Friday, December 30, 2016

Too busy to blog

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Dunsmuir, California, December 30, 2016—

YESTERDAY AND MUCH of the day before we were in Portland, visiting our youngest daughter and her family — her husband, their three grown children. You can be sure we ate. You'll have to take it for granted, because I'm not going to go into details here. It was a haze of leftover Christmas dinner (roast beef, potatoes, Brussels sprouts…) and, well, cookies. Many many cookies. And, yesterday, a nice roast chicken from the spit at Arrosto: 2340 NE Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon; +1 (503) 446-7373

Wines, of course.

TODAY, RATHER REGRETFULLY, we left Portland, making our usual stop at Pearl Bakery for half a dozen gibassiers, the orange-flower-flavored pastry my Contessa particularly likes, and then joining our family in a last cappuccino at Heart; and we drove as far as Dunsmuir, where there's a restaurant we like that we haven't visited in years.

The room is a little rambling and quite casual, with an open kitchen. The place is across the street from the train station, and the not infrequent passing freight trains punctuate a scene that's comfortable and familiar.

The menu leans toward French bonne femme staples. I opened with a generous butter lettuce salad, with a sprinkling of thin-sliced breakfast radishes and a very nice vinaigrette involving walnut oil.

I went on to cassoulet — a dish I ignore with great difficulty. This was quite nice, with duck confit, a delicate sausage, long-cooked beans, the requisite breadcrumb topping. I'd have liked a little dot of walnut oil on top, but I had no complaints. Cassoulet is the perfect dish for a night featuring snow on the ground outside…

And what a pleasure to find a restaurant we remember fondly from many years ago is still just fine. I know no other place to eat between Sacramento and Ashland.

Trebbiano, unfortunately corked; Côtes de Rhône, M. Chapoutier, 2015: fruity and appealing.

Café Maddalena, 5801 Sacramento Avenue, Dunsmuir, California; +1 (530) 235-2725

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The drive north

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Highway 5 North, Oregon, December 27, 2016—
THREE CHILDREN; three Christmases. I've reported on the first two; the third is yet to come — we decided to break the trip. We've been driving too much lately.

But we did make one stop between Eastside Road and Eugene, where we're bivouacked tonight with a bottle of beer and the laptop. The stop was at a place new to us, but run by people we're familiar with: the husband-wife team responsible for Amuse and Mix, the restaurant and café of note in Ashland, where we've spent so many days and weeks.

They've opened a third eatery, a hamburger joint. Truly a burger joint: the menu is restricted to hamburgers (and cheeseburgers), French fries, sodas, and milk shakes. But I can report that the hamburger is just about perfect. The first thing that strikes you is its size and shape: it is a small hamburger, easily held; but the meat patty is not at all flattened; it is almost spherical.

On the drive up my Companion was chuckling at something she read about James Beard: in an attempt to cook a perfect hamburger he put chunks of ice inside the meat patty, to keep it from overcooking and drying out. It wouldn't surprise me if Flip had read the same report. This hamburger is dense but juicy, savory, delicious.

It's also, as Carlo Petrini would say, buono, pulito, giusto — good, clean, and fair: grass-fed naturally raised Oregon beef.

The bun is brioche, made at Mix Bakeshop across the street. Beef and brioche is a brilliant combination. This will be a regular stop for us. Flip, 92 Norh Main Street, Ashland, Oregon; 541-488-3547

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Boxing day

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Laytonville, December 26, 2016—
CHRISTMAS DINNER with one of the kids; Boxing Day with another, a couple of hours' drive north. And I forgot to photograph our lunch, which was delicious: a potato soup and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches — particularly good sandwiches, I thought, and attractive; too bad I didn't get the iPhone out.

Oh well: my companion had hers handy, and photographed the items that particularly struck her: Christmas cookies. I wolfed down two or three pecan-coconut macaroons — I do dearly love coconut macaroons — but took only one of the sugar cookies: they were too beautiful to eat. (And there were dozens of them: this is only a small sampling…)

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Merry Christmas!

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Eastside Road, Christmas Day, 2016—
EMMA, BLESS HER HEART, said she'd like a traditional Christmas dinner: roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. And that's exactly what we had.

But first: all hands turned to a spread of appetizers: smoked salmon, crackers, butter, horseradish, olives, cornichons.

Champagne, of course.
Then at the table we confronted the main event. The beef and pudding were perfect, with a fine dark gravy, missing in this not very good photograph. Another tradition in our family: Brussels sprouts sautéed with chestnuts. Thérèse took the trouble, as I rarely do, to split the sprouts before cooking them; somehow they and the chestnuts were all the same size and so all cooked to the same degree — perfect.

A green salad, of course; and some very good cheese. Then, back in front of the fireplace, dessert: Mince pie, made from Cook's hundred-year-old mincemeat; with hard sauce. A splendid dinner.

Tinto de toro (Tempranillo), Teso la Monja Romanico, 2014: inky, deep, fruity, serious, big.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Christmas Eve at home

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Eastside Road, December 24, 2016—
HOME AGAIN, after a slow drive through snow across the Tejon Pass at the Grapevine, then up through a moody, often beautiful Central Valley. And home with enough time to spare to throw together a dinner of sorts.

I peeled and cubed a few potatoes, tossed them with salt and rosemary and olive oil, and set them to cook in the black iron skillet. Lindsey took care of a couple of lamb loin chops, also profiting from garlic, rosemary, salt, and olive oil; and she cooked up some Romanesco as well. Then there was the green salad. A nice quiet Christmas Eve at home…

Cheap California Pinot noir

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

A dark and stormy night

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Newhall, California, December 23, 2016—
WE DROVE FROM Phoenix today, stopping in Indio for the customary date milk shake at a kitsch-commercial tourist trap of unique proportions — at the cost of the quality of the shakes, which taste of cardboard and powdered milk. Ah well.

And then by the time we got tot tonight's motel, booked expressly so that we might dine in a familiar restaurant we've liked on previous visits, it was raining cats and dogs, and we were in no mood to drive another seven miles and back. So we stopped in at the nearest restaurant that was in fact a restaurant. It turned out to be an Italianish joint with a reasonable menu and a decent though not really rewarding Martini.

We ordered in unison, the Contessa and I: Martini; Caesar salad; broccolini and sausage ravioli, in tomato sauce, with a soft young Grana, I would say, grated atop.

Dessert: a strange crème brulée, long on cornstarch and short on burnt sugar, but interesting to see…IMG 3469

The Social, 23329 Lyons Avenue, Valencia, California; +1 (661) 799-9157

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fry bread and such

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Phoenix, Arizona, December 22, 2016—
AN ATYPICAL DAY of dining, for us, beginning with breakfast, not taken until nearly noon for reasons I'd just as soon not go into. When we did take it, though, it was a delicious cappuccino: Four Barrel coffee; Clover milk. You'd have thought we were back in the Bay Area. Giant Coffee, 1437 North 1st Street, Phoenix, Arizona; +1 (602) 396-7215

ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARD, of course, it was time for lunch, and we remembered Paolo telling us about a place he and Henry had found last time they were here — an Indian place that had just been given a James Beard Award. It took a bit of sleuthing, but Dr. Google came to the rescue. It's not an imposing place, physically — a sort of shack in a parking lot on a typical high-speed crosstown avenue.

We ordered identically: Green Chile Beef Fry Bread; apple juice. Fry Bread is a Southwest Indian thing, a Native American response to the staples the Americans provided them: white flour, baking powder, vegetable oil. It sounds terrible, but they do something remarkable with it. This fry bread, baked quickly on a griddle, like a crêpe, was simultaneously light on the tongue and hard to cut with the knife. Gluten everywhere! The filling was much nicer than it looks: shredded roast beef in gravy with beans, chopped lettuce and onions, green chili. Tangy, but not too. I'd go back.

Martinelli apple juice
•Fry Bread House, 4545 North 7th Avenue, Phoenix; +1 (602) 351-2345
IMG 3422 THREE HOURS or so in the remarkable Heard Museum brought us to supper in a small local place that had been suggested to us. It would have been very pleasant indeed except that it was Happy Hour and full of noisy people — our dB meter never dropped below 88 dB and often hit the mid-90s; my ears are still ringing. We had a plate of fingerling potatoes, split and pan-roasted with olive oil, rosemary, and salt, with judicious shavings of Parmesan cheese on top. I went on to an "Italian" chopped salad: lettuces, salami, soppressata, and roasted red bell pepper in a pleasant vinaigrette.

"Champagne", J. Roget (New York)
Oven + Vine, 14 W Vernon Avenue, Phoenix; +1 (602) 687-7632

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Steak sandwich

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Phoenix, Arizona, December 21, 2016—
THE DRIVE HERE from Los Angeles is only six hours or so, but you lose an hour crossing the state line. I always forget about this. The result was that we were too spent — and, in truth, too pessimistic about what might be found — to investigate anything at all complicated when it came to dinner.

So we ate at the "restaurant" attached to the motel; and there I settled for this steak sandwich. There were other possibilities involving steak, chopped steak, chicken, trout, and various sandwiches. A surprising number of these involved cheese: Provolone; Pepper Jack; Parmesan; Swiss. The steak sandwich neglected this dairy component, thankfully. I am not a fan of cooking meat with cheese. There are exceptions, of course: but not many.

The open-faced steak sandwich came on a single slice of what we used to call "air bread," the kind of white bread that comes sliced and wrapped in decorative plastic — in my youth, Wonder Bread, or Langendorf. But the bread was a minor component, and lost beneath the mushrooms and onions and thin-sliced flank steak in a fairly rich gravy.

I liked the "tavern chips" that came alongside, consistently cut potatoes blanched, I'm sure, then quickly deep-fried in vegetable oil. The lettuce leaf and tomato slices were edible and perhaps nourishing.

Martini; Cabernet sauvignon, "Copper Ridge", okay
•Rodehouse Restaurant and Sports Lounge, 2425 South 24th Street, Phoenix; 802-275-3131

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A pleasant find

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Los Angeles, December 20, 2016—
WE BROKE THE DRIVE at the halfway point, here in Los Angeles, and booked into yet another cheap but not too cheap motel. Sleep Cheap that you may Eat Dear, I always say. But where to eat? Particularly when we don't really want a very substantial dinner, after last night's feast?

The Contessa did a little research and found a nearby place that looked promising. Big spacious room; nicely upholstered banquette with a corner table allowing us to eat side by side. Pleasant hostess. And look at this, a cocktail I've never heard of called, of all things, the Eastside!

I had to start with that, of course: gin, lime juice, simple syrup, mint, cucumber. A summertime cocktail, no doubt, but a nice mouth-freshener even at the winter solstice, especially here in LaLaLand.

We split an ordinary but nicely dressed green salad; then I went on to coq au vin. This is bistro fare and, to my way of thinking, wintertime bistro fare, and though the red-wine component could have been heartier (and more French) the chicken was tasty and perfectly cooked; the pearl onions and carrots present in just the right proportion, and the tiny mushrooms — I forgot to ask what variety — extremely fresh and flavorful. Mike & Anne's Restaurant, 1040 Mission Street, South Pasadena, California; +1 (626) 799-7199

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

A fine restaurant

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Sacramento, California, December 19, 2016—
LONGTIME READERS of this blog may recall that I have a personal restaurant classification system. From bottom to top, those I will not return to; those that are okay; those that I think are "good," whatever that means; those that are among the 100 Restaurants; those that are among the Five.

The Five are my own favorite five, which are not necessarily anyone else's. When the system was first devised they were, in geographical order, Stephanie's in Melbourne; Chez Panisse in Berkeley; Obelisk in Washington D.C.; Het Pomphuis in Ede (Netherlands); Il Vipore outside Lucca. I haven't been in D.C. for years and don't know if Obelisk is still open; all the others but Chez Panisse are long since closed. I still have a Five, but I hesitate to name them just now. (One of them is for sale at the moment: we'll dine there next month, probably for the last time.)

The Hundred is a more flexible group, of course, and I've named on or another to that category fairly often over the months and years. They are all places that seem to me uniquely rewarding. They speak to me personally: they're warm, inviting, comfortable. But they're also consistent; they're politically correct; they're what Slow Food calls Good, Clean, and Fair. All the Five are among the Hundred, of course.

Tonight we dined at another. We first met this restaurant years ago. We haven't returned often enough; we're not often in this neck of the woods at dinner time. A friend reminded us of it recently on Facebook, partly because it was in the news on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary. Next time you go, she said, let me know; I'll join you.

Done and done. We were in town today anyhow, on political business (demonstrating at the State Capitol, where the presidential electors were convening), and were spending the night.

Nothing had changed. (I mentioned consistency, yes?) The dining room looked just the same; the chairs hadn't changed; the same interesting low-keyed mural was on the wall behind the bar. Best of all the menu was the same. And my order was the same: steak tartare to begin with; braised veal cheeks to continue.

The house knew we were there and sent out a little plate to tease us, a plate of crudo: a scallop; raw tuna; celery and rémoulade. And, oddly we all thought, smoked salmon, rather heavily smoked: a piece of fish that would have been nice with horseradish and a shot of vodka, but seemed out of place among the otherwise raw items here.

(I did not wash it down with vodka, but with a Hanky Panky, which the bartender had to look up before executing it very well indeed.) IMG 3382 The tartare was as I remembered it, but served differently, I think: it used to present a single heap centered on the plate; now it comes on three croustades. I prefer to mix my tartare at the table, as I reported from the Restaurang Kvarnen a year ago; but when the kitchen remembers the scallions and capers and gets the proportions right it's okay with me if they do the work for me; I'm easy-going on such matters. This tartare was fine.

Ditto the braised beef cheeks, as I prefer to call them; I like the double "e"'s, and I'm not sure meat this deep and unctuous can really be what I call veal, which should, I maintain, never have eaten grass. Another really fine dish, resonant and thoughtful. And our conversation was splendid.

Dessert: a generous affogato, to cut through a meat-heavy dinner…

Bandol, Domaine Tempier, 2014, in half bottle: superb
Waterboy, 2000 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento; +1 (916) 498-9891

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Salmon before another road trip

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Eastside Road, December 18, 2016—
PERHAPS YOU GUESSED from a three-day absence that we have been continuing to plow our way through an endless couscous. Tonight, however, the couscousière turned out to be empty, and Cook reached into the freezer for a salmon steak she suspected of hiding out.

It was, as you might also guess, a little dry. We agreed that the best thing to do with such an item would be to make a chowder. (I think you could turn it into a nice paté, too, but chowder's okay with me.)

With it, romanesco and lightly steam-sautéed leeks and carrots, one of my favorite vegetable dishes. Green salad.

Cheap Tuscan red, "Ocarossa," pleasant enough

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Friday, December 16, 2016


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Eastside Road, December 15, 2016—
AND NOT JUST ANY couscous: Couscous Royal, with Chermoula, as Cook found it in the newest addition to the bookshelves, Alice Waters's Fanny in France, with marvelous illustrations by the unique Ann Arnold. (Bob Carrau had a hand in the book too: old friends all.)

I haven't read the book yet; only looked into it, to find Ann's illustrations bringing familiar faces and places alive with lots of sparkle and energy. In the book, Fanny is apparently nine years old, She seems to spend the first half of this book knocking around Paris and the south of France with her mother and many familiars from la famille Panisse, cooks and artists and winemakers who've contributed their skills and intelligences and spirit to Alice's restaurant in Berkeley.

The second part of the book contains the recipes. This couscous involved chickpeas cooked with onion, cinnamon, chile, and olive oil; and a brraise of squash, carrots, turnips, onion, and tomatoes, flavored with cumin, coriander, saffron, turmeric, Cayenne pepper, garlic, and ginger. The chermoula, the green sauce on top, is similarly highly flavored: ginger, garlic, chile, cilantro, and lemon juice, along with the parsley.

What a fine thing it all made! The dish is a bit like the family; the constituents keep their individuality, but have much to say to one another, and combine to make a zesty, nourishing stew. We followed it with green salad, of course, this time with a lemon vinaigrette, and then an apple and some chocolate.

I must say: Cook is a marvelous woman, a thoughtful and generous member of a uniquely rewarding family…

A glass of vin de pamplemousse to begin; then rouge du Var, good old Ferme Julien
Fanny in France, by Alice Waters with Bob Carrau,
illustrations by Ann Arnold. New York: Viking Young Readers Group

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Soup and samosas

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Eastside Road, December 14, 2014—

I WAS WRONG about the soup in yesterday's report; Cook didn't make mushroom soup; she made potato-and-leek soup. I must have had mushrooms on my mind. We had the rest of the soup tonight, and it was definitely potatoes and leeks — not a vichysoisse; not puréed out of recognition; not quite a cockie-leekie soup; just good old homemade potato-and-leek: one of my favorites.

And afterward, two or three little prepared samosas warmed up to have with our green salad. Apple afterward.

Red, La Ferme Julien (Var), 2014; serviceable.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Eastside Road, December 13, 2016—
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Turkey soup
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Mushroom soup
TODAY IS FAST DAY, Tuesday — a couple of pieces of buttered toast with the morning cappuccino; a small handful of cashews and almonds with the evening tea. But I suddenly realize it's three days since last I noted the daily intake.

Two of those days, the weekend, we dined at home, on soup. On Saturday it was the last of the turkey soup made from David Tanis's recipe; I wrote about it last week — a Mexican soup, I think you could say, and a very good one.

Sunday Cook made a mushroom soup: how, I'm not sure. A cream of mushroom soup, I'd say, probably on turkey stock, though I'm not sure. I really should ask her about these things, but I forget to, just as I sometimes forget to tend to this blog. Soup apparently doesn't address problems with the memory!

Vin blanc du Var, La Ferme Julien, serviceable

I EVEN FORGOT to take note of yesterday's lunch, taken enjoyably, with a friend we're fond of, down in Berkeley. I know I began with a delicious salad involving Treviso radicchio and croustades with black-cod rillettes, a truly magnificent salad; and then went on to a dish of penne with mushrooms and a sort of mild, nearly meatless Bolognese sauce.

IMG 3344  2And then dessert. This was so pretty I regretfully hauled out the iPhone, until then neglected in favor of conversation. (The penne were delicious, but pasta and mushrooms don't always make the most fetching visual appearance.) Alas, the light was not propitious. It rarely is, but the result is particularly hurtful here.

The dish was simply lemon ice cream with lemon granita; slices of tangerine to garnish, and a langue du chat. The granita is at the bottom, and as I look at its color I believe it must have contained both lemon and tangerine. The textures of the two frozen desserts complemented one another beautifully.

Vin blanc de Savoie, Les Abymes; Corbières rouge

•Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California; 510-54-5525

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Sunday, December 11, 2016

On the town

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Berkeley and San Francisco, December 9, 2016—
A DAY AND EVENING on the town, beginning in Berkeley with a morning macchiato at a nice café new to me — in fact, a familiar interior, but a new operation, with rather good coffee of their own roast.
•Algorithm Coffee, 1122 University Avenue, Berkeley; +1 (510) 280-5153

THEN TO LUNCH at a restaurant we've always liked but rarely gone to, mostly because there's another place in Berkeley we feel we need to monitor more closely. Today we have a particular reason to return here: the restaurant is closing at the end of the month, the victim, apparently, of the extreme difficulty finding excellent workers. The San Francisco Bay Area has so many good restaurants competing for staff, and is so expensive an area to live in, that restaurateurs are hard pressed.

Normally I've lunched here with one friend or another. There was a time when this was a fairly regular routine, and we always enjoyed ourselves. It's a lively place, with a full bar and a first-rate butcher shop — for a number of years the only decent one for miles around.

Today lunch was noisy, with lots of tables of three or four women, out perhaps doing the Christmas shopping, or just getting together for the holidays, who knows. My Companion and I ordered exactly the same: the green salad, then the bavette steak with French fries and beurre rouge : butter, shallot, red wine. A little tough, the steak was, but tasty. We'll miss this place.

"Le Pigeoulet" (Rhône), 2012, very nice
•Café Rouge, 1782 Fourth Street, Berkeley; +1 (510) 525-1440

THEN IT WAS ON to The City for a museum show and a concert. We were stuffed from lunch, which had after all been The Principal Meal Of The Day, but knew we'd have to fortify ourselves for a three-hour piano recital. So we stopped in at a very favorite place for tea and cake. (The Contessa substituted mulled wine for the tea.) IMG 3328What a cake! Doboš torte, the requisite seven layers of génoise interleaved with perfect chocolate butter cream, an eighth layer at the top covered with caramel and tipped on edge.

Normally we have a Russian Honey Cake here, and it's an extraordinary thing too. But I have a soft spot in my heart for the Doboš torte; I made it for birthdays a couple or three times when the kids were little, and I know how demanding it can be. The people at this café are highly skilled and a lot of fun, and we drop by when we can— •20th Century Cafe, 198 Gough Street, San Francisco; +1 (415) 621-2380

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Silly Situ

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San Francisco, December 8, 2016—
TO THE CITY today with a couple of friends to walk through the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and lunch in ints new restaurant. It is, I think, a silly restaurant; but then much of the art of the last thirty years is, I think, silly — more entertainment than what I would call "art," which is appropriate, because the function of art has traditionally been to mediate between creators, observers, and meaning; and the meaning of much of contemporary life is shallow, social, and transient. But that's a sermon for another blogsite. In Situ intends to do for Restaurant what SFMOMA does for Art Museum. The restaurant curates a menu of recipes "lent" by famous chefs and restaurants around the world, and I must say from today's experience and a little bit of professional hearsay it does a good job. It's not just a matter of reading a recipe and figuring out how to achieve it in its own kitchen with its own staff. Travel, personal meetings, and hands-on observation is also involved.

The dishes come from renowned restaurants as far away as Copenhagen, Kyoto, Hong Kog, Lima, Mejton, Seoul, and Bangkok; American restaurants are represented from Los Angeles, New Uork City, and Yountville.

Alas the menu offered few items that interested me, and I wound up ordering probably the blandest possible item: duck breast as prepared by Thomas Keller at his Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry. The duck is cooked sous-vide and has very little developed taste as a result: it was more like pigeon than duck, reminding me how much of the flavor of duck is developed slowly in braise or on the grill.

The dish was pretty, the lentils nicely presented (though, again, lacking the depth of slow cooking), the little diced vegetables all of a size and texture, the "aged red wine vinegar sauce" pleasant but not really suffusing the entire dish. I ate at The French Laundry once, long ago; this dish seemed to me to be exactly like the sort of thing served there.

The dessert was something else. Two of my companions shared an "Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart," a recipe and presentation from Massimo Bottura's Osteria Francescana in Modena, splashed across the plate on which it was presented with dots of mint, bottarga, quince, chocolate, and so on — silly, entertaining, very pretty, fun; and the curd, which was all I tasted, very correct and forward.

I split the cheesecake, an expensive item which arrived looking like nothing so much as the uncut cheese itself but which turned out to be the softest triple creme imaginable, pungent, and oddly wrapped in white chocolate which to my taste collides with cheese. I can tell chocolate from cheese! They conflict!

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Duck breastcheesecake
Counoise, Broc Cellars, Eagle Point Ranch (Mendocino), 2014: rough and astringent at first, but interesting and rewarding with food
•In Situ, , 151 3rd Street, San Francisco; +1 (415) 357-4000

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Down the hill

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Eastside Road, December 6, 2016—
BEAUTIFUL, ISN'T IT? Tuesday is normally our fast day, but a surprise visitor suggested we join her at the neighbors' house for dinner, and I had a bottle of wine too big for just the two of us, and she had made a quince tart (I think I'd call it a galette) from quinces she'd picked from our tree a couple of months ago, so why not?

T. made a fine risotto in the usual way but with the addition of grated Chioggia beets, which I found quite delicious. If you're going to eat beets, this is the way to do it.

E. grilled a couple of pork loins on the "Tuscan Grill" in his fireplace, over grapevine cuttings I think and some charcoal.

Green salad afterward, and then this delicious quince tart. I should mention that this guest is a baker herself, and a farmer: she raises the wheat she uses in her own flours. She has a fine website.

Côtes du Rhône, Domaine de Piaugier, 2015: fruity, well rounded, very pleasant;
Barolo, Fonatanafredda, 2006; very fine

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Turkey Soup

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Eastside Road, December 5, 2016—
IT HAS COME to this, and I have no complaints at all. Cook did a little online research and found a recipe by our old friend David Tanis, who now writes a food column for the New York Times. It involves leftover turkey, of course; onion, celery, carrot, scallions, garlic, and cilantro; and lots of spices: cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, Cayenne.

And more, added at the end: avocado, jalapeños, and lime wedges. And tortillas, cut in strips, and laid across the top.

Delicious. Green salad.

Timorasso, Derthona, 2016

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Back to Tetrazzini

Eastside Road, December 4, 2016—
FOR PHOTO, SEE day before yesterday, when we had the first half of Cook's turkey Tetrazzini. Many dishes improve with a day or two; this one, I think, does not. Don't get me wrong: it tasted fine tonight, and perhaps deeper or richer. Certainly the mushrooms benefited a bit. But the freshness was off, somehow. I think this may have to do with the breadcrumb topping: it would be interesting to isolate that component. But the hell with it: we finished the thing, and can now get on with life.

Green salad afterward, and then the last of Ivo's ice cream. Have I mentioned that? Ivo, our youngest grandchild, had made a whiskey-honey ice cream for the family Thanksgiving dinner a week ago. Its flavor has deepened in the intervening time, and the texture hasn't suffered. I hope he continues; the fabrication of ice cream has a glorious past in his family, and he's just the guy to continue it forward…

Timorasso, Derthona (Piemonte), 2014: oh what a lovely wine.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

Pommes Parmentier

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Eastside Road, December 3, 2016—

OR, MORE SIMPLY, mashed potatoes. Parmentier was, I think — I'm doing this from memory — the guy who persuaded the French of the, um, let's say the 17th century that potatoes would not poison you if you avoided eating their leaves and stalks.

I don't know how you make mashed potatoes. This is how I did, tonight: Cook washed a couple of russet potatoes, good-sized ones, and cut them into pieces, and boiled them in salted water. (It's been cold here lately, and we have a fire going in the wood stove; she set the pot on top of it.)

Then she asked me to mash the potatoes. I have a favorite instrument for the job, and it isn't the potato masher she uses, which is a sort of perforated disc at the end of a handle. I prefer a very stiff-wired balloon whisk. I just use it like a pestle, mashing down on the potatoes; and I add milk and butter, salt and pepper. Tonight I also threw in maybe a scant tablespoonful of "herbes de Provence," dried thyme, rosemary I suppose, lavender perhaps, and marjoram I'm sure. I bought these dried herbs three years ago and they aren't what they once were, even though they've been confined in a ziplock plastic pouch kept out of the light. But they did add a bit of flavor.

IMG 3223 As well as the potatoes we had cold sliced roast turkey. How long can this go on? And romanesco, steamed in a flat sauté pan on top of the same stove. Gravy, yes; and cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving Day knew, apparently, how much we have to be thankful for…

An apple for dessert.

Cheap Pinot grigio

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Saturday, December 3, 2016

After the feasting

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Eastside Road, December 2, 2016—

TWO RESTAURANTS and a dinner at home. Last night, after a delayed fast day, we met friends in town at a place we've neglected for a couple of years. My companion and I split a butter lettuce salad, a nice one with bits of bacon and blue cheese, and then I went on to the roast chicken, simply prepared and served with mushroom ragout and a raviolo — and not an ordinary raviolo: this one is filled with a barely-cooked hen's egg, a beautiful preparation. I've always thought there was something a little creepy about eating both egg and chicken on the same dish, but I was willing to suspend foolishness this time.

Côtes du Rhône, Domaine La Manarine, 2014

Barndiva, 231 Center Street, Healdsburg, California; (707) 431-0100

LUNCH TODAY back in town with a friend, at a new place of her choosing — a cider works serving a limited but interesting menu. She, for example, had crêpes stacked with blanched spinach and cheddar cheese, then folded in a gratinée dish, covered with a béchamel sauce, and brought all together in the oven. IMG 3203 Had it been Gruyère instead of cheddar I'd have ordered it; but I made do with a plate of charcuterie: salami, prosciutto, thinly sliced raw roast beef, and a pork-liver paté; with very nice pickles, pickled onion, capers, and little pitted black olives; also quite piquant little chile peppers - not quite relevant, I thought, but I ate them all: you gotta eat your vegetables.

Of many possibilities I chose the single-varietal Gravenstein cider, finished dry as a bone. I ordered it out of loyalty to my childhood, near Sebastopol's apple country. In those days we made a lot of cider from Gravensteins, murkier and sweeter than this (and unfermented for the most part). My friend ordered more wisely, a blend, almost as dry but with a more complex flavor.

•Sonoma Cider Taproom, 44F Mill Street, Healdsburg, California; (707) 723-7018

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DINNER AT HOME: Turkey Tetrazzini. I remember this as a staple of the church suppers I endured on Wednesday nights, I think it was, the year-and-a-half I lived with my grandparents, though I'm sure we'd have called it turkey a la king, and it wouldn't have been this good. Surprisingly there were not many recipes at hand, not even in Ada Boni's Italian Regional Cooking or The Talisman; this is perhaps an American invention, named for the soprano. Cook consulted Rose Sorce's The Complete Italian Cook Book, a book I've never looked into.

The recipe involves diced cooked turkey mushrooms, flour, broth, white wine, cream, olive oil, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese; so I suppose there's a nod to besciamella here, though the result as Cook made it was not at all heavily sauced, simply bound. She used her favored penne instead of the broken spaghetti called for by la Sorce. (I note, now, the cookbook subtitles the recipe Tacchino alla Tetrazzini, so perhaps the dish is Italian after all.)

In any case, a fine way to extend a little leftover turkey into a main dish, followed by green salad and a last sliver of that rich, noble, venerable mince pie.

Cheap Pinot grigio

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Eastside Road, November 29, 2016—

LIKE SO MANY OTHERS we nourish ourselves these days with leftovers, des restes. Here, for example, exactly what we had Thursday, and Friday, and yesterday: roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries. The dressing has played out, ditto the Brussels sprouts, replaced tonight by frozen succotash. No one has cooked in this house for days, other than warming up that succotash. I don't complain: the dinner's good, and tasty. 

The green salad, of course, and an apple, and a chocolate. The wine's another leftover: cheap Nero d'Avola. Tomorrow we will fast. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

The feast of feasting

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Eastside Road, November 27, 2016—

THANKSGIVING DAY, that quintessentially American feast of feasting, lasted three days for us, beginning on the designated Thursday in this dining room, seen just before eight of us sat down to dinner in the Santa Rosa home of one of our best and oldest friends, the woman who introduced the Contessa and me to one another all those years ago.

The dinner was conventional and classic and extremely satisfying: roast turkey and dressing; mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes; Brussels sprouts and pearl onions; gravy and cranberry sauce; green salad; rolls and butter; and a delicious pumpkin pie, the traditional pumpkin purée ingeniously coated with a thin layer of caramel, then decorated with toasted sugared pecans set around the rim. It was a delicious dinner.

Sauvignon blanc; Zinfandel

NEXT DAY AT HOME fourteen of us — our local extended family — enjoyed exactly the same menu at our own dining table : oven-roasted turkey and dressing; mashed potatoes and (I am told) sweet potatoes); Brussels sprouts and pearl onions (and cippolini); gravy and cranberry sauce; green salad; rolls and butter; and a delicious pumpkin pie, without it must be said that suave thin layer of caramel. But also mince pie, made with mincemeat Cook had put up perhaps twenty years ago, deep and old and rich and evocative, like Cook herself.

Hanky pankies before dinner; then sparkling wine: Argyle (Oregon) (Pinot noir and Chardonnay, 60/40), 2013;
Ribolla gialla, Rodaro (Friuli Colli Orientali), 2014 (alas no better than it might be);
Garnacha Tintorera/Monastrell 70/30, Laya (Almansa, Spain), 2014 (quite nice);
Château d'Yquem, 1980 in half bottle (faded but impressive, and thanks, Elin!)

YESTERDAY WE WALKED down the hill to the neighbors — who are in fact part of that local extended family — for a taste of something different. We'd enjoyed fireplace-roasted leg of lamb there just a few nights ago, and returned to the rest of it: rare at the center, full of flavor; accompanied by roasted potatoes with salt and rosemary; green salad; pumpking pie; a fine blue cheese whose name I did not get.

Ribolla gialla, Rodaro (Friuli Colli Orientali), 2014; Garnacha Tintorera/Monastrell 70/30, Laya (Almansa, Spain), 2014

And tonight we've begun attacking leftovers.

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this photo: Eric Monrad (cropped to protect the diners!)

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Roast lamb

Eastside Road, November 22, 2016—

DOWN TO THE NEIGHBORS for dinner tonight, and joined by a friend just arrived yesterday from Amsterdam. Eric, a master at the grill, roasted a boned leg of lamb in the fireplace, and whipped up a powerful aïoli for the delicious little artichokes the guest brought with him. A very Provençal dinner, and what evocative elective affinities lamb, garlic , and artichokes express!

Green salad afterward, and fine conversation throughout. Many thanks!

Viognier, 2015; red blend, 2014; both Preston of Dry Creek, and both excellent. 

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Onion soup

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Berkeley; Eastside Road, November 21, 2016—

LUNCH WAS FINE, of course; we ate in the Café, in Berkeley, where I had a delicious salad: radicchio with a mustard vinaigrette, with shaved fuyu persimmons (I may learn to like this fruit), toasted almonds, crisp little fried sage leaves, and Pecorino; then a savory pizza with halibut brandade, tomato sauce, capers, and wild fennel.

We might actually have skipped dinner, but I was concerned about my companion's cold, which has her coughing and complaining. Well, not complaining a lot, but still.

So I bought a quart of chicken stock, since we were in Berkeley and there's a reliable poulterer there; and then an onion and some Gruyère, and made her my version of a French onion soup. Nothing could be simpler: bring the stock to a simmer, adjust the flavor with salt and herbes de Provence, toss in very finely sliced onion, add a tablespoon or so of brandy. Let it simmer until the onions are cooked through. I sliced a baguette thin and toasted the slices in a black iron skillet, floated them on the soup, and added grated Gruyère cheese.

We'd warmed up with my version of a Hanky Panky: a jigger of gin, another of good Italian red vermouth (Carpano for a preference), a half jigger of Fernet Branca, shaken well with ice, garnished with orange peel.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Monday, November 21, 2016

Boeuf daube / beef stew

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Eastside Road, November 20, 2016—

I LOOKED IN A NUMBER of books — Mireille Johnston's Cuisines of the Sun, Richard Olney's Lulu's Provençal Table, Austin Croze's Plats régionaux de France, Curnonsky of course, a couple of others. I have a favorite never-fail recipe, but it is in a small book of Provençal recipes that I have been unable to locate on our shelves for years now; perhaps we lent it to someone, or perhaps the Contessa sold it in a fit of downsizing. I hope not.

A daube, as I understand it, is a meat stew more or less regional to the south of France. It can involve lamb or mutton, but is usually based on beef. The other apparently indispensable ingredients are carrot, onion, red wine, and orange peel. It is cooked in a daubière, a clay vessel with a specially shaped lid into which you can pour liquid while the stew cooks. The liquid does not go into the daubière; its only office is to evaporate fairly quickly into the oven, causing a certain shock within the vessel, thereby encouraging condensation. I never do this, as I'm afraid of breaking the daubière, which we bought many years ago in Vallauris.

After consulting all those sources I simply made up my own daube. I began with a slice of bacon, cut in half, covering the bottom of the pot. Then I cut a carrot into pieces and put them, together with a small bay leaf, half a dozen peeled pearl onions and half a turnip cut into sixths, on top of the bacon.

On top of that I put about three quarters of a pound of grass-fed beef stew, salted of course; and on top of the meat another carrot chopped up, the other half the turnip, and another half dozen pearl onions. One piece of turnip was studded with three or four cloves. I added a good-sized piece of orange zest, taken off with a potato-peeler.

I poured in a little brandy and a glass or so of red wine and a splash of olive oil, ground in more salt and pepper, and put the thing in an oven at 325•, where it cooked for a couple of hours.

At that point I added three potatoes cut into sixths, and brought the liquid up further with water. Daubes are traditionally served with pasta, not potatoes: but I'm a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, and this was my daube.

In another hour and a half I took the stew out, spooned it into soup bowls, ladled the gravy over, and served. It was good.

Green salad afterward; then a Clementine and some pear.

Cabernet sauvignon/Monastrell, as yesterday

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Sunday, November 20, 2016

It's a guy thing

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Eastside Road, November 19, 2016—

COOK IS A LITTLE under the weather today, so I stepped in and made dinner, in rather an improvised way. I stopped in at the local supermarket and bought a couple of slices of roast beef at the deli, but they were so thin I picked up a fillet of carne asada at the same time. Also some potatoes and a few more cipollini.

Over there to the left you'll see one of my very favorite knives. It cost us $23,000 — a bargain, because with it came a two-bedroom brown shingle house in Berkeley, California. I found the knife on the workbench in the single-car detached garage, carefully wrapped in newspaper and tied up with jute cord. The newspaper was Chinese and dated, as I recall, sometime in the 1920s. The knife was completely covered in a sixteenth of an inch of rust.

I took kerosene and steel wool to it, touched it up a bit with a stone, and admired the steel. Hand forged, of course. We'd bought the house from a Chinese immigrant, a widow, who'd occupied it for half a century I'm sure. Her husband must have brought the knife with him from the old country, and forgotten it on the workbench.

Oh: dinner. I sliced four potatoes, as you see, and fried them in butter. I sliced the cipollini and treated them the same, first having seared the roast beef and carne asada and set them aside. When things were done, or approximately, I combined the potatoes and onions and set the meat on top and put a lid on the pan while some romanesco steamed in another. No salad today! No dessert!

Cabernet sauvignon 70% Monastrell 30%, Terrenal "Seleccionado" (Spain), 2015: okay.

EARLIER WE HAD MET a couple of guys an hour north, in the next county, where we had lunch at a cheerful enough pizza joint near the courthouse. I had strozzapreti with meatballs in tomato sauce, and they were okay. Ditto the bay-leaf (California myrtle, not nobilis) flavored panna cotta, and even the French press coffee… IMG 3041
A glass of red
•Saucy, 108 W Standley Street, Ukiah, California; 707-462-7007

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fusilli with tuna

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Eastside Road, November 19, 2016—

IF MY BRAIN seems unusually active today it is because we dined for the third straight evening on fish, and we all know that fish is brain food. (I have occasionally wondered how often brain is fish food.) I don't feel unusually intelligent just now, but perhaps these developments take time.

Cook opened a jar of her excellent tomato sauce, made per the instructions in Alice Waters's My Pantry — have I written about that? — and emptied a can of tuna into it when it was heated; then tossed the result with the cooked pasta, and dusted it with Parmesan cheese.

Green salad afterward, and then…

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People say, now and then, on hearing of my Companion, gee, you must eat a lot of wonderful desserts. Well, no. The last thing a retired pastry chef wants to do is make dessert every day; it would be like a retired newspaper critic maintaining a daily blog. So elaborate desserts here on Eastside Road are limited to the occasional birthday, or family dinner, or dinner for invited guests.

Instead we generally make do with a piece of chocolate or a fruit plate. I thought tonight's was pretty: a Clementine bought a few days ago from Didar, at the Berkeley Farm Market; a couple of dates, a few bits of candied citrus peel given us months ago by friends who grow citrus in Ojai.

Cheap Pinot grigio

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Friday, November 18, 2016


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Eastside Road, November 17, 2016—

ONE OF THE FEW things we've missed since leaving Berkeley, nearly twenty years ago now, is Monterey Fish, a shop whose provender is utterly reliable. We try to remember, on the occasions we spend a day in Berkeley — once or twice every month, it seems — to take a little ice chest with us; and so we did the other day.

Today Cook cooked up these fillets of snapper. She breaded them and drizzled a little olive oil on top, with a bit of salt of course, and broiled them just a few minutes; then served them with a gremolata of chopped garlic, parsley, and lime peel, drizzling just a bit more oil first.

We've begun using our own olive oil. We picked ninety pounds of olives a few weeks ago and took them to a community press, where they were mixed with olives from neighbors within a few miles. Ninety pounds of olives don't give you a lot of oil, only a gallon and a half; and I can't really call this our own olive oil, since it's a blend of the neighboring fruit. But we know where it came from, and I must say it is delicious. It won't last long.

Green beans on the side, and a green salad afterward, and an apple, and some biscotti, and candied citrus peel.

Cheap pinot grigio

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Thursday, November 17, 2016


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Eastside Road, November 16, 2016—

SOMEONE ASKED the other day on Facebook about peeling peppers, and I was surprised at many of the responses. They ranged from some who advocated leaving them unpeeled to others who took scrubbers to them. Most, thankfully, referred to roasting the peppers, either over an open flame or in the oven. Even among those, though, there was divergence as to what to do next. Some even suggested washing them under running water.

What I do is rinse them if they need it, in which case I'll have to dry them with a towel, and then roast them on a front burner of the gas range. If they're small I'll have to hold them with tongs while they roast; bigger peppers can simply like on the gas grate.

If I have a lot of them I'll take that grate off and use an iron grill I picked up years ago in a flea market. In any case, once they're blistered all over I put them in an ordinary paper bag and fold the top over to let them steam in their own juice a few minutes.

Then I run the tip of a paring knife around the stem end and then cut a slit from stem to stern, trying to cut the curved side so I can then flatten the pepper by hinging it along the straighter side. The sharp tip of the paring knife then trims the veins from the inside of the pepper, and with the edge of my hand I scrape the seeds out.

I turn the flattened opened pepper over again and scrape the charred peeling off with the knife. If more skin remains tightly adhered than I like, I set the thing over the flame again, just for a few seconds, and then go at the recalcitrant places with the paring knife.

Tonight I sliced very thin three or four cippollini, and sweated them in good olive oil over a very slow flame, cooking them without letting them color. Then the peppers went on top and a lid went on the pan. Salt, of course. If I'd thought about it before it got dark I'd have picked some marjoram or thyme. Salt and good olive oil was enough flavoring.

Dinner: Cook fried some sole fillets and steam-cooked a small cabbage she'd sliced, and the peppers and onions made a nice side dish. Green salad afterward.

Cheap Pinot grigio
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RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Eating in the kitchen

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Berkeley, November 15, 2016—

OF COURSE IT IS one of my very favorite dining tables: the little one between the pastry section and the salad counter in the downstairs kitchen of Chez Panisse. We eat the same table-d'hôte menu as do all the other guests in the dining room, but instead of a convivial group of mostly strangers, all carrying on their own private conversations, the Contessa and I converse with one another, with the cooks (carefully, so as not to distract them), and with The Meal.

I capitalize those words, because the culinary component of the dining experience assumes a position it rarely manages to attain; a rightful position — after all, the provender and its treatment are the center of every meal — but one so easily taken for granted, whether at home, a friend's home, or a restaurant.

Two or three cooks and the pastry chef are on my left, preparing the desserts for upstairs and down, and "plating" the servings. We see the tarte pastry rolled out, shaped, and set on its parchment-paper; the cook takes up a pair of scissors to trim the paper into a neat circle just bigger than the shell itself. The apples have been peeled, cored, and cut into uniform slices; the slices distributed evenly and artfully on the pastry. She carries it to its oven; it cooks while we eat our dinner.

We begin with an apéritif and an amuse-gueule: olives and citrus peel; a glass of Prosecco flavored with a drop of Carpano and some lemon zest, the latter then removed. A piemontese Kir Royale, if you like: it signals the beginning of a meal with piemontese leanings.

IMG 2972The salad is scallops, squid, fennel, watercress, and rémoulade: we watch the salad cook and her assistant assemble it. There is some discussion between them as to the amount and placement of the watercress leaves, and the chef steps over to listen in and contribute his advice.

The celery-root rémoulade is bound with sauce mousseline, Hollandaise with whipped cream folded into it to lighten it. We have a little discussion about this, and I promise to look it up in Repertoire de la cuisine when I get home. (I don't, of course; I look it up in the very useful article on Hollandaise sauce in Wikipedia.) The scallops rest on a bed of chopped parsley, I think, bound with olive oil. The squid is beautifully deep-fried in rice oil, the tiny scallops (from Martha's Vineyard Bay: hooray for airplanes) sweet, innocent, fresh.

Weissburgunder Spätlese, Hofgut Falkenstein, 2015 (Mosel): soft, delicate, floral
IMG 2974Then it's on to the next course, a soup — more accurately, two soups, one a rich, dense, deep green spinach soup, the other a tawny mushroom soup featuring porcini. I've watched the cook in charge of this dish plate the servings, each hand dipping a ladle into the soup-pots, then ladling the soups simultaneously into the bowl. An assistant garnishes the soups with tiny bits of chopped celery and white truffle. The chef — tonight, Cal Peternell — has made the tiniest of Parmesan-inflected grissini: one is balanced across the soup bowl.

We had been to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art earlier in the day, and had paintings fresh in mind (meaning: in visual memory). This bowl of soup was a painting; it made me think of Tibetan Tantric art (not that I'd seen any of that at SFMOMA). You have to marvel at the visual appearance, and at the skill of the cook who served it. But the proof of the soup is in the slurp, and these two soups proved out. I wondered if they'd complement each other as well in the mouth as they did to the eye: they did. The mushroom soup was thick, with a little texture; the spinach was an utterly smooth purée, but dense as well. Both were very deeply flavored, and the crunchy little garnish made a fine contribution.

Roero Arneis, Brovia, 2015: fresh and lively, with good acid-fruit balance to offset the soups
IMG 2976Main course: Grilled squab with sage, with roasted artichokes, radicchio, and mostarda di frutta, with little cubed potatoes. This kitchen grills over charcoal or, occasionally, wood; I'm ashamed to say I didn't detect which was used here, wood I think. The squab, from Paine Farm, was meaty and succulent, grilled to exactly the right point, as the Contessa observed: thick slices of breast meat cooked through but rosy rare; crisp but succulent little drumsticks to gnaw at with your fingers.

I'm a big fan of cooked lettuces, and I thought the radicchio, barely warmed but tender, was the right addition to the plate, along with the tiny artichokes, halved and trimmed, and these marvelous potatoes that seemed to have been barely browned (gilded a better term) in duck fat. Apple was the chief ingredient of the Mostarda di frutta; it lifted the plate toward a very special level, festive, preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Nebbiolo, Cantalupo (Ghemme), 2003: smooth, rich, fully mature, yet friendly, not overpowering the food
IMG 2980Dessert: that tarte or, more properly, galette, made with Pink Lady apples, firm-structured but settling into a sweet, buttery integration with the pastry. It was served on a swirl of huckleberry coulis — another painting, recalling the soups — and garnished with bits of candied Meyer lemon. And on the side, on a bed of whipped cream (recalling the rémoulade), a ball of deep huckleberry ice cream that said hello to the Nebbiolo in passing.
Tokay, 5 puttonyos, 2005

Altogether, one of the finest meals we've had from this kitchen, and our experience goes back now getting on to half a century!

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

We are partners in Chez Panisse; my Companion was its pastry chef from the beginning for nearly thirty years, and readers will be forgiven for detecting bias in my reports of meals taken there

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015