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

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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
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.


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

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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


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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

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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

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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


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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


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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


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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.

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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

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


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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.

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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