Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Buttered barley

Portland, Oregon, December 30, 2013

DINNER AT HOME tonight, with Lindsey at the stove. She made her buttered barley, a dense, toothy pilaf of pearl barley flavored with butter and scallions, a dish I always enjoy. Green salad afterward, tonight with a lemon-juice vinaigrette.

Bottle ends: white; red 

À la française

Portland, December 29, 2013—

A QUICK DINNER tonight, sandwiched between a long afternoon movie and a drink date with friends, and the intended spot was packed to the rafters. Nothing for it but try a nearby place the Internet promised had an open table, so we wound up at a modest but rather proud little neighborhood French restaurant. 

I had this duck breast, gamy and delicious, quite rare as you see but to my taste, on a bed of white beans, with salsify, roasted mushrooms, and braised greens. Very nice

Macon white; Côtes du Rhône

• Cocotte, 2930 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, Oregon; (503) 227-2669

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Portland, December 28, 2013—

LUNCH AT AN EXCELLENT Mexican joint today: two tacos: chorizo, quite nice; barbacoan, phenomenal. A little bowl of guacamole afterward; a Margarita with. Delicious. Truly a first-rate Mexican restaurant. 

• ¿Por Que No?3524 N Mississippi Ave. Portland, Oregon; (503) 467-4149

INNER AT HOME: the fine sardines you see illustrated here. Pavel grilled them outside, while I chopped lemon zest, parsley, and garlic to sprinkle on them. With them, yet another serving of his inexhaustible "Russian salad," as described here yesterday, and then the green salad.  

Sauvignon blanc, Patricia Green Cellars, 2011: crisp, good varietal, slightly grassy 

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Portland, December 28, 2013—

WELL, ONE DOESN'T continue eating roast beef every day. Boxing Day we were content with two salads, starting with the next instalment of Pavel's Memory, whose recipe is good enough to share:

Dice fine: raw red bell pepper, celery root, onion, dill pickles, carrot

Dice less fine: apple, boiled potato

Combine, adding salt to taste and dressing (binding) with mayonnaise

The second salad was the usual green salad. With these, 

Gavi, Picollo, 2012

THEN, YESTERDAY, we were content with take-out pizza:



I thought the roasted yukon gold potatoes with taleggio, caramelized onions & pancetta was a bit on the bland side, but the one in the photo — lacinato kale with calabrian chilies, provolone picante, lemon & garlic — was truly delicious, the very judicious lemon finishing a marvelous combination. Interestingly, the thin crust was faintly sourdough, another nice touch. 

Pinot noir, Willamette Valley, 2010

Lovelys 50/50, 4039 N. Mississippi Ave. #101, Portland, Oregon; 503-281-4060

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas dinner

Portland, Oregon, December 25, 2013—

CHRISTMAS DINNER in the gracious Craftsman home of friends, and it doesn't hurt that they're friends from the food business. Let's see: we had smoked salmon with thin- sliced onions on rye bread, and Blue Point and Kumimoto oysters on the half shell, with a glass or two of Champagne, and then moved to the dining table. 

There this fine platter of sliced rib roast waswaiting for us, and beets, and mashed potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. Dinner rolls; horseradish cream. Green salad afterward, and bûche de Noël, and a formidable array of cookies, and why not a glass of Armagnac? Comes but once a year…

Côte-Rôtie, Benjamin et David Duclaux, "La Germine," 2009; serious and delicious. 

Chistmas Eve Lean

Portland, Oregon, December 24, 2013—

WE'LL HAVE MEAT enough tomorrow: tonight we make do with fish. But what a fine meal it was, beginning with a raw apple that, halved, showed the Christmas five-pointed star at its center, promising a good new year to come. (I'm told that on rare occasions the seeds make the sign of a cross instead, suggesting sorrows ahead.)

Then we had ice-cold vodka, and smoked salmon on buttered rye bread, and a handsome potato salad with apple and celery and onion carefully diced in; and tea and cookies, and games and disputation — all the fortes and faiblesses characteristic of these Zivny-Shere gatherings, for we were seven at table, none giving an inch, but all vivacious and engaged. And tomorrow we'll do it all again, this time at feast. 

Gavi, 2012

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dinner with good friends

Talent, Oregon, December 22, 2013—

THIS IS THE SOUP that continued our dinner with friends who own one of our favorite restaurants. The photo doesn't do it justice, of course. We'd started with a perfectly delicious little piroshki, ground lamb in pastry, with beautifully flavored crisp grated beets, and then came this marvelous soup, Sibley Squasy with smoky bacom and pork belly, with sage and a few other intelligently chosen flavors.

That's the thing about Charlene's cooking: she has this deep knowledge and memory of flavors, not only the tops of the flavors but their depths as well: she can valibrate their interplays, always keeping an integrated, balanced end result in mind while she adds this, then that.

Then came the main course: sliced beefsteak duck breast, with a fine setting of vegetables — leeks, potatoes, carrot, kale, onion. And, interestingly, duck gizzards. A resourceful dish, drawing on the pantry and the garden; a sort of fast braise, a solid soup.

Dessert was an experiment in an Indian direction, involving milk, saffron, ginger, nuts, sugar, pineapple, and paneer. I liked it: it was a little exotic but nicely flavored , a counterpart to the soup that had opened the meal. We know how lucky we are to have friends like this, full of stories from interesting lives, connected to us through mutual friends and enthusiasms reaching back forty years. Everyday eating connects us all.

Vouvray pétillante, Huet, brut 2009; Moulin à Vent, vielles vignes, Hubert Lapierre, 2012

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winding down

Eastside Road, December 21, 2013—
TOMORROW WE EAT on the road; today we finish up the leftovers. I finished that wonderful cherry pie, for example, at breakfast — without ice cream, some of you will be glad to know. Lunch was bread and salami and cheese, odds and ends of cheese. Dinner, after the Saturday Martinis — which, incidentally, put paid to the gin supply; gotta replenish that! — was the last of the lean cassoulet.

And it finally brought to mind the most significant missing item: not confit; not goose flesh; not pork belly. Simply that little dotting of walnut oil. Oh well: next time.
The end of a bottle of cheap Barbera d'Asti

Friday, December 20, 2013

Catching up again…

Lemon and tangerine sherbets: here's lookin' at you!
Eastside Road, December 20, 2013—
CAN'T SEEM TO KEEP up to date these days. Well, they're short days, and busy ones. Things are bound to get under control next week, right?

Wednesday night we ate downstairs at Chez Panisse with a couple of old friends. It was a curiously conservative, old-school menu, I thought, beginning with a delicious pork terrine with black truffle, crisp-fried chanterelle slices, and frisée, then continuing with a cream of celery root soup with a float of hazelnut oil and crisp-fried sage leaves.

Then came a particularly fine-textured pork roast with soft, well-made gnocchi, with black trumpet mushrooms and wilted escarole. You may know by now that I'm a sucker for dinners whose courses re-state a theme: the crisp-fried garnishes and the presence of mushrooms tied things together even beyond the common note of pork. Lemon and tangerine sherbets restored us afterward; it was a fine, sober meal.
Prosecco, Glera, Marca Trevigiana (Liguria), 2012; Müller Thurgau, Manni Nössing (Alto Adige), 2012; Barbaresco, Produttori del Barbaresco, 2009
• Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-848-5525
LAST NIGHT WE BEGAN the Christmas season as we have every year for the last half-century plus a bit: with a family birthday, in the birthday girl's home, just down the hill. That suggested a bottle of Champagne, after which we feasted on nice steaks cut from a pork leg, cooked on the griddle, and braised vegetables, and salad of course; and then Lindsey's almond torte frosted — very unusual, this, but very good — with chocolate icing.
Champagne, Piper-Heidsieck brut, nv; Zinfandel, Preston of Dry Creek, 2010

AND TONIGHT we dined en famille once again, with a cousin joining us at leftovers: potato-and-leek soup; that lean cassoulet from a few days back, and another romanesco in Deborah Madison's delicious sauce; the last of the very nice cherry pie.
Cheap Barbera d'Asti

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Back to Peru

Eastside Road, December 17, 2013—
THOSE ARE DELICIOUS potato croquettes: papas a la Huancaina,
Yukon gold potatos with ají amarillo‐feta sauce on butter lettuce; with chopped hard‐boiled egg and olive inside. The thin-sliced red onions, nicely salted almost to the point of pickling, added just the right touch of flavor and texture.

They were the first course of dinner at a favored local joint, with a couple of favorite old friends. I went on to Adobo de Chancho, a braised pork stew marinated with Chicha de Jora, whatever that is, and Peruvian beer and peppers, served with rice, Peruvian beans, camote frito and salsa criolla — again, whatever they are; I'm simply reproducing the online menu

Dessert: Suspiro limeño de lucuma: manjar blanco (caramel custard), topped with meringue flavored with port and cinnamon. The lucuma is an interesting fruit whose flavor is said to combine maple and sweet potato, neither particularly to my own personal taste: but it was so delicate as to elude me after the pork stew and the syrah.

We like this place. Very unassuming and straightforward, and you can hear your companions' conversation.

Syrah, McManis (Ripon)
meal.jpgSazón Peruvian Cuisine, 1129 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, California; 707.523.4346

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another feast

Eastside Road, December 16, 2013—
DINNER PARTY TONIGHT, and cook did herself proud. Especially considering she's immersed in preparations for the holidays, and at the same time continuing in her mad quest for a slimmed-down, cleaned-out pantry and fridge.

It was a French country dinner, beginning with a delicious potato-and-leek soup, creamy and unctuous. That was followed by a cassoulet-of-sorts, differing from the traditional version — the traditional version here, at any rate — for its much simplified meat content: instead of goose confit, cubes of pork, and sausage, she relied exclusively on Franco's sausage — Toulouse for the most part, but one or two Italian sweet sausages as well.

The beans were cooked in goose broth, though; the top was scattered with the requisite breadcrumbs; the dish was rich and filling and very persuasive. I was tempted to call it not cassoulet but something else, the feminine form of the word, but at the last minute looked that up online to be sure it didn't have a mauvais entendre, and I'm glad I did. Let's just call it Weekday Cassoulet.

Alongside, Deborah Madison's romanesco in green herb sauce: plenty of olive oil, capers, lemon zest, oregano and thyme, and for the rest see the recipe here or, better yet, get a copy of her wonderful book Vegetable Literacy. A delicious side dish.

And then dessert: sour cherry pie, with our cherries, and Lindsey's impeccable pie crust…
Sauvignon blanc, Quivira, 2012 (grassy, smooth, balanced: thanks, Mac!); Chardonnay, Marimar Torres, 1996 (deep, mature, complex, delightful: thanks, Henry!); Cabernet sauvignon, Simi, 2000 (edgy but good varietal, a little austere: thanks, Kendall!)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Turkey soup

Eastside Road, December 15, 2013—
THESE ARE THE DAYS of smaller delights at table, the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At least that's often the way I think of them. It's almost as if we were consciously reining in, partly in the wake of whatever feasting Thanksgiving may have provided, but much more, I think, prospectively, as if our bodies were striking a defensive posture against Feasting Yet to Come.

We've been eating turkey soup. Not as much, cook tells me, as I think we have. And I'm not complaining: it's good soup. I think we're at the end of it: today I noticed the neck and gizzards sizzling away at the bottom of the soup pot.

We have other delights, of course. Lunch today involved Franco's guinea=hen terrine; you can't get a lot more delightful than that. We still have pears, and I picked a few more Pixie tangerines today, sneaking under the frost blanket.

salad.jpgThe daily green salad is always a pleasure: the garlic's showing its will to grow, and I have to cut the sprout out at its core, always thinking of Dylan Thomas…
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age…
Turkey soup, and winter thoughts. In a week we'll be elsewhere, and in the intervening week we seem to have three dinners already planned, two of them out…
Cheap Barbera d'Asti

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pork chop

Eastside Road, December 12, 2013—
DINNER IN TOWN, well, not our town, the next town, with a couple of friends. This is a curious restaurant, determinedly French, but often — as tonight — seeming like a hotel restaurant in a small provincial French town thirty or forty years ago. They know the proper techniques, but they're more dedicated to the local kitchen-garden produce, and the pigs from local farmers.

We split a house salad to begin with — lettuces, a carrot or two and segments of a beet, both nicely blanched and tender. It was well salted, nicely dressed with a mustard vinaigrette.

Afterward I had a pork chop, grilled, served with well cooked potatoes and apple sections, with a few deep-fried onion rings on top. I think there was some ginger involved, and a hint of garlic. Again, a sober, sound, nicely prepared dish, taking me back a few decades, in a very good way.

Lindsey's vanilla flan was very nice, but I chose to make dessert of a glass of Armagnac. We'd been in France, after all.
Pinot gris; Pinot noir, both local, in the glass
• French Garden Restaurant and Bistro, 8050 Bodega Ave, Sebastopol, California; (707) 824-2030

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Eastside Road, December 11, 2013—
OUR OLD FRIEND Judy Rodgers died last week, too young, after a hard year, leaving a husband, two stepdaughters, a number of friends, and a community of colleagues who respected her as uniquely gifted and devoted to her profession, which was cooking. I wrote about her on The Eastside View, and will say nothing more here.

Her monuments, apart from all the memories this community will always cherish, are her marvelous book The Zuni Café Cookbook and the restaurant whose kitchen she headed from 1987 for twenty-five years, Zuni Café.

I've written about her book here before. Judy's writing is clear, enthusiastic, and engaging; re-reading the early pages, in which she presents a bit of her own history, brings her into the room with a poignant immediacy. And we never find its recipes disappointing.

"Farrotto" is her own word, an apt one, to describe this pilaf made of the ancient grain farro, prepared like a risotto. Lindsey made it with turkey stock — some of you may have seen that coming! — and followed the recipe closely, flavoring the dish with onion, garlic, and sage as well as the dried porcini Judy specifies.

(Those porcini were a gift some long while ago — they keep for ages — from Bill Fujimoto, and reminded us of the many times we'd run into Judy at the old Monterey Market, when Lindsey was there buying fruit for Chez Panisse, and Judy was looking at produce for Zuni.)

We had a green salad with avocado afterward, and pears, and memories.
Cheap red blend, Spiral (California), 2012

Monday, December 9, 2013


Eastside Road, December 9, 2013—
AFTER THE GREAT Marmalade & Martini Marathon, did we then fast for three days? Well, not quite. Friday night, after the second day of marmalade — the more difficult day, involving cooking and bottling, half of it done with Lindsey — we were content with some bread and cheese and so on.
hot turkey.jpgOn Saturday, though, we'd recovered somewhat, and turned to the Second Thanksgiving for what leftovers we might fine. Hot Turkey Sandwich! Mashed potatoes, dressing, and gravy! Cranberry sauce! and, of course… pumpkin pie.

Sunday, though, we hit the highway for a friend's CD release party, arriving just in time for a final glass of bubbly before going out with a dozen or so members of the party to a local restaurant with a Southern theme. We had platters of spinach salad with spiced pecans, onion, goat cheese and pears and barbecued back ribs for starters; then I went on to a pulled pork sandwich with chips and cole slaw.

Unlike Eliane's CD, the dinner could have been better. On the other hand it could have been a lot worse. I may not be a fan of Southern-style cooking — though if Scott Peacock is nearby I'll gratefully include myself in.

Oh, yes: dessert: Red velvet cupcakes with a dollop of sweet cream cheese on top. My southern-plains cousins would have loved it.
"Cocina": Red blend (60% Malbec, 20% each Syrah and Bonarda), La Posta (Mendoza, Argentina), 2011: quite nice
Farmer Brown, 25 Mason St, San Francisco; (415) 409-3276

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2d Annual MarMar Event

Eastside Road, December 5, 2013—
Digging out the pips
Scooping out the flesh
Julienning the peels
WHAT DO WE SEE here? About 75 Yuzus — nearly 24 pounds, I think — in our kitchen sink. Yuzus are apparently a kind of lime, but they look more like a tangerine; they're fragrant almost like a Bergamot; they have a lot of seeds. Friends of ours have a garden-supply and housewares shop, and Yuzus are among the citrus trees they offer in pots. They are apparently quite prolific. Last year, asked what they might do with all this fruit, I suggested they bring them over for a marmalade-making party, for which I'd supply Martinis as a sort of reward for an afternoon's work.

It was such a success that we decided to do it again this year. In fact it's a two-day operation. After washing the fruit we cut them in halves, using stainless-steel knives, and dug out all those seeds. Last year we did this with the point of a small paring knife; this year we discovered an ordinary dinner-fork did the job more easily.

Then, still using the fork, we pulled the meat out of the shells. The pips were reserved in one stainless-steel mixing bowl; the meat went into another.

That done, we turned to the most tedious part of the job: cutting the empty shells into fine strips, à la julienne. Simplest way to do this: cut each half into halves again; flatten one of them onto the board, inside down, with the left hand; then, using a sharp stainless-steel knife, make parallel cuts for strips about 1/8 inch wide.

That done, we took a break for lunch: a couple of boxes of miso-and-ginger soup with a couple of handfuls of kale and chard thrown in. Delicious!

Then it was time to chop the reserved Yuzu flesh that we'd scooped out earlier. First we pressed the juice out of it, reserving it of course; then we put handfuls of the flesh on the board and chopped it roughly, removing cores, stray pips, and especially tough membranes.

At the end of the afternoon we put flesh and peel into a big 24-quart plastic container, nearly filling it, and added cold water to the brim, along with the pips, tied up in cheesecloth so we'll be able to remove them easily when they've done their work. Then we sat down with our reward: a nice gin martini, three to one, with a twist of — what else? — Yuzu. Tomorrow comes the hard part.

Oh, yes: dinner. Well, naturally, cold roast turkey, warmed mashed potatoes, dressing, and gravy, and cranberry sauce. Green salad. Pumpkin pie. A very nice day!

One more Thanksgiving…

Eastside Road, December 4, 2013—
NOW HERE'S ANOTHER THING to be thankful for: a second Thanksgiving dinner. Cook missed dressing the other night — traditional dressing, with bread cubes — and then too turkey was on sale, of course, the day after Thanksgiving; and besides, we hadn't had Henry over to dinner in quite a while…


Here's the result: the Lindsey-and-Charles traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Clockwise from upper left: dressing (you'll have to ask her about that), mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, roast turkey and gravy. Green salad; goes without saying.

Did we have pie? We did: pumpkin pie; hard sauce.pie.jpgsalad.jpg
Cheap pinot grigio; Pinot noir, Josep Phelps, Freestone Vineyards, 2011 (thanks, Henry!)

Monday, December 2, 2013


Eastside Road, December 2, 2013—
WE'VE BEEN EATING a lot of meat lately, Cook said this afternoon when I asked what dinner would be; Tonight we're having vegetables. And she was right, at least on the second matter. You see them here: some Romanesco reheated, I think, from the other night, none the worse for that; and a roast stir-fry, if that makes any sense. I asked what was in it: I'll have to look, she answered. Had she really forgotten what she'd prepared?

Or, even less likely, was she protecting my tender sensibilities from the news I'd be eating butternut squash, or some other dreadful cucurbit?

I think I know what's in this mélange: zucchini, cherry tomatoes, a few garlic cloves, a carrot or two sliced crosswise, yes a bit of butternut squash lending its chestnutty texture, potatoes. The tomatoes lifted the dish beyond what might otherwise have been a winter's peasant's plate.

cheese.jpgAfterward, bread and cheese, because one needs one's protein. This is a d'Affinois, a soft creamy cow's-milk cheese rather like Brie but much fresher and younger.

And then of course the green salad; and a sliced pear — amazing how well the pears have been holding…
Cheap Soave

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Simple Sunday

Eastside Road, December 1, 2013—
AH, SUNDAY; EGGS for breakfast — and, since we had mashed potatoes for dinner last night, and had carefully not finished them all, mashed-potato-"pancakes" fried in butter to go with the soft-boiled eggs.

Supper was simple: a plate of salami, as you see here, with Kenter Canyon's fine bread, holding well a week after its purchase 400 miles to the south; and a green salad. A plate of pear and apple slices, and some chocolate.
Picpoul de Pinet, Mas de Daumas Gassac, 2011