives, salami and picnic or lunch items.  I purchased a freshly baked mixed berry pie for my husbands anniversary dessert, to serve with ice cream when we arrive home.

On my culinary bucket list, Pok Pok Nui, off Martin Luther King way,  was a stop and detour on our way out of Portland, Ike's Vietnamese fish sauce wings were our favorite, spicy, sticky, yummy!  The recipe is from Food and Wine magazine and modified with Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-In and Dives episode with Andy Ricker.

Ike's Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings (based on video recipe Diners, Drive in and Dives)
2 cloves garlic and 1 T salt, massage and add water, cheese cloth and squeeze
1/2 cup Asian fish sauce
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3 pounds chicken wings
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
1 cup Jasmine rice flour
tempura flour
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 T chile paste 
2 cloves garlic, minced and fried

In a bowl, whisk the fish sauce, sugar and crushed garlic. Add the wings and toss to coat. Refrigerate overnight, tossing the wings occasionally.
Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a small skillet. Add the minced garlic; cook over moderate heat until golden, 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
In a large pot, heat 2 inches of oil to 350°. Pat the wings dry on paper towels; reserve the marinade. Put the cornstarch in a shallow bowl with a little tempura powder, add the wings and turn to coat. Fry the wings in batches until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and transfer to a bowl.
In a small saucepan, simmer the fish sauce, water and sugar caramel base over moderately high heat until syrupy, 5 minutes. Add the chile paste over the wings and toss, sprinkle with minced fried garlic, and spritz with water to release the side pan seasoning.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

No Ka Oi

Heading off to Maui, "No Ka Oi", it is the best.  The weather was sizzling, perfect weather to head to the white sand beaches, snorkeling at Wailea and Kapalua Bay with the family.  Beginning poolside, a little pina colada or mai tai.  No mixes here.

Traditional mai tai recipe:
7 fl oz dark rum
7 fl oz golden rum
3 1/2 fl oz triple sec
3 1/2 fl oz orange liquor
3 1/2 fl oz orgeat (almond) syrup
juice of 4 limes
1 dash of grenadine
ice cubes
pineapple slices and mini umbrellas for garnish

Pour all ingredients into a shaker and shake for about 10 seconds, then strain into glasses.
add ice cubes, then garnish.
Hailemaile's mai tai

Our first mai tai at the Hailemaile General Store.  Loved the lime zest.

Our last three days were spent in Wailea, checking out all the local happy  hours, which usually began at 3:00 pm.  The Ko happy hour also paired $10 pupus.  we also checked out other neighborhood happy hour mai tai's at Tommy Bahama's, and Beverly Gannon's restaurant at the Gold and Emerald Golf Course clubhouse, which has spectacular views of Molokini and the incredible Hawaiian sunsets. New on our list, was Merriman's monkeypod bar which has a spectacular lilikoi foam and sliced pineapple topping off their fabulous mai tais.

Sadly finishing out our vacation with an incredible dinner of Lobster Tempura and grilled Hawaiian fish. The tempura was paired with three dipping sauces; a spicy-sesame, a pineapple sweet chili garlic and a grapefruit soy sauce, served on a bed of rice.  I had one of several classic mai tais, which each had a float of Hana Bay dark rum.

A tremendous selection of local distilleries have popped up.  Who would of thought sugar cane
and distilleries, it's an entrepreneurial heaven.  Costco had a stellar selection of local
liquors to start your vacation.
Ko mai tai


In culling through my collection of Bon Appetit magazines, I came across the article by Andrew Knowlton, which is worth reading.

How to Buy: The road to oyster perfection starts at the market. When selecting your oysters, look for these things: they should be weighty (the seawater inside helps them stay fresh), they should smell like nothing, they should be tightly sealed, and when you crack two of them together, they should sound like rocks.

How to Store: Still in their netted bag (or something breathable), put the oysters in your crisper drawer with one wet cloth below and one wet cloth above the bundle. Despite what many people think, you should not store them on ice--"their instinct is to drink water," says Bil. "As the ice melts, and they drink that chlorinated water, it will affect their flavor." In the crisper, west coast oysters will be good for one week, and east coast oysters will be good for two weeks.

One of my favorite toppings is Nobu Masuhisa's recipe for mignonette;

1/2 cup (60 g) finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/4 teaspoon chili oil
1/4 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 cup (10 g) finely chopped parsley leaves

Combine all ingredients, add chopped parsley leaves before serving.

Andrew Knowlton also recommends Taylor shellfish's Shigoku oysters.   My personal favorites are
Hammersley(Shelton), Kumamoto and Hama hama (Lilliwaup)oysters from Washington. 
Also can't miss the 2014 Hama Hama oyster rama usually held in May, mark your calendars and check out latest info on: