Eating Every Day

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fair fare

Eastside Road, July 29, 2014—
TO THE COUNTY FAIR today: I always look forward to it, and am always disappointed. There are still a few fresh-faced young 4-H and FFA kids showing their improbably beautiful cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, even chickens; and there are still a few shop-class assignments — wooden toolboxes, welding projects, exercises in canning and jam-making. I still enjoy the hucksters and the barkers. But the dross-to-authenticity ratio worsens every year, and I don't know if I'll go back.

What to eat? Lindsey decided early on she'd go to the Lagunitas Brewery "gastropub," where a charming German-born guest worker recommended the barbecued pork slider with its spicy fries and, barely seen top center, little plastic tub of cole slaw. It was okay. Later tonight, leftover potato salad, half a hamburger, raw carrots, and blackberries for dessert. Man muss essen.
Lagunitas "Pils"

Easy summer eating

Eastside Road, July 28, 2014—
TOO MANY OTHER things to do these delightful summer days to work every day at dining. Yesterday, for example, we contented ourselves with grilled sandwiches: bacon, lettuce, and tomato on good levain bread. The classic BLT is one of the Hundred Plates, but while relatively easy to assemble it's vulnerable and highly seasonal. You need good bacon, to begin with, and Franco Dunn helps out here. Then you need the right tomato, and around here that's only available from early July on, far as I'm concerned.

On the side, though it's hardly a summertime vegetable, kale, and a couple of cornichons…

Rosé, La Ferme Julien

THEN TODAY, a grandson visiting for the night, I grilled hamburgers outside over fruitwood coals, a little charcoal added for flavor. Alas we had no hamburger buns, only hot dog buns, so had to form the patties in the shape of hot dogs. This does not make it easier to cook the meat to exactly the right degree, but then that's not something I'm good at under the best of conditions…

hamburger.jpgWell, good enough. We have the classic hamburger sandwich: the meat (which I'd flavored with a few thyme leaves while cooking), mustard, mayonnaise, raw thin-sliced onion, lettuce, tomato, a thin slice of dill pickle. What the heck: let's elevate the hamburger to the Hundred Plates too.

Green salad afterward, and then vanilla ice cream with fresh wild blackberries and a few of our mulberries.
Mourvèdre, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011: perfectly delicious

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dinner al fresco

salmon dinner.jpg
Eastside Road, July 26, 2014—
HOTTER'N BLAZES today, hot enough to eat on the patio in the twilight, watching a marvelous sunset whose colors went well with broiled salmon, a lemon wedge, sliced heirloom tomatoes, and Nancy Skall's impeccable lima beans. Life is good.
Dinner al fresco.jpg
Rosé, La Ferme Julien (Var), 2012


Walnut Creek, July 25, 2014—
LONG HOT DAY today, driving from Ojai to Fresno, then home. We knew we'd hit traffic if we didn't stop en route and kill a little time, and remembered an Italian spot we'd heard about somewhere, so we stopped off in this town for supper.

I started with an okay Martini and a nice big arugula salad, with shaved fennel, a few slices of roasted pear, some walnuts, and crumbled soft goat cheese, dressed with a walnut oil vinaigrette — quite refreshing.

On, then, to the primo, and why not try the pasta carbonara? But when it arrived it was not spaghetti but these penne, and it featured not only peas but basil… still, though not very authentic, it was a pleasant dish. There's more to life than authenticity.
Pinot grigio, Estancia, 2012
• Massimo Ristorante, 1604 Locust St, Walnut Creek, California; (925) 932-1474

Eating away

Los Angeles, July 24, 2014—
YES: IT'S PIZZA, and pretty good, considering the site. In fact we've eaten here before and found it perfectly acceptable, and Praxiteles knows convenient enough, when you're bent on another look at a fabulous show of sculpture by Alexander Calder.

This was a "Roman" pizza, innocent of cheese, nothing but the dough, San Marzano tomatoes, Taggiasche olives (whatever they are), garlic and caper flavored olive oil, and oregano — reminding me of how much I do like oregano: why don't we use it more often? There's a huge plant out the kitchen door…
Beer: Hop Rod Rye, Healdsburg
•Ray's at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles; 323 857-6000

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Ojai, July 23, 2014—

NOT MANY VEGETABLES do I prefer to these peppers, which I insist, pedantic that I am, on calling padrones, three syllables, not puhDRONES, two..(The word is Spanish, after all.)

We're crashing with friends here tonight. We start with delicious local organic pistachios with a fine local gin, go on to a perfect St. Andre, and then begin to think about dinner. I fried up the peppers in oil and salt, then sweated some onion rings in the same pan. Jim grilled hamburgers, using great ground beef from a local butcher. Llisa made a nice salad. 

What more could we want? Oh — a popsicle made of nothing but tangerine juice. Local, of course.  


Monday, July 21, 2014

Salmon and broad beans

salmon and beans.jpg
Eastside Road, July 21, 2014—
SALMON TONIGHT — as long as Dave is willing to go to sea for it, we're willing to buy it from him. Tonight Cook simply broiled it with salt and pepper and we ate it with a squeeze of lemon. And those delicious broad beans, from Nancy Skall's garden, cooked in a bit of butter, not too long!

Green salad afterward, and some fine Brie, and a peach and a plum…

Chardonay-Viognier blend, Panilonco (Colchagua Valley, Chile), 2013 "Reserva": light, good varietals, a nice blend