Archive for January, 2010
Molecular gastronomy, the geekiest incarnation of cooking known to man, has recently piqued my interest. Foams and spherification and liquid nitrogen and the like aren’t particularly common on Seattle menus, but on a recent trip to Spur Gastropub, my dessert was adorned with a pinch of powdered olive oil. The powder was a delightful surprise – it tastes just like olive oil, and when the dry granules hit your tongue, they dissolve almost instantly. When I got home, I looked online for a recipe for olive oil powder, but came up empty handed. I did, however, find an article that described using tapioca maltodextrin to dehydrate olive oil. I don’t have any maltodextrin, but I did know where to find some instant tapioca mix. A few hours of experimentation later, and I had a viable recipe.
Total kitchen time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1/2 cup of powder
- 1 3oz. package Jello Cook & Serve Fat Free Tapioca Mix
- 2 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Using a sieve or a fine mesh strainer, sift the tapioca to remove the little tapioca balls. Discard the balls.
- Place sifted tapioca powder and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a small food processor and pulse on high until blended. Add the remaining olive oil, 1/4 tsp. at a time just until it forms a spreadable paste. You may not need to use all of the olive oil – the paste should feel chalky.
- Spread the olive oil mixture in an even layer on a microwavable plate. Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Remove and let cool 5 minutes.
- Using the tines of a fork, break the cooled paste into small pieces. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
This powder is an excellent addition to a bowl of ice cream or other sweet dishes. Unfortunately, since we’re using off-the-shelf tapioca mix, we do get some of the tapioca flavor. However, the overwhelming taste is definitely olive oil, and unless you’re ready to start ordering commercial food chemicals, this method ain’t bad for $2.30.
In case you missed the AllRecipes.com live day-before-Thanksgiving webcast, here’s the clip of me making Broiled Honey Glazed Spiced Figs. This was my first time cooking live on camera, but the folks at AllRecipes were fun and wonderful. Jump to about 11 minutes in to see the nervous look on Amy’s face when I pull out my kitchen torch.
I had the recent pleasure of a visit to the newly-opened Sip at the Wine Bar & Restaurant in downtown Seattle. I’m typically cynical of places that 1) are chain restaurants, and 2) have both “wine bar” and “restaurant” in the title. However, I’m happy to report that the folks at Sip exceeded my expectations, in general.
The first defining feature of Sip is its location – directly across the street from the architecturally fascinating Seattle Public Library. And although the restaurant’s design isn’t quite as extreme (no curvy iridescent escalators), the wrap-around picture windows and dimly-lit ambiance take full advantage of the location’s urban scenery.
As you might imagine, the wine list is extensive, offering both local and international bottles. Bottles start at $25, glasses start at $7, and if you’re a fan of variety, you’ll be happy to know that all wines by the glass are also available by the half-glass. I chose to start off the meal with a gin cocktail in a burnt sugar-rimmed glass. It was a slightly sweet-and-sour, and a nice accompaniment for Sip’s salty and seared appetizers.
I enjoyed the tender and well-seasoned Vietnamese Caramel Beef ($12), but the standout of the starters was the Bacon & Eggs ($13, pictured above). The dish is served as a cube of braised pork belly with a soft-boiled and lightly fried duck egg. I thought this was a great interpretation of the classic combination – salty, sweet, crunchy and… porky. I also enjoyed the flavors of the pickled beet salad, particularly the crispy beet chips. Unfortunately, the salad was impossible to consume without spilling half on the tablecloth; for reference, 2” wide olive dishes don’t make good salad plates.
I was excited, as always, to see braised short ribs on the menu. The dish, $19, was described on the menu as “boneless ribs, parmesan ‘jo-jos,’ arugula salad, meyer lemon gremolata, parmigiano & red wine braising jus”. What the menu neglected to mention was that the short rib was spiced so heavily with what I assume to be cayenne pepper, that all other flavors were undetectable. That said, the parmesan fries weren’t bad, and the meat was tender. The Flat Iron “Chivitio” ($22, described well by blogger and friend Jay at Gastrolust) was a much more pleasant dish, flavored intensely with smoke and char, and topped with the fatty softness of a duck egg. If I kept duck eggs in my kitchen, I’d put them on everything, too.
I must say, though, that the best dish of the night was actually dessert – the Roasted Sugar Pie Pumpkin Cheesecake ($8). It was light and velvety, with the vivid flavor of roasted pumpkin. Well doe, chef Allison Jester.
All in all, the food at Sip exceeded my expectations, modest as they were. However, the menu prices thus far haven’t followed the budget-conscious trend set by some other Seattle joints. But, if you like to cap off your day of downtown shopping and public library book reading with a glass of wine and a steak, Sip at the Wine Bar & Restaurant is a fine choice.
Full Disclosure: I got free food, but that doesn’t pay for my opinion.