Thursday, May 29, 2014


Bisbee, Arizona, May 28, 2014—

YOUR CONVENTIONAL GRINGO Mexican dinner, in this case with shredded-chicken enchilada in mole, quite chocolatey in this case and, I thought, not terribly complex – but then Monday's moles, at Comal, may have set too high a standard. Rice, beans, salad. No complaints. 


•Contessa's Cantina,  202 Tombstone Canyon Roadj, Bisbee, Arizona; (520) 432-6711

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Back south again

Pasadena, May 27, 2014—

WHAT A FINE PLACE this is. We were down here with friends last month, and wanted to try this new spot, but it was just too damn crowded and noisy that particular Saturday night. Much better tonight, at a nine o'clock seating. We had plenty of time and space for ourselves, after a long drive, and this proves to be a great place to take it easy and savor both cuisine and hospitality.

We began with bread, butter, and giardiniera — those pickled raw vegetables the Piemontese love so. Lindsey's Aunt Victoria used to make a huge supply every year, and we got the taste from her. The version here is just a tad sweeter and lacks the tuna, but is crisp and bracing and perfect with the house-made cultured butter, churned from cream and buttarmilk and carefully aged.

Then a salad: fine thin green asparagus, artichoke hearts and bottoms, on a bed of mesclun, with walnuts and a bit of pecorino, dressed with a coddled duck egg.  Delicious.

The main course — well, we'd smelled the heavenly fragrance of porchetta the moment we'd entered the room; what chooce did we have? It was rolled and stuffed with fennel, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, with chile pepper as well, and perfectly roasted, unctuous and generous, with marvelous crisp crackling skin to it. Nicely roasted delicious little potatoes and salsa verde on the side. Too much, of course: but I ate every last morsel.

Desserts: a nive gianduja budino woth a bitter-chocolate wafer cap, the pudding exploding on the tongue with saltt crystals and a faint trace, just the right amount, of truffle-scented olive oil. Lindsey had the olive oil cake, served as a lightly toasted slice, with candied mandarinequat slices. A real find, this place; we'll certainly be back.

Pecorino/ Passerimo, Falerio, De Angelis (Marche), 2012; Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Marchione, 2010 (coarse, open, attractive)

• Union, 37 East Union Street, Pasadena, California; 626-795-5841

A day at the park…

Oakland, May 26 2014—

…WITH FRIENDS, watching our team — the Chicago Cubs — beat theirs, the San Francisco Giants. So lunch could be no other than a Polish-style hot dog with mustard, catsup, onions, sauerkraut, and pickle relish (for oneneeds one's vegetables), and a beer. Draft Stella Artois. This is San Francisco, after all.

THEN DINNER IN A PLACE new to us, one we will certainly return to. For one thing, we could actually converse comfortably, thanks to ingenious acoustical engineering. More to the point, the food was absolutely delicious — Mexican cuisine, but attentive to the mysterious and elusive flavors and textures of Yucatàn, as I recall them — dimly, I grant you — from forty years ago at least, when we chanced on a restaurant called, I think, El Faisan, in Tijuana. 

The four of us shared many things, but I particularly enjoyed an item called De Ese: Hoja santa (Piper auritum), also known as "root beer plant" but tasting, at least in this version, nothing like root beer — a velvety heart-shaped leaf about the size of the palm of your hand, it was wrapped into an enchilada, with Anasazi bean purée and puya salsa and a scatter of grated cheese. Truly mysterious and memorable. 

I liked also a roast duck enchilada with mole coloradito and crème fraîche, and the "bitter greens" salad that was a version of Caesar salad but with grated Manchego, chopped almonds, and seived hard-boiled egg, and a roast-chicken tamal involving mole negro, rajas, corn, and nettles.

Dessert! Arroz con leche, smooth and surprising with cherries and toasted pistachios; and a deep, dark, so er chocolate pudding, quite dense, with just the right complement of whipped cream. Mexican with style and substance.

Mencia, Viña Reboreda, Ribeiro, 2011

• Comal, 2020 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-926-6300

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Those penne again

Eastside Road, May 25, 2014—
THE RECIPE IS, again, from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, the first edition — we haven't got around to getting the new edition yet. There it is called Chickpeas with Pasta in Sizzling Sage and Garlic, and that pretty well sums it up. Brown some chopped onion in olive oil, sort of deep-fry a lot of sage, don't forget salt and pepper. Also add red pepper flakes and, of course, crushed garlic. Toss the result with the penne, and Bob's your uncle…

Cheap Pinot grigio

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Salmon and favas

Eastside Road, May 24, 2014—
SATURDAY IS MARKET day, and market day this time of year is salmon day. Salmon and favas day. We've been doing this for years. The salmon runs off our coast, and Dave Legros goes out to sea to catch it. The favas grow over at Nancy Skall's garden, across the river from us. The tarragon came from our garden, and went on top of the salmon — along with a few chives, a bit of butter, and a sprinkling of vodka — before it was wrapped in foil and cooked under the broiler.

The favas are buttered a bit, of course; and a green salad with lemon-juice vinaigrette came afterward; and then Cook's old standby sliced bananas with cinnamon and a bit of sugar, on vanilla ice cream — she's been serving that up for nearly sixty years, and I never tire of it.
Cheap Pinot grigio

Penne with sage

Eastside Road, May 23, 2014—
COULDN'T BELIEVE how many sage leaves went into the preparation of this dish — more perhaps than we generally eat in a year. And that's too bad, because I dearly love sage. I remember a time in Rome when I ran from shop to shop, all of them just closing, looking for a bunch of sage leaves so that we could make a proper saltimbocca, inconceivable without sage leaves; and finally scored a small handful at an obliging restaurant.

Tonight Cook chopped a big handful of sage leaves pretty fine and added them to the soffritto she always prepares to begin almost any kind of pasta sauce. What else? Dunno. You'd have to ask her. Whatever it was, it went well on these penne. Green salad afterward.
Rosé, Taft Street, 2012

Duck breast salad

duck breast.jpg
Eastside Road, May 22, 2014—
LUNCH IN THE CITY today. Well, the local city. Well, lunch in town today, with the Neighbor Down the Hill; our regular monthly lunch, and that is a real pleasure.

I took her to the new place in town. We had breakfast there yesterday, her mother, her sister, and I; and the maître d' recognized me and welcomed me back. I had this salad: smoked duck breast, and a generous serving it was, with fresh asparagus garnished with hard-boiled egg. A very nice lunch.
Red Rhône blend, Preston of Dry Creek, 2012
• Healdsburg Shed, 25 North Street, Healdsburg, California; 707-431-7433

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Marrow and pesto

Eastside Road, May 21, 2014–

FEW THINGS SET my month to watering quicker than the prospect of beef marrow. When I see it on the menu I see little else. Sorry: I’m unreconstructed.

The best I’ve had, I think, was in a curious restaurant called, as I recall, Berowra Waters, a luxurious place beside a lake in back-country north of Sydney, among mountains — you had to fly in your private seaplane to get there, I was first told, though later it turned out there was a narrow road to that deep north and in the event I managed to hitchhike. The marrow arrived correctly, lifted out in perfect discs, like fat sea-scallops, on perfect triangles of toast on a spotless folded napkin; and at this point, thirty years later, that’s all I remember. That, and the succulence, and the feeling of perfect satiety.

So marrow night before last, though quite differently presented: two beef-bones, each say five inches long, split exactly in half lengthwise, and fired under the broiler. It was left up to me to dig the marrow out with a spoon or my table knife, neither quite sharp enough to separate the last shred from the bone. The toast was small thin discs of brioche, very nice and crisp, and the marrow was of course delicious.

Sigalas assyrtiko, Santorini (Greece), 2012, surprising and refreshing;
Petite sirah, Miro (Dry Creek), 2011, fruity and full  

• Willi’s Wine Bar,  4404 Old Redwood Highway, Santa Rosa, California; 707-526-3096 

THEN, LAST NIGHT, dinner at home, with first a bowl of nice cabbage-and-bean soup we’d bought impulsively at a cute little lunch-counter in a nearby town and brought home for just this occasion, then a satisfying bowl of penne al pesto: a whole big bunch of Genovese basil pounded up in the mortar with pine nuts, fresh garlic, and salt; don’t forget the olive oil. Green salad afterward, of course, and an apple, and a bit of chocolate…

Rosé, La Ferme Julien, 2012

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Eastside Road, May 18, 2014—

THIS IS HOW  Cook does her salmon these days, thanks, as I've mentioned before, to Nancy Hachisu's book Japanese Farm Food. She puts a bit of butter on the fish, then some herb — chopped green garlic, in this case — salts it judiciously, and bathes it with vodka.  Il faut arroser, as Duchamp used to say. Then she wraps it in foil, sets it on a broiler pan, and steams it under the broiler for a few minutes. 

With the salmon tonight, favas and garden peas, and some potatoes steamed with a little butter, salt, and chopped parsley. Pommes à la vapeur, yes? A delicious meal, finished with the green salad and then some strawberries with peaches. 

Chablis, Jacques Bourguignon, 2012: light.

Dinner in Guerneville

Eastside Road, May 16, 2014 (but written May 18)—
WHEN NOT BUSY with far too many other things — garden, kitchen, laundry, reading, correspondence, and generally looking after me, otherwise I would surely perish, and she might be better off — Cook occasionally browses what the French call le publicité to see what items might be of interest that would otherwise never come to our attention.

Recently this led to one of those pre-purchase offers at a nearby restaurant we'd heard about vaguely but never had reason to investigate — until a bargain price seemed to be available, so why not? And we drove out to a nearby resort town to have dinner in a secluded inn, the kind that refers to itself as "romantic." We'll never need its rooms, of course; we have our own; and we'll never make use of its spa, we're pretty well beyond all that now. But why not investigate its dinner?

The offer allowed us to choose any item from the three courses, and a glass of wine-by-the-glass. The menu corresponded exactly to the website and the brochure, leading me to think it's rarely changed, and it leaned heavily to presentation. The room was comfortable and attractive, the tables widely spaced — we could converse easily, rare these days in a restaurant. Maybe it was romantic, after all.

I had the Kona Kampachi Crudo with Spanish Anchovy, garnished with California Avocado, Pixie Tangerine, Garden Cilantro, Petite Greens, Lime — I copy this, majuscules and all, from that web page. It arrived on a chilled black slate, and I'm sorry I didn't get a better photo; it looked like a Zurbaran. The fish was delicate and fresh, and the mix of flavors very nice, each standing on its own merits, but the entire mix somehow integrating throughout the course.


Then the Grilled Fillet of Beef Tenderloin, Fourchette Potatoes, with Delta Asparagus, Maitake Mushrooms, Bone Marrow Bordelaise, [and] Chive Blossoms. The waiter — a pleasant, forthcoming, yet subtle fellow — heard me wondering about the source of the beef, and casually mentioned, next time he was tableside, "corn-fed," with no further elaboration. It was tender and succulent and gained a lot from the marrow Bordelaise sauce. I liked the potatoes, which tasted as if they had indeed been baked, not boiled; and were certainly mashed as if with a fork, not puréed until all texture is gone.

This was served, as you see, on another landscape-orientation rectangle, a little exaggerated but pleasant to the eye, much more so than this photo suggests.

IMG_2668.jpgDessert: Honey cannoli with mascarpone and dried apricots stewed, not quite long enough, in a vanilla-flavored syrup. The apricots suggested a glass of Sautérnes might be in order — I haven't tasted one in years, and there was an attractive one on the menu.

On the whole, a very pleasant evening; and the drive, through the fragrant redwoods along the Russian River on a balmy late Spring night, made it all the better. Gee: Maybe it was romantic, after all.
Pinot noir, Dutton Estate, Karmen Isabella (Russian River Valley), 2011: smooth, rich, mature; Sautérnes: Roumieu-Lacoste, 2010: smooth, deep, forward flavor, authentic
• Applewood Inn Restaurant, 13555 Highway 116, Guerneville, California; 707-869-9093


Eastside Road, May 18, 2014—
COOK HAS DECIDED— it is one of the best eventualities of recent months — that cheese is a Good Thing, as Martha would say, and to be included in the diet as a matter of course. Cheese course, I suppose you could say.

Thursday we had guests to lunch, and Sam brought a fine big composed salad, filled with chopped vegetables and grains and sprouted Mung and who knows what else; and on the side we had Cheese. Beaufort, fine Sant Agur blue from the Auvergne, creamy Taleggio, fragrant Comté, and something new to me, Der Sharfe Maxx from Switzerland, "Intense and bold in both flavor and aroma with hints of sweet hay and onion and a bit of spiciness from being washed in an herb brine" as it's described at's cheese site, one of a vast number of online resources when it comes to cheeses.

The best way to come to terms with cheese is of course through the senses. Only hearing is left out of the mix, and I suppose if you're really attentive you can enjoy even the sound of sampling, for example, the graininess of a good mature Parmigiano-Reggiano. You can read about them, of course, and I recommend Janet Fletcher, whose column sadly no longer appears in the San Francisco Chronicle, though some of them are still to be found on its website.

Another way to approach cheeses is to travel. I met two of my very favorites in the mountains: Beaufort while walking in Savoie, among the enticing cows whose milk produces this magnificent cheese, and among the flowers whose fragrance informs it; and Castelmagno on the other side of the border, in the pastures above Cuneo — Castelmagno, which you look for in vain for the most part, unless you're in Rome or Cuneo or, on lucky occasions, at Oliver's Market in Cotati, of all places.

We're lucky with cheese retailers. My favorite is The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg, because it's local, and discriminating, and quirky, and one wants to support such endeavors. On a bigger scale we have the cheese counters at Big John's, again in Healdsburg; and at Oliver's Markets, in Cotati and Santa Rosa.

And of course when in Berkeley we drop in at the mother of them all, The Cheese Board Collective — even their website is an idiosyncratic delight, with marvelous drawings by, I suspect, Ann Arnold, a Berkeley artist whose work has been a constant pleasure to us for many years.

Well, I've been led off the track. I'm simply supposed to be recording our dining here. We haven't been fasting, in the true sense, this week; there've been too many guests. We've been making do, instead, on the nights we haven't eaten out, with cheese; bread and cheese. And wine. And fruit. And salad.

You can do much worse.

Oh, that café!

Berkeley, May 14, 2014 (but written May 18)—
I MUST ADMIT to an ambivalent attitude toward rabbit. (As a comestible, I mean: my feelings about the rodents in the garden are quite decided.) Much of this is purely sentimental: we raised rabbits when I was a kid, and I always hated them — dirty, fragile, ill-tempered, and needy when living; tough and bony when dead on the plate; thoroughly unpleasant in the brief violent transition between the two states.

It didn't help when I read somewhere, during my stormy adolescence I think, that when cooked they resembled (human) babies. When roasted whole, I suppose. So over the years we've generally avoided them when cooking at home, and in the usual course of things they don't turn up all that often on restaurant menus.

(There's one exception to our home cooking of rabbit, and that's in Ada Boni's estimable book Italian Regional Cooking, one of the great cookbooks of all time (and still to be found quite cheap on the Internet): here she gives a Coniglio in porchetta, I think — I'm too lazy to look for it just now — which involves mincing the rabbit's heart, liver, and so forth, and binding the result along with chopped garlic and basil, and stuffing the carcass with this, sewing it shut, then roasting it: a delicious meal.)

Well, this day we were in Berkeley, en route to seeing another play, and stopped in at the Café — you'll have guessed by now which — and there was prosciutto-wrapped rabbit on the menu, along with roasted fennel and lovely fat fresh green asparagus, a perfect springtime menu. It took no time at all to overcome my lingering prejudices against eating rodents (though in truth I think rabbits have been reclassified out of that order and are now Lagomorphs; but they'll always be rodents to me.)

The meat was boned, of course, and carefully wrapped in just the right amount of prosciutto, and reminded me of Ada Boni's recipe. And the entire meal, which I'd preceded with a garden lettuce salad, was succulent and memorable.


And then dessert: this absolutely gorgeous plate of fruit, and a delicous apricot tarte, with ice cream on the side… wonderful…

Chablis, Gilbert Picq, 2012: light, engaging, refreshing
• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525


Oakland, May 12, 2014 (but written May 18)—
ALREADY NEARLY A WEEK since we assembled, last Monday, in this fine Oakland restaurant! I plead three excuses: first, I've been unusually preoccupied with other matters. Next, the dinner didn't seem to me to come quite together, and it's difficult to discuss this, as I really like and admire the restaurant and its chef, and don't want to suggest it's anything but a destination of merit.

And finally, the occasion itself was bittersweet, emotional, and dispiriting to a degree — which no doubt affected my response to the food, and affects my thinking and writing about it.

We were gathered, a dozen or so of us, at a farewell dinner for a very dear friend, a Berkeley woman we've known for many years, who is leaving her beloved home for Seattle, where she'll be living in a setting better adjusted to her present needs — but devoid of the comforts and surroundings that have been at the center of her life these last fifty years.

It's a thing many of us face, and I take some solace with Cicero:
…life comes to its best end when, with mind unimpaired and senses intact, nature herself breaks up the fabric to which she first gave form and order. Now in every case, things freshly put together are hard to pull apart; things that have gotten old come to pieces with ease.

—Cicero, On Old Age, tr. Frank O. Copley
It is of course not easy to give full rein to the sensual delights of dinner while thinking such thoughts, the more so when that first subsidiary clause of Cicero's is, well, not completely pertinent in the present case. So it's a tribute to Russ and his restaurant that the meal was as delightful and interesting as it was.

It began — we needed a drink — with a Hanky Panky, a favorite of ours (I write here for Cook as well as myself): equal parts gin and bittersweet Italian vermouth; a healthy slug of Fernet Branca; shake with ice and strain. And then at table I had the plate you see here, of whose details I now recall only the lightest possible brandade croquettes and a fine aïoli. Stupid me, not to have kept the menu at hand, or to have written about this earlier!

IMG_2481.jpgIt was "Kebab Monday," a feature of the month of May, and I went on — indeed most of us did — to this Tunisian-inspired lamb entrée: kebabs of cubed lamb and lamb not-merguez-sausage, made in house of course, with peas and parsley and flatbread and plenty of flavor.

I had in fact not ordered well: the two courses did not complement one another, nor were they intended to. But each was delicious on its own terms, and Lindsey's panna cotta was smooth and rich and fragrant. It's not extravagant to say the same of the conversation: it was rather an overwhelming night.

• Camino, 3917 Grand Avenue, Oakland, California; 510-547-5035

Monday, May 12, 2014

Surf and turf

Eastside Road, May 11, 2014—
MOTHER'S DAY, and our 57th anniversary. The neighbors were grilling steak, but we had already bought salmon — the first of the season, for us. So we combined forces and resources, and here you see the result.

Cook made the salmon Nancy Hachisu's way, en papillote: she salted the fish gently, drizzled it with vodka, put a couple of small pats of butter on it, and strewed chopped green garlic on it; then wrapped it in aluminum foil.

Meanwhile Eric had prepared the tri-tip somehow; salt and pepper I'm pretty sure, and grilled it over a wood fire. While it rested, the salmon packages went on the grill; the fish simply steams in its own juice.

Thérèse had roasted some potatoes which were chopped up and combined with favas. What a delicious dinner!

This is how it looks:
The salmon……and the steak, hot off the grill

And it's all done.

Arneis, Azienda Agricola Tintero Elvio (Piemonte), 2012: soft, aromatic, supple; Rosé, La Ferme Julien, 2012 (Var): dependable and refreshing; Petite sirah, Ravenswood Vintners Blend (California), 2012: fruity, almost jammy, well made

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sausage, potatoes, peas, and onions

sausage and onions.JPG
Eastside Road, May 10, 2014—
TOO HOT, too windy, too late, too lazy to do much more than boil a few potatoes, mix them with some nice fresh garden peas and a few other things — you'd have to ask Cook for the details — broil two or three sausages, and steam-braise some split spring onions. A nice summer supper, and it isn't even summer yet.

Rosé, Espiral (Portugal), nv: a little spritzig, refreshing, very light, a little sweet

Friday, May 9, 2014

Another duck leg

duck leg.jpg
Eastside Road, May 9, 2014—
SENT SHOPPING FOR a couple of potatoes to fry in the duck fat left over from last night's confit, and some kind of meat to go with it, my limited imagination suggested a logical choice would be a couple of duck legs. Lindsey cooked them slowly in the black iron skillet, fried the potatoes, and steamed some green beans.

Well, of course, it was all quite delicious. I hated ducks when I was a kid, because I was supposed to care for them — we had Muscovys, Pekin whites, and Mallards, interchangeably disgustingly filthy birds. They are much better dead and on the plate than alive and on your to-do list, I think. The meat is absolutely delicious; it needs only a little salt to bring out an incredible complexity of flavor.

Best of all, when I washed the dishes, there were bits stuck to the skillet. I cooked them a bit, poured the fat off into a cup — we'll have more potatoes soon! — and then cooked the rest down for the cracklings, which made as fine a dessert as you can ask.

Oh: we had the usual green salad, of course, and a slice of bread — I got a loaf yesterday from a bakery new to me, M.H. Bread & Butter. I will always remain faithful to the source, Acme Bread in Berkeley; and to our local, Downtown Bakery & Creamery. But this M.H. B&B is damn good.
Barolo d'Asti, Rocca dell'Olmo (Piemonte), 2011

Duck confit

Eastside Road, May 8, 2014—
ONE OF THE Hundred Plates for sure, and a particularly delicious thing, duck confit. I won't give you the recipe for it — we've made our own confit, though with goose, not duck; I'm sure the principle's the same: slow-cook the meat in its own fat, flavored with herbs and spices; then put it down covered in more fat, rendered, to age and mature.

Goose confit is indispensable to Cassoulet, and it looks like this is yet another year we've lost the opportunity to make one — it's a cold-weather dish; I wouldn't make it later than March. Maybe this winter.

Duck confit, on the other hand, is fine eaten all by itself, and in my mind at least not at all restricted to cold-weather menus. Here it is, for example, with obviously springtime garden peas. Also on the plate, the last of Cook's delicious potato-fava-pea salad; duck does indeed demand potatoes; rice will really not do.

We didn't confit these duck legs ourselves: they're from the butcher shop at Café Rouge, and they are delicious. They are also the last of the season, I'm told; that shop doesn't agree with me as to the lack of seasonality for duck confit…

Barolo d'Asti, Rocca dell'Olmo (Piemonte), 2011

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

First grill of the year

Eastside Road, May 6, 2014—
A COUPLE OF FRIENDS up from the city yesterday (and it doesn't hurt that they're both chefs), so we fired up the grill for the first time this year. I'd rebuilt it for the occasion, setting firebricks on top of a provisional plywood base — the last provisional plywood base had finally given out, after three or four years' use and weather.

We built the fire with a little charcoal but mostly grape and oak wood, and Curt laid a couple of hanger steaks on the grill, and I halved some nice big spring onions, and Cook had made a delicious salad of boiled potatoes, peas, and favas.

Radishes first, with the end of that delicious smoked rillettes we'd brought home from Duende a few days ago. And, afterward, ice cream, and delicious candied tangerine peel and — angelica! Such a complex, rewarding flavor! Thanks, MJ!

Cheap Prosecco; white Rhone blend, "Madam Preston", Preston of Dry Creek; Carignane, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Another bistro

photo 1.jpg
Berkeley, May 5, 2014—
THAT'S ANOTHER STEACK-FRITES you see there, and I humbly accept your thanks, Constant Reader, for the assiduity with which I take on the responsibility of sampling them here and there to report on such important matters here.

The steak is a bavette, which is generally speaking a subset of flank steak, the source of hanger, flap, onglet, and who knows how many other synonyms. I bet the "tenderloin" in my lomo saltado, last Friday, came from the neighborhood. So do fajitas.

In general this cut gains by being cut into strips, across the grain, before it is cooked. Here at Rouge they leave the steak entire, tossing it on the grill, salting it, turning it once. (This is surmise; I'm working solely from observation at the table, far from the stoves.)

I'd ordered it rare, and had pronounced the word a little ferociously perhaps; I was hungry. The result was in fact not rare but bleu, which is okay with me, though a little hard to cut on your plate, especially when coated with this delicious marchand de vin butter. The fries were crisp, narrow-cut, skilfully cooked, salty.

Dessert: strawberry-rhubarb crispphoto 3.jpg, with a good-sized scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream to counter the sweet-sour fruit and the rough granola-like texture of the topping — a pleasant version of what's now a standby. And with it, because I couldn't resist its name, a glass of dessert wine.

Tempranillo blend, Telmo Rodriguez LZ, Rioja, 2010: solid and fruity; Muscat de Rivesaltes, Piquemal les Larmes d’Hélios, Roussillon, 2010: soft and pleasant though a little bland
Café Rouge, 1782 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710
Phone:(510) 525-1440

BUT WE STILL have to finish that roast chicken, yes? So for supper I carved up the other half, and made a lemon-juice vinaigrette for the green salad, and we followed up with an apple and a tangerine. And tomorrow is Tuesday. But we won't be fasting.

Cheap Pinot grigio

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pasta with friends; cold chicken at home…

Eastside Road, May 4, 2014—
NO PHOTOS TODAY: I guess we were having too much fun. Last night we were in town at a friend's house: I made the Martinis; we all conspired on the pasta; Alta seared the scallops. The trick, of course, was in the ingredients, and the hands.

The pasta was from Berkeley's Phoenix Pastaficio: fettucine, whole wheat, cooked just al dente and tossed with nothing but very good olive oil, salt, and pepper.

The scallops most likely came from Monterey Fish — I didn't ask, but Alta brought stuff up from Berkeley. They were sweet, buttery, and rich, and she just seared them quickly in a little bit of olive oil.

Salad, of course.

White Rhone blend, "Madam Preston," Preston of Dry Creek, 2012; Sauvignon blanc, Duckhorn (Napa Valley) 2012

THEN TONIGHT we finally ate at home, first time this month!

And that in spite of the fact that a few days ago Cook had roasted another chicken, exactly as Saturday a week ago except without the thyme under the skin. Well, it hadn't suffered in the refrigerator these last few days, and I carved half of it tonight to have cold, with simply butter-steamed asparagus and the usual green salad.

Cheap Pinot grigio

Lomo saltado

Santa Rosa, May 2, 1014—
WHAT'S WRONG WITH this picture? Nothing at all. Wok-fried tenderloin with onin, tomato, cilantro, soy sauce.

The fries were crisp and rich, the steak full of flavor, the aïoli-like mayonnaise smooth and redolent. I find steamed white rice devoid of interest, but it balanced the plate nicely with its visual impact, geometrically molded, white as porcelain.

We like this place.

Tempranillo, Ossiam, 2010
Sazon Peruvian Cusine, 1129 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, California; (707) 523-4346

Sausalito Italian

Sausalito, May 1, 2014:—
STOPPED OFF to sit out the commute traffic with an early supper at a place we'd never before visited, in this pretty little town we almost never stop at. We were the first diners on a warm bayside evening, and the bartender was still setting things up when I interrupted him with a request for a Fernet and soda.

The menu was part Piemontese, part Siciliano, at least to my eye; but when I queried the hostess, a member of the family that's owned the place for lo these many years, "Naples," she said, with a gracious smile, and I looked forward to my pasta.

First, though, this salad, with perfectly acceptable little torn lettuce leaves and shavings of cheese and a good vinaigrette and toasted almonds. I told you there was a bit of Sicily here.

The pasta was house-made: Cavatelli with ricotta Amatriciana, in a nicely spiced tomato sauce with pancetta and onions, and here we were definitely in Calabria, and I was happy, even though we had ordered a bottle of white wine.

Desserts? Why not? Bonet for Lindsey — that was what had made us think Piemontese — and very nice, though based on coffee, not chocolate. And Tiramisu for me, if you please, and it was very good. I would certainly return.

Catarratto, Purato (Sicily), 2012: crisp, nicely flavored, good body
Angelino Restaurant, 621 Bridgeway, Sausalito; (415) 331-5225