Sunday, October 30, 2005

25 for 25

Each year the Seattle dining community is treated to a promotion called "25 for 25". This involves 25 restaurants featuring a 3 course dinner for 25 dollars. The promotion is available sunday through thursday and is well worth a weekday evening.

Many in the restaurant industry mock it, but the dining community loves it. The affordability of the menu tempts diners, introducing them to restaurants they haven't had a chance to try yet. They are able to experience the restaurant or chef at it's best, trying a starter, a main course, and getting a taste of the pastry chef's creations too as dessert is included.

Eva will be participating for the first time. This also marks the first time I have participated in this event. So what does this mean to me? It means to me that all the diners choosing the menu will have dessert. Lots of dessert.

The dessert menu for Eva is fairly current, but abbreviated. So I will expand on my menu here!

Autumn Fruit Crisp...... This is a crisp made from apples, pears, and quince. The fruit was roasted to bring out the individual flavors, then tossed with honey and a hint of cinnamon before being covered with an brown butter oat strussel. The quince brings a flavor of distinction to the richness of the pears and tartness of the apples. It is served warm with a scoop of soft brown sugar ice cream.

Frozen Honey Parfait with Darjeeling Tea Poached Pears and Honey-Kissed Lavender Shortbread..... This parfait is made with just 4 ingredients; honey, vanilla bean, egg yolks, and whipped cream. The clarity and focus of the honey is brought out by the vanilla seeds. The texture is light, creamy, and delicate. It is served with Bosc pears that have been poached in Darjeeling tea, and two lavender shortbread cookies that were baked with an indentation on the top. This small crater is filled with a tiny pool of wildflower honey just before serving.

Dark Chocolate Tart with Caramel Pecans and Chocolate Whipped Cream....... (the focus of my previous post) A rich almond and cocoa sable crust is filled with deep chocolate ganache and crowned with caramel coated pecans. Along side is a light creamy chocolate whipped cream.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with maple CremeFraiche and Roasted Pepitos......A thick dense cheesecake that highlights the Long Island cheese wheel Pumpkin. This pumpkin is thicker, more orange in color, and holds more flavor than a sugar pumpkin. The crust uses crushed gingersnaps that are made with a hefty dose of molasses and 4 inches of fresh ginger. Atop this cheesecake is whipped maple creme fraiche. Pepitos, a large shelled pumpkin seed popular in Mexico, have been made into a brittle. Fresh nutmeg is grated over the pepitos while still warm so it adheres.

Lemon Cream Tart with Wild Cascade Mountian Huckleberry Sauce...... This lemon tart is filled with a lemon cream rather than curd. No cream is added, rather the method incorporates ingredients in a manner that creates a creamy thick texture. It is set inside a pate sucre (or what I call my "perfect plain jane tart dough) that is enhanced with the juice and zest of a lemon. In the class I just taught we discussed that a perfect lemon tart rarely needs much garnish. So I limited this to one simple accompaniment, a wild huckleberry sauce that is sweet, robust, and a vivid purple.

Aged Sardinian Goat Cheese Pannacotta with Hand Made Crackers and Wildflower Honey.....For those who prefer a cheese course to a dessert, I offer a savory pannacotta. This is a delicately rich pannacotta made of Panteleo, a sardinian goat cheese, creme fraiche, and cream. The cheese is hard and aged for a year, the taste is a bit salty, but very nutty. The two different hand made crackers are a tender flaky aniseeed cracker and a crisp cinnamon cornmeal cracker that shatters on your teeth. Wildflower honey is drizzled to order adding the ever appealing sweetness that cheese loves.

I have made my reservations at Yarrow Bay Grill. I am excited to see pastry chef Jessica Campbell's offerings, and Amy speaks highly of the chef Vicky McCaffrey's talent. The pair opened the Waterfront. I had the opportunity to eat there the first week it was opened as my father built the structure (the old real world Seattle pier!). It was the first time I had seen a dessert menu with such creativity and passion. I was awed by the chai tea souffle cake and the petit four plate.

I remember looking at the dessert menu, seeing a girls name at the bottom, and thinking to myself, I am going to have my name on a menu someday.


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