FULL MOON, birthdays coming: let's see how things are going downstairs. Longtime Reader will know by now that that means a visit to Chez Panisse, which we've been associated with for forty-five years less ten days. (The next ten, not the first.) Dinner was, of course, excellent.
It began with an apéritif: Prosecco flavored (very delicately) with fig and thyme. This made me realize I've been neglecting our fig tree (among many other things); it's time to use its leaves from time to time in the kitchen…
With the apé, the amuse-gueule you see here: a radish, cut in half; a round of bread, toasted, covered with tapenade made with Lucques green olives and radish and flavored, as you see, with a twig of thyme, the herb that will tie tonight's dinner together.
Next came the salad: a carpaccio of tomatoes with fried squid and cucumber salsa. A complex dish, this; lots of color, texture, and flavor, all well balanced and integrated with its delicious olive oil.
Then a light, refreshing risotto, peas, corn, summer squash, just a sprinkle of each lending texture to the risotto, a subtle shaving of parmagiano and a very discreet scattering of minced black truffle.
Beefsteak: looked like a small filet mignon to me, grilled just more than rare and spread with chimichurri, and accompanied by shoestring potatoes, eggplant tian, and rocket leaves. The chimichurri was flavored not with oregano but with thyme, and it was first-rate.
Dessert: pasticcini, in this case tiny cream-puffs filled with strawberry and raspberry ice cream, whipped cream, garnished with fresh berries and just enough chopped praline. And now that I look at the photos, I realize the rhyming shapes and colors of the split radish and the dessert, the kind of thing I so appreciate about this place…
•Chez Panisse, 151 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 415-548-5525