Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Seattle: Pinch Me, Am I In Gay Paree? @ Cafe Campagne

  For your listening pleasure:
La Vie en Rose
Seattle has summoned me once again! I am always happy to oblige, specially during spring time when Pike Place Market is just blooming with my favorite tulips and peonies at $10 a bunch...while Chicago is still holding on to the last icicle of winter.

Holy my plane flew in all sense of the word! My plane left on time for once, and touched down approximately 20 minutes early; the one time that I wouldn't have minded being delayed because I had 2 hours to kill in the airport, or  in other words, 2 hours to plan my nosh while I'm in Seattle. 2 hours passed, and my day's itinerary is set: go to the hotel, and find food that would recoup the meals I've missed since the day prior.
During my previous market visits, I always walk passed Cafe Campagne with vows to eat there and get my croque madame fix"next time." Well, the time is now! With the rare Seattle sun welcoming me  and The Great Dane (TGD) with open arms, we hugged it back by dining alfresco. Skimming the menu, I spied with my sleepy eyes the words "sipping chocolate." My interest was quickly peaked, but I want booze! Our waitress happily informed me that there is an adult version to this!

CHOCOLAT CHAUD:French Sipping Chocolate. It's served as a pitcher of hot chocolate with a bowl of chantilly cream. Real cream! The Avec Chartreuse Verte was the 21 and over addition to this gastro luxury. As this pompous but necessary presentation was brought to my table, I was quickly transported to the imaginary Paris in my head. With every sip, the bustle of  Pike Market was quickly replaced by the melody of La Vie en Rose. 

The waitress explained that one is supposed to sip the chocolate, then sip the chartreuse. Sip, sip. That's it! This is the only way to have hot chocolate from now on.

Maybe we should eat something, as the Paris in my head is starting to go beyond the normal realm of daydreaming.

TGD got the House-made Pork & Chicken Sausage:  It came as an open faced sandwich with melted Comte de gruyere with dijon mustard. What pray tell is comte? It's basically unpasteurized cow's milk cheese. The more you know! This sandwich may look dainty in carnivore land, but it was very hearty, and would fulfill any meat lover's inner desires.
My Parisian hallucination was quelled with the one thing that attracted me to this place in the first place; The Croque Madame : It had Parisian ham inside with gruyere cheese melted on top, and boom put an egg on it! Now, I was not very satisfied with the madame. Where's the bechamel or the mornay?!...or did America add this on? Whichever country decided on adding that creamy and buttery roux deserves a medal. Cafe Campagne's Madame needs a butter bath! 

Overall, Cafe Campagne needs to be a stop while you're out exploring Pike Place Market; tourist or not! Back when my frequent West Coast (anything west of Chicago is west coast to me) travels brought  me to Las Vegas, it became my tradition to visit Bouchon and get my croque madame fix. It was exclamation point to the fact that I have thawed out from the cold! Now that Seattle is my new west, Cafe Campagne is my new west coast Pacific Northwest tradition, not for the madame, but to sip hot chocolate with chartreuse. There's no better exclamation than chocolate and booze!

Cafe Campagne is worth gaining:
 4.5lbs out of 5 lbs


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mission Pappardelle

 Mission: perfect the Girl and the Goat's Sugo with Pappardelle, which they have recently changed to cavatelli! Why?! Pappardelle has replaced my lasagna craze ever since Pappardelle and I met way back in college at Osteria via Stato, who also for a limited time, took it off their menu. Quit playing games with my heart! I'm glad they came to their senses, and brought it back. 

Speaking of my once insatiable appetite for lasagna, I used to pride myself in my lasagna baking skills, until The Great Dane and I decided to have a lasagna bake off. The votes swung my way, and I won by one or two votes; all thanks to the hard working sailors of America who miss home cooked meals. But I couldn't accept the victory. After tasting TGD's lasagna, I gave him the victory, and swore to never make my lasagna again. TGD's was just that good.

Now that I've banned myself from ever making lasagna, and the Girl and the Goat has messed with my sugo, I had to learn a new pasta skill... the Girl and the Goat sugo, O.G. style...with pappardelle. I got the recipe here:

½ pound goat meat
½ pound goat sausage
½ pound goat meat, braised
½ pound onion (¼ pound, diced and ¼ pound, small diced)
½ ounce garlic, minced plus 1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
⅛ cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon aji amarillo purée
1 apple, cored and sliced
1½ cups dark stock

Looking at the recipe, I knew goat would be hard to come by so I substituted with beef. 
I decided to skip pre-braising the the cubed meat. Julia Child, I am not! I just went ahead and browned it to give it that caramelized flavor.  I used the same pot to brown the onions in. I have great difficulty dicing onions as I could not keep my eyes open, but have no fear my  friends, I discovered as I progressed into the cooking directions that all the onions were going to be placed in the food processor to be turned into mush!!! I wish I knew that before I cried my eyes out!  Now what the deuce is an aji amarillo puree you say? I found out that that it's reminiscent of cayenne pepper. So instead of going aji hunting, I grabbed my trusty cayenne pepper and used that. 

Now that all the components are prepped as logically close to what the instructions said, I dumped all of it in a slow cooker and kicked my feet up! 
And finito! I topped it off with mornay sauce and a pinch of parsley. I'm missing some caper gooseberries to make this look like the perfect pre-cavatelli Girl and the Goat sugo doppleganger; we eat with our eyes first after all. 
Pictured above the is the original Girl and the Goat sugo. What do you think? twinning? Twinning or not, the dish turned out a success for reasons like not burning my place down, not inflicting food poisoning on to the brave TGD, and most importantly TGD's tastes buds liking it so much, the pot was cleaned out!

Now that I've gone through the adventure of this recipe, and found the little shortcuts, I found this beyond easy to make, easier than lasagna! 

If you're wondering where one would find pappardelle noodles, your local Trader Joe's and QFC now carries it. I got mine from Eataly. Based on experience, I prefer the Garofalo brand from Eataly vs TJ, as it was thinner, but wider than the TJ brand. I have two more bags of pappardelle to use, so off to more cooking I go!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Momentarily @ Momotaro

Hey let's play this nice little game called "no reservations." I would have to admit that at times, I pretend to be Anthony Bourdain, and it has worked 30% of the time, at odd random times like Tuesday @ 5:30pm.    Ready, set, NO! Apparently random times do not exist at Momotaro. I got denied reservations by Opentable. Well, I ain't too proud to wait.  Karla Fantastic and I walked in to a nearly empty Momotaro, and ha! Add this to my 30% success rate, but the hostess forewarned us to eat fast  that they would  need our table by 7pm. Challenge accepted.

Minutes after we were seated, the empty chairs and tables were occupied. Looks like we really got lucky. Ok, we have 1.5 hours to eat, let's get this party started. Being that this was after my jury duty adventure, shaking from the amount of caffeine I ingested is starting to put me in a coma. I spotted a cocktail called Strength and Longevity . I needed just that! The concuction consists of bombay original dry gin, imbue petal and thorn, goji & omija, soda, & lemon. This drink is dangerously refreshing. It was like drinking a pucker worthy lemonade. It would be easy to forget that this is for the 21 and over crowd.
Now let's move on to something from the Robata (basically the grill.)

KF got the Washugyu , it's skirt steak, shishito, and foie gras...on a stick! I expected a spicey bite, but to my surprise, it was very mild; but then again, I'm starting to think that the part of my taste buds that recognizes  spiciness is near death. I put red peppers and cayenne on nearly everything! The overall bite of everything was a nice sweet, salty, buttery, and a pinch of zing. I did not utilize the lime that was provided. Oops. Guess you'll just have to find out for yourselves...then let me know.

Tsukune it's jidori chicken ginger meatball, quail eggs, & bathed in tare (a sauce reminiscent of terriyaki.) Ordering this, I imagined a hard boiled quail egg, grilled, and slathered with tare. As the plate landed in front of me, I had a hint of disappointment, and then I put it in my mouth...I'm ok. I'm very ok with this. The yolk of the egg served as an overlapping sauce to the chicken meatball. Sooooo good! Hey Momotaro, there's still so much room on this plate for a few more sticks you know!

Sushi time!
Wasabi Salmon: marinated salmon, pickled onion, wasabi and Una-Kyubarbequed eel, cucumber, avocado yuzu kosho. Confession time. I often get my sushi in mass production type places that have happy hour. It's been a success so far as I'm still able to write about it, but the rare occasions that I go to places that their sushi pride is just above the rest, I'm surprised to actually be able to tell the difference (my standards can get a little low. No food poisoning or parasite infestation? I'm good to go!) This sushi falls in to the higher cusp of the sushi pride. I did not get the almost metallic taste that I have come to tolerate with my lower cusp sushi that's usually hiding in spicey mayo and eel sauce. Momotaro's sushi components blended so well that I did not want to kill it with any wasabi. Once again, my only gripe is, why are these rolls so tiny?! I guess more room for dessert.

Speaking of dessert, ice cream of course! Don't hate me, but I forgot to document the name of this dessert. It's something of the burnt sugar nature, and crunchy goodness. Just trust me it's good! So good that they need to make this scoop bigger! Are you seeing a pattern? 

At Momotaro, the serving sizes may be small, but it makes up for it in big flavors. The staff knew the menu, and gave good recommendations that hit the spot. We actually left pleasantly full and satisfied, despite my incessant "super size me" complaints...and it's 6:50pm. No one likes to wait, and the 7 o'clock planner that probably made reservations months in advance shouldn't wait. We're courteous like that. Time to make reservations for summer. Who's coming with me?