Monday, November 30, 2015

Turkey sandwich

Eastside Road, November 29, 2015—
A DAY AT THE OPERA: cheese plate and a glass of Chardonnay (I know, I know) at intermission, dessert afterward, turkey sandwich on getting home.

The opera was Il barbiere di Siviglia, in all its bel canto perfection; a matinée performance, inviting an ice cream treat afterward. There's a place we really like in San Francisco, so there we went. On the way, just for the fun of it, I asked my telephone: What should I order at the Ice Cream Bar?

I just feel like saying the word "tubers," she replied unhesitatingly. Sometimes I think Siri is Ouija's kid sister.

What I did have was something I invented myself, after glancing at the bottles behind the bar: a Gentian phosphate, light on the phosphate, with vanilla ice cream and a shot of lemon syrup. This turned out to be very tasty and I will keep it in mind.

• The Ice Cream Bar, 815 Cole Street, San Francisco; (415) 742-4932

Dinner, then, once home, about nine in the evening: a turkey sandwich. Sliced cold roast turkey on buttered Como bread. Very nice.
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Eastside Road, November 28, 2015—
IT'S A FUNNY photo, confused as to dimension — vertical? horizontal? raking? But if you look closely, you'll see Thanksgiving dinner and all its trimmings: sliced roast turkey, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, quinoa and Hubbard squash — and no, not a scoop of chocolate ice cream: a crabapple I pickled myself ten years ago, still meaty and fruity and deeply flavored with vinegar, cloves, and cinnamon.

I can't tell you much about the cooking: as you might suspect, I kept my distance. Cook brined the turkey for a couple of days; then roasted it to perfection. The potatoes were mashed and strengthened with butter and milk. The neighbor down the hill prepared the Brussels sprouts, halving them, laying them out on a sheet pan on a little olive oil, and roasting them: they were magnificent. She did the quinoa too.

Buttered rolls, of course, and green salad, with a lemon juice vinaigrette. Pumpkin pie, you bet; hard sauce, of course. A couple of days late, yes: but four generations at the table, and plenty of good cheer and conversation…

Zinfandel, Preston of Dry Creek, 2013: deep, fruity, full-bodied.
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving week

Eastside Road, November 27, 2015—
YES: THANKSGIVING WEEK; and nothing recorded here since Sunday.

Monday, five days ago now, we drove down to Berkeley on business, and lunched in the café. Look at this Yellowtail "crudo"! It was a delicious piece of fish, dressed with olive oil and lemon jiuce flavored with mint, and came with a marvelous salad: I could eat this happily at the beginning of every meal except perhaps breakfast.

Chablis, Christophe et fils, 2014 (delicious)
• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525
THAT EVENING, dinner with a couple of dear old friends at a favorite place of theirs, though I've almost always found it a little stiff and slightly out of whack. The menu was vaguely Piemontese, and didn't at first seem to offer anything really attractive: most of the dishes were a little out of whack, with too many flavors or textures pulling at them.

IMG_2082.jpgOh, but look: a simple plate of house-made pasts, tagliarini in fact, served simply with butter and white truffles. Can't go wrong there; and the gianduia afterward was very nice indeed.

white; but what?
• Oliveto Restaurant and Cafe, 5655 College Avenue, Oakland, California; 510-547-5356
THE NEXT TWO DAYS, I'm sorry; they're a bit of a blur. One of them undoubtedly brought the last of that delicious chick-pea stew that first appeared last Friday; the next day, Wednesday, we had a decent hamburger with French fries and a glass of red at a pleasant local:
• Brody's Burger and Brews, 3135 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa, California; 707-526-4878
YESTERDAY, OF COURSE, was Thanksgiving, the day that turns all Facebookers into food bloggers. I didn't take a single photo. We were invited to a friend's house; there were eight of us at table; we began with Martinis and then sat down to a traditional table: roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts. Afterward, a green salad; then delicious pies, apple and pumpkin-caramel. To drink, Lou Preston's Red.
IMG_2120.jpgWE COME NOW FINALLY up to date, with another of the "prefab" dinners we've been experimenting with, sent to us by Sun Basket. The neighbor down the hill introduced us to this concept: pre-prepared complete dinners sent in a box, nothing for us to do but the actual cooking and eating. It seems wasteful, somehow, all that packaging and shipping, but the containers are recycled, the shipping's not expensive, and the ingredients are organic and sustainable.

Tonight we had a fine-grained, quite tasty pork steak, with onion confit and an improbable but in the event delicious dish of kale and bosc pears. And why shouldn't pears be used, for example, in place of potatoes? I'll bet the long centuries before potatoes got to Europe saw many such dishes: I'm glad to have this one tonight.

Afterward, another helping of that delicious apple pie — hard to believe there was a little to bring home with us last night!

Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Monday, November 23, 2015

Home beats bistro

Eastside Road, November 21, 2015—
YESTERDAY, AFTER FINISHING the marmalade I told you about, and after finishing the Martinis, the three of us settled in to a bowl of one-dish meal, a chick-pea stew, rich and piquant with north African spices, and afterward a green salad: a perfect way to end a challenging day in the kitchen.
Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
TODAY, THOUGH, WE DINED with friends at a convenient middle point between our two homes: Petaluma. Petaluma, Inez said, has become a restaurant capital, and she'd mentioned three or four from which to choose.

One called itself a bistro, and recalling a small bistro on the main street I happily made a reservation for a one o'clock lunch. In the event, though, I can't really agree that it's a bistro. There was no steak-frites, no duck legs, no cassoulet. It is perhaps a brasserie at the most.

Oh well. I settled for a perfectly adequate croque-monsieur — well, in fact, too cheesy a Bechamel sauce —, which came in a hot little black iron skillet, with a bowl of green salad topped with pickled onions, a nice touch; and the small serving of French fries was quite good too.

Ca' Momi Bianco di Napa, 2014: vaguely a Rhône type, small but sound; Ca' Momi Rosso di Napa, 2014: rather deep, full-bodied, satisfactory but lacking acid
Dessert: Apple tart with pastry cream. This was nice. Routine, but nice.

IMG_2045.jpg   IMG_2049.jpg

• Bistro 100, 140 2nd Street, Petaluma; 707-981-8228
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mar-Mar 4.0

Eastside Road, November 20, 2015—
HERE STANDS COOK at her work-table at the end of the second stage of the annual Mar-Mar event, when we get together with Alta (away this time) and Donna and a load of Yuzus to make marmalade and drink Martinis. Many hands make light the work, my grandfather used to say, and while some of us look forward to the event with somewhat mixed emotions, we all wind up having fun.

We had about twelve and a half pounds of fruit to deal with, and here's what we did:

day one:
• cut the Yuzus in half, crosswise of course
• using a silver dinner fork, punch the recalcitrant seeds out of the flesh, setting the seeds aside
• using a silver teaspoon, scoop the membranes and flesh away from the halved fruits
• using a sharp stainless-steel knife, cut the halved shells into strips of citrus peel
• tie the reserved seeds into a cheesecloth bag
This gave us three quarts of pulp, including what little juice we got, and seven quarts of peel
• put peel, flesh and membranes, and (bagged) seeds into a large container, adding cold clear water — we added nine quarts of water, giving us fourteen quarts of mix altogether.
That was the first day: an hour to seed the Yuzus, another to cut the strips, a half hour for mixing and cleanup. We set the mix aside to soak overnight, and relaxed with a Martini.

day two:
• divide the mix, which will have become quite thick and slimy, into lots small enough for your pots — we used two large copper preserving pots: one held six and a half quarts, the other seven and a half
• add sugar. We use organic granulated cane sugar, and the ratio is important: in this case, eight and a half pounds in the smaller pot, nearly ten pounds in the larger
• cook at a quiet rolling boil to the setting point (keep a small saucer in the freezer: trail a bit of the hot marmalade onto it to see if it sets)
• ladle finished marmalade into clean hot jars and seal in the usual way
That took us from quarter of five until seven o'clock, after which we relaxed with our Martinis. The yield? Almost four gallons of marmalade, distributed among fifty jars of various size…

Thanks for the fruit and the help, Donna! It's always fun!

pulp and peelpips and peel

IMG_1999.jpg IMG_2028.jpg IMG_2040.jpg
peel, pips, and pulp the mix on the fires the finished product

Cook and Donna do the filling
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hominy, chorizo

Eastside Road, November 19, 2015—
NOT MUCH MORE need be written here; the subject of hominy and sausage has been pretty well covered. The hominy, I remind you, is canned; the sausage tonight is, once again, Franco Dunn's — a "green chorizo" this time, so called for its generous inclusion of herbs. Cook sprinkled chopped parsley on top, and served it to the partial extended family (one child's line, four generations in all). Green salad afterward, and then ice cream and salt-caramel sauce (thank you, Alma Chocolate of Portland, Oregon). Best thing of the evening: watching a one-year-old respond gleefully to chorizo, vinaigrette, bread-and-mashed-garlic, ice cream…
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Thursday, November 19, 2015

San Francisco new style

San Francisco, November 17, 2015—
IT SEEMS A NEW style of restauration has been emerging in the last few months. Among the characteristics: smaller places; table-d'hôte menus, the end (or the erosion) of tipping. It will be interesting to see where this leads.

Tonight, having time to kill between a visit to the museum (Motherwell show, small but inspired) and another to the airport (picking up a friend), we decided to postpone fast day to Wednesday in order to try out one of the newcomers. We arrived a little after five and were the only customers. We couldn't take a table, though; they were reserved for later diners, and besides you can't eat à la carte at the tables. So we took comfortable stools at the counter separating dining room from the open kitchen.

The à la carte menu offered little that interested me: oysters (well, sure, but nearly four dollars each); mackerel; sea urchin; squash soup; chanterelles with pickled huckleberry; poached egg with pomegranate vinaigrette; abalone, omelet…

We settled on a "Wood-Fired Trout for Two," and watched it grilled over the flames in a wire basket. The cook then presented it and asked if he might go ahead and bone it out. Meeting no objection, he added a heavily grilled half lemon to the plate, and several dollops of cider sabayon foam.

I liked it. The foam soon subsided, giving up its postmodern fashion statement and settling into the very pink flesh of this fish — I wondered what the fish might have been fed, then put the question out of my mind — and adding some welcome moisture to what might otherwise have been pretty dry flesh. The lemon juice helped, too.

IMG_1982.jpgThis restaurant is assertively Breton, I think: the cooks were wearing blue-and-white-striped aprons, and the beverage list included three ciders, one of which came by the glass. Bol, actually; heavy salt-glazed pottery handled bowls. (I ordered a glass of white as well.)

Dessert: "Nun Puff", a couple of bite-sized creampuffs stacked vertically, filled with coffee-flavored pastry cream, belted with very nice dark chocolate, and sporting a jaunty chocolate beret and ready to roll a hoop of the same material. Fun.

Macon blanc
• Le Petit Crenn, 609 Hayes Street, San Francisco; 415-864-1744
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

That cabbage; brunch; pizza…

Eastside Road, November 16, 2015—
SATURDAY NIGHT, after a wine-and-canapé reception honoring a friend's 80th birthday, we came home to the second half of that stuffed cabbage, which was even better for its day in the icebox.

Sunday we went to see the Globe Theater perform Much Ado About Nothing over in the next county. It was a two o'clock matinee, and lunch before was preferable to dinner after — but, damn, it's Sunday; this is the Napa Valley; every place we were interested in was already booked, and what was left was serving brunch, a meal I never really enjoy.

Oh well. We had Bloody Marys to start, and then eggs: Benedict for the Contessa, corned beef hash and for me. I have to say the food could have been worse: but oh dear was it expensive!

• Meadowood Grill, 900 Meadowood Lane, Saint Helena, California; 707-531-4788
TODAY WE LUNCHED with our new octogenarian and her Brazilian exchange-student "daughter" from a few decades past, visiting with her daughter from Rio; and we returned for the occasion to another tourist destination hereabouts — one I thought I'd not return to when I last wrote about it. Like much of the Napa Valley, Francis Ford Coppola's obsessively manicured and somewhat self-conscious winery-restaurant-museum makes me uneasy; I feel out of my element and somewhat oppressed by unabashed display of wealth.

But I ordered better this time, choosing a simple pizza named for the director's daughter, the Sofia: simply prosciutto, parmesan shavings, and arugula. Not bad at all, and not expensive, either. That's it you see in the upper right corner of the photo, as I finished it this evening for dinner, along with a slice of my companion's mushroom-and-sausage pizza, some Middleton Ranch lima beans, and sliced tomato.

"Pitagora" (red Rhone-style blend), Francis Ford Coppola Winery, 2012: a bit sweet, fruity, sound, unexceptional
• Rustic, 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville; 707-857-1400

I've been remiss in not mentioning an occasional dessert we've been enjoying these last few weeks: strawberries from Preston of Dry Creek, simply sliced and sprinkled with a bit of sugar. I used not to like strawberries very much, but the Healdsburg Farm Market has changed my mind over the years…IMG_1970.jpg

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chou farci

Eastside Road, November 13, 2015—
IT IS A FAVORITE dish of mine. Perhaps not quite one of the Hundred Plates, but close. And when I saw a beautiful Savoy cabbage in the market last week I knew I'd be making it sometime this week.

So here's what you do: you blanche the cabbage, whole, in a pot big enough, just in water, just enough to loosen the leaves. And then you set it on the worktable, rightside up, and spread the leaves out, and put the farci on the leaves, layer by layer, bringing them back up again.

The farci, today, was a scant pound of beef stewing meat, a generous half pound of pork ditto (I used a rib), chopped fairly fine with a knife. Then a quarter-inch slice of French ham, diced small. To this, add four or five shallots, a couple of cloves of garlic, a few sprigs of parsley and thyme, all minced. Mix them by squeezing the mixture between your fingers. Salt, of course, and pepper, and, why not, some grated nutmeg.

You layer this mixture within the limp leaves of the cabbage, still all of them attached to the head — oh, shucks, I forgot: you've cut the core out of the cabbage head, and taken off the coarsest outer leaves, and chopped them up and added them to the farci.

Then I chopped an onion and sliced thin two carrots and heated them in a little butter in a saucepan, and set the assembled cabbage on those vegetables, and added chicken stock (I didn't have any veal stock, that would have been nicer), and let all this simmer a couple of hours. Delicious. And enough left for another meal. The recipe's from the old Gourmet Cookebook, volume 1.

Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, November 13, 2015

Crudités; bean soup

Eastside Road, November 12, 2015—
LAST NIGHT we ate out in San Francisco; Tuesday we fasted; Monday was a special event so interesting, idiosyncratic, and convivial I despaired of telling you about it — I'll just mention that we have a couple of friends who go every September to France for a couple of weeks, and come back every time burdened with a number of cheeses. Generous and convivial as they are they ask friends to drop in to share the cheeses, and that's what we did Monday. When immersed in sparkling conversation I think it rude to take notes: let it be said simply that the cheeses were delicious, the stuffed duck neck amazing, the white truffles shaved onto little potato puffs a perfect amuse-gueule, and the wines freely flowing.

So tonight was our first meal at home in a number of days, and Cook began it with this plate of crudités, I'll call them: late-season little cherry tomatoes, with that deeper, musky flavor tomatoes seem to take on in November when the sun's weaker; and cauliflower florets in a lemon-juice vinaigrette.

Next, the bean soup I mentioned a few days ago, even better for having aged a bit, and with its float of Lou Preston's deliciously fruity olive oil. Then the green salad, of course, which I dressed with lemon juice tonight in lieu of vinegar.

Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Foreign Cinema

San Francisco, November 11, 2015—
WHICH RESTAURANT TO CHOOSE for dinner with a couple of dear friends who both happen to be chefs? Since we'd had lunch here the other day, and it had been so good, and since we've neglected dinner here for far too long, particularly given that we like the owners, why not go to Foreign Cinema?

I'm not sure I know the history of the name. I know they do, from time to time, or have, at least, at times in the past, thrown movies, presumably mostly foreign classics, onto the back wall of the outdoor dining room: but since I've never eaten out there I'm not sure how well it works. (I do like the idea: I watch movies on airplanes with the sound off, and enjoy them as background visuals — sort of like having a fireplace, but you don't have to carry any firewood.)

I started out with a classic brandade: salt cod, well soaked and prepared, whipped up with mashed potatoes and flavored with a hint of garlic and, exceptionally, chilies, and served with toasted slices of baguette. Occasional visitors to this blog will know that I'm partial to salt cod; I eat it just about every chance I get, and have enjoyed it in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, and of course the USA. Baccalà, Bacalao, Brandade: nearly every region has its own special way with the dish.

Foreign Cinema's way was somewhere between a classic French brandade and a fine Venetian baccalà mantecata : not only smooth but actually fluffy, and the potato there as a smoothening agent, not a filler. It was a classic brandade, a perfect one; I have never had a better one, and I've eaten dozens, scores, perhaps hundreds.

But that's not what you see here, because my photo didn't work. This one hardly works, too: there was very little light at the relatively quiet corner table we were given, that we might converse. What you see here is a pork chop, of course, brined in house and served on a bed of "Umbrian olive sauce," an interestingly and pleasantly textured green-olive tapenade I suppose, warm of course; and with it was a soft polenta that I liked for its continuation of the brandade texture, and a scatter of arugula.

The pork was very well chosen: lean, dense, mature, full of flavor; and the kitchen cooked it as I'd asked: as little as possible. Delicious. I like this place.

Sparkling Vouvray, Champalou Brut; Verduno Pelaverga, G.B. Brlotto, 2014 (rich, direct, substantial)
• Foreign Cinema, 2534 Mission Street, San Francisco; 415-648-7600
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bean soup

Eastside Road, November 8, 2015—
WHITE BEANS (cannellini), onion, garlic, carrot, thyme, bay leaf, pancetta. Garnish with toasted croutons. Green salad after.
Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Eastside Road, November 7, 2015—
SATURDAY: MARKET DAY. The market is winding down; a number of farmers no longer appear. There are still tomatoes, peppers, and corn; but pumpkins and root vegetables are much more evident. And beautiful cabbages are showing up: we bought a very nice Savoy cabbage, which I'll stuff one of these days soon…

We bought tonight's sausage at a stall new to us — I felt disloyal to Franco, but there were these nice coils of merguez. Alas, it wasn't really interesting — very fat, but not much flavor apart from the coriander. With it those marvelous lima beans, so beautiful before they're cooked, and rich and chestnutty on the plate. Green salad; ice cream.

Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Eastside Road, —
LUNCH IN TOWNtoday, with the neighbor down the hill — a roughly monthly event we both enjoy. But where to have lunch? She recalled previous pleasant experiences at an earnest relative newcomer to town, a place that combines mercantile and gustatory pleasures (and business) under one roof. Here she had a chicken-liver paté and a raspberry shrub; I had this pizzetta, with sunchokes, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and a bit of pesto, and a glass of local cider. Not bad. • Shed, 25 North Street, Healdsburg, California; 707-431-7433
Then tonight, at home, we had another stuffed pepper, like the one we had last night. They hold, and reheat, perfectly. Sliced red tomatoes this time; green salad; ice cream. Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stuffed peppers

Eastside Road, November 5, 2015—
AT LEAST SIX FEET of Cook's bookcase is devoted to Gourmet magazine. One day perhaps I'll write about Gourmet: it was unique in its combination of gourmandise and literature, bringing the foreign kitchen to the American audience from the early 1940s, I think it was, down to just a few years ago, when Condé Nast unbelievably (and rather cruelly) shut it down during the 2008 recession. The loss is lamentable.

We began subscribing to it as early as we could afford to, sometime in the early 1970s I suppose; and for years I visited used magazine stores (yes, such things did exist at one time) to pick up single issues we'd missed. One time I recall we stopped in a junk shop down near Santa Maria and scored several bound annual volumes; on getting them home we discovered each was missing three summer issues — I suppose because the previous owner vacationed abroad in those days, and skipped buying those copies.

Cook cooks from the magazine yet. Tonight she turned to the January 1969 issue: we had these stuffed peppers, from a feature by Naomi Barry in the series "Gourmet Holidays" that ran for several years. This Holiday was in Florence, and among the several pages of close-set type (no magazine would print so many words today!) there appeared a recipe that's been a favorite at our table, stuffed peppers.

I won't try to reproduce the recipe here: it involves bell peppers, though we've done it with Anaheims at times; and a stuffing based on bread, tuna, capers, olive oil, and I don't recall what else. It's a substantial dish, a simple dish, filling and delicious. With it, sliced tomatoes and some nice green olives; afterward, the green salad, then a dish of rocky road — excuse me: "Petaluma Pothole" — ice cream.

Rosé, Château Guilhem (pays d'Hérault), 2014
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Foreign Cinema

San Francisco and Mill Valley, November 3, 2015—
LUNCH WITH THE Baker's Dozen today, the organization of professional and amateur (in the best sense of the word) bakers we've been members of since its inception many years ago. It's a wonderful group, as generous and focussed as you'd expect bakers to be, meeting two or three times a year to hear a speaker or two, share news and queries, and then have a first-rate lunch at a favorite place of ours.

Lunch began with Little Gem lettuce salad with beet purée, radishes, and toast spread with fromage blanc — an interesting and surprisingly springy salad for a bright, sunny fall day. We went on to beautifully cooked pork tenderloin with broccoli rabe, a mixed pilaf of farro and quinoa with salsa verde and shavings of Parmesan cheese, and half a nicely cooked egg. This was a splendidly flavored dish, piquant, filling the mouth; vaguely north African once you got past the idea of pork.

Dessert: a generous pot de crème flavored with cardamon, with crisp spicy crumble on top, and a tiny but delicious little macaron on the side.

• Foreign Cinema, 2534 Mission Street, San Francisco; 415-648-7600
We dawdled a bit after lunch, then joined a couple of old friends for supper in a small-town neighborhood Italian restaurant we'd not been to before. From the typical and conventional menu (salads, pizza, pastas, chicken or steak) I chose tortellini bolognese, perfectly acceptable though the sauce was heavy with tomato.

Pinot grigio; house red
• Vasco Restaurant, 106 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley; 415-381-3343
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Eastside Road, November 2, 2015—
GET RID OF ADJECTIVES, they always warn writing students; I've never agreed; I think adjectives help to clarify and focus the writing — but of course it's not the adjectives; it's how they're used. I admit to concern, even chagrin, at the restricted vocabulary of this blog. Writing almost daily about the food we eat, particularly when certain dishes return frequently, tends to depend on a familiar and perhaps overworked stock of words.

I note, for example, that the word "deep" seems to, um, emerge in nearly every post. Flavor, which is the set of sensations on the tongue (and a few other surfaces like the lining of the cheeks) caused by substances in the food as they (the sensations) are enhanced by aromas ascending into the nose, flavor, I say, and flavors, are notoriously hard to describe. One generally resorts to simile: the cabbage tasted like rose-petals. The guinea-fowl reminded me of peacock. That sort of thing.

In addition to the character of the flavors there's the matter of their weight, and here is where a small helping of adjectives has to do a lot of work. The flavor was thin, or lightweight, or sharp, or bland, or forward, or — my favorite, because it's the quality that offers the most and the longest-lasting payoff — the flavor was deep.

I distinguish between deep flavors and rich ones, and not only because the lack of a gall bladder has alas inhibited my capacity for such rich foods as marrow, sweetbreads, foie gras, and the like. (Not that I'm not willing to put up with a certain discomfort when such foods are available.) Richness goes right past the palate to the liver. Depth, on the other hand, lingers in the mouth; it invites the mind to ponder, recall, perhaps compare. Richness in flavor is like plush, gold, well-worn (in both senses) leather (especially if associated with horses, as in saddles and bridles); depth is like tapestry, patinated bronze, fine leather slippers on a well-worn carpet.

This hominy was deep-flavored. We've had hominy a number of times recently — a very superficial search turns it up on June 25 and 29, August 10, and September 15. Each time Cook prepared it the same way; each time it tasted just a bit different, and not only because of varied garnishes. The technique is simple: a soffritto of onion cooked with crumbled sausage in a little olive oil until nearly caramelized; a can of hominy added; seasonings: cumin and salt; serve with chopped parsley and/or cilantro.

Of course the sausage varies, though she tends to rely on chorizo. The olive oil varies: even if you use only one source, it changes over the weeks in the pantry. Onions, Proserpine knows, vary hugely from one kind to the next, and from one end of the year to the other. So each time the dish surprises me. Tonight I could have sworn there were a few raisins in the mix, so sweet and chewy had some bits of onion become. Raisins might be a good idea, and so might lemon zest, or preserved lemon; so might piquant pepper, either powdered or minced; so might a dash of sherry or sherry vinegar. There are probably hundreds of ways of inflecting this simple dish.

None are necessary. Onion, sausage (already complex itself, of course), olive oil, hominy; time and heat. It's deep.

Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday market

Eastside Road, November 1, 2015—
TO THE FARM MARKET this morning. The season's winding down, and rain is finally in the air. Thanksgiving approaches. But peppers and tomatoes are still plentiful, lending their color to everything. I cleaned up some tiny potatoes, the biggest no bigger than marbles, the smallest the size of peas, and cooked them with a quartered shallot and a few small cloves of garlic, with a branch of rosemary, in the black iron skillet. Fortunately we have three of those skillets. Into another, in a bit of olive oil, went four Anaheim peppers, cut lengthwise into thirds (following the folds) and divested of seeds and sinews. Like the potatoes, the peppers enjoyed a sprinkle of big-grain sea salt. (We particularly like the grey salt from the Île de Ré.) Cook grilled a couple of Franco's Toscana sausages in the third skillet, and steamed some sliced zucchini, and sliced some (not steamed) Green Zebra — every week we're assured they're the last of the season. Green salad afterward, and a bit of dark chocolate. Oh: and the final game of the Series. Yes: winter's on its way
Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday, November 1, 2015


San Francisco, October 30, 2015—
A QUIET CONVERSATIONAL pre-theater supper with an old friend tonight at one of the many new restaurants to try in this city. Its name is Spanish for "cinnamon," and that element was present in my main plate, Pinchos Morunos of pork, smallish cubes of tenderloin, marinated, skewered, and grilled, served with a complex, rather deep, very tasty mix of piquillo marmalade and a chiffonade of fried onion and zucchini. 

I started with a variation on Caesar salad that substituted Manchego for Parmesan, white boquerones for the more usual salt anchovies, and added fried garlic chips, sliced toasted almonds, bits of orange segment, and crumbled hard-boiled egg.  Good; but I prefer the classic. 

Dessert! Cinnamon-coffee gelato with caramel and whipped cream: delicious. 

Rosé: Sinfo Rosado, Cigales, 2013: Tempanillo:  Caudum, Rioja, 2009, dark, solid, fruity, mature
• Canela Bistro and Wine Bar, 2272 Market Street,  San Francisco; 415-552-3000
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants