Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pasta, red sauce

Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 31, 2009

YES: PASTA with tomato sauce. Again, Lindsey crumbles the sausage (thank you Paolo) into the stainless-steel skillet and browns chopped onion and garlic, then adds canned organic tomatoes which she breaks up with the ancient potato masher. Black pepper and probably bay, though I didn't see a leaf tonight. Green salad.
Cheap côtes de Ventoux 2006, "La ferme Julien"

Friday, January 30, 2009


Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 30, 2009

YOU'LL HAVE NOTICED I never mention money here, for three very good reasons at least: I'm a little ashamed at how we spend money eating; your shopping is not likely equivalent to mine; it's none of your business. Still, I'll make an occasional exception. Tonight's protein cost us two dollars fifty cents.

One pound of sardines — seven nice sturdy very fresh fish — bought two days ago at Monterey Fish when we were down in Berkeley. We absolutely trust this company: it's one of the very few things we miss from Berkeley, ten years after moving away.

Cleaning them this afternoon was the work of ten or twelve minutes. I should have grilled them over vine cuttings on the hibachi, but I was too lazy, or it was too cold, or something. Instead, Lindsey grilled them under the broiler. Salt and a squeeze of lemon juice, and a baked potato alongside, dressed with olive oil and salt and pepper. Green salad? How could you ask?
Cheap Pinot grigio

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 29, 2009

THE SEEMINGLY SIMPLEST of foods raise the most complex issues. Grains, for example: we all know about wheat, which most of us think of as our daily bread; the commonest of all the grains. For breakfast we often have two varieties, the soft white and the hard red "winter" wheat.

Then there's what we always call by its Italian name, farro, Triticum dicoccon, in English "emmer". This was well known in Rome; Pliny wrote about it, according to an interesting Wikipedia entry. I think we first tasted it near Lucca, at the memorable restaurant Il Vipore, where I understood that in fact it was the wheat of ancient Rome; the common bread wheats we know today hadn't yet developed, with their six sets of chromosomes. (Farro makes do with four; its even earlier ancestor Einkorn, the wild wheat from which all others have descended, with only two.)

More than you may want to know, but fascinating. Anyway, today Lindsey roasted sliced leeks, cut into chunks say half an inch in size, on a sheet pan in a little olive oil, while the farro was cooking in the usual way, and combined them into a tasty pottage. The leeks, some roasted nearly black, took on the texture and substance of wild mushrooms, chewy and nutty. Delicious.
Cheap côtes de Ventoux 2006, "La ferme Julien"

E cammino, cammino…

  • Camino, 3917 Grand Ave., Oakland CA; tel. 510.547.5035

  • Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 28, 2009
    THAT'S WHAT I always hear singing in my head when I think of Camino, opened six months ago or so. Well, etymologically it's excusable: Camino, with one "m", is Italian for "hearth"; camminare means "to walk," and I'm a walker. E cammino, cammino: And I walk, I walk…

    Yesterday we drove, did not walk, to the East Bay, there among other things to dine at Camino. Wednesday is the slow night, they said as we entered for our six o'clock reservation, but the place looked comfortably full when we left three hours later. We were able to have a comfortable conversation with our friends throughout; the food was tasty and enterprising; the wine list very interesting. Still a little off my feed I was content with two appetizers: a slice or two of duck breast with blood orange, frisée, and beets (I'd have been content without the beets); then a nice onion panade, rich and slow-simmered. Lindsey had the pork entrée: slices of roast leg, a rib, and an absolutely delicious sausage. We shared a complex and thoroughly satisfying vanilla-flavored rice pudding that sat on a bed of rich stewed-prune purée.
    Barbera del Monferrato, "La Casaccia", 2006

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    And soup again

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 26, 2009

    THING IS, IT'S COLD. Why wouldn't you have soup every day like this? And Giovanna's bean soup gets better and better.
    So, thank Bacchus, does that Ripasso.

    Green salad, of course.

    Soup and soup

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 25, 2009

    LUNCH IN TOWN, at a friend's weekend house: winter greens soup, I guess you'd call it; buttered baguette; a glass of nice Simi rosato. And for supper at home, Giovanna's Bean Soup:

    Pinto beans, their pot liquor; chopped onion and a fair amount of garlic; lots of sage. Toast in the soup-bowl; olive oil drizzled on it; then the bean soup.
    cheap Valpolicella Ripasso, Tenimenti Conti Neri, 2006

    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    Ravioli again

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 24, 2009

    BUT THIS TIME in Healdsburg at Bistro Ralph: filled with braised beef shortrib, meaty and succulent, and a huge serving of shoestring potatoes on the side.
    Petit sirah 2006, California

    Ravioli salsa di noci

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 23, 2009

    ODDIO CHEBBUONI RAVIOLI, stuffed with "winter greens" — fava greens, chard, and green garlic all chopped together with breadcrumbs, and dressed with salsa di noci, ground walnuts and oil. Perfectly made pasta, fresh and tender and light and tasty; perfect filling, complex and sturdy; perfect dressing, the texture matching the filling and adding just a bit of something of its own. Chez Panisse.
    Falaghina, Cantine del Taburno, Campania


    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 22, 2009

    THAT'S HOW I always think of it, Caesarsla. Romaine, garlic, pepper. Parmesan, anchovies, croutons, and raw egg. The best near us is at Zuni, in San Francisco, and the recipe in The Zuni Restaurant Cookbook is pretty well foolproof.

    Today's was eaten elsewhere: Sbarro, in the Santa Rosa downtown shopping mall. If we have to go to a food court, that's where I usually head. It could be worse.
    No wine in the shopping mall…

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    Buttered barley

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 21, 2009

    BACK TO BARLEY: Lindsey cooked in the usual way, then folded in melted and slightly browned butter and chopped scallions. Green salad afterward? How can you ask?
    Cheap pinot grigio

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Brunch & noshing

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 20, 2009
    NOT THE HEALTHIEST diet, perhaps, but a day this glorious deserves exceptions. A cheese and pepper omelet, then, for breakfast, with cornbread and a glass of Roederer; then cheese and nuts and such throughout the day, and a delicious angel food cake, and cookies, and good friends...

    Green salad later, of course.

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Polenta and red sauce

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 19, 2009

    PAOLO'S SAUSAGE has made a number of nice meals lately. It made a first-rate red sauce tonight, just as it did last night: on polenta this time. Green salad.
    Cheap côtes de Ventoux 2006, "La ferme Julien"

    Sunday, January 18, 2009

    Penne, red sauce

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 18, 2009


    IT'S BEEN TOO LONG. Looking back, I guess it's been almost exactly a month, since December 19. A couple of cans of tomatoes, crumbled sausage, crushed garlic, olive oil, bay leaf; penne. Green salad, this time with shallots, not garlic.
    Cheap côtes de Ventoux 2006, "La ferme Julien"

    Forgot about it.

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 17, 2009

    TWO FRIENDS FROM The Netherlands, another couple from San Francisco, unknown to one another. Home-made crackers (thanks, Henry), Brie, a little rosé for the girls, Corenwijn uit de koolkast for the rest of us. Later, apples, orange, dried apricots...

    Friday, January 16, 2009


    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 16, 2009

    YES, THINGS GRADUALLY get back to normal: I had a delicious Martini with a small dish of walnuts while watching the news. Did that make dinner particularly flavorful? Perhaps. First there was one of those tuna sandwiches we had yesterday, and then beans…

    But what beans! Lindsey had set aside some shelling beans at the end of the 2007 market season, some of Nancy Skall's beans, and they rested in a glass jar in the pantry for over a year. Water, good salt, good olive oil: as complex and knowing a flavor as you could imagine. Green salad, natch.

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Tuna san

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 15, 2009

    THERE'S AN UNINTENDED pun there: tuna is indeed honorable, especially mixed up with Ojai Cook Lemonaise, a little pickle relish, and some chopped onion, and turned into grilled sandwiches on multi-grain bread. Corn-and-soybean succotash went with it nicely, and a tossed green salad after.
    Apple juice

    Dinner again

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 14, 2009

    THE SIMPLE PLEASURES, like eating a three-course dinner again: Lindsey tossed some cold red beans with chopped Habañera pepper, coriander, onion, and lime juice for a first salad. Then a nice baked russet potato dressed simply with olive oil and salt. Then the obligatory green salad. I am content.
    Pomegranate juice spritzer

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Ah, to eat...

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 13, 2009


    I SUPPOSE IT wasn't much: only a bowl or two of soup — chicken stock, carrots, soybeans, garlic, pappardelle, salt and such, with a couple of crackers. But it's the first meal in four days. It's good to be well. Green salad, of course.
    Pomegranate juice spritzer

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    In which I break my fast

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 12, 2009
    WITH A CUP of guinea-hen stock from the refrigerator and a cracker. Going two days without eating was enough.

    Friday, January 9, 2009

    Thursday, January 8, 2009

    Lentil soup

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 8, 2009

    LIKE NEARLY EVERYONE we know, we generally don't eat the same meal two nights running. It occurs to me that was even the case in my childhood, during the Depression. We tended to eat the same meal in general each working day — six of them a week, I think, in those days, certainly during the War when my memories begin to lock in a lot more reliably. Macaroni and cheese on Friday, liver and onions on Tuesday, meat loaf somewhere, don't recall what the other staples were but I'm pretty sure they came around in regular rotation.

    And even the Sunday dinner, while it varied from week to week, didn't range through much of a repertory. Chicken fried or roasted, roast pork, ham on Christmas and Easter Sunday: that was about it.

    When we were first married we began collecting recipes. Not recipe books, particularly; recipes — clipped from magazines or, more rarely, the newspaper; friends' and relatives' recipes written out on file cards; various recipes from commercial sources, even. Among our favorites were those gathered in a series of pamphlets, each devoted to a different national cuisine: Hungarian, Italian, Greek, Scandinavian. Cosmopolitan by definition, they represented real connoisseurship, somehow. In a fit of deaccession we got rid of them several years back; I've regretted it ever since, and we've found some of them a second time, but I don't know where they are. Maybe Giovanna has them.

    What I'm getting at is, we all expect dinner to be different every day. Yet here on Eastside Road we've been eating a mighty restricted repertory lately, and tonight's dinner was exactly the same as yesterday's, and you know what? I could eat it again tomorrow, except that I think there isn't any left.
    Pomegranate juice. Cheap Pinot grigio for Lindsey, lucky woman.

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    Lentil soup

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 7, 2009

    IT CAME FROM the October 2008 issue of Gourmet, and I think Lindsey was pretty faithful to the recipe: simmer lentils in diluted chicken broth with a bay leaf and a couple of cloves of garlic. Brown some sweet Italian sausage in olive oil, remove it, then cook in the same pot chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic; stir in a little tomato paste, add the sausage (crumbled) and lentils and cook until the lentils are tender.
    Stir in half a pound of escarole, chopped, and cook another two or three minutes; season with wine vinegar, salt and pepper; serve.
    Green salad, of course.
    Pomegranate juice

    Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    Beans, chard, carrots

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 6, 2009

    THAT'S WHAT IT WAS for dinner tonight: lima beans (see yesterday: but I forgot to mention garlic, scallions, and shallots), chopped chard with bits of bacon, carrots with bits of candied ginger. Not bad at all.

    But the big news this week is, Bogman's back in town. I cover whole grains of wheat, oats, and barley with water, bring it to a boil, let it stand overnight; in the morning you've only to heat it thoroughly and it's cooked. Toss in some dried fruit if you like. I stir in some oat bran, too, after turning off the stove, cover it and let it stand while I fix the coffee.

    Monday, January 5, 2009

    White beans and onions

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 5, 2009

    WHITE BEANS AND ONIONS for dinner tonight, a classic salad. Lindsey soaked dried white Lima beans overnight, then cooked them slowly, cooled the, and tossed them with minced sage, marjoram, and parsley, all growing near the doorstep. Olive oil and salt, of course. Green salad.
    Pomegranate juice

    Oh: the previous two days? Slowly working our way through the leftovers — amazing how long, and how well, that pork tenderloin held up!

    Friday, January 2, 2009

    Supper down the hill

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 2, 2009
    FRIENDS FROM BACK EAST visited this afternoon; then we all went down the hill for a light supper with Thérèse and Eric. A nice fire blazing away in the fireplace, where Eric grilled slices of bread brushed with garlic and oil, and slices of polenta. We let Brie and ricotta melt down into the polenta, and had a sprinkling of walnuts, and Thérèse had cooked up a mess of greens. First-rate.

    off my feed

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, January 1, 2009
    OFF MY FEED these last few days, and will continue so a few more. It's an unfamiliar mode, as you might imagine if you've browsed this site over the last year. Fortunately, it's a temporary matter. Still, it's a hell of a way to start a new year.
    Tonight we finished the pork loin we began on Christmas day. Such a convenient roast that is! Lean and efficient, it takes little space in the icebox. Lindsey slices it say a quarter-inch thick; today serving it with beans (good luck, I hope, for the new year) and a delicious pickled crabapple from the pantry. Green salad.
    Pomegranate juice