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

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