Saturday, May 7, 2016

Catching up…

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Eastside Road, May 4, 2016—
PRETTY, DON'T YOU THINK? It's a favorite springtime dinner here, salmon and asparagus. In truth the salmon could have been better: this was "previously frozen" Coho, said to have grown wild; but it didn't taste as fresh as I'd have liked, though the texture was perfectly acceptable. Cook fixed it en papillote, dotting it with butter, setting a green onion shoot on top, and wrapping it in foil before cooking it in the broiler. The asparagus was simply steamed in buttery water, with salt and pepper, in the usual way.

That was day before yesterday, May 2. The previous couple of days we also ate at home, and I'm afraid I can only recall one of those evenings, when we had Cook's delicious hominy-chorizo casseroles.

LAST NIGHT we ate in Berkeley, taking our Australian house-guest for a treat. It was a marvelous dinner:
olives and pickled watermelon radish
"Prosecco basilicato"

California halibut carpaccio with artichoke salad andd fried capers

Melon, Lieu Dit (Santa Maria Valley), 2015

Pasta al forno with porcini and morels and greenpeas

Secco Ca' del Merlo (Veneto), Giuseppe Quintarelli, 2014

Grilled duck breast and confit leg with favas, chard, turnips, and parsley sauce

Duluc de Branaire-Ducru, Saint-Julien, 2009
Frozen cassata with strawberry sorbetto
Moscato d'Asti, Scopiio

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By "basilicato" I simply mean the Prosecco was infused very lightly with basil leaves and a bit of Meyer lemon zest, makimg a very nice aperitif. The halibut carpaccio was a marvelous plate, strewn with nasturtum-petal chiffonade, the raw fish quite taming the earthy Melon.

The pasta was a sort of baked package, filled with mushrooms bound in a crème fraîche sauce, substantial and rather serious; and the duck was perfectly cooked and, again, very substantial, with fava purée, dark well-cooked erbette chard, and delicate glazed spring turnips, a classic dish. The wines, served as pairings, were exactly right.

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

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

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