Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Eastside Road, October 5, 2015—
THEY'VE BECOME a cliché, I suppose, but dammit I do love Padron peppers. They're the right size, the right degree of heat, a beautiful color, not terribly expensive if you're lucky and patient. And they're so easy to prepare. Cook rinsed them off and drained them for me in a sieve; I often don't even bother with rinsing them. I just heat a little olive oil in the black iron skillet, throw in a little bit of coarse sea salt, and toss in the peppers, stems and all. When they're blistered and, in some places, black, they're ready to eat. I even eat most of the stems. Why not?

Otherwise, cold roast chicken, potato salad, and green salad afterward.
Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hamburgers; shortcake

hamburgers.jpg shortcake.jpg
Eastside Road, October 4, 2015—
TWO NOMINEES HERE to the Hundred Plates: Hamburgers grilled over charcoal and fruitwood; strawberry shortcake. And between them, a third: Potato salad. Somehow it seems like the perfect supper for the last day of baseball season — particularly when our team has cinched the wild card. Go Cubs!
Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Portland Oregon

Giovanna samples my pasta e ceci at Burrasca (Sept. 30, 2015)
Eastside Road, October 3, 2015—
YES, IT IS TRUE, I have been away from the blogs for a long time. We returned from a nine-day car trip yesterday; we'd driven to Portland and Seattle. You can be sure we dined from time to time; here's a concise report:

September 23, 2015: Dinner at the country home, outside Healdsburg, of friends who raise market vegetables to sell at the Farm Market — including the lettuces we particularly like. Mary made cannoli, rich and creamy and quite delicious, and we managed a few bottles of white and red.

September 24, 2015: The long drive (say eleven hours) to Portland left us too tired to give proper attention to dinner.

September 25, 2015: Dinner with friends and family at a restaurant new to us. The menu was fabulous, offering things like seared foie gras, duck confit, roasted marrow bones, mussels and frites, and steak tartare; but I ordered unwisely, seduced by a daily special too complicated to recall but involving a Scotch Egg, frisée, and grilled pork loin, garnished with tangerine sections, hazelnuts, and pesto.
Scotch egg, pork loin at Little Bird

There were really too many textures, colors, and flavors here for a single course; spread out across a meal it would have been quite fine. Oh well: think, Charles, before you order.
• Little Bird, 219 SW 6th Street, Portland; 503.688.5952
And afterward, coffee at my favorite place in Portland for coffee, where the carefully chosen coffees are roasted perfectly, aged properly, and brewed with great attentiveness. Whether taking an espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, or caffé latte, I have always been impressed.
• Courier Coffee, 923 SW Oak Street, Portland

September 26, 2015: Fish soup at home. Our son had given us several pounds of rockfish he and his son had caught off the Mendocino coast, and all hands set to to turn it into Ciuppin, from Coleman Andrews's cookbook The Country Cooking of Italy :
Make a soffrito of onions, adding chopped celery and carrot when the onions have cooked to transparency
Chop peeled and seeded tomatoes and add them with chopped parsley and a glass or two of white wine
After this has cooked a while, add the fish and cook until tender
When finished, put through a food mill, adjust the seasoning, and serve over toasted bread
With this, a decent white.

I don't recall how we dined on Sunday, a special day for its promised lunar eclipse. The next day, though, September 28, we drove up to Seattle to have lunch with an old friend contenting ourselves with fish and chips and a bottle of white. The restaurant has a routine fish-house menu but the tables are well separated, the service good, and the view out over the bay toward Bainbridge Island is marvelous; and it's hard to go far wrong with fish and chips.
Albariño, Idilico (Yakima Valley), 2014: clean, fresh, good flavor
• Ray’s Boathouse 6049 Seaview Ave. NW Seattle 206.782.0034, address; tel.

Vindaloo at Bollywood
September 29, 2015: We visited yet another bakery, Little T, where we were again impressed with the range of fine gluten shops in Portland — some day I'll make a serious post on the subject, but this isn't that day. For dinner, on the other hand, we returned to a known quantity where I treated my days-old head cold with just the right medicine: a very spicy pork vindaloo, served swimming in a pungent sauce, garnished with cilantro, and served with generously ghee-buttered rolls.
A pint of pale ale
• Bollywood, 3010 SE Division Street, Portland; 503.477.6699

Our last day in Portland, September 30, found us in what proved to be my favorite restaurant of this trip, new to us, a Tuscan eatery that began as a food truck and is now installed in comfortable, rather elegant quarters, with pleasant outside tables (see the photo at the top of this post). I ordered boldly, all in Tuscan: Arista, pasta e ceci, patate contadina, cavolonero.

The roast pork was perfectly authentic porchetta, generously rubbed with sage, salt, and pepper to provide a rich crust; nicely roasted to preserve moistness, sliced and sprinkled further with herbs, and on the side cannellini in a simple broth. I couldn't have been happier with the pasta e ceci, and the kale and potatoes all had a deep, comforting savor of pork — this place is definitely not Kosher.

I'd taken along a bottle of wine found in a local wine shop, pleased to find something from a favorite Sicilian producer famous for artisanal techniques involving terra cotta. The wine list at this restaurant is interesting, but sticks to Tuscany.
Nero d'Avola, Cos, Terre Siciliane, 2012: deep, rich, long finish, ripe and fruity
• Burrasca, 2032 SE Clinton Street, Portland; 503.236.7791

Canalé at Courier Coffee
Thursday, October 1, we started the drive home at noon, after stopping one last time at Courier for a pound of coffee beans, a last latte, and some of those delicious canalés. I love the canalés at Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland; the ones at Downtown Bakery and Creamery in Healdsburg, and we've had good ones at other places too. But no one does them better than Courier. The crust is perfect, dark, crisp, and sweet; and the interior is creamy and rich. It is an amazing thing.

A couple of hours later we broke for lunch in a bistro we really like in Eugene. I ordered steak-frites , knowing there wouldn't be much to choose from at dinnertime. The dish was utterly authentic, the steak signant and dotted with thyme butter, the frites crisp and clean-tasting.
Rhone, Domaine la Pequelette, ?2014
• Café Marché, 296 E. 5th Avenue, Eugene; 541.342.3612
In the evening, a faux-Caesar salad, innocent of anchovy or raw egg, was about all we wanted.
Sauvignon blanc, Chile
• Porters, 147 N Front St Medford 541.857.1910

Arista.jpg steakfrites.jpg sardine sandwich.jpg
Arista at Burrasca
Steak-frites at Marché
Sardine sandwich at home
We were home Friday, October 2, in time for a Martini. But what to do for dinner? Our favorite bakery was out of bread by the time we got there, and we had to make do with hamburger buns. I know: how about a sardine sandwich? Cook hard-boiled a couple of eggs, washed a few leaves of lettuce, and opened a can: on a buttered hamburger bun, the result was delicious.

roast chicken.jpgTHIS BRINGS US DOWN to tonight. We went into town to the Farm Market this morning, and bought tomatoes to put up tomorrow or next day, a bunch of radishes, Middleton Gardens's delicious lima beans, a couple of ears of corn, Franco Dunn's sausage of course — and a three-pound chicken. Haven't had chicken in months: not at home, anyway. I asked what breed of bird it was: "Freedom Ranger," the young lady replied. What, do they vote Republican?

Cook roasted it simply, letting it provide its own juice, with only a bit of salt to bring out the flavor. It was first-rate.

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Home again

Eastside Road, September 22, 2015—
BUT NOT FOR LONG. We drove up from Los Angeles yesterday, partway at least, after having for lunch only this very delicious quiche Lorraine, with soft, fresh, perfectly baked egg custard and bits of very peppery bacon. As you see it was baked good and dark, as it should be; what you don't see is the pastry shell, which managed to be substantial, tender, and flaky. This is a marvelous bakery and one of our favorite places to eat — and get coffee! — in Los Angeles.

• Short Cake, 6333 Wwat 3rd Street, Los Angeles (in the Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax); (323) 761-7976
Otherwise we made do, yesterday, with a sack of lightly salted almonds — and, on arriving at our motel, a small Scotch on the rocks.
chicken.jpg TODAY, THOUGH, we made up for yesterday's half fast lunching in Berkeley. I've eaten in this place for more than forty years, and today's lunch was exactly the kind of thing that keeps me happy with it. It was like eating in a really good French bistro back in the 1960s: chicken saltimbocca with parsnip purée, spinach, and sage, with a discreet pickled onion on the side. I know, saltimbocca isn't bistro fare, isn't even French: but the dish was so beautifully balanced, sat so well inits light broth, the chicken was so fresh, the spinach so perfectly cooked…

A green salad before, and my share of a fine plum galette with raspberry ice cream afterward. Life is very good.
Chardonnay, Côtes du Jura, Domaine Labet, 2013: clean and bright
• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510-548-5525
TONIGHT WE WANTED nothing more than a couple of pieces of buttered toast and a fried egg. Cook fried the egg perfectly in butter, over easy, well salted and peppered.
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mexican? Italian?

Hollywood, September 20, 2015—
NO PHOTOS TODAY: they would have been misleading. Disgusting, I started to typed.

We started the day in Santa Maria, where I breakfasted, early, at Starbuck's, with a caffelatte and a croissant. They aren't superb, but they're serviceable. And a book. That lasted two hours, from 7 to 9, while waiting for others to come to life.

Lunch was at a Mexican place we like, and were introduced to by friends who also like it, and who joined us there. I had a rather nice enchilada de pollo con mole, a dry guacamole, and a couple of Modelos.

•Taqueria Cuernavaca, 1117 N Ventura Avenue, Ventura, California; (805) 653-8052

Tonight's motel is around the corner from a place I've wanted to return to for sixty years, since my college days here — but Musso and Frank is closed on Sundays; Mondays too; so once again I'm disappointed. Driving here, though, I noticed an electric sign for an Italian restaurant said to have been a favorite of Frank Sinatra's, so I thought it would make a decent substitute.

Not being very hungry I settled for a Martini (we'd skipped one on Friday, and they're fungible) and a Caesar salad. The salad would have been okay except that the Parmesan had that taste it gets if it's been in plastic wrap and you don't throw out the part next to the wrap. This bears looking into, it's an interesting problem; but tonight is not the time.
•Miceli's Restaurant, 1646 Las Palmas Avenue, Hollywood; 323-466-3438; 20 Sept. 2015
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Steak house

Steak frites
Santa Maria, September 19, 2015—
THE BIG QUESTION: drive twenty minutes back north to a well-reviewed upscale restaurant in another town — which does not take reservations, and has no liquor license — or eat at a classic American steak house in this town, and begin with a Martini?

Because we enjoy dialectic we discussed the question for a few minutes, then bundled into the car and drove a few blocks. Quilted red leather booth. Meat cooking over red oak. Full bar. Many happy noisy diners. Waiters wearing four-in-hand neckties and half-aprons.

I had a Caesar salad, not quite as good as the one at lunch but acceptable, and then a twelve-ounce tri-tip, nicely salted. But before any of this, a tray of celery, scallions, olives, and pickles, and a decent Beefeater Martini.

The steak was undoubtedly grain-fed and politically incorrect but tasty, and I figure we do this so rarely — no pun intended — it can't hurt.
Pinot noir, Rahcno Sisquoc Winery (Santa Barbara county), unknown vintage: good varietal, a little sweet
•Shaw's Famous Steakhouse, 714 South Broadway, Santa Maria, California; 805-925-5882
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

Gelato al limon…

gelato al limon
Carmel, California, September 18, 2015—
ANOTHER WEEKEND, another road trip: this time to LAX again, to send a nephew home to Australia. We will miss him, but the road trip will be fun, and tonight's supper made a good end to the first day.

In the old days we spent a week in this town every summer, attending the Bach Festival, and dining was just above mediocre, with one exception, Raffaello's: an Italian restaurant that required jacket and tie and served up a fine zabaglione. Those days are long gone, all of them; the town is casual to the point of unpleasant, and commercial to a fault. But there's a cozy new eatery a little off the main drag, and there we had pasta and dessert.

For me, strozzapreti with a quite nice Bolognese with the usual flaws — too much carrot, no brain — and for dessert… well, on a warm night, what better than gelato al limon, gelato al limon, gelato al limon…

The gelato was a perfect consistency, bright with acid, smooth on the tongue, and came in a good-sized hollowed-out lemon wearing its cap at a jaunty angle. Nothing needed to complement it but a grappa or limoncello. Alas, this place has no liquor license… still… 
white, then red; both by the glass; both Italian and in very good condition — alas, I forgot to note the names…
•Il Grillo, Mission Street between 4th and 5th, Carmel; 831-238-9608
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants