Sunday, September 29, 2013

Two days

Eastside Road, September 29, 2013—
YESTERDAY WE WERE back in the city again, after a pleasant lunch of bread and cheese in the Healdsburg plaza. We dropped a friend off at a dinner-party he'd been invited to, only to find we'd been added to the guest list. It was hard to decline the invitation, but we'd have brought the table up to thirteen, and at my age I'm not about to flout that superstition.

It was doubly hard after tasting this little appetizer, sent around on little plates before actually taking seats. Corona beans are among our favorites: these had been brought back recently from Greece, the homeland of the party host. They'd been cooked, then added to a sauté of kale, tomatoes, peppers, and who knows what else: a very tasty mix.

salmon.jpgTODAY, FOR THE FIRST time in a week, we stayed close to home, after driving to Sebastopol for the Sunday market. There we met Dave Legros, the fish guy, who told us — a little regretfully, I thought — that this was the last salmon day of the year. We hadn't planned on getting any; it's been less than perfect recently; but what are you going to do?

So tonight, the last weekend in September, the first in Autumn, with a definite change in the weather in the air, we had our last summer market dinner: salmon simply broiled, with lemon juice; Nancy Skall's superb lima beans; a few late-season tomatoes. Afterward, green salad; then figs and pears from our trees…
Cheap Nero d'Avola

Friday, September 27, 2013

Catching up

Eastside Road, September 27, 2013—
LET'S SEE, NOW, how long has it been? Since Monday? Sorry: we've been rushing about. Tuesday it was fusilli al pesto at home, with a bottle of cheap red Italian wine.

Wednesday we were in San Francisco, and stopped off at a favorite restaurant for a Martini and a hamburger. Well: before the hamburger, this delicious little plate of arugula, Parmesan, celery, anchovies, and olives, a refreshing way to begin anything, and particularly nice with the Martini. Elective affinities.

The hamburgers here are first-rate, on foccaccia bread, with pickled onion and gherkins and very nice catsup and aïoli. If only for the hamburger, this remains one of the Hundred Restaurants:

• Zuni Café, 1658 Market Street, San Francisco; 415-552-2522bucantini.jpgYesterday we were in Berkeley, and stopped in at another old favorite. (In our justification: we're hosts to a houseguest from out of the country, and we're showing him around.) Here I lunched on another refreshing first-course salad: rocket, again, with cucumbers and radishes in a soft, fragrant vinaigrette.

Following which, this absolutely memorable plate of bucatini alle sarde, with sardine, currants, pine nuts, saffron, and toasted bread crumbs — a dish that managed to take me to both Sicily and Venice, simultaneously, with none of that Italian mainland in between. (Appropriate, perhaps, since in the evening we visited Sicily and the coast of Bohemia, via Shakespeare.)

Godello, A Coroa (Valdeorras, Spain), 2012: complex and flavorful; Zinfandel, Green & Red Vineyards (Napa Valley), 2011
• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.548.5525

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Berkeley, September 23, 2013—
TWO RECENT BIRTHDAY celebrations, both delayed for one reason or another, merged at the table tonight in a dining room mutually agreed upon, and what a nice autumnal menu:

Grilled eggplant and sweet pepper salad with wild rocket and figs
Fish and shellfish stew from Emilia-Romagna with braised onions and tomatoes, marjoram, and lemon
Hazelnut torte with French butter pears and crème anglaise

The salad was superb, a rich mélange of flavors and textures saying goodbye to summer, hello to harvest season. The brodetto — halibut and rockfish, I think, in a light broth animated by its marjoram and tomato, with clams and squid, was rich in quite a different way, light on the tongue but complex on the palate. And the torte, soft yet textured with ground nuts, contrasting with silky custard and soft, floral-scented pears, was a perfect dessert. An artless meal, simple at first sight, graceful and inventive when studied…

Colli di Luni Vermentino, Groppolo (Liguria), 2012 (surprisingly complex but very agreeable); Südtiroler Vernatsch, Baron Widmann (Alto Adige), 2011 (light of body but full in the mouth)
• Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.548.4425

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Eastside Road, September 22, 2013—
BACK DOWN THE HILL to the neighbors' house tonight for another end-of-summer dîner sur l'herbe: an appetizer of pimientos padrones fried in salt and oil; then the dinner itself: châteaubriand and sausages grilled over wood; a hot ratatouille of peppers, onions, and tomatoes; green salad with mushrooms and avocados; and chocolate custard. What a superb dinner; and thank you, Eric, for the masterful grilling. It was truly a memorable Sunday supper.
Pinot blanc, Kuentz-Bas (Alsace), 2008; Cabernet Sauvignon, Ravenswood, 1988 (Thank you, David!), still quite present, balanced, and rewarding; Zinfandel, Seghesio, 2011, soft and rich (Thanks, Richard)

From the fireplace

Eastside Road, September 21, 2013—
IF YOU'RE COOKING inside, as most of us do, what better place than the fireplace? It's one of the few regrets I have about the house we built for ourselves twelve or fifteen years ago: no fireplace in which to cook.

Well, not to worry: the neighbors down the driveway have one. Tonight we trooped down the driveway for dinner: nice thick pork chops, salted and treated to crushed garlic, grilled over oak wood in the fireplace. With them, Nancy's fine lima beans, and slice tomatoes, and green salad afterward, and then a perfect apple galette. You could do a lot worse.
Petite Syrah, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Eastside Road, September 20, 2013—
WHY SHOULDN'T THERE BE an exception every now and then? After a long drive today, and with a welcome houseguest to share the dinnertable with, we just didn't feel like cooking. But after several nights in restaurants, neither did we feel like going out. The solution was simple: a ready-roasted Rocky chicken from the supermarket, some sliced fresh tomato, mashed Bodega Russet potatoes from the garden (the last of them, I'm afraid), and a green salad; then raspberries and pears. 
Petit Syrah, Preston of Dry Creek, 2010

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back at Sammy's

Ashland, Oregon, September 18, 2013—
ONE OF THE FIVE restaurants in the world — admittedly a mutable list — New Sammy's continues to combine unlikely grace and comfort with the casual and offbeat. It's a reassuring reminder that democracy has room for discrimination and taste, for Quality. Its chef, Charlene Rollins, is one of the most reliably consistent, well researched, and technically deftest cooks I know, and the kitchen has the authenticity and ethic that comes from its solid grounding in its garden and its awareness of its near community of farms and fisheries.

After a delicious little canapé — duck terrine on house-baked dark rye bread, with a sassy pickled yellow snap bean to snap the palate to attention — I went on to little profiteroles filled with brandade, served in a tomato-based Romesco sauce, smoky and complex, engaging the eye with intense red, the teeth with texture and grain, the palate with deep, rich flavors. This kind of complexity is very difficult to manage, simultaneously offering distinct and contrasting details and an integrating, almost transcendent unity.

My principal plate, braised slices of suckling pig, was simple and straightforward by contrast, relying on the succulence of the meat and the correctness of its cooking for its effect. It was set off by another knowing juggle of texture, color, and taste: a succotash adding diced onion, green beans and chanterelles to the usual corn, in place of the more usual peas, now out of season.

And the dessert! So impressive it deserves to enter the permanent repertoire, with a name of its own, like pears Helene or peach Melba or apple Charlotte — why not raspberries Charlene? As you see, the berries set off a smooth, bright ice cream, set atop a rich, meditative chocolate torte, drizzled with a syrup that bound all the parts into a work of art, both on the plate and, more important, on the tongue. This was one of the high points of the year's dining, hands down.
A glass of Champagne; "Les Coteaux," Mas Belles Eaux (Languedoc), 2008 (deep, very dark, yet supple and light on the tongue)
• New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, 2210 S Pacific Hwy, Talent, Oregon; (541) 535-2779

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Ashland, Oregon, September 17, 2013—

WE'VE BEEN HERE before, and we'll be here again: it is, I think, the most reliable, most consistent and consistently good restaurant in town — certainly at its price point. The menu never changes, and I always order the same: this cabbage salad, with grated carrot, jalapeños, a few crisp tortilla strips, and cilantro, simply dressed with salt and lime juice; and a duck taco — slow-roasted duck confit, shredded and mixed with tomato, chopped scallion, a judicious bit of chopped jicama I think, and more shredded cabbage, because it is good for me.

We also split an order of guacamole which is good here, with very delicate fried tortilla rags. And, por supuesto, a Margarita. Maybe we'll come back Thursday.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Salmon and lima beans

salmon and limas.jpg
Eastside Road, September 16, 2013—
YES, I KNOW, you've seen this supper before — it's the usual summertime Farm Market supper: Dave's salmon, Nancy's lima beans, Emmett's tomatoes, our Meyer lemon. You have to admit it's colorful, and tonight as I was eating I thought about the textures, and how well they play off one another — the flaky salmon, the mealy-in-a-good-sense limas, the chewy tender tomatoes. Green salad afterward, with some nice young leaves from the garden.

There'll almost certainly be fruit a little later. I've been eating marvelous Yellow Transparent plums, dead ripe on the tree, so ripe they'll drop into a cupped palm. There are still some Seckel pears. Raspberries. I even have a Pixie tangerine every day from the tree, this late in the year!
Cheap Nero d'Avola

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Eastside Road, September 15, 2013—
MEALS ON WHEELS tonight — our wheels. A friend is laid up after shoulder surgery, so we trundled dinner into town to her place, and joined her and her husband for a petit aïoli. Lindsey had prepped red and orange bell peppers, green beans, potatoes, and a couple of kinds of tomatoes, and she broiled four of Franco's sausages, delicious as always.

The aïoli itself was up to me. I used a new recipe, and I'm not sold on it. It begins with an entire egg, not just the yolk, and I never was able to whisk it firm enough, though I gave it hundreds, probably thousands of strokes with the whisk.

After adding a cup of olive oil, and whisking in three cloves of garlic minced, then crushed with salt, it still didn't develop the requisite firmness. I gave up and whisked up an egg yolk, then added the aïoli a spoonful at a time. Left to myself I'd have incorporated more oil to develop the right consistency, but I was overruled by my chef.

Oh well. Texture be damned: it tasted just fine. Afterward, ice cream and fresh-picked raspberries. Sorry there's no photo. I forgot.
Soave, Ruffino, 2011; Rosé, Château de Campuget (Costières de Nîmes), 2012 (rather demanding)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Easy Saturday

Eastside Road, September 14, 2013—

SUCH A NICE SATURDAY. I told you yesterday about b.Patisserie: this morning I had a croissant from them, and then we each had one of their fabulous Kouign Amanns, or is it Kouigns Amann — my Breton is pretty shaky. (It's pronounced Queen Amonn, by the way.) It's basically a Breton morning bun, or sticky bun, made with bread dough, layered with butter and sugar, baked slowly to let the sugar caramelize, and it is utterly wonderful.

We have our favorite breakfast pastries: I myself lean toward croissants — and by the way the one from b.patisserie is as good as any I've ever had, maybe better. Lindsey used to like bear claws, and still does. Then there are the gibassiers from Pearl Bakery in Portland, and of course the sticky buns from Downtown Bakery and Creamery in Healdsburg. But these Kouign Amann beat them all.

Martinis and a friend's place in town this late afternoon, three to one, with melon and prosciutto and delicious salted almonds; and then as simple a Saturday supper as you could ask: tossed green salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette, and cheddar garlic bread, on a baguette from b.Patisserie.

When I was a kid, garlic bread was a fairly frequent visitor to the tragic daily dinner table. Mom sliced a loaf of Franco American "French" bread, spread margarine on the surfaces, and sprinkled them with garlic salt. We ate the result with what seemed at the time like pleasure.

The evening I met Lindsey I'd been invited by one of her roommates to dinner, and I brought with me a loaf of Larraburu sourdough bread which I'd cut in half horizontally, spread with butter and garlic — probably garlic salt, I blush to confess — and then with commercial mayonnaise which I'd mixed with grated Cheddar cheese. It seemed soigné and sophisticated, but that was nearly sixty years ago.

Tonight Lindsey simply drizzled olive oil on the surfaces of the split baguette, spread crushed garlic on it, then grated Cheddar cheese onto it, and set it under the broiler. One of the marvelous things about food is its way of uniting pleasant memories in a moment of absolute presence.
Cheap Nero d'Avila

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tasting day

Shell Bean Stew at 20th Century Cafe

Eastside Road, September 13, 2013—

A DAY DEVOTED to tasting — not a bad way to spend a nice day. We drove down to San Francisco to visit two bakeries we'd read about; then drove across the beautiful new transbay bridge to try a restaurant new to us.

All three were brought to our attention by Patricia Unterman's newsletter Unterman on Food, which we've read for years now. I like her and I like her writing, always detailed, always enthusiastic. She rarely bothers to publish negative reviews, wisely leaving unsatisfying experiences in limbo. There are so many good bakeries, restaurants, cafés, bars, shops, stands, and carts to write about, why waste space, time, energy, and ink on anything less?

So today we stopped in at b. Patisserie for pastries we'll have with breakfast tomorrow. I can only discuss their visual appeal, which is considerable, and the marvelous look and impression of the shop and staff, clearly serious and informed but just as clearly dedicated to pleasure.

I can report, though, on the baguette we bought there, because I couldn't resist breaking a piece off the end and sampling it immediately. A really delicious bread, with flavor on the surface of the golden crust, another flavor in the soft yet substantial white interior. It'll make lovely toast tomorrow morning.

Then we had lunch at 20th Century Cafe, where the feel is Eastern European, perhaps as it's represented in Vienna. Here I had stewed butter beans and romanesco greens, with a good-sized toast spread with smoked puréed eggplant. I can't tell you what was in that stew apart from the beans and greens — a little paprika, I think, some tomato, salt and pepper of course — it was a subtle and complex stew, thoughtful and delicious.

I had apple strudel for dessert; Lindsey had this "honey cake," nine thin layers of delicate spongecake separated by honey-flavored buttercream, a unique cake dedicated to pure pleasure.

Dinner at one of the pert hip spots enlivening a new Oakland downtown, edging it toward an urbane Portland-style city devoted to strolling, drinking, grazing, socializing. Hopscotch calls itself an upscale diner, not that far off the mark — seating only a couple dozen at a time, and a few more at a bar offering smooth, complicated cocktails and a number of Scotches, some paired with beers — hence the name.

I had pickled sardines, quite straightforward, with a chiffonade of Fresno chilis and green onion; and then the tastiest hamburger I've had in years, maybe ever. The beef is chuck, ground in house, and the generous patty is topped with a thin slice of beef tongue seared on the griddle — a brilliant idea. Pickled onions and potato chips are the garnish; the bun is a big, soft, sesame-flavored roll.

Dessert: fig tart with ice cream, quite up to the standards we'd met in those bakeries across the bay a few hours before. What a day.
Strehn Deutschkreutz Blaufranisch, 2011 (lunch); Côtes du Rhône, 2011 (dinner) — and a fine Martini before dinner and, I'm afraid, a smooth and tasty Napoli (Fernet, Averna, lemon) afterward

b. Patisserie, 2821 California Street, San Francisco; 415.440.1700 

20th Century Cafe, 198 Gough Street, San Francisco

Hopscotch, 19115 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland; 510.788.6217

Unterman on Food, c/o Hayes Street Grill, 320 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Easy dinner

Eastside Road, September 12, 2013—

YOU DON'T REALLY need to make tomato sauce this time of year; you certainly don't need canned tomatoes or sauce. Lindsey just sautées some chopped onion and garlic in olive oil, adds a chopped raw tomato or two, and tosses them in the pasta after it's been cooked.

I'd trimmed some small artichokes the usual way, halved them and removed the chokes, and browned them in oil, then cooked them slowly with a handful of Nardello peppers which needed no prep at all beyond rinsing them. Delicious.

Green salad afterward.
Cheap Nero d'Avola

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Peas with onions

Eastside Road, September 11, 2013—

EVERY NOW AND THEN the cook here will do something so uncharacteristic, so completely unexpected, that I'm thrown quite off my guard. Don't get me wrong: she rarely makes a mistake, and if you've noticed a regularity, a consistency, even what some might call a restricted repertory at our table, well, that's the way we both like it. But now and then she throws a curve.

Today, for example, she sent me shopping without specifying the list. A couple of avocados, she said, and a green vegetable. Not broccoli, or green beans, or even lettuce: just a green vegetable.

I knew we were having baked potatoes, and Franco's sausage. What to put with them? I settled for half a dozen small artichokes — artichokes go so well with sausage — and, almost as an afterthought, because someone had mentioned them earlier today, a package of frozen organic English peas, and half a dozen little boiling onions.

The potatoes fairly stole the show — Bodega Reds, whatever they are, creamy and fragrant and delicate and delicious. Franco calls these his Ecuadorean sausages, I'm not sure why; they taste of chili pepper but not overwhelmingly, and hint at nutmeg, and are a mixture I think of pork and I would say veal except that that's so unlikely in this country.

Peas and little onions are Elective Affinities, like peas and marjoram, and peas with butter. They're out of season, of course, but I had the whim. The artichokes will have to wait; the avocado went into the green salad, along with lettuce from the garden.
red bottle-ends

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Berkeley, September 9, 2013

EN ROUTE HOME from Los Angeles via Lompoc we stopped off in Berkeley for paella on the deck of a comfortable brown-shingle bungalow, the home of a couple of dear friends. Doesn't hurt that they're chefs.

You're looking at the first course: a fine platter of prosciutto and cavolonero, sautéed with onion and bits of hardened chorizo. With this, a couple of bottles of rather nice Cava: a 2010 L Hereu de Raventos Blanc Brut and, a little more complex, a Castellroig of the same vintage.

Meanwhile, Curt was preparing the paella, and I was snapping photos (as usual, with the iPhone):

Soffritto: diced chorizo, onion, crushed tomatoes just added
Adding the rice — Spanish rice, of course

The rice swollen and colored by the soffritto

The broth has been added and the rice cooked; now previously sautéed peppers go in

Previously steamed mussels stud the completed paella

For dessert, the silkiest crème caramel you can imagine, vanilla custard made with delicious eggs, garnished with pear slices

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Old-Fashioned Italian

Lompoc, California, september 8, 2013—

WE LEFT LOS ANGELES a little after noon: where to spend the night? Off the highway, we decided, in back country. Would there be an interesting place to eat in, say, Lompoc, for example? Yelp, whom I never really trust, suggested there might. 

So we booked into the Day's Inn, after driving up the coast and across the unspoiled cattle country, and watched the news, and then walked a few blocks to La Botte, a family-owned place getting on toward 35 years old. Mom and Pop have retired back to natal Marsala, but daughter Francesca hosts and keeps an eye on things, and in fact her father was visiting. 

I could believe he might have made the Bolognese I had an my gnocchi: beef, tomatoes, none of that North Italian marrow or carrot, but a little oregano, a little pepper-flake. Bolognese alla Siciliana. Honest and, in its way, authentic; and generous to a fault, of course. 

Before it, a Caesar salad innocent of anchovy; afterward, a huge slice of torta siciliana, what I would have called a cassata. No complaints: we'll be back one day.

Barbera, Quattro Mani (Piemonte), 2010

• La Botte Italian Restaurant812 N H Sreet, Lompoc, California; (805) 736-8525

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hotel food

Marriott Hotel, LAX, Los Angeles, September 7, 2013—

DOESN'T LOOK THAT appetizing, does it? Well, what do you expect; it was served simultaneously to perhaps five hundred of us, gathered in a hotel "ballroom." It's a wonder anything can be accomplished at all in such circumstances. 

What you see is chicken breast, salmon, bok choy, and a pilaf, with half a broiled tomato and a strip of bell pepper. Green salad before; apple-pecan crumble afterward. 

Cabernet, Beringer, in the glass

Friday, September 6, 2013


Venice, California, September 6, 2013—

THE RESTAURANT IS trendy, I suppose, rather expensive, and definitely Southern Californian, not what we're used to. Lindsey, for example, had a salad of watercress, hearts of palm, avocado, pine nuts, and Pecorino, too far-fetched for me.

But it was possible to order from this menu and stay in my beloved Piemonte, and so I did: squab to begin with, pan-seared (a little too long, I thought), with lentil purée and chard; then agnolotti with a nice braised oxtail sugo. Dessert: bicchierino, mascarpone, chocolate ganache, and nougat, with little ossi dei morti. A good restaurant. 
Nebbiolo, Ca' Veja, 2009 (very good indeed); Moscato, Particella "101," 2011

• il Piccolo, 5 Dudley Avenue, Venice, California; (310) 314-3222


Long Beach, California, September 5, 2013—

THE ONLY THING to order in a steakhouse, as we all know, is steak. Possibly a pork chop, or rack of lamb. Certainly not chicken, and not, under any circumstance, fish. 

But the red meat at this joint all cost more than I wanted to spend, and besides the beef was all corn-fed, and the menu actually boasted about that. So I ordered the pasta carbonara, without the irrelevant chicken. And you know what? It wasn't bad, not at all. Spinach on the side, and a small green salad.  

Pinot grigio

• 555 East Steakhouse, 555 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, California; 562-437-0626

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Campo Fina

Healdsburg, September 4, 2013—
NO PHOTO AGAIN TONIGHT: I was too busy eating, talking, and having fun. We dined in town with a couple of friends who'd come up for a glass of wine and snacks and then dinner in town. We decided to introduce them to this place — just now I think my favorite eatery in Healdsburg, which isn't exactly lacking for good places.

Campo Fina has a very nice outdoors dining room, and it was a balmy evening, just right for sharing — talk, memories, plans, and "small plates." And this is what we had:
Tuna stuffed peppers
marinated chickpeas with tuna conserve
hard boiled eggs with salsa verde and pickled celery
ciabatta and olive oil
burrata with grilled bread and heirloom tomatoes
soppressata di testa with chili, chopped egg, and salsa verde
escarole salad with pecorino, white anchovy, pine nuts and vinaigrette
pizza Napoletana
gelato: vanilla and pistacchio (which turned out to be walnut, but welcome)
Bardolino, 2010 — but what? Damn: forgot to take note!
AND, OH, SNACKS: we had Franco Dunn's smooth, delicate chicken-liver mousse and two cheeses: Ol Sciur, a creamy blue goat cheese from Bergamo whose rind is rubbed with rose petals and red berries, and Fleur Verte, a goat tomme treated with savory, tarragon, thyme, and pink peppercorns. Both cheeses were delicious, floral, complex, and balanced, and they and the mousse went perfectly with three half-bottles of Auslese, Maximin Grünhäuser, Herrenberg, 2001. Thanks, John!

• Campo Fina, 330 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, California; 707.395.4640

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Eastside Road, September 3, 2013—

PINTO BEANS, TOMATO, garlic, ground beef, grated cheddar cheese, cilantro: delicious.
"Claret," Coppola, 2003


grilled radicchio

Eastside Road, September 2, 2013—

DOWN THE HILL to the neighbors tonight for dinner on the lawn, cooked on the grill, over wood. Forgot to take a picture of the entire dinner — or, maybe, it was too dark by then (flash photos are even worse than these non-flash ones). But here's the vegetable garnish: white onion, torpedo onion, a head of radicchio. Grilled radicchio: a perfect way to cook it…

Grilled beef liver, on the other hand, can be tricky. Still, I liked it…
Zinfandel, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Crawfish Boil

Eastside Road, September 1, 2013—

YES: THOSE ARE crayfish being dipped up ut of that cauldron. He's going to have dip a dozen times, I think, to get 'em all; and then they'll dump in another, equal amount — crayfish, or crawfish, or crawdads, brought up from the Sacramento Delta, a three-hour drive.

No, I don't eat them. They're crustacea, so off limits for me — along with crab, lobster, shrimp, prawns. Shellfish with legs, as I explain to the waiter, though it's true on one occasion the waiter came back with the polite offer to have the legs removed for me, as if they were the source of the problem.

Oh well: there were other things to eat at the 7th Annual Laytonville Crawfish Boil. The pork, roasted over a slow wood fire, was delicious; also the cole slaw. There's a sizable influx from Louisiana up in Laytonville. This was the 7th annual Laytonville Crawfish Boil, benefitting the schools… hundreds of frogs, Delta crawdads, an alligator or two, four or five pigs… jambalaya, of course, and Cajun bands… laissez les bon temps rouler, dude!

• Laytonville Rodeo Grounds, Laytonville, California


Eastside Road, August 31, 2013—
HERE'S A CLOSE-UP of salmon the way Lindsey's been cooking it lately, following a recipe in Nancy Hachisu's book Japanese Farm Food, a beautiful book well worth having whether you cook from books or not. (And why wouldn't you?)

It's simplicity in itself; the only tricky thing is timing, and a little experience takes care of that — besides, if you err on the rare side (to your taste), you can always continue cooking it a bit longer. All you do is dot the salmon with a little butter, salt and pepper it to taste, and put a flavoring agent on top — here, chives — then wrap it in aluminum foil or parchment and set it in the oven. No fuss no muss.

Of course there's the sustainability question. I have misgivings about all that aluminum foil. If you're careful, you can always re-use it…

Alongside the salmon tonight, Nancy Skall's delicious lima beans; then green salad; then ice cream with raspberries.

Rosé, La Ferme Julien, 2012