Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December Week

Eastside Road, December 8, 2014—
WELL, THEN, LET'S get on with it; I don't seem able to abandon a project so long tended. That's last night's supper you see to the left: black beans with chopped raw onion and grated Cheddar cheese strewn on top to melt into the beans; some chopped cilantro for flavor and vitamins, lime wedges on the side for the necessary acid, a corn tortilla. We had the usual green salad afterward, of course.
Red wine

WE HAD BEANS on Wednesday as well, served similarly, with nice big wedges of avocado on the side. Cook had read somewhere that one doesn't really need to soak dry beans for hours before cooking them, and decided to put the revisionist screed to the test. The beans took a very long time to grow tender, but then they've been in the pantry a long time, most of that time very dry. As for me, I'd return to soaking them.
THURSDAY HAD BEEN a special night in the local restaurant business, with generous percentages of the evening's take dedicated to AIDS-based charities, so we went out to a local bistro. We'd liked it a lot previously, but last spring the place doubled in size, having got hold of the neighboring storefront, and it seems to me some of the charm is gone. I started out with OnionSoupKL.jpg a classic French onion soup, a dish I like on a cold night. This wasn't utterly authentic; it didn't take me back to Les Halles; the cheese wasn't the perfect Gruyère; but it was good and lord knows the presentation was appropriately rustic.

Next, however, came a dish so confused and rich I wasn't able to finish it — tagliatelle with wild mushrooms: porcini, chanterelles, and (I think) black trumpets. The sauce was based on mushrooms; I was told this was a vegetarian dish; but it was intense and rich; I could have sworn the sauce included marrow. A little went a long way: tasty; solid; but rich.
Murgo, Etnarosso (Sicily), 2011: a new varietal to me, only 12.5% alcohol but deep and substantial, easily standing up to the mushrooms, and still very good three days later.
• K&L Bistro, 119 South Main Street, Sebastopol; 707-823-6614
FRIDAY WE WERE BACK — dare I say it? — at Chez Panisse, in the Café this time, with out-of-town relatives, including not one but two great-granddaughters. We dined late in the afternoon, past three o'clock, and I was hungry. I started with salad: shaved fennel, radish, and carrot, with Meyer lemon and radicchio, a festive sort of salad, its colors, shapes, and textures tumbled into a very attractive offering.
After that, grilled duck leg with sweet peppers, smooth white polenta, and a salsa incorporating fried herbs — an imaginative treatment, I think, for an entrée which never seems to wear out its welcome. It was Zinfandel Week at Chez Panisse, so naturally I took advantage of the tasting flight:
Zinfandel: Turley, Old Vines, 2012; Bucklin: Old Hill Ranch, Sonoma Valley, 2006; Scherrer: Old & Mature, Alexander Valley, 1999
and a pleasure it is to have a comparison like this. Even the Turley, comparatively young, was mature and luscious; the Scherrer was textbook.
•Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525
RoastChicken.jpgSATURDAY NIGHT we were home again with nothing better than a couple of chicken legs. Cook braised them up and served them with dressing and mashed potato, almost like yet another Thanksgiving dinner, complete with the cranberry sauce, which I must say I do love with roast or braised poultry. Green salad afterward, of course… And, since it was Saturday and we'd had Martinis before dinner, just a drop of that Murgo from Thursday night.
THAT LEAVES YESTERDAY, Sunday. Home again; black beans again — as you've seen, up at the top of this scattershot post. Green salad afterward, and with it, the last of the Murgo. What shall we have tonight?

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