Eating Every Day

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Late August

Eastside Road, August 30, 2014—
THIS IS OUR USUAL lunch these late August days, when eating at home — a piece of toast with nice organic chunky peanut butter, a glass of orange juice, and fruit. Pluots and Italian prunes from our trees, a fig from the market — ours aren't quite ready yet.

The pluot is a difficult fruit, we think. This one is the "Flavor King" variety, and it's pretty prolific; but it doesn't really have a lot of flavor until the fruit is actually dropping from the tree. By then, of course, the birds may have had their way with them; but not always. When dead ripe, I find them delicious. (Pardon that misplaced modifying clause: I'm never really dead ripe.)

But today we had lunch in town, at what I now think may be the best white-tablecloth restaurant in town, judging only by this one trip. There were four of us at table, and this is one of those annoying "small plates" format eateries, so we had a chance to sample quite a variety:
pork belly biscuits with pickled onion, chipotle mayonnaise, and maple glaze
Salmon tartare
beef tartare with celery and a quail egg yolk
spaghetti with eggplant, tomato, basil, and ricotta salata
squid ink gigli with dungeness crab, calabrian chile, and black truffle butter
strozzapreti with pork shoulder carnitas, cherry pepper, smoked paprika and rosemary

balsamic raspberry gelato
bourbon vanilla gelato
bread pudding with summer fruit
tartare.jpgWith the possible exception of the Gigli, which I declined since I can't eat crustacea, everything was truly delicious. The flavors were deep and arresting but never overpowering; attention had been given to textural interest; there was plenty of visual appeal but not to the point of whorishness, if you know what I mean. We like this place, and will return.
Rosé of Pinot noir, Red Cat (Sonoma Coast), 2013: pleasant and refreshing
• Chalkboard, 29 North Street, Healdsburg; 707-473-8030
Then a birthday dinner al fresco at a granddaughter's house in the remote hills out west of Healdsburg. A granddaughter turning twenty-four, and about to provide us with another great-grandchild — now, that's a special occasion. Chris grilled tri-tip; Emma made a delicious potato salad; there was green salad of course, and Thérèse's absolutely delicious chocolate cake.

And afterward, so far from the obnoxious light spill that affects our nights, a marvelous display of stars, with Mars and Saturn low near the crescent moon…
Dinner al fresco.jpg
photo: Thérèse Shere

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hot dog

hot dog.jpg
Eastside Road, August 29, 2014—
CE N'EST PAS la meilleure photo: eh bien; on ne peut rien y faire. Il s'agit d'un hot-dog simple, avec tous les attributs que nous aimons: la moutarde de Dijon, piccalilli, cette belle choucroute de Lou Preston, oignons hachés. Tout sur le chignon parfait, du Downtown Bakery and Creamery.

Et avec elle, de belles tomates en tranches, et regarder ici: penne restes d'il y a des jours ...

Ensuite, salade verte, bien sûr; puis un cookie et un peu de chocolat

Pas cher Barbera d'Asti


Eastside Road, August 28, 2014—
WHO COULD COMPLAIN about leftovers like these? The beefsteak was grilled a few days ago, over charcoal; here it's cold and sliced, and served simply, as you see, with sliced tomatoes. And dressed with the salsa I made a few days ago, originally to serve on boquerones. It's simply finely chopped carrot, shallot, celery, and pepper — I'd used Padrones, because they were at hand — covered in Champagne vinegar and a little bit of olive oil. Delicious. Shallot and beefsteak are an Elective Affinity.
Cheap Zinfandel

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Eastside Road, August 26, 2014—
PERHAPS THE LAST salmon dinner of the year: it's growing late in the season; the salmon are getting fat. Do they prepare, I wonder, like bears, for a lean winter season? Well, I don't, and while I know fatty fish is good for the health, I don't find it all that pleasant on the palate. Cook does her best with it, I have to say; she broils it to just the right point, and that lemon wedge adds nice tang to it. And Dave's fishing business is certainly something to support; he's a significant part of the local farm market community.

But still.

Nancy's marvelous limas, on the other hand, retain their late-spring texture and flavor — her Middleton Gardens site, over west of the river, has an almost magical terroir; everything she provides is full of flavor. And these were the nicest Green Zebra tomatoes we've had: close your eyes and you might almost think them red.

Green salad afterward…
Cheap Pinot grigio

Monday, August 25, 2014

Simple supper

Eastside Road, August 25, 2014—
SINCE WE'D HAD a late lunch out — hamburger and french fries, pint of ale, yes, we do things like that from time to time — supper was a simple affair, beginning with this first course: raw carrot, a couple of peppers left from yesterday, a plate of boquerones with that vinegary mirepoix salsa I told you about yesterday.

We went on to a green salad, and bread with olive oil and salt; and ended with a simple course of summer fruit — nectarine, peach, figs. I do love summer.

Rosé, La Ferme Julien (Var), 2012

On the patio

Chuck on the grill
Eastside Road, August 24, 2014—
COOK'S SISTER is in town visiting; let's ask the neighbors up to join in an al fresco evening. We got a small boneless chuck roast, cut it in half crosswise, salted it and re-wrapped it in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Then I built a charcoal fire to slowly roast a mess of Jimmy Nardello and Padron peppers over, then the beef, as you see here. I seared it quickly on both sides, then cooked it slowly, quite high over the coals, seasoned only with the salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Chuck is tough, of course, and it would have been better to get it a few days earlier and marinated it, I suppose. But there's other things for jaw muscles than talk-talk, and the flavor was fine — especially with the red wine we had, a perfect match for grilled beef.

Before the main course, almonds and boquerones — I dressed the latter with a salsa made of mirepoix (finely diced celery, shallot, carrot, and Padron pepper, soaked in Champagne and sherry vinegar with a little olive oil); afterwards, green salad, then broiled figs drizzled with honey.

Rosé, La Ferme Julien (Var), 2013; Cinsault, Preston of Dry Creek, 2009 (optimal!)
Roasted peppers

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oh, and I forgot

Eastside Road, August 23, 2014—
LUNCH YESTERDAY, with my favorite neighbor, a bright, sympathetic woman I've known all her life — can it be getting on to sixty years? We ate in town, and started with these delicious boquerones, in lots of good olive oil, strewn with mirepoix, with red pepper adding piquancy to the usual onion, leery, and carrot. A thing to remember.

Afterward, Romano beans and sausage, and a plate of jamón, and flatbread with bacalao. And on the way home, why not step into a favorite local shop and buy a couple dozen of these marvelous white anchovies, these boquerones, and see if I can reproduce the dish for Cook?

Bravas Bar de Tapas, 420 Center Street, Healdsburg; 707.433.7700
The Cheese Shop of Healdsburg, 423 Center Street, Healdsburg

I read the most amazing thing the other day in a book review in the San Francisco Chronicle:
[Amanda] Petrusich's writing sometimes soars above the mundanity of her travel notes from her visits… which feature her weird habit of describing what kind of breakfast or lunch they ordered.
Really: what better insight into the person you're writing about than what and how he orders his meals?
sausage.jpgTHEN TONIGHT IT WAS down to our local city for dinner with friends. I'd called them: What are you doing for dinner? Grilling sausages outside, came the answer. Just what we were thinking of doing, I said. Bring yours down, he replied; I'll fry up some potatoes, I have some Jimmy Nardello peppers to throw on the grill…

As you can see, the sausages grilled up just fine. They were Franco Dunn's sausages, of course; you don't get any better than that. On the left, Provençal sausages; on the right, something with a little more spice. With the peppers and potatoes, a fine meal.
Viognier, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011; Cheap Barbera d'Asti