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

IMG 9060
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

IMG 9043  1
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

Ribs

Ribs
Eastside Road, April 10, 2018—

RIBS FROM THE fireplace, grilled over wood, served au naturel, with broccoli and potatoes. It was all delicious, and we were guests. How could it be better?

Apple pieApple pie a la mode, that’s how. Thanks, neighbors!

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Monday, April 9, 2018

Pork chops ma façon


Eastside Road,  April 8, 2018—

PORK CHOPS my way. I’m sure I’ve discussed this before: you put chopped garlic, salt, and plenty of fennel seeds in a mortar and grind it up to a paste. I add half a lemon zest, micrograting it in. Add olive oil ans a little lemon juice. 

I rub the white fat on the edges of the cold chops into the cold black iron frying pan, then get it good and hot and add the chops (salted when brought home from the shop). 

Spread half the mixture from the mortar on the chops as they cook. Turn when done on the first side and spread the remaining mixture. 

When done, deglaze the skillet with white wine, reduce, and pour over the chops. 

Tonight we had steamed asparagus alongside, green salad after, then a caramel pecan ice cream sundae. 

Riesling, Emma Reichart, 2016

Fund-raiser


THIS KIND of dinner: perhaps twenty tables each seating ten. Catered dinner. Dining with strangers. Master of ceremonies at microphone. Ceviche, green salad, beefsteak with Brussels sprouts and a sort of risotto. 
Sauvignon blanc; rosé of Pinot noir; red blend. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Beef stew

NOT A TRUE DAUBE, which is what I like to make, but a collaborative dish that turned out to be a one-dish stew, with lots of carrots. We browned the beef, but each thought the other had deglazed the pot: hence some lost flavor. Oh well: six of us ate pretty well …

But no photo…

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Risotto


Eastside Road, April 6, 2018—


RISOTTO PRIMAVERA, you might almost call it, lightly flavored with a couple of Franco Dunn’s “risotto” sausages and, of course, Parmigiano. With it, asparagus, simply steamed and very lightly buttered.


Green salad afterward, then  tangerine. 


Riesling,, Emma Reichert (Nahe), 2016: light, dry, useful

Zuni


Arugula, Parmesan, and almonds. Parmesan, anchovies and olives. A fine Martini. Central Coast goat “gouda” with fig jam for dessert. Nice. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

salads

Eastside Road, April 3, 2018—
NO PHOTO, just leftovers tonight — egg salad, made for today's lunch with a couple of visiting friends; the end of the tuna-bean salad, finally, and none the worse for maturing; an orange lentil sauté with onion flavored with cardamom and turmeric; then the green salad, again including spinach.

Speaking of cardamom, we were introduced today to a fine ice creamery — a Michoacan ice creamery, where I chose a small cup of cardamom ice cream. Beautifully made, thick and creamy, and delicately but thoroughly infused with the spice. The flavor was not layered on an ice cream base, or even folded into it; it was completely integral to the entire preparation. There are many flavors to be tried here, and the authentic paletas as well, some of them quite piquant I am told. We'll be back.

     🍷A little beer before lunch; a ginger beer with dinner.

•Frozen Art Gourmet Ice Cream, 500 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa; 📞(707) 331-2899

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Monday, April 2, 2018

Baseball

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Eastside Road, April 2, 2018—
SPRING TRAINING went pretty well, which always alarms me — and in fact things havyen't been unrelievedly wonderful since the season opened last week.

Things in the ball park, that is. Here at the dining table, which I confess is in front of the TV when a game is on, things are just fine. Niman Schell hot dog, DBC* bun, organic dill pickle, decent mustard and relish — and one of Cook's quickly made but nicely flavored potato salads.

Green salad afterward, of course, tonight with spinach among the greens. A Pixie tangerine; a couple of chocolates.

     🍷Cheap white wine spritz

*Downtown Bakery and Creamery, Healdsburg

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Spanakopita

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Eastside Road, April 1, 2018—
THE NEIGHBOR STEPPED onto the patio a little before noon, bearing a plate in her two hands. "I brought you some pie," she said, and took it into the kitchen, then excused herself, in a hurry, and walked back down the hill.

Well, it's Easter Sunday: no surprise she'd made Spanakopita, that delicious traditional Greek Easter pastry — flaky pastry concealing chopped spinach, onion, and egg, along with who knows what else comes to hand.

It's the day we often drive into town for a big Easter backyard party at a friend's house, but not this time; I'm being told to avoid crowds of people, and especially little kids. So we stayed home, the Contessa and I, and made do with our books and our gardening. Crackers, cheese, and fruit for lunch, leftover salads for supper — a delicious potato salad that's only improved in the few days since Cook made it; a fine cannellini-onion-and-tuna salad; green salad of course.

And a delicious Spanakopita. Thanks, T!

It's nice to be back.

     🍷Blanc, La Ferme Julien

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:

2016      2015     2017     maybe I'll get around to working on these one of these days…

Friday, February 16, 2018

Steak and potatoes

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Eastside Road, February 15, 2018—

ST. VALENTINE has come and gone, bringing Ash Wednesday with him — a curious and perhaps ominous conjunction that I don't recall ever experiencing before. But perhaps it means nothing.

Dinner last night was superb: Cook found a fine thick rib-eye at the local meat counter, and prepared it inspired by a recent NY Time recipe by David Tanis involving salt and pepper, garlic and rosemary. The steak sweats in those flavorings half an hour or so, and is then cooked on one side in a very hot skillet, then turned and finished in the oven.

Potatoes as she often cooks them, in butter, with salt, pepper, garlic, and chopped parsley.

We did not have salad: instead, my favorite green leafy (well, one of them): Swiss chard.

     🍷Dolcetto, Pecchenino "San Luigi" (Dogliani), 2016: ottimo, as the Italians say, simply the best.

Best of all, there was enough left of this feast (except for the chard) to have exactly the same meal tonight!

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Monday, February 12, 2018

Souvenirs of Yountville

Eastside Road, February 12, 2018—
ROAST CHICKEN again tonight, because we could eat only half of it last night. We don't usually resort to doggy bags: in fact, I think this may have been the first time I have willingly participated in such a thing, though the Contessa has been known to bring the occasional leftover home from a lunch somewhere. I was brought up to leave nothing behind on the dinner table, and old habits die hard.

So last night I asked the busser to put the dark meat of our bird in a little box, and not to neglect the bones from the breasts and wings which we'd eaten. Two more meals, we thought. But our instructions were not followed; the gnawed bones must have been felt infra dig. Oh well.

Cold roast chicken for dinner, then, with nice steamed buttery potatoes, and raw fennel, and a green salad.


But there is more. Cook found some prosciutto in the fridge at lunchtime, and made delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with some Comté.

And breakfast! Instead of the customary toast, it was pain aux raisins, one of my favorite pastries, bought last night at Bouchon Bakery. This was truly a remarkable thing, buttery with particularly good butter, raisiny with dark and golden raisins, not too big but far from frugal. A great way to start the day.

     🍷Cinsault, Preston of Dry Creek, 2014 (at dinner, naturally)

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

ad hoc

Yountville, California, February 11, 2018—
INTO ENEMY TERRITORY today — not Stanford, but the Napa Valley — to see an interesting exhibition of the photographs of Paul Child, documenting his life with Julia in postwar France.

And to dine. It was Paul Bocuse's birthday, Paul Bocuse who recently died, the celebrated inventor of La Nouvelle Cuisine back in the 1960s. This was important in its day for finally displacing what I think of as Swiss-Hotel Cuisine from the culinary establishment. It was, in a way, in its context, analogous to the arrival in our country, a little later, of "California Cuisine."

Thomas Keller, the celebrity chef of the Napa Valley (The French Laundry, Ad Hoc, Bouchon bakery) decided to celebrate this occasion with a menu inspired by Bocuse and cuisine nouvelle. Ad Hoc is a "casual" supplementary restaurant to the hautee cuisine tasting-menu The French Laundry, sharing its access to a fine salad garden, an extensive wine list, and the excellent Bouchon bakery, but lacking linen tablecloths, extensive presentation-heavy courses — and pleasant acoustics.

We dined early, 5 pm, and on a Sunday: but the room was soon packed with a noisy, rather young crowd, some with very small children. (We'd been amused, earlier, to see dozens of these people — daytrippers, I'd bet — out photographing themselves and one another in the fields of mustard blossoms currently filling the valley.)

The first course was a variant on salade lyonnaise: frisée, bacon chunks, a poached egg, a vinegary dressing. This is a favorite of mine, and this version was good. The frisée was in fact a hybrid of curly endive (the usual and authentic lettuce) and some other, sweeter, rather meatier lettuce; the bacon was lightly smoked in the American manner; and the egg was not really poached but slow-cooked to a low temperature in the current fashion: but the result was a delicious salad, and I'm sure Bocuse would have approved.

     🍷Graves, Ch. Villa Bel Air, 2014: just what a Sauvignon blanc should be

I'm not sure he'd have approved the next course — a whole small chicken , perfectly roasted, then split in half and presented just so, with little jus. The bird should have been more adequately salted before cooking, and I like the skin a bit crisper. I should roast my own damn chicken, I guess.

With it, a nice dish of tiny lentils and another of deep but I thought one-dimensional mushrooms.

     🍷Mondeuse, Domaine Louis Maguin (Savoie), 2011: a favorite varietal of mine, this was perfectly mature and true to type, deep and finished

Came next a cheese course, but not what you'd have found in the French countryside, where a chariot would trundle to the table offering a variety. This was a half round of local (Andante Dairy) Saint Marcellin-style cheese, with delicious buttery toast and a small pot of honey.

     🍷Bourgogne blanc, Roche e Bellene, 2014

And then perhaps the best course of the meal, unless the salad won that honor — a beautifully made, silky, deeply flavored custard, unfortunately not that well brulée, probably not to order. But the custard itself was fine, and brought its accompanying wine to life.

     🍷Jurançon, Charles Hours "Clos Uroulat," 2012: soft, fruit, balanced sugar, plenty of finesse
Ad Hoc, 6476 Washington St Yountville; 📞+1 (707) 944-2487

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pinsa; Merguez

YESTERDAY WE WERE down in San Francisco, as we seem so often to be, looking at art and, of course, finally eating. We'd skipped lunch for lack of time, so had a very early supper at a place I've been curious about.

A pinsa, it turns out, is a sort of foccaccia, a flat savory pastry laden with whatever you think you'd like and cooked in an oven. A sort of pizza, in fact. It's a Roman dish, they say: it's odd that in all the time we've spent in Rome we've never run into it.

At this particular pinseria the dough is made with a blend of rice, soy, and wheat flours, all imported from Rome. I ordered the Centocelle, named for a quarter of Rome we haven't visited but certainly will one day: it was loaded with tomato, mozzarella, artichokes, mushroom, olives, hard-boiled-egg, and prosciutto di parma, and it was very very very delicious. With it, a simple mixed green salad.

     🍷Aglianico del Vulture “Gricos,” Grifalco (Basilicata), 2014
No need to speak English here: this is a simple place; you'd have thought you were in an Italian province. Dark, cluttered with nostalgic old furnishings, in a dubious alley between Mission and Market. I can't wait to go back.

Montesacro Pinseria-Enoteca, 510 Stevenson Street, San Francisco; 📞(415) 795-3040


Eastside Road, February 10, 2018—
TONIGHT WE DINED at home, and it was one of the best dinners I've had in weeks. Cook found a couple of lamb sausages in the freezer, sausages our son had brought, made from lamb from his own animals, nothing but lamb and very thoughtfully mixed spices including coriander.

This gave Cook the idea of something North African or perhaps Middle Eastern. She charred and peeled two green bell peppers and two red ones, cut them into strips, and sautéed them in olive oil with onion and garlic, flavoring them with paprika, red pepper flakes and a bay leaf. The result couldn't be bettered.

Green salad; a tangerine.

     🍷Cinsault, Preston of Dry Creek, 2014 — an absolutely perfect match to the dish

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sardines and such

Eastside Road, February 5, 2018—
YESTERDAY I MADE sandwiches for lunch — sounds unexceptional, but Constant Reader knows I’m rarely allowed to do the cooking. I found a decent-sized stalk of celery and half a white onion in the refrigerator, and chopped them up, along with a dill pickle. I washed four leaves of lettuce. I opened a can of sardines. I sliced four slices of that delicious Como bread from the Downtown Bakery, and threw everything together, and it was pretty good as I believe; Cook thought so too.

     🍷Cheap Pinot grigio

TODAY, on the other hand, it was lunch in the café, and what a delicious lunch. I started with a simple salad of butter lettuce, with a creamy Green Goddess-like dressing redolent with tarragon.

Afterward, roast pork loin, with leafy broccoli stalks — more leaf than stalk or flowerets — and a pungent tapenade. And remarkable french-fries, hand-cut, very thinly sliced, nicely cooked and salted. The pork was marvelous: tender, succulent, mature, perfectly roasted.

     🍷Arneis, Vietti, 2014
For supper we had a brandade and tomato pizzetta that we’d had the forsight to take home with us. This has to be among the best pizzas.

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

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Penne

Eastside Road, February 3, 2018—
YES: penne rigata; tomato sauce of Cook’s own manufacture, grated Parmesan. Green salad after.

     🍷Garnacha, Laya, 2014

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Soup

Eastside Road, February 1, 2017——
ONE OF THESE days I’ll tell the story of the old man who had to have his soup. “Pas possible, manger sans la soupe, » he said. I’ll tell it one of these days when I have a keyboard.

Tonight Cook made this soup: beans, ham, onions, celery, jalapeños, collards, garlic, a splash of cider vinegar. Chicken stock. Delicious.

     🍷Wine

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Eastside Road, January 16, 2018—
TODAY WILL BE a fast day: it's Tuesday, and long overdue. But what have we been eating these last three days?
Saturday, having noticed the preponderance of meat in the diet of the last few days, Cook decided to make a sort of braise or stew of vegetables. Brassicas constituted much of the melange, and while I'm fond of brassica leaves, those parts of the plants found underground are not to my personal taste.

I do like carrots, and celeriac, and radishes: otherwise root vegetables taste mostly like dirt to me. Except for potatoes, tubers are out of the question. ditto corms and rhizomes. Alliums, of course, are not roots at all, but bulbs, and essential to my diet — though Cook was, I thought, perhaps a bit too extravagant in the use of garlic in this particular dish.

I'm not complaining. Everything doesn't have to be to my personal taste.

Sunday: Ah, Cook served a marvelous pasta tonight — tagliarini, the one I've been buying online, dense and flavorful, tossed ith anchovies, parsley, thin-sliced lemon, and croutons. The flavors were fresh and pointed, the textures crisp, chewy, and interesting. Why do people eat roots and tubers, anyway, when they can have food like this? Of course it's true pasta must be manufactured and anchovies netted and trucked, but what else is civilization for?

     🍷Cheap Pinot grigio

Yesterday, Monday, though the weather has been warmer lately, Cook bethought herself of a good thick winter soup, like one we'd had in Portland a week or two ago — split pea soup, based on a corned-beef broth she'd found in the freezer, with little cubes of boiled ham, onion, carrot (ah there!), thyme, a bay leaf, garlic…

Gee, this was delicious. I drew a critical remark for gobbling, and it's true, I should curb my enthusiasm. But it was so good.

     🍷Aglianico

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Friday, January 12, 2018

Barley; Standard Fare

Eastside Road, January 12, 2018—
YESTERDAY WE DINED at home — the second consecutive evening we dined at home, just the two of us, for the first time in weeks. A pleasure.

And we dined simply: first a bowl of romanesco, cooked slow and long in the Italian style, with garlic; then a bowl of barley pilaf, buttery and enlivened with chopped scallions. This dish always reminds us of the beautiful, intelligent, good-humored Marion Cunningham, a brilliant cook and author and good friend; it was her recipe, and we have it often and remember her generosity and gratitude.

     🍷Aglianico, Epicuro, Beneventano (Calabria), 1915: cheap, tannic, black, a little dull but serviceable


TODAY WE WERE in Berkeley at lunchtime, so stopped by a favorite spot for a sandwich and a plate of hummus. The scents of the kitchen took me right back to Portland, where we spent the previous week or so — specifically, the Portland of meat: bacons, grilled steaks, but sharply scented side-dishes as well.

You can't do better than this place. The menu changes daily, I think, and includes soups and salads, sandwiches and stews, with delicious pickles on the side. Today I had a roast beef sandwich on focaccia bread: grass-fed beef, long braised and tender, in a herb sauce, with pickled beets, roasted nappa cabbage, aioli, and ruby streaks — I had to look this last item up: a kind of mustard green lending bite and body to the sandwich.

The hummus plate came with endive, radish, fennel, green olives, and the sweetest, most flavorful carrots I've had in a long time — from Capay, of course, where there must be some pretty special soil.

We love this place, not only for the food which is clean and nourishing as well as immensely tasty, but also for the marvelous sense of purpose, style, and sheer enjoyment expressed by the whole busy staff. You can look at the menu online, call ahead, and pick up your order to go, if you like; I'd rather sit in the sun outside, or better yet at the counter inside where I can feast my eyes on this kitchen. What a pleasure.

Standard Fare Kitchen & Pantry, 2701 8th Street, Berkeley; 📞510-356-2261

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Portland week


Giovanna's potatoes, onions, mushrooms
Eastside Road, January 11, 2018—

NOTES ON A LONG WEEK eating in Portland, Oregon — a particularly rewarding city for food and drink, and not only because my daughter, a fine cook, is our hostess there.

Monday, Jan. 1: breakfast at Country Cat: a "French 79" — gin and prosecco — and then bacon and eggs on pancakes. The bacon was really extraordinary, meaty, deep-flavored, the right thickness, lightly smoked. And the pancakes were light but structural enough to support the protein.

•The Country Cat Dinnerhouse and Bar, 7937 SE Stark Street, Portland; 📞+1 (503) 408-1414


Tuesday, Jan. 2: lunch at the Cheese Bar, whose cheese case offers a fine small selection of cheeses, so thoughtfully selected it's hard to avoid the overworked word "curated." More on them later.

I've already described the evening's Hopping John.

•Cheese Bar, 6031 SE Belmont Street, Portland; 📞 +1 (503) 222-6014


Wednesday, Jan. 3: Lunch at Provador, a thoughtful small grocery with cheese, pasta and deli counter — the former PastaWorks participates in the operation somehow. I was content with a focaccia, piquant with tomato and pepper in a Calabrese style.

•Provador Fine Foods, 2340 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland; 📞 +1 (503) 232-1010

In the evening, jazz and rye whisky at a nearby club, 1905.


Thursday, Jan. 4: Lunch at Suzette, a crêpe specialist. My favorite is what I think of as a classic: Gruyère, spinach, and egg, sunny side up of course, with the proper drizzle of crème fraîche.

•Suzette Creperie, 3342 SE Belmont Street,Portland; 📞 +1 (503) 546-0892

Dinner at home: a fine braised chicken with potatoes, turnips, onions, and mushrooms. And afterward, Cook's magnificent syllabub.

🍷Côtes du Rhone, Famille Perrin, 2015


Friday, Jan. 5: Lunch: beans on toast, with a poached egg and plenty of parsley — a quick, solid, satisfying meal we're going to have to introduce to the repertory at home.

•Oui Presse, 1740 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland; 📞 +1 (503) 384-2160

Supper at home: this fine cheese board from Cheese Bar. The "Leonardo" was a particularly interesting cheese: cow's milk from Piemonte; white; very slightly crumbly, related I think to Castelmagno.

🍷Cortese, Castelvero, 2016


Saturday, Jan. 6: This was the morning we poured concrete — repairing sidewalks and driveways in front of four neighboring houses, including ours — well, my daughter's. This led to a substantial mid-afternoon supper of hearty bean and lentil soup. In the evening, too tired to dine, we were content with bread and cheese…


Sunday, Jan. 7: Dinner at Ox. Portland does love its meat-and-potatoes, and this restaurant is well named. We shared the dinner, the five of us — the Contessa and I, our daughter and son-in-law, their local grown daughter. Spiced beef, green olive, and raisin empanadas; fried oxtail terrine with caramelized shallot aioli, frisée and apple salad, and a soft-boiled egg; grilled house-made chorizo; Uruguay rib-eye, red cabbage with chestnut cream, duck jus, and poached quince; fried potatoes with horseradish aioli and dill; roasted cauliflower with raisin vinaigrette, mint, and roasted peanuts; desserts.

🍷Martini; Quinta dos Roques, Dao (Portugal), 2013

•Ox Restaurant, 2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Portland; 📞 +1 (503) 284-3366


Monday, Jan. 8: A cappuccino and serious muffin with said local grown daughter; then lunch with her mother and my Companion: at a Scandinavian-themed place we like where we could survey a few drinks and focus on
•Courier Coffee Roasters, 923 SW Oak Street, Portland; 📞 +1 (503) 545-6444
•Broder Nord, 2240 N Interstate Avenue, Portland; 📞 +1 (503) 282-5555

Dinner: penne rigate caccio e pepe at home; collards on the side.

🍷Pinot grigio, Villa Borghetti (Veneto), 2016


IMAGE SHORTRIB Tuesday, Jan. 9: Portland-Ashland by car. Lunch was a sandwich from the bakery that is always our last stop in Portland before leaving, as the Contessa does love their gibassiers.

•Pearl Bakery, 102 NW 9th Avenue, Portland; 📞 +1 (503) 827-0910

We took dinner in the hotel, at a place self-styled "the best restaurant on Highway 5" — a determination that could use fine-tuning, but this isn't the time or place. I had a small serving of braised short rib, and it was quite good.

•Luna Cafe + Mercantile, 2525 Ashland Street, Ashland; 📞 +1 (541) 482-3372


Wednesday, Jan. 10: breakfast at the hotel — one of those self-made waffles; a cup of nvg coffee. The cappuccino from Case Coffee was much better. Lunch was a favorite sandwich: boiled ham and thyme butter on a baguette, perfectly done by a local shop we like.

•Mix Bakeshop, 57 N Main Street, Ashland; 📞+1 (541) 488-9885
•Case Coffee Roasters, 1255 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland

And then dinner at home! Cook found one last meat pie made by our Laytonville daughter-in-law, filled with rich beef bound with raisins and spices, encased in a short, tender crust. Gotta get the recipe. With it, nice buttery sauteed carrots.      🍷Cheap Nero d'Avola

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Christmas week

Photo: Eric Monrad (edited)
Portland, Oregon, January 2, 2018—

NO WEEK SO IRREGULAR, when it comes to dining, as Christmas week. In our household it's complicated further by two birthdays, one exactly a week before Christmas, the other exactly a week later, on New Year's Day.

We have a fairly large family: three married children, eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren. They're spread out, geographically, and it's rarely possible to find them all in one place. This photo shows our own dinner table on the day after Christmas, when the fairly local were able to gather — those living within a hundred miles or so.

We'd seen other family members a week earlier, in Denver, and a month earlier, in Rome. And a couple of days after the dinner in the photo we drove up here to Portland for the New Year festivities: the traditioal dinner with a couple of old friends — that tradition is forty years running by noww — and the youngest daughter's birthday, yesterday.

In between there was a fine lunch at home with a couple of old friends visiting from New York, and a couple of their friends from southern California.

Another complication: in such circumstances note-taking seems out of place — even lifting the iphone for a quick casual shot seems intrusive. (And, to tell the truth, I'm usually too involved in conversation to think of it.)

So what have we been eating and drinking? Well, lots of meat; lots of wine. At the photographed table you would have found meat sliced from an eight-pound goose — far too small for the company — and a ten-pound prime rib beef roast — rather too much. The goose was from Salmon Creek, a local farm specializing in duck and goose. The beef was raised by our son's neighbor, a Scottish Highlander (the steer, not the neighbor), sustainably fed and raised. The meat had been carefully aged, too. Paolo cooked it over grapevine wood in our Weber, covered part of the time, and it was tender and delicious.

     🍷Cava: Bohigas, Reserva, nv; Bourgogne, Domaine Michel Gros (Côtes de Nuits), 2014; Port, Fonseca, 1970


Christmas Eve we'd gone down the hill to the neighbor's house and feasted on lamb chops grilled in the fireplace, after a long pleasant prologue with appetizers: almonds, cheeses, tapenades, capers, crackers, boquerones and such. With them, Cava; with the chops,

     🍷L'Arnot Negre (Garnacha/Syrah), Terra Alta (Spain), 2016; Valpolicella ripasso, Corte Saibante, 2013

The Contessa, in her role as Cook, had provided the dessert: Timbales Elysées! These are cups of langue de chat pastry, which she had filled with soft vanilla ice cream with blackberry and mulberry garnish, and covered with spun-sugar cages — fun and festive, perfect for a party.


On the 27th, the day after our feast with the family, we were content with leftovers. Goose and beef, of course. But also those delicious prunes that had stuffed the goose — prunes cooked in white wine, then stuffed themselves with foie gras. How had they not all been eaten the day before? But no one's complaining!

With the meat and garnishs, tagliatelle in thinned goose-gravy, and dark, long-cooked, buttery green beans.


Our New York guests and their friends arrived next, on the 28th, with bottles of wine. We were able to sit on the patio with a bottle of Cava, then another, of Grüner Veltliner, with chicken-liver mousse and crackers and other such things, but the real fun came next, when we all moved inside for the boneless pork tenderloin Cook had roasted in the oven. It was topped with a mustard sauce and served sliced with its jus, a Bavarian-style potato salad with mustard vinaigrette, and a green salad afterward.

     🍷a Tuscan red whose name and vintage escape me; Beaune, Giboulot, 1er cru Clos du Roi, 2015: authentic in the present style, fruity and delicious (Thanks David!)


New Year's Eve we had a fairly early dinner at a restaurant new to us — one I would return to, except that there are so many places to try in this marvelous restaurant town. We shared a couple of plates of fine grilled Brussels sprouts, the six of us; then went our own ways — though many of us agreed on the grilled New York steak, which came with truffled mashed potatoes, broccolini, and a butter sauce brightly colored with, I think, mostly parsley. This was a good cut of meat, tender, flavorful, perfectly cooked to order.

Dessert: I couldn't resist a flourless Black Forest cake with ice cream and brandie4d cherries. The ice cream was delicately flavored with brown sugar and malt, a flavor I particularly like.

     🍷a Martini; Barbera d'Alba, Mauro Molino, 2016

•Altabira, 1021 NE Grand Avenue, Portland, Oregon; 📞503-963-3600


Which brings us to last night, New Year's Day and our youngest daughter's birthday. Ham, brined here in house; Hopping John; collards. The traditional New Year's dinner, and may it bring us all good luck throughout the year!

And green salad, of course; and birthday cake: a chocolate ganache-with-raspberry, store-bought but very good indeed…

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017