Thursday, October 18, 2012

Back to the Campo

Eastside Road, October 17, 2012—
DINNER OUT AGAIN tonight with friends. I like this restaurant. It's not cheap, and the menu is small and seems not to change much nightly: but it's comfortable; you can take your time; the menu is varied and enticing; the pizzas are well baked; the wine list has some useful inexpensive items.

There were five of us at table, and we ordered quite a few plates:
Ciabatta with very nice olive oil
Green beans with sunflower seeds and sherry vinaigrette
Arugula, radicchio, and endive salad
Pizza with mushrooms, mozzarella, and arugula
Pizza with figs, preserved lemon, mozzarella, bacon, balsamico, and arugula
Soppressata: with chili, hardcooked egg, and salsa verde
Baked polenta alla Sarda
Well, you get the idea. All these but the pizze are "small plates," appetizer-size or less. They're all well seasoned, food tasting of the fire and the ingredients, with plenty of arugula. Some were really quite memorable — the polenta and the soppressata above all, and the fine olive oil served with the ciabatta.

We were two or three hours at table, never rushed, always taken care of. Every dish was delightful. And then came dessert. As an exercise in direct observational comparison, I decided to have this buttermilk panna cotta with raspberries. Yesterday I had the same dessert at another restaurant, admittedly with huckleberry coulis instead of the raspberries. Still, tasting only the custard, not allowing myself to be distracted by the garnish, it should be possible to craw some conclusion.

Comparison is odorous, as Shakespeare says. It's not really fair, or useful either, to put a dish at one table against a similar one at another. But good as tonight's panna cotta was — silky in texture, beautifully placed — it seemed to me it insisted a tad too much on the buttermilk. Yesterday's was subtler and better balanced on the palate, speaking only of flavor. And what's most important in a dessert? Flavor, no?
Grechetto; Nebbiolo. Which ones? The least expensive ones. Sorry; didn't take notes — too busy having fun.
• Campo Fina, 330 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg; 707-395-4640

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