Food from around the Puget Sound. It is about good sources, great eating and unusual foods.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eltana Wood-Fired Cafe

Much thanks goes to Keren the FranticFoodie for organizing a great show and tell at Eltana for a whole lot of  Seattle's food bloggers. Only months old on Capital Hill, the shiny, airy and open cafe is the work of  partners Stephen Brown and Daniel Levin.  Both were on hand to show us what their Wood-Fired Bagel Cafe was all about.  Inspired when Stephen was attending McGill University and eating Montreal-style bagels 25 years ago. They felt that the this style of bagel needed a larger audience and knew that it was different enough from NYC bagels to be a real hit. Fitting well with the NW's love for local artisan foods this cafe was packed with a lunch time crowd, stacked from the counter to the door, we were lucky to have the large table reserved for our group for a tour and tasting.
Daniel discussing their bagel
Not only is the taste quite different then it's cousin to the south, but how it is formed and cooked makes this northern version speak a different language. Breaking us up into two groups, Daniel took us back to the kitchen which is easily seen from anywhere in the cafe. We saw the process from start to finish getting a detailed explanation from ingredients to technique and the differences that contribute to the Montreal-style. 

Hand Formed
One at a time
Notice the Honeyed water bath at the far end

Making two basic doughs, a whole wheat and regular flour, they use a fresh yeast and nothing else besides salt. It is mixed and then hand formed after being stretched and rolled. It was fascinating to watch the baker form the bagels by hand and get such a consistant product. Then the bagels are boiled in a honeyed water bath and then dipped in the different seeded mixtures. The big difference here is you get a bagel the has no bottom and you have your seeds around the whole bagel not just on the top. 

Seeding the bagels
Getting a long paddle ready for bagels
The bagels are then placed on this very long pine paddle and placed into the oven, which is gas fueled on one side and wood burning on the other. It wasn't long before the 450 degree oven finished the bagels to a golden brown then pulled and sorted. 
Two planks in the oven
From there we got to try first hand the whole selection of bagels and some new flavors. The Cafe theme is based on an Eastern Mediterranean street food, which goes wonderful with the bagels and flat breads that they bake. 
Date walnut, Eggplant pomegranate, Red pepper and walnut, Fava bean mint 

Roasted cauliflower tahini and Crispy chickpea and leek salads
Sitting us down to a table of selected spreads, sweet and savory. I especially liked the Date walnut cream cheese, red pepper and walnut and the eggplant pomegranate spread.  They also surprised us with a beautiful roasted cauliflower tahini salad as well as a crispy chickpea and leek selection. They also had some herbed olives to round off the whole taste experience. 

Thanks again to Keren, Stephen and Daniel introducing all of us to such wonderfully new foods and a fun cafe. Make sure you check it out when you're in the neighborhood. 

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