Portland, Oregon, April 3, 2010—THE ENTIRE FAMILY loves eating, of course, and it was Grace's 23d birthday, the first she'd spent in this country in five years, so the choices were all up to her.
Lunch, then, at Olympic Provisions, a meat restaurant. We were six at table, but only three at our end: we split a "hand pie" — pork rillette in a delicious flaky pastry — and then I went on to a sandwich comprising Saucisson sec, Mahon cheese, mortadella, iceberg lettuce, red onion, pickled peppers, mayonnaise, and boquerones on a ciabatta roll. This was a beautifully composed sandwich, all the meats made in house, the other things carefully selected.
Gamay, "Lex Hexagonales" (Touraine), 2008
Dinner at home. We'd gone to the Farmers Market in the morning, where I bought buffalo liver for later this week, and lamb shanks for tonight. We cooked them in the usual way, browning them in a little olive oil, then covering them and cooking them slowly for a few hours with a couple of bulbs of garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled. At the end I reduced the sauce, added white wine, ran the garlic through a sieve, and served it all with fresh egg noodles also from the market; broccoli rabe and turnip greens on the side.
Grenache blanc, Abel Clément (Vaucluse), 2008
And, of course, Giovanna made a birthday cake, from Flo Braker's fine book Baking for All Occasions: Heirloom Banana Layer Cake with Prune Filling and Seafoam Frosting. No one writes the baking books better than Flo, and no one reads and prepares the recipes better than Giovanna. What a fine dinner for a birthday girl! Happy Birthday, Grace!