Chef in the Hat, V2

As a Christmas present, I found tickets to a Microsoft/FareStart Fundraiser dinner featuring one of our favorites, Chef  Thierry Rautureau. What better way to enjoy a great meal while supporting an amazing program. FareStart is a a culinary program that helps people find their second chance.

Tonight was the night! We arrived in time for the champagne, of course.

The menu…

Smoked Trout with celery root, gribiche sauce and capers Crispy and delicious!

Guinea fowl consommé, mushroom, root vegetable Warm and comforting. 

Wagyu beef, salt spiced rub, potato-parsnip gratin, pickled apple and carrot, Harissa/sage sauce I could have used another serving of the potato-parsnip gratin

Chocolate gateau, hazelnut, meringue Pure chocolate heaven, of course

After the service, the fun began. Chef Thierry introduced the student chefs that assisted in the preparations and talked about the FareStart program. Then he talked about food. And more food. And more of his favorite foods. He also opened the floor to questions. We learned the best places in Seattle for croissants. And advice on making charcuterie. And laughed at suggestions for what not to feed your kids. Or how not to use your new food processor.

And we went home with a few bottles of wine from the silent auction. It was also fun to thumb through the Microsoft Cookbooks (two volumes of recipes from MSFT employees around the world). What a delicious, fabulous night.

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Powerless

One of my favorite things about living in the beautiful Pacfic Northwest is that we generally have winter. Winter that can be driven to within an hour. Or viewed on a sunny day, enjoying the distant blanket of snow on the Olympics. Or the Cascades.

And about every five years, we deal with snow and ice for about a week. We must have been due this year.

So with less than six hours into our power outage, it was time to find a solution. My laptop battery had died. My iPad was at less than 50% battery. My smartphone only wanted to text. Emergency calls only. Enough is enough.

Rescue me!

We arrived at our “shelter” to a warm meal. Handmade sausage. Rich pasta sauce. Farella. YUM!

And Casa de Meyer didn’t stop with a meal. Hospitality galore. The evening wrapped up snuggled under blankets, watching Food Network. Sipping on a glass (bottle) of Saldo. Then, bring on dessert. Fresh raspberries. Chocolate sauce. Whipped cream. Chocolate pound cake.

Is it really winter outside? I forget. Thankfully, it doesn’t take a storm like this one to slow down, enjoy life with good company and good food. But this was FABULOUS company and FABULOUS food! Much appreciated!

Roast, Part Duex

When I am 2,000 miles from home, it isn’t often that I choose to re-visit a restaurant (to be honest I didn’t choose this time, but I didn’t turn down the invite either). Plus, the one makes Bailie JEALOUS!

I return to Michael Symon’s Roast.

Sip

2008 Victor Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon Intense aromas of black cherry and chocolate with wisps of spice are complimented by a background of subtle oak. Rich flavors with layers of large, soft tannins interlocking with complex oak tannins for a long, elegant finish.

Starters

Scallops cauliflower, almonds, raisin brown butter – Light and refreshing way to start knowing the heavier food was coming!
Beef Tartare cold poached egg, avocado, lime & crostini – Of course, I had to try to bite (or two).
Beef Cheek Pierogie horseradish & mushrooms – Worthy of a good plate licking, this pierogie will make my mouth water for days!!!

Entrees

Although I was surrounded by roast beast of the day and large steaks, I choose to dine on something more unique. Something that I wouldn’t get just anywhere.

Seared Duck Breast farro, swiss chard, golden raisins

It took a bit of decision making to decide on this plate. But the staff confirmed my pick. The best bite was the one that I could get all four components in one mouthful. The combination of flavors and textures – DEVINE.

Sides

Rosemary Fries – If I had more time in town, I would come back for a beer and an order of these fries!
Whipped Potatoes – Only a small scoop was needed. So creamy, I think the potato to butter ratio is 2:1.
Fried Brussels Sprouts – The only way I want to eat brussels sprouts from here until I die. ONLY time I have ever wanted more. 

Dessert Selections

Beer & Pretzels Guiness ice cream, chocolate pretzels, caramel foam

Covered with a pile of caramel foam, I think I took three bites from the beer mug before I got to the ice cream layer. I thought it was good until I hit the ice cream. It is a whole new level of good when you get a bite with all three textures and flavors. The crunch of the chocolate covered pretzel, the cool and very creamy guiness ice cream and then the sweet caramel. YUM!

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Of course, each course was accompanied by red wine. I could have skipped eating for two (or three) days. Although I didn’t.

The location:

Roast | 1128 Washington Blvd. | Detroit, Michigan 48226 | 313.961.2500 | Website

Neujahrsempfang

The New Year’s in Mercedes-speak. Or German. You choose.

The evening was an affair to celebrate the 2011 success and to Preview of the new generation of the Mercedez-Benz SL. What a way to open my media adventures @ NAIAS (or the North American International Auto Show)…FABULOUS.

Pre-announcement

Free flowing cocktails. Tray after tray of bite-sized goodness. Steak tartar. Beef wellington. Apple almond tartlet. Shrimp in lemon chipotle sauce. Am I on the set of Mad Men? I didn’t follow the Mad Men tradition, instead enjoying the house red wine (a Cab from Ste. Michelle) and champagne.

Announcement 

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A stage. Live music. {{What an amazing voice!}} Is this a concert? Oh, wait! I hear an engine reving up. First, the original SL drove onto the stage. Then heads turn for the new SL. Red, of course!

Post- announcement

My weakness were in full form at this point in the night! We were served a “strolling” dinner. The courses just kept coming and coming…and I kept eating…and eating. There must have been 10 dinner choices before the dessert round started! I restrained myself, trying:

My Fabulous Favorite
  • Gnocchi with roasted chicken and pesto mousse
  • Beet salad on a bed of candied walnuts
  • Decadent hand-rolled tortellini filled with cheese covered with cream and truffles (hands down my favorite)
  • A trio of sushi
  • A yummy creamy risotto
  • And for dessert…a cake ball (but filled with raspberry mousse), an amazing trio of cheese with honeycomb and creme brulee

Editor’s Note: Later in the week, we learned about the ramp that is build each year inside the hotel to get the showcase cars to the fourth floor of the conference areas. It was way to expensive for me to fathom. That is all I am saying.

The Location:

The Westin Book Cadillac |  1114 Washington Boulevard  | Detroit, MI | 313.442-1600 | Website 

Christmas Eve Feast

Dinner is served!

For two months, Chef Bill has been talking about his plans for his holiday dinner (thankfully, Bailie and I are invited). The  meal would center around his rookie attempt of Demi-glaze. So, that means red meat.

What else we he surprise us with? A completely decadent meal…slaved away for hours to make every bite perfect (and fabulous).

  • Mashed potatoes (more accurately riced potatoes)
  • Roasted squash with walnuts
  • And, of course, the filet mignon with Demi-glaze

And then it was time for dessert…

  • A pile of traditional homemade Christmas cookies
  • Cranberry pudding cake, a Meyer Christmas tradition
  • And way too many Fleur de sel caramels

Time for bed. And sugar plums dancing in our heads.

Holiday Baking Traditions

Another great way I enjoy the holidays is finding a new treat recipe to try…and possibly add to the list for next year. This year’s attempt knocked it out of the park. F – A – B – U – L – O – U – S.

If you don’t know, I am sucker for a great caramel dipped in super dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. I know these days you can find them almost anywhere. Most of them are over priced and not very good. Fran’s (who rumored to create this treat) are my baseline. Boehm’s are my favorites. Partly because the caramel outweighs the chocolate. And I get four bites from each square. {{Maybe nibble is a better word.}} 

So in honor of my love of sea salt and caramel (plus dark chocolate dipping skills learned a few month ago), I went in search of a recipe. I settled on one of Ina’s.

Fleur de sel caramels

{{Decided it was better to get the caramel right instead of worrying about finding the double-whammy of chocolate and caramel.}} My touch was using both fleur de sel and chocolate fleur de sel – and I used more than the recipe called for both in melting and sprinkling. I also figured out that I don’t have a candy thermometer. But never fear, Bing gave me a great tip on how to use a glass of water as my temperature gauge. Bottom line: Thank you, Ina! 

And the next day (after restraining myself from sitting down and eating the whole batch), I did a little semi-sweet chocolate dipping. The downside of this recipe is you do have to refrigerate – and the chocolate gets a bit too hard. Still, after 10 minutes, the chocolate fleur de sel caramel was DELICIOUS!

An Evening Downtown

What a better way to enjoy the holidays than an evening under the lights around downtown Seattle including dinner in the market and a performance at Benaroya Hall? Even Ebenezer Scrooge would have been in the holiday spirit by the end of the night!

We started with dinner at Il Bistro.

Our appetizers: 

  • Bruschetta al Pomodoro  Grilled Tuscan Bread, Vine Ripened Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil, Sicilian Olive Oil
  • Carpaccio Thinly Sliced Beef Tenderloin, White Truffle Citronette, Shaved Parmigiano, Capers, Red Onion & Arugula
  • Antipasto Misto A Selection of Italian Salumi with Smoked Mozzarella & Marinated Vegetables

My entree:

Gnocchi — Housemade Potato Dumplings in a Sweet Tomato Sauce with Romano Cream, Basil & Parmesan

My dessert:

Torta Cioccolato — Flourless Chocolate-Espresso Tort with Raspberry Coulis & Fresh Cream

And finished at Benaroya Hall enjoying Handles Messiah.

Each year, I think I will get tickets for Handels Messiah. The radio commericals always pull me in! And this year, we finally got our act together and got tickets early (at the Day of Music).

Our balcony seats provided an excellent view of the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Symphony Chorale and the soprano, the tenor, the counter-tenor and the baritone. We were so close that you could see the conductor’s emotion as he turned toward musicians to his left.  {{We could also see the un-natural blonde streaks in the counter-tenors hair, Bai pointed out several times.}} Of course, the “Hallelujah” chorus stole the show. FABULOUS!

Oh, and some one now wants to learn to play the violin.

The location:

Il Bistro | 93A Pike Street | Seattle WA | 206.682.3049 | Website