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

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

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