Sunday, January 22, 2017

Lunch in the café


Berkeley, January 20, 2017—

WE DECIDED TO TRY to ignore the most public events of the day, at least while they actually transpired, and met a friend for lunch instead. In sadness, to the table. What a fine festive meal!

We began with a half dozen Miyagi oysters on the half shell. They come with a mignonette, but I rarely go there: I prefer oysters as fresh and forward as these nature, just their own sweet selves.

I turned next to this imnperfectly photographed salad: sliced beets and fennel in a bagna cauda vinaigrette with perfectly hard-cooked egg and some miner's lettuce leaves, with just the right addition of chopped black truffle.

This was, by agreement with the Contessa, the principle meal of the day, so I finished with duck breast with Ojibwe wild rice, rapini, and "salsa di dragoncello." This wild rice is not your usual one: it seems shorter-grained, nuttier, less processed somehow. A good match to the duck, which always seems to me too meaty to go with rice — but then, I'm a potato-eater, it's in my genes.


In any case, the duck was nicely cooked, just enough, and the long-cooked rapini made a fine side dish.

Dessert: an apple galette with a few sour cherries to give added texture and flavor, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Can't ask for more than that!

Rossese di Albenga, U Bastiò Biovio (Italy), 2014: fresh and forthcoming

•Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5049

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

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