Tag Archives: strawberry

Summer, strawberries, pie and ice cream (oh my)

You know what I love about summer? It’s not the endless days, the sun, the vegetables growing in my garden—though those are all wonderful things. No, what I love most about summer is the smell of it. It comes in my bedroom window in the morning, a round warmth that smells vaguely like hot concrete. It’s a city smell, but I’ll take it.

Summer heralds the beginning of berry season, and as if on cue, the first BC strawberries made their appearance this week. I picked up two flats of them at the Main Street farmers market, along with some scandalously red rhubarb, and ta-da! we have pie. And by we, I mean me. And all of my best friends who have suddenly crawled out of the woodwork, pleading for pieces of pie.

If I could somehow manage to stop eating strawberries (seriously now, my fingers and kitchen are stained irrevocably scarlet), I would make strawberry ice cream.

What’s that, you say? You’d like a recipe for strawberry ice cream?

Conveniently, you can find my recipe for egg-free strawberry ice cream in the Summer 2011 issue of Edible Vancouver. Furthermore, it runs alongside a recipe for kick-ass chocolate wafer cookies, and then, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can put the two together and make ice cream sandwiches. And, because I’m pedantic that way, I’d like to point out that said ice cream sandwiches appear on the cover of said magazine. You can pick up a copy at various points in Vancouver, but if the magazine goblins have stolen them all away—or you’re not in Vancouver—here’s the electronic edition.

Edible Vancouver Summer 2011

Photo and styling by Bambi Edlund

Strawberry rhubarb pie. Leaf lard crust. Divine.

Strawberry rhubarb pie with leaf lard crustThis post is totally not chocolate-related, but it’s officially summer (even the sun knows it, finally!) and the farmers market is full of goodies. Like strawberries and rhubarb. And pig fat.

I’ve spoken with the lovely Kate McDermott before about her wondrous pies. Kate makes The World’s Best Pie, as I discovered last summer. She swears by leaf lard, and I’ve been altogether too lazy to track down a source of it in Vancouver.

Leaf lard is the fat from around a pig’s kidneys, and is highly prized for its clean flavour and magically flaky pie properties. I finally found a source for it in Vancouver, and bought mine from Gelderman Farms at the Main Street farmers market. Give them a call or drop them an email, let them know how much you want, and they’ll have it for you at their next market date.

I bought three pounds of frozen leaf lard from them and rendered half of it in my crockpot. I used Cheeseslave’s handy how-to, and it worked like a charm. However, whereas most instructions call for the rendered lard to be strained into mason jars, I poured mine into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Once it solidified (overnight, in the fridge) it lifted out of the loaf pan easily. I now have a brick of white fat hanging out in the back of my fridge, wrapped in parchment and stored in a ziptop bag.

Word to the wise: while most instructions say that rendering fat produces a rather, erm, distinctive smell, I don’t think it’s unpleasant. However, it definitely smelled porky in my apartment for about six hours. I happened to be making peanut butter ice cream at the same time, and it got me thinking about peanut butter and bacon sandwiches…but that’s another post for another time.

Of course, all the fun of leaf lard is in making pie with it. I’ve worked with store-bought lard before and just find it off-putting. It’s strange-tasting, greasy and slick—and while it does produce a pretty flaky crust, there’s something missing.Strawberry rhubarb pie with leaf lard crust

So I made pie. And it is the best pie that I’ve made so far. I went a bit overboard with the sugar for the filling, but I’m so distracted at the exquisite flakiness of the crust, the crisp sound that it makes when you plunge your fork into it, and the delicate, buttery sweetness of it that I don’t even care about the filling.

Now that, my friends, is good pie. And I’m wholly convinced about the leaf lard thing.

Passionate strawberries

I have to hand it to Norman Love, he managed to make me like white chocolate. Normally, I turn my nose up at white chocolate. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with it in principle, but it’s all milky and cloying, and doesn’t actually have any cacao in it. White “chocolate,” pshaw.

His key lime chocolate, for instance. It’s a white chocolate shell (shaped like a conch shell, lightly sprayed with green-tinted cocoa butter) that contains a white chocolate ganache with nice tartness, slight nuttiness, and perfectly smooth texture.

The passionfruit heart is lovely. It’s a milk shell decorated with white- and yellow-tinted cocoa butter, and it’s almost too pretty to eat. Passionfruit is usually quite a tart, punchy flavour. In Norman Love’s hands, it’s subtle and gentle. The passionfruit flavour mixes so well with the bitterness of the ganache, and somehow enhances the fruitiness of the passionfruit. The chocolate and the passionfruit help each other out and it’s delicious. And fantastically smooth.

And the strawberry heart? It’s dark chocolate with splashes of red. And it smells – smells! – like a strawberry patch in the height of summer. I’ve never smelled anything like it, at least not in chocolate form. The ganache is smooth and lovely, with just a kick of something boozy. Strawberry liqueur? It tastes almost like strawberry Pocky, but infinitely better.

Chocolopolis

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a culinary tourist. I know most people head to new places with lists of museums, sights, or shopping districts. I prefer to arm myself with lists of restaurants, bakeries and chocolate shops.

Well, when I was in Seattle last month, I headed straight for Chocolopolis. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Not only did I get to speak to the lovely Lauren Adler, but she told me about the artisan chocolate makers that she gets to work with. The store is stocked with artisan chocolate bars that I’ve never even heard of, much less tasted. And the confectionary case is stocked with a rotating selection of offerings from top-notch chocolatiers. When I was there, they had Theo Chocolates, Norman Love Confections, and Christopher Elbow Chocolates.

Christopher Elbow was in the store the previous day, doing a tasting and demonstration. I missed him by 18 hours.

I drowned my sorrows in a mug of warm drinking chocolate, served with a homemade vanilla-strawberry marshmallow. A double-layered marshmallow that tasted like fragrant vanilla and juicy strawberry, dunked in thick, luxurious drinking chocolate: it was like a warm, adult version of neopolitan ice cream, eaten straight from the bucket.

And then I carted home a bag stuffed to the brim with artisan chocolate bars.

Chocolopolis
1527 Queen Anne Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 282-0776

The Kitchen Cafe doesn’t disappoint

Before the name Chef Hugh Matheson mean anything to me (he won the 2009 IACP award for community service), I met several people who spoke reverently and enthusiastically about The Kitchen Cafe in Boulder. Well before it was trendy to do so, The Kitchen Cafe supported local farmers and producers, serving organic and seasonal food wherever possible.

There’s a proper restaurant downstairs, and a more casual, loungey atmosphere at The Kitchen [Upstairs]. Well, I headed [Upstairs] in search of tasty food and the promise of happy hour. From 5:30-6:30 pm each day, they feature a three-course prix fixe for $26 ($34 with wine pairings). Now, that’s not a cheap dinner, but it’s incredible value for amazing food and wine in a beautiful room.

First course was a rustic bruschetta with basil pesto (thick, rich and unctuous), mozzarella (clean, fresh and delicate), red onion (sweated and sweet), and radishes (crisp, without their customary bite) on top of toasty bread. Garnished with olive oil and parsley, this appetizer was really well-composed. All the flavours worked well together, and – more importantly – complemented each other. This was paired with a 2007 Ochoa Viura-Chardonnay from Spain (nice and light, with notes of roasted pineapple and mango).

Next up was a dish of seared scallops, sauteed romaine, roasted potatoes, and anchovy dressing. The dressing was to die for: rich, creamy and salty. The scallops were sweet and seared, the romaine kept its texture and sweetness, and the potatoes were perfectly cooked. It was an exercise in the perfect bite: the acidity and tartness of the dressing, met by the sweetness and crunch of romaine, mellowing to the sweetness and texture of the scallop, all on top of a solid foundation of potato that actually tasted like potato. It was paired with a 2001 Tempranillo from Ramirez de la Piscina that was a bit too tannic on its own, but mellowed out nicely with the food.

Dessert was a Knickerbocker Glory, which was so insanely delicious but simple. In fact, I’m going to steal it and say I invented it. You can too: here’s how. Start with a large, bulbous glass – a Chimay glass, if you want to be exact about things. Put in a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, creamy and fragrant with real vanilla. Top it with softly whipped chantilly cream and crumbled meringue bits. Add a few sliced strawberries, some berry syrup, and a drizzle of Chambord. Serve with a spoon and watch people swoon with delight as they eat a very grown-up ice cream sundae.

Even better, serve it with R&R Naughty Sticky dessert wine, all coy with its honey and toasted almond flavours. Naughty and sticky, indeed.

And because no meal is complete without chocolate, Rick the bartender let me try a homemade chocolate bar: 72% dark chocolate with walnuts and sea salt. This was not a demure salted chocolate. The salt was front and centre. But then it stepped aside to let the walnuts – all nutty, tender and crumbly – shine. And then the 72% dark chocolate brought its bittersweetness to the table.

I have my doubts as to whether Rick really wanted my “professional opinion,” because he knew that it was delicious. But hey, I’m happy to oblige.

The Kitchen Cafe and The Kitchen [Upstairs]
1039 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO
303-544-5973
The Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Cafe Medina: waffle central

I blogged earlier about Patisserie LeBeau’s Liege waffles, and how I don’t really like them. I find that the Liege waffles at Cafe Medina are far superior.

Actually, I prefer Cafe Medina for a number of reasons. In addition to waffles, they now have a full kitchen that serves amazing breakfast (after 9am – you’ve been warned) and lunch. The space is beautiful and tastefully decorated, and the European-accented staff really make you feel like you’ve travelled across the Atlantic.

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Whip it (whip it good)

The Whip is one part art gallery, one part restaurant, and one part bar. Given that it’s on a less-gentrified stretch of Main Street, it’s also a popular hipster hangout – but please don’t hold that against it.

I met Elisa for brunch there on the weekend, and the quality of food really blew me away. I’ve only had evening appetizers there, and while the food was well-prepared, it wasn’t terribly inventive or amazing. Apparently they’ve got the A-team working weekend brunch, because it was some kind of wonderful.

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