Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Eggs, flour, flavor

Portland, Oregon, June 27, 2017—
OUR FAMILY HAS LONG favored an oven-baked soufflé first found in an old Sunset magazine cookbook, Cooking Bold and Fearless, where it is a sweet dessert called "Finnish Pancake." It's a little like a Salzburger Nockerl, I think, and another version is often called "Dutch Baby," a name I've never liked, as it seems vaguely demeaning to both babies and the Dutdh.

Tonight Giovanna made a savory version, flavored with tarragon, chives, and thyme, and containing Parmesan cheese as well. Very nice. Green salad afterward.      🍷Blanc, Guilhem, Moulin de Gassac (Pays d'Herault), 2015: crisp and refreshing

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Near East

Eugene, Oregon, June 25, 2017—
DINING AL FRESCO with Eugene area family, soon to increase by one, at a restaurant of their choice, which goes on the list (when I get around to updating it) of restaurants I will gladly return to.

We started, at Henry's suggestion, with an arrack gimlet: arrack (in place of gin), lime juice, fennel-frond garnish. Very nice.

Arugula salad, olive oi-lemon juice vinaigrette flavored with cumin.

"Lamb Turmeric": chunks of lamb sautéed with mushrooms and garlic; white wine-and-cream sauce flavored with turmeric, served on rice. Very tasty, with zucchini and crookneck, spinach, and tomato concassée on the side.

     🍷Just that gimlet
Cafe Soriah, 384 West 13th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon; 📞+1 (541) 342-4410

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Saturday, June 24, 2017


Portland, Oregon, June 23, 2017—

     🍷Martini; Rosé gris de Marquiliani (Corsica), 2016
Davenport, 2215 East Burnside Street, Portland; 📞+1 (503) 236-8747

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Biscuits and bucatini

Eastside Road, June 12, 2017—
PACKAGED FOODS are not that big a part of our diet, Constant Reader will have noticed. But when we checked into our beautifully equipped Airbnb apartment in Rome, ten weeks ago, among the things stocking the kitchen was a bag of special cookies. Well, I call them "biscuits," to assuage possible guilt about having one at breakfast. Campagnole , they're called, made by Mulino Bianco. I don't recommend specific products lightly. These are delicious.

In fact they soon became indispensable to breakfast, and I never ate them at any other time. Just one, one biscuit, every morning, even before the toast, with my first coffee. I replenished the supply before leavig, but there was half a bag or so left, so I stuck that into muy inside jacket pocket, pulling it out at breakfast time on the airplane. Our fourteen-year-old grandson noticed. Brilliant, he said, earning one for himself.

It occurred to me the other day that it should be possible to find them on the Internet, or what's an Internet good for? And, yes, there they were, available my mail from an online import specialist in Carlsbad, California. And what else did this fine place offer? Bucatini !

Bucatini are one of my favorite pastas: long spaghetti-like shapes, tubes with typically thick walls. This particular brand is very nice indeed, long pieces doubled back on themselves like a giraffe's croquet wicket, and made, the label tells us, of nothing but semolina durum flour and water. They cook up dense and toothy and really quite flavorful: I'm sure we'll keep some on hand from now on.

This bucatini is made by Gragnano ("Città della pasta", city of pasta), and they take fifteen minutes to cook. They are serious, old-fashioned pasta, extruded through the traditional bronze dies, according to the label, and cut to length, almost two feet long, doubled back, and hung on dowels to dry — hence the horseshoe-shape. (The label advises you break "the little arches" before cooking.)

Cook made her red sauce — Franco's sausage, only a little; her tomato sauce; a can of tomatoes for good measure, and a few anchovies. Rich, deep, and very satisfying, this sauce, and bucatini the perfect pasta for it. Green salad afterward, and fruit…

     🍷The rest of the not perfectly satisfactory Gattinara

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Eastside Road, June 11, 2017—
ANOTHER LAZY Sunday: we'd hoped to entertain guests on the patio, but it's chilly and breezy. Oh well: let's move indoors.

And wouldn't you know: guests brought the picnic with them! A fine array of salume and cheese; olives; foie gras; breads; fresh cherries. And the wines! Magnificent! Thanks so much, John and Susan!

Dessert: Cook made a peach crisp, with a float of lightly whipped cream.

     🍷Riesling Spätlese, Wehlener Sonnemuhr, Dr. Loosen, 2005 (1);
       Riesling, Eiswein, Josef Rosch, 1999 (!), in half bottle

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Saturday market

Eastside Road, June 10, 2017—

Gail Okamura, Dry Creek Peaches

Middleton Gardens
MARKET DAY. Peaches from Gayle; strawberries from Lou, lettuces from Burt and Mary, sausage from Franco, fish from the fish stall which I'm still not entirely sold on, favas from Middleton Gardens.

Then home for egg salad sandwiches with friends who'd driven up for a visit; and then Cook's dinner: Petrale sole lightly breaded and fried; favas on the side. Wasn't last Saturday's dinner exactly the same? Probably. Why not?

Green salad; sliced peaches and ice cream.      🍷Cheap bianco, Grifone, nv

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Birthday dinner

Eastside Road, June 9, 2017—
FINALLY TONIGHT I got around to cooking Cook's birthday dinner — two days late. I'd prepped everything two days ago, but other things intruded…

I grilled the lamb chops outside over grapevine cuttings, first grill of the year. Inside, I pan-roasted the little potatoes with nothing but oil and salt, and after lightly browning some cipollini I steamed them with fresh garden peas. Green salad afteward.

     🍷Gattinara, Franco Patriarca (Piemonte), 2012: a bit of a disappointment

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Dinner chez P.

Berkeley, June 8, 2017—
DINNER IN THE CAFÉ with friends tonight, and a generous dinner it was. I'll say no more about it: the photo speaks for itself.

     🍷SP68 Rosso, Arianna Occhipinti (Sicily), 2015: perfect.
•Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525

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Eastside Road, June 7, 2010—
BIRTHDAY DINNER for Cook, so she got the day mostly off. We drank Cava and dined deliciously on anchovies and butter, three different cheeses, olives, and more than I remember; and afterward, at home, a plate of fine sliced peaches with some praline… Thanks, Giovanna!

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…

Eastside Road, June 7, 2017—
SUNDAY WE SIMPLY sat around on the patio with friends, nibbling at salami and mixed nuts, radishes and bread, and then had a quick salad before rushing off to a movie with another friend, and then at her house had a strawberry shortcake. Strawberries with drop biscuits and whipped cream: a marvelous concoction.
MONDAY WAS HOMINY day — one of Franco's sausages crumbled into the skillet, chopped onions added, a can of hominy.

Dessert: Lou's strawberries, with vanilla ice cream. I never liked strawberries until a few years ago; they never had any flavor. The farmers around here are growing newer varieties with flavor, what a fine idea, and growing them without poisons. So we eat strawberries, happily.

     🍷Cheap Sangiovese

YESTERDAY COOK TURNED to the pantry again for another fairly quick dinner: her favorite whole wheat penne in red sauce — again, sausage crumbled into the skillet, onions, tomato sauce she'd canned last fall. Green salad afterward — for a change, I mashed an anchovy into the dressing. Delicious. And then a tangerine.
     🍷Cheap Primitivo

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Market day

Eastside Road, June 3, 2017—
SATURDAY, ERGO MARKET. Lettuces from Burt and Mary; garlic from Yael, radishes from Renee; strawberries from Lou; peaches from Gail; favas from Middleton. Basket runneth over.

Dinner: Petrale sole, lightly floured and pan-fried in butter; favas on the side; green salad after.      🍷Cheap bianco

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Back to Portugal

Eastside Road, June 2, 2017—
DINNER WAS SO GOOD last night I decided to have lunch today in the same spot, and this time I did have salt cod — three nicely formed and fried balls of bacalhau, prettily but not overly fussily arranged on a plate. And I split a "salada portuguesa": chopped kale, linguiça, corn bread croutons, local São Jorge cheese, anchovy vinaigrette. Such a nice place.      🍷Tons de Duorum (Duoro), 2015
Cafe Lucia, 235 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, California; +1 (707) 431-1113
Leaving room for a simple dinner while watching another Cubs game on television: a perfect hot dog with Cook's delicious potato salad.

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Healdsburg, June 1, 2017—
THIS IS A PLACE we've liked on every visit, but we keep overlooking it — partly because we don't often dine in our own town, since we eat out so often when we're traveling; partly because it's off the street out of sight and therefore, as the saying goes, out of mind.

And lately the approach to its downtown block has been torn up, and will likely remain so for another year, for the conversion of a complicated five-way intersection involving also a railroad track and an underground creek into a more rational roundabout. It's in fact quite simple to negotiate this in your car, but it apparently looks fearsome to the tourists.

Portuguese, therefore salt cod, yes? But at the last minute I decided I needed more nourishment, so turned to a traditional dish I remember very fondly from a wonderful place we encountered years ago in the boonies in Northern California — alas, since closed. This would be your ovo a cavallo "egg on horseback" or, basically, steak-'n'-eggs: a grilled New York tenderloin (done here just a shade less rare than I like) on a pile of grilled onions with French fries.

But first, a triplet of starters: delicious yellow lupini beans; innocent tender boquerones; a marvelous house-made linguiça. Oh, and before that, the amuse-bouche: a cold shooter of clear tomato broth with a tiny chunk of Serrano ham and a float of good olive oil.

Dessert: Rice pudding, stenciled with cinnamon, with a candied dried fig in syrup on the side. What a delicious, simple, refreshing dinner. Want to know where to eat in Healdsburg? Here.

     🍷Tons de Duorum (Duoro), 2015: serious but refreshing and agreeable;
            Quinta de la Rosa,(Douro), 2012 (!), perfect

Cafe Lucia, 235 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, California; +1 (707) 431-1113

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Another Margherita

Eastside Road, May 31, 2017—
ANOTHER CATCH-UP post: these have been disorderly days for some reason. (Partly because my usual blogging software is on the fritz, which annoys me greatly.)

Wednesday last, May 31, we continued the great Margherita survey. Well, I did: the Contessa has something much more complicated, involving her favorite — mushrooms — and perhaps sausage; I don't know; I didn't share; I rarely do. With the pizza, a simple arugula salad with shaved Parmesan cheese.

I think I've narrowed it down now, at least as far as this county is concerned. This was a very good pizza, but so is the one from Diavolo in Geyserville. Maybe some day this summer I'll have the two side by side, or as nearly as a twenty-four mile separation permits.

     🍷Barbera, Andrea Orberto Piedmont, 2015
Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar,, 53 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, California ; +1 (707) 544-3221

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