Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Rabbit ragout
Puiflijk, Nederland, December 30, 2015—

ANOTHER HOME-COOKED DINNER — how grateful we are for them. For the generosity and expertise of the friends who provide them, and for the views they give us into the daily domestic life of people from other lands and cultures.

Tonight it was rabbit, cooked into a sort of ragoût, in dark Belgian beer. It was served with shredded red cabbage cooked with cloves, a bit of cinnamon, and juniper berries; and we also had steamed potatoes of course, mashed down on the plate with one's fork to absorb the delicious gravy; and there were Brussels sprouts, unusually small, tight ones, innocent of any flavor but their own. A fine dinner.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream, poached pears, chocolate sauce. And lots of conversation.

Mavrud, Katarzyna Estate, Bulgaria, 2014

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ancora all'italiano

IMG 3964
Laan van Nieuw Oosteinde, Voorburg, Netherlands, December 29, 2015—
YES: A BIG PLATE of antipasto, in an enoteca-slash-osteria here in Voorburg, run by a Napolitano who likes to accommodate his clients with a big smile and a good kitchen. (I know, not napolitano, but a big favorite with the Dutch), and ravioli in cream sauce with truffles.

And for dessert, a marvelous zuccotto, made in house, like everything else. A neighborhood gem, this place; and it operates a take-out, too.

Falanghina Beneventano, "Antica Fattoria," 2014; Barbaresco, Roberto Sarotto "Currà," 2006, very nice
•Osteria Elpidio, Herenstraat 87, Voorburg; 070-412-9121
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Monday, December 28, 2015


IMG 5192
Voorburg, December 28, 2015—
TOM MADE DINNER, and Tom's an enthusiast of all things Italian. On the other hand he's Dutch, with a distinctly Dutch approach to cooking Italian. So this puttanesca sauce, for example, contained butter. The cheese was Parmigiana, not Amsterdammer, but the sauce contained butter. Olive oil too, of course, but… butter.

It also involved olives and capers, and a enough chile pepper to notice. It was very good; likewise the hamburger steak on the side, and the green beans. And the cocolate and vanilla vla, poured out of supermarket cartons, that made our dessert. I do like vla.

Barbera d'Asti, Caranti, Cascina Garitina, 2010
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants


Laan van Nieuw Oosteinde, Voorburg, Netherlands, December 27, 2015—
ANOTHER MODEST DOMESTIC dinner tonight, a one-dish meal I would never have thought of: sliced cooked beets and a few pecans, covered with grated Parmesan cheese (or was it domestic?), passed for a few minutes under the broiler.
Barbera d'Asti, Caranti, Cascina Garitina, 2010: serious, delicious
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Dinner

Rien, Friesland, December 25, 2015—

WE DROVE UP to Friesland today to visit our Dutch son, or nephew, or very good friend Kees, who is a chef (Amsterdam: Marius; Worst) and a formidable cook.
As a chef of course he is interested in sources and methods, and today's dinner shows it. He'd found a capon somewhere — a delicious bird I haven't had in years; I'm not sure you can find them these days in the US. And he thought he'd try a simple way of cooking it in the admirable kitchen he's installed in his historical monument of a Frisian brick cottage.

He simply salted it and set it in a deep enamelled iron pot just big enough to hold it, and set that on the warming plate of his range. No liquids, no aromatics, just the bird and a ltitle salt. Before too long we heard the welcome sizzling, and then it was simply a matter of turning it every half-hour or so and waiting about four or five hours.

He'd also rustled up some Tarbais flageolets, those delicious white beans that seem to me to mediate between cannelini and Coronas. These gained a sprinkle of Moroccan spice and a very little tomato sauce.

Then there was a vegetable sauté: mushrooms, onions and garlic, turnips, and some kind of little cole sprout — a bit like kale, a bit like Brussels sprout or broccoli, but tiny, hardly bigger than a small caper.

The meal was marvelous. The capon was tender, clean, pure of flavor, not at all dry. The vegetables complemented it perfectly, and the beans, well, they were remarkable.

DessertDessert, yes, also rather improvised. A store-bought commercial pannetone, some pears Anneke had put up in syrup, a pile of whipped cream, a sugar wafer. I suppose it's a variation of zuppa inglese. Whatever: I'd gladly have had more…

Champagne, Barnaut, Grand Cru Grande Réserve, nv; Chassagne-Montrachet, Domaine Bachey-Legros, Vielles vignes, 2012; Fixin, La Place, Gérard Seguin, 2012; Barbaresco, Produttori di Barbaresco, 2010: a truly magnificent wine ending a parade of sound, rewarding, memorable bottles.

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants


Loseweg, Apeldoorn, December 26, 2015—

THE LARGE PARK De Hoge Veluwe, a mix of forest and heath, central to the Netherlands and adjacent to this city, provides hunters with boar, venison, and birds, and the meat finds its way through legal commercial channels to consumers — one more example of practical and socially oriented economic planning.

Tonight's dinner — originally Anneke planned it for Christmas, but postponed it after the last-minute trip to Rien, which I'll describe later — tonight's dinner was a delicious venison carbonnade, rich and savory, eaten with mashed steamed potatoes, and the traditional red cabbage, and applesauce.

We finished with a commercially marketed chocolate and ice cream bombe interleaved with wafers, a surprise delight.

Boxing Day, appropriately modest and domestic.
Malbec/Merlot, Paso (Mendoza, Argentina), 2010

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, December 25, 2015

Tasty tosti

Loolaan, Apeldoorn, Deember 24, 2015 —

ANOTHER EASY DAY . Our breakfast, here at our friend's table, is Dutch of course: coffee and coffiemelk, rusks, ham, delicious aged Gouda, an egg, bread, but I go fairly easy.

Lunch in a delightful place in neighboring Zwolle, where I had a delicious "Tosti Villa": pastrami, kaas, zontomaten on dark bread, with a nice little green salad on the side.

Sauvignon blanc

•Villa Suikerberg, Potgietersingel 1-A, 8011 NA Zwolle, Netherlands; 038-2304930

After a couple of hours in the curious museum next door we walked through the busy, prosperous, beautiful medieval center of town to a remarkable bookstore installed in a quite large decommissioned church where tea and appelkoek was irresistible.

•Waanders in de Broeren, Achter de Broeren 1-3, 8011 VA Zwolle, Netherlands; (038) 4215392

Back in Apeldoorn, dinner is once again modest: steamed potatoes, mashed on the plste and treated to rich leftover beef carbonnade, green beans, salad.

"Les Romains," Vignes des Deux Soleils (Pays d'Oc), 2010
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Thursday, December 24, 2015

An easy day

Hans cooks
Loolaan, Apeldoorn, December 23, 2015 —
AFTER ALL THE PARTYING, a simpler day is indicated. I content myself with toast and coffee at breakfast — well, and a small croissant. (The hotel offers four kinds of eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, two cheeses, oatmeal, two granolas, many different breads, fresh fruit and fruit compote, yogurt — a huge array.)

After checking out and resettling in our friends' apartment, where we have coffee and applecake of course, we take the train to Amsterdam. I'm hungry by now (1 pm), so before boarding I get a little ham-and-cheese croissant and a small can of Heineken.

We're going to Amsterdam to meet a friend who's leaving tomorrow for a few weeks in New York and Canada. We meet at Eye, the impressive film museum and exhibition space, where a good café provides lunch: ravioli filled with ricotta in a porcini-laden truffle sauce. With it, a glass or two of wine.

Cabernet sauvignon, Don Alexandro (Maule Valley, Chile), 2010
•Eye Filminstitut, IJpromenade 1, Amsterdam; +31 20 589 14 00

After a couple of hours we take the train back to Apeldoorn, where Hans is cooking dinner: a couple of cheese croquettes and a delicious stir-fry of vegetables — celery, leeks, bell pepper. A lively flavor and nice textures. And another glass of red wine, label unseen...

"Les Romains," Vignes des Deux Soleils (Pays d'Oc), 2010
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Konigstraat, Apeldoorn, December 22, 2015—

AFTER PARTYING the afternoon away, in the reserved, conversational way appropriate to octogenarians, with delicious hotel canapés and a glass of beer, and saying goodbye to the last of the score of Apeldoorners who turned out to honor our friends and their sixty-year marriage, Hans announced to the remaining family that it was time for stamppot.

The Wikipedia article linked here tells you more about the meal than I care to tap out on my phone just now. This was what you might call a Groot Stamppot, a grand one, with roast beef, ham, worst, and both hutspot and a more austere (but still very rich and unctuous) potatos-only purée. Oh, and boerenkool, which involves chopped kale and potatoes cooked up in lots of butter.

You take only one stamppot, the economist son at my elbow counseled. Of course I greedily ignored his advice, and helped myself to some of everything.

His wife, sitting at my right, was politely amused. She'd taken none at all, opting instead for a salad. It's so rich, she said.

She was right. The dinner was delicious, but I miss my Fernet…

Verdejo, Sedosa, 2014; rouge, Maison Virginie (Pays d'Oc), 2014

•Bilderberg Hotel De Keizerskroon, Koningstraat 7, Apeldoorn, Netherlands; +31 (0)55 521 77 44

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Family dinner party

Konigstraat, Apeldoorn, December 21, 2015—
NO PHOTOS TODAY: I was so captivated by the occasion I forgot, and if I had remembered, the nature of the occasion would have stopped my hand. It was a family dinner party to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of our old friends Hans and Anneke, a very special night for us as in a way it set an official seal on our having entered this marvelous family. But on this blog we do not investigate geneology: we eat.

We're all staying at a convenient local hotel, part of a small chain of hotels, and dinner was by their chef, in their dining room, served simultaneously to at least two dozen guests, seated at three large round tables. And this is what we ate:

Gekonfijt kwartelboutje, kwartelpaté en een gebakken kwartelfilet met krokante aardappel en gerookte rode bietensiroop
quail leg en confit, quail paté and sautéed quail breast with crispy potato and smoked beetroot reduction

Gebakken Noordzee Kableljauw met kruidenrisotto en een beurre blanc met moluga kaviaar
North Sea cod, with herb risotto, beurre blanc, and moluga caviar

Gebraden hertenrugfilet met een balkenbrij van hert geerveerd met rode koof jus
Roast venison with venison scrapple, served with red cabbage

Grand Dessert 'De Keizerskroon' op etagères geserveerd

Each course arrived as small items presented with great visual interest, and I though each item well conceived and executed. Best of all: though great attention was given to visual appearance, the succession of courses added up to a real meal, substantial and pleasing. It's the kind of meal I like: poultry, fish, meat. (Good thing we had two salads yesterday.)

The cod held its own remarkably well, delicate and plain as it was, between the two game courses. Over the last forty years we've been interested in the evolution of Dutch restaurant cuisine, from rather dull, traditional, unimaginative but very local, to internationally aware and particularly attentive to French and then Italian influence, now back to its own traditions. Throughout, the glories of Dutch provender have been the mainstay. This dinner was a perfect demonstration of the value of this trajectory: sophisticated technique and visual values brought to sound, local, historic material and cultural tradition.

Much like our Dutch family itself: but I won't go there, here…

St. Veran 'Classic", Domaine des Poncetys, 2013
Rosso di Montalcino, Azienda la Velona, 2014
Moscato d'Asti, Podero Luigi Einaudi
•Bilderberg Hotel De Keizerskroon, Koningstraat 7, Apeldoorn, Netherlands; +31 (0)55 521 77 44
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Monday, December 21, 2015

Salad day

Helsinki, December 20, 2015—
THE LAST OF thirteen days in Scandinavia — how we've enjoyed this visit! The day was spent mainly riding trams, to get a feel for the dimensions and configuration of Helsinki, and to enjoy its architecture. A deep engagement with its undoubtedly notable restaurant scene was the furthest thing from our minds.

We had lunch in a typical restaurant in a typical downtown mall — little more than a food court, actually, though the ambience had clearly been considered as important as the cuisine. I suppose such places are a result of the professionalization of the hospitality industry — that was my impression after visiting the entertaining restaurant-and-hotel museum earlier in the day.

I ordered a Caesar salad, stipulating that I wanted it with neither chicken nor shrimp. The waitress seemed a little surprised: a "plain" Caesar salad wasn't on the menu. I suppose we can do that, she said, and came back a little later with the salad you see in the top photo. The romaine was chopped, as you see; and a quartered tomato perched on top, amid leaves of arugula; and there was little garlic and no anchovy to be found. But it wasn't bad.

House Sauvignon blanc
•La Grill Steakroom (sic.), Harman Foods Dv, Mannerheimint 18-20, Helsinki; 050 4387693
SINCE WE WERE taking a very early flight next morning we decided to check into this evening's airport hotel before dinner — and found, somewhat to our chagrin, only one possibility for dinner: a bar-"restaurant" at another hotel, across the street, in airport boondocks. There was nothing appealing on the menu.

I settled for a ham and cheese plate, and was served the combination you see in the second photo. One thing interesting: the very slightly cooked piece of fennel, brushed with Balsamic vinaigrette. Oh: and those little seeds, which I never quite identified, but I think they were a kind of pine nut I haven't otherwise encountered. A small slice of Gruyere, a cheese I particularly like; a thin slice or two of mock prosciutto, not unpleasant; a few leaves of lettuce.

Again: unmemorable Sauvignon blanc
•Ravintola Congress, Robert Huberin tie 4, Vantaa; 09 4157 7100
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants (but not today's)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Italiano ordinario

Spaghetti all Angelo
Helsinki, December 19, 2015—
AND THERE'S NOTHING wrong with ordinary. We'd been to the, let's see, third and fourth museums of the afternoon, and were footsore, tired, and hungry. And we were out in the sticks: only one restaurant nearby. I'd noticed it when we got off the tram on our way to the Restaurant Museum, of all places, and had sort of jokingly suggested we stop in for dinner afterward.

The scent of garlic assaulted us gently as we entered — an aroma we haven't noticed these last two weeks or so. An unmistakable Italian stood at the back of the small empty dining room (it was quite early). Buona sera, I called out; buona sera he replied, looking at me a little curiously. C'e una tavola? I asked. Si, signor, due posti?

How nice to be in a familiar language! Don Angelo is from Sicily, Catania to be exact, and proved an excellent host. The restaurant is moving in two weeks, he said, and that is why there is no more vino bianco, I don't want to move any more than I need to, why reorder deliveries here only to move them there…

No matter, I said. The contessa ordered the spaghetti al ragù, but I had the al'Angelo: pancetta, eggplant, garlic, parsley, onion, tomato… Comfort food.

Nero d'Avola
Don Angelo, Kaapeliaukio 1, Helsinki; 096940078
Al angelo

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, December 18, 2015


Butter and salt
Kristianinkatu, Helsinki, December 18, 2015—
AFTER OUR USUAL breakfast, coffee with milk and a croissant — quite good, even though we were on a train! — we emerged into this friendly and accommodating city with curiosity and appetite. What shall we find?

The morning was involved with tourist information and such, and we took an early lunch in a café, where I was content with a tuna sandwich — again, very generous, and plenty of tuna with the mayonnaise — and a glass of good Finnish Karjala beer.

•Café Esplanad, Pohjois-Esplanadi 37, Helsinki; +358 9 665 496

THERE WAS ONE RESTAURANT I was particularly wanting to try, but a phone conversation with the chef made it clear this was out of the question: he's booked and overbooked tonight and tomorrow, and then closed until January. He did recommend two other places, cautioning me the same problems might apply — after all, it's Friday, and Christmas season.

But the first one I called agreed, after some conversation, to seat us early, at 5 o'clock. And so we finally meet one of these much-discussed back-to-nature Scandinavian restaurants, and the results were very interesting and in general very pleasing.

The place is small, seating only two dozen; it has a semi-open kitchen; the wines are few and idiosyncratic; the menu is restricted — only three choices among three courses, which can be ordered à la carte or combined into a set-price sequence.

First arrival at the table was this stunning palte of butter, a few dots of Balsamic vinegar, and two little heaps: powdered dried ramps; salt flecked with dried powdered fir needles. The butter was sweet and delicious, and the dense, soft, very warm bread that came with this was very good indeed.

I ordered the four-course house menu: in their English,

Preserved forest mushrooms, cep butter and fermented buckwheat bread
Raw dry-aged beef with cured egg yolk and soured cream fraîche
Grilled jerusalem artichoke, silver onions, mushroom anglaise and fish roe
Baked fall apple with apple sorbet, white chocolate and apple vinegar caramel

but the descriptions have greatly simplified the courses. The mushrooms and cèpe butter, for example, also involved preverved lingonberries, and caper-like pine-cone buds, and the "bread" was more like a thick, irregular buckwheat crêpe, with a coarse, nutty texture, fried in butter.

TartareThe steak tartare was brilliant: a bed of crème fraîche; coarsely chopped sweet immaculate beef; tiny curls of hard-boiled egg yolk, a scatter of lovage and some other green. With it, a plate of salt that had been flavored with lovage. Not a traditional tartare, to be sure, but a brilliant thematic variation.

My main course was less to my taste, but undoubtedly very well conceived and executed and certainly expressive of the restaurant's "values": sustainability, local source and culinary tradition, a fondness for various kinds of preservation, necessary in this climate. We're not talking Mediterranean cuisine here.

There were six halves of good-sized Jerusalem artichoke, steamed to a perfect texture, and served in a sort of vegetable stew, with individual layers of halved, steamed white onions, a few leaves of salad greens, and quite a bit of salmon roe. To this was added a very rich supple savory crème anglaise, with white fish roe. The effect was nearly overwhelming: my palate seemed to have gone for a walk on a very muddy path in a dense hardwood forest.

AppleAnd then the dessert, truly a work of art: a simply baked apple, Elstar I think, baked to soft, creamy texture, filled with the apple and white chocolate sorbet, and set in a pool of perfect caramel, much thinned, with chunks of apple in it; the whole thing decorated with a scatter of tender young sorrel leaves.

Chenin blanc: Agnès and René Mosse, Anjou, 2013: earthy, deep, odd, ultimately pleasant with this food
Cabernet franc: Ruben, Saumur, 2012
Restaurant Grön, Albertinkatu 36, 00180 Helsinki; (09) 4289 3358
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Street food

Street food
Rovaniemi to Helsinki, December 17, 2015—
ROVANIEMI IS A CITY of many charms, and we're leaving it too soon. One of the charms is this fine restaurant, with simple, beautifully prepared food, an interesting clientele to watch, and — that word again — charming service. So for a last meal in this northern capital — of Lapland — we returned, and for the first time thought about one of the components of its name: Streetfood. Since we were having lunch, not dinner, that seemed appropriate.

I ordered what you might call pulled reindeer: the meat sliced and cut into bits, then sautéed, and made into a sandwich with delicious cole slaw, shredded lettuce, lingonberry jam, "red sauce" and Dijon-mayonnaise, all on a nice soft bun, and so generous it had to be eaten with knife and fork.

The meat was quite gamy. It was farmed, of course: I'm told there hasn't been an undomesticated reindeer in Lapland for a century or so. But it was wild in taste, very gamy; and the lingonberry jam made a lot of sense, taming the flavors. The whole thing was really a success, and those French fries!

Red, of course, but I've forgotten what… I write this two days later…
•Ravintola Roka Street Bistro, Lh2, Ainonkatu 3, Rovaniemi, Finland; 050 3116411
DINNER WAS SIMPLY a salad and a sandwich on the overnight train south to Helsinki. It was surprisingly good, with mâche, of all things, in the salad…
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


IMG 2945
Rovianemi, December 16, 2015—
NO, THAT ISN'T RISOTTO, it's the local version of a Martini, made with Martini Bianco instead of Dry, served with a lemon because the bar doesn't have any of those green olives, in a stemless Martini glass nestlig atop a bowl of crushed ice. In fact I like the occasional Martini-with-bianco-instead-if-dry, and I always prefer lemon to olive. And the glass seems like a pretty good idea.

The risotto will be found at the foot of this post. It was dense, a little gluey, but not unpleasant; very discreetly flecked with tiny shavings of white truffle. The ham had that intense, loamy flavor I associate with good Spanish Serrano ham. The arugula was a nice touch — the first I've had in quite a while! IMG 2946

21 Cafe & Bar, Rovakatu 21, Rovaniemi, 040 8117037
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bistro in the arctic

IMG 2914
Rovaniemi, Finland, December 15, 2015—
WELL, PERHAPS NOT quite the arctic: we're technically eight kilometers south of it. But it is c o l d.

And yet there's a bistro. There's no question it's a bistro: there it is, steak-frites, with Béarnaise sauce. You can't ask for more proudly traditional a bistro standby.

The beef was delicious — Finnish-raised (and "finished") Black Angus, well salted, pan-fried, saignant ; Everything I always like in one hunk of protein.The Béarnaise was a teeny bit lemony, but settled in very nicely, both literally and figuratively. The whole thing sat in a pool of well-made marchand de vin sauce, and came with four slightly sautéed cherry tomatoes, a nice touch. And the fries were clean and crisp outside, soft and smooth inside, well salted, and they tasted of fresh potato. What's not to like?

Glögi Koskenkorva (because, after all, it's Christmastime);
Nebbiolo, Fontanafredda Ebbio, 2013 (woody and old-fashioned, but opening nicely)
•Ravintola Roka Street Bistro, Lh2, Ainonkatu 3, Rovaniemi, Finland; 050 3116411
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Monday, December 14, 2015


IMG 2751
Umeå, Sweden, December 14, 2015—
WHAT YOU SEE HERE is the first of four or five courses of the Julbord served today at a nice little bistro on the outskirts of town. Jul is, of course, Yule; apparently a special Christmas smörgåsbord has replaced the normal menu here. (Too bad: it's always nice to sample traditional bistro fare in a new town.)

The red pot with the lid and handles contains nice steamed potatoes flecked with chopped parsley; the bowls to the left are filled with six different flavors of herring; the rectangular platters involve salmon in various forms. There were also shrimpy items which I of course did not sample.

In the distance beyond, left to right, you have an impressive array of spirits, a sideboard laden with many desserts, and a tray of cheeses. But those, of course, are the fourth and fifth courses: before them, out of sight on the right, are two others. The first of them was charcuterie, and I'm afraid I so loaded myself down there that I wasn't able to do the cheeses justice. There was ham, roast beef, various sausages, pork belly (oh my, the pork belly) — I mistook all this for the main course, but in that I was mistaken.

To the right of the charcuterie, being served out as needed by the cooks, there were little hot Vienna-type sausages, and red cabbage, and a marvelous local specialty involving potatoes and anchovies, and a lithe and supple omelet — almost an Eggs Picabia — with porcini and chanterelles neither of which somehow detracted from the other.

IMG 2765 And I know I'm forgetting things, but then I do that, first of all, and secondly the conversation was so interesting, and the waitresses so entertaining, and the food so good, that it was hardly the time to take either notes or for that matter photos of any value.

Mâcon-Villages, Domaine Moulin de Foulot, 2013, very nice, authentic, and crisp; and a small akvavit afterward, since Fernet is temporarily discontinued

Le Garage, Umedalsallén 15, Umeå, Sverige; 090-316 52
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday, December 13, 2015

All that jazz

Stockholm, December 12, 2015—
LAST MEAL FOR NOW in Stockholm: we decide on another low-visibility joint; one of the Fifty Greatest Restaurants can wait its turn. And we dine early, because we're catching a ten o'clock train out of town.

The venue is a tiny jazz bistro, clearly the haunt of locals and regulars. It seats maybe twenty diners and a jazz quartet, and the featured dish is mussels. I dearly love mussels but decide on red meat: lamb steak in red wine sauce, with a green salad, a stuffed pepper, and a clutch of very nice Frnch fries.

The lamb had good flavor and was cooked to exactly the right degree of rosiness. And the music was first rate. This was our fourth perfectly satisfying dinner in Stockholm in four days.

Sauvignon blanc, then Cote du Rhone
•Glenn Miller Jazz Cafe, Brunnsgatan 21A, Stockholm; 08-10 03 22
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, December 11, 2015

Lunch at the museum

IMG 2492
Stockholm, December 11, 2015—
IT CAN BE LESS than ideal — what can't — but lunch in the museum is often a pleasant respite. We've enjoyed lunch at the de Young in San Francisco, at LACMA in Los Angeles, at the Prado in Madrid, the Stedlijk in The Hague, and today the Moderna Museet.

To tell the truth the meal is eclipsed by the view: you look out over the water toward the waterfront of Östermalm, which always reminds me of the Fondamenta San Giorgio, if that's what it's called, in Venice, though it looks like it only in terms of light and orientation. The photo here was taken at 2 pm, a little late for lunch and certainly early, by our standards, for twilight, but there you are: high latitude near midwinter.

But I digress. Lunch, which also stood us for dinner as we were going to an early concert, was the long buffet table, whose daily special was what I call hamburger. When I was young it was also called Salisbury steak; I don't know why. It came in a nice enough gravy, and was accompanied by those delicious little roast potatoes and onions we've come to expect. Also a slice of dill pickle.

I helped myself to green salad, with vinegar and olive oil, and cabbage slaw, and a sort of couscous salad with garbanzos, too, because we all know we depend on roughage. IMG 2495

Cabernet sauvignon, MJ Janéil, François Lurton, 2013: sound, good flavor, well balanced, young even in the tiny bottle
•Moderna Museet Café, Exercisplan, Skeppsholmen, Stockholm
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Thursday, December 10, 2015


IMG 2366
Stockholm, December 10, 2015—
YOU MAY RECALL my fondness for steak tartare; I've written about it here a number of times — last May it became a running idée fixe the blog. And when dear Catharina mentioned, in a note, a favorite restaurant here, and that restaurant turned out to be something of a traditional bistro, naturally my hopes began to run in that direction.

And there it was on the menu: Råbiff med tillbehör, helpfully translated by Google as "steak tartare with accessories." The latter arrived in a cunning stack of porcelain dishes which swing out from their chrome-plated standard. I don't know what epoch that accessory represents; this is a very traditional kind of place — the restaurant is three hundred years, my waitress tells me; it's been in this room since 1905, and I think not that much has changed in the meantime.

The beef was good; and, importantly, it was hand-chopped, not ground. The capers were delicious; the egg fresh and flavorful. And those delightful dishes offered diced beets (declined), little capers, mustard, and chopped shallots and salt, a thoughtful inclusion

The French fries were very good — Sweden has fine potatoes — and a little copper pot, tinned of course, contained quartered tomatoes and chopped onion that set things off nicely. Truly a delicious meal, a fitting successor to yesterday's equally traditional table.

Madiran, Château Beaucaire, 2009: solid, proper, and inexpensive
IMG 2367IMG 2363
•Mäster Anders, Pipersgatan 1, Stockholm; 08-654 20 01
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


IMG 2298
Stockholm, December 9, 2015—
THE PLATE YOU SEE in this rather crowded photo holds the special of the day: Solare med dillsmür och potatspuré, which is to say, fried herring with dill butter and potato purée. There is also a heap of lingonberry confit, of course, and a spray of dill, and a quarter of a lemon on the side. This was a very late lunch, and stood for dinner as well; and it was consumed in a splendidly old-fashioned café in the Royal Opera House, a room which had not changed, said our waiter, since it was built, in 1904. The room was fairly empty by the time we sat down; just a few very distinguished-looking men, one eating alone, others in twos and threes, speaking alternately Swedish, English, and French — perhaps they were in town for the Nobel awards; I don't know.

The herring was really quite delicious; this seemed like a perfect dish for a bracing afternoon. My companion had meat balls with pickled cucumbers and, of course, lingonberry confit: she let me taste the meat, and it was also very nice indeed, even better than Ikea's meat balls, and I have to confess that I like Ikea's meat balls. This was a fine place to rest for an hour. I recommend it highly.

Vitt vin: "Les Volets," Domaine Boutinot (Gascogne), nv: crisp, lean, good match to the herring
•Operabaren, Karl XII:S torg, Box 1616, Stockholm; 08-676 58 00
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

First Swedish dinner

IMG 2241
Stockholm, Sweden, December 8, 2015—
WELL, FIRST ONE in thirty-five years, at any rate. And I'm not sure this particular place has changed in that time.

Oh, it's undoubtedly relatively new — this part of the city, Hammarby, is quite new: blocks and blocks of identical apartment buildings, many storeys high, with offices or occasionally shops on the street level. I'm sure this was formerly a working dockside enclave, but it's a new century, resting on a very different economy; from San Francisco's Mission Bay to here in Hammarby, clean lines and technology have displaced steam locomotives and stevedores.

But this place was nothing but nostalgia: smallish dining rooms; chandeliers; mismatched comfortable chairs (some of them — hoorah! — armchairs); candles; stemware.

And then the food came.

IMG 2244We'd ordered moderately: chicken breast for the Contessa; pappardelle "with Italian cheese" for me. But the plates!

My pasta was hidden, as you see, under green asparagus and arugula, and involved also leeks, mushrooms, cream, and a haze of nutmeg. The Italian Cheese was a cows-milk tomino of some kind; it had been dusted in panko and then baked. Faced with such a thing one sets prejudice aside and plunges into the local culture. We didn't come here to eat as we do in Italy.

So why did I order pappardelle? The alternatives were simply too hard to figure out, given lack of sleep and the minuscule quasi-elegant script on the menu. And I wanted to eat light. Oh well.

A toy shepherd at one end of our dining room, and an equally polite little bulldog wandering among the tables — the house dog, I suppose. I have to say that while I dislike dogs in general in the USA I do like the custom of well-behaved little dogs participating in the European urban life.

We didn't even mind the frequent bursts of song from another dining room, where a group of twenty or so were seated at a long table — a Christmas party, no doubt — most of them men, and all of them well versed in drinking songs. Good voices ameliorate enthusiasm. We'll probably encounter more of that, too.

Pinot grigio by the glass
•Hemma Hos Kaj, Hammarby Kaj 18, Stockholm, Sweden; 08-4466560
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Monday, December 7, 2015

Any port

December 7, 2015—
ELL, YOU TAKE your salad where you find it, and we have to have salad. The Contessa looked online to see where we'd find it. Not many choices: chain-resto "Mexican" or dubious Chinese. We opted, of course, since all such decisions must be consensus, for the former.

The house salad turned out to be huge. Lettuce, of course, of which she rejected only one leaf. Tomatos: where'd they get them? Nice sweet onions. A slice of cucumber. (We'll be eating lots of cucumber in the next couple of weeks.)

A fair amount of cheese, cheap processed cheese, but still. Vinaigrette.

No bread! Oh well, there's

Beer: Belgian White, on tap
•Chili's, Oakland International Airport
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Cleaning out the refrigerator

Eastside Road, December 6, 2015—
IT HAPPENS, every now and then: the refrigerator must be cleared out. And the freezer. There were only a half-dozen of those delicious Padron peppers viable, out of perhaps four times that many; I bought them at least a couple of weeks ago, and forgot them in the icebox, excuse me, rerigerator.

The sausage — from Franco Dunn, of course — it was in the freezer; one always like to have a sausage or two or half a dozen on hand, and they do keep reasonably well for a month or so in the freezer. People say you can't freeze fat: I beg to differ.

The carrots, no idea. They keep too, of course. Carrots and other root vegetables; cabbages and other coles; apples; potatoes — they'll keep, if you know how to keep them; that's how humanity survived ten thousand years of winters, after all.

The mashed potatoes? The last of Thanksgiving. (The turkey carcass turned into stock overnight.)

Green salad, of course; and the last of the pumpkin pie and hard sauce. And leftover wines:

Sauvignon blanc; Petite sirah, Preston of Dry Creek, 2014 and 2014
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday, December 6, 2015

One more time

Eastside Road, December 5, 2015—
YES, IT'S THAT Thanksgiving dinner once again, cold turkey sliced off the carcass, some sliced fennel tonight, the mashed potatoes nicely fried into a "pancake", and obligatory cranberry sauce. And I am thankful.
Petite sirah, Preston of Dry Creek, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, December 4, 2015


December 4, 2015—
NO DOUBT OUR LAST dinner for some time in a Mexican restaurant tonight, with the neighbors down the hill. I was so engaged in conversation and in getting up to close the damn door bozos left open behind them in spite of the chilly night that I clean forgot to take notes or photos, but I can tell you I had a delicious mole with carnitas, very dark, fragrant, spicy, and rich; and we had delicious guacamole, and my beverage was a mezcal Margarita, smoky and powerful.

•Agave Mexican Restaurant, 1063 Vine Street, Healdsburg; 707-433-2411

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Steak and salad

Eastside Road, December 3, 2015—
WE HAVE MANY REASONS to be grateful for our neighbors, the Neighbors Down the Hill; and among them their recommendation of this delightful way to address the quotidian problem What's For Dinner.

Even the occasional visitor to this blog will have gathered that we frequently dine in restaurants. We do this partly for business reasons, of course, but we also enjoy restaurants, for both their kitchen skills and their menus. We stick pretty much to a basic repertory at home; we like the quiet jolts of new combinations restaurants can provide.

Neighbor told us of a discovery: prefabricated meals, ordered from the Internet, sourced and shipped by a firm nearly a hundred miles south; all you need to do is the actual cooking. Tonight's dinner was Sirloin steak and apple-walnut salad, and while it didn't save Cook a lot of time in the kitchen it kept her out of the grocery stores, and that — especially when you live a few miles from town — is a blessing.

And the dinner was both delicious and sound. I won't go into details; you'll figure them out from the photo and the recipe-card that came in the package. All the ingredients are organic and sustainable, and all we had to provide was the salt, pepper, and olive oil.

I complimented Cook on her dinner, as I try always to remember to do, and then asked how much it cost. Oh, she said, about twenty-five dollars, maybe less. In any restaurant it would have been twice that, and in many restaurants it would not have been so skilfully prepared!

Petite sirah, Preston of Dry Creek, 2013: big but not dumb, substantial, fruity, a fine steak wine
• Sun Basket,
IMG_2210.jpg Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Yet more Thanksgiving

Eastside Road, December 2, 2015—
NO DOUBT this is going on all across the land: leftover roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, the stuffing (or dressing, call it what you will), and tonight a few pickled onions on the side. Thanksgiving continues to give, and I continue to be thankful. It really is delicious, you know…

Green salad afterward, and then the pumpkin pie, with its superb hard sauce…

Viognier, Preston of Dry Creek, 2014
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Another Eightieth

IMG_2169.jpg Here's to Andrew on his birthday —
Four score years is a damn good age
Think of all the things he's worked at
Drawing, poetry, and the page
Whose proportions he knows so well,
(Editing too — though, truth to tell,
His menu spells "Domaine" two ways,
And both can't be right) — what the hell,
Eighty syllables, yes, or years,
By now, should move you beyond tears.
San Francisco, December 1, 2015—
ANOTHER OLD FRIEND turns eighty: this one with a marvelous dinner party, black tie, with speeches and tributes, tap dancing and harmonica playing. The menu:IMG_2175.jpg
Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres
Spiced butternut squash salad
Braised beef shortribs
Mashed Jerusalem artichoke and Yukon potato
Lemon garlic Swiss chard
Sauvignon blanc, Domain [sic] du Salvard 2014
Beaumes-de-Venise rouge, Domaine de Durban, 2014
Birthday cake, coffee, tea
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

More Thanksgiving

Eastside Road, November 30, 2015—
ANOTHER LOOK at the Thanksgiving feast we enjoyed on Saturday, served up as welcome leftovers tonight. Startng at the top: Dark meat and light; bread-cube stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, pickled crabapple and a touch of cranberry.

Not seen: Green salad, mostly arugula, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice; and then pumpkin pie with hard sauce.

Viognier, Preston of Dry Creek, 2014
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants