Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hen fruit

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Berkeley and Eastside Road, August 14, 2018—
CHICKEN BERRIES again: we have been working the poultry section overtime. Lunch was at a friend's home, and I try never to "review" such meals, but it's worth noting that smoked salmon from a new (to us) smokehouse establishment in Berkeley was delicious, ditto the little roast potatoes Bob made — and the oeufs mayonnaise.

Smoke Berkeley, 2434 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley; 📞+1(510)548-8801

We had stopped off at that important intersection, Cedar and San Pablo, to pick up some bread at Acme and drink a quick espresso at Bartavelle. They serve Portland's Heart Coffee at Bartavelle, and I needed a wake-up. While there, we bought two sandwiches to have later for our evening meal, and they were — hard-boiled egg, aioli, and arugula!

In any case the sandwiches were tasty, eaten with panzanella and fresh tomatoes in front of the television set, watching the Cubs lose in their hapless (but fortunately not inevitable) way to the Brewers…

     🍷Italian sparkling rosé in cans: an experiment, not to be repeated
Bartavelle Coffe & Wine Bar, 1603 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley; 📞+1(510)524-2473

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Vegetarian again

IMG 0586
Eastside Road, August 13, 2018—

NOT EVERY DINNER involves sausage. Tonight Cook provided another delightful summer supper: oeufs mayonnaise; panzanella; sliced fresh tomatoes; the green salad de rigeur, berries and ice cream.

I mentioned this mayonnaise the other day: van Weingarten's echte Zaanse mayonnaise. It comes in tubes, and we find it delicious. I was mistaken about its provenance, though: we did not bring this back from Schiphol, but bought it — and some very nice gemberkoek, and nagelkaas — from an online store, DubbelDutch. (Don't be confused if you order some of these things: the order is processed by a different website.)

     🍷Cheap bianco, Grifone

Monday, August 13, 2018

catching up

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Eastside Road, August 13, 2018—
BARELY RESUMED, but already needing catchup; that seems to be the story of this blog. Oh well.

At home we've been subsisting (and quite well) lately on the usual lunch, these days toast with nagelkaas, raw carrots, and orange juice, with some chocolate for dessert, and (twice) dinners of Franco Dunn's sausage with, lately, panzanella, that delicious and surprisingly light mixture of day-old bread, fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.

IMG 0582Dessert lately has been ice cream with our mulberries and (wild) blackberries and Lou Preston's strawberries; I could eat this all afternoon and evening.

But the other night we ate out in town, with a granddaughter, and it was something of a celebratory feast. In spite of our respect for the chef we had not been to this restaurant since its opening day, quite a number of years ago — some of us thought it too noisy to visit. But when we stopped in, early, 5:30, because we were going to a play at seven, we were the only ones on the comfortable patio.

Chef greeted us, though he was not in fact in the kitchen that night, and we had a nice conversation. Then we plunged in:

Gazpacho (daily special)
Preston lamb meatballs with fideos
Beef tartare (of course; see photo above)
Olive oil potatoes
Butifarra
Guacamole
Pork belly
Quite a spread. This Butifarra was a paté-like sausage made with a fair amount of pork liver and blood among other things and was not to everyone's taste, a rough, country dish that took me back to my days as a laborer, when liverwurst sandwiches were a favorite lunch. The guacamole was delicious, and the tartare very special, hand-chopped of course and flavored with a smoky chili agent of some kind, topped as you see with a fresh egg yolk and garnished with capers, olives, and portulaca (which I will always know as pigweed).

Everything was delicious. We'll return.

     🍷Mojitos

Mateo's Cocina Latina, 214 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg; 📞707 433-1520

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Another one from Mantua

IMG 0561
Eastside Road, August 7, 2018—

WELL NOT REALLY, it's from Franco Dunn of Geyserville and Healdsburg, of course. He sells them four to the package, and we only eat one apiece, so either they show up at frequent intervals, or they go into the freezer.

The freezer is known to be full. I used to keep the gin there, and even a couple of Martini glasses. Those days seem to be gone. It's all I can do to get a couple of trays of ice cubes in there. But I do not complain, nor do I interfere. Cook has been known to find some good stuff salted away.

In any case this is another of the Salamelle di Mantova that I wrote about two days ago, pork and, Cook thinks she remembers, a hint of cinnamon. And I ran into Franco the other day, in a grocery store of all places, and remembered to ask him about the riso alla pilota: it's more a pilaf than a risotto, I think, and you free the sausage from its casing, brown it a bit, and combine it with the cooked rice. One of these days… (and I'll put a few raisins in, too, to enhance the medievalism.)

In any case, tonight Cook put some fine potato salad of hers on the plate, and sliced up a couple of tomatos; we had a green salad afterward. A nice summer supper.

     🍷Fume blanc, Ferrari-Carano, 2016; Rosé, La Ferme Julien, 2017

Monday, August 6, 2018

Omelette

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Eastside Road, August 6, 2018—

I SET THE WORDomelette — in French, because I make them the way an Italian taught me to: and when I look up the term in Italian, it is frittata, which is slow cooked, although reference is made to the French omelette, quickly cooked over high heat, in burro e olio, butter and (olive) oil.

The Italian was Primo, the chef brother in the movie Big Night. (The actor is Tony Shalhoub.) In the closing scene he simply makes an omelet, as I will spell the word henceforth, gently beating three eggs with a little salt and frying them quickly in olive oil. The scene is five minutes long and it is achingly beautiful, even if you haven't watched the action that leads up to it. (You can read about the scene, and follow a link to watch it, here.)

For each omelet I break two eggs into a stainless-steel bowl, rinse my hands, scrape the little water remaining on my hands into the eggs, whisk them with a fork, and turn them into a hot iron omelet pan liberally coated with olive oil. I use the pan for nothing else, never wash it, and keep it free of dust in a paper bag.

I lift the edges of the omelet with the fork to let uncooked egg run under. I flip the omelet partially, twice, to fold it into three layers, and let it brown while leaving the inside relatively uncooked.

I turn it onto a warmed dinner plate, unroll it, a little salt, black pepper, and, usually, a small handful of grated Parmesan cheese; then roll it back folded shut again.

With it, tonight, buttered toast; afterward, green salad.

     🍷Rosé, La Ferme Julien, 2016

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Salamella di Mantova

IMG 0551
Eastside Road, August 5, 2018—

ALLA CARNE DI SUINO si aggiunge pancetta e spalla di suini, sale, aglio, pepe ed insaccato in budelli, says Italian Wikipedia, and goes on to promise that it's the right condimento for Riso alla pilota.

Franco Dunn, who made these delicious sausages, had mentioned the same thing: but that's for another day. Tonight, it being Sunday night, Cook said was a night to eat light. She simply grilled the sausaes and served them with delicious ripe tomatoes; green salad afterward.

     🍷Primitivo, Epicurio, 2017, as yesterday

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Leftover steak

IMG 0550
Eastside Road, August 4, 2018—

WE ARE HOME, but not yet quite back in the groove. We did get to the Healdsburg Farm Market this morning, and what should we find at Middeleton Gardens but the first lima beans of the season. We never overlook these; they are absolutely delicious.

With them a sort of peperonata with assorted peppers from Preston of Dry Creek, charred, peeled, seeded, and "grecqued" in a little olive oil with half an onion.

And the leftover steak from a week ago, simply sliced and eaten cold.

Green salad afterward, and Lou Preston's incomparable strawberries. Good to be home!

     🍷Primitivo, Epicuro, 2016: nice varietal character, simple but rewarding

Brandade

IMG 0545
Berkeley, August 3, 2018—

I HAVE NEVER HAD a better brandade than this. Equally good, yes: I particularly remember some from Chez Panisse, where it occasionally can be found on a pizza. But this one was extraordinary: pungent, deep, salty, oily, refreshing, substantial, pleasantly crunchy from its topping.

I simply spread it on those fine toasted slices of Acme levain and ate it, trying hard not to gobble.

     🍷Vermentino: E Prove, Domaine Maestracci (Corsica), 2017: deep and serious but very refreshing

•Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar, 1603 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley; 📞+1(510)524-2473

Risotto

IMG 0518
Salt Lake City, August 2, 2018—

I ASK YOU to do as did I: with your fingers, carefully remove the carrot strips. I find them extraneous, irrelevant, intrusive. I ate them, of course: raw thinly sliced carrot is not in itself disgusting. But it has nothing to do with an otherwise very nice asparagus risotto.

We were in a very pleasant restaurant near our Airbnb. Outside it, actually, on a shaded terrace overlooking the street. It was hot but there was a breeze, and we'd been put at our ease with cocktails — in my case, a Wasatch Sour: Fernet, Green Chartreuse, Zirbenz, Lime, Simple Syrup, according to the menu. Very pleasant to the taste, though a bit unpleasantly brownish to the eye.

The risotto was creamy, a little salty (desirable in this heat!), almost pungent with asparagus flavor. No dessert was needed.

     🍷Pinot gris, Adelsheim, 2018: clean, serviceable, unexceptional

•Tradition, 501 E 900 S (love these Salt Lake City street names; 📞+1(385)202-7167

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Peruvian

IMG 0436

Salt Lake City, August 1, 2018—

ANOTHER VERY SATISFYING find tonight, again recommended by our grandson Simon, who knows all the spots. This one is a Peruvian small-plates place, and just a glance at the menu online told me I was going to like it.

After a delicious Pisco sour I began dinner with sardines — a small can of sardines and a fine celery salad gently dusted with chili powder. The plate had a small pile of more chili and another of flaky sea salt, complementing the sardines very nicely.

IMG 0440

Next, another steak tartar, very different from yesterday's. The beef was chopped and combined with what seems like a Romesco sauce, subtly flavored with cumin and, again, ground smoked Peruvian chili peppers.

The three of us shared two desserts, a dark chocolate-and-chile ice cream sandwich, on dark chocolate cookie, garnished with very piquant yellow Habanera pepper slices that two of us did not attempt, and an ingenious white chocolate ice cream bar, coated with white chocolate flavored and colored with Passionfruit, served in a puddle of ponzu and scattered with an interesting crumble. These are not made in house, but chosen with the same care that went into the menu.

     🍷Pinot noir, Ransom Jigsaw (Willamette Valley): true varietal, medium body, pleasant

IMG 0443IMG 0444

•Post Office Place, 16 W Market Street, Salt Lake City

Veneto

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Salt Lake City, July 31, 2018—

NOT MANY DISCOVERIES more pleasing than a really good (north) Italian restaurant in an unexplored city. That's what we found tonight: a quiet, comfortable, slow-paced white-linen restaurant with no more than a dozen tables in a modest bungalow, with two men, apparently, in the small kitchen, and a menu and wine list that offer many pleasures.

I began with Tartar di carne Piemontese, of course, because I never pass up the chance. This one was simply presented, the beef mixed with a judicious amount of very finely minced shallot, surrounded with a swirl of egg yolk perhaps heated to a low temperature, then cooled, and scattered with capers. The meat was certainly Piemontese, sweet and grassy. Delicious.

IMG 0490 IMG 0486
Bigoli Peperonata\

Next, Bigoli con Ragù di Anatra, housemade pasta with duck ragù, the pasta cooked to quite a firm al dente, the ragù nicely balanced, again proportioned beautifully in the presentation.

With it, for the table, a marvelous peperonata, sweet and fruity with a very delicated tang.

     🍷Pecorino, Valori (Abruzzo), 2016; Dolcetto d'Alba, Filari Lunghi, 2014 (thoughtful, complex, reserved but generous)

•Veneto Ristorante Italiano, 370 East 900 South, Salt Lake City; 📞+1(801)359-0708

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New to us

IMG 2956 2
Oakland, July 30, 2018—

THE PLACE OPENED ten years ago but for some reason we'd never been here. A convenient location for lunch with some old friends, we gave it a try.

We began with some very delicious green olives, dusted in crumbs and smoked paprika and warmed in a bit of olive oil; I went on to this plate of albacore, cooked just enough and served with a marvelous warm tapenade, I'd all it, of eggplant, tomato, fennel, red and yellow peppers, and onion, liberally sprinkled with good black pepper.

The menu and wine list is really quite interesting here; I think we'll be back for dinner one day…

     🍷Arneis: sorry; forgot to photograph the label. Gotta get back in the Eating Every Day groove, Shere!

Bellanico, 4238 Park Blvd., Oakland, CA; 📞+1 510-336-1180

BLT

IMG 3167
Eastside Road, July 29, 2018—
WHEN A DEAR friend comes up from the city to visit, and she's a chef, and she brings stuff for lunch, that's about as good as it gets. And when the stuff is the makings of BLTs, that's a notch better.

Surely one of the Hundred Plates, the simple bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is perfect hot-weather fare. This bacon is Niman; the lettuce and tomato came from Bob Cannard's Sonoma Mountain farm (I'm pretty sure); the bread is Acme levain, grilled in a little olive oil. (Black cast iron has a lot to do with all this.)

Only the mayo is store-bought, and I preferred one not shown in the photo, a tube of Zaanse mayonnaise — whenever we're in The Netherlands we bring a few tubes home with us.

The dill pickles are local to Healdsburg; I don't recall who makes the.

Dessert: a couple of white peaches sliced up with blackberries, Tayberries, and raspberries.

     🍷Fume blanc, Ferrari-Carano, 2016, very nice; thanks, Gaye…

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Tuna-bean salad

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Eastside Road, July 28, 2018—

IT HAS BEEN a favorite go-to for many years now, especially in the summer, this simple salad, originally I think Tuscan. You can make it with canned beans, though Cook prefers to use dry cannellini, soaking and cooking them herself.

The tuna could also be cooked at home, I suppose, but there hardly seems any advantage to this; we always use good canned tuna. And Cook thought we had such a can in the pantry, but at the last minute discovered it was smoked tuna!

The result was, well, not salubrious. But perfectly edible. With the beans and tuna, chopped raw onion and celery; salt; perhaps some herbs…

Green salad with shallot vinaigrette; berries and ice cream.

     🍷Cheap pinot grigio

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Steak from the grill

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Eastside Road, July 28, 2018—
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THIS IS HOW I handled the London Broil yesterday. I generally prefer to grill a less lean beefsteak; I particularly like tri-tip or chuck — but others lean toward the lean, and why not accommodate?

So on getting it home I salted the steak on both sides, re-wrapped it, and set it in the refrigerator until an hour or two before cooking.

The fire was mixed mesquite charcoal — I like Lazzari — and grape wood, plentiful hereabouts.

I sliced a lemon thin and set the slices on the steak, along with a spray of rosemary, and drizzled oil on top.

The neighbor down the hill suggested covering the steak with aluminum foil, and in truth he'd taken over much of the duty while I moved from grill to bar to make Martinis.

Grilled on both sides, steamed somewhat under its cover, the steak was juicy and tasty. Green salad after, and wild blackberries and our own peaches over vanilla ice cream. It's a good life.

IMG 2718      🍷Red, Ocarosso Cuvée Rosso, nv: simple, a little earthy, a perfect barbecue wine

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Portuguese fish

bacalau
Eastside Road, July 26, 2018—

WE WERE OUT across county, and a little hungry a little past noon, so we dropped in at a Portuguese place we've meant to try. The same chef had another place in our own town, and we've liked it, but it went out of business a month or so ago, so we particularly wanted to show some support.

I warmed up with three fine grilled sardines, served with a few delicious black olives on a bed of beautifully sweated minced onion — such a simple dish, and so artfully done.

I went on to this bacalhau, as the Portuguese insist on calling bacalao, or baccalà: salt cod and potatoes, served in a rissole in this version, with a hardcooked quail egg and a scatter of cress, in a pool of perfect olive oil. You can't do a lot better than this.

     🍷white, Alentejo, 2016, very good

•LaSalette Restaurant, 452 1st Street, Sonoma; 📞707-938-1927

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Risotto

risottoEastside Road, July 25, 2018——

RISOTTO TONIGHT, a dish Cook knows. I’ve mentioned, though so long ago it may have slipped your mind, that we do differ on one detail: I wait until most of the stock has been taken up by the rice before adding the wine; she adds it before any stock has gone in. I suppose she wants to be sure all the alcohol is cooked away. Curious. 

Afterward, green salad with a chopped-onion vinaigrette — I’ve been taken off salad detail — and then applesauce met gemberkoek. A treat!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Niçoise

salade niçoise
Eastside Road, June 1, 2018——

FIRST DAY OF JUNE:let’s celebrate with a very generous Salade Niçoise, surely one of the great dishes.

Cook steamed some perfect little green beans, boiled a couple of eggs, found a couple of pretty good tomatoes and red bell peppers, opened a can of good tuna, tossed in some anchovies, and laid it all out on tender lettuce leaves. Sumer is icumen in.

     🍷Rosé, La Ferme Julien

Monday, May 28, 2018

Lamb shanks

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Eastside Road, May 27, 2018—

SURELY ONE OF the great recipes is Richard Olney's for braised lamb shanks. It is simple, complete, and inspired, and it never fails. We have followed it scores of times over the years, and both Cook and I could no doubt prepare the dish from memory.

We never do, of course; we always return to the book, Simple French Food . And I, at least — I don't know about Cook — always realize the procedure has long since been completely internalized. I wrote about it here, nine long years ago:

Ask the butcher to saw the lamb shanks into slices a couple of inches thick. Brown them on all sides in a little olive oil in a heavy pot with a close-fitting lid; then throw in a head of garlic, the cloves separated but not peeled, and let them cook very slowly — we use an asbestos pad under the pot and turn the flame as low as possible. The meat will form its own juice.

After an hour or two sprinkle dry herbes de Provence on the meat and let it cook as much longer as you like. When all the liquid's gone you might want to sprinkle a few drops of water on the meat; we've never found that necessary.

Remove the meat to a hot platter, deglaze the pot with a little white wine, and pass the glaze and the garlic cloves through a food mill to make a heavy sauce for the meat. Serve with noodles.

I just Googled "olney lamb shanks simple" and found a few adaptations of the recipe (along with my own 2009 post, quoted above). One cooks the shanks with Vermouth. Another serves the meat with cannelini. I can't think why anyone would do either of these things. Olney's recipe is perfect. Lamb, garlic, herbes de Provence, white wine. It's all you need, and you do want to serve it with egg noodles.

About those herbes de Provence: This is about the only time we use them, so they're getting a bit long in the tooth — I bought our current supply in the market in Nice five years ago. They're a little dusty, but thanks to Ziplock still aromatic. Lamb, Provence, red wine. Dinner on the patio with much of the family around us: marvelous.

     🍷White: La Ferme Julien; "Madam Preston." Red: L. Preston, Preston of Dry Creek IMG 9495

Friday, May 25, 2018

Split pea soup

Split pea soup
Eastside Road, May 25, 2018—

EATING AT HOME; domestically. By that I mean modestly, even frugally, something with lots of flavor, but substantial.

Cook buys dry beans, peas, chickpeas, and such — organic ones, of course. It doesn't take all that much time to cook them: they soak while she gardens; cook while we watch the depressing news or maybe a ball game.

This soup began with a slice or two of bacon sizzling in a black iron skillet, of course. When you cook and eat bacon rarely, and then only a slice or two at a time, it's neither expensive nor particularly bad for one's health, or so we tell ourselves.

Onion, of course; salt and pepper. A green salad afterward.

IMG 9480And dessert: an ice cream sundae, with toasted pecans and caramel sauce — because she is, after all, a pastry chef.

     🍷Vin blanc ordinaire, La Ferme Julien

Running out of steam

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Eastside Road, May 25, 2018—
MY FIRST POST to this blog was written a little over ten years ago, on March 25, 2008. Since then two thousand, seven hundred seventy posts have followed, not counting this one. For years I took the perhaps unwisely chosen title of the blog seriously — not until 2013 did fewer than 300 posts appear in a given year.

Last year, though, I began to run out of steam: only 155 posts. Eating every other day, the title should have been. And this year has been disastrous.

I won’t go into the reasons for this, which are personal and a little discouraging. What I am doing, as I type this, is wondering where to take the blog next. I know that over the years there have been a number of followers, and I like to think the blog’s presence, on line, has had its usefulness. Most of you must know about the search box up in the upper left corner: type in “pizza” or “Rome” or “anchov*” (the asterisk standing for either “y” or “ies”) will turn up posts with possibly useful or interesting content.

But to tell the truth I no longer trust my palate for day-to-day comments. We continue to eat well, of course; Cook always finds ways to tickle that aging palate, and there are pleasures both evolved and simple that might be reported.

IMG 9443Yesterday, for example: we’d gone to Sonoma, there to see a small exhibition of paintings by an acquaintance, and we stopped off at a favorite spot for lunch. I suppose I ordered unwisely: two pork tamales, twice as much as I needed. But they were delicious, muy sabrosos, as always here, and I washed them down with a bottle of Pacifico beer, because I haven’t had Pacifico for years, and wondered if it were as bland as recalled (yes).

So I’ll try to soldier on here, I suppose, when there’s something potentially useful, or at least pleasant, to share. Do in the meantime indulge my uncertainties.

•El Molino Central, 11 Central Avenue, Sonoma; 📞+1 707 939 1010

Monday, April 30, 2018

Last week catchup

Eastside Road, Berkeley, and San Francisco, April 23-28—
1F2674AA A0B1 4AA4 BD27 0D3875E20512 MONDAY, April 23 — How can I have left so many days slip past? — was a flight day, beginning with a frozen croissant bought days earlier at a favorite bakery, then coffee at a pleasant neighborhood café we'd been depending on the last few days.
Lunch, much delayed, was a serviceable grilled cheese and ham grabbed at an eatery on our drive home; and I have to confess having needed a "gelato" by the time that drive got us two thirds of the way home. Too tired for dinner.

•Bakeshop, 5351 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland; 📞503-946-8884
•Saint Simon Coffee Company, 2005 NE Broadway Street, Portland; 📞971-703-4993
•LaLa's Creamery, 134 Petaluma Blvd. N, Petaluma; 📞707-763-5252

IMG 9185 Tuesday, April 24: A delicious improvisation: a fried-egg-and-bacon sandwich on nice dense rye bread, with savory sautéed vegetables on the side.
IMG 9189 Wednesday, April 25: Baseball night in front of the television. We're partial to the Niman Schell hot dogs, which I like with mustard but never catsup, chopped raw onions, pickle relish, and sauerkraut. Sautéed potatoes and carrots on the side; green salad afterward. The buns are from our local bakery, of course.

•Downtown Bakery and Creamery, 308a Center Street, Healdsburg

IMG 9214 Thursday, April 26: to Berkeley to meet last week's bride and groom, flown down from Portland for a short honeymoon in the Bay Area. We ate in the café, beginning with housemade salt-cod pizetta; I went on to a green salad and rich, redolent braised pork with chiles, oregano, lime, shell beans, and cilantro-flavored long-grain rice, with a bittersweet choclate pavé with caramel ice cream for dessert.

     🍷Zinfandel, Green and Red, 2016

•Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 📞510-548-5525

IMG 9231 Friday, April 27: After a night at home and breakfast as usual we took the newlyweds into town to see the Downtown Bakery, then home to the neighbors down the hill for a fine al fresco lunch: a chopped salad, deviled eggs, cheeses and anchovies. Then a quick trip to deliver the pair to their San Francisco hotel and drinks at a favorite bar where the celery and parmesan, the anchovies and butter, the French fries and my Hanky Panky ae always dependable. Once home, only fruit and a chocolate seemed necessary.

•Zuni Café, 1658 Market Street, San Francisco; 📞415-552-2522


Saturday, April 28: Cook smashed up canned sardines — we like those canned in spring water, not oil — with chopped onions and horseradish to make sandwiches, served with a bowl of store-bought red-pepper soup; green salad afterward, and an apple. And finally I'm beginning to return to normal after the nuptial feasting of the previous week…

     🍷Beer…

Finally, yesterday, Sunday: Penne rigata tossed with chopped lemon, garlic, and anchovies; the green salad. I am well looked after.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Portland catchup

Portland, Oregon, April 19-22, 2018—
IMG 9118 THIS IS WHY we were in Portland a week ago: the wedding of our granddaughter Francesca and her beau Hamza, seen here last Saturday at the reception, cutting a glorious cake baked by Giovanna and the Contessa and decorated by Thérèse — bakers all.

But first, let me catch up a bit. I've told you about the pizzas we had on Wednesday. Thursday, April 19, we cooked supermarket ravioli at home, with a green salad afterward — not bad.

     🍷Cheap Nero d'Avola

IMG 9080 The next day I took the groom to lunch in a downtown bistro where we had a little splurge: a bottle of 🍷Beaujolais-Villages, Le Bouteau, Pascal Granger, ‘16,
as it was listed on the menu: but in the event it was a 2014, holding up well for its age. With it, for me, a grilled ham-cheese baguette: jambon de Paris with Gruyère, a dollop of Dijon mustard, and mixed arugula and frisée. Not bad at all.

•Little Bird Bistro, 215 SW 6th Avenue, Portland, Oregon; 📞(503) 688 - 5952

That night we ate at home — not our B&B this time, but the home of the mother of the bride. It was a big dinner for the family, and all three of our children and their mates, seven of our eight grandchildren and their various beaux and friends, and all four of our great-grandchildren were there.

How to feed such a crew? Giovanna asked me to pick up the roast chicken dinners ordered in from Arrosto, and foccaccia from Pastaworks, and green salad and roasted potatoes. I really like Providore, a marketplace incorporating these subsidiary businesses; they have an interesting wine shop, a small but soigné cheese selection, and are a comfortable, well-lit, quiet place for lunch.
     🍷Many wines, of course, including a fine Regaliali Nero d'Avola
•Providore Fine Foods, 2340 NE Sandy Boulevard, Portland; 📞+1 (503) 232-1010

IMG 9102 The big day, of course, was Saturday, the wedding day. I don't think we ate lunch. I got a haircut in the morning, and most of us seemed to float around in a sort of haze. It was a splendid April spring day; all Portland was in bloom — dogwoods, cherries, azaleas and rhododendrons, tulips and hyacinths.

The ceremony was in the front garden of the bride's parents' house, and among the 150 guests or so it seemed most of the neighbors were present — along with all our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, the Contessa's sisters, various cousins, the bride's other grandparents and their daughter and her son and daughter.

It all went off without a hitch, and afterward we repaired to a nearby social hall for the reception: sixteen tables of various sizes seating from six to a dozen. Like the entire week of parties, the menu had an Italian theme with decidedly Algerian contributions, reflecting the couple's residence and the groom's birthplace.

We began with little frittata bites with asparagus, chèvre, soft herbs, olives, and piquilles; bread, butter, and anchovies, crudités, and bread with a sort of Algerian pesto made with fava tops and garlic.

IMG 9107 The bridal couple stood serving out the dinner, and the groom rather overloaded my plate: "Uncle Paolo" 's grilled steak with salsa verde; Merguez sausages, radicchio "Caesar" salad with grapefruit, tarragon, and green olives; honey and za'atar-roasted carrots; Farro with preserved lemon, red onion, and roasted kale.

Paolo is of course uncle of the bride, our son; he raised and butchered the steer whose steak we enjoyed, grilling it outside the dining hall over charcoal. There was plenty left over to enjoy the next day, spent in rest and recovery.

There was, of course, cake, as you see at the top of this post — two, in fact: a four-storey chocolate wedding cake with coffee crunch filling and coffee butter cream, and a "groom's cake," Lindsey's almond torte with sour cherry jam and chocolate icing. The bride's mother made the cakes, with her mother's help: this was a thoroughly professional job. The bride's aunt decorated the cakes, splendidly I thought, and my Lindsey made marzipan olive leaves to decorate the groom's cake.

The wedding theme was Mediterranean, as I've mentioned, and the olive leaves seemed to me an auspicious decoration, signaling as they do peace and return to safety. Long and happy years to the couple; this beginning of their marital adventure will long be remembered.

     🍷Campari Spritzes; Pilsner Urquell; Nero d'Avola, Perricone, "L'Isola dei Profumi"(Sicily), 2016; Cava, Torre Oria (Valencia), nv; Moroccan mint tea

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pizza

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Portland, Oregon, April 18, 2018—
THESE DAYS I seem to crave sharp flavors more than usual: tomato, pepper, salt, lemon. Lunch was pretty good: good bread with sardines from the can. Dinner was even more to my point: for the many of us — three couples and assorted others — we ordered in four pizzas.

One of them was a Margherita, you can be sure. Not the slice in the photo, which was bizarrely, I thought, strewn with a few stalks of asparagus. The Margherita had less basil than I like but the sauce was first-rate.

I don't think pizza profits from being put in a cardboard box, any more than bread should see a container of any kind until it's cold, and then only when necessary. But there seems to be no other way to get fresh-baked pizzas home. Giovanna did slip them into the oven, on pizza pans, and that helped. But still.

     🍷Aglianico, Epicuro (I like this cheap red)

Lovely's Fifty-Fifty, 4039 North Mississippi Avenue, Portland; 📞+1 (503) 281-4060

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Egg and cheese

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Portland, April 17, 2018—

THE FIRST ITEM on the menu caught my eye, because when you're tired and a bit out of sorts there's nothing quite as restorative as a simple fried egg sandwich. But — wait a minute — with cheese? Egg and cheese? What an unlikely, unpleasant combination!

But then came immediately to mind: Cheese soufflé. Of course cheese and egg combine well, why this odd new prejudice? So I ordered the sandwich, with as an extra some Calabrian peppers, and it arrived in due time, and it was delicious. On very good bread, from Ken's Artisan Bakery, our favorite up here. Very nicely toasted. Piquant for sure with the peppers, but nicely balanced. I'd eat a couple more.

     🍷Beer: IPA from Great Bear Republic

Coquine, 6839 SE Belmont Street, Portland, Oregon; 📞503-384-2483

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Oysters on the half shell

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Eastside Road, April 16, 2018—
ALAS, WE WERE HAVING too much fun to think of taking photos. Friends — professional chefs, in fact — came up from Berkeley bringing lots of oysters and sausages, and whipped up a mignonette, and we stood around drinking "champagne," white wine and rosé, and eating oysters on the half shell, and then sat down to the sausages and sautéed apples and onions that Cook whipped up. (That's the one photo taken.) Green salad afterward, of course. Hours and hours of conversation and dining. A beautiful day.

     🍷Wines too many to list…

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Chicken with rhubarb

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Eastside Road, April 15, 2018—
AN UNLIKELY COMBINATION on first thought, I suppose. Cook is impressed with Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge, by Trine Hahnemann, a book of Scandinavian cuisine she'd heard about somewhere, and has made this item twice from it. You can see the recipe here. (There are also a number of recipes online.)

(I would say the chicken is baked, not roasted, but I don't know why I have this idea.)

The dish involves chicken pieces, shallots, garlic cloves, tarragon, a chunks of rhubarb stems, with enough sugar to cut their acid. Salt and pepper, of course. As the recipe stands I think the chicken is cooked too slowly, but it's a tasty dish.

     🍷Sauvignon blanc, Preston of Dry Creek, 2017

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Leftovers

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Eastside Road, April 14, 2018—
THE LAST OF Marion's buttered barley, none the worst for being re-heated with perhaps just a little more butter.

And then, after the green salad — nice to get back to our own salad dressing! — another leftover: that blood orange upside-down cake.

I have to admit a sentimental attachment to upside-down cake: my mother made what seemed to me a marvelous version, possibly using a cake mix from a box when they became available after the war (my Uncle Clay designed the Duncan Hines box, says family lore) but covering the bottom-then-the-top with rings of canned pineapple, brown sugar, and maraschino cherries.

IMG 9009Cook makes a better cake, no doubt about it; and the artfully arranged segments of carefully trimmed blood orange are just as pretty as the pineapple. Delicious, too, with delicately flavored whipped cream…

     🍷Sauvignon blanc, Preston of Dry Creek, 2017

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Short day in San Francisco

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San Francisco, April 13, 2018—
HOW INTRODUCE OVERSEAS guests to San Francisco in just half a day — and that with an obligatory shopping errand?

We started out with lunch at a favorite spot, where I had roast asparagus with an egg sunny side up, lemon aioli, and arugula, a delicious slice or two of smoked salmon on the side.

For dessert, Russian Honey Cake, of course; we wouldn't visit this place without another slice.

     🍷Bistronauta Fehér 2015 (Hungary; unusual; very good)

20th Century Cafe, 198 Gough Street, San Francisco; 📞415 621 2380


Then on to Mission Dolores for a little history and ice cream a block away at Bi-Rite. It was a beautiful day, and the line was blessedly short. I had two flavors of the season, Orange Cardamom and Meyer Lemon, and they complemented one another perfectly.

Bi-Rite Creamery, 3692 18th Street, San Francisco; 📞+1 (415) 626-5600


We stayed in the Mission. A tour of Balmy Alley; a look at Precita Park; then a short hike to the top of Bernal Heights — the view from there never fails to impress visitors.

Dinner, alas, was at the airport, where we left our niece and her daughter to fly home to Australia, and consoled a grandson-in-law-soon-to-be who'd missed a connection to Portland with his first American hamburger and beer. Great to see him; wish the food had been better…

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Friday, April 13, 2018

Buttered Barley

Eastside Road, April 12, 2018—

MARION CUNNINGHAM's buttered barley tonight, one of our favorite dishes — a sort of pilaf, I suppose, of simply barley, steamed, tossed with chopped scallions and butter. Everything better with butter!

     🍷Sauvignon blanc, Preston of Dry Creek, 2017: true to varietal, and according to me the best Sauvignon blanc that isn't French is grown in Dry Creek Valley.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

A day in Berkeley

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Eastside Road, April 11, 2018—

A SMALL LUNCH, since we're dining early. Where to take visiting Australian family to lunch? Let's go to Bartavelle, I'm exactly in the mood for an anchovy egg.

These are essentially four-minute eggs, cooked in steam I believe, halved, given a dollop of aïoli, a coiled rinsed anchovy, and a dusting of Maresh pepper. That's a delicious pickled carrot slice on the side; I've already eaten the cauliflower floweret.

There's no better pick-me-up than these eggs. With it, a slice of buttered toast.

     🍷A glass of Prosecco

•Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar, 1603 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley; 📞+1 (510) 524-2473
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The dining room at Chez Panisse, between seatings

DINNER WAS AT Chez Panisse, and it was luxe, calme, et volupté. We could relax and converse and leave everything to the superb service. We had:

IMG 8989🍷Aperitif: a glass of Prosecco delicately flavored with strawberry and thyme, with tiny gougères

Local halibut tartare, julienned vegetable salad, ginger vinaigrette, and mustard blossoms; with flatbread sprinkled with black nigella seeds.

Clean, sparkly, a true appetizer, waking the palate

🍷Grüner Veltliner: Domäne Wachau, 2015

IMG 8992 Clam chowder with Marash pepper and herbs

From the delicately pungent tartare, with its rather austere wine, to a remarkable version of chowder, delicate and springlike, light and complex, with a remarkable wine:

🍷Cour-Cheverny, Domaine Philippe Tessier, 2015: pretty, almost œil de perdrix, tawny on the tongue,

IMG 8997 Lamb: rack, loin, and leg stuffed with sorrel and breadcrumbs, all from the grill; with glazed carrots and potato purée
The stuffed leg of lamb was a gigot a la ficelle, hung by a string from above and in front of the coals in the fireplace. The heat causes the leg to turn slowly in one direction, winding the string to a point at which it has to reverse and turn in the other direction, roasting the meat evenly on all sides.

🍷Saint-Joseph, Vignobles Verzler, Chante-Perdrix, vintage?

IMG 8998 Wildflower honey ice cream with pistachio cake and tangerines
Nutty, dense, moist cake set off by a creamy ice cream; just enough sauce to bring it all together

🍷Tokay

•Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 📞+1 (510) 548-5525
Yes, we've been part of the Chez P family for 46 years…

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017