Friday, August 21, 2015

Pasta, sausage

Eastside Road, August 21, 2015—
MORE OR LESS marking time today, after last night's feast, and the feasting promised for the weekend — just a plate of broad egg noodles and sausages of Franco's from the freezer, I suppose. Green salad. Good company. Can't complain.
Cheap Italian white, Grifone
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Birthday lamb chops

Eastside Road, August 20, 2015—
I AM ONE LUCKY guy, and I know it — to the point of survivor's guilt: eighty years old today, I've outlived my parents and most of my grandparents and even, sadly, two of my younger brothers. And I can still do a few hours' work; and heaven knows I keep my appetite and handle my booze. For the most part.

Best of all, I get to share all this with a Cook and Companion who deserves better but does not complain. On the contrary: she treats me well, bandages my wounds, watches my regimen, and cooks, day in, day out, like the pro she is.

She knows I love lamb chops, and English peas, so look at the main course of my birthday dinner: two fine loin chops grilled simply with salt, rosemary, and a little bit of garlic; buttered peas; sliced tomatoes. It's funny: my father wouldn't have lamb in the house, so I never tasted it until I was in college (and rarely then). Somewhere along the way I'd read of lamb chops and English peas as being a sophisticated supper, a club man's provender, to be taken of course with Bordeaux — Burgundy was for beef or, perhaps, goose. I was a terrible snob as a post-adolescent, striving to be more than I was, and this was the kind of supper I yearned for.

It was just what you want at eighty: solid, balanced, integrated, with memories attached (Provence! George and Barjols!), and made for the occasion. Afterward, of course, a good green salad. And then dessert…Cherries.jpg Cherries Jubilee! I didn't ask, but I bet they were our own cherries, from the freezer of course, flamed in Kirsch and brandy and put to vanilla ice cream… and even my favorite dessert spoon!
Garnacha/Monastrell 70-30%, Laya "old vines" (Almansa), 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Eastside Road, August 19, 2015—
DINING AT HOME was a last-minute decision, and we hadn't really shopped for it — but there are usually a few eggs in the kitchen, and Parmesan; and Cook keeps frozen corn and soybeans on hand for an emergency succotash.

That makes a pretty good summer supper. I made the omelets — a two-egg for her, three for me. I whisk them up a bit with a dinner fork and cook them in a hot omelet pan. For years now, ever since seeing The Big Night with its memorable closing scene, I've used olive oil rather than butter. I grate the cheese ahead of time and strew it on top of the omelet when the bottom side is done, then fold the thing over and serve.

As you see, buttered toast is the garnish. Green salad afterward, and then pears and peaches. As I say: a pretty good summer supper.
Cheap Italian white
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Not grilled cheese

Eastside Road, —
NORMALLY THIS WOULD BE a fast day — it's Tuesday — but we've been working more than usual, so we cheated a bit. Ah, I said to Cook, grilled cheese. Well, no, she said, not grilled.

They were more toasted, in fact, in the black iron skillet, with no butter. Delicious Comté cheese. When I was a kid we rarely ate cheese, and when we did it was Velveeta, or some other processed orange cheese in a long rectangular box — stick-to-your-teeth cheese, either for grilled sandwiches or, more often, macaroni and cheese. It wasn't really very good, and my fondness for cheese, which is pretty selective, was slow to set in.

Among my favorites, the high-pasture types: Comté, Beaufort, Gruyère… they all have such a fine affinity with wheat, or come to think of it potatoes. They warm beautifully; their texture is solid, serious, and interesting; the flavor, rennetty, is focussed and long-finished. I do love those cheeses.

With the sandwich, green Zebra tomatoes, as you see, perfectly salted. A little fruit for dessert.
Cheap Rosé, Epicuro, unmemorable
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pork chop my way

Eastside Road, August 17, 2015—
I PUT A COUPLE of garlic cloves with some salt in the mortar and crush to a nice juicy paste; then I add fennel seeds, oh I'd say a couple of tablespoons, and crush them too; finally I pour in some oil and grate in some lemon zest.

The resulting paste is spread on the top surfaces of the pork chops, which are then set under the broiler. When done on the first side, you turn them over and spread the rest of the paste on the new topside, then return to the broiler until done.

With them tonight rosemary-garlic-fried potatoes and some chard. Afterward, a green salad dressed with a mustard vinaigrette. Then a small melon, still not quite in season.
Garnacha/Monastrell 70-30%, Laya "old vines" (Almansa), 2013: earthy, good varietal character, full in the mouth, good finish
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Monday, August 17, 2015

A perfect day

Eastside Road, August 16, 2015—
AN INCREDIBLY HOT day today, up to 108°; but lots of work done: re-hung the gate to hinge it on the other side; worked further on the field; repaired a broken water supply only to reveal yet another leak to be repaired tomorrow or next day; began an electrification project long considered and longer postponed.

And then had the new neighbors to dinner — a granddaughter, her man, their baby. Tri-tip on the grill, and Jimmy Nardello and Alhambra peppers. I think the tri-tip, whatever it is, is foolproof: you need only salt it all around on getting it home from the meat-market, re-wrap it loosely in its paper, then perhaps oil it a bit before putting it over the coals.

Jimmy Nardello, whoever he was, was either a genius or a saint, perhaps both, to have come up with his sweet, pungent, unique peppers. Again: all you need is olive oil and salt and a good heat source.

And then Cook's potatoes with rosemary, olive oil, and garlic; and some sliced Zebra tomatoes; and a good green salad with an avocado afterward; and then ice cream with Lou's strawberries… and such great company and conversation… and a kerosene lamp on the table at the end of dinner, as the dark night gathers around with a promise of slightly cooler temperatures (at 9:50 PM it's 70 degrees, very unusual)…

And the dishes all in the dishwasher, and yes that is an empty Martini glass on the table even though it is Sunday…

Life is good. IMG_0716.jpg
Mourvedre, Preston of Dry Creek, 2012: strong, assertive, almost mature; sound and interesting
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday salmon

Eastside Road, August 15, 2015—
SATURDAY: COOK WENT OFF to the farm market in town without me this morning — leaving me to work on other things — and returned eventually with not only the nice weekly hunk of local salmon but also the first lima beans of the season. We miss dear Nancy Skall, it goes without saying, but remember her fondly as we enjoy these lima beans, tended by her gardener on her soil now maintained by new owners. Things change; underlying things do not — at least that's how I prefer to look at things at the moment.
Rosé, La Ferme Julien
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants