Sunday, December 10, 2017

The rest of the boeuf daube

Eastside Road, December 10, 2017—
THERE WAS JUST a little of the beef stew left, and half the package of egg noodles. So naturally that's what we had for dinner — less generously than last night, but you don't feast every day. Green salad. Shortbread (thanks, Becky). Panforte (thanks, Norman and Pam).

     🍷Cheap Nero d'Avola

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Boeuf daube

Eastside Road, December 9, 2017—
WHAT BETTER DINNER to make today than a Boeuf Daube? Usually I turn to a favorite recipe, in a book of Provençal dishes: but today I was either lazy or perhaps improvisational, and at our favorite local supermarket (well, mine, anyway) I asked my iPhone to do a little research — and perhaps that was a mistake.

Boeuf Daube is an essentially south-of-France dish, far as I'm concerned; this recipe mentioned Virginia Woolf, whose Mrs. Dalloway apparently contemplated it somewhere in To The Lighthouse — which I suppose I should re-read once again, as I hsve no recollection of that at all.

Oh well: I made sure to get everything this odd recipe called for, and then followed the general procedure while not paying much attention to the amounts and proportions, as I was cooking for two, not eight. And here's what followed:

Two thirds a pound of beef-stew pieces (chuck) tossed in olive oil, salt and minced garlic
Two slices of bacon, halved, browned in a heavy copper pot, then drained
The beef thrown into the bacon fat to brown
The vegetables then follow: chopped onion, mushrooms, green olives, carrot (not too much), capers
Some tomato sauce
The bacon, crumbled
Then a glass of red wine and a half glass of brandy
And peppercorns, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf
I threw in a little store-bought demi-glace, too; then put the lid on and set the pot in the oven, 300°, for two or three hours.

And here's the thing, omitted from this limey recipe, but absolutely essential to a daube, in my opinion: a few pieces of orsnge peel, just the zest.

Served atop egg noodles. Green salad afterward.

     🍷Cheap Nero od'Avola

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Odds and ends

Eastside Road, Saturday, December 8, 2017—
YESTERDAY WE RETURNED to those Niman-Schell "Italian sausages," which seem to me more like typical and not very exciting New York hot dogs — made much more attractive with sautéed peppers and onions, as the previous time, but this time with sliced potatoes as well.

Today for lunch we had this delicious split pea soup. Cook follows Deborah Madison's method, in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone — everyone, including us, though we are far from vegetarians, which of course was Debbie's point.

Then for dinner simple cheddar cheese and sliced raw onion on toast. It's funny: for nearly twenty years, when I was working as a journalist, I couldn't eat raw onions — they troubled my digestion. The minute I retired, raw onions posed no problems. I suppose this is related to stress — but then why have they not begun troubling me again? God knows there's plenty of stress in this country these days.

But toasted sourdough, its crust liberally seeded with sesame, and thin slices of aged cheddar, and thinner yet slices of raw onion — what a treat!

No green salad: a side dish of cauliflower instead.

     🍷Cheap Nero d'Avola

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Catching up again

LET'S SEE: Sunday we went for a drive, and had a huge, rich hamburger for a late lunch, leaving us unhungry at dinnertime. I'm not fond of cheeseburgers, and didn't realize that was what I was in for — it was listed as a "hamburger" on the menu; cheese was mentioned only in the fine print. Oh well: it was decent cheddar, at least for this purpose, and there were marvelous sweet-sour pickles involved along with the usual tomato and lettuce. I've had worse.

Trading Post Restaurant, 102 S Cloverdale Boulevard, Cloverdale, California; 📞+1 (707) 894-6483

MODAY WE HAD pasta for dinner — spirale, in Cook's fine tomato sauce. Green salad. Fruit.

     🍷Cheap Nero d'Avola

Eastside Road, December 6, 2017—
YESTERDAY WE FASTED, in our usual way, having café au lait with buttered toast at breakfast, a handful of nuts with tea in the evening. And tonight, tonight we had hot dogs, of all things, with sautéed red and yellow peppers and onions. Green salad after, and a tangerine.

     🍷Cheap Nero d'Avola

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pork chops ma façon

Eastside Road, December 2, 2017—
NO DOUBT THEY'VE figured here a few times already, I've been posting this blog so many years… pork chops the way I cook them. You salt them when you get them home, of course, and wrap them loosely back in the paper they came in, and let them rest in the refrigerator.

Then you rub their beautiful white fat into a black iron skillet, and heat it well. Then you set them in the skillet to brown.

You pound garlic, salt, and fennel seeds in a mortar, and spread half that salve on the uncooked top surfaces of the chops. Drizzle a little olive oil on. Turn them when the underside's nicely browned, and spread the rest of the mixture on the new top surface.

I cooked some potatoes in salt, pepper, and olive oil in another skillet.

And I cooked sliced-lengthwise leeks and carrots in another pan, with water, olive oil, salt and pepper.

(I forgot: I like to grate some lemon zest onto the chops. Oh well: next time.)

     🍷Cheap Pinot grigio (it's nice to be home)

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Upscale trattoria

San Francisco, December 1, 2017—
I WILL PROBABLY NEVER get used to the contemporary dining scene. When I was a boy, and well into our marriage, restaurants were comparatively few. One dined at home, lunched at school or work. Everyone I knew had a lunchbucket of some kind, even office workers.

Now it seems there are restaurants everywhere. I read the other day there are some 7500 in San Francisco, one for every hundred citizens. And I understand there are apartments and even houses being designed now lacking cooking facilities, barring toasters I suppose and perhaps microwave ovens.

We were on Hayes Street this afternoon: one eating place after another, both sides the street. We were there to try a place new to us but well reviewed, a trattoria I suppose you'd call it. We began with a classic tuna-and-cannellini salad, tricked up a bit beyond what I think of as authenticity with capers and "tonnato aioli," a little too much of that, and it a little too gloppy, to my taste.

("Tonnato aioli"? The collision of languages and culinary streams is unsettling. The entire menu description was

tuna conserva, cannelini beans, celery, red onion, caper berries, tonnato aioli
You forgive the occasional honest diner who wants to know simply what's going to be on the plate. Tuna conserva? Caper berries?)

Oh well: glop aside, the tuna-cannellini salad was fine, and so was the bucatini all'amatriciana, a dish we somehow overlooked last week in Rome. This did seem authentic: chunks of pancetta (not guanciale), tomato sauce, a good dusting of grated pecorino. A very pleasant midday supper. I'd go back.

     🍷A Martini; "Vino della Casa": a Sangiovese blend from Napa county; don't know further details; perfectly acceptable.
A Mano, 450 Hayes Street, San Francisco; 📞+1 (415) 506-7401

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

Local bistro

Eastside Road, November 30, 2017—
AFTER A COUPLE of weeks eating in Italy — and, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining — my tastes often seem to turn toward traditional French bistro fare. So it was doubly pleasing when an old friend suggested a new place (new to us) for a night out.

Not that this place is completely authentic. The evening's prix-fixe menu sounded enticing, on this cold night, until I learned that the cassoulet featured not goose or duck confit but rabbit. I'm sure a rabbit-and-beans stew could be delicious, but it is not a cassoulet — so I opted for a simple hanger steack au poivre vert, cooked rare, to my specification. A little tough, as rare steak must be, but delicious.

All three of us ordered the steak, though the women took theirs medium rare. We began with Caesar salad — again, not strictly bistro fare, but very nicely done, almost up to Zuni Restaurant standard, with silvery boquerones in place of the usual salt anchovies, and a tiny overbalance toward lemon juice, but still very nice indeed.

Crème brulée for dessert, smooth in a shallow terrine, flavored with lavender, star anise, and Madagascar vanilla, correctly made.

     🍷Pinot grigio/Vermentino, "Costiera," Seghesio, 2013: very pleasing
     Syrah, Trione Vineyards, 2013: mature and characteristic

Walter Hansel Wine Bistro, 3535 Guerneville Rd Santa Rosa; 📞+1 (707) 546-6462

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017