Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Home again

Eastside road, September 12, 2017

AFTER WHAT SEEMS weeks hither and yon we are home again but in no mood to cook. Cook sliced some tomatoes and prepared some store-bought ravioli; I made a vinaigrette for the salad she washed and dried. 

Dessert: delicious figs from our tree, and lemon sorbet. Perfect for a too-warm late summer evening. 

Rosé, Guilhem

Friday, September 8, 2017

Faute de mieux

Los Angeles, September 8, 2017—

THERE ARE TIMES when you just have to suck it up and make the best of it. Giovanna always says if you can't do better, a chocolate bar and a beer will do. I guess I'm a little more health-conscious, having a generation of years on her.

After looking over the menu, I settled on a Martini and a Caesar salad. The salad wasn't authentic — no anchovies graced the plate, though some sort of ground anchovy may have been present in the dressing. Nor was there raw egg, which I count on, on evenings like this, for protein.

Still hungry, I ordered the plate of hummus, raw carrot and celery, and pita that had constituted the Contessa's dinner, along with a Margarita.

•Los Angeles Airport Marriott, 5855 West Century Boulevard, Los Angeles

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Arroyo Grande, California, September 7, 2017—
WE LIKE THIS PLACE enough to break the drive down Highway 101 to spend the night. I think it's edging to one of my Five Restaurants; it is certainly among the Hundred.
The plates have depth, crunch where appropriate, and edge. Cal-Ital, I suppose, with the wood-burning oven a central focus (pardon the pun). But after the last few days of near-constant motion alternating with fatigue I knew I had to eat wisely, so stuck to three courses:

Minestrone: the classic, though based on chicken stock rather than beef or veal, with lots of vegetables in a rich, deep tomato-infused soup with generous parmesan and a dollop of fine pesto.
Grilled romaine: a split, stripped-down head of romaine grilled over coals, with anchovy-lemon vinaigrette inevitably bringing bagna caoda to mind, chives, and shaved Parmesan.
Gnocchi: very nice large Gnudi, tender yet substantial, in garlic brown butter, with steamed spinach, garnished with fried artichoke petals and Parmesan.

Oh well, yes, dessert too: Mascarpone cheesecake with fig jam, candied bacon, and honey, with rum date ice cream.
     🍷A very good Martini; then Albarino: Mattina Fiore (Edna Valley), 2014
Ember, 1200 East Grand Avenue, Arroyo Grande, California; 📞805-474-7700
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Friday, September 1, 2017

Margherita; Ceviche

Eastside Road, September 1, 2017—
BEING IN BERKELEY for the day again — the fourth time this week -- it seemed reasonable to return to Summer Kitchen for a pizza. I felt a little guilty asking someone to work a pizza oven; it was 102° in Berkeley, probably a record — but the oven was going anyway; might as well make use of it.

I haven't looked back over these posts, but I'd guess I must have eaten well over a dozen Margherita pizzas in the last three years — in Naples, Rome, probably northern Italy, and up and down the Pacific coast. This one is still the best, the standard by which I'll judge all the others. There's a perfect balance of flavors of tomato, mozzarella, and basil. The crust couldn't be better: you can taste the wheat and the yeast. There's a very discreet use of olive oil. And the pizza is baked perfectly.

     🍷Amarone, Palazzo Della Torre, Allegrini Veronese, 2010: generous
•Summer Kitchen and Bakeshop, 2944 College Ave, Berkeley, California; 📞(510) 981-0538

The contessa had an egg salad sandwich, and bought a corn salad to take home, which we had for supper tonight — corn stripped fresh from the ear, barely cooked, with flecks of tomato and chive. With it, I had the remains of the ceviche I made myself for supper yesterday: Tombo tuna sliced thin, marinated in lime juice with chopped tomato, jalapeño pepper, shallot, and cilantro, and not cooked. Delicious.

     🍷White wine spritzer: Cheap Pinot grigio with sparkling water

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Glorious Fourth

Eastside Road, July 4, 2017—
IN FACT WE GOT a jump on it yesterday, when I grilled a dozen sausages over grapevine wood on the patio, and Cook made her marvelous potato salad. Then we walked up to the ridge to watch the fireworks set off a day early in our neighboring town.

     🍷Syrah; Grenache; Preston of Dry Creek

Tonight we had leftovers: the sausages cold but none the worse for that, garnished as yesterday with mustard, onion, pickle relish, and sauerkraut, and served on soft brioche rolls. On the side, along with the potato salad, Swiss chard.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Home at the range

Eastside Road, July 2, 2017—
IN FACT we arrived home late Friday, after a fine dinner Chez Panisse, which I will not describe here — dinner with an old friend, a soprano, actress, stage director, and now teacher whom we hadn't seen in years. The evening was as much conversation as dining. Impossible to discuss such intimate evenings.

Then last night it was dinner with another old friend, a pianist whose bicultural (French and English) view of things is particularly stimulating. We settled on a local bistro where we had mussels, then steak-frites, and a bottle of Rhone. Excellent.

Bistro 29, 620 5th Street, Santa Rosa; 📞+1 (707) 546-2929

Tonight, though, we finally ate at home, for the first time in two weeks. We returned to ground lamb for the centerpiece. I clipped some mint, parsley, thyme, and marjoram from the garden, and chopped them up with a couple of small cipollini and smaller cloves of garlic, and added cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and ras al hanout; Cook pan-fried the patties in a black iron skillet. Favas with them, and Romano beans, and green salad afterward. We're home for a while!

     🍷Red, bottle-end, nvg after a couple of weeks standing!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Eggs, flour, flavor

Portland, Oregon, June 27, 2017—
OUR FAMILY HAS LONG favored an oven-baked soufflé first found in an old Sunset magazine cookbook, Cooking Bold and Fearless, where it is a sweet dessert called "Finnish Pancake." It's a little like a Salzburger Nockerl, I think, and another version is often called "Dutch Baby," a name I've never liked, as it seems vaguely demeaning to both babies and the Dutdh.

Tonight Giovanna made a savory version, flavored with tarragon, chives, and thyme, and containing Parmesan cheese as well. Very nice. Green salad afterward.      🍷Blanc, Guilhem, Moulin de Gassac (Pays d'Herault), 2015: crisp and refreshing

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