NOTHING LIKE HOUSE-GUESTS for a pleasant distraction from the routines of daily life: but now it's time to get back down to brass tacks. Here's as much of the last week as I can recall:
May 12: To Cornerstone Gardens, south of Glen Ellen, a fascinating place in whose cafe I lunched on the “Best Adult Grilled Cheese,” seen here. In fact it was quite tasty, and I liked the pickled carrots that came with it, along with cucumbers and tomatoes and a bit of thinned mayonnaise dressing.
That night, fettucine bolognese at a staid Italian white-tablecloth restaurant we like to share with friends. The pasta was house-made, I'm sure, and cooked to just the right degree, and the bolognese was thoughtful, meaty, aware of carrot and herbs. With the decent Caesar salad before, a Negroni; after dinner, a Nardini grappa.•Ca'Bianca, 835 2nd Street, Santa Rosa; 707-542-5800
May 13: Friday the Thirteenth, and I don't remember.
May 14: Farm market in the morning; salmon for dinner… I have to say I was alarmed at the price of salmon: it's gone up thirty percent since last year. It's local, of course, and line-caught, and fresh and tasty and undoubtedly good for us; and what's our money for if not nourishment. But I wonder how often we'll be eating salmon this year…
Cook fixed it in her now usual way, a recipe from Nancy Hachisu's fine book Japanese Farm Food: just a dot of butter on the fish, and a scallion, and maybe a drop of sake or vodka; wrap it in foil; cook it under the broiler until barely done…
May 15: Picnic lunch at our favorite winery. I should reveal that Lou and Susan Preston are old friends: their organic and biodynamic operation is comfortable, friendly, authentic, and beautiful. The wines are favorites of ours: we had a bottle of this year's rosé, with a loaf of Lou's bread, some cheese, some olive oil, and crudités our friends brought.
•Preston Farm and Winery, 9282 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, California; 707-433-3372
In the evening, this magnificent soufflé at the neighbors down the hill: half a pound of cheese, half a dozen eggs, extra egg whites, masterfully cooked. With it, green beans and tomatoes. What a dish that is! It took me back seventy years: my mother used to put a can of tomatoes and a can of green beans in her Pyrex baking dish, tear up some Wonder bread (or was it Langendorf?) and strew it on top, and bake it until the bread burned. This was not like that: the beans were cooked al dente, the tomatoes had flavor, and the dish was gluten free.
May 16: After an early-morning drive to the airport we stopped off for breakfast in Larkspur at a place we're fond of. The cappuccino here is beautifully made, and the croissants — called "brioches" here, in the Italian style — soft, buttery, flavorful.
•Emporio Rulli, 484 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur, California; 415-924-7478
Then, in the evening, at home, a rice pilaf and Franco's delicious sausage.
Yesterday was a fast day, our first in three weeks. Tonight we dined on a plate of Romanesco; then a delicious dish of lentils, potatoes, scallions.
I apologize for the lack of information about wines. They've ranged from Syrah and Viognier from Preston to cheap ordinaries from elsewhere. You can be sure we've not neglected them.
|Sausage and pilaf||Slow-braised Romanesco||Lentils, potatoes, scallions|