Friday, August 31, 2012


Mount Shasta City, August 31, 2012—
I LIKE THIS PLACE; I always have. When we first happened upon it, surely a dozen years ago or more, it was recently opened by Maddalena Serra, a young woman with a keen intellectual curiosity, of Sicilian parentage or perhaps Sard, I don't remember now. She was in the habit of running her restaurant in the tourist season, feeding hunters, fishermen, mountain climbers, and folks like us shuttling between the Bay Area and Portland.

In the off season she spent months in Mediterranean countries, gathering recipes and ideas. As I recall she'd made nearly the complete circuit, from Cadiz up the coast to Barcelona, across to Marseilles, Genoa, Rome, Bari, Athens, Istanbul; then down the Syrian coast to Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia… not forgetting the islands, of course; Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, Cyprus…

Alas she gave the place up a number of years ago, returned to her native Los Angeles, and dropped out of my ken. (I just Googled her, though, at it looks as if she may be at Café Zoetrope in San Francisco -- maddeningly, you never know the dates of webpages; I don't even know if C.Z. is still in business.)

When she left it didn't take long for Brett LaMott to take over. We'd run into him in a place he'd run here in Mount Shasta City: a skillful, attentive man, fond of period jazz and girl singers, and a good man at the stove. He was careful to make very few changes in the delightful interior Maddalena had installed, and allowed a little of her Mediterraneity to influence his otherwise rather Gallic sensibility.

There was a number of enticing options on the menu. I started with a white bean soup with a fried sage leaf on it, a drizzle of good olive oil -- a nice execution of a simple but perfect concept, which hereby goes to the list of the Hundred Plates. Afterward, the short ribs you see here, braised all afternoon with carrots and onions and leeks, I think, and served with undersalted but nicely cooked polenta. Dessert was a fig-and-almond tart, in fact more like a shortcake, the pastry layered with frangipane and fig jam. Yes yes: one of the Hundred Restaurants.
water (and delicious water it is here in Shasta country)
• Café Maddalena, 5801 Sacramento Avenue, Dunsmuir, California; 530.235.2725

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ground lamb

Eastside Road, August 30, 2012—
WE USED TO BUY IT, fifty years ago, at the Blue and Gold Market on Shattuck Avenue: it cost twenty-five cents a pound. Even so we often cut it with some cooked rice: but ground lamb has enough flavor (and Lard knows enough fat) to carry a share of adulterant.

Today we discovered it had gone up a bit, to ten dollars a pound. And it shrank up alarmingly under the broiler. (And the broiler pan was the devil to clean, let me tell you.) But you know, it still tastes great. Lindsey cooked it with dried herbs from the garden, herbs I picked quite a long while ago, long enough that I no longer recall exactly what's in the mixture: small-leafed myrtle for sure, lavender no doubt, probably a little of the mint that grows wild around here.

With it, broccoli and sliced tomatoes; then the green salad, and a delicious cantaloupe. Not bad at all.
Cheap red French wine, much watered.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sausage à la grecque

Eastside Road, August 29, 2012—
IT SEEMS FOREVER since last we dined at home: tonight we made up for this, feasting on Franco Dunn's marvelous "Greek" sausage — for its oregano, I suspect, and maybe a hint of mint, along with the garlic and pepper and who knows what else. With it, broccoli with a trace of garlic crushed into it, and Lindsey's delicious stovetop-creamy (though with butter, not cream) potatoes, nice new ones from a neighbor's farm. Afterward, green salad; dessert, a fine Crane melon — a special melon in my opinion, but then it was developed by a distant collateral cousin.
Cheap french red, "L'Authentique," well cut with sparkling water (I'm on the wagon for a few days)

After the fast, the feast

Eastside Road, August 28, 2012—
WE MOSTLY SKIPPED EATING yesterday, even though it was Monday, not the usual Tuesday fast, because today is Tuesday, and the 28th; and Chez Panisse opened its doors on August 28, forty-one years ago. An extraordinary thing to contemplate.

There was a birthday dinner celebration, of course, a benefit for the Edible Schoolyard; a chance to have a good dinner while dropping a bundle into tax-deductible charity. So we fell into line, and were happy to do it: particularly as we were joined imprévu by an old acquaintance, a constant close friend of the restaurant, who had shown up with a bottle of '71 Bordeaux for Alice, and was rewarded with… dinner and our company.

You see the menu over there to the left. The apéritif was fried breaded olives, little brandade puff-paste barquettes, grilled Nardello pepper strips, anchovies. The tomato salad involved cucumber, haricots verts, shell beans, and garden herbs in a soft vinaigrette, and was truly delicious.

Alas for me, the soupe de poissons included lobster; no way to avoid it. I was perfectly content with a deep, rich soupe à pistou in its place; and the grilled squab, with a marvelous gratin Dauphinois and its mesclun salad, was memorable.

bonbons.jpgGlaces: mulberry ice cream, plum sherbet, and white peach sherbet; bonbons: chocolate truffles; candied citrus; chocolate-dipped pistachios; calissons; fruit jellies… by now, hard to keep things in focus…

Cremant with white peach; Rosé: Bandol, 2011; Gigondas: "Terrasse du Diable" Les Paillière, 2009 (stern but fruity, austere); Château Latour à Pomerol, 1971 (apt, mature, sumptuous, precise; and thank you, Duke!)
• Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.848.5525

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dinner down the road

Eastside Road, August 26, 2012—
THREE MILES AWAY — seven minutes by car, a short hour walking — there's this Michelin-starred restaurant where we've eaten only once before tonight. Hard to say why we've ignored it: partly because of that Michelin star, perhaps, because we tend to prefer "ordinary" places, as long as the food they serve is carefully sourced and prepared, to fancy places. In any case, we've been ignoring it.

Tonight, though, we agreed with a couple of new friends that it would be a nice place to get together for dinner. We know this couple from the Healdsburg Farmers Market, where we buy their lettuces, carrots, padrones peppers, and occasional other things; they've apparently been selling to this restaurant for a number of seasons. And they're francophiles and fond of the pleasures of the table: all the more reason to listen to their opinions.

It was a very nice dinner indeed, and we'll be returning. I won't pretend that we weren't given particularly nice service, with a number of little tastes walked out to our table from the kitchen. But even leaving all those things aside, it was a splendid dinner. I ordered three courses, and I quote from the menu:
• Sashimi of Ahi Tuna; sun gold tomato, watermelon, frisée; Vietnamese vinaigrette, seaweed salad

• Masami Ranch New York Sirloin; duck fat fried fingerling potato, cipollini onion; French filet bean, spicy soffrito, green peppercorn maitre'd butter

• Artisan Cheese Course
Both of the kitchen-prepared courses were beautifully sourced and prepared. The two courses reminded me of a lunch we had in Switzerland many years ago at Girardet: the technique involved was impeccable, and it was brought to fresh, local ingredients and — perhaps even more important — perfectly normal, traditional methods and intentions. Nothing molecular here, nothing contrived. Presentation quite pleasing and thoughtful, but not overtaking the point of a restaurant meal: a fine balance of textures, aromas, and flavors on the tongue.

Masami Ranch is in Tehama county in northern California, and raises Wagyu-style beef from bloodlines apparently established from Japanese heritage. The steak was flavorful, lean, and substantial, cooked bleu
as I'd asked, nicely moistened with its maître d'hôtel butter. I thought the cheeses were a tad short of service date, but that didn't keep me from enjoying them: Coupole (goat, fresh) from Vermont; Abbaye de Belloc (sheep, Aquitaine); Rimrocker (goat and cow, a hard cheese from Bend, Oregon, very nice); Gorgonzola dolce from Lombardy, not quite au point.

All in all a delicious dinner. Let's return soon.

Champagne, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, nv (reliable, crisp, forward, welcome); Erbaluce, Coste della Sesia "Doranda", 2011 (soft, focussed, generous); Zinfandel, Rafanelli (Dry Creek), 1995 (perfect expression of the grape)
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, 7871 River Road, Forestville, California; (707) 887-3300; tel.

The weekly salmon


Dave Legros ("the fish guy") and Lindsey, about to choose the weekly salmon
Eastside Road, August 25, 2012—
YOU'VE READ SO OFTEN of our weekly supper-from-the-market that I hardly need to describe it once again, so I'll just post a few snapshots instead — the Healdsburg Farmers Market as it looked a week ago, under bright sunlight.


Nancy Skall of Middleton Gardens, whose lima beans are unbeatable


Our neighbors the young Hopkinses, whose tomatoes and eggs we depend on


Berkeley and San Francisco, August 24, 2012—
A TRIP TO THE CITY for a movie, dinner, and an opera: typical busy day for us (fortunately only maybe a fifth of our days are busy). "Dinner" was more an early supper, lunch and dinner in one, and it began — after a decent Martini — with the green salad you see here: nicely chosen little lettuce leaves in a pleasant vinaigrette with the right amount of salt. I could have eaten another, after my main course.

The main course was the pappardelle you see above, with a rich Bolognese sauce and strewn, I'd forgotten to ask that it not be, with irrelevant ricotta. Well, I'd already made a nuisance of myself, stipulating the Martini formula (three to one, up, olives) and hesitating at the pasta, meant to be spaghetti. Men with beards shouldn't eat sauced spaghetti in public, say I; the waiter suggested they could substitute penne or pappardelle. Since we have penne so often at home, the choice was an easy one.
Primitivo di Manduria Villa Santera, 2009: rich and long
Paisan, 2514 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley; 510 649 1031

We took our dessert in San Francisco at a soda fountain Lindsey's been wanting to try. She said her hot fudge sundae (hereby promoted to Hundred Plates) was the best she's had, and that's saying a lot. I was content, myself, with an Angostura phosphate: Angostura bitters, lemon juice, fountain syrup, acid phosphate, gum foam, soda; a fine digestivo after a rich Bolognese. (I hope this place gets a bottle of Fernet Branca, though; a Hanky Panky phosphate would be a delicious item.)

The Ice Cream Bar, 815 Cole Street, San Francisco; 415.742.4932

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Eastside Road, August 23, 2012—
WHY A DUCK, asked Groucho: because it is so damn delicious, say I. When I was a boy I was in charge of our duckyard for a year or so, and I hated it. There is no dirtier animal than a duck, and while the male Mallard is a splendid creature, we mostly had Muscovies, and they, I thought at the time, were remarkably ugly. Bad-tempered, too.

Then in the early days of our marriage, when we depended on the fruit of street trees, and the smoked oyster samples of traveling salesman friends of friends' mothers, and the occasional cheese won in a guess-the-weight contest — I'm not kidding about any of this — there was a time when we ate a lot of duck, because a friend worked at the Department of Public Health, and somehow had access to duck carcasses. They were all missing one leg; I never did find out why. They were perfectly sound otherwise, we thought, and they were nourishing.

Dinner down the hill tonight, where T. cooked duck legs, Muscovies, I think, leaner and with more flavor than the usual white ducks. Braised for quite a long time, almost to the point of caramelization, which brings out lots of deep deep flavors, with chopped leeks and carrots and who knows what. With them, squash, cut in slices and roasted in the oven with salt and garlic; green salad afterward.

And after that, apple crisp made her way with nut meal rather than grains of any kind — with textures and deep roasted flavors that somehow bookended the duck braise. Autumn is around the corner.
Petit Syrah, Preston of Dry Creek, 2009: rounded with edge, lots of nose.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer supper: salmon

Eastside Road, August 22, 2012—
CAN ANYTHING SAY IT better than this photograph, I wonder: summer supper. The tomatoes are from our neighbors up Eastside Road, the young Hopkins — I talked to the older generation earlier today; they're going to Torino in late October, in , to participate Terra Madre, the Slow Food farm-marketing conference, and were curious about our hotel choices in previous years.

These tomatoes grow on a bit of land carved out of the vineyards on the shelf of alluvial soil next to the river. In other places these soils have been bulldozed aside so that sixty or seventy feet of gravel underneath can be dug up, washed, trucked away, and turned into concrete. I shake my head at this; have been shaking it for thirty years and more. Give this stretch of valley, say ten miles by one, to three or families of Hmong, and they could feed half the state. But you can't stop progress.

Fortunately there are some landowners hereabouts who won't participate in that kind of progress: they'd rather progress in slow food. So we have these delicious tomatoes, whose names elude me at the moment but whose flavors — and there are more than one of them — linger on the tongue.

After the tomatoes, salmon from Dave, and lima beans from Nancy. One of these days I'll post photos from the Healdsburg Farmers Market here; meanwhile you can just look at the website.

After the main course, as usual, the green salad. And tonight we have dessert — what the hell, we fasted yesterday. Ice cream with dried fruit in brandy, because Lindsey's been cleaning up, and has found lots of little jars of things put down against our old age…
Vinho verde, Gazela (Portugal), 2009 (is that possible?), spritzy, fresh — heck, I can't do better by describing it than this wineblogger, a funny guy (and thanks, Gaye and John);
cheap Côtes du Rhône, "Caves du Fournalet," 2011: nice flavor, good balance.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Birthday dinner

Eastside Road, August 20, 2012—
AND NO PHOTOS; none at all — I just quite forgot. After cheese and crackers and a bottle of rosé at home, we drove into town with a couple of old friends to eat at a place we like well enough, sitting in an enclosed booth at one end of the room where we could talk about old times and present politics and what Dickens calls mutual friends.

Flatiron steak-on-skewers, french fries, sautéed spinach; "cheesecake" — really a sort of soft goat cheese mousse, very nice.
Vin Gris, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011 (crisp, present, compelling); Gavi di Gavi, Villa Sparina, 2010 (austere, very dry); Zinfandel, Rafanelli, 2010 (rich, luscious, well balanced)
• willi's Seafood & Raw Bar, 403 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, California; 707.433.9191

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Picnic in the park

Lakeside Park, Kelseyville, California, August 19, 2012—
A LONG DRIVE to the next county today for a picnic in the park, celebrating a cousin-by-marriage's eightieth birthday. My, we're getting on! She's a wonderful woman, bright and patient and generous, and seemed to be enjoying the company of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins of course, and friends she's met over the years in RV circles.

We took a big guacamole I made this morning, and a platter of sliced tomatoes, and a bottle of Cheap Pinot grigio; and there was green salad, and baked beans, and pulled pork, and watermelon, and of course a big carrot-cake with lots of festive gloppy icing. And we sat around and talked.

New kitchen

La vie en rose: grilled nectarines, Rosé, grilled lemons, on a new kitchen island
Eastside Road, August 18, 2012—
DINNER WITH FRIENDS to celebrate their new kitchen in their newly rebuilt house — spare, clean, elegant, serene. A perfect evening: conversation, olives, poblanos, Martinis.

dinner.jpgAnd then dinner, cooked outside on the grill: Salmon with peppers and grilled lemons, broad beans with grilled halved shallots; and perfectly roasted little potatoes from the new oven.

Dessert! Cardamom ice cream with toasted nuts; those grilled nectarines…
Rosé, Guilhem Moulin de Gassac (pays d'Hérault), 2011; Chinon, Couly-Dutheil, 2011 (dark, deep, sturdy, attractive)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Corona beans

Eastside Road, August 17, 2012—
CORONA BEANS TONIGHT. I don't recall when we first discovered them, but I think I know where: in the warehouse of a food import business in Portland, a business friends had established back in the 1980s, I think now, and ran successfully, gradually moving from their basement to a first small warehouse, then another where we met those beans, then ultimately quite a large operation, with employees and trucks and accounts and such.

It was private enterprise, small capitalism, entrepreneurship as all Americans say they want to see it, and it succeeded beautifully, and it still obtains, though our friends have retired from it and moved on to other things, and the new owners, a national company, will no doubt take it to a new and different place.

And where, I wonder, will we now buy our Corona beans. They came in big clear plastic sacks, ten pounds at a time I think, or some metric equivalent: for they were imported from Italy, I believe…

Lindsey cooks them "the way you cook beans," she says, soaking them and simmering them, and tossing them with chopped shallots and crushed garlic and salt and olive oil and marjoram. They're big, beautifully textured, meaty. When I take one between my teeth and bite it just so it splits along its natural cleft (or is it cleavage), exposing the amazingly smooth surfaces of the two halves to my exploring tongue. They are, after all, seeds, embryos, potential lives; eating them I do not destroy that life, but take it into my own. The great cycle of life is reaffirmed. And it tastes great.

Green salad. Half a cantaloupe.
Cheap Côtes du Rhône, "Caqves du Fournalet," 2011: nice flavor, good balance.

Doughnuts and Musica

Eastside Road, August 16, 2012—
DINNER BACK AT HOME tonight, but on the road home from the Sierra we stopped at a friend's new shop in Oakland to see what she'd been frying.

Doughnut Dolly is brand new, in fact: Hannah opened the shop yesterday. When we stopped in, about one o'clock in the afternoon, she still had doughnuts ready to go, but customers kept showing up while we were there. She'd baked 750 that morning, she said — raised-dough yeast doughnuts, sugared and ready to fill, each in its own elegant little paper jacket.

She had three fillings on hand: chocolate, pluot jam, and "Naughty Cream," a vanilla pastry cream with a special little twist of her own; you'll have to ask her about that. I had the cream, of course, and the doughnut was so light, warm, and delicious that I had another, this time with a marvelous pluot jam filling. Good coffee, too.

• Doughnut Dolly, 482 B 49th St., Oakland, California; 510.338.6738
Musica.jpgOne does not live by doughnuts alone, though, so we had dinner at home, first time since Monday. We started with Nancy Skall's delicious Musica broad beans, a Spanish version of Romano pole beans. I don't know what it is about Nancy's garden, other than its microclimate and its wonderful soil; in any case all her vegetables and fruits are special, and these Musicas among my favorites of all of them. Lindsey tips and tails them and slices them into sections, as you see, and cooks them with a little butter.

Afterward, fusilli — yes, fusill this time — with pesto; a little left over from the small batch I'd made with mortar and pestle; and then the first we've had of a large batch I made on Monday, using the blender instead of mortar and pestle. I must say I much prefer the mortar-and-pestle version; the texture is worth the small amount of work involved.
Cheap Pinot grigio

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lamb chops

Sorensen's Resort, Hope Valley, California, August 15, 2012—
WE HAVEN'T SEEN any sheep hereabouts; to the extent that it's livestock country, it's cow country. But these "California Alps" remind me, at times, of the Alpes-Maritime — this morning we walked among pines and garrigue. And tonight I was pleased to find "Mediterranean Lamb" on the menu: "garlic, mint and fresh spice rubbed; grilled to your liking."

In truth it was grilled somewhat beyond my liking: I'd asked for them pink, but they were done throughout. Still, lamb, garlic, mint, and rosemary make a nice combination, and grilled lamb chops are clearly among the Hundred Plates. With them, as you see, broccoli cooked not quite enough, nicely roasted potatoes; before, a green salad.
Syrah, Bear Ridge (North Coast), vintage? (good varietal character, spicy, perfect lamb chop wine)
• Sorensen's Resort, 14255 Highway 88, Hope Valley, California; 800.423.9949

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Sorensen's Resort, Alpine County, August 14, 2012—
DINING IN REMOTE PLACES like this, in this country, can be an exercise in forbearance. We had only ourselves to blame tonight: we could have dined here at the resort. But we'd never been to the town of Markleeville before, only fifteen minutes away, and we thought we'd give its restaurant a shot. Even though it's Tuesday, fasting's not an option: tomorrow promises to be a strenuous day.

And so I thought I'd carbo-load, and ordered the lasagne. It arrived in a good-sized soup bowl, drowned in long-simmered tomato sauce and shrouded in gloppy "mozzarella." but in truth it could have been worse. Chopped green salad.

For dessert, cheesecake, at my request stripped of strawberries and strawberry syrup. I'm a sucker for this dessert, no better than it should be, but rarely available to me.

Zinfandel, Lake County, nvg

•Wolf Creek Restaurant, 14830 Highway 89, Markleeville, California

Monday, August 13, 2012


Eastside Road, August 13, 2012—
SO OFTEN IN THESE posts I've simply said Sausage, as if Franco Dunn, who is one of the great geniuses of Sonoma county, made only one kind of sausage. Big, good-natured, modest, he presides over his stand in the second aisle of the Healdsburg Farm Market, a stand as big as any, I suppose eight feet square: and on his table, usually three or if you're lucky (and early) perhaps four kinds of sausage, all of them cased, all selling for a reasonable circa ten bucks for four.

On Saturday we had to choose among four, of which at the moment I only remember two: Chorizo and Napolitano. We chose the latter. (The other two were just as good, but milder, French-type sausages, and it's hot weather, we're in the mood for something spicier.)

"Napolitano" turn out to be what a supermarket would call Italian Hot, with a judicious amount of red pepper among the herbs and pork. I've made sausage once or twice. It's not difficult: it only requires a good many carefully chosen ingredients, a supply of casing, some kind of machine to do the stuffing and casing, patience — and, if you're doing it commercially, discipline and constancy. Those last two matters tend to elude me.

Not Franco. His sausage is marvelous. Lindsey simply broiled it in the oven, and served it with chard she'd chopped and cooked with garlic and olive oil and that quarter lemon. Afterward. some cherry tomatoes, and then a nice Charentais melon. Ah, summertime.
Guadagni red, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011; cheap Pinot grigio

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Market day

Eastside Road, August 12, 2012—
WELL, DAY AFTER market day. Close enough. We rushed to Dave to buy salmon yesterday, of course, and then to Nancy to buy those peerless lima beans. The lemon's our own; one of the few fruits we can count on to survive without our attention.

Cherry tomatoes, before; green salad afterward. And then dessert:
icecream.jpg a first-rate ice cream sundae, with Alden organic vanilla bean ice cream, Stacey's delicious salt-caramel sauce and some chopped toasted nuts on tom. Smooth; perfect.
Guadagni red, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Highschool reunion

Eastside Road, August 11, 2012—
A CATERED DINNER in a small-town golf course clubhouse; a warm August night; a room full of folks I don't know. Well, it's Healdsburg; we're in the middle of a first-rate wine region. Things could be worse. There isn't any vermouth at the bar, so the Martini's not up to par. But I'm not complaining about the wine at our table.

We lined up with our plates, cafeteria style. Boneless chicken filets and round steak off the grill; sweated eggplant, peppers, and zucchini; chopped green salad of some kind; tortellini. For dessert, apple pie. Not à la mode: the ice cream had all melted in the heat. The dinner was okay, but we were there for a lot more than the dinner…
Chardonnay, Rochioli (Russian River), 2011 (optimal); Valdiguié (formerly "Gamay Beaujolais"), Rochioli, 2010 (weighty, forward, sound); Pinot noir, Brutocao (Mendocino), 2009 (very fine)

Penne al pesto

Eastside Road, August 10, 2012—
WE DON'T MAKE PESTO in small quantities; that would be silly. The photo I posted five days ago shows you our mortar, a nice heavy marble one; might as well fill it up. I'll be making more tomorrow: it's basil season. Meanwhile, we have a little left from last time, and once again we had it on whole-wheat penne — I don't know why I said fusilli last time; wishful thinking, perhaps. The hollow, grooved penne hold the sauce just about as well, though. Before, an ear of fresh corn; after, green salad, then some delicious Gruyère. And peaches, of course.
Guadagni red, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Salmon again

Eastside Road, August 9, 2012—
I REMEMBER LINDSEY'S FATHER saying that in his boyhood you could walk across the Green River, southeast of Seattle, on the backs of the salmon. The coal miners ate them so often they turned them down.

Once in The Netherlands, in Brielle, not far from Rotterdam, we ate at a restaurant called De Zalm — Dutch for "the salmon," because when the restaurant opened, Poseidon knows how long ago, salmon ran in the Old Maas, on whose banks the hotel-restaurant is situated. Well, you don't see salmon there any more, and my only recollection of our dinner — it was at least thirty years ago — is that it included an ear of corn on the cob: but, unfortunately, dent corn, not table corn.

Faithful Reader knows we have salmon at home almost weekly through the season. Dave the Fish Guy catches it off the Sonoma coast — well, maybe he ranges south to the Marin coast, or north to the Mendocino; I don't know. In any case the salmon is wild, and fresh, and firm, and delicious. It's too hot to light a fire outside; Lindsey broiled it in the oven. With it, broccoli, steamed with garlic and a little olive oil, and some cucumber salad in vinaigrette — odd, how nicely cucumbers and salmon go together.

(That reminds me of another dinner, also long ago, in Örebro, in Sweden, when we had gravlax, and cucumbers, and vodka — but that was another kind of salmon dinner altogether.)

These summer salmon dinners are among my favorites, and the lemon nails it down. I squeezed the other half into the vinaigrette for the green salad, and the tastes lingered into the melon we had for dessert.
Guadagni red, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hot dog.

Eastside Road, August 8, 2012—
SO MANY NICE things, and it's not just the day after fast makes it seem so; it's so many nice things. First, tonight, that dish to the left there: some beautiful Poblano peppers, smoked, skinned, made à la Grecque with good olive oil and good salt; and served with raw mild cucumbers sliced and tossed in tarragon vinegar. Piquant meets cool.

Then, Niman frankfurters on Downtown Bakery buns, with mustard, pickle relish, and thin-sliced white onions. A classic.

Then, after the obligatory green salad, that dessert at the top of the page: Dry Creek peaches, sliced and served with wild blackberries from a few yards away. Ah, summer!
Guadagni red, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Monday, August 6, 2012


Eastside Road, August 6, 2012—
FIRST PESTO of the summer. Garlic and salt, pound; pine nuts, pound; basil (I cut it with scissors into the mortar), pound; grate in Parmesan and Pecorino (about two to one), pound; add oil, blend. Not much to it, and oh boy is it delicious.

We had it on fusilli, whose threads hold the sauce nicely; soybeans and corn before, green salad afterward; blackberries for dessert. What a nice summer supper.
Red wine: L Preston, Preston of Dry Creek

Another perfect day

Eastside Road, August 5, 2012—
LUNCH TODAY: A PICNIC out at Preston Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. We had a Mt. Tam cheese from Cowgirl, and a half pint of Lou's fine olives, and a loaf of his bread, and a bottle of his Madam Preston blend (a particular favorite of mine), and fruit galettes from Downtown Bakery; and lazed away an hour at a table under his sycamores, admiring the distant cats.

Then we stopped off at Dry Creek Peach and Produce for some fruit, and Gail invited us to stay for a Bellini and a tour of the orchard —- a beautiful orchard; I don't know when I've seen so healthy-looking a peach orchard. And the Bellini — crushed ripe ripe fruit, stirred up with a bottle of Prosecco, perfect for a summer afternoon.

Dinner down the hill: two whole chickens splayed on the Weber, roasted and semismoked over oak, and a bowl of beets, and Lindsey's potato salad, and a green salad.
Sauvignon blanc, Calloway, 2011 (neutral); red blend, "Guadargni," Preston of Dry Creek (serious and rich)

Back to the grill

Eastside Road, August 4, 2012—
EIGHT OF US around the table tonight, for a sausage feast: Calabrese and Alsatian, grilled over charcoal, with lots of peppers, a potato salad, and a green salad afterward.
L. Preston red

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tuna-cannellini salad

tuna salad.jpg
Eastside Road, August 3, 2012—
NOT ENOUGH SLEEP last night, too much to do today; let's have a simple supper. A can of Ortiz tuna; a couple of cans of Eden cannellini. Chop up a stalk of celery and an onion. Add enough olive oil. Don't forget the salt!

Green salad afterward, and a quarter Galia melon. Good enough.
Rosé, Guilhem Moulin de Gassac (pays d'Hérault), 2011


San Francisco, August 2, 2012—
DOWN TO WHAT some of us still call The City today, there to hear a rare Mozart opera and, first, have dinner and, last, a drink with friends and relations.

How to choose a restaurant? We use a number of sources: Zagat; the San Francisco Chronicle's annual Hundred Best; KQED's television show "Check, Please! Bay Area"; the occasional report from a friend or associate. I sometimes run these against Yelp or Urbanspoon to get a fuller picture of what the hoi polloi might think, but truth is I don't think much of those sites; there's just too much noise from sources whose "values" I don't really trust.

Tonight we go to Zagat, and pick the top-rated (for cuisine: service at setting aren't that important to us) place near the opera venue. Well, it wasn't disgusting, as my Belgian friend is wont to say. I started with an arugula salad tricked out with slices of raw Fuji apples and not-quite-ripe Mission figs, slices of fennel, and goat cheese, with a nice lemon vinaigrette; then went on to this crowded plate of grilled flatiron steak with a Bearnaise sauce (called Bordelaise on the menu), haricots verts, and potatoes.

Well, in fact, I started with what the menu suggested might be a Martini, but it was a very odd one; only when I asked the waiter about it did I realize the menu had stipulated "Soju cocktails". Soju is apparently a thin distillate from Korea: it is not vodka, and certainly not gin, and does not make a Martini. Further, the service came with extended commentary: "We are a very good restaurant; we recommend you take two courses; you might want to order one course from the first group, the other from the second"; yada yada yada.

Still, the food was not disgusting, and the prix-fixe menu was $29, and the "Martini" and the wine a flat $5 per, at least until seven o'clock, which was all that mattered to us. The opera was splendid, and drinks afterward — I had a Hanky-Panky — were quite fine, in a very nice neighborhood locale that we'll return to.
Pinot noir, Bonneau (Carneros, California), 2008: light but good varietal, pleasant
Isa, 3324 Steiner St, San Francisco; (415) 567-9588
The Brazen Head, 3166 Buchanan St, San Francisco; (415) 921-7600