Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hot dog

IMG 0948
Eastside Road, September 18, 2018—

SIMPLE DINNERS these days, partly in order to thin out the freezer and the refrigerator, partly to save time needed elsewhere. It's okay: we'll make up for it before long, you can be sure.

Baseball is increasingly in the air as we near October, and with baseball come hot dogs. Here on Eastside Road those are generally Niman Ranch, whose meat we trust. You wouldn't know it by reading these posts, but we're pretty careful about the sources of the meat we eat, avoiding industrial products in favor of small, preferably local producers.

Cook sears these on top of the stove in a hot black iron pan, and we treat the buns to mustard, chopped raw onion, pickle relish, and local sauerkraut. Alongside, fennel and a tomato; afterward, green salad and a small bowl of ice cream — oh: and a pear and a few figs, from our trees. Life is good.

Yes, I know, I missed yesterday. It was a return of cannelini-and-tuna salad.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Sunday, September 16, 2018


IMG 0916
San Francisco, September 15, 2018—

ZUNI IS A FAVORITE place of ours — I've dropped in from time to time since almost the beginning, which was in 1979, always enjoying the location and the ambiance and the vibrant personality — and the cuisine.

We'd spent an hour or two in the somewhat overwrought repressed sensuality of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood exhibition at the Palace of the Legion of Honor, and it was time to relax with an excellent Martini and a late lunch and a couple of dear old friends, and Zuni was the place that came immediately to mind.

I looked longingly at the oysters — a remarkable selection — but turned instead to a promised crépinette, pan-fried I think and served with shell beans, sautéed grapes, and what I recall — writing this the next day — as bok choy, or something of the sort, sweet and toothy.

The crépinette seemed to me lacking in the caul fat that seems to me obligatory. My first experience with crépinette was with those made and sold at the old Pig By the Tail, the charcuterie opened in 1973 across the street from Chez Panisse by my then tennis partner and occasional sparring partner Victoria Wise, the opening-night chef at Chez P. Crépinettes were a staple there, consistently absolutely first-rate, the right weight, texture, size, and complexity, and always wrapped in caul fat.

Well, this crépinette was not Victoria's, but it was very nice, well balanced between meat and spices, and the partnering grapes and beans were inspired.

     🍷Morgon, Marcel Lapierre, 2015

IMG 0917 2And for dessert, Parmesan cheese with dates, a Judy Rodgers standby — how we miss that woman! — with a glass of Averna amaro. Because, well, why not?

•Zuni Café, 1658 Market Street, San Francisco; 📞415-552-2522

THAT WAS YESTERDAY. Today we dined on that marvelous Italian salad: cannelini, onions, sage, salt, and olive oil. It's a favorite. Green salad afterward, and fruit, et moi je suis content.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Friday, September 14, 2018


IMG 0894
Eastside Road, September 14, 2018—

IT MAY NOT be edible, Cook said, the onions being soprarosolate, as the Italians might say; never mind, I said, You know I like carbon, my grandfather loved burnt toast, and died 97 years old.

It was fit to eat. She'd browned the onions in the usual way, along with chorizo, and added a can of hominy, and on serving it strewn it with blossoms cut from some cilantro growing outside the kitchen door somewhere.

Green salad afterward, and then a bit of ice cream with warm caramel sauce.

     🍷Carménère, Panilonco (Colchaqua Valley, Chile), 2017: a little sweet for my taste, tannic

Thursday, September 13, 2018


IMG 0870
Eastside Road, September 13, 2018—
WE FIRST TASTED this salad in Italy, Cook says, and I'm sure she's right. I suppose it's a variant of the famous Caprese, which is tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Well, perhaps not, now that I type those words and look at them; there's nothing in common except the Italian colors — green, white, red — and the presence of leaves and cheese.

Caprese is rarely anywhere near as good as it should be. This salad, which has become quite popular, has a mountain quality I like better. Bresaola is air-dried beef, uncooked, eaten in thin thin slices. It's associated with the Valtellina region in the Lombard Alps, where it was probably originally air-dried in the winter months.

Cook sliced the bresaola and arranged it on the plates, covering it with arugula dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, and added shavings of Parmigiano reggiano. The flavors and textures merge marvelously in the mouth.

(We bought this bresaola six weeks ago, in Salt Lake City, at Beltex Meats, and it is very good.)

IMG 0869Afterward, those three cheeses we had a few days ago with guests: a fine Brie, a Basque, a Moncenisio blue.

     🍷White: "Madam Preston," Preston of Dry Creek, perfect with cheese

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017


IMG 0865

Eastside Road, September 12, 2018—

ACCORDING TO THE article on Wikipedia the word is spelled "muffuletta." The article contains a section on the "pronunciation and orthography" of the word — eight different versions, not one of them containing an "a" in the second syllable. But the name, like the sandwich, underwent changes, you might say erosion, in its travels from Sicily to New Orleans, where the American version is said to have been created in 1906, at Central Grocery Company, on Decatur Street.

I wouldn't know. In nearly a month spent investigating Sicily I don't recall ever having run into a muffuletta, or a mufiletta, or a muffulitteḍḍu. And I've never been to New Orleans.

Wikipedia tells me the muffaletta is a round loaf of soft bread, say ten inches in diameter, crisp on the outside and flavored with sesame seeds. But Americans generally use the word to describe the sandwich, not the loaf. Again according to Wikipedia the sandwich is on a split muffaletta loaf — I will continue to spell it with that "A" — and contains layers of salami, ham, Swiss cheese, provolone, and mortadella, and — most importantly — olive salad.

That latter ingredient begins with giardiniera — lightly pickled celery, cauliflower, and carrot — which is chopped with olives, flavored with oregano and garlic, covered in olive oil, and steeped for at least a day.

Today was dad and daughter lunch day, and we went to a local breakfast-lunch place that features a New Orleans menu. It's fast, comfortable, not terribly expensive, not at all upscale. I like it.

I ordered a half muffaletta, and ate only half of it, taking the other half home for the Contessa. (I took an order of beignets, too, because they are particularly light and tasty here.)

I like the olive salad on this sandwich, but I fault the sandwich just a teeny bit for lacking balance. The printed menu does not indicate the presence of cheese, but it was there, conspiring with a rather bland ham to elbow aside the mortadella and provolone.

Maybe that's just me. Such sandwiches are individual tastes.

     🍷Beer: Plow Pilsener

•The Parish Cafe, 60 Mill Street, Healdsburg; 📞(707) 431 8474

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Penne, tomato sauce

IMG 0860
Eastside Road, September 11, 2018—

IF YOU TYPE the word "penne" into the search box up in the upper left corner, as I just did, you'll find at least a hundred posts to this blog, going back over the last ten years. And a surprising number of those posts — or maybe it's not all that surprising — contain a photo remarkably like this one.

Well, here they are again, those whole-wheat organic penne Cook likes so much, in that tomato sauce I like so much. We had the green salad afterward, of course, with my usual vinaigrette: mash a clove of garlic with salt, let it steep in olive oil, add red wine vinegar, whip with a dinner fork briskly (with a side-to-side motion, leaving the tines below the surface, you don't need air in the vinaigrette).

IMG 0861Strawberries are still in season, and Lou Preston's are our favorites at the moment, and Cook had some shortcake ready to go in the freezer.

     🍷Zinfandel, Preston of Dry Creek, 2015, yes yes

For lunch we'd gone out to the coast with a couple of friends visiting from Hawaii. Norman knew a place whose fried-oyster hoagy he particularly liked. Fine; we all have different tastes: I've never been particularly attracted to fried oysters. I had three of them my usual way: on the half shell, no lemon or vinaigrette. Delicious.

And fish and chips — local halibut battered very lightly and deep-fried in peanut oil, with good French fries on the side, and a generous glass of someone's Albariño.

Fisherman's Cove, 1850 Bay Flat Rd, Bodega Bay, CA ; 📞(707) 377-4238

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fried egg sandwich

IMG 0858
Eastside Road, September 10, 2018—

WHEN I WAS a boy, ten and eleven years old, I walked a couple of miles to school every day carrying my lunch, usually in a beat-up paper bag — after lunch I folded it up and put it in my pocket for the next day. In the bag, two sandwiches and a piece of fruit, and maybe a hard-boiled egg.

The sandwiches were on bread my mother baked, bread that obeyed one of those rigorous life-cycles: when the yeast was new the bread was ballooned and full of holes; as the yeast wore out, over a couple of months, the bread got denser and the slices smaller.

There was always one fried-egg sandwich and one peanut-butter-and-something sandwich, jam or honey usually, though now and then Mom forgot that I did not share all her enthusiasms and made it peanut-butter-and-mustard, which I would carefully set aside in the garbage, or throw over the fence for whatever animal might be hungry enough to chance it, for our two-room school was in a village small enough to seem to be in the country.

We still have fried-egg sandwiches: they're quick and simple and tasty, perfect for those evenings you don't want to cook. They're better now, these sandwiches. They're on much better bread — sorry, Mom — from Healdsburg's Downtown Bakery or, as today, from Berkeley's Acme. The eggs don't have troubling dark or bloody spots, and the yolks are runny, because they don't have to be carried for miles.

And these fried-egg sandwiches have another advantage over those I carried to school seventy years ago: they're eaten hot. I do not recommend cold greasy fried-egg sandwiches.

A carrot; fennel. Dessert: a Greek cookie from that marvelous Greek restaurant of a couple of nights ago.

     🍷Zinfandel grape juice, fresh from our vines, in sparkling water