Mel and Mia’s: The red letters on the sign say “OPEN” for business, at 7530 Olympic View Dr. in Suite 103. Another reason to use that drive-up mail box at the U.S. Post Office in Perrinville, I said to myself, and hopped in the car.
Right away, you get a sense of the place. A sign for the Wi-Fi password made me laugh. “EATMORECAKE”
Mel & Mia’s Unique Pastries and Fine Coffees is indeed full of unique pastries and fine coffees. This shop has been on my radar screen since last summer. I am so glad to visit and choose a luscious, one-of-a-kind item from their pastry case.
Cookiewiches: Come in chocolate chip, sugar cookie, chocolate (delicious brownies), and chocolate chip cookies that hold a lush layer of light butter cream icing and generous in size to share with a friend, over a cup of coffee.
Mel and Mia’s encourage customers to be creative. In the glass case are examples.
“Build your own cake” — Select two cake layers, one type of custard, and one type frosting and “voila” — a confection that can be shared, or savored solo if one plans to add a long session on the gym treadmill.
A smaller option is “Make your own cupcake.” Choose one cake layer and one frosting.
“Build-it-yourself pastry cups” — Portable and colorful examples are displayed in the refrigerated case for purchase or create your own. Pick out two pastry layers (shortbread or éclair), two custards, one ganache and one fruit. Since these were available “to-go,” I purchased a blueberry shortbread and the classic éclair to take home to my guys. They can burn off those calories better than I.
The “Specialty” of the day was a cannoli. Delicate ricotta and mascarpone cream filled a crisp pastry shell, each end decorated with a dip into dark, rich, melted chocolate. Wow, it was gone in just a few bites, and difficult to restrain myself — I wanted to lick that plate clean.
“What kind of chocolate do you use?” I asked owner and pastry chef, William Pennington. (BTW — Co-owners Rebecca and William Pennington have four children. Mel and Mia’s is named for their daughters.)
“Call me Bill,” he said. “I have about five or six different types of chocolate in the kitchen, depends on what application.”
“This tastes pretty dark to me, what percent is it?”
Bill shared that he likes to use 80 percent chocolate for cannoli and other dipped items, as it “tastes richer, more intense.”
A quick bit on cacao percentages: It’s the ingredient content from the cacao plant, both the fat, i.e. cocoa butter, and the solids, variously named cocoa mass, cocoa solids, chocolate solids or just “the brown stuff.” For chocolate without any milk content, the remaining percentage is sugar. So for an 80 percent bar, the other 20 percent is sugar.
Here’s a link to learn more.
A customer at Mel and Mia’s counter commented that these were “Good old New York-style Cannoli.” Bill should know — he hails from Long Island.
Bill started his culinary education at the Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) primary campus, located in Hyde Park, New York, in 1989. The recommendation he was given on ingredients, as a new student, certainly manifests itself in the creations served at Mel and Mia’s.
Here is the speech he remembers so well. “Welcome to the CIA. Here’s the first lesson you need to learn. If you start with bad product, you will have a bad product. If you start with good product or ingredients, you will create a good product. BUT, if you start with great ingredients, your end product will be great.”
In other words, “You can’t make great chocolate desserts using Hershey’s.”
What to drink? Here is another part of the unique that is Mel and Mia’s.
Coffee: They serve and, also sell by the pound, Single Origin coffee beans sourced from all over, and offer coffee from an Alderwood roaster that “smokes the beans” before they are ground. The smoked coffee beans are a unique process that brings a whole new level of flavor to the cup. I sampled the Fabriano, the lighter of two roasts made especially for Mel and Mia’s. It’s typically served in a French press pot, which in my humble opinion is the very best way to taste coffee, but espresso style drinks are also available.
The interior invites one to sit and enjoy. Black-and-white stripes cover cushy chair seats and if a party is your preference, there a special, separate area to the back of the shop. Julia Child’s quote over the entrance a reminder that “A party without CAKE is just a meeting.”
Mel and Mia’s hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Sundays.
Restaurants to celebrate the Lunar New Year
“Wondered why you could not find an empty parking space at places like Boohan Plaza or the Ranch 99 Market last week?” Here’s the reason — the upcoming holiday that starts this weekend.
Lucky are the folks who celebrate the Chinese New Year; this is not a one-day deal. Celebrations and meals begin on Saturday, Jan. 28 and last until Feb. 15, 2017.
We possess the proficiency to cook Asian food at home, and can procure the makings of a magnificent meal. But why cook when the entire list of my favorite Chinese dishes are right here in Edmonds-area restaurants? Mobile feast or magically delivered… Uber Eats anyone?
Here are my recommendations to commemorate The Year of the Rooster.
Red Lantern offers wonderful steamed dumplings: A giant steamed bun, filled with pork for the meat lovers, and delicate dim sum filled with vegetarian ingredients for others.
The salad course would come from Dumpling Generation. Their delicious Chinese salad truly is delicious, and healthy. Shredded Napa cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and veggies top off a platter of noodles with shredded, well-seasoned stir-fry pork
So so many choices for soup: The Egg Drop Red Lantern is colorful and delicious.
And then there’s soup with noodles, soup with meat and noodles. My absolute favorite combination is Spicy Beef Noodle Soup from a Bite of China (located in Ranch 99 Market complex at 22511 Highway 99, Edmonds).
Solo noodles too, in a bowl with minimal ingredients. Qin (22315 Highway 99, Ste H in Edmonds) has Biang Biang Noodles. They serve up thick, tende, and addictive slabs of dough, hand-stretched, thwacked on the table top, and hand ripped to create the dish. Steamed and topped with a bit of Bok Choy and hot oil. Steamed Broccoli from Qin is a favorite side dish.
Entrees: Oh Yeah Tasty, at 6812 196th St. S.W. in Lynnwood, has the best sweet and sour pork. Order CS-20 and enjoy super lean strips of pork, light-as-a-feather batter and topped off with a house-made ginger sauce, sliced garlic and shredded veggies.
Oh Yeah Tasty has the winner in my vegetarian entree category with item V-4: Fried eggplant in garlic sauce, a colorful dish filled with purple eggplant, orange carrots, red peppers and lightly braised tofu.
Back to Bite of China for the dessert course: the winter version of a sweet red bean dessert soup.
More Happy News for the year
Ono Poke opens this February. Located at 10016 Edmonds Way in the former Westgate Starbucks spot across from QFC, Ono Poke (pronounced Poh-Kay) will serve up authentic Hawaiian-style preparations of fresh raw tuna and other fresh cuts of fish. If you like sushi, it’s a good bet you’ll like poke.
Speaking of Hawaii, now through March 12, Ivar’s is embracing the island life with its Ivar’s Island Getaway. A contest of tropical proportions, participants can enter to win twice-weekly prizes in addition to the “Big Kahuna” grand prize trip to Hawaii including airfare and hotel stay for four people. To make the deal even sweeter, Ivar’s Acres of Clams, Salmon House, Mukilteo Landing and Seafood Bars — including those in Edmonds at 9910 Edmonds Way and Lynnwood at 14912 Highway 99 — are getting in on the action with limited time Hawaiian-themed menus, cocktails and beer. Think artfully prepared dishes highlighting tropical favorites and indigenous ingredients like Opah, Ahi tuna, Maui sweet onion, coconut, macadamia nuts and more
— By Kathy Passage
A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the local food and restaurant scene.