While in Seattle, we were in search for delicious baked-goods and we randomly stumbled upon an event at a local bakery organized by Bread Baker’s Guild of America. The bakery was Macrina and the location was SODO location- South of Downtown and their main baking facility.
We arrived early to and sampled their brunch menu, fabulous- smoked salmon on an onion bialy for me and Ben wolfed down his oven face egg and mushroom sandwich, I think we both had order envy. It was even double iced coffee morning, with the second almond version was with a freshly baked treat or two- a roly poly and a sugar bun- worth the gluten.
For the event, we were greeted by Leslie Mackie, Macrina founder and empress. Her enthusiasm for her profession and her cafes was evident in the way she described the bread we sampled at the start of the tour- my favorite was the baguette made with potatoes, moist and doughy deliciousness. Leslie had a much-deserved sparkle in her eye as she described the success of Macrina and the three locations in Seattle and the growth over the past twenty years. I am in awe of people who have found their passions and have become so happy doing what they clearly love. She also credits the team who support Macrina and its cafes and customers.
The small group was escorted through the spacious kitchen and showed the different areas where the team produces loaf after loaf of bread, flaky pastries, custom cakes and other scrummy treats (buns stuffed with Nutella- hello!). Ben was most fascinated by the bread starter which has been in the Macrina family for ages and is the foundation for many of their delicious breads. The oven set up they have is crazy- a rotating walk-in oven and the main beast of an oven which was built in the bakery and is an engineering marvel with its conveyer belts to transport the loaves into the heat and inject steam to give the best oven-spring and crackly crust.
(The menu- only in Spanish)
(First impressions are everything)
(So welcoming and love the colours)
One of our fabulous MBA students from Chile gave me some recommendations of things to do/see/eat while I was in Santiago. As you have probably realized, my priorities tend toward the eating variety, so first up is FOOD!
There is a lovely, albeit, touristy place called Patiobellevista, which houses numerous shops selling Chilean handicrafts. Think copper and a blue stone which can only be found in Afghanistan and Chile- lapis lazuli (according to the open-top bus tour commentary). Patiobellevista also hosts some inviting restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating- which for a girl who rarely sees the sun living in Edinburgh, al fresco dining was a must.
I was instantly attracted by the outdoor porch setting of Cebichería Constitución,and understanding what this was, I was in. For you non-hispanophones- it is ceviche and it was the freshest tasting seafood I think I have eaten. This mixed-fish ceviche was served with fresh lime juice, a bit of yam, onions and white beans. I also tried some of their fresh octopus with an amazing black olive ‘dressing’ of sorts. I would love to try to recreate these dishes now I am home, hopefully Ben is game. We just need a Mercado Central* in Edinburgh.
*Mercado Central is a huge fresh seafood market in Santiago. I popped in for a look and smell (so fresh, there wasn’t one)! I was kindly asked several times where I was from- I the wide-eyed lost look always gets me in trouble. They make a famous eel broth here- I gave this a pass.
Ben’s sister Sarah has always claimed she is a fan of my baked goods, it could be family member flattery, and if it is, then she is now stuck with more cookies than she might ever want!
For their Christmas gift Ben and I baked a variety of cookies and sent a box down to Sarah, Richard, Emily and Adam.
We started with these gluten-free peanut butter cups. Ben is interested in the science behind the melting and tempering of chocolate and the temperature it needs to be to ensure it sets without refrigeration and without crystallising. He did an amazing job with these treats.
They are far better than your original Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, less waxy tasting and the peanut butter ‘nutella’ you make for the filling really elevates this snack.
We used the recipe from a great site called Brave Tart ( I love a good pun!) I am dying to try her 3 Musketeers Bar- maybe as a birthday treat.
I also learned that Ben is not a fan of the peanut butter cup, even when homemade and prepared with high-quality chocolate.
I say YUMMERS!
This weekend our usual bread-based meals (here, here, here and here) could not compete with our meal of carbohydrates squared. It was Tartine’s focaccia. Almost better than the rounds of the stuff from Broders’, Italian deli, where I worked in high school, college, post college and beyond. I was first introduced to focaccia there.
Ben crafted the bread base and then we topped the airy base with madonlined potatoes. They had been tossed in olive oil, salt, fresh-cracked pepper and thyme. Then scattered over the surface and baked for 20-minutes
Coming out of the oven, shavings of pecorino romano are sprinkled strategically over the hot bread and some additional thyme. Consume immediately. You will not be disappointed.
In fact, I would have locked myself into a closet and eaten all this, but we do not have a closet, lucky for Ben and the focaccia.
Ben and I are attempting to mix-it-up and trying to be a bit more adventurous with our cooking. Ben has been perfecting his pulled pork recipe. It started with a tasty hunk from Peelham Farms, a local producer of high-quality meat products. You can even adopt a pig, then the team from Peelham slaughters it for you and you have piles of the other white meat.
Starting with the pork, Ben followed David Chang of Momofuku’s recipe for Pork-Belly Buns, but replace the pork belly with pork shoulder and used some of the elements of the Bo Ssam recipe that is so popular at his New York restaurant.
To cook the buns we picked up a steamer at our local Chinese supermarket. I have always wanted a steamer. With Ben, all my dreams do come true.
Perfectly puffed and brushed with oil so they do not stick together. They cook in 5-7 minutes.
The final product- with a taste explosion of ginger and scallion sauce and ssamjang, a fiery soybean paste. Momofuk-me they were good!
We had left-over pork, so the next night we had some traditional Chinese Char Siu Bao or pork buns.
Recommended Daily Avocado….
The food in Central and South America was so tasty.
In Mexico I ventured out of my comfort zone and hit up some non-touristy places. They did not disappoint. Even with my limited Spanish I was able to order some delish dishes. Enchiladas Verde, Tortas, Huevos Rancheros and Tacos.
I chose little dive restaurants, heavy on the charm and quick service, light on the cleanliness. No gringas and no receipts.
The neighbourhood where I stayed in Bogota was light on restaurants, but there was a supermarket, Carulla’s, just behind the hotel where I could pick up fixings for tasty hotel-based dinners. My favourite- avocado sandwiches. The store-bought avocados were perfectly ripe. I could scoop them out with a plastic spoon.
These bocadillo were followed by fresh fruit. You get the most amazing selection of exotic fruits. My favorites are the grandilla, grown in the Andes mountains. There are small seeds encased in tasty-juicy fruit pouches (like a passion fruit) all protected in an orange case. Yummers. Another discovery this trip was the physalis or ground-cherry.
I also had the best pulpo a la plancha. Grilled to caramelised perfection.
TURKEY TASTINGS… I must admit, when I am in countries where I have zero knowledge of the language (Russia and Turkey), I sometimes find myself opting for a quick trip to the local supermarket for easy-to-eat-in-the-hotel-food, the choice is limited and not very adventurous. This is something I need to work on.
In Turkey, between in-hotel oranges and haselnusse, I went to the House Cafe for a tasty brunch. I had a fantastic egg dish- oven baked feta cheese and olives topped with fresh tomatoes, a poached egg and loads of bright-green herbs. It was fresh and surprisingly light. I must try to make this at home.
I cannot get enough Turkish coffee. It packs a powerful punch, but when you stay up too late watching episodes of Parks and Recreation (so funny and I developed a mini-crush on Adam Scott’s, Ben Wyatt character) on the iPad, it helps you get through the day. Plus they make it in lovely copper pots.
I do not care for Turkish delight, but I like the colours!
PARIS STREET FOOD… Not to confuse you, I am in Istanbul.
Last Paris post, at least until my next visit. Post 10-mile run, Reia and I headed for some shopping in the Marais neighborhood. Loads of cute shops and open on Sunday, which is fantastic.
We saw several passersby with delicious looking falafel sandwiches. In a previous visit to Paris, Ben and I had seen people strolling and munching, but we did not find the place serving the tasty-looking sandwiches. I did find the place on this trip- L’As du Fallafel, located in a once vibrant Jewish neighbourhood on the Rue de Rosiers. They pile crispy falafel balls, hummus, crunchy slaw, roasted eggplant, pickles, yogurt sauce and more pickles!
These pita-pockets were followed by the best flat white in Paris, but I do not know the name of the coffee shop, but I know it was on the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois. It was tiny with just one barista and a selection of coffee beans. If you find it, send me the exact address.
One of the things we have struggled to find are tasty replacement pastries. We used to love popping to the local boulangeries for weekend treats. Our favourite was at Trois Dauphin on rue Montroge.
We came close this recently with a trip to the Stockbridge Market. Tasty croissants aux amandes, filled with frangipan. In France they use day-old croissants filled with the almonds and then baked- a calorie bomb is there ever was one. These were lighter and probably a bit healthier, but I doubt it.
Other fun things that have been on the menu with some recent visitors:
- Lamb burgers with sun dried tomatoes and feta- very summery (we had three days of sunshine last week) and on homemade bread buns (by me) with James.
- Cinnamon Baked French Toast with Leanne and Robyn.
- We enjoyed these Banana Crumb Muffins with Chloe.
- Have you tried lasagne with lamb, you should try this Lamb and Feta Lasagne.
- Mini-ricotta cheese cakes with added ginger- nice!
Look Mum No Hands (LMNH) is the airy-hip bike cafe in London owned by Ben’s former classmate from grammar school Lewin Chalkley. Located in a London ‘hood that one would not think would be buzzing on a Sunday- the empty office high rises were an obvious sign, but Old Street was the perfect place for brunch.
We opted not to go out on Saturday night, feasting instead on a brown and serve baguette with cheddar and mustard- French for me, yellow for Ben- split 30/70 along with a couple of beers we ‘borrowed’ from Craig and Lesley.
By morning, our hunger levels were up, so off we went a pied. I ordered a flat white and scrambled eggs on brown toast with mushrooms, Ben went French- roasted ham and cheese croissant and a pain au raisin with a latte and double espresso. As we love to eat, we had checked the reviews and the coffee at Look Mum no Hands has received accolades for the care they take. It lived up to the coffee hype.
(Open spaces and content patrons)
The bicycle theme was everywhere. LMNH even has a shop where you can get your ride fixed while you eat. Ben and I felt a bit lame that we did not ride to brunch, but we rented Boris Bikes immediately afterwards; we hope this compensated.
(More bicycle decorations)
There was an outdoor seating area that proved popular for the cyclist finishing their Sunday morning rides. Thank you for keeping the stink outside near the ample cycle racks.
(Shiny- I would not be surprised if John and Adele already had these)
To Lewin and the LMNH gang: thanks for the warm welcome, we will be back and until then we will be tempted by the merchandise from your online shop.