Monday, June 23, 2014

salmon; pasta

Eastside Road, June 23, 2014—
READERS OF MY OTHER blog will know I've been preoccupied with other matters — but life goes on, and meat must sustain it. Saturday we were at market in Healdsburg, first time in a month, and there we resumed our habitual shopping, stopping first at Dave Legros's stand for a pound of delicious salmon from nearby waters.

There wasn't time for Cook to wrap it with its herbal flavoring and tincture of miracle juice, as she usually does these days; she simply salted and peppered it and broiled it, squeezing lemon juice over it afterward. With it, favas-and-potatoes, a combination I've come to cherish — how long will the favas last, I wonder, now that summer's here? Best not to dwell on that!

And, since I've been a bit liverish, a few pickles on the plate. You can't depend on Fernet Branca for every occasion.
Rosé from the Var, 2012

TODAY, ON THE OTHER hand, we had pasta. But what pasta! I've written about it before, and here's the link: somewhere on the page you'll find another link, either to the recipe or to the means of getting it, I don't remember which. Green salad afterward, of course, as was true yesterday…

I'll try to catch up on the previous few days later on — but no promises!
Cheap Pinot grigio

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fish stew

Portland, June 14, 2014—
NO PHOTO TONIGHT: I just forgot. We had fish stew at home, our Portland home: halibut, stewed with favas, onion, celery, asparagus, garlic, cannelini beans, and herbs. It was delicious, but I can't give you any details, not at the moment, anyway…
Rosé, Terra Alta "El Sola d'en Pol," Xavier Clua, 2013—


Seattle, Washington, June 13, 2014—
KNOW, IT DOESN'T look very attractive. It tasted very good, though: papardelle with lamb ragù and good sharp salty pecorino, heightened with oregano. Before it, I split a pear-and-gorgonzola salad and downed a cup of Zuppa all’Olio della Villa Otium: cannellini bean and smoked pork jowl soup with croutons, chives, and good olive oil, with good-sized hunks of torn bread filling it out. (And me.)

Volterra house red: Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon-Cabernet Franc, Patterson (Columbia valley), 2011-2012 blend
•Volterra, 5411 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle; (206) 789-5100

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Another catchup

Seattle, Washington, June 12, 2014—
SEE THERE'S CATCH-UP to play again. Two nights ago, Tuesday, we were in Idaho, having dinner with an childhood friend — well, I hardly knew here then; she was eight years younger, and I only saw her three or four times, but her parents were good friends of mine, and were important to me before Jean was even born.

That's beside the point of this blog, of course. We met in a local restaurant she'd picked as promising comfort and the possibility of conversation, and we lingered a long time over that. I had this "frenched" pork chop, brined in cider, served with sautéed vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes, and it was pretty good.
Pinot grigio
•Bardenay, 1710 W. Riverstone Drive, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; 208-765-1540

YESTERDAY WE DROVE ACROSS the state to spend a few days in Seattle, crashing with an old friend from my days at KQED back in the 1960s. We had supper around the corner and a Mexican place they like, and it suited us fine: Chile verde not New Mexico style but Washington state, a little reserved.
•La Palma, 3456 15th Street West, Seattle; (206) 284-1001Oysters

TODAY IT WAS lunch with another old friend, recently relocated from Berkeley to Seattle. We settled on a local favorite, a fish restaurant overlooking Elliott Bay and Bainbridge Island, sitting at a window side table where the marine view accompanied a simple meal: half a dozen oysters on the half shell and a cup of chorizo-garbanzo soup, followed by far too substantial a chocolate ganache cake.
Pinot grigio-Viognier blend
•Ray's Cafe, 6049 Seaview Avenue NW, Seattle; 206-782-0094

AND THEN IT WAS TIME for dinner following a maddening forty-minute drive across downtown traffic jams. We were quite late for our reservation, but then everyone else was too, and the host was very gracious. What a fine place this turned out to be! We had lovely pickled smelt, and a knowing platter of charcuterie, and asparagus with coral mushrooms anchovies and hard-cooked egg yolk, and then I had pork loin with house-made sausage, "Rockwell" beans whatever they are, onions, and pepper cress, with a purée of cress in delicious olive oil. I'm sure the desserts were wonderful, but I needed instead a drop of Fernet Branca.
Gavi, Ernesto Picollo "Rovereto" (Piemonte), 2012: authentic, crisp and refreshing
•Sitka and Spruce, 1531 Melrose Avenue, Seattle; (206) 324-0662

Monday, June 9, 2014

Salad and steak

Bozeman, Montana, June 9, 2014—
WE READ ABOUT this place on the Internet somewhere, and decided to give it a try, thinking that it sounded as if it were concerned about the quality (and therefore, one hopes, the soundness) of its ingredients. And the first taste of this salad confirmed the hope: nice greens, ripe citrus, carefully sliced fennel, a well-balanced sherry vinaigrette, and really good salt — and the right amount of it.

With that salad I had "gin and juice:" gin infused with kaffir lime leaves, grapefruit juice, and ginger-flavored simple syrup. Just the thing to end a day spent driving across Yellowstone Park.

SteakWe went on to flatiron steak, and here I'll just quote from the menu:
local beef, honey thyme spoon bread, roasted strawberry rhubarb relish, chipotle compound butter.
The spoon bread was quite piquant, nothing like what my Oklahoma grandmother would have spooned up, and had a tendency to overrule the delicate fruitiness of the relish. But the meat had a very nice flavor and was cooked exactly as I'd ordered it: rare.

Dessert: lemon-infused cheesecake, layered rhubarb panna cotta, roasted-almond crust, rhubarb-lemon compote, and a rhubarb "tissue" — in fact, a chip, like a potato chip: don't ask me how they do that. The cheesecake was made with goat cheese from the local Amaltheia (organic) dairy, and if the entire dish was a bit on the heavy side, well, that's in the nature of mountain cheesecake, I guess. I ate it, every bit.
House red
•Plonk Wine, 29 East Main Street, Bozeman, Montana; 406.587.2170

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Catching up…

Orange cake
Jackson, Wyoming, June 8, 2014—
WE'VE BEEN SO BUSY socializing, eating, talking, walking, socializing, and yes eating, that I haven't had a chance to sit down at the laptop until just now — after a 500-mile drive and, yes, supper.

So let's take a quick look at what we've been eating. First of all, I should tell you that the Boulder Colorado area seems to be dominated by a family of restaurants, I suppose all owned by one company, all supplied by a single farm, Three Leaf Farm, whose principles seem to be in line with ours.

Whether by coincidence or because our granddaughter and her fellow are clever and discreet — and they certainly are — we sampled three different restaurants in belonging to this group.

June 4: We stopped in at a casual soup-salad-and-sandwich type place just a few blocks from Eve's house, in downtown old Louisville, and I was happy to order a Greek salad: greens, hummus, olives, feta, red onion, artichoke hearts, cucumber, pita, with a good red-wine vinaigrette.

Pinot grigio, Fat Cat, 2012
•The Huckleberry, 700 Main Street, Louisville, Colorado; 303-666-8020
June 5: Into Boulder to take the car for a new headlight: why not kill time growing bookstores, and lunching at a tapas joint? Well, not really just tapas: this place serves tapa-sized servings of dishes that might come from any corner of the Mediterranean — Spain, Italy, Lebanon, Greece… I ordered "Pincho" Moruno de cordero: grilled lamb on a skewer, with onions, and peppers, and flatbread, and tzatziki; and "salami e finocchio": salami, fennel, provolone, radishes, onions, arugula with an oregano vinaigrette. Quite acceptable, though not one of the Three Leaf restaurants.

IPA, Avery (Boulder)
•Dagabi Cucina, 3970 N. Broadway, Boulder, Colorado; 303-786-9004

TeahouseJune 6: Back into Boulder for a short trail hike, then lunch at quite a beautiful tea house, built entirely by hand in Tajikistan and sent to Boulder as a gesture of friendship. Here I had a fine merguez sandwich on pita — really beautifully spiced lamb sausage, with a delicious orange-and-onion salad. But the real stunner was the orange-flower cake you see photographed above, served with orange and apricot marmalades. Unbelievably good.
Rosé, I suppose…
•The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, 1770 13th Street, Boulder; 303-442-4993

THEN DINNER back in Louisville at the third of our Three Leaf trifecta in a comfortable Italian restaurant, where I was happy with a small Caesar salad followed by Cinghiale brasato: braised boar with charred grape tomatoes, garlic confit, favas, and fior di sardo served on perfectly cooked house-made pappardelle.
Vermentino, Sella and Mosca La Cala (Sardegna), 2011, very nice;
Barbera d'Asti, Icardi "Tabarin," 2011, fruity and forward
•Zucca Italian Ristorante, 808 Main Street, Louisville, Colorado; 303-666-6499
June 7: out to the Saturday farmer's market in town, where we bought fabulous rib-eye steaks to celebrate Lindsey's birthday. Shawn grilled them perfectly, throwing a couple of pounds of thin local asparagus on the grill as well, along with some sliced zucchini. And for dessert, cherry pie from Huckleberry (see above), with vanilla ice cream from the creamery down the street — whose ice cream is about as good as it gets.
Cabernet sauvignon, Jordan (Alexander Valley), 2003: mature, rounded, generous but subtle, long finish. Thanks, Shawn!
•Sweet Cow, 637 Front Street
Louisville; 303.666.4269
Tonight, June 8, after a long drive, we dined in a pleasant little place in Jackson Hole. I was content with a small house salad involving greens, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers, in a restrained balsamic vinaigrette, and afterward a small plate of elk carpaccio, with a scatter of red-onion slices, watercress, aïoli, flavored with smoked sea salt, with marvelous little crostini.

PieDessert — how refuse strawberry-rhubarb pie? True, it was served with a spoon instead of a fork — as Lindsey said, we are after all in the middle west.
Rosé, Quinta de Gamariz Espadeiro (Portugal)
•Café Genevieve, 135 East Broadway, Jackson, Wyoming; 307-732-1910

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pastry; roast chicken

Pain aux raisins
Santa Fe to Louisville, June 3, 2014—
EATING ON THE ROAD, literally — in the car, I mean — doesn't often leave me with much to report. Raw carrots; celery; maybe some cheese; peanuts — that sort of thing. But we started out this drive with pastries picked up at a bakery new to us, and I have to report on them. I had this pain aux raisins, photographed here on my travel napkin: it was big, light as a feather, flaky, yet somehow creamy. Generous with raisins that had been nicely plumped. Carefully glazed with royal icing — isn't that what it's called? — not too much of it, and itself nicely flavored. Next time we're in town we're definitely going back.

•Dulce, 1100 Don Diego Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico; (505) 989-9966
AND THEN a six-hour drive through Colorado, through country beautiful to see but not promising of particularly enticing food (though what do I know: we didn't try.) And then a welcome from a granddaughter and the aroma of chicken roasting in the oven. Roast chicken is perhaps my mainstay comfort food, and this was tender and moist and just what we wanted…

And afterward, a short walk down the block to a local hangout for some really good ice cream: in my case, Dutch chocolate and lemon, flavors I've always thought had a particular affinity…

•Sweet Cow, , 637 Front St, Louisville, Colorado; (303) 666-4269 (branches also in Boulder and Denver)

Steak and salad

Tesuque, New Mexico, June 2, 2014—
DINNER ON THE PATIO tonight at this fine big country house on the northern New Mexico plain, looking across in the twilight toward Los Alamos, waiting for the big star map to unfold.

Ed wanted to demonstrate his grill, and the results were persuasive. Four good-sized rib-eyes were grilled to perfection in no time at all, served with just salt and a little butter, with baked potatoes on the side, buttered and scattered with chopped chives from his garden.

And then the salad: greens, small chunks of broccoli and cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, and good vinaigrette. And then the incomparable sky…Sla

Fritters and salad

Santa Fe, June 1, 2014—
DINNER AT THE HOME of friends tonight, and as I've written on a few other occasions, it doesn't hurt when your hostess is a professional cook. We've known Deborah for years; she's a dear friend — one of the reasons, in fact, we've made this long drive this month.

We began with the fritters you see here: chard and other greens from her garden, some of the greens unknown to me and, I suspect, found only locally. They all got chopped up, I suppose, and bound with egg, no doubt; and fried in oil, I'm sure of it; and they were served with a yoghurt raita of some kind.

And then a fine big composed salad: greens, of course; and hard-boiled egg, and tomatoes, and red peppers, and flakes of smoked mackerel, in a perfect vinaigrette. Vegetarian is what Deb's known for, and it's what we delighted in tonight.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Eating Spanish

Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 31, 2014—
THIS HAS NOT OFTEN seemed a particularly good restaurant town, but tonight's experience changes that. It has been hot, and we wanted to eat outside. A Spanish-themed place had been recommended. We were four, so it was easy to order a series of pintos:
grilled artichoke hearts wrapped in jamón serrano with pesto and goat cheese; sautéed spinach with red peppers, raisins, and pine nuts; braised pork shoulder with jamón serrano, poblano peppers, and toasts; tuna empanadas stuffed with green olives, hors-boiled egg, onion, and red-pepper romesco sauce; and, best of all to me (though the artichokes ran a close second), bacalao with, again, jamón serrano and lightly poached quail eggs on toast. That's what you see here, and that's what I'd have for breakfast every day if I could.

There was plenty more here to choose, and I'd gladly have stayed several hours more. Santa Fe may have one of the Hundred Restaurants, but I'll have to come back a few times to make sure…

Manzanilla: Hidalgo, La Gitana; Toto Albalá Gran Reserva Don Pedro Ximenez, Montilla Morales (deep, serious, and generous)
•Taberna, 125 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico; (505) 988-7102

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Burrito on the road

Hatch, New Mexico,, May 30, 2014

WELL, NOT LITERALLY, of course; we didn't fine a burrito on the pavement. We found it in this cluttered, busy, amusing place we'd heard about back in Bisbee, and it turned out to be right on the side of our road at just the right time of day.

 I asked what would be the least messy choice for eating behind the steering wheel while traveling 75 miles an hour up the highway toward Santa Fe. The countergirl paused, considered, and suggested the smoked pulled-pork burrito, served up in a generous flour tortilla with chile verde. 

Yes. We're back in New Mexico. Hatch is famous for its chiles, the best in the state, state the Hatchians. A tall claim: but this was a delicious burrito.

Water, of course: we're driving.

•Sparky's Burgers BBQ and Espresso, 115 North Franklin Street, Hatch, New Mexico; 575-267-4222