Friday, July 31, 2009

Steak and beans

Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 31, 2009—
IT'S A CLASSIC, though I'm not sure it qualifies for the Hundred Plates: steak and beans. Cowboy food.
I began by chopping up myrtle — Myrtus communis compacta, a small-leafed myrtle growing as a short hedge in the garden — with a clove of garlic, the grated zest of a lemon, and a little black pepper. I'd salted the hanger steak (I prefer that spelling to "hangar," who knows which is right) as soon as I brought it home and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Steak, rubbed both sides with the myrtle mixture, was grilled over charcoal and grapevine cuttings until done. Meanwhile, Lindsey had shelled beans, some from a nearby farm, some from the garden, and cooked them simply in water. Pythagorus would not like this.
A drizzle of olive oil on the sliced steak and the beans. Sliced tomatoes on the side. Green salad, of course.
Var, La Ferme Julien red, 2007

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pizzavino 707, Sebastopol

Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 30, 2009—
I GRADUATED FROM high school in Sebastopol, California, a small town, agricultural in those days (the early 1950s), of uncertain economy and mixed demographic profile today. It's still odd, to me, to think of the town as having anything of interest going for it: but there are two quite good restaurants, at least one ambitious one, and one quite new one.
We ate tonight at the new one, Pizzavino 707. (The number refers to the area code, which is ironic, since as of this writing the phone's not yet connected.)

Pizzavino 707 is in the building that formerly housed the West County Grill, opened a couple of years ago by Stephen Singer and Jonathan Waxman to considerable fanfare. For whatever reason, WCG did not prevail. Pizzavino seems to be a more modest concept, suiting the present economy: a full bar, a few salads, a few pizzas, a special entree — tonight, sea bass with three kinds of green bean and cherry tomatoes.
That's what I had, and it was pretty damn good.
Pecorino, Marche, 2007

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another aïoli

Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 29, 2009—
THERE WAS A LITTLE aïoli left in the refrigerator, and delicious vegetables are definitely in season. Hooray for the Healdsburg Farmers Market! Lindsey blanched some first-rate green beans and boiled some prime potatoes; the tomatoes were delicious; and there were French breakfast radishes, one of my most favorite things. And afterward, though I haven't actually tasted it yet as of this writing, home-made ice cream. What a fine day.
Green salad, of course.
Var, La Ferme Julien red, 2007

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kale with cannellini

Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 28, 2009--
IT'S A CLASSIC: white beans with onions and strong greens. A little olive oil helps a lot, of course; ditto rosemary. Deborah Madison, in her fine book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, adds red pepper flakes to the mix, and a little white wine, and some garlic.
The kale's still going strong in the garden, the rosemary's out of control; so Lindsey only had to step into the pantry to have everything she needed. One-dish meal, garnished with grated Parmesan and drizzled olive oil.
Cheap Pinot grigio

Monday, July 27, 2009


Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 27, 2009—
SINCE 1952, WHEN I left home for college, a Greek salad has always been a favorite fallback of mine for a one-course, inexpensive, completely satisfying emergency meal in an unfamiliar setting. You get everything you really need: vitamins, carbohydrates, and protein; greens, oil, and cheese. Olives too.
Today we were at Cornerstone Gardens
outside the town of Sonoma, en route home from a fascinating visit to a bee farm in the Napa Valley. At the bee visit I'd had honey and honey ice cream and honey with blue cheese and honey on crackers, and something savory was really needed to cut all that sweet, delicious and indisputably healthful though it was.
Greek salad wasn't on the menu, but Faloush was. Damned if I see the difference.
Iced tea

  • Sage, 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma; tel. 707 935.1681

  • Then, for dinner, since we were watching (on television) the hated Cardinals destroy the Dodgers, a couple of hot dogs.
    Zinfandel, "Bear & Lion" old vines, Napa Valley, 2006

    Sunday, July 26, 2009

    Pasta with clams and mussels

    Berkeley, July 26—

    DINNER PARTY at an old friend's here, with two other couples, one known, the other new; everyone delightful. We warmed up with prosciutto and Crenshaw melon; went on to sliced heirloom tomatoes with oil and Balsamico. Then came pasta with clams and mussels: hard to go wrong there! Dessert: sliced peaches with sherbet. I love summertime.
    Gavi, 2006; Sauvignon blanc; Chardonnay (California)

    Saturday, July 25, 2009


    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 25—
    WELL, AS YOU can see, the aïoli separated. I have an explanation: I was following a recipe in a book, and not the one I generally use. This one said "Rule of thumb: one egg yolk, one cup oil." I generally follow Judy Rodgers's recipe, in The Zuni Cookbook, when I follow one at all. You begin by smashing garlic and salt in a mortar, then add two egg yolks, then dribble in the olive oil slowly slowly, at first by drops, then by a teeny stream, whisking all the while. The result will be thick and oily.
    Lindsey prepared the classic accompaniments: boiled potatoes, steamed green beans, sliced tomatoes; and she grilled a couple of chicken breasts that had been dusted with fennel-salt-pepper rub leftover from yesterday. Green salad, of course.
    Aïoli: surely one of the classic Hundred Plates.
    Cheap Pinot grigio

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Pork chops

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 24, 2009—
    WHAT A DELICIOUS afternoon; what a delicious lunch. Four friends drove up for the afternoon. Lindsey cooked up some fine green beans and sliced the year's first really good tomatoes. She also fixed a batch of one of my favorite things, little potatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and rosemary, and baked in the oven until done.
    I got out a mortar and pestle and ground up all the fennel seeds I could find, maybe three or four tablespoons, with salt; then ground in the grated zest of a lemon. I made a paste of it with olive oil and spread it on the pork chops, which were then grilled over charcoal.
    Oh: I made a faux-Caesar salad, too: anchovies pounded to paste, olive oil, lemon juice, on torn Romaine. (One guest doesn't eat garlic, which would have brought the salad a little closer to the genuine article.)
    Rosé: of Cabernet sauvignon, "TT," and of unspecified grapes, Preston Vineyards, both Dry Creek; also Zinfandel, "Bear & Lion" old vines, Napa Valley, 2006

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    Boerenkool, again

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 23, 20097/23/09 851PM
    I KNOW: WE ATE THIS just a few weeks ago; I wrote about it here. But tonight's was made differently, two changes that seem trivial but make all the difference, and I think the dish has to be promoted to the Hundred Plates. Here's what I did:
    First, a few very thing slices of pancetta in the black iron skillet, sweated to render the fat and crisp the meat entirely. Then slice, do not cube, a sweet white onion into the pan and sweat it until limp, not neglecting to scrumble in a good pinch of sea salt, adding olive oil to keep things from burning. Then ditto the potatoes
    and, soon after, the stems of the kale, cut into tiny pieces.
    Cook these a long time, turning occasionally, and add some water after some of the potatoes have browned; and cover the pan to steam those kale stems; they'll need it.
    When the stems are fairly tender add the kale leaves which you will have sliced crosswise into strips. More salt, of course. A bit more water if needed, and cover, and leave to wilt and cook. Toward the end you can stir things up.
    Cheap Pinot grigio

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Those beans

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 22, 2009—
    HERE IS WHAT those Corona beans look like:
    They are about as big as the end joint of my thumb. You see them here next to one of my least favorite vegetables: squash. Yellow zucchini is suspiciously close to crookneck, and the only virtue of crookneck is that it is not a winter squash. Watery, bland, yet somehow nonetheless offensive, that is how I've always thought of summer squashes. (Winter squashes are even worse, because not bland.) But tonight's were almost enjoyable, and those beans… not many things are better than them.
    Rosé, Côtes de Ventoux, "La Ferme Julien", 2007

    Corona beans

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 21, 2009--
    SURELY ONE OF THE Hundred Plates will be the combination of white beans, white onions, herbs, and olive oil. Today's beans were Coronas, those meaty broad beans I've mentioned here a few times before, easy to store and easy to prepare. Lindsey went out to the garden for some myrtle, marjoram, and tarragon, and chopped them up with a little salt. The onion, sliced thin, went into the hot beans just as they'd about finished cooking; the oil is poured over at serving time, and the herbs sprinkled in. Delizioso.
    Nero d'Avila, Archeo, 2007 (a good dry white would have been better)

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Green beans and onions

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 20, 2009—

    HUNGRY FOR VEGETABLES after a weekend largely without them. Lindsey obliged, as she generally does, tipping a nice big bowl of green beans, then barely cooking them and some thin-sliced white onion in olive oil with a little bit of salt.
    In the meantime I'd gone out to the garden to get a head of romaine. The dressing: three anchovy fillets, rinsed of their packing oil and crushed with a clove of garlic, then the juice of half a lemon and enough olive oil to make it work.
    Nero d'Avila, Archeo, 2007 (I do like this wine very much)

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    Being bad one last day

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 19, 2009—
    GRILLED HAM AND CHEESE — certainly one of the Hundred Plates — for lunch, at a little bar-and-grill in Stonyford, California. Then, to celebrate the return home after three days camping, a Basic Hamburger at Carmen's. Ground beef, dill pickle, raw onion, lettuce leaf, tomato slice, bun; french fries.
    Zinfandel, Cline Cellars, 2007

  • Carmen's Burger Bar, 1612 Terrace Way, Santa Rosa; tel. (707) 579-3663

  • Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Freeze-dried, 2

    Gurnsey Creek Campground, Tehama County, July 18—

    CURRY FOR DINNER tonight: lentils, potatoes, rice, peppers, onions, and curry sauce. As he did yesterday, Mac poured boiling water into the package; then we ate.
    Rosso di Toscano, "Trentatre," Santini Wines, 2007
    (Montepulciano, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon)

    Friday, July 17, 2009


    Gurnsey Creek Campground, Tehama County, July 17—

    MAC POURED BOILING water into the pouch, we waited thirteen minutes, et voila: Santa Fe chicken with corn, rice , and green chile.
    Cheap Nero d'Avila
    Earlier, a delicious pork tamal made and sold by this handsome woman sitting outside a gas station in Red Bluff.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009


    Berkeley, July 16, 2009—
    LUNCH WITH FRIENDS in Berkeley today at a restaurant new to us, though not to them. Corso is described as a Florentine trattoria, but the food is somewhat Americanized, to my eye; the menu longer than perhaps it needs to be, the feel not Tuscan but generic Californian.
    I warmed up with a Negroni, a nice aperitif; and moved on through a "Lattuga Romana," a sort of faux Caesar salad (romaine, crouton, garlic, lemon juice, but no egg, I think). Then a nice softball-size hunk of tuna. Non troppo cotto, I warned the waitress, and it arrived seared on the outside, barely warm at the center, just as I like it. With it, English peas and a little bit of mint. Delizioso.
    Vermentino, Tuscany, "Cassamatta", 2007
  • Trattoria Corso, 1788 Shatuck Ave., Berkeley; tel. 510-704-8004

  • Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Pasta again

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 15, 2009—
    A COUPLE OF QUARTS of water; a good big handful of salt; some fusilli. We had leftover penne and tomato sauce in the refrigerator, so I heated that up and combined it with the fusilli. Green salad from out the garden.
    Malbec, Mendoza, "Terrenal", 2007

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Hot Dog

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 14, 2009—
    HOT DAY, LONG DRIVE: hot dogs on buns with mustard and pickle relish and raw thin-sliced onion; green salad.
    can of beer

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    Medford train station

    Medford, Oregon, July 13—
    WE'VE NEVER EXPECTED to find a decent place to eat in this town. It's close enough to Ashland that we've driven there for dinner on previous stops, or to nearby Talent, as we did last Wednesday, for dinner at New Sammy's.

    Something told me there had to be something, though, so I did a little websleuthing and came up with something of a find: a decent enough kitchen and a very pleasant dining courtyard outside a beautiful (and beautifully restored) old train station in this southern Oregon town. Don't get me wrong: this will never displace New Sammy's. But it has the advantage of being open on Monday, and closer to our fiftydollar hotel (thanks, Priceline).

    I had the "princess" New York steak, eight ounces — twice as much as I need or really want, but the smallest on the menu. It wasn't a bad piece of beefsteak, quite lean, and it came with a grilled tomato slice, some slices of blanched carrot and zucchini, and nice salty garlicky mashed potatoes. A green salad first, with a bottle of olive oil and another of "balsamico". Lindsey had a chicken Marsala; she suspects it was frozen.
    Zinfandel, Ridge Vineyards "Three Valleys," 2007
    • Porter's Train Station, 147 N. Front St., Medford, OR; tel. 541-857-1910

    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Birthday celebration

    Portland, July 12—

    TODAY IS MY FATHER'S 98th birthday (he's been dead 35 years now), and tomorrow is Rosie's sixteenth. We gathered at Rosie's, with her brother Jake, her parents Joe and Karen, her parents' friends Tony and Diane and their two kids, and Giovanna and Grace and Fran, and Lindsey and me, of course (or I wouldn't be writing this). It was a festive affair, beginning with a Martini (Champagne or white wine for some) and delicioushardboiled eggs with anchovies and almonds and fava-bean spread and such, and going on from there to flatiron steak and blanched carrots and fennel and beets and roquette with tapenade and aioli. These folks know how to eat. Birthday cake, of course.
    Bandol, Domaine Tempier, 1998

    Saturday, July 11, 2009


    Portland, July 11—

    LUNCH TODAY AT Evoe, on Hawthorne Street, a sort of adjunct to Pastaworks, a wine, delicatessen, and produce store which itself is a sort of adjunct to Powell's Books, a branch specializing in cookery and gardening.

    I had a Gallego: a sardine, fennel, and hot pepper slaw sandwich on a warmed ciabatta roll, and shared with the rest of the table a bit of artichoke and fennel salad.
    It's easy to forget how delicious sardines can be, even canned sardines. They were smushed with oil, probably simply the oil they were packed in, and the slaw added a nice crunchy texture. This was a surprisingly subtle and carefully-made thing.
    Rosé, l'Hortus, Côtes du Var

    Then, at home, after a Saturday Martini, a light supper: thin-slice onion sandwiches on buttered bread, while watching It Started in Naples.
    And afterward, a plum upside-down cake, with plums from our own tree.
    Vin de pays de Huaterive, "La Baronne," 2007

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Your basic Italian-American thing

    Renton, Washington, July 10——

    A QUICK CAPPUCCINO and toast at Giovanna's (well, and a slice of panettone from out the freezer). Green salad, pasta salads, olives, cold cuts, cake and cookies at the Holy Family Catholic Church after the funeral mass for Lindsey's cousin Lawrence. Then, after the burial, forty or so of us sat down at Vince's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, where we had green salad, pizza margarita, and penne in tomato sauce with, yes, meat balls. The food was tasty and comforting, and all the generations of cousins — four generations, I think, and we're now the oldest — played a lot of catchup. Lawrence was a good man with an amazing memory for people, places, names, and events, and though I didn't know him well (since he lived about eight hundred miles away) I miss him, and will miss him more as I think of more questions…
    house wine in carafe, "Chablis" and "Chianti"
  • Vince's, 2815 NE Sunset Boulevard, Renton; tel. 425.226.8180
  • Thursday, July 9, 2009


    Portland,, July 9, 2009—
    photo.jpgIMPROVISED BEANS tonight, cooked with some garlic scapes, chopped onion, beet leaves, and a half cup of mystery fat from a mason jar found in the freezer. Delicious. I love eating at Giovanna's.
    Vin de pays de Vaucluse, 2006.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    New Sammy's

    Central Point, Oregon, July 8, 2009—

    I'VE MENTIONED THE FIVE great restaurant trope before. Originally it consisted of Chez Panisse, Il Vipore, Stephanie's, Obelisk, and Het Pomphuis. Berkeley, Lucca, Melbourne, Washington, and Ede, if you want to know. Three of those five are no longer in business, at least not under the same chef and ownership: CP and Obelisk continue.

    It's what the Brits call a mug's game, of course; how can you reduce your favorites to five? Not only does this leave out a number of very fine restaurants, not only does it omit many I wouldn't give up for any reason whether they're fine or not, but also it inevitably offends a number of close friends. Oh well: Let the trope remain, as long as we're all willing to make five an elastic number, a very elastic one.

    In any case on any List of Five New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro must be included. We're driving up toward Seattle this week, so we break the trip in southern Oregon, Pricelining a cheap hotel (yet another cheap hotel, that we may eat dear), and dining at Sammy's, on the negotiated condition that we have only one course. Well, we added dessert, too. I had duck breast, beautifully seared and sauced and served with vegetable ragout from the garden, that very day, twenty feet from the dining room: turnips, chard, asparagus...
    and for dessert a cherry clafoutis tart, yes, clafoutis tucked into a tart shell.
    Champagne, Billecart, nv
    Bordeaux, Chateau Bellevue, 2005
    Clearly a great restaurant, with an exceptional wine list and a chef who understands her garden, her kitchen, food as nutrient, and the whole sacred art of cuisine in the western world.

    New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro. 2210 South Pacific Highway Talent, OR 97540; tel. 541-535-2779

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009


    Healdsburg, July 7—
    THE SECOND DAY the pesto has oxidized, even in its little plastic prison in the fridge, and to tell the truth it's not very attractive. I think it tastes better, though, if anything.
    Lunch today included several plums: for the first time the Santa Rosa plum has set a decent crop, perhaps because I planted an Italian prune a couple of years ago to keep it company, and this year the bees have done their stuff.
    Wine notes later.

    Monday, July 6, 2009


    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 6, 2009—
    FRIENDS OVER to dinner tonight: mustardseed boerenkaas on the patio; then penne al pesto. It was a little shaggy, tonight's pesto; the basil was older and tougher than I like, and I didn't bother to cut the stems out of the leaves: a mistake. But it was delicious, with that French Rose de Quelquechose garlic, and good oil, and pine nuts, and Parmesan. Pesto has to be one of The Hundred.
    Dessert? Why not? A "White House Cobbler" whose recipe Lindsey'd clipped from somewhere, so named because it was served to the Obamas their first night in their new house. It turned out to be a buttery clafoutis, with peaches floating in the batter, and we liked it fine.
    Cheap white; then Syrah, Souverain, 2005

    Sunday, July 5, 2009

    Salmon, broccoli, favas

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 5, 2009—
    HOW LONG WILL this last? The favas, I mean: yesterday Nancy still had a few, even though we were late getting to the market. Lindsey snapped them all up, and shelled them tonight while watching the Cubs beat the Brewers. Salmon from the fish guy, Columbia River —not as good as "ours," the salmon the fish guy used to catch off the local coast, before it was decided industry needed water more than salmon do, but still decent. Broccoli instead of the usual green salad.
    Cheap rosso di Toscana.

    Saturday, July 4, 2009


    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 4, 2009—
    INDEPENDENCE DAY is not typically a day of healthful eating. There were two parties to go to today, both quite nice. A backyard pool party at Stefan and Rhoann's to begin with, where we grazed on pizza and lasagna and chicken and franks with beans and cookies and cake and so on, washed down with copious quantities of Sauvignon blanc and a very nice 2003 Pinot Noir someone had brought.
    Then an evening party at Richard and Linda's, where we had chicken and sausages and salad and asparagus and onions and nuts and apricot tart and chocolate cake and Lindsey's key lime pie, washed down with copious quantities of Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir and Zinfandel.
    And then a walk through the gathering night to the highschool field to watch the fireworks. Healdsburg's fireworks are extraordinary, and tonight they were better than ever, with an accidental grass fire set by some falling embers, put out to great applause by the local fire department. Healdsburg is a town of 12,000 or so. Half the town turned out to watch the fireworks; the other half stayed home to watch from front porches, some of them offering Free Hot Dogs.

    Friday, July 3, 2009

    Those onion sandwiches

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 3, 2009—
    THING IS, the bread makes a dIfference. Tonight Lindsey made the identical sandwich but used sourdough. And we'd had a Martini before dinner: the gin-spring onion-sourdough-sweet butter sequence was extraordinary.
    Penne as yesterday; green salad.
    Cheap rosso di Toscana.

    Thursday, July 2, 2009

    Penne with anchovies

    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 2, 2009—
    WE HAVE THIS for dinner every now and then; it's a favorite, if not quite qualifying for Hundred Plates. Lindsey cooks the penne in the usual way, then blends in crushed-up anchovies that have been warmed in olive oil with crushed garlic. Simple; delicious. Green salad.
    cheap red wine, Tuscany, "Aquila d'Oro," 2007

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009


    Eastside Road, Healdsburg, July 1, 2009—
    WE FIRST TASTED IT in Apeldoorn, I think, in 1976, when we visited that city to see how our daughter was doing on her exchange-student year abroad. It's been a favorite ever since, never more than when we have our own kale growing in the garden.
    At the moment it's the "dinosaur kale" variety, not the Russian. Long narrow leaves, probably a little past their prime, like so many things around here. I cut about eight leaves this afternoon for dinner.
    A little pancetta, cubed, melted in the stainless-steel skillet. An onion and then some, cubed, sweated with the pancetta; a little olive oil added to facilitate things. Then about four good-sized potatoes, unpeeled, also cubed. Don't forget some salt.
    When the potatoes were about half-cooked I transferred the whole thing to a heavy pot and added the kale, which I'd cut off the (undigestible) stems and sliced into squares. I just set them on top, added an inch or so of water to the pot, sprinkled a bit more salt in, and set the lid on it.
    It cooked slowly while we had a dram of ice-cold Corenwijn; then we ate it for dinner. Green salad, redundantly.
    Rosé, Côtes de Luberon, "La Ferme Julien", 2007