Thursday, September 24, 2015

Farestart Guest Chef Dinner

Last year I had planned to go to a dinner at Lola Seattle that Jean Layton, a fellow food blogger, was organizing before IFBC. Unfortunately I had to cancel at the last minute due to an illness. Luckily she organized another dinner this year and I was actually able to go. This time she made us reservations for about 14 of us at Farestart. I had heard of the restaurant but didn't really know much about it. They have a culinary training program to help the homeless and disadvantaged. They also help them with job placement after they graduate from the program. Our reservation happened to be on graduation night though I didn't arrive early enough to see the graduation.

Not only was it graduation night, but it was also Guest Chef night. Our featured chef was Chef JP Ponticelli from Tulalip Resort Casino. They were very understanding with the various food restrictions: gluten free, vegetarian and I think there were a few others. All the dishes that came out for those with restrictions looked just as good as rest. We left the wine pairings up to Alina of One Girl, One Glass, One World. She did a great job picking out the wines for us. I had a long drive home so I didn't drink too much but I did give all four a try and as usual, my favorite was the red, the Kudos Pino Noir.

1st Course

Shrimp Cocktail Bateaux Sauvignon Blanc
Amuse Bouche: Fantail Shrimp Cocktail Spoon with celery root relish
Wine: Bateux - 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

2nd Course

Cucumber of Baby Greens Koi Pond Cellars Blushing Geisha
Salad: Cucumber of baby greens, local baby greens, Rogue Creamery Oregon blue cheese, baby heirloom tomatoes, citrus basil vinaigrette
Wine: Koi Pond Cellars - Blushing Geisha

3rd Course

Hawaiian Broadbill Swordfish Kudos Pino Noir
Entree: Grilled Hawaiian Broadbill Swordfish, herb-chive blossom butter, matchstick vegetables, Parisian potatoes, lemon chive butter reduction
Wine: Kudos - 2012 Pinot Noir

4th Course

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta Rosa Regale Sparkling Red
Dessert: Peach Melba, Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, Poached Peaches, Raspberries, Toasted Almond Tuile
Wine: Rosa Regale - Sparkling Red

FareStart Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, September 21, 2015

IFBC 2015 - Sur La Table Test Kitchen

I attended the annual International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in Seattle for the 3rd time. It would have been the 4th but you may remember last year I fell horribly and mysteriously ill the first day of IFBC and was unable to attend or do much of anything other than lay in bed all day and take a few visits to the walk-in clinic.

The past few years there have been some optional excursions before the conference and I was signed up to visit Sur La Table's test kitchen last year and was so bummed to have missed what looked like a pretty awesome experience from what I heard and saw on social media. I was ecstatic when I found out they would be doing an excursion for IFBC again this year. These excursions tend to sell out fast so I signed up the second I saw it was available to ensure a spot. For those that couldn't get into this one, several other excursions were available to choose from.

There were buses that left the hotel to take everyone to their excursions. All the buses arrived and left except ours. Unfortunately, the Sur La Table bus was MIA and we ended up taking taxes to their test kitchen in South Seattle, at least 10 of them. Fortunately we did have a bus to get back to the hotel but the mishap delayed our excursion by about 45 minutes.

We had a cooking demo featuring one of Kitchen Aid's newest gadgets, a spiralizer attachment for their mixer. They made zoodles with an heirloom tomato sauce which we later got to eat. I have a cheapo plastic spiralizer and it works just fine. At first, I didn't think I would have any use for yet another mixer attachment. That was until I discovered it is more than just a spiralizer. The attachment will also peel, core and slice an apple and other fruits and vegetables which was something I would actually use. The attachment is definitely going on my wish list.
KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment Making zoodles with heirloom cherry tomato sauce Lunch Break

KitchenAid Precision Coffee Press The other new product I was excited about was a coffee press that was just released this month. It's not just any coffee press, it's a stainless steel precision press that has a built in scale that weighs the coffee and water in grams or ounces. It has a built in timer too. All it needs is a built in coffee grinder and it would have everything. We came to find out that they gave all of the excursion attendees one of these coffee presses so I didn't even have to put it on my wish list. I'm really excited to give it a try.

Kitchen Aid makes the only magnetic drive blender. If you look at the bottom of the blender jar it is completely flat. If you use a blender regularly you probably know the base of it is the first thing that gets worn out or broken. I had a Blendec for many years and I don't know how many jars I went through. I finally decided to switch to a Vitamix after the 3rd or 4th blender jar. I've only had it a year and so far it's holding up.  You know Kitchen Aid is proud of this product because they offer a 7 year warranty with the purchase. It will be interesting to see how it gets rated. If I start having problems with my Vitamix, I may look into this one but not ready to switch just yet. Vitamix has a pretty good warranty too.

They had tables full of products on display in the test kitchen and a lot of it was their Christmas season merchandise, lots of red colored things. We got to take home a Christmas themed Silpat which I already tested out to roast some cherry tomatoes.

Sur La Table Holidays

It was a fun excursion despite the late start. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you ever get the chance, maybe at a future IFBC if they ever have it in Seattle again. They always treat the bloggers well and send them home with a bag full of great goodies.
Sur La Table Swag

Thursday, September 17, 2015

5th Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival

I first heard about and attended the Seattle Heirloom Tomato Festival at Cedarbrook Lodge last year. I believe I saw it come across my twitter feed which I rarely look at anymore these days. Now, I'm more of an instagrammer than a tweeter. This year's attendance was not as large as last year, maybe because the weather wasn't as sunny and warm but at least the rain managed to stay away. It was perfect weather for a tomato festival I thought. All the more food and wine for the rest of us.

Several wineries and restaurant chefs were in attendance serving up some delicious tomato based dishes and wine/beer to go with them. We learned if you want more than just a small sampling of a wine you can actually ask for a full glass. I don't recall that option last year but never thought to ask. We sampled most if not all of the wines and foods too. The prawn dish served by Trace was our favorite dish this year. We enjoyed chatting with Chef Derek Ronspies from Le Petit Cochon. It's a fairly new restaurant in Fremont that serves up farm to table and nose to tail cuisine. They actually change their restaurant menu daily so there is always something new to try. They brought a refreshing tomato ice cream with a little burnt egg plant puree.

There are around 100 varieties of tomatoes at the festival that are grown by the Bromiley's and Prentice's in Moses Lake, WA. There are tables set up with plates and bowls of cut up tomatoes with toothpicks and salt shakers for people to taste. The tomatoes are also available to purchase for a very reasonable price of $2/lb. I've already started planning the tomato varieties for next year and there a few on my wishlist that I don't have seeds for yet and one of those is the Japanese Black Trifele. I was excited to see that tomato at the festival and bought a pound of them so I could save the seeds for planting next year. I also bought some super snow white, chocolate cherry and one called dark green Mexico. A google search didn't turn up anything for that one so have been trying to figure out if it goes by another name. I'm thinking it may be a kumato but not sure. I've attempted to contact the growers via Facebook in hopes of getting more information on that one.
Green Doctors Currant Tomatoes Tomato Tasting Tomato Patch Browne Wine Beer BaconBacon Gazpacho Copperleaf Pizza Prawns Tomato Crumble Naka Ice Cream Crush Heirloom Tomatoes