Saturday, July 31, 2010

Santi. Sante!

Eastside Road, July 31, 2010—
A CELEBRATION TONIGHT for the return of health, with a couple of friends we hadn't seen in some time, in an Italian restaurant we quite liked in an earlier incarnation but hadn't yet visited in its present one.

I ordered and ate too much, of course; but I'm really trying hard to get back in shape. A mangiatore has to maintain a certain physique, and that requires dedication and discipline. Since it's the last day of the month, a full calendar month since I was felled by unseen forces, it seemed appropriate to dig in: dig in I did.

I began with an order of polenta with Fontina from the Val d'Aosta, deliciously flavored by the wood-burning oven in which it was finished. Then a lamb shank — the lamb from our county is always reliable — slow-braised and served with fregole, black olives, wilted escarole, and gremolata. Chunks of ricotta salata were strewn about the dish: they seemed irrelevant, and I picked them out and ate them separately. (They were good.) Afterward, "baby" lettuces in a balsamic-olive oil dressing. A very delicious and nutritious and, I hope, weight-gaining dinner.
Grecanico, Di Giovanna (Sicily), 2008: fruity, serious, substantial, though only 12.5%; Valpolicella ripasso, Santi (?) (failed to take notes: I'm new to this wine-drinking business
  • Santi, 2097 Stagecoach Road, Santa Rosa; tel: (707) 528 1549;
  • Friday, July 30, 2010


    Eastside Road, July 30, 2010—
    I KNEW A MAN ONCE who was notorious among his friends (and he had many) for the pot of eternal soup he kept on his stove. The idea was, you'd drop by for supper, maybe you'd bring something — a couple of carrots, some beans, a handful of herbs — and it would go into the pot, always ready at the back of the stove. I assume and hope it was always simmering. I managed never to partake of the pot. Lou lived almost to his 85th birthday, so I guess the soup was nutritious in some way. (He died on the threshhold of a fast-food restaurant he was being taken to against his better judgement.)

    This chili threatens to turn into something similar. Tonight it was extended with more beans and garnished with a delicious avocado a friend brought the other day — a Reed; you don't find those easily — along with the onion. Broccoli before; a bad movie after.

    Thursday, July 29, 2010

    Chili and beans

    Eastside Road, July 29, 2010 —
    JUST UNDER SIX MONTHSago, on Groundhog Day, the post here was called The Last of the Chili. Well, strike that: a plastic container of the real l.o.t.c. had been squirreled away in our capacious freezer, somewhere between the pine nuts and the Blue Ice packs. (No wonder there's hardly ever room to chill a Martini glass in there.)

    Today Lindsey got it out, heated it up, and served it, garnished with chopped sweet Walla Walla onion (raw, of course), and it was delicious enough to have a second helping. Green salad.

    Cold cuts

    Eastside Road, July 28, 2010 —
    NO, THEY ARE NOT the unkindest cuts of all, cold cuts. When I was a kid they were called "lunch meat," and God knows what they might have involved. Today, though, they were Fra Mani's Toscana and two different mortadellas: one imported, the other from Zoe's Meats in, I think, Petaluma. With these, four cheeses: Brie, Manchego, Comté, and Bleu d'Auvergne.

    Yes: a friend had driven up to visit; it was a lovely afternoon; we drove in to Healdsburg for provisions — our usual cheese shop is closed on Wednesdays, so we got all this at Big John's, for my money Healdsburg's best one-stop supermarket. Oh: and a loaf of bread and a couple of focaccias from Downtown Bakery & Creamery.
    Cheap Pinot grigio
    We'd thought to have the remaining half of yesterday's tortilla, too, but it would have been excessive. Instead we had it with a green salad for supper. Life is good.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    De nuevo en España…

    Eastside Road, July 27, 2010—
    WELL, NOT REALLY; it only seemed like we were back in Spain — for the second day running. Yesterday it was those delicious pimientos de padrón; today it was a tortilla paisana I made, faithfully following Penelope Casas's book The Foods and Wines of Spain (p. 165). It's an interesting technique: you slice your potatoes and onions say an eighth of an inch thick and cook them slowly in a LOT of olive oil. When they're tender but not at all brown you drain them in a colander, then submerge them in the eggs — I used half a dozen — you've whisked almost to a froth. This stands for fifteen minutes: then you get a couple of tablespoons of the reserved olive oil good and hot and dump the mixture in, flattening it, reducing the heat, and shaking the pan to keep things loose. You cook it over a medium-hot flame, flipping it two or three times with the help of a serving plate. It tasted exactly like tortillas we've eaten in Madrid.

    Lindsey cooked some Musica beans in butter and cooked a couple of ears of sweet white corn from today's market, and afterward we had our green salad.
    Pomegranate juice and sparkling water  

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Pimientos de Padrón

    Eastside Road, July 26, 2010—
    I FORGOT TO PHOTOGRAPH them; sorry. Do a Google Images search for "pimientos de padrón"; I'm sure you'll find lots of photos. You may find sources for them, too. We got ours in Berkeley last week, at The Spanish Table, one of my favorite stores.

    I've been looking for them for a while, because I was thinking of maybe setting out a few plants — apparently it's not that easy to get plants, though seeds come on the market, The Spanish Table told me, in season. Season, of course, is the key. We first tasted these delicious peppers in Spain, but for all their trips to Spain, T and E never encountered them: they were there out of season.

    The peppers are famous for their unpredictability. Most are not particularly piquant, but now and then one'll be noticeably "hot." The trick is, you fry them in hot olive oil (just not quite smoking), letting them char almost brown but not quite, and you sprinkle them with coarse salt, and maybe you have a cold beer or a glass of Fino with them.

    Also on the menu tonight, fusilli with little cherry tomatoes, crushed anchovies, and crushed garlic; then the green salad. We'll have bowls of mulberries a little later: our tree's generous this year.
    Pomegranate juice with sparkling water

    Sunday, July 25, 2010


    Eastside Road, July 25, 2010—
    TO MARKET THIS MORNING for the usual staples: garlic; Nancy's Musica green beans; fish. Today, halibut: Lindsey sautéed it in butter and cooked the Musicas along with some conventional green beans.
    Also on the side, as you see, cucumber salad; and afterward, our first homestyle green salad in a number of days. Later there'll be fruit, I'm sure.


    Eastside Road, July 24, 2010—
    #alttext#I SET IT IN QUOTES, because a substantial meal catered for 350 people is hardly what I think of as a picnic: a picnic involves a basket, a tablecloth, some bread and sandwich makings (cold cuts by preference), hard-boiled eggs, pickles, a bottle of wine and another of water, and a congenial and reasonably small group. Déjeuner sur l'herbe.

    We'd gone with a couple of friends down to Stinson Beach — to the Audubon Canyon Ranch, in fact — to help hundreds of others honor Marty Griffin on his 90th birthday. A major conservationist and a good guy, he was celebrated in the preserve he did so much to acquire for The People. (On the occasion, the preserve was re-named in his honor: the Martin Griffin Preserve.)

    Lunch, then; very good, considering the number served:

    I had the Tri-Tip, of course, nice and rare; I'm told the chicken was just as good. Nice salads, and — not mentioned on the menu, because not part of the caterer's preparation — "Billy's Beans", red beans cooked two days with an elusive but delicious combination of tomatoes, meat, onions, and herbs. Gotta get that recipe.
    Lemonade; water
  • Delicious! Catering, 26 Medway Road, San Rafael; tel. 415.453.3710;
  • Friday, July 23, 2010

    Fish and Fish

    Eastside Road, July 23, 2010—
    DOWN TO BERKELEY AGAIN today and lunch at the restaurant — those who know me know what that refers to. I'll have fish and fish, I said mischievously to Karen; she looked away for a moment, smiled, and said I get it, the sardine toasts and the sea bass.
    We don't eat fish often enough, so when I know it'll be tasty, and its politics impeccable, I don't turn it down. The sardines, from Monterey Bay, were quickly grilled and served on toast, with cucumber salad, mâche, and chervil, and the textures, colors, and tastes all offset one another perfectly. The bass, white bass from the California coast, was breaded and sautéed and served with haricots verts and fennel-potato purée, with anise hyssop to point up the flavors. Butter sauce on both dishes: I'm currently twelve pounds underweight.

    A great combination. Fish and Fish. We should do this twice a week at least.#alttext#
    Non-alcoholic "beer", Clausthaler
  • Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; tel. 510.548.5525
  • Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Back to Catelli

    Eastside Road, July 22, 2010—
    A COUPLE OF FRIENDS we hadn't seen in some time suggested getting together tonight, asking the familiar question: Been to any new places lately? We told them about Catelli, in Geyserville, where we ate two nights ago, and they said well let's give them a try.

    It was my chance to order the old-time dinner I'd considered but was tempted out of on Tuesday: an order of garlic bread, just like Dad used to make (on good nights, when he didn't resort to garlic salt); a cup of thick minestrone soup; a plate of meaty ravioli in Bolognese sauce. And to finish it off, a serving of zuccotto, one of the few things not made in house: they actually order it up from Victoria Pastry in San Francisco. I remember Uncle Vic bringing it with him on his occasional visits to his brother and sister-in-law on the ranch, back in the 1950s.

    Come to think of it, the whole experience was like a trip back to the 'fifties. Except that I trust the ingredients, mainly local and organic.
    Old Vines Red, Marietta
  • Catelli's Restaurant , 21047 Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville; tel. 707-857-3471;
  • Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Grilled cheese sandwich

    Eastside Road, July 21, 2010—
    TO TOWN TODAY — that would be Santa Rosa — to hear a talk by a photographer at a gallery showing an absorbing collection of his work over the years; afterward, too late to fix something to eat at home, a stop with friends for a grilled cheese sandwich. I had a real yen for a grilled cheese sandwich.

    Alas, not on the menu. But there was a Reuben: corned beef, sauerkraut, and "Swiss" cheese on rye bread, the whole thing grilled, of course. Lindsey ordered one, but I asked the waitress to see if the kitchen would leave the corned beef and sauerkraut off mine. Done. Before it, a cup of "Portuguese soup," tomato, garlic, linguiça, onions, a bit of celery I think: not bad.

    The one odd thing: we two couples split the check down the middle, and each of us got a check with the correct total at the bottom — but underneat that a chart of "Suggested Gratuity" all worked out for 18, 20, and 25%. The amounts were those percentages of the total, not the half total listed on the check. Worse, when I mentioned this to the waitress, "Oh yes, we know, we haven't been able to figure out how to change the computer so it doesn't do that."

    I looked at her a bit dumbfounded, I'm afraid, and she continued: "Maybe I should mention it at the table when the check is presented." Well, yes; and you might draw lines through those suggestions, too. Oh well: no harm done in our case, but I'm glad I always scrutinize the check!
    Ginger lime fizz (analcoholic)
  • Jackson's Bar and Oven, 135 4th Street, Santa Rosa; tel. 707.545.6900;
  • Veal cutlet

    Eastside Road, July 20, 2010—
    IT ISN'T MY BIRTHDAY, but a couple of dear friends thought it was and took us out to dinner. Well, why disabuse people with such good intentions? Healdsburg and environs is hardly lacking in good restaurants, and here was a new one, way up in Geyserville, one with a long and interesting history: the Catelli family had run Catelli's the Rex in this space for years and years, then a divorce (as I understand it) moved the operation out of the space down the road to Healdsburg, keeping the name, but losing out to competition and closing after a short while.

    Meanwhile a daughter of the family — granddaughter of the original, "King" Catelli — had taken up cooking in a serious way, marrying the new American professionalism to the vaunted family traditions. Her father had kept the real estate of the original restaurant, leasing it to another newer operation, Santi. Santi moved out last year, to new digs in Santa Rosa, and Domenica Catelli, the granddaughter-cook, moved in (along with her brother Nicholas, who runs the house), and that's where we had dinner, on my un-birthday.

    The four of us shared three salads: tomatoes and cucumbers in a Balsamic dressing; prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with cheese and baked; fresh greens and herbs. Lindsey went on to the delicious house ravioli in Bolognese; I was planning to, but was seduced by a special, a grilled veal cutlet with potatoes and spinach.


    This was easily the biggest dinner I've eaten since May, when we were in Italy. In fact I felt we were in Italy, and found myself now and then talking in my version of Italian to Richard Catelli, the chef's father, who joined us at the table — a fascinating man, full of stories about the family and local history, and what a fascinating family and history it is. (Read the local newspaper's backgrounder for hints.)

    Big though it was, having lost a dozen pounds recently I ordered dessert: Mamma Catelli's bread pudding, involving a little rum, whipped cream, and of course cubes of bread — good old Franco-American "french bread," a local product since the late 1930s. We'd had it as "garlic bread" for an appetizer, and it was just as I remember my father making it in the late 1940s.

    Catelli's uses local products, organic when possible; it marries traditional family cooking to the recently new American professionalism; it's comfortable and roomy; the service is friendly; and there is nothing pretentious or over-ambitious about the place. We'll go back.
    Gewurtztraminer, "Mercury" (Clarksburg), 2009; Pinot noir, MacMurray (Sonoma Coast), 2008
  • Catelli's Restaurant , 21047 Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville; tel. 707-857-3471;
  • Monday, July 19, 2010

    Chickpea and Spinach Stew

    Eastside Road, July 19, 2010—
    CASUAL READERS of this blog will have noted that we are not vegetarians, no, not really. But one of the most-consulted cookbooks in a fairly big collection here is Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which I think of as an indispensable general-purpose cookbook, clear and resourceful and inspiring to read.

    (I should probably mention that Deborah's an old friend, a dear old friend, and an intelligent and good-humored woman, and that her husband Pat McFarlin is just as clever, funny, and loyal. If you want to see the two of them working together, get a copy of What We Eat When We Eat Alone, which is hilarious, and beautiful, and truthful, like its authors.)
    Anyhow yesterday Lindsey cooked up enough garbanzos for two meals, setting one batch aside for this tasty one-dish meal, p. 310 of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Olive oil, onion, garlic, red pepper, paprika, rosemary, parseley, tomatoes, garbanzos, salt and pepper, spinach, garlic mayonnaise. Cook it, the spinach separately; combine it; serve it and eat it, maybe with a couple of slices of garlic-rubbed olive-oiled toast. Delicious.
    Cool water

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Salmon, green beans, potatoes

    Eastside Road, July 18, 2010—
    TO THE FARMERS' MARKET in Sebastopol this morning: salmon from the fish guy, those delicious "Musica" green beans and one small artichoke from Nancy Skall's Mddleton Gardens. Why one small artichoke? Because we had a couple from our own plants.

    What I do is, cut up three or four potatoes into pieces a little bigger than a big garlic clove and brown them in olive oil. Then I add five or six whole cloves of garlic (each about the size of a piece of potato) and the artichokes, tipped and stemmed, quartered, and robbed of any choke they may have developed. Toss in enough salt, let it steam a moment, then add some water and cover and cook gently until done.

    Meanwhile Lindsey grills the salmon on top the stove in a little oil, in a black iron frying pan, and steam-cooks the green beans. It makes a very nice Sunday supper.
    Pomegranate juice with sparkling water


    Eastside Road, July 17, 2010 —
    GARBANZOS, WE CALLED them when I was a kid; ceci; chick peas. They're best when cooked from the dried bean, of course, and I guess (though I've never done it) not all that difficult: soak them overnight, drain them, cook them. Not forgetting the salt. #alttext#With them tonight, a little chorizo crumbled up, sautéed with sliced onion and such. Green salad, of course.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Idem the same

    Eastside Road, July 16, 2010—
    THAT'S THE TITLE, or an alternative title, of Gertrude Stein's Valentine to Sherwood Anderson, who'd written the foreword to her Geography and Plays, a book that's always meant a lot to me. But this has nothing to do with Eating Every Day, except that tonight's dinner was an exact reprise of last night's, which see below. Oh: except that we had some nice green beans in addition to the sandwich and salads.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Tuna sandwich

    Eastside Road, July 15, 2010—
    MY APPETITE THESE DAYS clearly demands the savory. Breakfast was at Café Fanny, where you can get "Angelo's Eggs," steam-"poached" eggs on toast with brown butter (butter with vinegar) and oregano, delicious. #alttext#
    Then supper tonight: Lindsey's wonderful grilled tuna sandwich, with chopped onion and cornichon in the mayonnaise-tuna mixture, grilled between two hot black iron skillets; and the last of that fine vegetable salad from Sunday, with green and wax beans and shell beans and fennel and carrot and pepper and who knows what all. Oh: and green salad, of course.
    Lemonade (sigh)
  • Café Fanny1603 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; tel. 510.524.5447;
  • Bastille Day

    Berkeley, July 14, 2010—

    BASTILLE DAY at Chez Panisse is a tradition we try to maintain no matter what, so we made the trek. Lindsey peeled garlic with the other volunteers while I chilled out with a book; then we had dinner:

    Basil gelée with tomatoes and aïoli
    Tomales Bay bouillabaisse
    (I had roasted pepper soup with rouïlle, avoiding crustaceans)
    Suckling pig with wild fennel, new garlic, haricots verts, and corn pudding
    Peach-leaf ice cream and nectarine sherbet coupe with summer berries

    Bandol rosé, Domain Tempier
    Sancerre, Louis Crochet, 2007
    Arbois, le Brin de Chèvre, 2008
    Bourgueil, Catherine & Pierre Breton, 2007
    (little sips only)

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Soup and pasta

    Eastside Road, July 13, 2010—
    VEGETABLE SOUP TONIGHT: a can of organic chicken broth, sliced carrots, peas, onions, pasta, salt, just what the doctor ordered.

    And afterward, more pasta: fusilli with Lindsey's Trapani pesto — basil, garlic, salt, chopped almonds; a few tomatoes added as well. My cook takes good care of me.
    Water with sliced lemon

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Bread, toasted, rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt

    Eastside Road, July 12, 2010—
    GRADUALLY THE APPETITE returns: we mortals are so persistent sometimes. Yesterday was such a fine feast-day, with lamb sausages Paolo had made, and delicious salads from Curt and Mary Jo, and bread and cheeses, tomato salad, and green salad of course, and a fine summer pudding for dessert; I forgot all about the recent travails.
    #alttext#Then today sweet Lindsey cooked some green beans and served them with the potato salad from yesterday, even better a day later in its mustard-cornichon dressing, and the above-mentioned toast, now one of the Hundred Plates. It'll be a while before I recover fully to the trencher, but the instincts have returned, the appetite's almost fully back; only the curious lingering aversion to coffee and wine to overcome. Slowly, slowly.
    Sparkling pomegranate juice

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Chicken, peas, potatoes

    Eastside Road, July 6, 2010—
    A PERFECT SUPPER, one of the Hundred Plates. A perfect light summer supper. Immenesely more perfect when someone else has done the work, and probably supernal when eaten after a week in hospital — which is why you haven't seen me here recently.

    Not that I might not write about the hospital food one of these days: but if I do, it'll be over there at The Eastside Road: it won't be an account of normal daily eating, but a disquisition on the nature of mass feeding at even a rather enlightened institution.
    I know, the photo could be better; I'm too shaky for this new iPhone software. But the plate looks beautiful to me. A couple of chef friends were up to celebrate my preliminary release two days ago and roasted this delicious little bird with herbs from the garden — by the time it was done I was back in hospital, so I don't know what they did. The potatoes taste of olive oil and salt and garlic, commodities apparently unknown at the health mill, and the peas of marjoram; all is well with the world. Well, not quite all:
    Pomegranate juice