Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Toys in the 'Hood

Recently, I moved from my condo in Eastlake to a house in the U District. One of the best things about moving is exploring your new neighborhood and all that it has to offer. Lucky for me there's a surplus of good, cheap food and watering holes there.

My first venture out drinking was a stop at Die Bierstube on Roosevelt, a short walk from my new home. Naturally I was weary; after all, I just moved further away from the great Feierabend in South Lake Union, but I was confident that they'd have my favorite dunkel, or dark style of beer that is still very light. Not only did they have one (and a wheat dunkel to boot!!), but an intriguing concoction macerating in a large jar above the register that turned out to be a house-made "whiskey". While I wouldn't go as far as to call it a whiskey it was indeed tasty, and inspired the base of this week's cocktail special.

The jar was a little far for me to make out everything inside but I did notice golden raisins, so the next week at work I started a simple infusion with the raisins and vodka, leaving me a couple of weeks to figure out the rest until it was ready.

Since it's officially spring I wanted light and bright flavors for this, so I started by muddling fresh mint and ginger, added the golden raisin liqueur and topped it all off with a float of sparkling wine. I call it:

"The Raisinette"!

Since we're just on the other side of spring I get to showcase the best of both worlds - the deep earthiness of winter interwoven with the softness of spring. Some of my best dishes have come out of these intersections of inspiration, and I'm really happy with the way that this one came out.

For some reason I've been really fixated on the idea of a dish with fried brie lately, so I cut discs out of a wheel that I then coated with egg and panko breadcrumbs to be fried as a topping to say, a steak, so that the cheese oozes out when you cut into it like a broken yolk and coats the meat like a sauce.

I initially wanted to try out a buffalo flat iron steak from my specialty company, but when that turned up unavailable I had to scramble Tuesday morning before deciding on an interesting cut of beef called a top sirloin from just above the tenderloin, and I even found an Angus breed version that has more flavor and tenderness. I carefully cut the meat into thick portions that tend to naturally sway on the triangular shape, which made a good visual contrast to the circular brie.

For a vegetable I used some beautiful, locally grown rainbow chard, a green that has a variety of colored stems that also give the leafy vegetable good body even when finely shredded and sauteed in a little butter, onion and garlic.

To compliment the colors of the chard while countering the richness of the brie I roasted red and golden beets and peeled them before pureeing with red wine and champagne vinegar respectively along with a little sugar to give me a duo of sweet and sour sauces to balance the plate.   

With Love,


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