Saturday, July 30, 2011

Market day

Eastside Road, July 30, 2011—

FIRST DAY AT THE MARKET in quite some time, and it felt good — shopping, conversing, and of course ultimately tasting. We had Dave's fresh-caught salmon, Nancy's delicious cucumbers and broad beans, lettuce from The Francophiles.

And dessert: Gail's peaches, Nancy's perfect strawberries. What a fine country we live in!

Aglianico, Epicuro, 2008

Friday, July 29, 2011


Eastside Road, July 29, 2011—
FISH AGAIN, BECAUSE we were near Monterey Fish today, where we can depend on the fish. Cod, it was. When we got home I fried some of those little Italian peppers, friggitelli, which look like skinny padrones but are never hot. I prefer the padrones, I think, but these were nice with a small bowl of almonds and cashews and a good Martini.

Dinner, then: L. sautéed the cod, steamed some “cheddar” cauliflower (so named for the color), and steam-sautéed some delicious little potatoes. No photos, please, she said; everything was a monotone color. But tasty. Green salad, of course, and a bit of chocolate…
Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, Armento, 2009


Eastside Road, July 28, 2011—
NOBODY, HE SAID, could call me a fussy man. That's the King speaking, of course, in A.A. Milne's poem “The King's Breakfast,” which delighted me when I was a little boy — as many vegetables did not. I suppose I am still fussy about some of them, including squash, which is what we started dinner with tonight. Summer squash — “pattypan”— was always one of my least favorites, but there it was: and once past the texture I have to admit it was tasty. (Olive oil and garlic help.)

Then it was penne in tomato sauce, very long-cooked tomato sauce, an old standby here, and green salad, the first leaves from those delicious speckled Forellenschluss lettuces that I set out a couple of weeks ago. Blackberries and mulberries for dessert.
Aglianicom Epicuro, 2008 (a tiny bit sweet, but solid and hearty)
The King said,
And then he said,
"Oh, deary me!"
The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!"
And went back to bed.
He whimpered,
"Could call me
A fussy man;
I only want
A little bit
Of butter for
My bread!"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fond of Fish

Eastside Road, July 27, 2011—

Sardine sandwich

AS A KID I was never that fond of fish. This may have been the fault of cod liver oil, one of my earliest taste memories: I had to take it every day as a small boy. Later, in the last year of World War Two, when I was nine years old, we lived in a small town in Northeast Oklahoma, and there I learned catfish was a delicacy: but to me it tasted like mud. A couple of years later it was the occasional surfeit of surf fish, taken at spawn, I believe, at the mouth of the Russian River: always disagreeably fat. I still dislike fat fish. Mackerel, for example.

But I've made piece with salmon, and cod, and trout — I learned about truite bleu in the Dauphiné. And one of the things that attracts me to The Netherlands is fish: delicious flat fish, and zeeduivel, and of course raw herring. And then there's Venice, of course, and Sicily…

We've been hungry for fish lately, probably because we've been relatively deprived of them. Lots of meat in Oregon, the last two weeks, not much fish. So tonight we made do with simple sardines, out of the can: split sardines, thin-sliced raw onion, a little mayonnaise, on good bread. With them, corn-and-soybean succotash; afterward, green salad. A feast.

Rosé, La Ferme Julien (Luberon), 2009

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fruit fast

Eastside Road, July 26, 2011 —
berries.jpgIF YOU'VE BEEN PAYING attention lately you'll understand why today looked like a good day to skip eating. I did have my usual on-the-road croissant-and-cappuccino breakfast; after all, a four-hour drive requires preparation. And we did have our handful of nuts at tea-time.

That would have been it, but checking out the garden, neglected these last two weeks, I found a couple of peaches on the ground, and plenty of mulberries on the tree, and a plethora of blackberries. Then too, Lou Preston's strawberries looked very good indeed at the Farmer's Market in town. So we had a bowl of fruit. So good, and so good for you…


Eureka, California, July 25, 2011—
THIS LOOKS LIKE an interesting town, a sort of throwback. It's the county seat; there's a university campus nearby; there's no other town remotely as big within a hundred miles. But driving through — and the highway does go right through town, stoplight after stoplight, no bypass involved — you get the idea time has stood still.

One place it stood still is the Sea Grill. It lacks a website, so I can't refer you to one. It's been around for a long time, and it has its loyal fans. We were there with two of them, friends we'd spent the week with in Ashland. It was, well, comfortable and old-fashioned. I had a so-so Martini, postponed from Saturday night, and a bowl of tomato “bisque,” more like a warm concassée, and a breaded, then grilled petrale sole. I do love flat fish.
Pinot grigio, Tiamo (Veneto), 2010 (decent)
• Sea Grill, 316 E Street, Eureka; (707) 443-7187

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lunch out, dinner at home

Ashland, Oregon, July 24, 2011—
LUNCH WAS SIMPLE enough: back for cabbage salad, a duck confit taco, and a Margarita.
• Agave, 92 North Main Street, Ashland; (541) 488-1770

DINNER? EVEN SIMPLER. we bought a couple of fine substantial grass-fed London broil steaks, a couple of ciabattas, a bowlful of mixed green salad, and a small bag of Lazzari charcoal, and hit the Weber grill. I salt the meat when I get it home: the only other flavoring was good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Garlic on the bread. Red wine, bien sûr.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back to Sam (again)

Ashland, Oregon, July 23, 2011—
YES, THERE ARE other restaurants in town: we've liked Amuse and Loft in the past and I'd like to revisit them; and there's a new place, Coauine, that sounds good. But there are only so many days, and Charlene's cooking cannot be resisted; besides, it's a tradition now that the eight of us, who gather every year for a week of plays here, take one dinner at New Sammy's, and this is the only night we're not spending in the theater.

Photo Jul 21, 2011 9:55 AMOff we go, then: and I order a nice green salad, lettuces from New Sammy's garden (click on the photo for a bigger view). Afterward, local suckling pig roasted in milk, with rosemary polenta, new carrots and potatoes, and sweet onions — all from the same garden.

Roasting suckling pig in milk brings out the sweet tenderness of the meat and, I think, suppresses the slightly sour taste I often find (and, it must be said, like) in the meat, a taste I've attributed to gastric acids that have somehow permeated the flesh. This pork was succulent, no surprise, and I was delighted.
Viognier, RoxyAnn (Rogue Valley), 2008 (crisp, balanced, fine varietal); Zinfandel, Sausal "Century Vines" (Alexander Valley), 2007 (full, powerful, yet immediately partnering with the pig)
• New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, 2210 South Pacific Highway, Talent, Oregon; (541) 535-2779

Friday, July 22, 2011


Ashland, Oregon, July 20, 2011—
ALL EIGHT OF US gathered for dinner tonight at the local hotel restaurant, where we remembered having had a decent meal a few months ago. I wasn't as impressed with it tonight, for one reason or another; perhaps simply because it was noisy. (My chair was a foot from the stools at the bar, and there were a lot of guys standing there on this Friday night.)

Oh well. The not-quite-Caesar salad was okay — no raw egg or anchovies, of course, but decent romaine, dressing, and Parmigiano. The meatloaf was okay too, ditto the mashed potatoes and mixed stir-fry of vegetables: but there was too much of it, and I've yet to learn one doesn't really have to finish everything on the plate, no matter what your parents insisted on, seventy years ago.
Pinot noir, Melrose (Umpqua Valley), 2007 (a little thin and flat)
• Larks, 212 East Main Street, Ashland; (541) 488-5558

Back to Sam; Agave

Ashland, Oregon, July 19, 2011—
LUNCH TODAY: back to New Sammy's, where I had lamb braised in a Moroccan-style tomato sauce with yoghurt and flatbread, a fine dish.
Côtes du Rhône, Domaine Nicholas Boiron, 2007 (strong character, good balance

• New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, 2210 South Pacific Highway, Talent, Oregon; (541) 535-2779

THEN, BEFORE the evening play, we stopped in at a favorite Ashland joint for my usual choice there: guacamole; cabbage-and-carrot-and-lime-juice slaw; duck-confit taco. Fine powerful flavors here, and a riotous time: toward eight the place amazingly emptied, only we four were left with the staff, we cut capers and danced our way out.

• Agave, 92 North Main Street, Ashland; (541) 488-1770

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Sammy

Ashland, Oregon, July 20, 2011—

THE BEST TABLE in town, hands down, far as I'm concerned, is actually three miles north or so, at New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, where all the vegetables and herbs are from the garden, breads and pastries made in house, meat and poultry locally sourced, wine chosen with intelligence and knowledge, and lunch costs fifteen bucks, wine and dessert extra.

The garden at New Sammy's

We'll be there for dinner in a couple of days, but that doesn't keep us from lunching there today. The menu offered six choices, and while the gnocchi, the duck confit, the braised lamb, and the hamburger were attractive, I setttled for

A "picnic " platter: pork terrine with walnuts and raisins, duck liver mousse with rye bread, artichoke with aîoli, fava beans in the shell, padron peppers, Humboldt Fog cheese, olives

and it was absolutely delicious: a thing to linger over. Dessert? Of course. Six items on the menu, not including a fine selection of cheeses: I opted for

Bittersweet chocolate/milk chocolate and rose mousse layer cake with honey ice cream


Pinot grigio, Collio, La Boatina, 2007 (authoritative); Commandaria (Greece)(deep and beautiful)
• New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, 2210 South Pacific Highway, Talent, Oregon; (541) 535-2779


Ashland, Oregon, July 19, 2011—
WE THOUGHT OF FASTING, after breakfasting on coffee and a gibassier brought down yesterday from Portland's Pearl Bakery, and letting a handful of almonds and cashews stand in for lunch. But we're here with three other couples, and society trumps principle; besides, we were seeing two plays today, and attention requires nourishment. So we all filed into the old standby pub for dinner.
Pubs don't do a lot for me, but this one is politically correct; has decent food; and lets a party of eight sit outside on a patio where it's relatively quiet. I was content with this ten-inch pizza margherita.
Zinfandel, Ravenswood, 2009
• Standing Stone Brewing Company, 101 Oak Street, Ashland, Oregon; (541) 482-2448

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back in Ashland

Ashland, Oregon, July 18, 2011—
WE DRAGGED INTO TOWN at seven-thirty, dinnertime, and fell right into the closest place for dinner. It's changed in the last couple of years: an ordinary upscale pasta-and-pizza place has grown more "sophisticates," its provender more trendy. I was content with a serving of "ciabatta" that turned out to be nearly a pound loaf of white bread, with a nice runny parsley pesto on the side, and a seared tuna and white bean salad. Perfectly acceptable.
Grillo/Viognier, Sicily, 2009
• Pasta Piatti, 358 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon; (541) 488-5493

Another fine Portland dinner…

Portland, Oregon, July 17, 2001—

THIS PLACE AND THAT and the other were all fully booked even though it was a Sunday night — Portland's a happening town, restaurant-wise — but then G. remembered one people always seem to forget about until they're reminded, and then they all agree, oh, yes, now that's a fine place, why don't we give them a try? And yes, they did have a six available at seven-thirty, so there we went, and I had

Ham, peas, green garlic, ricotta cream, green beans, and carrot salad with a poached egg

Tajarin in truffle oil with Parmigiano

Duck confit with braised leek, smoked onion, chickpeas, and salbitxada*

And it was a superb meal: I'd go back to this place any day of the week.

House white and red wines in carafe

•Tabla Mediterranean Bistro, 200 NE 28th Ave., Portland; (503) 238-3777
*recipe for this romescu-like sauce here

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Evoe; party

Portland, Oregon, July 16, 2011—

Lunch at a tapas sort of place down on Hawthorne, in one of Portland's innumerable Gourmet Ghettoes. I had a delicious Gallego, a Portuguese (cannes) sardine with a hot pepper-onion-aioli piperade, a few leaves of tepid spinach on the side to cool things down. Messy, but memorably tasty.

Cune Monopole Blanco, 2010: dry, minerals, like an ordinary Muscadet at first, opening to a fine accompaniment to the sandwich.

•Evoe, 3731 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland; (503) 232-1010

BASTILLE DAY, two days late: party at the home of our friends Joe and Karen:

fava dip
salt cod fritters with aïoli
hanger steak off the grill
tuna steak
chiogga beets
green beans

Pink Champagne; Rosé; Gigondas 1999 (double magnum).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pork shoulder

Portland, Oregon, July 13, 2011—
I'LL COOK DIINER, I said recklessly, not really thinking about what I'd cook. It was that kind of day.

We drove to the butcher I like here, Laurelhurst, and I looked at the case. Exotic stuff: Irish bacon, Piemontese shortribs, that sort of thing. Not cheap, but decidedly fairly priced. Still, I mentally reckon the costs for dinner for five, and then I notice a pork shoulder roast, $4.49 a pound. I ask him to cut it in half, promising to take the big half. Four pounds, it turns out.

Back at the house I look into James Beard's cookbook to check the roasting procedure: 450 degrees, 25 minutes a pound. I mash up three or four cloves of garlic with a tablespoon or so of fennel seeds and enough salt to turn it all creamy, microplane in the zest of a half lemon I notice nearby, squeeze in the lemon juice, and slather that on all surfaces of the roast, then put it in the oven on a rack.

A little later Lindsey cuts a number of potatoes in half and puts them in the pan with the roast. Beard's right: in 100 minutes it's done perfectly. Green salad, of course.
Rosé, Luberon, La Ferme Julien

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Al fresco

Portland, Oregon, July 12, 2011—
WE DON'T FAST while traveling: today instead we had various leftovers for dinner — beans, primarily — and a bit of cheese, and some nduja (cased but loose sausage, like a boudin blanc, but peppery, and green salad, of course.

Lunch was a little exotic, though. It came from Addy's Sandwich truck, downtown, where Grace and I split first a pork paté sandwich, with the conventional mustard and cornichon, and then of all things a chocolate, olive oil, and sea salt sandwich, also on a baguette. Interesting, tasty, perhaps not ultimately a permanent entry into the repertoire.

• Addy's Sandwich Bar, SW 10th at Alder, Portland, Oregon; 503.267.0994

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pork and beans

Portland, Oregon, July 11, 2011—
WELL, BEANS AND PORK is closer to the truth: white beans and some onion, cooked, then simmered with thyme and oregano, and bits of delicious browned chorizo — I've come to think of Portland as Sausage City. Chard from the garden. Pickled green beans and carrots. Green salad.
Dessert: summer pudding — red currants and raspberries, pressed into white bread, weghted, and chilled, served with whipped cream. Marvelous.
Grüner Veltliner, Berger, 2010; Rocaberdi (Catalunya), 2008

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fish and Chips

medford, Oregon, July 9, 2011—
I LIKE SHOESTRINGS, I said. Matchsticks, she said. Right, matchsticks, that's what I said, I like matchsticks, I said.

We're talking French-fries here, "chips" to the Brits — I have no idea what they call potato chips; Pringles, perhaps. In any case, the inevitable & necessary accompaniment to bits of fish, battered, dredged, and deep-fried: a dish hereby promoted to the Hundred Plates.

Oddly, the waitress offered to "upgrade" my order to halibut. Suspicious, I asked from what it would be upgraded. Cod. Oh, no, I much prefer cod, I said, happily. They were quite nice: not greasy, decent cod flavor, nice light batter.

They're probably frozen, L. said, and probably the better for it.

Before, a watery Martini, then a nice gloppy Clam chowder; with, a sweet cole slaw.
Sauvignon blanc, Mohua (New Zealand), 2009 (grassy and a little strident)
• Porter's, 147 N. Front St., Medford, Oregon; 541.857.1910

LUNCH HAD BEEN a delicious carnitas taco from a truck parked outside a corner store in Calistoga. Delicious.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Those beans

Eastside Road, July 8, 2011—
THOSE BEANS, THOSE BEANS, those delicious Corona beans. Like so many things, they only get better during the day after first being served. Now I think about it, that's not to be expected: they were flavored with fresh marjoram, which you might expect to go a little stale — to oxidize a bit, even in a tightly covered refrigerator container.

But they don't. Salt, olive oil, onion, marjoram all simply get to know one another a little better — what else to do in that crowded microclimate? And after a good Martini, those beans, and then a green salad, was really all we wanted.

EXCEPT THAT AFTERWARD we walked down the hill in the twilight for some birthday cake — a nice genoise, dressed with blackberry coulis — and I didn't turn down a couple of teeny glasses of wine:
Chardonnay, Hafner (Healdsburg), 2008 (beautifully focussed, buttery); Syrah, Robert Hall (Paso Robles), 2008 (nicely balanced, a little peppery)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Three salads

Eastside Road, July 7, 2011—
eggsalad.jpgWE BEGAN THE DINNER with the last of that delicious egg-and-potato salad. I asked Lindsey yesterday where the recipe was: there isn't any; it's simply in her head. (It reminded me of an evening years ago in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, when we had eaten in what seemed to me a wonderful Italian restaurant, so good that I poked my head into the kitchen to thank the chef. She was an old Italian lady. When I asked her where the recipes came from, she grinned and tapped her temple with a crooked index finger.)

After the egg-potato salad — I can't bring myself to call it simply potato salad — we had a fine dish of Corona beans, cooked, cooled, tossed with oil and chopped onion, and flavored with fresh marjoram from the garden. I like a leaf of sage on beans like this, but marjoram is a more spring-like sort of flavor, combining beautifully with the olive oil, and somehow lending a silky quality to the chestnutty texture of the beans.

Green salad afterward, of course.

Nero d'Avola, Epicuro (Sicilia), 2009

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Root beer floats

Eastside Road, July 6, 2011—
IT COULD BE POINTED OUT, by anyone who wanted to pick at things, that to eat chocolate-chip cookies and drink root beer floats is not to fast. Rather more nuts than usual at tea-time, and those with lemonade rather than tea, complicate the matter. But it was another hot day, and family is visiting. You're not a great-grandfather every day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cold supper

Eastside Road, July 5, 2011—
TUESDAY: THE IDEA is to fast today, but something went wrong — maybe because yesterday was a holiday, and today seems like Monday. We went wrong at lunchtime, when L. insisted on celery stalks with peanut butter, which seems pretty déclassé to me, but there you are. Then she remembered a couple of slices of tri-tip from the other day were still in the ice-box, and then there was some of yesterday's glorious egg-potato salad left — such a fine, soft, rich, beautifully colored and textured dish that is. So maybe we'll have to put discipline off to tomorrow. Or maybe not.
Nero d'Avola, Epicuro (Sicilia), 2009

Monday, July 4, 2011


Eastside Road, July 4, 2011—
HOT AGAIN TODAY, and Independence Day into the bargain: and down the hill to the neighbor's for a family gathering, and chips, hamburgers, chili, bean salad, watermelon, and all those things. Pleasant, very.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Franco's sausages, Lindsey's potato salad

Eastside Road, July 3, 2011—
HOT TODAY, VERY HOT — over a hundred degrees. Still, at the end of the afternoon I lit a fire of willow branches and grilled half a dozen of Franco Dunn's remarkable sausages. Lindsey had made an equally remarkable potato salad: lots of potatoes, half a dozen small eggs hard-boiled, chopped celery and onion, mayonnaise, a little dry mustard, salt and pepper.

Before, olives, almonds, and cashews, with a glass of rosé. Afterward, green salad of course, and then sabayon, poured over sliced delicious white peaches. Summer is here with a vengeance.
Rosé of Sangiovese, Alexander Valley Vineyards, 2010; Rosé, Vaucluse, La Ferme Julien, 2010; Grenache blanc “We'll never do that again,” Preston of Dry Creek, 2009; red wine, L. Preston, nv (we had some help with all these)

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Eastside Road, July 2, 2011—
WHAT DO WE KNOW of Peruvian cuisine? Well, a little bit more now than we did this morning. Last year a Peruvian restaurant opened in a strip mall west of Santa Rosa; tonight we finally tried it out. Delicious.

peru.jpgI began with Papa a la Huancaina: a soft-boiled potato with Huancaina sauce, on butter lettuce, with hard-boiled egg and olive involved as well. And what is Huancaina sauce? Well, Wikipedia explains that; Wikipedia threatens to explain everything, perhaps ultimately even the meaning of life.

Wikipedia's photo, though, differs considerably from what I was given: two little potatoes beautifully stuffed, battered, and deep-fried — a curious sort of potato croquette, I suppose, garnished with deliciously salted and pickled raw red onion slices.

I went on to tallarin saltado, having a little hunger for a nice piquant steak strip, and not really knowing what to expect. What arrived was a platter of pasta, the steak slices buried within, along with onion and tomato wedges, laid on raw and cooked only very slightly in the steaming pasta. It was all unexpected and quite delicious, though the pasta seemed overcooked to me.

When I mentioned to the waiter that the word tallarin sounded like Piemontese, in which tajarin is the equivalent of the Italian tagliarini, cut noodles (tagliare being Italian for “cut” or “slice”), he beamed and responded in fluent Italian — being binational: a father from Manarola, in the Cinque Terre, a Peruvian mother. We so easily forget, up here in Norteamerica, how cosmopolitan the nations to our south really are.

(If you're really interested in the etymology and history of this pasta, and read a little Spanish, there's a good survey to be read in Spanish-language Wikipedia.)

I liked my tallarin, and will perhaps try to duplicate it at home: there's a promising recipe online, if you want to try it out too.
Syrah, Intipalka (Peru), 2009: good varietal scent; a little gassy; nice balance; interesting
Sazón Peruvian Cuisine, 1129 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, California; (707) 523-4346


Eastside Road, July 2, 2011—
IT DIDN'T EXIST when I was a kid, or if it did, no one knew what to call it. Well, not quite true: according to Wikipedia,
The scientific name of this muscle is Tensor fasciae latae, inserted in the Fascia lata, the connective tissue covering the Quadricep femoris, also called Quadricep extensor, a group of four muscles which in turn insert in the Patella, or knee cap of the animal.
It wasn't until the mid-fifties, apparently, that the steak began to be marketed as we know it today. It's a favorite cut of mine, nicely balancing texture, flavor, and fat content: perfect for the grill. That's the treatment it got today: grilled low over charcoal, first whole, then in thick slices to finish it. Steamed broccoli on the side; green salad after. A nice summer supper.
Barbera, Preston of Dry Creek, 2009