Monday, May 6, 2013

New Orleans ; dinner with Donna

Eastside Road, May 6, 2013—
SINCE WE FAST today, I'll catch you up on the last couple of days. Saturday we were in Berkeley to see two Tom Stoppard plays, with only a couple of hours between — where to fortify ourselves for the intellectual strain?

jambalaya.jpgLindsey'd heard of a place downtown, so we gave it a try. It turns out to be very much a young person's hangout, and it was incredibly noisy — the dB meter was just under the red, at 90, much of the time. Nor was the menu that much to my taste. But you can't go wrong with Jambalaya, chicken, ham, and andouille with rice and quite a piquant sauce.

As a first course I had the house salad: lettuces with tomatoes, raisins, and candied pecan halves in a fig-balsamic vinaigrette. Sweet, crunchy, off our usual trajectory, but very nice. Lindsey's pecan pie looked authentic, and the teeny bit I had tasted right too.
Riesling, Mirassou, 2011; Zinfandel, Rancho Zabaco "Dancing Bull," 2011: both sound, good varietal, unexceptional
• Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen, 2261 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.548.6900
THEN YESTERDAY, AFTER a nice seven-mile hike out at the coast, we were at a party in a comfortable home in Healdsburg, where the guest of honor was fêted for an important anniversary of employment. There were ten of us at table, of whom three have been active as professional chefs and two as winemakers. Thank heaven for the few of us credentialled merely as onlookers, imbibers, and critics!

The centerpiece at table was that fine plate you see at the top of this post: a platter of halibut steaks simply grilled over wood and flavored with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Scattered atop, sliced fresh tomatoes, the first we've had this year, very welcome.

peppers.jpgOn the side, raita sauces — one based on cow's-milk yogurt, one on goat's-milk — and fine pan-sautéed whole little potatoes and this fine pan of sweet red and yellow peppers done à la grecque, which is one of my favorite things, too simple to be one of the Hundred Plates perhaps, but surely an honorary appointee.

And dessert! Lindsey's almond tarte! What a pleasure!
Champagne, Veuve Clicquot; Riesling, Kuentz-Bas (Alsace), 2010;
Viña Godeval Godello, Cosecha (Spain), 2010;
white Rhone blend, "Madame Preston," Preston of Dry Creek, 2011.
Very nice wines; and very nice conversation at table too. Thanks, Alta!

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