Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Off for a White Christmas -- A White Sand Christmas

I'm off to try my first attempt at a quasi-culinary tour in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. My itinerary includes a tequila flight tasting at the Ritz Carlton, education in Mayan cuisine, including a hunt for the best pollo pibil, and some cooking classes at the Culinary Center (also at the Ritz Carlton).

Feliz Navidad, everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Last Dance Gypsy Dinner

I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Gypsy's final final dinner. Ok, the 2 "final"s are because there was one final dinner back in May, but they decided to have a series of 5 "final" dinners and I happened to attend the last one.

For those of you who never heard of Gypsy, it was an underground dining club where chefs would prepare some of the most creative dishes without the restrictions that a traditional restaurant would have. I've had an affinity for these non-traditional settings since Mamasan's at the Mission District in San Francisco. Gypsy, however, takes it to a whole new scale. Those of you who are Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations fans may remember Gypsy's innovative approach with it's Pop Rocks palate cleanser.
As we were getting seated, the gentleman at one side the table commented about how honored he was to be sitting across from one of the other diners. I turned to my left and at the head of the table happened to be sitting Kathy Casey. Yes, THE Kathy Casey, the celebrity chef and longtime food columnist for the Seattle Times. I must say, I was completely startled and even remain so right now as I write this. This was going to be one of those watch-learn-and-listen kind of evenings. And if that weren't enough, Seth Caswell, the talented chef from Stumbling Goat fame was also at the table. Blessed I was, indeed!
The dinner was 9 courses of pure bliss with wine pairings that made me wonder if Chef Gabriel Claycamp were a chef or a sommelier. The experience:

Diver Scallop Tartar
caviar, champagne gelee, nigella meringue, amchur powder, umbrian olive oil
(sorry it's so bright, but I hadn't mastered my camera at this point)

Matsutake Dashi Broth poured onto foie, lobster, cocoa dust and cranberries. The cocoa added a surprising depth and bitterness to the dish that I didn't expect to like so much.

Hazelnut Delicata Fritter
persimmon, bacon, arugula, reverse egg

The science of a reverse egg (where the egg yolk is hard and the whites are soft) has to do with the temperature it is cooked in. I think it was 190 degrees when the yolk would harden and yet the whites remained a liquid. A strange and fascinating experience.

My favorite dish of the evening, Truffled Black Cod with duck confit. Two of my favorite things. The confit was combined with turnips into roesti, accompanied by mustard cuisson and topped with chervil.

Wood Fired Foie, bubbling from the pizza oven on a cold evening. The smell of garam masala in that broth was intoxicating. Served with quince gallette, thyme peach jam.

Talk about an innovative palette cleanser. This is Green Olive Cotton Candy with olive oil granite and herbes de Provence shortbread. I loved the irony of savory flavors in traditionally sweet dishes.

Finally halfway through the evening. This is Fried Bone Marrow with brioche, parsnip & white chocolate puree, balsamico and gremolata emulsion. All the combinations went incredibly well together.

Blackberry Mole Braised Pork Belly + escarole, bocarones, raisins and Pedro Ximenez vinegar. Sick and twisted, but delicious. Exactly how much bourbon were they drinking when they came up with this???

Roasted Lamb Loin & Offal Crepinette, with chanterelle farrotto, guanciale, beet, prune tobacco jus. Yes, tobacco. So Thomas Keller.

The first of 3, actually 4 desserts: Talleggio Napoleon. Super stinky cheese layered with white truffle and apple. Sprinkled with walnuts and chestnut honey. The cheese had the aroma of the "feet of the angels."

Dessert #2: Olive Oil Financier with Black Olive Caramel on the left, roasted pear sorbet on the right, and chestnut bubbles to tie them both together.

Dessert #3: My half-eaten Ricotta, Zabaglione & Espresso Parfait, with bits of caramel fleur de sel mixed in. Obviously I couldn't wait to try it before taking a pic.

I finally tried my first souffle!

Believe it or not, I had never had a true souffle until last night. As much as I go out, and as much as I love dessert, somehow the infamous souffle has eluded me. Until last night.

I attended the Edgar and Holli Martinez Foundation's Keys to Success Gala at the Fairmont Hotel in Seattle. I was hoping the food would be good, but didn't expect it would actually be great. A hot, airy, gooey, light dough with a bit of melted chocolate on top. As if that weren't enough, the waiters poked a sizable hole into the souffle, which I was a bit disappointed about given it deflated a bit, but then they filled the hole with some fresh cream. Sacrifices.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Death Row Meal

Last weekend, during a long drive to Idaho from Seattle, my companions and I got to the conversation of what sort of food we would select for our last meal, a la Death Row. Lots of comfort food were mentioned like mac n cheese, but I will admit that my meal would resemble more of a buffet:
  • my dad's adobo (Filipino dish of meat -- usually chicken or pork -- cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, pepper and bay leaves that make the meat come out so tender)
  • my stepmother's rice
  • fried chicken
  • tocilog (traditional Filipino breakfast consisting of Filipino bacon, garlic fried rice and a fried egg on top)
  • Georgia Brown's biscuit-battered French toast

Friday, September 12, 2008

Basta Pasta

A chef friend recently took a position at a pizza restaurant and took home some of their special ingredients to familiarize himself with them. One night, he invited me over to experiment on pasta-making with 00 (double zero) flour to see a) if it was possible and b) if it was good.

This was a new venture for many reasons. 1) I haven't cooked in so long, 2) I've never actually hand-made pasta and 3) I finally saw, for the first time ever, one of those home pasta makers actually being used. Fun, yes. Tasty, absolutely. Do it again, ummmmm...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Outstanding in the Field

I'm not sure where I first learned about Outstanding in the Field. For months, its website was in my task-list of sites to check out and I thank goodness one day this summer I finally did. I don't even know where I first learned about it and how it got into my task-list. I guess it's one of those things where you manifest experiences when you set your mind to it.

A crucial component to my vision of food writing is taking advantage of opportunities for one-of-a-kind food experiences and Outstanding in the Field provides exactly that.

Sadly, I didn't think to bring a camera, but luckily the couple across from me did. I'll post some photos relevant to the dishes, but you can see more of their photos (including one of me) at:

More great pics available at this site:

Although, I will include some of their pics below so you can see what some of these dishes looked like.

whistling train pig in its own jelly with pickled red onions, gooseberries

billy astot tomatoes & cow's milk yogurt cheese with chicories & zucchini

grande aioli with local roots farm cudites, cold clams & mussels from taylor shellfish, chilled washington sockeye & halibut

stuffed, rolled & tied leg of lamb with artichokes from jason & siri's neighbors & bluebird grain farm's farro

washington apricots, estrella cheeses, amaretti

The cost of the dinner was far beyond my normal budget, but the experience was truly priceless.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dream Come True

Last week, I had the opportunity to experience a fantasy come true, an outing with a food critic. It was an item I won at an auction a few months ago and we were finally able to set our date. I don't know how appropriate it would be for me to give details since it won't go out to publication for a while, but let's just say it was truly inspiring and I look forward to reading the article.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cooking and Entertaining

One nice thing about living on my own is I can cook again. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I hosted my first dinner party last week to celebrate Independence Day, and I couldn't think of a more appropriate occasion.

My friend, David, had the idea to make fish tacos. He had just moved back to Seattle from San Diego and was already missing his mother's fantastic Mexican cooking. He arrived early with his partner, Phillip, armed with a fantastic filet of fish, tortillas and other fixings. The only things missing were the recipe and the desire to cut up the fish.

So, while the two of them played Wii, I cut up the fish, seasoned panko breadcrumbs, and proceeded to improvise some fish tacos for everyone. I fried up the fish, grilled the tortillas, stuffed them with the fish, cabbage, and tomatoes, then topped them with Zane & Zack's Honey-Chipotle Salsa mixed with sour cream. I have to say, they turned out pretty well. Perhaps it was the fact they were served on my china, or more likely the fortified margaritas.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Welcome to my blog!

Hello, I'm Daphne and the founder of I am not a chef or other culinary professional nor a professional writer. I'm just a fan whose always had a dream to be a food critic, or better yet a taster like a judge on Iron Chef (the Japanese version). Instead of waiting around for the New York Times or Seattle Times to knock on my door and hire me, I figure I can use this forum to live out part of my dream. Thank you for reading.