Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Home again

Eastside road, September 12, 2017

AFTER WHAT SEEMS weeks hither and yon we are home again but in no mood to cook. Cook sliced some tomatoes and prepared some store-bought ravioli; I made a vinaigrette for the salad she washed and dried. 

Dessert: delicious figs from our tree, and lemon sorbet. Perfect for a too-warm late summer evening. 

Rosé, Guilhem

Friday, September 8, 2017

Faute de mieux

Los Angeles, September 8, 2017—

THERE ARE TIMES when you just have to suck it up and make the best of it. Giovanna always says if you can't do better, a chocolate bar and a beer will do. I guess I'm a little more health-conscious, having a generation of years on her.

After looking over the menu, I settled on a Martini and a Caesar salad. The salad wasn't authentic — no anchovies graced the plate, though some sort of ground anchovy may have been present in the dressing. Nor was there raw egg, which I count on, on evenings like this, for protein.

Still hungry, I ordered the plate of hummus, raw carrot and celery, and pita that had constituted the Contessa's dinner, along with a Margarita.

•Los Angeles Airport Marriott, 5855 West Century Boulevard, Los Angeles

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Arroyo Grande, California, September 7, 2017—
WE LIKE THIS PLACE enough to break the drive down Highway 101 to spend the night. I think it's edging to one of my Five Restaurants; it is certainly among the Hundred.
The plates have depth, crunch where appropriate, and edge. Cal-Ital, I suppose, with the wood-burning oven a central focus (pardon the pun). But after the last few days of near-constant motion alternating with fatigue I knew I had to eat wisely, so stuck to three courses:

Minestrone: the classic, though based on chicken stock rather than beef or veal, with lots of vegetables in a rich, deep tomato-infused soup with generous parmesan and a dollop of fine pesto.
Grilled romaine: a split, stripped-down head of romaine grilled over coals, with anchovy-lemon vinaigrette inevitably bringing bagna caoda to mind, chives, and shaved Parmesan.
Gnocchi: very nice large Gnudi, tender yet substantial, in garlic brown butter, with steamed spinach, garnished with fried artichoke petals and Parmesan.

Oh well, yes, dessert too: Mascarpone cheesecake with fig jam, candied bacon, and honey, with rum date ice cream.
     🍷A very good Martini; then Albarino: Mattina Fiore (Edna Valley), 2014
Ember, 1200 East Grand Avenue, Arroyo Grande, California; 📞805-474-7700
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Friday, September 1, 2017

Margherita; Ceviche

Eastside Road, September 1, 2017—
BEING IN BERKELEY for the day again — the fourth time this week -- it seemed reasonable to return to Summer Kitchen for a pizza. I felt a little guilty asking someone to work a pizza oven; it was 102° in Berkeley, probably a record — but the oven was going anyway; might as well make use of it.

I haven't looked back over these posts, but I'd guess I must have eaten well over a dozen Margherita pizzas in the last three years — in Naples, Rome, probably northern Italy, and up and down the Pacific coast. This one is still the best, the standard by which I'll judge all the others. There's a perfect balance of flavors of tomato, mozzarella, and basil. The crust couldn't be better: you can taste the wheat and the yeast. There's a very discreet use of olive oil. And the pizza is baked perfectly.

     🍷Amarone, Palazzo Della Torre, Allegrini Veronese, 2010: generous
•Summer Kitchen and Bakeshop, 2944 College Ave, Berkeley, California; 📞(510) 981-0538

The contessa had an egg salad sandwich, and bought a corn salad to take home, which we had for supper tonight — corn stripped fresh from the ear, barely cooked, with flecks of tomato and chive. With it, I had the remains of the ceviche I made myself for supper yesterday: Tombo tuna sliced thin, marinated in lime juice with chopped tomato, jalapeño pepper, shallot, and cilantro, and not cooked. Delicious.

     🍷White wine spritzer: Cheap Pinot grigio with sparkling water

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Glorious Fourth

Eastside Road, July 4, 2017—
IN FACT WE GOT a jump on it yesterday, when I grilled a dozen sausages over grapevine wood on the patio, and Cook made her marvelous potato salad. Then we walked up to the ridge to watch the fireworks set off a day early in our neighboring town.

     🍷Syrah; Grenache; Preston of Dry Creek

Tonight we had leftovers: the sausages cold but none the worse for that, garnished as yesterday with mustard, onion, pickle relish, and sauerkraut, and served on soft brioche rolls. On the side, along with the potato salad, Swiss chard.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Home at the range

Eastside Road, July 2, 2017—
IN FACT we arrived home late Friday, after a fine dinner Chez Panisse, which I will not describe here — dinner with an old friend, a soprano, actress, stage director, and now teacher whom we hadn't seen in years. The evening was as much conversation as dining. Impossible to discuss such intimate evenings.

Then last night it was dinner with another old friend, a pianist whose bicultural (French and English) view of things is particularly stimulating. We settled on a local bistro where we had mussels, then steak-frites, and a bottle of Rhone. Excellent.

Bistro 29, 620 5th Street, Santa Rosa; 📞+1 (707) 546-2929

Tonight, though, we finally ate at home, for the first time in two weeks. We returned to ground lamb for the centerpiece. I clipped some mint, parsley, thyme, and marjoram from the garden, and chopped them up with a couple of small cipollini and smaller cloves of garlic, and added cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and ras al hanout; Cook pan-fried the patties in a black iron skillet. Favas with them, and Romano beans, and green salad afterward. We're home for a while!

     🍷Red, bottle-end, nvg after a couple of weeks standing!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Eggs, flour, flavor

Portland, Oregon, June 27, 2017—
OUR FAMILY HAS LONG favored an oven-baked soufflé first found in an old Sunset magazine cookbook, Cooking Bold and Fearless, where it is a sweet dessert called "Finnish Pancake." It's a little like a Salzburger Nockerl, I think, and another version is often called "Dutch Baby," a name I've never liked, as it seems vaguely demeaning to both babies and the Dutdh.

Tonight Giovanna made a savory version, flavored with tarragon, chives, and thyme, and containing Parmesan cheese as well. Very nice. Green salad afterward.      🍷Blanc, Guilhem, Moulin de Gassac (Pays d'Herault), 2015: crisp and refreshing

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Near East

Eugene, Oregon, June 25, 2017—
DINING AL FRESCO with Eugene area family, soon to increase by one, at a restaurant of their choice, which goes on the list (when I get around to updating it) of restaurants I will gladly return to.

We started, at Henry's suggestion, with an arrack gimlet: arrack (in place of gin), lime juice, fennel-frond garnish. Very nice.

Arugula salad, olive oi-lemon juice vinaigrette flavored with cumin.

"Lamb Turmeric": chunks of lamb sautéed with mushrooms and garlic; white wine-and-cream sauce flavored with turmeric, served on rice. Very tasty, with zucchini and crookneck, spinach, and tomato concassée on the side.

     🍷Just that gimlet
Cafe Soriah, 384 West 13th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon; 📞+1 (541) 342-4410

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Saturday, June 24, 2017


Portland, Oregon, June 23, 2017—

     🍷Martini; Rosé gris de Marquiliani (Corsica), 2016
Davenport, 2215 East Burnside Street, Portland; 📞+1 (503) 236-8747

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Biscuits and bucatini

Eastside Road, June 12, 2017—
PACKAGED FOODS are not that big a part of our diet, Constant Reader will have noticed. But when we checked into our beautifully equipped Airbnb apartment in Rome, ten weeks ago, among the things stocking the kitchen was a bag of special cookies. Well, I call them "biscuits," to assuage possible guilt about having one at breakfast. Campagnole , they're called, made by Mulino Bianco. I don't recommend specific products lightly. These are delicious.

In fact they soon became indispensable to breakfast, and I never ate them at any other time. Just one, one biscuit, every morning, even before the toast, with my first coffee. I replenished the supply before leavig, but there was half a bag or so left, so I stuck that into muy inside jacket pocket, pulling it out at breakfast time on the airplane. Our fourteen-year-old grandson noticed. Brilliant, he said, earning one for himself.

It occurred to me the other day that it should be possible to find them on the Internet, or what's an Internet good for? And, yes, there they were, available my mail from an online import specialist in Carlsbad, California. And what else did this fine place offer? Bucatini !

Bucatini are one of my favorite pastas: long spaghetti-like shapes, tubes with typically thick walls. This particular brand is very nice indeed, long pieces doubled back on themselves like a giraffe's croquet wicket, and made, the label tells us, of nothing but semolina durum flour and water. They cook up dense and toothy and really quite flavorful: I'm sure we'll keep some on hand from now on.

This bucatini is made by Gragnano ("Città della pasta", city of pasta), and they take fifteen minutes to cook. They are serious, old-fashioned pasta, extruded through the traditional bronze dies, according to the label, and cut to length, almost two feet long, doubled back, and hung on dowels to dry — hence the horseshoe-shape. (The label advises you break "the little arches" before cooking.)

Cook made her red sauce — Franco's sausage, only a little; her tomato sauce; a can of tomatoes for good measure, and a few anchovies. Rich, deep, and very satisfying, this sauce, and bucatini the perfect pasta for it. Green salad afterward, and fruit…

     🍷The rest of the not perfectly satisfactory Gattinara

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Eastside Road, June 11, 2017—
ANOTHER LAZY Sunday: we'd hoped to entertain guests on the patio, but it's chilly and breezy. Oh well: let's move indoors.

And wouldn't you know: guests brought the picnic with them! A fine array of salume and cheese; olives; foie gras; breads; fresh cherries. And the wines! Magnificent! Thanks so much, John and Susan!

Dessert: Cook made a peach crisp, with a float of lightly whipped cream.

     🍷Riesling Spätlese, Wehlener Sonnemuhr, Dr. Loosen, 2005 (1);
       Riesling, Eiswein, Josef Rosch, 1999 (!), in half bottle

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Saturday market

Eastside Road, June 10, 2017—

Gail Okamura, Dry Creek Peaches

Middleton Gardens
MARKET DAY. Peaches from Gayle; strawberries from Lou, lettuces from Burt and Mary, sausage from Franco, fish from the fish stall which I'm still not entirely sold on, favas from Middleton Gardens.

Then home for egg salad sandwiches with friends who'd driven up for a visit; and then Cook's dinner: Petrale sole lightly breaded and fried; favas on the side. Wasn't last Saturday's dinner exactly the same? Probably. Why not?

Green salad; sliced peaches and ice cream.      🍷Cheap bianco, Grifone, nv

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Birthday dinner

Eastside Road, June 9, 2017—
FINALLY TONIGHT I got around to cooking Cook's birthday dinner — two days late. I'd prepped everything two days ago, but other things intruded…

I grilled the lamb chops outside over grapevine cuttings, first grill of the year. Inside, I pan-roasted the little potatoes with nothing but oil and salt, and after lightly browning some cipollini I steamed them with fresh garden peas. Green salad afteward.

     🍷Gattinara, Franco Patriarca (Piemonte), 2012: a bit of a disappointment

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Dinner chez P.

Berkeley, June 8, 2017—
DINNER IN THE CAFÉ with friends tonight, and a generous dinner it was. I'll say no more about it: the photo speaks for itself.

     🍷SP68 Rosso, Arianna Occhipinti (Sicily), 2015: perfect.
•Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525

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Eastside Road, June 7, 2010—
BIRTHDAY DINNER for Cook, so she got the day mostly off. We drank Cava and dined deliciously on anchovies and butter, three different cheeses, olives, and more than I remember; and afterward, at home, a plate of fine sliced peaches with some praline… Thanks, Giovanna!

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…

Eastside Road, June 7, 2017—
SUNDAY WE SIMPLY sat around on the patio with friends, nibbling at salami and mixed nuts, radishes and bread, and then had a quick salad before rushing off to a movie with another friend, and then at her house had a strawberry shortcake. Strawberries with drop biscuits and whipped cream: a marvelous concoction.
MONDAY WAS HOMINY day — one of Franco's sausages crumbled into the skillet, chopped onions added, a can of hominy.

Dessert: Lou's strawberries, with vanilla ice cream. I never liked strawberries until a few years ago; they never had any flavor. The farmers around here are growing newer varieties with flavor, what a fine idea, and growing them without poisons. So we eat strawberries, happily.

     🍷Cheap Sangiovese

YESTERDAY COOK TURNED to the pantry again for another fairly quick dinner: her favorite whole wheat penne in red sauce — again, sausage crumbled into the skillet, onions, tomato sauce she'd canned last fall. Green salad afterward — for a change, I mashed an anchovy into the dressing. Delicious. And then a tangerine.
     🍷Cheap Primitivo

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Market day

Eastside Road, June 3, 2017—
SATURDAY, ERGO MARKET. Lettuces from Burt and Mary; garlic from Yael, radishes from Renee; strawberries from Lou; peaches from Gail; favas from Middleton. Basket runneth over.

Dinner: Petrale sole, lightly floured and pan-fried in butter; favas on the side; green salad after.      🍷Cheap bianco

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Back to Portugal

Eastside Road, June 2, 2017—
DINNER WAS SO GOOD last night I decided to have lunch today in the same spot, and this time I did have salt cod — three nicely formed and fried balls of bacalhau, prettily but not overly fussily arranged on a plate. And I split a "salada portuguesa": chopped kale, linguiça, corn bread croutons, local São Jorge cheese, anchovy vinaigrette. Such a nice place.      🍷Tons de Duorum (Duoro), 2015
Cafe Lucia, 235 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, California; +1 (707) 431-1113
Leaving room for a simple dinner while watching another Cubs game on television: a perfect hot dog with Cook's delicious potato salad.

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Healdsburg, June 1, 2017—
THIS IS A PLACE we've liked on every visit, but we keep overlooking it — partly because we don't often dine in our own town, since we eat out so often when we're traveling; partly because it's off the street out of sight and therefore, as the saying goes, out of mind.

And lately the approach to its downtown block has been torn up, and will likely remain so for another year, for the conversion of a complicated five-way intersection involving also a railroad track and an underground creek into a more rational roundabout. It's in fact quite simple to negotiate this in your car, but it apparently looks fearsome to the tourists.

Portuguese, therefore salt cod, yes? But at the last minute I decided I needed more nourishment, so turned to a traditional dish I remember very fondly from a wonderful place we encountered years ago in the boonies in Northern California — alas, since closed. This would be your ovo a cavallo "egg on horseback" or, basically, steak-'n'-eggs: a grilled New York tenderloin (done here just a shade less rare than I like) on a pile of grilled onions with French fries.

But first, a triplet of starters: delicious yellow lupini beans; innocent tender boquerones; a marvelous house-made linguiça. Oh, and before that, the amuse-bouche: a cold shooter of clear tomato broth with a tiny chunk of Serrano ham and a float of good olive oil.

Dessert: Rice pudding, stenciled with cinnamon, with a candied dried fig in syrup on the side. What a delicious, simple, refreshing dinner. Want to know where to eat in Healdsburg? Here.

     🍷Tons de Duorum (Duoro), 2015: serious but refreshing and agreeable;
            Quinta de la Rosa,(Douro), 2012 (!), perfect

Cafe Lucia, 235 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, California; +1 (707) 431-1113

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Another Margherita

Eastside Road, May 31, 2017—
ANOTHER CATCH-UP post: these have been disorderly days for some reason. (Partly because my usual blogging software is on the fritz, which annoys me greatly.)

Wednesday last, May 31, we continued the great Margherita survey. Well, I did: the Contessa has something much more complicated, involving her favorite — mushrooms — and perhaps sausage; I don't know; I didn't share; I rarely do. With the pizza, a simple arugula salad with shaved Parmesan cheese.

I think I've narrowed it down now, at least as far as this county is concerned. This was a very good pizza, but so is the one from Diavolo in Geyserville. Maybe some day this summer I'll have the two side by side, or as nearly as a twenty-four mile separation permits.

     🍷Barbera, Andrea Orberto Piedmont, 2015
Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar,, 53 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, California ; +1 (707) 544-3221

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Turf and Surf

Sunday steak

Monday steak
Eastside Road, May 30, 2017—
SUNDAY SEEMED TO ME to be a steak-and-potatoes day, so I bought a one-pound New York cut beefsteak and seared it in a hot black iron skillet. I browned the potatoes in olive oil, then added water to finish them in steam, laying a couple of split spring onions on top. This is a favorite meal of mine: simple, quick, tasty.

Of course a pound of beefsteak is too much for us for a single meal, so Cook served almost exactly the same dinner the next night, substituting sliced fennel for the onions. Delicious.

     🍷Carignan, Preston of Dry Creek

TONIGHT COOK TURNED toward the sea and made a Manhattan fish chowder. In a small bit of butter, she says, she softened chopped onions, potatoes, and carrots; then added clam juice, rock cod, garlic, a can of tomatoes and some tomato paste, and, at the end, a bit of thyme. Very nice indeed.

At all three dinners, green salad, tangerine, a bit of chocolate.

     🍷Cheap bianco d'Italia, Grifone

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fish day

Eastside Road, May 27, 2017—
FARM MARKET TODAY, hence fish day. Cook found a nice chunk of tombo tuna to grill in the oven, cooking it with capers and parsley and basting with lemon juice. With it, favas; afterward, green salad, then vanilla ice cream and blackberries. Summer's nearly here!

     🍷Cheap bianco d'Italia

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Penne, tomato sauce

Eastside Road, May 26, 2017—
COOK CAME TO the sudden realization that a) it had been a while since we'd had tomato sauce b) there are a lot of jars of it in the pantry. The logical answer, since tomato season will be upon us before you know it, was to have a simple supper of penne in red sauce. She browned some hamburger and onions, cooked the pasta, combined it all, and Bob, as the brits say, 's your uncle.

     🍷Carignan, Preston of Dry Creek: rich and fruity

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Hamburger at Zuni

Eastside Road, May 25, 2017—
DROVE DOWN TO The City today, as we old-timers call it, there to see a museum show, and afterward instead of driving home through commute-hour traffic we decided to stop at a favorite place for a Martini and dinner.

No photos today. The hamburger -- thick, juicy, and politically correct -- is served on a rectangular foccaccia-like bun, with pickled onions and mustard-pickle chips, and it's good. Before, a simple arugula salad with toasted almonds and a clean vinaigrette; with, shoestring french fries. Total satisfaction.

•Zuni Café, 1658 Market Street, San Francisco; +1 (415) 552-2522

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Beans. & salami

Eastside Road, May 24, 2017—
ANOTHER SIMPLE MEAL, as Cook's been away, Gardener having taken her place for the day. Those are the Corona beans Cook prepared yesterday, just as good today. Green salad afterward, of course, and a fine tangerine.

     🍷Bianco, Grifone

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Another roundup: fish, pizza, cheese, beans…

Eastside Road, May 24, 2017—

SATURDAY WAS FARM MARKET day in Healdsburg. The market only opened last week — it's seasonal — and is somewhat changed this year; another change to adjust to in my declining years. There seem to be more stalls for artisans (ceramics, olive-oil producers, rose oil) and take-away prepared food than there used to be, and fewer stalls for local farmers. But of course it's early in the season and it's been odd weather: let's reserve judgement for a few more weeks.

In any case Middleton Farms was there with beautiful favas. Cook found spring onions somewhere, and we tried, for the first time, the rather large sea-food stall that's replaced Dave the Fish Guy this year, as Dave has apparently been unable to find enough fish to justify maintinaing his own stall.

I miss him, and mistrusted his successor, who seems to me to offer far too big a selection to guarantee freshness and authenticity. But that's a prejudice, not knowledge, and friends whose word I find reliable tell me this purveyor is to be trusted. So we bought some rock cod fillets, and tonight Cook breaded and fried two of them, basically meunière style, and served them with a version of vignerata, a braise of potatoes, onion, artichokes, and favas. Very very good.

     🍷Cheap Italian white, Grifone

ON SUNDAY WE DROVE up to Laytonville, a hundred miles north, there to visit with the son and his family. We stopped en route to continue the Margherita investigation, but a pizza carried sixty miles in its cardboard box, then eaten cold, is not a useful specimen for critico-analytica purposes.

It was delicious nonetheless. Better, under the circumstances, was a specialty of the house, made with mushrooms and piquant sausage. (I think this is Franco Dunn's sausage, as he has a connection with the establishment.) Memo: a trip to this fine place for lunch one day soon.

     🍷Chardonnay! we'd forgotten to bring a red…

After the pizzas, a fine cold potato salad. Thanks, Meadow!

In the evening, once home, bread and cheese. I do very much love these Dutch cheeses, bought there: a Remeker, I believe, that we bought in Amsterdam quite a few months ago, and a nagelkaas brought to us by friends. These aged boerkasen, "farmer's cheeses," with a nutty, caramel-like quality are dense and sometimes faintly marked with crystals, like their cousins the aged Parmesans. When you have walnut levain bread from Berkeley's Acme Breads, as we seem to this week, they can't be beat…

     🍷Cheap Italian white, Grifone

•Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, 21021 Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville; +1 (707) 814-0111‬

MONDAY NIGHT we ate in front of the television set again, watching the Cubs do battle toward their eventual rise to the playoffs. I hope that doesn't jinx them. We'd bought some Moroccan-style chicken sausages from Franco Dunn at the Farm Market, specially made for a couscous, and that's what Cook did with them: grilled them in a skillet on the stove and served them with couscous. The latter were a new type to us, though, Israeli, not Algerian, and not to our taste — I thought they resembled little pearls of tapioca, not pasta. They were white and faintly mucilaginous. Nice bitter broccolini overcame this deficiency, though, and the sausage was delicious, complex in flavors and textures and rather piquant.

     🍷Cheap Italian white, Grifone

CORONA BEANS last night! Not many things we like more. These giant beans need little soaking before cooking — overnight, then the next morning. Cook serves them flavored with olive oil and, tonight, marjoram. (I think I'll get her a sage and a summer savory to plant someplace in the informal herbarium.)

Continuing the icebox cleanout we polished off the last of the giardiniera before, along with a few boquerones on buttered bread, and a couple of small heads of fennel from Saturday's market. As customary these recent weeks, dessert was a tangerine and a couple of chocolates from See's. Life is good.

     🍷Bottle-ends: Cheap Italian white; Primitivo

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Saturday, May 20, 2017


Eastside Road, May 19, 2017—
THIS IS HOW I like them: a thin coating of mustard, a good-sized hamburger patty pan-fried medium rare, a couple of thin slices of onion, ditto dill pickle. No, no tomato: we're far from tomato season. No, no lettuce: there'll be a green salad to come. (Though a single small leaf of crisp lettuce is nothing to object to in a hamburger sandwich.)

     🍷Rouge, La Ferme Julien

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The grand finale: St. Honoré (photo: Emma Monrad)
Eastside Road, May 11, 2017—
NOTE THE DATE: I'm late getting to this. It was a very special day, our sixtieth wedding anniversary, and dinner was a party thrown by our three children, with the help of a couple of theirs. That, of course, makes it a difficult thing to write about, and that's why I've waited a week.

It's trying enough to write about dining with friends; it's more trying, as I've noted on a number of occasions, to write about dining in their homes. In fact I've made it a rule not to do it at all. But this was such a splendid feast it seems wrong to ignore it, even if it seems like boasting a bit…

There were a dozen of us at table, spanning four generations, with a guest list limited to close family with only one exception, the old friend whow was responsible for the whole thing because she had introduced me, her college buddy, to the Contessa, her college roommate. At the time she had misgivings when love at first sight did its dirty work, but in time she's come round.

Our daughters and daughter-in-law chose the menu, I think, ruling out any cooking as much as possible, and making the occasion an invitation to summer. We began al fresco with five dozen oysters from Hog Island, served on the half shell with mignonette and lemon wedges, absolutely delicious. And with them, cold cuts, and salads, and salmon, and marvelous anchovies which I ate on slivers of very thickly buttered bread, with a lemon wedge on top, peel and all — a novelty to some others at table, but one quickly adopted.


Later we moved inside for a more formal seating underneath banners and garlands, with corsage and boutonnière for the guests of honor. Here too the meal was cold, as suited a hot pre-summer day: hard-cooked eggs, green salads, potato salad, prosciutto and salumi, flatbread and cheeses…

and then that splendid St. Honoré cake, twenty inches across, made with love by our friends at Downtown Bakery and Creamery. What a day!

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Another pizza, another couple of days…

The Ashlanders (photo: Mac Marshall) Paul Arenstam and his Margherita
Eastside Road, May 18, 2017—
YOU WILL HAVE NOTICED, Constant Reader, that things haven't been normal around here lately, whatever "normal" is around here. I've been laid up; Cook's been busier than usual tending to me; we haven't been going out much. Nothing to worry about: just an acute lower back thing. Still.

So it's been a few days of catch-as-catch-can, when it comes to the dining department. And this has been aggravated by a continuing sense of what-the-hell, of what difference does it make, as Chebutykin repeatedly says, without even the justification of a fool heading his government. (Or maybe he did. My Russian history's a bit shaky.)

But then I notice that, whether I post here regularly or not, scores of people wind up looking at this page every day, driven by Hermes knows what kind of curiosity, so why not continue to post. Yesterday, then, it was cheese and potato salad, salad left over from Monday's fine picnic out at Lou Preston's winery with the rest of the Ashlanders, four couples including us who used to gather for a week in the summertime to see and argue about a number of plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Alas, only six of the original eight remain; but they know how to have a good time…

     Grenache blanc, 2014; Red, L. Preston, 2014
Preston Farm and Winery, 9282 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg;707-433-3372

It's an interesting salad, lacking eggs and mayonnaise, depending on the potatoes and the water in which they're cooked to supply the binding agent, flavored with parsley, mustard, and celery — an unusual approach to a picnic standard, and one I like a lot.

Wednesday required a trip to the East Bay, and we took advantage of the trip to stop at Summer Kitchen, extending my profound research into the classic Margherita pizza. I continue to think this the best version, in my experience, this side Naples. Alas I had to wolf it down in the car with no red wine to supplement it: them's the breaks.

Summer Kitchen Bakeshop, 2944 College Ave, Berkeley; (510) 981-0538

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017