Eating Every Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Café lunch

Berkeley, April 21, 2015—

NO TIME FOR a proper dinnertime dinner today, so we made do with a substantial lunch instead. We began by splitting what has to be my favorite pizzetta: tomato sauce and brandade, flavored as I recall with green olives and herbs. 

I went on to this quite piquant pork shoulder, braised, then served in a sort of stew with broad beans, garbanzos, carrots, and cilantro, with steamed rice, itself flavored with mint, I believe, and cilantro. The dish was piquant with pepper and cumin; on the whole the Café seemed to be Californio today.

Dessert: Meyer lemon ice cream merengata: on a bed of crisp meringue, softened with its judicious whipped cream, heightened with candied kumquat. A delicious meal!


• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525


Santa Rosa, April 21, 2010—

OUT TO THE HOME of friends for dinner tonight —a couple who routinely split their cooking assignments. Mac, who spent years on Pacific islands, took care of the protein: the mantle, not the tentacles, of squid, flattened, tenderized with a mallet I'd guess, dredged in panka and fried golden brown, as you see. The very good result reminded me of abalone. 

Margery had presided over the accompaniment: fettuccine with sautéed kale and sweet peppers, tender and succulent, a perfect foil to the crisp calamari. 

Dessert: Three Twins ice cream— I chose vanilla, my favorite. 

Roussane-Viognier blend, Quivira, 2013: very nice, expressive, balanced. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Soup and pasta

Eastside Road, —
OKAY, JUST ONE last photo, I promise you, of that finally no longer inexhaustible soup from can't-remember-how-many days ago. The flavors were the deepest and most intense tonight, of course; this was truly a delicious soup, and the next time Cook makes it a promise to get the recipe.

And afterward we had fettuccine with grated lemon zest and grated bottarga. We first met bottarga — tuna roe which is dried and sold as a solid block — on a visit we made to Sardinia nearly thirty years ago — a tour I've often thought back to, full of culinary delights and others as well. We bought our current block of bottarga last fall at Slow Food's biennial exhibition in Torino; it keeps forever in the refrigerator.

Green salad, an apple, a Pixie tangerine, a couple of squares of chocolate. What more could you want?

Cheap Italian rosé, as yesterday
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Soup and sausage

Eastside Road, April 18, 2015—
YES, SATURDAY EVENING supper in front of the telly, and a very nice supper it is.

It begins, as you see, with the end of that delicious Portuguese soup-not-stew from last week, with a glass of rosé. It then continued with Franco Dunn's "Marema" sausages, cooked outside over fruitwood cuttings. These are very soft sausages, with potato and pork, flavored with Chianti, salt, sugar, garlic, and chilies; and they are delicious and delicate; I wouldn't serve a red wine with them.

Green salad afterward — the first in quite a while, and welcome — and then fruit and a piece of chocolate. And a good movie (Tokyo Story : every child of aging parents should see it!)
Cheap Italian rosé: Grifone, nv (a little too sweet and not entirely authentic-tasting)

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, April 17, 2015


Berkeley, April 17, 2015—
NOT A LOT to report today, other than an absolutely delicious sandwich, so substantial nothing else was needed until the evening's mixed nuts and Martini.

On Facebook, the sandwich was called Friday Bânh Mi; though the chef admitted it was a, well, I'll paraphrase, non-Vietnamese take on the dish. I would call it a pork and pork pâté sandwich, and let it go at that.

What was in it, other than the pork? Well, cabbage I'm sure, radishes and carrots for a certainty, cilantro no doubt, possibly some arugula, and something — something that moistened and bound everything, facilitating its descent, you might say. A very substantial thing, and a delicious one.

The chef here, Kelsie Kerr, is authentic. She served honorably as chef at Chez Panisse; she ran Café Rouge just as capably. At this unique takeout she provides honest, evocative, enterprising fare at a manageable price. All you have to do is visit the website, make a phone call, pick it up, and wolf it down.

Standard Fare Kitchen & Pantry, 2701 Eighth Street No, 118, Berkeley, California; 510.356.2261

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants


San Francisco, April 16, 2015—

PHOTOGRAPHS SO RARELY do justice to these dishes. This is a small pot of halibut rillettes, beautifully textured, flavored with a red pepper that recalls paprika without the sweetness, smoothly shaggy if that's not an oxymoron, a generous serving even shared with my companion, and a pefect opening to a pleasant early supper on what had felt like an ideal summer day, even though it's only mid-April.

We were at a Basque restaurant we've neglected too long — and we'ree not the only ones tto neglect it: good as the kitchen is, smoothly professtional  yet friendly though the sesrvice be, interesting as the menu and the wine selections are, and wwhen you come down to it reasonable as the prices are, it's strange the place doesn't turn up more often on lists of favorites.

(Oh: And I haven't mentioned the settings. You can park nearby; it's in the shadow of Telegraph Hill; the bar and dining room are very comfortable and spacious; you can hear one another talk.)

I went on to the signature dish, a piperade: slowly cooked sliced onion, red sweet peppers, tomato, nicely flavored with garlic, garnished with ventrèche (which is basically French for pancetta, lightly smoked I would say), with a perfectly poached egg on top.

On the side, spinach sauteed with raisins and pine nuts. And for dessert, a very nice gâteau basque, almond cake filled with a thick pastry cream and topped with marvelous glacéed kumquats. (Companion said her beignets were the best she's had anywhere.)

Albarino, Candea, Rias Baixas | 2013 

•Piperade, 1015 Battery St, San Francisco, ; (415) 391-2555

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mushrooms. Fish. Lamb.

Berkeley, April 14, 2015—
YES: THAT'S LAMB you see at the left — rack, loin, and leg, cooked to exactly the right rosy color.

But first we had crostini generously spread with morel duxelles, with artichoke, arugula, Pecorino, and mint — a dish from somewhere between Calabria and North Africa, I'd say. Sicily! That's what it made me think of!

White blend, Pinot bianco, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Manincor "Réserve della Contessa", 2013: clean, expressive of both Chardonnay and Sauvignon, smooth and well rounded
IMG_9026.jpgThen the fish course: Northern halibut cooked on a fig leaf with lime, calendula, and coriander flowers. Well, you can see how generously this thick, moist, delicate filet had been garnished with the flower petals, which contributed a surprisingly delicate piquancy to the dish, offsetting the slightly tannic fig leaf. A remarkable concept, this dish, and perfectly set off by its wine:
Sylvaner, Albert Boxler, 2012: very smooth, soft and fruity, dry
IMG_9028.jpgFinally, the lamb. It had been grilled over wood, was garnished with green garlic and marjoram — far too delicate a Spring lamb for rosemary! — and came with fennel purée, sweet peas, and watercress. A dish defining springtime.
Cornas: serious, quite dry and a little tannic, but very pleasant with the lamb

Oh: and last of all, dessert, simply described as strawberry île flottante , but so light a meringue, so silky a custard, such flavorful strawberries and candied citrus, and such a pretty presentation…
• Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants