Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Glorious Fourth

Eastside Road, July 4, 2017—
IN FACT WE GOT a jump on it yesterday, when I grilled a dozen sausages over grapevine wood on the patio, and Cook made her marvelous potato salad. Then we walked up to the ridge to watch the fireworks set off a day early in our neighboring town.

     🍷Syrah; Grenache; Preston of Dry Creek

Tonight we had leftovers: the sausages cold but none the worse for that, garnished as yesterday with mustard, onion, pickle relish, and sauerkraut, and served on soft brioche rolls. On the side, along with the potato salad, Swiss chard.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Home at the range

Eastside Road, July 2, 2017—
IN FACT we arrived home late Friday, after a fine dinner Chez Panisse, which I will not describe here — dinner with an old friend, a soprano, actress, stage director, and now teacher whom we hadn't seen in years. The evening was as much conversation as dining. Impossible to discuss such intimate evenings.

Then last night it was dinner with another old friend, a pianist whose bicultural (French and English) view of things is particularly stimulating. We settled on a local bistro where we had mussels, then steak-frites, and a bottle of Rhone. Excellent.

Bistro 29, 620 5th Street, Santa Rosa; 📞+1 (707) 546-2929

Tonight, though, we finally ate at home, for the first time in two weeks. We returned to ground lamb for the centerpiece. I clipped some mint, parsley, thyme, and marjoram from the garden, and chopped them up with a couple of small cipollini and smaller cloves of garlic, and added cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and ras al hanout; Cook pan-fried the patties in a black iron skillet. Favas with them, and Romano beans, and green salad afterward. We're home for a while!

     🍷Red, bottle-end, nvg after a couple of weeks standing!

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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

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017