Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dessert | tea & pastry in the Emerald City

I took a trip to Seattle last week, so you can imagine how many wonderful adventures I had while I was gone (which also means I have hundreds of photographs to sort through :P). This will be first of five feature posts (plus a Wanderlust summary of what I did over the duration of my trip once I finish posting everything else) -- i.e., the coffee shops, teahouses, bakeries, and ice creameries I explored over the three-day stay.

{1} First stop after lunch at HoneyHole Sandwiches was to Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream in Capitol Hill. Molly Moon's combines milk and cream from hormone-free dairy cows at family-owned Edaleen Dairy Farm with local, seasonal, as well as organic fruits and spices (as much as possible) "to make combinations that are both familiar and surprising." Molly Moon's tries its best to source everything it can from local farmers, including sugar from Idaho, lavender from Sequim, honey from the Olympics, and more than 90% of all ingredients. For things that don't grow well in the Pacific Northwest (namely chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and tea), it "works with local companies like Theo Chocolate and Stumptown coffee to buy organic, fair-trade ingredients we can feel good about."

01B - Molly Moon
{2} The smorgasbord of flavors at Molly Moon's includes Always flavors (i.e., its classics) as well as a limited selection of seasonal ones. {6,7} The waffle cones here are freshly made with special waffle irons. Among the ice creams sampled that afternoon:

  • {5} A waffle cone with Earl Grey ice cream, which is made using organic and fair-trade tea steeped overnight in the shop's sweet cream. Absolutely heavenly -- just like the perfect milky black tea. Definitely want to dive into making this from the eponymous cookbook -- it's just too delicious to resist!
  • {3} Molly's Sundae with melted chocolate and salted caramel ice cream, hot fudge, candied hazelnuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. The melted chocolate is made using locally-made organic, fair-trade Theo chocolate and is "extra fudgy" while the salted caramel is very salty and "caramelly" (incidentally Molly Moon's bestseller). Certainly a solid sundae that is perfect for sharing (it's pretty sizely), though the salted caramel was a lot saltier than I anticipated.

The next morning, before heading to the Space Needle for an early time, {1} I stopped at Crumble & Flake Patisserie (also in Capitol Hill). {2,3} It is "a tiny bakery making pastries in small batches with care and attention" as well as one that closes at 3 PM daily (or until it sells out). I now know why!

02A - C&F
So getting there roughly an hour after opening on a Thursday, there was still a decent selection of pastries from which to choose. I ended up with a lime mojito macaron, a black cherry-dark chocolate macaron, a plain croissant, and a blueberry-lemon scone. The cookie of the macarons were of the ideal consistency (just enough airiness and meringue), and the buttercream/ganache was light yet flavorful. The scone was really refreshing -- the inclusion of lemon zest really goes a long way. And the croissant was pretty solid -- really crispy, buttery, and flaky. If this isn't a great way to start a morning, I'm not sure what is!

{1} Later that afternoon, I ventured up to Phinney Ridge, a neighborhood in the northern part of Seattle, to have some pie at A La Mode Pies. Chef Chris Porter, owner of A La Mode Pies, was inspired to open his own pie shop as an ode to his love for pie that began in during his childhood days, when his mother would pack store-bought frosted fruit pie in his sack lunch during special occasions. His mother taught him that "patience, technique,a nd invention in the kitchen is often rewarded with wide eyes and happy taste buds." So his vision for A La Mode Pies is "not just to recreate his mother's recipes, but to reinvent them using imagination and high-quality ingredients" as it creates pies and tarts that "look as good as they taste -- no sprinkls, frosting, or grocery store gimmicks."

02G - A La Mode
To my happy surprise, A La Mode Pies offers two flavors from Bluebird Microcreamery, which had been on my Seattle wishlist for this trip but we couldn't fit it in. Yay for two birds with one stone! Here were the varieties sampled:

  • {2}Marionberry and hazelnut pie -- a blend of sweet marionberries (considered the "cabernet of blackberries") with a flaky crust that is marbled with the sharp, toasted flavor of hazelnuts -- was served a la mode with snickerdoodle ice cream. The marionberries were a lot more tart than I was anticipating, and I was surprised to find out that the hazelnuts were in the crust, not in the filling itself. Nevertheless, this sliver was quite lovely, especially balanced out with the warming spiced snickerdoodle ice cream.
  • {3}Mexican chocolate mousse pie -- spiced with cinnamon and a hint of cayenne pepper, filled inside a chocolate graham cracker crust, and topped with freshly whipped cream -- was also served a la mode with snickerdoodle ice cream. I was told that this was the bestselling pie at A La Mode, and I can certainly understand why. The rich chocolate mousse as light as air with a touch of heat from the cayenne in the toasty graham cracker crust. It was even better with the creamy ice cream. A sliver of pie here is worth the trip up to Phinney Ridge, for sure!

02I - Milstead
On the way back towards downtown Seattle, I inadvertently passed under the George Washington Memorial Bridge where the Fremont Troll lives and {1} stopped by at Milstead & Co. for some iced chai (though now in retrospect, I wish it was an espresso beverage! :P). With a high ceiling, Milstead is housed in a loft-like space with an open and airy atmosphere that plays off the cold slates and the warm woods of the furniture, floors, and walls.

{1} The next morning, I took a stroll over to Remedy Teas in Capitol Hill for some morning tea and {5} to check out its offering of over 150 organic teas, specializing in signature artisan blends that are sourced from across the globe.

03A - Remedy Tea
{2,6} The teahouse's space was very calming, with an earthy level of zen to it. {3} The menu offered three tea preparations -- a tea pot, a cup to-go, or a cup of any tea iced. {4} I tried the peach oolong in a teapot, for which the counter girl gave me a nifty Bodum teapot steeper with a double-wall insulated glass; a set timer counting down to when the ideal steep is done; and a stainless dish for resting the used tea steeper. Love the precision and the enthusiasm that Remedy Teas has for its hot tea preparation! {7} I also tried the iced matcha green tea lemonade, which was refreshing and a little tart-and-sweet from the lemonade.

Later that afternoon, I ventured to Bainbridge Island on the Seattle State Ferry, which had gorgeous views of the Emerald City and of the islands across the Puget Sound. {2} While I was over there, I made sure to stop at Mora Iced Creamery, a little ice cream shop tucked away within the downtown shops run by Argentinian expats who have developed more than 70 flavors since the shop's opening in 2006. Mora, which means "blackberry" in Italian and Spanish, pays homage to the Island's beloved wild blackberry. Making its ice creams in small batches using fresh milk, real eggs, and cane sugar, the shop does not taking any shortcuts or using any powdered mixes, but instead has "developed its own recipes, carefully testing them repeatedly to make certain that one ingredient doesn't overwhelm another as well as ensuring a texture that is smooth and creamy." {5} It churns Old World flavors like gianduja, marron glace (i.e., candied chestnut), and dulce de leche as well as new-school favorites and seasonal specialties throughout the year.

03I - Mora
{1Food & Wine named Bainbridge Island as one of America's Best Ice Cream Cities, citing Mora Iced Creamery as a must-visit, which explains the crazy long line spewing out its front door when we arrived early that afternoon. The line moved pretty quickly, and before I knew it, I was enjoying {3} a sugar cone with a scoop of mint with shaved chocolate fudge and {4} a sugar cone with a scoop of lemon sorbet (made using hand-squeezed lemons). Both were really light and refreshing on the warm summer day -- you could really discern the use of the freshest ingredients, especially with the mint -- it wasn't that artificial peppermint/spearmint flavor you'd typically find in candy, gum, etc., but rather extracted from fresh spearmint leaves. The thin shavings of chocolate fudge were a fun contrast compared to the chocolate chips you'd typically find in similar ice creams.

Findings: Seattle and Bainbridge Island undoubtedly have some amazing confections and hot beverages to offer. I had a generous sampling of ice creams, pastries, pies, and teas, and I am happy to report that not one disappointed! So if you find yourself in Seattle, be sure not to miss out on its original ice cream flavors (Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream, Bluebird Microcreamery, and Mora Iced Creamery), small-batched pastries (Crumble & Flake Patisserie), homemade pies just like how Mom used to make 'em (A La Mode Pies), or its coffee/tea scene (Milstead & Co. and Remedy Teas are great places to start)!

Price point: $3 for single scoop of ice cream at Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream, $5 for a lil' sundae; $2.50-$3.50 for each pastry at Crumble & Flake Patisserie; $5 per pie slice at A La Mode Pies; $4 for each beverage at Milstead & Co.; $4 for each tea at Remedy Teas; $3 for each scoop at Mora Iced Creamery.

--August 21-23, 2013

Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream (Capitol Hill)
 917 East Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98122

Crumble & Flake Patisserie
1500 East Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98122

A La Mode Pies
5821 Phinney Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103

Milstead & Co.
770 North 34th Street
Seattle, WA 98103

Remedy Teas
345 15th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112

Mora Iced Creamery (Bainbridge Island)
139 Madrone Lane
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

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