Monday, February 29, 2016


Eastside Road, February 29, 2016—
YES, LIKE MOST Americans, we do have a hamburger every now and then. I think I mentioned four or five last year, of which the best was no doubt on March 9, at Zuni in San Francisco. There were a couple at Brody's, in Santa Rosa, and one In-n-outburger.

But the one you see here was as good as any of them. I'm not sure where the ground beef was from; Cook bought it at the local mostly organic grocery store. She simply broiled it in the oven, and warmed up some commercial sesame-seed buns. Mustard, sliced onion, dill pickle, relish.

Green salad afterward.

Rosé, Gaussac, Domaine Guilhem, 2014

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015


1  3
Eastside Road, February 28, 2016—

IT'S BEEN A LONG time since our last penne in red sauce. This was Cook's first use of her own tomato sauce, many quarts of which she put up at the end of tomato season last year, inspired by Alice Waters's recent book My Pantry.

Otherwise I'm sure it was all made following her usual method: sweat some chopped onion in olive oil; add some ground beef and brown it (she makes vegetarian versions too); add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper, a couple of bay leaves and simmer until ready.

Afterward, green salad and a few olives — I put up a few quarts at the end of last year, soaking them in lye, then brining them, and they're edible, mostly. And a couple of chocolates for dessert, and an orange.

Zinfandel, Preston of Dry Creek, 2013

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Pork tenderloin

1  2
Eastside Road, February 27, 2016—
NOT MANY SIMPLER meals than a small pork tenderloin. I salted the meat all round and wrapped it loosely in its butcher paper when we got it home from the market. Then
Grind up a couple of stalks of rosemary leaves and another couple of thyme, along with a couple of cloves of garlic, in your blender, finishing with a mortar and pestle
 Mix that with olive oil, and spread the mixture all over the meat;
 Roast the pork at high heat (or grill over charcoal or wood) until done but not overdone.
Zinfandel, Preston of Dry Creek, 2013: deep and delicious

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Pannekoeken! Teacake!

1  1
February 27, 2016—

I TEDIOUSLY MAKE a big holier-than-thou thing here, now and then, about not eating commercially prepared foods. Don't eat anything that comes in a box, I sententiously state.

But we do make exceptions. Now and then we (and I mean Cook) will buy a box. Often as not it'll find a spot on a pantry shelf and be forgotten for a while, sometimes a long while.

A couple of days ago Cook emerged from the pantry with a couple of boxed mixes, of all things. Well, it was excusable: these were bought years ago at that Dutch imports store in Beaverton, outside of Portland, on one of our nostalgic trips there for zout-lakris, snoepjes, netelkaas and the like.

Here on the left was the first result: a delicious Dutch teacake, a cross between a sand cake, I think, and a gateau basquaise. It was delicious the first day we had it, Friday afternoon at tea; and just as good today, when we polished it off after lunch. I wish I had another box.

Then today Cook made pannenkoek for breakfast — from another mix. She was curious to see its color: yes, slightly yellow; clearly some buckwheat in the mix. She dearly loves buckwheat. I find one hundred percent buckwheat pancakes too flannelly, but then I don't drown them in maple syrup, as some folks around here do.

Dutch pannekoeken, however, have just the right amount of buckwheat flour mixed in with the wheat. We resisted the package's suggestion to put a few tomato slices on the pancake before turning it; no need to run away with authenticity. We had just one apiece, at breakfast; there's plenty of batter left, and we'll have a nice Dutch supper tomorrow…

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:  2016   2015

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Kale-chickpea stew

Eastside Road, February 26, 2016—


1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
 Sweat the above half a minute or so.
 Add a pound or so of coarsely chopped kale; cook another minute.
 Add a cup of chicken broth, 2 tsp ground coriander, a teaspoonful ground cumin, half a teaspoonful of garam masala, a quarter teaspootful salt, and some red pepper; cover; cook ten minutes or so, until kale is tender.
 Stir in a 15-ounce can of chickpeas and cook until heated through.
This was dinner one evening recently; lunch a day or two later — as good for maturing as it was when fresh.


RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:
2016   2015

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Business lunch at the restaurant

Berkeley, February 24, 2016—

PRIVATE LUNCH for a sizeable group downstairs, and this is what we had:

Chicories salad with pickled beets, mustard blossoms, and sorrel
Poulet à la ficelle with roasted leeks, potato gratin, and romesco
Crema catalana with cinnamon cookies and tangerines
Rosé, Rose & Thistle, 2014
A simple meal, light, nourishing, and attractive. For dinner, then, just a green salad, and a couple of scones a friend brought us yesterday (thanks, John)

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

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:   2016   2015

Tapas bravas

Eastside Road, February 23, 2016—
A COUPLE OF FRIENDS drove up to meet us for dinner tonight, so no fast day this Tuesday. Nor tomorrow, come to think of it. We'll have to put it off to Thursday.

I warmed up with them at the bar with a Hanky Panky, a cocktail I'm favoring this week. Then we moved to a table, still outside, on a chilly night but warmed by one of those gas heaters, and we set to:

Fermin Jamón Ibérico
Foie gras, crispy Serrano ham, orange marmalade (2)
Tortilla Española with romesco alioli
Bacalao on flatbread with olives, lemon, and parsley
Patatas bravas, tomato sauce, aïoli
Tuna belly salad with green olives, egg, and shaved celery

Albariño, Marimar Estate, 2014: crisp, clean, fres
Mourvedre, Preston of Dry Creek, 2013: fruity, rich, mature
Straus Family soft serve with tangerine oil and sea salt
Chocolate mousse, walnut crisp
And a good time was had by all.

•Bravas Bar de Tapas, 420 Center Street, Healdsburg; 707-433-7700

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:   2016   2015

Reno again

Reno, Nevada, February 21-22, 2016—

A QUICK GETAWAY for two days to this strange city just over the border, to visit cousins and hear an orchestra concert. (Laura Jackson conducting the Reno Philharmonic; very good.)

After the concert, time to revive a conversation with my Companion on the subject of steak-frites. She recently announced that one really shouldn't order it cooked anything less than medium rare, as it's the cooking brings out the flavors. After this one I have to agree. When I was younger, American cooks — like English ones, I suppose — routinely overcooked meat. If you ordered medium rare, you were lucky to get medium; more likely it would be "medium well". So I early on formed the habit of ordering my steaks rare.

So did I at this bistro, and got undercooked meat. (I should explain that it is pan-seared in this kitchen, not grilled.) It was what the French would call bleu, not even saignant. It was tough, needless to say — hard to cut moist meat, even with a steak knife — and it had not developed a lot of flavor. I liked the French fries, though, and the Béarnaise sauce was okay.

Beaujolais, Depeuble, 2013 (a little too mature)
Beaujolais Bistro, 753 Riverside Drive, Reno, Nevada; 775-323-2227

Next day, Monday, we had lunch with a cousin at a place of her choosing, rather a delightful, old-fashioned seafood place (designed by Pat Kuleto) in a repurposed bungalow, the dining area cut up by waist-high partitions into booths, everything cozy and relaxed.

Fish and chips might have been the order of the day; that's what Claudia had. My Companion chose wisely, as usual: a deep-fried fish sandwich, with wonderful French fries. I couldn't resist sand dabs, and thought them and their presentation, well, ordinary. Breaded and cooked a bit too long, served on a mound of decent mashed potatoes, with asparagus spears on the side, they made a satisfying but unmemorable lunch. Still, an enjoyable place; I could return for dinner one day…

Pinot grigio
Rapscallion, 1555 South Wells Avenue, Reno, Nevada; 775-323-1211

THERE IS GOOD COFFEE to be had in Reno — a good thing, as before the drive home over the Donner Pass it's good to have some espresso in the system. I very much like Hub Coffee: we've been to two of their locations, this time the one on the Truckee River, which has a nice walking path alongside.

Hub Coffee Roasters, 727 Riversie Drive, Reno, Nevada

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:
2016   2015

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tomatoes and eggs

Eastside Road, February 20, 2016—

THIS WAS TRULY a delicious one-course meal: highly flavored, spicy, warming, filling, fresh, unexpected. Cook began with the classic soffrito, then added garlic, shredded ginger, chopped green onions, and a minced jalapeño pepper; then coriander, cayenne; then a can of tomatoes, chopped, and a little water. After that had simmered for a while she poached eggs on top of the tomatoes, and served it garnished with cilantro and a few chopped scallions. What a fine dinner! We had a green salad afterward, of course.

Wine does not accompany eggs well. I had a second Martini instead.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:   2016   2015

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Duck confit

Eastside Road, February 19, 2016—

NOT MANY MEATS more delicious than duck confit. This one was really quite delicious, served with spaetzle, good thick bacon, spinach, and a mustard sauce. With it, what the hell, some French fries with a nice vinegary aïoli. This is a fine casual restaurant; we'll be back.

Cannonau, Argiolas (Sardinia), 2012

•The Pullman Kitchen, 205 5th Sreet, Santa Rosa, California; 707-545-4300

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:
2016   2015


IMG 5737  1
Berkeley, February 18, 2016—

CHIANTIGIANAAS FAR as I know, simply means woman (or girl) from Chianti; someone more fluent in Italian may correct me. So when I saw

Casarecce pasta with wild mushroom ragù alla chiantigiana
on the menu I wasn't sure what to expect, other than perhaps a dash of Chianti, or at least Sangiovese, in the sauce.

I began with salad, of course. At home we always take our salad after the principal dish, as anyone who drops in here from time to time must know; but in a restaurant, even this one, it almost always comes first, to give the kitchen time to prepare the main event. Well, that's how it goes. Salad tonight was fine: fresh rocket from Bob Cannard's farm (and we'd said hello to Bob on our way into the restaurant), with thin shavings of Parmagiano and nicely cured prosciutto.

I have to admit I didn't know what casarecce were, either. I discover later, from Wikipedia, that the word derives from casareccio, "home-made"; the website Pastafits tells me further that

Casarecce pasta is shaped like a very narrow, twisted and rolled tube. This pasta is best used when served with a chunky sauce…
My photo will I hope give you some idea. These casarecce were of course made in house, and they were really very nice, chewy, dense, reminding me of strozzapreti, which are my very favorite pasta. (Well, there's fettuccini. And agnolotti. And… and…)

The sauce tasted much more of forest mushrooms, which I like very much, than of Sangiovese, which I don't, particularly. And the peas and parsley gave it a winter-looking-forward-to-spring touch much appreciated on a gently blustery day…

Vespolina, Favolalunga, Colline Novaresi, Boniperti, 2013: rich but light on its feet

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

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:   2016   2015

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Chicken sandwich

IMG 5713
Laytonville, California, February 16, 2016—

THERE ARE THREE chicken sandwiches, as far as I'm concerned. One is the one I make for myself: chicken breast sliced not too thin on buttered white bread with watercress.

The second is chicken sandwich as it's done by Bakesale Betty (5098 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland). The chicken is breaded and deep-fried: more than that I'm afraid I can't tell you just now, as it's been quite a while since I've been there, but I remember it is very tasty.

The third is the one you see here. I had it today, to break the long drive home from Gasquet. I have to confess that I know the chef-proprietor of this place, a little, not well; he's a friend of my son's, and I've even been to his house. He's from Louisiana and knows Cajun ways intimately. He's just opened this place, and we thought we'd give it a try. Fortunately we very much liked it: it will come in handy on future drives, I know.

The breaded, fried chicken was very well seasoned, and married to a slice of marvelous bacon and a discreet bit of Swiss cheese. I was dubious about the cheese, reading the description, but decided to trust the kitchen. The cheese is more a condiment than a third party to the meats, and that suits me perfectly. There was a good double handful of chopped lettuce on the sandwich, and the bun was soft and rich. A mayonnaise was involved, but I can't tell you much about it: it too was perfectly in balance with the rest of the sandwich. We'll be back.

India pale ale: Almanac, "Summer in San Francisco", clean, bitter, perfect

•Super Chief, 44400 Highway 101, Laytonville (where the Chief Smokehouse used to be)

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:   2016   2015

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Another steak

IMG 5662
Gasquet, California, February 15, 2016—
HARDLY ANY PLACE to stay the night, let alone eat dinner, between Grants Pass and Crescent City. But this morning on our way to Cave Junction we noticed this place along the road, and found out it was open on a Monday night, and had a room, so we gave it a chance.

A really nice room: King-sized bed, couch, good light, warm, bath tub. We haven't made the wi-fi work, so this will have to wait a day or so to hit the blogosphere, but nothing wrong with staying offline for a night.

At six o'clock we were the only people in the dining room, and by 7:30, when it was closing, only one other couple had appeared. THe menu's a bit restricted, running to steaks of various persuasions.

I opened with a house salad, composed of lettuce, little pear tomatoes, cucumber slices, beets, and pickled peppers. (I happily traded my beets for my companion's peppers.)

Afterward, this 10-ounce top sirloin, nicely cooked to my specification, with a baked potato, which I treated to the very light oil that came on my oil-and-vinegar tray.

Pinot noir, Castle Rock, 2009
•Patrick Creek Lodge, 13950 Highway 199, Gasquet, California; 707-457-3323

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

St. Valentine's Day

IMG 5618
Eureka, California, February 14, 2016—
ANOTHER ROAD TRIP, and this one not a happy one: the funeral of an old extended-family friend, just shy of her 93d birthday. We drove as far as this bleak northern California port city this afternoon, and dined in what passes for a posh restaurant.

I will give them credit. Eureka is, I think, not the easiest place to persuade a clientele of the pleasures of dining. I did think they perhaps worked a bit too hard at it. We had the special table d'hôte menu for the evening (Valentine's Day) — there was no other option:

Salad: baby greens, almonds, strawberries, avocado, blood orange vinaigrette and bellwether farms whole milk ricotta
Black truffle gnocchi: sautéed gnocchi with shaved black truffle with lamb chopper cheese, shallots and beurre noisette
Lemon sorbetto in vodka
Crispy duck skin wrapped tenderloin roast served with old vine zinfandel reduction, asparagus, parisienne potatoes and roasted pearl onions
Chocolate fondue with pound cake, strawberries, and pineapple
Of this largesse the best course was the gnocchi, very nicely made to begin with, then thoughtfully sautéed in butter until the surfaces were just barely crisp. The sliced truffle had not been cooked, but the gnocchi were hot enough that tumbling everything together on the plate warmed them sufficiently (though I think their flavor was not particularly strong; they had likely been kept frozen). I have no idea what "lamb chopper cheese" is; it was like a mild fontina.

The salad was confused.

The sorbetto was marvelous, silky-textured, nicely forward in flavor, with just a splash of Grey Goose to help the acidic lemon cut the butter of the previous course. Maybe in fact this was the best course of the evening.

The beef was a good idea. The crisp duck skin brought definition and perfume to the beef, which itself had nice texture. But there was way too much meat here; it overpowered the onions and potatoes and even the deep, nicely made reduction. The course would have been better with a lighter hand.

I liked the chocolate fondue, but there was no way to appreciate it after all that had gone before. I happen to think chocolate-covered strawberries are ridiculous, but I learned that chocolate-covered fresh pineapple is a pleasure. Still: we were sated.

We'd had a wine tasting to accompany these courses: in my case, Napa Cellars Sauvignon blanc (okay, unexceptional); Piper Sonoma brut "Champagne" (crisp and yeasty); Carter Cellars Cabernet sauvignon; Old Growth Cellars Zinfandel "port". All were pleasant; none was outstanding.

The room was pleasant: we could converse easily, we were not distracted by other tables, and we were well taken care of by pleasant, efficient waiters. This place is trying to do a good job, and deserves support from its local clientele.

•Carter House Inn, 301 L Street, Eureka, California; 707-444-8062

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

Friday, February 12, 2016

Stamppot; barley

IMG 5562 IMG 5563
Eastside Road, February 11, 2016—

WE BEGIN TONIGHT with leftovers, made over: the potatoes-peas-and-kale from last night, with a little more kale and some stray chard mixed in, resulting in the best of both worlds: flavors deepened and merged over time, and new ones distinct and pointed to balance them. It's always so interesting to taste these changes — and tooth them, too, because textures evolve similarly.

Then that barley pilaf Cook likes so much to make: whole-grain barley stewed in stock, with lots of butter, and nice fresh scallions chopped in toward the end.

Green salad afterward, and a tangerine for dessert.

Cheap Barbera d'Asti, 2013

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:
2016   2015

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lamb chops

IMG 5547
Eastside Road, February 10, 2016—

NOW AND THEN — I'll confess it — we find ourselves in a supermarket. A vaguely upscale one, politically correct in a sense, but still a supermarket. So it was two days ago, when Cook was looking for something supermarkety.

And who should be there handing out samples but a charming young woman from New Zealand. The samples were of grilled lamb, and lamb is not a meat I easily resist. The chops were on sale, and furthermore she offered a four-dollar-off coupon. Who could resist?

I salted them a bit before cooking time, and then Cook simply broiled them in the gas range. With them she served another variation of a stamppot : this time English peas as well as the potatoes and kale. Delicious. The lamb was frozen, of course, but young, deep-flavored, and meaty.

Green salad afterward, and a tangerine.

The rest of the cheap Paso Robles Zinfandel

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:
2016   2015

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Turkey soup

Eastside Road, February 8, 2016—

ALL I KNOW for sure is leftover turkey (frozen), chicken stock, onion, garlic, and barley. I like barley, in bread, as a hot cereal, as a pilaf. And a good hearty soup, seems to me, requires whole-grain barley like this. Not "pearl" barley: whole-grain.

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:
2016   2015

Monday, February 8, 2016


Eastside Road, February 8, 2016—
NO SUNDAY IS ROUTINE here on Eastside Road, it seems. They all start out the same, though:
Soft-boiled egg
Toast, butter, marmalade
Coffee with milk
The egg is put in a pan of cold water; the water brought to the boil; then pan is covered and the egg allowed to bask for exactly three minutes. Clearly larger eggs will be softer than smaller ones. We generally buy Large eggs, but since they come from local farms they vary. Within reason, variety is a good thing, even within routines.

A three-minute egg is soft. The word in our household is slubberij, a Dutch word we owe to our friend Hans, who can't imagine eating an egg so soft-cooked.

We usually have one slice of toast apiece at breakfast, but on Sundays two: one with butter, to accompany the egg; one afterward. I do love marmalade.

The coffee is dark roast espresso. I roast it myself, getting the beans from Sweet Maria in Oakland and roasting them in a Fresh Roast SR300 roaster, for 5.9 minutes, and try to use them no sooner than the third day after roasting.

Currently we make our coffee with a Starbuck's Barista machine bought second-hand; our beloved Faemina is on my workbench, awaiting the spring cleanup of the shop.

Yesterday we skipped lunch. We couldn't really help it: we had to drive down to Oakland, 70 miles or so, to take a couple of friends to the opera. (West Edge Opera; concert performance of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, as set by Paisiello, not Rossini; and very good in every way.) At intermission we had some kind of whole-grain fruit bar they were selling; that was lunch.

On getting home — cold roast chicken, with kale-cooked-with-mashed-potatoes: another stamppot, I suppose.

bottle ends
RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating:
2016   2015

Sunday, February 7, 2016


IMG 5539
Eastside Road, February 6, 2016—

IT'S A MISTAKE, I said to no one in particular, to eat here and not order sausage. So though what spoke to me immediately was the Margarita pizza, I accepted the waitress's suggestion to add some crumbled Italian sausage to it.

It was a delicious pizza. The tomato sauce is deep and highly flavored, and the basil, which was almost stewed in the juices, equally assertive. The thin crust was perhaps a tiny bit underdone, but nothing to complain about.

Dessert: an affogato, with Marsala ice cream instead of vanilla, and a couple of spicy biscotti. Yes yes.

Montepulciano, Orsi, 2014

•Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, 21021 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville, California; (707) 814-0111

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

Friday, February 5, 2016

Roast chicken

IMG 5532
Eastside Road, February 5, 2016—

NOT A CAPON, alas; the one we had on Christmas Eve will have to do us for the foreseeable future. But this was truly a fine bird, this chicken: free-range, firm-textured, smooth, sweet-fleshed.

Cook roasted it Judy Rodgers's way, in a very hot oven, but we did something new this time: slipped a slice or two of superannuated baguette underneath the bird while it cooked. This made a delicious morsel; you see it at the lower left corner of the plate.

Also with it, buttery mashed potatoes, cooked with a bit of parsley. Green salad afterward, and the last of that delicious Key lime pie.

Cheap Barbera d'Asti

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016   2015

Piazza D'Angelo

Mill Valley, February 4, 2015—

LUNCH FORTY MILES south today at an Italian local in this Berkeley of Marin County — a birthday lunch for an old friend, organized by another; nine at table, and we ordered individually from the menu. I had a Caesarish salad to start, never a really good idea in an Italian restaurant, though in the event it was perfectly acceptable.

Afterward, these cappellati di zucco, because I plan to make some for dinner tomorrow, and wanted to get an idea of how I might proceed. The hat-shapped pasta is filled with pumpkin purée, and I think I will flavor mine a little more, with nutmeg and perhaps a bit of lemon zest. The sage leaves were a good idea, though, and the tomato sauce brought needed acidic point to the dish.

Piazza D'Angelo Ristorante, 22 Miller avenue, Mill Valley, California; 415-388-2000

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Back to Campo Fina

Eastside Road, February 3, 2015—

BROUGHT ONE DAUGHTER here to lunch the other day; seemed only right to bring the other here today. She and the Contessa had small plates: those delicious tuna-stuffed sweet peppers; chick peas; devilled eggs…

I had this sandwich, called a North End: finocchiona, coppa, mortadella, and provolone, with chopped lettuce, pepperoncini, and pickled onions, on ciabatta, with a slice of delicious dill pickle on the side. A serious sandwich, washed down with a glass of red wine:

Zinfandel blend, "Chiarito" (Mendocino), nv

In the evening, to the neighbors down the hill for roast chicken and a gratin involving squash, kale, and potatoes.

Syrah, Preston of Dry Creek

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pork chop


Eastside Road, February 2, 2016—
AH, THOSE DELICIOUS pork chops ma façon, as I call them, though Cook assures me the recipe is from Elizabeth David, though she can't recall which book…

You grind up some fennel seeds with some sea salt and a clove of garlic, add some grated lemon zest, and put them on the chops, and so on. The way I do it, I fry the chops in a black iron skillet. I rub edges of the chops on the surface of the cold pan, then sear the chops on one side on high heat. Then I turn them and spread half the fennel-garlic mixture on the glazed, browned surface. When the second side is seared, I turn them again, and put the remaining mixture on that side. I forgot: I drizzle a little olive oil on each side while the chops cook at high heat.

I half-cover the pan with a lid after turning the heat down, and cook until done. Delicious.

With them, as you see, green beans, and some slices of baguette. And dessert!


Cook made a Key lime pie! Graham cracker crust, of course; beautiful little Key limes, a nice soft whipped cream…

Rosé, Château Guilhem (pays d'Hérault), 2014

NEW! All restaurants visited since January 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants, with ratings of sorts

Campo Fina


Eastside Road, February 1, 2016—
LUNCH IN TOWN today with the neighbor down the hill, something we try to do every month. I was hungry, for some reason, and decided on a spot I've come to think of as reliable.

It's a nice place. Even on a cold day, you can sit outside under a pergola with efficient heating. The pizza oven does a good job and the cooks know how to use it.

I started out with sweet red peppers stuffed with tuna, served on a bed of arugula — a very happy alternative to an insalata caprese, keeping the Italian tricolor but adding point and substance.

Next, a daily special: "Stromboli." I don't know if this is a staple or a local invention. It's a little odd, I think, particularly for its texture, but it made a nice lunch. A pair of palm-sized calzone, I guess, stuffed with ricotta, chopped salami, red onion, and spinach; served, again, on a bed of arugula. The ricotta was a little runny, almost like a crème fraîche; the result was an Italian stuffed savory pastry with Alsatian overtones.

No dessert: and tonight, just a plate of store-bought ravioli, a carrot, some celery, and a tangerine…

Pinot bianco
•Campo Fina, 330 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg; 707-395-4640
NEW! All Restaurants visited since January 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants, with a simple set of ratings.