Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Les restes, & penne

Eastside Road, January 16, 2017—

I FAILED TO POST yesterday, not because we didn't eat, after all it was Sunday, but because what we ate I'd written about previously. Yes, there was still some of that delicious beef stew left, the Sicilian one. It made me think about how many fine stews there are to be made.

When we were first married, nearly sixty years ago, there was a restaurant in Berkeley called The Stew Den, in a basement on a footpath between Bancroft and Durant avenues. I don't think I ever ate there — I rarely ate out in those days. I think they served nothing but stews; maybe salads too. I think you could serve nothing but stew in the winter months and still run a pretty interesting little bistro, but I'm not going to do it.

TONIGHT WE BEGAN with another leftover — les restes sounds more attractive, doesn't it? — the last of that fine bean soup Cook came up with last week, the one with the Parmesan rind in it, which adds a fine suave note to the dish.

We continued with these penne with tomato confit of Cook's manufacture, garnished with basil and Parmesan. That tomato confit is from Alice's Pantry book, and it is spectacular: rich, unctuous, yet somehow fresh as paint. I hope our pantry never sees the last of it.

Cheap Pinot grigio

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:

(2015 restaurants)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Beef stew

IMG 3717
Eastside Road, January 14, 2017—
SICILIAN BEEF STEW, the recipe called it: in addition to the relatively small amount of beef the dish involves shallots, a can of tomatoes, a small bulb of fennel, rosemary, orange zest, and green olives. I love this kind of combination. The result is a bit like a Provençal boeuf daube, hearty and full of flavor, and it should join the permanent repertory. In fact, let's make it one of the Hundred Plates.

I mash potatoes with a whisk, not a potato masher; I find it makes a smooth purée very quickly. Butter and milk, salt and pepper. Green salad, and then an apple and some chocolates.

Rouge du Var, La Ferme Julien, 2015

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Fish again

Eastside Road, January 13, 2017—

WELL, IN FACT, fish cakes. When we were first married and quite poor we used to have canned fish for dinner fairly often. In fact I think that was the only fish we ever ate in those days: canned tuna, and canned fish cakes. I didn't think too much about what exactly was in those cans. Scraps, I suppose.

Canned fish always makes me think of Cannery Row, in Pacific Grove, just down coast from Monterey. Monterey Bay is incredibly rich with sea life, and in the 1920s, 30s and 40s there were blocks and blocks of canneries there, processing mostly small fish — anchovies, sardines, what my father used to call surf fish, I think. His aunts Gladys and Myrtle had settled in Pacific Grove, and when he was twenty or so he rode the freight cars out to join them, and met my mother who was working in Carmel, and one thing led to another. I guess canned fish was part of the conspiracy that led to my existence.

Cook made these fish cakes herself. She said it was canned fish, and I didn't investigate any further. They were full of flavor: fish and onion, salt and cayenne I think. Lemon, of course. A baked potato and some romanesco, and green salad afterward.

Cheap Pinot grigio
RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fish; soup

Eastside Road, January 12, 2017—

NOT FISH SOUP: Fish last night; soup tonight.

The fish was snapper, bought Tuesday at Monterey Fish in Berkeley -- a shop we know we can count on: utterly reliable; utterly fair. Snapper's not my favorite fish; it seems often a little bland. I like salmon, tuna, cod, and for delicacy the flat fish. But there's nothing wrong with snapper, and Cook did it nicely, breading it and frying it in butter, then strewing it with parsley. With it, just about my favorite vegetable, Swiss chard; and as you see a slice of buttered toast. Delicious.

White blend, Rhône style, "Madam Preston", Preston of Dry Creek, 2014: I've always loved this wine

THEN TONIGHT we finished the bean soup we began the other day. As is so often the case, the flavors had merged and deepened. Another slice of buttered bread as a croustade: we eat a lot of bread in this house, and it doesn't seem to hurt us.

I had another slice, as I always do, with my green salad. How else are you going to get the last of the vinaigrette out of the bowl? And then a special dessert, a quintessentially American one I think, and one I haven't had in years: Vanilla ice cream with sliced bananas that had been tossed in cinnamon sugar. Heaven on earth.

the rest of the "Madam Preston"

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A new way to cook chicken


Eastside Road, January 9, 2017—

YES YOU CAN teach an old dog new tricks, and you can find a new way to cook chicken. Maybe it's only new to us. Cook slathered a couple of chicken breasts with mustard, then put them skin side up on a baking sheet, added a few potatoes cut into slices, and set the sheet in a 425ª oven for a few minutes, until it was all done. The result was very nice, not dry, full of flavor.

With them, soybeans steamed on a low fire; afterward, green salad, then a tangerine. A nice reasonably quick dinner.

Cheap Pinot grigio

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bean Soup

IMG 3663
Eastside Road, January 8, 2016—

SOOP OF THE EVENING, beautiful soop. White bean soup tonight, while we wait for the water to rise, probably to cut off road access in both directions for a day or so. Beans, leeks, garlic, red pepper flakes; a small buttrnut squash (I'd have left that out, myself), sage, a bunch of spinach, sage, and that fine Italian soup secret, the rind of a spent hunk of Parmesan cheese.

Afterward the green salad, and then a Sunday dessert: Mrs. Beeton's Seed Cake, made with caroway seeds, very moist, almost a pudding-cake, and laced with a bit of brandy. Veering toward a zuppa inglese, perhaps. I liked it.

white and red bottle-ends

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Sunday, January 8, 2017


IMG 3657

Eastside Road, January 7, 2017—

WELL, GOOD AS IT was, why not simply repeat it? Maybe take a better photo this time?

The rest of yesterday's red

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)