Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chickpea stew

Eastside Road, April 30, 2015—
THAT'S WHAT COOK calls it: chickpea stew. Chickpeas; a big sweet onion; some rice; a bit of sweet potato; cumin; coriander. And chopped cilantro to garnish.

Rather Indian, I thought; a nice end to a very warm day. Green salad with avocado. Apple; tangerine.
The rest of the Preston Petite Syrah, which held nicely
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Another duck

more duck.jpg
Eastside Road, April 29, 2015—
JUST AS I THOUGHT… and, let's be honest, just as I'd hoped. Another dinner on duck.

With the slight difference that this time Cook was away most of the day, so the cooking chores, such as they were, fell to your blogger. Nothing to it: I cut the potatoes into quarters and cooked them an hour or so in a little duck fat from yesterday.

I laid the duck legs — confited, if that's the correct participle, you'll remember — in the pan that had been used yesterday and cooked them slowly, making sure they browned nicely on the outside.

Last thing, I halved a few spring onions and cooked them slowly in… duck fat, of course.

Green salad afterward; then some ice cream with applesauce. A feast.
Petite syrah: Preston of Dry Creek, 2012: fruit, tannin, edge, body, finish.

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Duck confit

Eastside Road, April 28, 2015—
EVERY NOW AND THEN, you may have noticed, we find ourselves down in Berkeley for one reason or another, and sometimes on those occasions we remember to do a little shopping. The Monterey Market still provides those delicious Pixie tangerines from Ojai. Monterey Fish provides, well, fish.

And Café Rouge provides duck confit. I don't know when we bought the two duck legs we had tonight, and it doesn't really matter: they hold pretty well in the freezer. I'm not sure how Cook prepared them: probably just cooked them in their own fat in a black iron skillet. That's what I'd have done…

With them, more of that delicious bitter country broccoli we had yesterday, sautéed with plenty of garlic; and long-cooked potatoes, cut up and fried in, I suppose, duck fat. Man, what a delicious dinner.

Green salad afterward, and then an ice cream sundae; vanilla ice cream, with black raspberries, also from the freezer…

And the best thing is, there are two duck legs left. I bet I know what tomorrow will bring!
Cheap Pinot grigio; Cheap primitivo
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants


Eastside Road, April 27, 2015—
OKAY, THIS IS MORE like what I have in mind. It's a pretty simple supper, and it's absolutely delicious. If you want casalinga, here it is.

It began with no one really wanting to cook much of anything tonight. So I made a batch of guacamole (avocado, shallot, cilantro, habañera pepper, lime zest, lime juice, Tequila), and after we'd had that we had what you see here: an omelet made with chopped garlic chives, good toast with butter, and very delicious broccoli, dark dark broccoli sautéed with garlic, bitter and serious, chthonic even.

Green salad; a tangerine. And suddenly it's bedtime.
Cheap Pinot grigio
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Local Italian

Eastside Road, April 26, 2015—
SORRY: NO PHOTO today, and that's really too bad, because this was a very attractive place for a Sunday supper, on a beautiful day, under a spreading tree just leaved out in a brilliant pale green, with five of us at table: Constant Companion to my right, Aïda beyond her, Alberto across from Aïda, Lisa to my left — I felt a proper padrone. It felt like a Sunday midday meal in a good country restaurant in Italy.

If only the dishes were as superb as the day… but that's a lot to ask. The food here is casalinga, or wants to be — home cooking, cuisine bonne femme, good solid fare expressing its locality and the centuries behind, with the accent on Carlo's holy trinity: buono, pulito, giusto : Good; Clean; Fair.

We began with a generous assortment of antipasti: pancetta; bruschetti; "Tuna of the Chianti" which is slow-braised pork cooked as canned tuna is done, a delicious thing. Mozzarella and capers. Deviled eggs. Savory cannoli in crisp pasta. Onion frittata, very nice indeed.

Others went on to fritto misto or pasta of various sorts, but I was drawn to the "beef cacciatore with olives," which turned out to be braised beef in a lightly flavored tomato-and-small-olive sauce, over nicely cooked white polenta. I liked it.

The chef here is from Tuscany; from between Lucca and the sea, I believe. His wine list is strictly very local Sonoma county and Tuscan; I wish it were a bit more extensive, but understand and approve his loyalties.

Everything is prepared carefully and to order, from well chosen local ingredients. Why does the place not jump to the top of the local list of restaurants? Well, perhaps because it wants to be just a little more than possible. On the other hand, what local restaurant is better? I'm hard pressed to say.

Vernaccia, Montauto (Tuscany), 2012: soft, sound, refreshing; Lucente (Merlot/Sangiovese blend), Montalcino, 2012 (forward, fruity, pleasant)
• Canneti Roadhouse, 6675 Front Street, Forestville; 707-887-2232
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

En famille

Portland, Oregon, April 25, 2015—
NOW THIS IS more like it: eating at home with one's own big noisy family, or part of it. (The noisiest part, I think.) There were nine of us at table, including two grandsons and their companions, another couple somehow allied, a daughter and her husband; and we feasted on conversation, jokes, and steak and potatoes, with — oh, I don't know; bok choy? One of you constant readers will probably let me know…

Red, Mas d'Intras, "La Cuvée d'Alphonse (Ardêche), 2012: a sound, rich, full-bodied, country wine
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Corvallis catch-up

Eastside Road, April 27, 2015—
AS SOME OF YOU know, and others have perhaps suspected, I was on the road last week. In fact I was working, something I rarely do; and the effort left me too exhausted to maintain this blog.

Furthermore, I was in Corvallis, Oregon. This seems to be a very nice small city, a college town (home of Oregon State); and I was comfortable there, working alongside a new friend. But — with apologies to anyone who may be offended — Corvallis is not much of a restaurant town. So here is a very quick survey of what we found:
Corvallis, Oregon, April 22, 2015—
Lunch with two friends at a local ordinary. I ordered the bucatini with meatballs, primarily because I'm looking forward to eating for a month in Italy. Surprise! The pasta was really quite nice, tasting almost as if it might have been made fresh on site, and cooked quite al dente. The meatballs could have been better — the taste of the filler was undefined, and the shredded cheese seemed more a bland provolone than an interesting pecorino. Good flavor in the sauce, though: on the whole, no complaints.

a glass of house red; some local Pinot noir
• Big River Restaurant and Bar, 101 NW Jackson Avenue, Corvallis; 541-757-0694

Corvallis, Oregon, April 23, 2015—
Early supper with my working partner at what various iPhone researches led me to believe would be the best place in town, a pleasant Indian restaurant in the heart of the city.

From the quite long menu — which always suggests a steam table with lots of pre-prepared items waiting to be assembled into one or another configuration — I chose the lamb vindaloo on the dinner option, which means accompanied by small stainless-steel cups filled with dal, raita, and other things my expertise does not approach, let alone recognize.

The lamb with its potatoes was very nice, the flavors clean and bright. Dessert was, I believe, a sort of falooja. I'd go back, if I ever need to dine in Corvallis again.
Another local Pinot noir
• Evergreen Indian Restaurant, 136 SW Thrid Street, Corvallis; 541-754-7944

Corvallis, Oregon, April 24, 2015—
Day Three: We visited another downtown place thought to be worth trying, but it turned out to be open only at dinnertime, and it was two o'clock in the afternoon… Why not simply step into the brew pub next door?

Here we all ordered hamburgers of various types. Mine was basic; I don't like cheese on my hamburger, and I like them rare. It came medium rare, tasty grass-fed beef, quite juicy, on a ciabattalike bun, with a small salad. I forgot to take a photo.
Another local Pinot noir
• Block 15 Brewing Company, 300 SW Jefferson Avenue, Corvallis; 541-758-2077
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Café lunch

Berkeley, April 21, 2015—

NO TIME FOR a proper dinnertime dinner today, so we made do with a substantial lunch instead. We began by splitting what has to be my favorite pizzetta: tomato sauce and brandade, flavored as I recall with green olives and herbs. 

I went on to this quite piquant pork shoulder, braised, then served in a sort of stew with broad beans, garbanzos, carrots, and cilantro, with steamed rice, itself flavored with mint, I believe, and cilantro. The dish was piquant with pepper and cumin; on the whole the Café seemed to be Californio today.

Dessert: Meyer lemon ice cream merengata: on a bed of crisp meringue, softened with its judicious whipped cream, heightened with candied kumquat. A delicious meal!


• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525


Santa Rosa, April 20, 2010—

OUT TO THE HOME of friends for dinner tonight —a couple who routinely split their cooking assignments. Mac, who spent years on Pacific islands, took care of the protein: the mantle, not the tentacles, of squid, flattened, tenderized with a mallet I'd guess, dredged in panka and fried golden brown, as you see. The very good result reminded me of abalone. 

Margery had presided over the accompaniment: fettuccine with sautéed kale and sweet peppers, tender and succulent, a perfect foil to the crisp calamari. 

Dessert: Three Twins ice cream— I chose vanilla, my favorite. 

Roussane-Viognier blend, Quivira, 2013: very nice, expressive, balanced. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Soup and pasta

Eastside Road, April 19, 2015—
OKAY, JUST ONE last photo, I promise you, of that finally no longer inexhaustible soup from can't-remember-how-many days ago. The flavors were the deepest and most intense tonight, of course; this was truly a delicious soup, and the next time Cook makes it a promise to get the recipe.

And afterward we had fettuccine with grated lemon zest and grated bottarga. We first met bottarga — tuna roe which is dried and sold as a solid block — on a visit we made to Sardinia nearly thirty years ago — a tour I've often thought back to, full of culinary delights and others as well. We bought our current block of bottarga last fall at Slow Food's biennial exhibition in Torino; it keeps forever in the refrigerator.

Green salad, an apple, a Pixie tangerine, a couple of squares of chocolate. What more could you want?

Cheap Italian rosé, as yesterday
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Soup and sausage

Eastside Road, April 18, 2015—
YES, SATURDAY EVENING supper in front of the telly, and a very nice supper it is.

It begins, as you see, with the end of that delicious Portuguese soup-not-stew from last week, with a glass of rosé. It then continued with Franco Dunn's "Marema" sausages, cooked outside over fruitwood cuttings. These are very soft sausages, with potato and pork, flavored with Chianti, salt, sugar, garlic, and chilies; and they are delicious and delicate; I wouldn't serve a red wine with them.

Green salad afterward — the first in quite a while, and welcome — and then fruit and a piece of chocolate. And a good movie (Tokyo Story : every child of aging parents should see it!)
Cheap Italian rosé: Grifone, nv (a little too sweet and not entirely authentic-tasting)

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, April 17, 2015


Berkeley, April 17, 2015—
NOT A LOT to report today, other than an absolutely delicious sandwich, so substantial nothing else was needed until the evening's mixed nuts and Martini.

On Facebook, the sandwich was called Friday Bânh Mi; though the chef admitted it was a, well, I'll paraphrase, non-Vietnamese take on the dish. I would call it a pork and pork pâté sandwich, and let it go at that.

What was in it, other than the pork? Well, cabbage I'm sure, radishes and carrots for a certainty, cilantro no doubt, possibly some arugula, and something — something that moistened and bound everything, facilitating its descent, you might say. A very substantial thing, and a delicious one.

The chef here, Kelsie Kerr, is authentic. She served honorably as chef at Chez Panisse; she ran Café Rouge just as capably. At this unique takeout she provides honest, evocative, enterprising fare at a manageable price. All you have to do is visit the website, make a phone call, pick it up, and wolf it down.

Standard Fare Kitchen & Pantry, 2701 Eighth Street No, 118, Berkeley, California; 510.356.2261

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants


San Francisco, April 16, 2015—

PHOTOGRAPHS SO RARELY do justice to these dishes. This is a small pot of halibut rillettes, beautifully textured, flavored with a red pepper that recalls paprika without the sweetness, smoothly shaggy if that's not an oxymoron, a generous serving even shared with my companion, and a pefect opening to a pleasant early supper on what had felt like an ideal summer day, even though it's only mid-April.

We were at a Basque restaurant we've neglected too long — and we'ree not the only ones tto neglect it: good as the kitchen is, smoothly professtional  yet friendly though the sesrvice be, interesting as the menu and the wine selections are, and wwhen you come down to it reasonable as the prices are, it's strange the place doesn't turn up more often on lists of favorites.

(Oh: And I haven't mentioned the settings. You can park nearby; it's in the shadow of Telegraph Hill; the bar and dining room are very comfortable and spacious; you can hear one another talk.)

I went on to the signature dish, a piperade: slowly cooked sliced onion, red sweet peppers, tomato, nicely flavored with garlic, garnished with ventrèche (which is basically French for pancetta, lightly smoked I would say), with a perfectly poached egg on top.

On the side, spinach sauteed with raisins and pine nuts. And for dessert, a very nice gâteau basque, almond cake filled with a thick pastry cream and topped with marvelous glacéed kumquats. (Companion said her beignets were the best she's had anywhere.)

Albarino, Candea, Rias Baixas | 2013 

•Piperade, 1015 Battery St, San Francisco, ; (415) 391-2555

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mushrooms. Fish. Lamb.

Berkeley, April 14, 2015—
YES: THAT'S LAMB you see at the left — rack, loin, and leg, cooked to exactly the right rosy color.

But first we had crostini generously spread with morel duxelles, with artichoke, arugula, Pecorino, and mint — a dish from somewhere between Calabria and North Africa, I'd say. Sicily! That's what it made me think of!

White blend, Pinot bianco, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Manincor "Réserve della Contessa", 2013: clean, expressive of both Chardonnay and Sauvignon, smooth and well rounded
IMG_9026.jpgThen the fish course: Northern halibut cooked on a fig leaf with lime, calendula, and coriander flowers. Well, you can see how generously this thick, moist, delicate filet had been garnished with the flower petals, which contributed a surprisingly delicate piquancy to the dish, offsetting the slightly tannic fig leaf. A remarkable concept, this dish, and perfectly set off by its wine:
Sylvaner, Albert Boxler, 2012: very smooth, soft and fruity, dry
IMG_9028.jpgFinally, the lamb. It had been grilled over wood, was garnished with green garlic and marjoram — far too delicate a Spring lamb for rosemary! — and came with fennel purée, sweet peas, and watercress. A dish defining springtime.
Cornas: serious, quite dry and a little tannic, but very pleasant with the lamb

Oh: and last of all, dessert, simply described as strawberry île flottante , but so light a meringue, so silky a custard, such flavorful strawberries and candied citrus, and such a pretty presentation…
• Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Monday, April 13, 2015

More soup

Eastside Road, April 13, 2015—
HOW NICE it always is to get home after a few days eating on the road. It's probably no surprise that I gained four pounds in the last five days. I thought of fasting today, since we won't be able to tomorrow on the regular Tuesday, but I guess we'll postpone that to Wednesday.

Nevertheless, it was a lean day, out of preference. The usual breakfast: a couple of slices of toast with jam; a couple of bowls of caffelatte. May I brag a little? It was my favorite coffee of the last few days — we had very good coffee in Los Angeles, but I really like this New Classic blend from Sweet Maria's, and I roast it just the way I like it.

Lunch: bread and cheese. Did I mention that we bought a couple of loaves of bread yesterday at Gayle's Bakery in Capitola? Joe's Bread is a big round levain, baked dark as I prefer it; and then we got a whole-grain whole-wheat loaf too, delicious toasted. Such good bread!

Dinner: A couple of bowls of that Portuguese bean and kale soup Cook made last week, the better, even, for having seasoned a bit.
Cinsault, L'Argentier, 2011
• Gayle's Bakery, 504 Bay Ave, Capitola, California; (831) 462-1200
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Another pig

Santa Cruz, California, April 12, 2015—
WE SKIPPED LUNCH today, having had a bigger breakfast than usual at our hotel — a spinach and cheddar cheese omelet, potatoes with green peppers, and a small link sausage. Well, after all, it's Sunday.

So I was hungry at dinner, and ordered perhaps a bit rashly. We were in an Italian restaurant favored by friends of ours who we see far too rarely and it was time to catch up on things. The four of us split a number of antipasti: roasted asparagus with a soft poached egg and romesco; a platter of crostini with various tasty spreads; a delicious roasted artichoke with lemon zest.

Then I went on to a pork shop, seared, served most with its own juice, on a bed of white polenta, and garnished with a healthy serving of apricot chutney, with sautéed carrots, arugula and spinach on the side.

I thought the cheesecake missed the mark — more a panna cotta, though with slightly soured cream and ricotta, than a cake, and I wished it had had more of that delicious candied bergamot garnish. Oh well. On balance, a nice meal, and delicious conversation.
Friulano, Fantinel, Vigneti Sant'Helena (Collio), 2012: delicious, forward, fresh, balanced
• Ristorante Avanti, 1917 Mission Street, Santa Cruz; 831.427.0135
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Back to one of the best

Pasadena, April 11, 2015—

WE DASHED OUT OF THE THEATER (after a particularly good production of Julius Caesar) and hit the freeway for downtown Pasadena, where a favorite restaurant waited for us. Will there be a table? Hard to say: Open Table said no.

I dropped my companion off at the door, found a parking lot, and hiked back to the restaurant — to find her comfortable seated at a table for two in a crowded dining room. The tables are close-set here; this is the kind of place where you wind up conversing with strangers at the next table.

We split an arugula salad to start, and some bread and one of the house specialties, giardinera — which always puts me in mind of Companion's Aunt Victoria. The giardinera here is not Piemontese, though; it is Calabrian, I'd say, with a fair amount of heat.

I went on to another house specialty, porchetta. It's so succulent, flavored with fennel seeds and garlic and the right touch of red pepper, strewn with chopped parsley, in its own succulent juices, with a bed of oven-fried potatoes underneath… bbuon, siamo a Roma…

Gavi di Gavi; Dolcetto

• Union Restaurant, 37 East Union Street, Pasadena; 949-645-5440

Friday, April 10, 2015


Los Angeles, April 10, 2015—

ONE OF OUR PLEASURES is following friends and acquaintances as they move through their careers. Among them, the fellow you might be able to make out at the far right on the other side of the counter, working at his new-fangled steam kettles in his brand new restaurant.

It's Mark Peel, who we first knew many years ago when he worked at Chez Panisse, and whose cuisine we enjoyed as often as we could after he'd opened a restaurant called Campanile in Charlie Chaplin's house on La Brea in Los Angeles.

That was a while back, too. Then, a couple of years ago, he sold the place. Next time I enjoyed his food it was at an installation in the Los Angeles airport. Then today we had the pleasure of lunch at Bombo, opened only two weeks ago in the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, at the foot of Angel's Flight.

If you zoom in on the photo you might be able to read the menu. From it I chose the fried chicken, which came as three generous portions of breast meat, well breaded and deep-fried very crisp, served with a nice chopped salad and a cone of thick-cut oven-fried potatoes. Mark's cooking has always been full of flavor, and that hasn't changed. This place is fun.

Afterward we drove out to another LA market, the one at Fairfax in Hollywood, for coffee and cake at Short Cake, which I wrote about a month or two ago. The cake had a perfect texture, moist and light, and was flavored with pistachios and tangelos, with a sort of Bavarian cream between layers and butter cream frosting; and with it a superb cappuccino made with coffee from Santa Cruz's Verve roastery.

Dinner: light, of course; we were going to a play tonight. (A superb performance of Beaumarchais's The Marriage of Figaro, funny as hell and pretty true to the original as far as I can tell.) We found a decent local Italian with a nice bar, where we shared a plate of fusilli aglio-olio and a salad, and basta così.

Martini; Pinot grigio

•Bombo, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles; Short Cake, 6333 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, 323-761-7976; Nikki C's, 470 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena, 626-792-7437

Tartare-like; Caesarish

Los Angeles, April 9, 2015—

LUNCH WAS DELICIOUS: a couple of thick slices of rabbit paté bought yesterday in Petaluma's Thistle Meats, on a couple of thick slices of Como bread from Healdsburg's Downtown Bakery and Creamery, eaten behind the steering wheel on  Highway 5, somewhere near Coalinga.

Dinner, well, dinner was for little more than convenience tonight. We had a 7:30 curtain at the opera — Le nozze di Figaro, Los Angeles Opera — and we were parking in the theater's lot, so we decided on a supper at the Music Center's resident restaurant, a bistro wannabe.

Here you see my choice, billed as steak tartare with Caesar salad. It was okay. Companion had risotto, saying she couldn't eat factory meat. Well, I know what she means, but I figure once in a while won't kill me, or ruin Earth…

House red 

• Kendall's Brasserie , 135  N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles; 213-972-7322

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pizza to go

Westley, California, April 8, 2015—

ON THE ROAD again, and we knew there'd be no place to eat half-way to Los Angeles — so we stopped in Berkeley for a pizza. The Café Chez Panisse makes a delicious nettle pizza, bitter and chthonic, baked dark as we like it.

Then a packaged "Country Italian" salad from Trader Joe: lettuce, cabbage, grated carrot, chopped green and red pepper. A vinaigrette that could have been worse. No trace of onion or garlic.

Dessert: a tangerine, some candied citrus peel, a cookie or two.

Cinsault, L'Argentier, 2011: deep, earthy, just right with the nettles…

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Portuguese kale soup

Eastside Road, April 6, 2015—
A DEAR OLD FRIEND to lunch today, whose mother was from the Azores, and who enjoys her Portuguese heritage: so Cook served a perfectly appropriate dish after the opening cheese (Gruyère, Brie, Bleu d'Auvergne): this hearty soup. Chorizo, onion, garlic, chicken stock, garbanzos, canned tomato, potatoes, and lots of chopped kale tossed in at the last minute. Well, almost the last minute. And the best is, there's left-overs.

Vinho verde, Casal Garcia, nv: light, spritzy, refreshing
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Easter party

Eastside Road, April 5, 2015—
MOST EASTER SUNDAYS, if we're in town, we're lucky enough to be invited to a standing annual Sunday supper a couple of good friends put on in their back yard in Healdsburg. He's a sculptor; she's a seamstress — also a gifted baker, which is how we came to know them in the first place, 25 years ago or so.

This is one end of the table. There were thirty-four of us at table, I believe, and we feasted. We'd begun about two o'clock with appetizers: cheese with fresh honey just taken that morning from a wild hive; spanokopita, dolmades — have I mentioned that our hosts had lived for years in Greece?

Then we all looked for our Easter egg, hidden in the front yard — each guest finding one with his own name on it. (Fortunately, out of 34 guests, none shared a given name!)


Then we sat down at table. Another friend, Peter, presided in the "kitchen," at a couple of smoker-grills, where he roasted pork and lamb. Other dishes were roast potatoes, salads, ratatouille, Moroccan beans — I'm sorry: I was too intent on the fare, and conversation, to take notes. It was a feast.


And then dessert: a perfect lemon curd tart, a sweetly decorated sugar cookie, the most perfect rice-custard pudding I've ever had.
Wines? Well, yes, white, rosé, red…

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ice cream sundae

Eastside Road, April 4, 2015—
OF COURSE there was more to dinner than that. Cook saw to it that we had a bowl or two of red-pepper soup to begin with; and then a fine grilled cheese sandwich, and steamed Swiss chard.

But it was the dessert that was especially festive today: vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce, and sprinkled on top, chopped walnuts. And not just ordinary garden variety walnuts. These are rather special: red walnuts, with a flavor veering toward the slightly bitter pungency of black walnuts. Delicious.
Cheap Pinot grigio
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

From the grill

Eastside Road, April 3, 2015—
CALIFORNIA IS IN SERIOUS drought, as surely all the world knows; April has barely begun, but it feels like summer — the afternoons are long, and the early evenings still warm. Well, let's make the best of it.

One nice thing about all the fruit trees we have: pruning them every year yields plenty of wood for the grill. I crumple a sheet of newsprint to tuck under the fire-starting can, set a pine cone and a few sticks in it, and one match soon produces what you see here.

When the flames have died down, leaving a bed of red-hot coals, I lay some spring onions on the grill — Cook's prepped them, slicing them lengthwise, and I've sprinkled them witl olive oil and salt.

The sausages are from Franco Dunn, Healdsburg's reliable salumi expert, and they cook nicely over wood. I poke each one four or five times with the point of a knife, grilling the unpoked side first. In the meantime Cook steams some broccoli, and washes some delicious little carrots to eat raw. I make the vinaigrette for the green salad. A delicious dinner, and hardly any dishes to wash…

on the grill.jpgdinner.jpg
Cheap Pinot grigio
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, April 3, 2015

Another fish

Eastside Road, April 2, 2015—
SINCE WE WERE DOWN in Berkeley yesterday for dinner, we did a little shopping first: to the Acme Bakery for a nice big levain, then to Monterey Fish for a nice fresh filet of "True Cod."

Lindsey rolled the fish in a little melted butter, then baked it for ten minutes, then added a little white wine and lemon juice and covered it with breadcrumbs which themselves had been buttered, then baked it another ten minutes. On the plate it's sprinkled with chopped parsley and scallions.

With it, as you see, broccoli and toast, rubbed with a cut garlic clove and drizzled with olive oil. Green salad afterward, and some candied orange peel.

Cheap Pinot grigio
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Poisson d'avril

Berkeley, April 1, 2015—
IN FRANCE AND ITALY it is not "April Fool"; it is poisson d'avril (or pesce d'aprile ); "April fish." I do not know the reason for this, and I'm not about to look for it; we're out of bandwidth here, again.

April 1 is also the anniversary of the opening of the Café Chez Panisse — it opened April 1, 1980; it is older than many of its employees and diners. As they say: the days go slow, the years fast.

The place was full of familiars, regulars, habitués; two old friends joined us at table. And here is how we feasted:

Hors d'oeuvres et Kir Royal : prosciutto, radishes, fennel, olives, duck rilettes on toasts (photo above)
Raviolini aux fèves et fromage frais : raviol filled with fresh cheese in broth with peas and pea shoots, with mint and marjoramraviolini.jpg
Agneau de printemps avec les asperges, céleri-rave et mesclun de jardin : spring lamb chops with asparagus, celery-root purée, and garden lettuce

photo: LRS
Gâteau glacé à la PANISSE : ice cream bombe with strawberries and tangerinesdessert.jpg
And, to end, friandises — chocolate-covered almonds, candied citrus peel —served on the (paper) poisson d'avril : no fools here!

photo: LRS
Dolcetto d'Alba, Cà Viola, 2012 (three bottles, considerable bottle variation, very nice)

• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants