It’s the season for peppermint-, pumpkin- and gingerbread-centric sweets, but not for Good Girl Dinette‘s Diep Tran, who marches to the beat of a different drummer boy. At her Highland Park restaurant, it’s all about figgy pudding, the oft-overlooked and under-appreciated Dickensian delight.
Get your belly in the holiday spirit with my latest piece for the Los Angeles Times‘ Daily Dish: “Good Girl Dinette’s Diep Tran brings us all some figgy pudding.” Happy holidays and bon appetit!
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To ease the dissapointment of not being able to dine at Willows Inn on Lummi Island during this trip to Seattle, I treated myself to happy hour and two dinners on Saturday night. Not to sound like a complete lush, but nothing makes everything all better quite like a few rounds of cocktails!
We started off the evening at Bathtub Gin, a speakeasy hidden in a downtown alley that came highly recommended to us by our server at The Corson Building. After taking full advantage of their half-off special, we moved on to Essex in Ballard for more adult beverages and a bite to eat.
Brandon Pettit, the chef and owner of pizzeria Delancey next door, opened Essex with his wife and business partner, Molly Wizenberg of Orangette, last summer.
“The Delancey Street and Essex Street subway stops in New York share a station, so Essex seemed a fitting name for the restaurant sharing a façade with Delancey,” according to Ms. Orangette.
We arrived at the bar before the sun had fully set, so seating was relatively easy. We pulled up two seats at the counter and proceeded to order our “first” round. While my darling Astronomer stuck with the beers on tap, I was in a cocktailing mood.
My salted margarita ($10), sparkling and on tap, was comprised of reposado and a combination of orange, grapefruit, and lime juices. Tequila-based cocktails always treat me right.
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For the grand finale of our whirlwind stopover in London, we dined at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Opened in early 2011, the restaurant has already earned a Michelin star and is currently ranked 9th on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Stars and rankings are all good and fun, but what really drew me in to Dinner was its unique menu of historically inspired British dishes. Every plate served here has been thoroughly researched and can be traced back as far as the 14th century. Dinner is Heston Blumenthal’s love letter to Britain’s proud culinary past, one that continues to influence and inform this modern kitchen at every turn.
Upon being seated, each member of our party was presented with a neatly folded menu containing the night’s offerings. One side of the menu listed the starters, mains, and desserts, while the other contained the dishes’ “sources of origin” (i.e. the name of the cookbook in which the dish was found). The nerd in me loved how the menu read like an academic paper.
Food historians, as well as the British Library, assisted chefs Heston Blumenthal and Ashley Palmer-Watts with researching Dinner’s menus.
To further set the mood, the clasps holding the menus together contained anecdotes about British gastronomy. I particularly loved the one about the origin of afternoon tea. To think, the tradition began with a duchess and the “sinking feeling” she endured between lunch and dinner!
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While digging into doughnuts at St. John Bakery and Spanish chorizo sandwiches at Borough Market, Su-Lin and I made plans to get together the following day for Sunday roast, a traditional British meal of roasted meats, Yorkshire pudding, vegetables, and gravy. Su-Lin insisted that our feast take place at Notting Hill’s The Mall Tavern, whose Sunday roast is considered to be one of London’s finest.
While The Mall Tavern has been around since 1856, Chef Jesse Dunford Wood has only been cooking his brand of “beautiful and colourful British food with a sense of humour” since 2010. In addition to roasts, the gastropub serves a seasonally driven menu featuring old school British delights like cow pies and arctic rolls.
With four people in our party, we decided to order two different roasts and two of the pub’s signature dishes to share. The Roast Beef (£15) platter came with potatoes, heaps of carrots and shredded cabbage, as well as Yorkshire pudding.
The highlight of plate was the perfectly pink roast beef, which arrived thinly sliced and sprinkled with coarse salt. While The Astronomer preferred the meat straight up, I loved it with the chunky horseradish sauce served alongside. The Yankee contingent at the table was stoked to try the Yorkshire pudding, which was airy, hollow, and reminiscent of a popover.
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