Eating Every Day

Monday, October 20, 2014

Making up for lost dine

New York City, October 19, 2014—FullSizeRenderAFTER AN IMPROBABLY long sleep and a taxi into town it was time to make up for a day of miserable dining. Our New Yorker friend and host took us to a local favorite of his, and we could see why: very pleasant ambiance, personable waiter, nice enough menu considering Sunday is dreaded brunch day. We settled for hamburgers and were pleased: good meat, well cooked, moist, nice bun (the top correctly hollowed out), decent dill pickle. What's to complain about?

Bloody Mary
•Noho Star, 330 Lafayette Street, New York City; 212 925 0070
DINNER WAS A LITTLE more upscale, and shared with a couple of Brooklyn friends not seen in years. Don't you remember, she asked; Where we ate last time you were in town? But we haven't been in NYC since, oh, for me, not since 1996, I think…

So we met there for a Martini before dinner (very good though not quite cold enough), and then were seated for dinner, and our waiter approached with menus: Um, Charles? Lindsey? And it was Scott, a waiter I always liked back in the nineties at the Café Chez Panisse; he's been here in NYC for years, as it turns out.

I had the Confit Tomato and Burrata salad, a pleasant affair with just the right amount of cheese; and then, since it's legal here, a nice foie gras, with figs, date purée, and chutney, all quite understated. And why not share the Tarte Tatin with its caramel ice cream? What a pleasant dinner…
Rosé, house selection; Madeira, Boston Bual Special Reserve NV
•Gotham Bar and Grill, 12 East 12th Street, New York City; 212.620.4020

Sunday, October 19, 2014

En route

JFK, October 18, 2014—
YES, I KNOW; all I do, you'd think, is travel. Here we are in a cheap hotel; it's nearly 11pm; there's nothing to eat but cookies in a machine. Let's just think of it as a fast day, nearly — the exception being a dry overpriced ham and cheese sandwich from that upscale Napa Grocery in the San Francisco airport. 
And let's think about last night's dinner, another of Franco's sausages, this time with sautéed Poblano peppers as well as all the other fixin's. Oh well: tomorrow's another day …

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Home and away

Eastside Road, October 16, 2014—
AWAY FIRST: Tuesday we were in Berkeley for lunch with a granddaughter. I began with a fine, colorful salad of Gypsy peppers, then went on to quite a rich chicken al mattone — that is, cooked "under a brick," pressed under a weight (probably a heavy black iron skillet: at least that's how I'd do it) while cooking in the wood-burning pizza oven. The dish was flavorful and rich, probably better suited to a cool-weather supper than a warm-day lunch… particularly with the intense and intensely delicious dessert: chocolate pavé with caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce!

• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.548.5525
YESTERDAY, THEN, we made do with another bowl of Marion's barley risotto (though to tell the truth that's pretty rich too). With it, a glass of good inexpensive Pinot grigio from the Veneto.
AND THAT BRINGS US up to date. Last night I set a pot of white navy beans on to boil, there being no true cannelini in the house, neither dry nor canned. Today I chopped up a cipollini onion bought last week from a neighboring farmer, and a few sage leaves from the garden; and I opened a can of Ortiz tuna, and mixed them up with the cold beans and a good splash of olive oil and some grated lemon zest. It's always a good idea to mix a salad like that a few hours before you're eating it; the flavors mature and blend so well…

Afterward, a salad of nothing but arugula, the small-leafed kind, dressed with an olive-oil-lemon-juice vinaigrette and garnished with shavings of Parmesan cheese. This is, I suppose, an Italian meal, but damn it we'd finished that good Pinot grigio!
Sauvignon blanc, Earthstone (Sonoma county), 2013: crisp, good varietal, not too grassy

Monday, October 13, 2014

Comfort food

Eastside Road, October 13, 2014—
IT WAS AN INTENSE and fatiguing day, much of it spent in hospitals: a new great-grandchild arrived at 1:30 in the morning (though we didn't know about it until we got up six hours later); an old friend died quietly at four in the afternoon. This is what we can expect at our age; I'm not complaining. The baby is healthy and handsome and his mother's doing fine; the friend had been suffering and couldn't have been made better and seemed ready for her journey.

On a day like this, Cook said, I always think of Marion. That's Marion Cunningham, who we knew for years, since meeting her back in the 1970s I believe at James Beard's seaside cottage in Oregon. A fine cook and author of cookbooks, she specialized in good traditional down-home American cooking, always ethical, authentic, and tasty.

This is her barley pilaf: barley, cooked until just soft but retaining its structure and bite, flavored with chopped scallions and butter — Marion is unthinkable without butter. A green salad afterward, and a couple of See's candies.
Cheap Barbera d'Asti (soon we'll be sampling better ones!)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hot dog!

LEastside Road, October 11, 2014—
 BASEBALL TONIGHT: Hence, hot dogs. I wish I'd photographed Franco's description of the sausage: it was complex, spicy, a little rich.I think he called it Bierworst. He recommended a crisp white wine or a glass of beer with it, but instead we had our usual sauerkraut,  onions, pickle relish, and mustard; and afterward, strawberries and ice cream.
Cheap narrow daughter-in-law, is what my spellchecker makes of cheap Nero d'Avila

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Home again: leftovers

Eastside Road, October 10, 2014—
NICE TO BE HOME again, always, even if tonight we are eating out of a doggie bag.

This is something we almost never do, of course. But it was a long and fatiguing drive, and Cook hadn't quite finished her spaghetti Bolognese yesterday, and it had kept perfectly well in our little traveling refrigerator. So that was it, and we're grateful for it.

Cheap Nero d'Avola

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Ashland, Oregon, October 9, 2014—

WHEN IN DOUBT, most of us fall back on some consistent formula for dealing with hunger in unfamiliar settings. A  daughter recommends a beer and a chocolate bar, for example. Me, I gravitate toward salads. That strategy dates back to the earl 1950s, when I discovered that a "Greek Salad" — lettuces, feta, olives, tomatoes, cucumber — could make a filling and presumably nutritious meal at a manageable price. If "Greek" isn't available, I fall back on "Caesar."

 A true Caesar is a marvelous thing, probably one of the Hundred Plates. It involves, romaine, Parmesan cheese, anchovies, lemon, salt and pepper, and a raw egg. If  you want more details, the best recipe I know of is in The Zuni Cookbook by our friend the late Judy Rodgers: follow her instructions and you'll re-create the salad served in that fine San Francisco restaurant.

Off course you don't often get the real deal: hence the "ish" in today's title. Wee'd had a very quick snack at New Sammy's at lunchtime, just some flatbread with raita, tomatoes, tapenade I think, basil perhaps, mint certainly; also what seemed at the time something like carnitas. It was another wonderful Charlene Rollins mashup of textures and flavors, riotous and good: but I had to eat it so fast (in order to make a theater curtain) that I couldn't really enjoy it.

Shouuld have gone back, of course; for dinner: but decided to stay in town and settle for just a salad. As  you see in the photo, it's dressed with an anchovy mayonnaise of some kkind. There was only one anchovy fillet present, for the two halves of a split whole inner head of romaine, and there was certainly no raw egg. But there was a generous wedge of lemon, and a nice slice of toasted levain from the nearby Mix Sweet Shop, and I had a glass of decent Cowhorn Viognier 2012 with it (not as distinguished as the Macon blanc I'd had with the flatbread earlier — darn; why don't we simply always go back to the Cowboy?)

• Salame, 47 North Main Street, Ashland; 541-708-5881