Eastside Road, Healdsburg, February 24, 2009
BACK TO CHEZ PANISSE tonight, for a particularly good reason: Paolo's own veal was on the menu. He, or more likely his wife Meadow, raises among the dogs and cats, sheep and deer, coyotes and cougars and the occasional bear, Highland cattle: short-legged, red-haired, long-horned animals that look more like yaks than cattle, and whose hair, says Paolo, protects them so well from heat and cold they don't need the layer of fat most beef-cattle boast, making their texture quite special.
The animals are branded 8IT. I like it: Ate it. But an erroneous space had crept between "8" and "IT" when the menu was printed, and Francophone host and chef were curious: "'ow do you zay it, is it ate eye tee?" I explained: ate it. Repeated back to me it sounded like eight-teat: no, that would be more appropriate to pork, don't you think? Ate it.
In any case it was delicious. What a meal! Tuna tartare with Belgian endive and radish for the salad; then steamed clams and mussels with chopped-in chorizo and leeks, then
the grilled rack and loin of the veal, with lemon and chanterelles and hand-cut pasta squares and green peas and spinach, in a sauce so delicious I demanded a spoon. And then for dessert a little mandarin shell with passion fruit and meringue.
Kir; Grüner Veltliner; Pinot nero (Alto Adige) 2006