Sunday, December 30, 2012

Buttered barley

Eastside Road, December 30, 2012—
YESTERDAY'S DINING WAS HEAVILY in debt of our friend the pig: ham and cheese on a baguette from Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland; then another from Mix in Ashland. Yep: we drove down from Portland in a single day. We arrived too late to consider getting supper together, but the neighbors down the hill came to the rescue with a delicious cauliflower gratinée and a chunk of … roast pork, cooked I'm sure in the wood stove. Porchetta, is what it was, to get us in the mood for Rome, and it was welcome.

There was enough to slice the rest for tonight's dinner, accompanied by romanesco and Marion Cunningham's buttered barley pilaf with chopped scallions, then followed by the usual green salad and, for dessert, salt-caramel ice cream with applesauce. I like it.

Primitivo, Grifone, Puglia, 2010

Friday, December 28, 2012


NE 8th Avenue, Portland, December 28, 2012—
LEFTOVERS YESTERDAY: prime rib, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts; delicious cheeses; Beaujolais.

Boardleft  Boardright

But today we went out to a mid-afternoon charcuterie dinner, where I feasted on the charcuterie you see here, called a "French Board": two types of saucisson sec, a slice of terrine, a generous soup spoonful of rillette, a chunk of garlic sausage, and a slice of Vallée d'Aspe. Before, I'd had my share of Lindsey's fine butter-lettuce salad. I like this place.
Morgon, Lapierre, 2011
• Olympic Provisions, 1632 NW Thurman Street, Portland; (503 894 8136

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing-day dinner party

NE 8th Avenue, Portland, December 26, 2012—
TO THE ELEGANT home of a couple of friends here tonight for a big day-after-Christmas party. It's so nice when your friends are professional cooks; you always eat so well. Tony had barbecued a couple of good-sized pork roasts; the result was almost exactly Roman porchetta.

But the miss-en-scene was not Roman but good ol' Amurcan BBQ, though with finesse and forethought. There were soft, tender, yielding little dinner rolls to split and ladle good sauce onto. There was an excellent slaw, with a little cilantro and some habañera peppers chopped into it. And there were trays of beautifully made mac and cheese.

Best of all, the huge serving table — there must have been close to forty guests — was bilaterally symmetrical, with a piquant slaw, sauce, and such on one side, a more retiring but still well flavored offering of the same on the other. And bowls of potato chips! And good brownies for dessert! Thanks, Diane and Tony…
I.P.A., "Intervention"

Christmas Dinner(s)

NE 8th Avenue, Portland, December 26, 2012—
WHAT! FASTING FOR CHRISTMAS? Well, Christmas did fall on Tuesday; technically I suppose we shouldn't have eaten. But if you don''t feel like following a (self-imposed) rule, just really break it wide open. So we had TWO Christmas dinners, and they were so much fun, and involved so much socializing, that I didn't take any photographs.

The first was in fact on Christmas Eve, when we roasted a goose and made bagna caudal. I had a little to do with both operations. The goose was frozen, because I'd neglected to reserve a fresh one from a local farm — that would have had to have been done last May, it turns out — but it worked out just fine. It weighed twelve pounds, and came with all its spare parts, thank Schiltz.

After it had thawed, which took a couple of days, I tore off the extra fat and set it aside, along with the neck, gizzard, heart and liver. (We'll deal with them later.) I rinsed it and dried it, rubbed it with salt inside and out, and stuffed it with a couple of pounds of our apples of several varieties, which dear Lindsey had peeled, cored, and quartered; combined with a pound of pitted prunes cut in half.

I always make a few pokes with the tip of a sharp paring knife through the skin on the breast of the goose, also the sides, to encourage the exuding of fat while it cooks. We roasted the goose for half an hour at 450°, then took it down the hill to finish in the neighbor's oven at 375° for a couple of hours. The goose was basted from time to time with its own juices. It was perfect.

I cut seven or eight stalks of cardoon from my plant, trimmed them of leaves, and peeled the strings off the backs of them using an ordinary potato peeler; then cut them into inch-long chunks, putting them in a bowl of water with the juice of a lemon (and the two halves of the squeezed-out lemon). When they were all done I brought them to a boil, then let them stand, drain, and set aside.

The bagna cauda was simple: about six tablespoons of butter, just melted; very thinly slice garlic, say eight or so cloves, softened in the butter; a couple dozen little anchovy fillets, drained of their oil and mashed up; and a couple of cups of good olive oil added to the mix, cooked softly for ten minutes or so.

Dinner was phenomenal: cheeses and olives and nuts, the bagna caudal with the cardoons and also endive, cubes of bread, strips of sweet red and yellow pepper which T. had prepared.

After the roast goose and T.'s wonderful red cabbage we had the usual green salad; then dessert: her incomparable apricot-and-raspberry Linzer tart, and eggnogs…
Cava, Bohigas, Gran Reserva (fine, almost tight, complex, perfect: thanks, Michael); Bandol, Domaine du Gros ’Noré, 2007 (solid, fruity, good terroir, a fine vintage); Cabernet sauvignon, Francis Coppola, 2000 (a little past prime but still pleasing: thanks, Kendall)

AFTER ALL THAT, and far too little sleep, and a twelve-hour drive through rain and dismal sunshine, we tucked into dinner last night, another traditional one, with a dozen at the table: extended family. Dinner was prime rib and mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green salad of course, and three fine cheeses: two Stiltons and a cheddar.

CookiesThen for dessert, this imposing plate of candies, dates, and cookies.
Champagne, Agrapart & Fils, "Les Sept Crus" (authentic); Beaujolais Nouveau, Domaine Dupeuble Père et Fils, 2012 (in magnum): sound and fruity; Gigondas, Domaine Les Pallières, 1999 (in magnum): edgy, smooth, mature but spirited; Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe "La Crau", 1999 in magnum): fine, round, deep, prime (thanks, Joe and Karen!)

And then, finally, a sound eight-hour sleep, and now I'm caught up.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Eastside Road, December 22, 2012—
LEFTOVER ROAST CHICKEN tonight, with the same vegetables, and no complaints here.

Particularly because of the first course: Franco's delicious rillettes, spread on rye-bread toast. Green salad was the third course, and a fourth hardly seemed necessary…
Viura, Montañano, 2012: smooth and generous

Roast chicken

Eastside Road, December 21, 2012—
WELL, IT TURNED OUT that co-grandfather is a vodka drinker, not gin: so we put the ginvent calendar on hold. He stayed to dinner, though, so we roasted a chicken. I rinsed it and salted it inside and out, then stuck a Meyer lemon inside it, and sprigs of rosemary under the skin on the breast.

Judy Rodgers has the simplest, most fail-proof approach to roasting a chicken: Preheat the oven and the rack to between 450 and 500 degrees; roast the bird twenty to thirty minutes breast side up; turn it over for another ten to twenty minutes; turn it back to the original position for another five to ten. The bird should brown and begin sizzling in the first fifteen to twenty minutes; if sooner, reduce the heat a bit.

(For more detail, get and read The Zuni Café Cookbook: it's an important basic reference.)

With the chicken, romanesco, cranberry sauce, and the best little farmers-market potatoes we've had this year, roasted in the oven. Green salad afterward.
Cabernet sauvignon, Simi, 2000: a little over the hill, but sound (thanks, Kendall)

Friday, December 21, 2012


Eastside Road, December 21, 2012—
I FIRST WROTE ABOUT this wonderful survey of spirits back on December 9:
…I forgot to mention that a box arrived in the mail a couple of days ago, a gift from a distant relative — a co-grandfather, I suppose you would call this degree of relationship, who lives in New York. What should be in the box but another box, and what should that turn out to be but a Ginvent Calendar: a box with twentyfour little pull-the-flap-and-open-the-door surprises, each of them a dram — three centiliters — of a different gin.

What a marvelous idea! It came too late to function as planned, countdown to Christmas: but then I'm not Christian anyway; I can make this an advent to whatever I like. What I like is New Year's Eve, so I opened the first flap yesterday, the second today. I open them in the morning after breakfast, so I can put the curious little bottle in the freezer to share ice cold with my consort before dinner.
The next day we suspended our survey, shifting instead to hot toddies at bedtime because of fierce head colds. Now, though, that's behind us, and we've been back at work. And now, here are a few tasting notes, with the demurral that it's difficult enough to remember tastes from one day to the next, let alone when you're limited to a dram or so; and one doesn't always record notes right on the spot…ginvent2.jpg

1: Hendricks Gin (41.4%): floral, sweet but not sugary, tasting properly of juniper but with a hint, I thought, of lemon and maybe even marigold.

2: Tanqueray Export Strength (45.30%): also floral and a little sweet in the English tradition, juniper of course but also a hint of vanilla, seems to me.

3: Tanqueray No. Ten (47.3%): Very similar to the above, maybe more sandalwood, spice.

4: G Vine Floraison (40.5%): Herbal, dark, bitter, smoky; apple?

5: Greenalls Gin (35.5%): Light, accessible, pleasant…

Said co-grandfather pays a visit this evening, and we'll visit the next two bottles, and I'll try to take better notes. Hmmm: six and seven. We're at sixes and sevens, this last day of the Mayan sequence…

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sausage, chard, leftover rice-potatoes

Eastside Road, December 20, 2012—
AND THERE YOU have it: tomorrow may be the first day of winter, but we have chard from the garden tonight. Well, not really from the garden; that implies care and foresight on a gardener's part. This was volunteer chard, springing up outside the vegetable beds, in the pathway, where winds or birds or insects may have carried seeds from last year's crop. Green, red, yellow, and white chard; small leaves no bigger than my hand, with stems no broader than my little finger, and a little bitter to tell the truth, but tender and colorful.

With the chard, the last of that rice-and-potatoes Kichuri from the other day, and a particularly piquant sausage from Franco, found in the recesses of the freezer.
Primitivo, Grifone, Puglia, 2010: cheap, forthcoming, balanced, pleasant

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Braised duck

Eastside Road, December 19, 2012—
BOY, WHAT A DELICIOUS dinner. I like pork, lamb, and beef; I like antelope and goat. Of the fish there are several I would not want to give up: cod, tuna, anchovies, all those flat things in the North Sea.

And then there's poultry. Well, chicken, of course; there are many fine things to be done with chicken: fried, roasted, … well, I guess that's about it. There are the distinctions between young ones and old ones; pullets, roasters, stewing hens, coq au vin of course. Capons: but when did I last feast on a capon?

Pigeons have their place; also quail — we had quail just the other day, and it was superb. Pheasant: haven't had one in years. Peacock: ditto.

But when it really comes down to it, there are two birds I particularly gravitate toward: goose and duck. I'm thinking we'll roast a goose next week; it seems the right thing to do. Tonight, though, we feasted on duck — braised duck legs, to be precise — and there are few finer things in the world to eat, to my way of thinking, especially on nights like these — it's already down to twenty-five degrees at our gate.

We went down the hill to the neighbors' house for dinner, and there Eric braised this duck. He cooked it in chicken stock with liberal amounts of porcini mushrooms, and chopped carrots, leeks, and celery. It was cooked in this black iron pan, in the wood stove that heats the dining room. It was finished atop the stove, mainly I think to fill the room with its irresistable aroma.

Afterward, chestnuts, roasted in the same stove; for dessert, brutti ma buoni, house made, and an orange-flavored tea cake, and a glass of very healthful eggnog.

Cabernet sauvignon, "Claret," Black Label Series, Francis Coppola, 2002: mature, closed, woody (thanks, Kendall);
Petite Syrah, Preston of Dry Creek, 2009: full, good varietal, forward

Monday, December 17, 2012

All'italiana; near the English style

Berkeley, December 17, 2012—
LUNCH IN TOWN — well, let's be honest: midday dinner, with an old friend, actually a colleague, a fellow I worked with in this town, nearly fifty years ago. We somehow met again a few years ago, and he e-mailed to say he'd be in town again this week — he lives in Portland — so since we're in town anyway, why not meet here for lunch. Dinner, I mean: midday dinner, or as Lindsey and I say to one another, Principle Meal of the Day.

What a menu! I began with a cardoon salad with half a hardboiled egg — a beautiful egg, I might add — and toast spread with cannellini-bean paste, liberally drizzled with new fresh olive oil. Cardoons: what a delicious vegetable. We have an enormous plant quite ready to harvest, and I don't harvest it, partly because it's so beautiful to look at, mostly because I'm too lazy to figure out what to do with it: maybe tomorrow — no, tomorrow's fast day — maybe Wednesday it'll be time to give it a try.

I went on to a very different course, yet one that followed very nicely: sliced roast beef with horseradish butter, served with very young turnips, greens still attached, and shoestring potatoes. Simple, and very very good.

Dessert: a few dates with a cappuccino. To me dates and milk make an oddly perfect combination, like beef and horseradish, or cardoon, egg, and olive oil; and if the milk's a part of a good cappuccino, so much the better. A very satisfying midday dinner, leaving nothing needed this evening but a bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich…
Biancino, Valli Unite, Costa Vescovato: bright, soft, full. Grignolino d'Asti, Agostino Pavia & Figli: full-bodied for a Grignolino (a favorite grape of mine), not at all thin, ruby-colored, tasty.
• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Eastside Road, December 16, 2012—
WE DO USE RECIPES, of course. I won't set tonight's recipe here, because it isn't mine: it belongs to my friend Deborah Madison, and you really should have the book it's printed in, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, because that book really is, well, for everyone, vegetarian or not.

We started with another of her ideas, cauliflower flowerets, raw, that we dipped in a mixed-spice salt involving, oh, I don't know, salt, coriander, cumin, who knows what else. That's delicious enough, of course, with a glass of white wine.

Then this Kichuri: yellow peas and rice, with an onion relish. The relish reminded us both of a marvelous Indian dinner Lindsey cooked back in 1964, when we had the composer Robert Moran over for a late-night supper, and Lindsey made a chutney that involved thinly sliced lemons, then chopped, onion, and… what? salt, of course… vinegar? I don't think so. Maybe that was it. It was remarkable; we all thought so.

Green salad tonight, with a lemon-juice vinaigrette.
Pinot grigio, La Ronescina (Collio), 2010; Red table wine, "Guadagni," Preston of Dry Creek, 2011
• Place, address; tel.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday salmon

Eastside Road, December 15, 2012—
TO MARKET THIS MORNING — you have to hand it to those marketers: it was freezing, and the usual roadway into the market is closed for construction, and the back way in isn't that easy to find, so there was a pretty small turnout, at least when we were there.

Dave our fish guy was there, though, and the salmon looked good, as always. We're so lucky to have good wild salmon just offshore. Yes, Richard; lima beans again — Lindsey bought and shelled and froze a lot of them, knowing the season couldn't last. They look a little dark, and the texture doesn't gain from the freezer. But one makes do. Broccoli, too, fresh from the market, and the green salad afterward…

Pinot grigio, La Ronescina (Collio), 2010

Friday, December 14, 2012


Eastside Road, December 14, 2012—
GEE, HOW LONG IS IT since we had a risotto? One of my favorite dishes—

Lindsey found a few scraps of prosciutto and a cup or so of frozen peas in the freezer, and we had that chicken stock on hand, time to use it… So I drove in to town and bought some Arborio (how could we have been out of Arborio? It has been a long time!)

Fry chopped onion and prosciutto in olive oil; add rice; stir stir stir; add stock, cook down; add white wine, cook down; add stock, cook down… all that while always stirring, of course.

When the rice is plump and tender, stir in the peas. Then stir in some grated Parmesan. Grate more over when it's served.

Why is it so damned red? Because Lindsey loves saffron. And because I forgot to get yellow onions, and she had to make do with red ones.

Green salad after.

Pinot grigio, La Ronescina (Collio), 2010: on first taste a little bland and inert, but soon developing nice depth and overtones. I remember a delicious Collio in Venice, a few years ago; it really opened my eyes (well, my taste buds) to what this area does… this reminded me of that.

Lyonnaise; erwtensoep

Eastside Road, December 13, 2012—
THE FIRST LYONNAISE in a long time: frisée is finally back in the market. You brown a few small cubes of bacon in olive oil, then a chopped shallot or two. Meanwhile your frisée has been washed and dried. You add a spoonful of prepared mustard to the bacon-shallot mixture, then sherry vinegar, and cook it down a bit; then pour that onto the frisée and toss it with your hands; then distribute it into your individual salad bowls.

You've got an inch or two of salted water boiling gently in a skillet, right? Slide an egg into it, one for each person, and spoon each of them to gather the white and turn it when necessary. You want the white just barely set. Then take them out with a perforated spatula or spoon, set them on a square of paper towel to drain, and place one on each individual salad. Serve quick, while still warm.

Afterward we had a nice pea soup Lindsey'd made of dried split peas and chicken stock. The Dutch call this erwtensoep; I've never been able to figure out how to pronounce it.

Red table wine, "Guadagni," Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Downstairs at Chez Panisse

Berkeley, December 12, 2012—
IT WAS ABOUT AS perfect a meal as you could ask, understated but in its modest way very intelligent. We began with a subtle salad: red lettuce leaves with small quartered hard-cooked eggs — pullet's eggs I'd say, if it weren't December — with tasty little beets roasted in the coals, then slipped of their skins, and curlicues of anise hyssop, dressed in a soft vinaigrette.

Then while others had a fish-shellfish brodetto I made do with a very nice butternut squash-and-chestnut soup, rich and warming, a perfect look-out-winter's-coming dish.

And then quail stuffed with chestnuts, pancetta, and sage, in a perfect reduction sauce, with soft little turnips and parsnip chips on the side.

Think of it! I ate beets, butternut squash, turnips, and parsnips, all in the same meal, all vegetables I absolutely detest, and found them all delicious! Something is terribly right here…

Dessert: apple-and-quince tarte Tatin. I've eaten a lot of tarte Tatin in my day. This was as good as any I've had, anywhere.

White: Petite Arvine, Rovettaz, Grosjean (Valle d'Aosta); Rosé: Marsannay, Château Audoin, 2010; red: Brouilly, Fleurie, Clos de Roilette, 2010. All true to type and well matched, and the white a particularly interesting and memorable wine
• Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.548.5525

Monday, December 10, 2012


Eastside Road, December 10, 2012

I POST TONIGHT'S ENTRY from my iPhone, having run into a data cap on my stupid ISP contract. That's why there's no photograph over there. And to tell the truth you've seen it before anyway: we return tonight to penne, with a nice beefy redsauce — poor man's Bolognese, let's call it.

Lindsey simply browns some hamburger, tosses in a chopped onion and salt and such, adds a can of tomatoes, then crushes in a clove or three of garlic. Salad afterward, of course; and then, later — why not? — a slice of pumpkin pie.

Red table wine, Guadagni, Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Eastside Road, December 9, 2012—
TO THE FARMERS market today for the first time in weeks, there to find Dave the Fish Guy, and his delicious King Salmon. Lindsey simply broiled it, with salt and pepper. The lemon is from our Meyer, loaded with fruit this time of the year; the lima beans are from Nancy Skall, bought the last time we visited the market, back in October, and frozen. They freeze well; the texture is hardly changed at all, and the flavor's terrific.

Rosé, Château de Guilhem, 2011

BY THE WAY, I forgot to mention that a box arrived in the mail a couple of days ago, a gift from a distant relative — a co-grandfather, I suppose you would call this degree of relationship, who lives in New York. What should be in the box but another box, and what should that turn out to be but a Ginvent Calendar: a box with twentyfour little pull-the-flap-and-open-the-door surprises, each of them a dram — three centiliters — of a different gin.

What a marvelous idea! It came too late to function as planned, countdown to Christmas: but then I'm not Christian anyway; I can make this an advent to whatever I like. What I like is New Year's Eve, so I opened the first flap yesterday, the second today. I open them in the morning after breakfast, so I can put the curious little bottle in the freezer to share ice cold with my consort before dinner.

ginvent.jpgLast night it was Hendricks, 41.4%, floral, sweet but not sugary, tasting properly of juniper but with a hint, I thought, of lemon and maybe even marigold. Tonight it's Tanqueray Export Strength, 45.3%, also floral and a little sweet in the English tradition, juniper of course but also a hint of vanilla, seems to me. I'll let you know how this survey works out.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Eastside Road, December 8, 2012—
A NEW RESTAURANT IN TOWN, opened just four days ago, with a Portuguese theme and menu — a real departure for our town, Healdsburg, where the menus are overwhelmingly California-Italian, with just a few Mexican places and one Japanese. So, of course, we got in touch with our best friends: Gaye's half Portuguese, her mother having immigrated from the Azores.

I started with these two meaty Monterey Bay sardines, nicely grilled and served in a pleasant vinaigrette; and then I went on to a fine bacalhao casserole. Lindsey had the same: we do love our salt cod. Dessert? Sure: I had the "Traditional" trio: a tasty rice pudding with a hint of piri-piri and a madeira-braised dried fig; four light little malassadinhas beignets, and a triangle of almond ice cream sandwiched in figgy cake. This is a nice place, and we'll be back.
Verdejo blend, Pomares (Douro), 2011 (good varietal, nice body, a very pleasant wine)
• Café Lucia, 235 Healdsburg Street, Healdsburg, California; 707.431.1113

Friday, December 7, 2012


Eastside Road, December 7, 2012—
DEDICATED VISITORS HERE may be surprised that we don't actually eat all that much meat. I mean, I was raised in a meat-and-potatoes family, and my constant companion's family ate their share of flesh too: but in the last fifteen years or so our diet has moved away from the basic American Carnivore in the direction of the Mediterranean. For a number of months, years ago, we avoided meat almost entirely; these days, we restrict meat consumption largely to meals taken out — except for what I think of as meat-as-flavoring.

Tonight we ate out, down the hill, guests of our neighbors, who had invited another couple as well, among whom is a non-participant in the flesh-eating community. Our principle course was a delicious stand-in: polenta grilled in the fireplace, covered with soft cheese and sautéed mushrooms. The polenta was white, not yellow; the cheese was Bellwether Crescenza, a soft cheese midway between Mozzarella and Teleme. The whole thing was really delicious, with its side of sautéed Swiss chard. Before, my guacamole, made with superb avocados brought up a couple of weeks ago from a friend's orchard in Ojai; afterward, a blackberry fool. It doesn't get much better.

Chardonnay, Williamson (Dry Creek), 2009; Château St. Jean, 2011; Cabernet sauvignon, Château Souverain, Stuhlmuller Vineyard, 2005 (mature, balanced, elegant); Cinsault, Preston of Dry Creek, 2009 (spicy, edgy yet smooth)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Egg salad

Eastside Road, December 6, 2012—
shells.jpgTHE LAST TWO AFTERNOONS have been devoted to a remarkable culinary experience: the First Annual (I hope) Yuzumarmar. Let me explain: a couple of weeks ago a friend mentioned she had an awful lot of yuzus; what to do with them? Marmalade, I lost no time in answering.

The yuzu is an exotic citrus fruit, a hybrid of mandarin and, well, some Japanese citrus, must be a sour orange of some kind. It has a delightful fragrance, a thick pebbly rind, lots of seeds, and not that much juice.

Yesterday Donna brought fourteen or fifteen pounds of the fruits over, and she, Lindsey, and I spent the afternoon washing them, cutting them in half, digging out the seeds (I insist the way to do this is with the handle end of a teaspoon, segment by segment; the ladies used forks), juicing them (my job, using our simple reamer), scooping out the flesh, and then julienning the peels.

That was a job. We cut the shells in half again, laid them inside down on the block, and, using a stainless-steel knife, cut the peels into strips no wider than a new half-dollar is thick. Then we combined the juice and the julienned peel, with maybe a third of the reserved pulp but none of the white pith, in our huge stainless-steel stock pot, covered it with water, put in all the seeds which Lindsey'd tied into a cheesecloth bundle, and let it stand overnight.

strips.jpgWe finished yesterday's work with Martinis, garnished, of course, with yuzu zest. I have to say this makes a delicious Martini: Old Amsterdam gin and Boissière dry Vermouth, three to one, stirred a hundred times with lots of ice, strained into chilled glasses whose rims have been rubbed with yuzu zest, then garnished with a twist of same.

This morning Alta arrived with lunch fixings: hardboiled eggs to be converted, with good Zaandam mayonnaise and Maille mustard, into Lindsey's favorite sandwich, the egg salad strewn with peppercress. There were green beans dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, and fennel; and we washed it all down with glasses of Prosecco. And then we got to work.

Lindsey supervised the cooking, boiling about five pints of the citrus at a time in the big copper preserving pot with three-quarters as much sugar, cooking it to the right consistency. Alta and Donna prepared the jars and the rings, and I handed people things, and cleaned up a bit, and watched, and made labels.

There was enough for four batches. Two gallons of marmelade! We regretted, a few times, that it was going into such small jars. Finally, though, they were all filled and sealed and labelled, and it was time for Martinis again. Yuzus and marmalade and Martinis: Yuzumarmar. We have to do this again next year.

eggsalad.jpg(Oh yes, dinner tonight. Let's content ourselves with bread and cheese and a nice green salad.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What! Another hamburger?

Eastside Road, December 5, 2012—
WELL, YES, AND WHY shouldn't I have another hamburger this week, this time in my own house, ground beef of my own purchase, if you please?

I bought it thinking of making a nice sauce Bolognese, but on getting home remembered — with a teeny bit of help — that there wouldn't be time to do it justice, and besides, I reflected, we'd finished the celery and carrots in the icebox yesterday, and what's a Bolognese without the aromatics?

So Lindsey simply shaped a couple of hamburger patties, and found Downtown Bakery buns in Fortunatus's Freezer, and one or two of Lou Preston's estimable dill pickles, and that, with the later addition of the requisite Green Salad, was that.
Red table wine, "Guadagni," Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Eastside Road, December 4, 2012—
"AFTERSOUP," IS WHAT I mean by nasoep, a Dutch word I just made up — I've been trying to read a bit in that language. And how could yesterday's improvised chicken soup have been made better? Well, Lindsey knew how: by grating a bit of cheese over it. And that, with some crudités — raw carrot and celery — suffice, with a piece of bread, on this day that should have been a fast day, but we have to feed our colds.

Red table wine, "Guadagni," Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Monday, December 3, 2012


Eastside Road, December 3, 2012—
WE'RE STILL OFF our feed: this has been a tenacious cold. All Lindsey wanted was some chicken soup, so I chopped up some onion, carrot, and celery, browned it in olive oil, and added chicken stock.

I wanted more, so I cut up two or three small potatoes and more onion and browned them in oil; then added water to steam them, and a dozen Brussels sprouts I'd cut trimmed and cut in half.

Meanwhile I made myself a chile relleno: I charred the Poblano pepper, scraped off the skin, butterflied it and got rid of seeds and ribs, then put a few slices of St. George cheese inside and folded it shut again.

I whisked the white and the yolk of an egg, separately; dredged the stuffed pepper in a bit of flour, then in the combined whisked egg, then back in the flour; and then I fried it in hot olive oil in the small black iron skillet.

That was it, and it sufficed.

Red table wine, "Guadagni," Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Burger and fries

Eastside Road, December 2, 2012—
AFTER LOOKING AT all that meat, I said joking in bad taste to the company, I'm hungry for a hamburger. We'd just seen the movie Lincoln — an impressive movie, I think; I hope our president watches it — and our guest suggested the joint right next door. It didn't look too promising to me, but I know, like Lincoln, when to keep my mind. (And when to speak it, some will add.)

So here it is, the classic American burger and fries. The beef wasn't bad. The patty was thick and the "mayonnaise" copious, giving a man with a beard a problem. Tomato, raw onion, lettuce; dill pickle on the side.

The fries, as you see, crinkle-cut, never a good idea in my opinion as the crinkles sop up too much of the cooking fat, but the potatoes were organic, so they were healthful.
red wine, "Más," what we used to call Dago red, fifty years ago. Unobjectionable.
• East West Café, 557 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa, California; 707-546-6142

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Eat like a peasant

Eastside Road, December 1, 2012—
EAT LIKE A PEASANT; be healthy and happy. We have been dealing with bad colds for the last week — a rare occurrence in this family; Lindsey especially virtually never gets a cold. But there you are: we have colds. We haven't had an appetite for days.

This morning I got up, said White Rabbit (it being the first of the month), and made our coffee and toast. Some hours later, after a morning of reading in front of the stove, Lindsey made toast, which she spread with peanut butter.

Tonight, quite a few hours later, stirrings of something like hunger. I'd thought of making a risotto today, but L's heart wasn't in it. Not yet. So I made a vinaigrette for a green salad: but I made it a new way for me. Usually it's crush the garlic into a stainless-steel mixing bowl; crush it further with salt, using a dinner fork; add olive oil and let it stand; add vinegar at the last minute, lettuce, and toss.

IMG_5813.jpgTonight I used a mortar and pestle, crushing the garlic with the pestle, crushing it further with the salt, then "crushing" the olive oil into it. Instead of whisking things together with a dinner fork I worked things together with marble on marble.

I like my Martini stirred, not shaken; I've learned this makes a smoother drink, less agitated, more resolved. I reasoned a vinaigrette would respond similarly — and it did. I added some of that good Maille French mustard tonight; it's good for a head cold.

With the salad, more toast: this time with slices of local Portuguese-inherited St. Andre and imported Gruyère. I prefer the latter, but not by all that much. A bit of chocolate for dessert.

Vermentino, Epicuro (Lazio), 2010 (commercial, fragrant, pleasant)