Friday, April 30, 2010


Eastside Road, April 30, 2010—

WHEN I WAS A kid — I know, too much nostalgia here lately — hominy was a fairly frequent dinner guest. Dad was from Arizona, born in Oklahoma, a bit of a southerner. But the hominy always came in a can. I still like it, and as I grow older I like it more: strong are the ties to our childhoods.

Tonight's hominy surprised me. Why isn't it mushy, I asked, canned hominy is always mushy. It doesn't have to be, she sweetly reasoned. She'd sliced up some good chorizo from The Spanish Table into the skillet; it was very tasty. We'll have dinner in Madrid on Tuesday; maybe that's what she was thinking of.

Nero d'Avola (we'll be in Avola before long, too — watch this space!)


Eastside Road, April 29, 2010—
NOT MUCH GOOD at keeping New Year's resolutions, no, I'm not. I told myself (and maybe, indiscreetly, a few others) that I was going to try to eat cheese more regularly this year — not so much for nutritive reasons, but out of intellectual curiosity. It's such a vast subject, and though it can be expensive, and ultimately perhaps not all that good for the health, but it sure can be pleasurable.

I like cheese, selectively. One of the things I like about the Netherlands is the cheese: farmhouse Gouda and Amsterdammer; Remeker; nagelkaas from Friesland. You eat cheese, several kinds of it, at breakfast.

Spanish cheese: Mahon, Manchego. Italian cheese, maybe best of all: Robiola, Castelmagno, Pecorino, Parmagiano. American cheese, particularly Cowgirl Creamery, whose Peg Smith is an old friend, and who encouraged me in my resolution. I'm afraid I've let her down.

Tonight, continuing the refrigerator-emptying project, Lindsey reminded me of the cheese. One tiny little lost morsel had been there quite some time, losing all its character; another larger piece, bought more recently, still had a bit of flavor. Both were hard cheeses. At any rate tonight they were; I think they started out that way. We had a mess of chard, too, and a couple of English muffins, and the usual green salad. Hours later the taste of the cheese is still in my mouth, even after a caffè corretto; it's time to brush my teeth and hit the hay. Next week I'll take up that resolution in earnest.
Nero d'Avola

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pea Soup

Eastside Road, April 28, 2010—
THINKING ABOUT THAT pea soup, which we all but finished this evening. Perhaps Lindsey was put in mind of pea soup by our drive, last Thursday, down Highway 101. I think I was first fascinated by Andersen's Pea Soup in the late 1940s, when another boy and I were driven on a week's vacation by a funny not-quite-uncle down to Los Angeles to visit his sister, a college friend of my mother's.

peasoup.jpgIt was the billboard fascinated me, of course. It continued to throughout my youth, though I didn't see it that often (perhaps that was part of the fascination). Looking at it now, I'm surprised at its similarity to another advertising gimmick that's often fascinated me,
the little top-hatted man with the big mallet on the Western Exterminator trucks. It in turn derives from Ignatz, the mouse in Krazy Kat, I suppose.

Of course I never got to go to Andersen's when I was a boy, and since I've grown up I've never particularly wanted to, so I have no idea what their split pea soup is like. When I was a boy split pea soup came in a can; its label carried the exotic name habitant and it came from Canada. A thread on Chowhound reveals that it was made with lard, which rather surprises me. I remember thinking that it was tasty, and I think we bought and ate it even in the early days of our marriage, fifty years ago, often with croutons in it, la la.

Tonight Lindsey toasted a couple of slices of Como bread to float atop the soup. The contrast of textures is nice, and the slow dissolve of that contrast as you work your way through the bowl. I like it.

Green salad tonight, our first at home in several days: I've missed it.
Cheap Nero d'Avola

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Home: split pea soup

Eastside Road, April 27, 2010—
WE'RE DEFINITIVELY HOME at last, to remain home and eat at home five consecutive nights. Good thing, too, as I've gained a bit of weight, and the month of May in Italy will likely do further damage. Tonight, then, we supped on split pea soup: Lindsey cooked the peas in water, flavored them with salt and pepper, sautéed onion, garlic, and marjoram, bay, and lemon thyme from the garden, and it made a nice thick potage on a rather dreary day. Then, chard from the garden, with (in my plate, not hers) a teeny bit of pork rillette, since I'd done my exercises today.
Pinot noir, Kenwood Vineyards (Russian River Valley), 2007

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dinner downstairs

Eastside Road, April 26—
A DELICIOUS DINNER downstairs at Chez Panisse tonight, cod and smelt and duck and strawberries, but I'm too tired from driving all day (including a drive up through the fine Carrizo Plain) to write about it now; I'll update this tomorrow.

[Next day:] Alas, I've misplaced the menu. But I recall having an amuse-gueule, cod rillettes nestling on a tender little endive leaf; then some beautifully deep-fried smelt, favas in the pod, and fava tendrils. The main attraction was duck, perfectly braised with plumped dried apricots; with it, a pilaf made of barley flavored with mint and small bok choy leaves. Dessert: Strawberry tiramisù sandwiched between and around small discs of, um, was it genoise?
Vermentino di Gallura, Sardegna, 2008; Bourgeuil, Catherine & Pierre Breton "franc de pied", 2007

  • Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; tel. 510.548.5525
  • Sunday, April 25, 2010

    Campanile brunch

    Glendale, April 25—
    SUNDAY BRUNCH AT CAMPANILE has become something of a tradition for us on these jaunts to Los Angeles. Today we'd planned to eat at Forage, a new place we'd heard a lot about, on our way out to LACMA; but Forage had decided to take the day off, and we were driving past Campanile, so why not?

    I had these trenne, triangular-section penne, you might say, cooked normally, then baked with kale and a shredded beef-heavy Bolognese, topped with thin slices of Parmagiano. A nice hearty dish that will serve as today's Main Meal.
    Minervois, "Cuvée Sentinelle", Domaine de Massiac, 2007
  • Campanile, 624 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angles; tel. 323.938.1447;

  • Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Palate Food and Wine

    Glendale, April 24—
    WE FIRST HEARD ABOUT this place a couple of years ago; I wrote about it here. After an afternoon at an extremely interesting presentation at Occidental College — see description at The Eastside View — we stopped in, eight or nine of us, for a drink and a bite. I began with a very nice Martini; the table shared a "portfolio" of salame and such; then I had the sea bass with clams, artichoke barigoule, Meyer lemon and olives.

    What's that, I wondered: turns out it's a Provençale dish, essentially artichokes cooked in white wine and savories — I was approaching it the other night when I steamed artichokes in olive oil and white wine. There's a recipe here; I'm going to have to try it when I have time at home.

    Dinner was truly delicious. I succumbed to a chocolate-coffee mousse for dessert. The table talk was lively. The place is a little noisy, but that's to be expected.
    Macon, Chateau Lafon, 2008
  • Palate Food & Wine, 933 South Brand Boulevard, Glendale; tel. 818.662.9463
  • Back to Bashan

    Glendale, April 23—

    We really like this pretty little chef-and-hostess restaurant up in the foothills here. The menu is rather small but each dish thoughtfully composed and beautifully cooked. We didn't have a lot of time — there was a play to catch — so we had just one course.

    First, though, an amuse-bouche: butternut squash soup served in a shot glass, a small float of first-rate olive oil on top with, in it, a drop of piquillo-infused oil, the whole to be poured over crisp fried onion rings and drunk from a hand-held bowl.

    On to the main event: a pan-seared flatiron steak, very nicely rubbed and crusted, with more of those crisp onion rings, on a circle of "corn blini" and served with a succotash of fava beans and fresh corn kernels.

    Dessert: I can't resist panna cotta. It came with a topping of pomegranate and cranberry and crossed-sword little langues de chat, very theatrical.

    Red, Ten Mile "The Broken Road," 2006: wonderfully deep and complex with fine terroir
  • Bashan, 459 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale, CA; tel. 818-541-1532
  • Friday, April 23, 2010

    Eating on the cheap

    Glendale, April 22, 2010—

    DiNNER IN OUR CHEAP hotel room tonight: we sleep cheap, in Pricelined hotels, so that we may occasionally eat dear; but we occasionally eat cheap too, as we did tonight, from Trader Joe: a frozen beef enchilada dinner, microwaved in our little kitchen, and a "Caesar" salad from a package. Oh well: I suppose it's not too unhealthful, though lord knows the provenance of that beef.

    Pinot noir, "Edition Maximilian" (Rheingau), 2008: thin and bland, 11.5% alcohol

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    At home in Ojai

    Ojai, April 22, 2010—

    DINNER CATERED IN by Ojai's best chef, said our hosts, Jim and Lisa, and the proof was on the table. Jerry brought brined roast pork in tomato sauce and these beautiful roast potatoes, artichokes, and olives, an inspired combination. Green salad.

    Barbera, Terra, Colli Tortonesi (Piemonte), nv (but the cork was printed "2001", and the color, nose, and palate all agreed: a fine wine)

    Grilled sausages

    Eastside Road, April 21, 2010—

    MY TURN TO make dinner today: guacamole for an appetizer; then three little artichokes halved and steamed in a little white Alsatian wine with water and olive oil, chopped shallots and garlic. With them, a couple of grilled pork sausages (ossabaw, delicious) and fusilli. Green salad.

    Vin d'Alsace, "Now and Zen"; Nero d'Avola

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Dinner down the hill

    Eastside Road, April 19, 2010—
    AT THE NEIGHBORS' house, that is, and since the neighbors are close relatives, it's always a pleasant affair. (Not that mealtime isn't always a pleasant affair, as frequent visitors to this site will have noticed.)

    Tonight, after the delicious house-cured green olives that gave such a nice lift to the Sauvignon blanc, we moved to the dining room for risotto with mushrooms, asparagus (second of the season!), and green salad. One of these days there'll be a disquisition here on risotto, which is clearly one of the Hundred Plates: in my opinion it demands a disciplined approach, and no one would fault my daughter, at any rate not this one, for lack of self-discipline. The rice was perfectly al dente; the stock it was cooked in seemed sturdy but not pushy; the mushrooms were delicious.
    Sauvignon blanc, "Vintjs" (pronounced "vintages," get it?), 2009
    Pinot noir, Adelsheim, Quarter Mile Lane Vineyard, 2003 (shy at first, then forthcoming, grapy, full of varietal)

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Tuna sandwich

    Eastside Road, April 18, 2010—
    THERE ARE THOSE WHO call it "tuna salad sandwich," I've never understood why. Well, Wikipedia has an answer, of course; it's filed in Categories: Salads | Fish dishes | Sandwiches | Cuisine stubs. It's a little crooked: the eggs mentioned as omitted in the second paragraph aren't mentioned in the first paragraph — that's the subject of a certain amount of discussion, always fun to snoop in at Wikipedia.

    In any case, Lindsey generally mashes a can of tuna* with some mayonnaise, chopped raw onion, and capers; that's the way we like it. Tonight it got quite a lift from a copious layer of raw wild arugula between the two slices of Como bread. It's a nice sandwich.
    Blanc d'Alsace, "Now & Zen," 2007
    *We've been using "Sacred Sea" brand albacore; it's delicious, and seems to be politically correct: read about it here.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010


    Eastside Road, April 17, 2010—
    SINCE WE WERE IN Berkeley yesterday we bought fish: Monterey Fish is a place we trust. Today Lindsey cooked tuna steaks, flavoring them with ginger and garlic, searing them in olive oil in the black iron skillet. With them, the year's first corn on the cob, a pleasure; and broccoli.
    Cheap Nero d'Avola
  • Monterey Fish Market, 1582 Hopkins Street, Berkeley; tel. 510.525.5600

  • Lunch in the Café

    Berkeley, April 16, 2010—

    WHAT A FINE meal this afternoon in the Café: this delicious cardoon and chickpea salad with anchovy and egg

    And then this fine roast pork leg with potatoes, asparagus, and pesto

    Afterward a tangerine and Barhi dates with a cappuccino; I do love a cappuccino with dates; they have that Elective Affinity. Oh: chocolates with praline, too. Marvelous.
    Sauvignon blanc, Touraine

  • Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; tel. 510.548.5525

  • Thursday, April 15, 2010


    Eastside Road, April 15, 2010—
    LOOK UP "POP-UP restaurant" online using your favorite search engine, well, mine, anyway, and you'll start exploring some interesting territory. I think it's a very healthy development, a response to mindless bureaucratic administration of ultimately necessary regulation. It's a very complicated issue, and further evidence, as if it were needed, that ad hocity is the correct posture in an over-complicated, over-populated, over-urban society.


    Anyhow: tonight we ate not too many miles from home in a barn at a table with a number of people we didn't quite know but might have. One, for example, was delighted to meet Lindsey: he'd treasured her book for years. Another is off next week to Amsterdam to eat at Marius. A third is somehow connected to a winery we visited a year or two ago near Ashland.

    The kitchen was set up in a side alley of the barn, spotless stainless-steel and seriousness. These people absolutely know their business — but they're also proud and pleased with it.


    All that was very nice: but best of all was the food. I began with Sopa de Raiz de Apio, celery-root soup with fava bean pesto. I nibbled at a friend's Ensalada de esparragos, warm asparagus salad with cara cara oranges and raw-milk feta; and then hr Pescado locale, pan-seared cod with piquillo peppes and safferon-flavored carrots.

    Best of all, I feasted on Chicharron de pato, duck breast cooked almost as if it were in confit, with a masa polenta-like toast with crinkly chicharrones from the duck; it was a veritable Yucatanese cassoulet lacking the beans. An extraordinary dish, deep, rich, complex, but in perfect balance, and thoroughly healthful. Oh: pea and fava-tendril salad to garnish it.


    Then, out into the night, chilly, darker than this twilight photo suggests, with a big Evening Star hanging just off a tiny paring of a crescent new moon. Magical.
    Blanc d'Alsace, "Now & Zen," 2007; Pinot noir, Kenwood (Russian River Valley), 2007;
    Syrah, Cowhorn (Applegate Valley, Oregon), 2006; Malbec, AR Guentota (Argentina), 2006

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Spring supper

    Berkeley, April 14, 2010—

    sUPPER TONIGHT at the home of acquaintances who are traveling soon in Corsica and Sardinia and wanted to hear of our experiences there when we were there so many years ago.

    A classic Spring menu: poached salmon, steamed asparagus, rice. And for dessert a real treat: tangerine and chocolate mousses, side by side in a coupe.
    But what was that delicious soft French white wine we had, and why didn't I take note? Surely a Provençal?

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Mangiare in bianco

    Eastside Road, April 13, 2010—
    WHITE PASTA; WHITE CAULIFLOWER; white garlic, white bread. We're eating en blanc, but it's not because we're under the weather: we've never felt better, either of us. It's a whim, perhaps. Lindsey toasted some bread crumbs lightly; cooked the penne in the usual way, lightly sautéed the caulflower pieces with crushed garlic, then tossed it all together. I like the varying crunchinesses, the different bite of the pasta and the cauliflower, the aromas of caulflower and garlic not mixing so much as whirling round one another.
    Cheap Nero d'Avola

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Rice and beans

    Eastside Road, April 12, 2010—
    RICE AND BEANS, that's what it means. Jasmine rice steamed the usual way in one pot, small black beans cooked up with onions in another, combined in the serving plates, leaflets of cilantro scattered on top, a squeeze of lime. I like it.
    Cheap Nero d'Avolo

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Home. Egg sandwich.

    Eastside Road, April 11, 2010—

    THIS KIND OF TRAVEL day is still a bit unsettling. Breakfast: a cup of bad coffee in the motel, two cups of good coffee (Stumptown lattes) and a pain aux raisins from Ken's Artisan Bakery, in the car, driving south from Ashland.

    Lunch: Some fine raisin-pecan bread, again from Ken's, and an apple, again in the car in a parking lot at the California Welcome Center in an outlet mall in Anderson. That's a place worth thinking about, maybe even writing about: not today.

    Dinner at home, hooray: a Fried-egg sandwich, a green salad. I remember the fried-egg sandwiches I carried to school in the sixth and seventh grades, the eggs soaking through Mom's home-made bread, the funny leathery, lardy, eggy taste of those sandwiches, simultaneously faintly repulsive and thoroughly wholesome. They were a lot better than the peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich they were usually wrapped with. But Lindsey's sandwich was better yet.
    Cheap Nero d'Avila

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Leaving Portland

    Central Point, Oregon, April 10, 2010—

    THE USUAL DRILL leaving Portland today: coffee and a croissant at Ken's Artisan Bakery; a stop at the Pearl Bakery to pick up gibassiers for tomorrow's breakfast; a quick stop at Powell's City of Books in case we'd forgotten something there.

    Then a two-hour drive south to Brownsville to meet Bhishma for lunch at the Corner Cafe, whose salad greens are fresh and organic, from neighboring farms, and always make a good lunch.

    We'd booked a cheap motel here in Central Point, thirty miles north of the California border, just a couple of miles from Medford, where last summer we found a decent dinner restaurant in the old train station. Tonight I had a Martini, a cup of Manhattan clam chowder, and then the eight-ounce New York steak, nicely grilled, with good French fries, a garlicky grilled tomato, and a mess of al dente zucchini, peppers, and carrots on the side.


  • Corner Cafe, 431 N Main Street, Brownsville, Oregon; tel. 541-466-5553
  • Porters, 147 North Front Street, Medford, Oregon; tel. 541-857-1910
  • Friday, April 9, 2010

    Random Order

    on the road…
    LUNCH TODAY caught me by surprise. We'd gone out for coffee and pastries, what a surprise, but while the girls were happy with their pies — strawberry-rhubarb, lemon meringue, coconut cream, things like that — the chipotle pot pie looked better to me. Local free-range pork, local potatoes, strong-flavored tomatoes, lots of chipotle, and a nice flaky crust. Oh: and cabbage. Very nice.

    The coffee was okay, too; but it was even better across the street at Barista, where they made beautifully drawn espressos with Intelligencia's Black Cat roast. This is truly excellent, the best I've had here in Portland: we're taking a pound of it home with us.

    Dinner at home: lentils with onions; green salad.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Caffe Allora; polenta and eggs

    Portland, April 8, 2010—

    LUNCH TODAY at Cafe Allora, again in the Pearl district. It compares easily to yesterday's Piazza Italia: both opened a few years back, neither has changed much, both are comfortable and dependable. I had a classic salad: tuna, cannellini, onions, arugula.
    Chardonnay della casa

    DINNER AT HOME: an improvisation. Joe had brought us some especially good eggs yesterday, so we cooked a lasagna pan of polenta In the oven; I strew a double handful or two of grated Parmesan and Pecorino on top of it (with an inch or so of the end os a dry salami, minced very thin), then covered the whole thing with arugula leaves.

    I used a big spoon to push six depressions in the surface, broke an egg into each, covered the whole with hot tomato-and-onion sauce, and returned the dish to the hot oven for a few minutes. I served it strewn with a little more arugula, very finely chopped.

    Guilhem, Moulin de Gassac (Herault), 2008

  • Caffe Allora, 504 Northwest 9th Avenue, Portland; tel. 503.445.4612
  • Piazza Italia

    Portland, April 7, 2010—

    OUT TO LUNCH today to a place I've always liked, but rarely am able to persuade anyone else to: Piazza Italia, over in the Pearl district. It opened quite a few years back, and has changed hardly at all, even though the man who opened it died a year or two ago. It's comfortable and dependable, the closest thing I know in Portland to an ordinary eatery in an ordinary small city in northern Italy.


    The waiters are mostly young Italian guys; an older woman seems to be in charge — she told me today the cooks have been the same for quite a while. We shared an antipasto plate of various salumi, then tucked into plates of penne with speck in a cream sauce livened by Pecorino and Parmagiano.

    Pinot grigio della casa

    Dinner at home: a fine hominy stew with peppers, onions, kale, chorizo, and hominy, of course; and afterward, Lindsey's gelatin dessert: coffee gelatin, with slivered salty almonds and whipped cream.

    Beaujolais, Dominique Piron, 2006

  • Piazza Italia, 1129 Northwest Johnson Street, Portland; tel. (503) 478-0619

    Correction, next day: it was Giovanna who made the gelatin; see her Facebook blog
  • Tuesday, April 6, 2010


    Portland, April 6, 2010—
    OUT TO A LOCAL restaurant, a brand-new one, for their Tuesday night stammtisch. I'm not nuts about German cuisine, but Grüner's not exclusively a German restaurant. I'm told it's an Alpine restaurant, serving the cuisines of Savoy, Switzerland, the Tyrols, extending into Slovenia. Well, Alsace seems a bit of a stretch to me, the nearest mountains are the Vosges as I recall, another range, the Jurasienne, lies between Alsace and the Alps. But why quibble. We had:

    Escargot in garlic-parsley butter
    A typically tough snail in a sauce nicely pointed, if a little thin
    Tarte à l'oignon
    Perfect flaky pastry, nicely balanced egg and bacon filling
    Asperges, mayonnaise
    Green asparagus stalks pounced on salt, lightly cooked, with tarragon-flavored sauce
    Coq au Riesling
    chicken braised in Riesling with shallots, crimini and black trumpet mushrooms,
    with crème fraîche and herbs, with very buttery spätzle

    Rhubarbe (Streusel à la rhubarbe)
    good old rhubarb crisp

    and with this we were served Vins d'Alsace, Domaine Marcel Deiss:
    Pinot blanc, Bergheim, 2007
    Riesling, 2007
    Engelgarten Bergheim, 2004
    Burg Bergheim, 2002

    of these, all were perfect expressions of their varietal. The Pinot blanc seemed a little ordinary; the Riesling was long in the finish, honey-colored, clean. The Engelgarten was very good, but the Burg Bergheim, though starting out very well indeed, seemed - perhaps on the influence of the rhubarb, enough to kill any wine — seemed to go hard, with an iron flavor.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Coffee, leftovers, drinks

    Portland, April 5, 2010—
    BUT THE LUNCH WAS delicious: simply a couple of pieces of bread, slightly sourdough, a boule we'd bought Friday at Le Patissier in Corvallis, half toasted — toasted only slightly, I mean — and then one of them drizzled with good olive oil, and between them a good many very think slices of Genoa dry salami, and an apple.
    Rocaberdi (Catalunya), 2008
    Coffee at Coffeehouse Five, named after Vonnegut, I don't know why: I had the Big Truck roast from Olympia Coffee Roasters as an espresso, nicely thick and chocolaty, perhaps the best espresso of the trip so far. Dinner at home — leftovers
    Picpoul de Pinet, "Reine Juliette" (Languedoc), 2008 —
    and then out to Huber's for a drink (earned, after watching a perfectly dreadful Cubs loss to Atlanta): "Spanish coffee" for everyone but me, poured and flamed very theatrically; a simple Calvados Toddy for me, with fresh orange and lemon slices muddled with honey, topped with Calvados and some hot water. I like Huber's,
    a capacious, dimly lit, relatively quiet bruincafé sort of a place.

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    Liver, coffee, baseball

    Portland, April 4, 2010—
    WE CELEBRATED EASTER SUNDAY our own way here, beginning with chocolate bunnies left at the breakfast table by a mysterious overnight visitor, going on to fegato venexiano for lunch, then out to a café for coffee and pastries, then home to a hot dog dinner to accompany the opening game of the season.
    I cooked the liver the usual way, forgetting only a couple of points — I'm a little rusty, and then the liver, bought frozen yesterday at the farmers market, thawed very wet, making salting difficult. Oh well: butter and olive oil in the black iron skillet, slowly cook a red onion sliced very thin, remove the onions and sauté the liver cut into strips, deglaze the pan with red wine and a drop or two of Balsamic vinegar, serve with polenta and fresh-ground black pepper. One of the Hundred Plates.

    Rocaberdi (Catalunya), 2008

    The café was new to me. Gibassier and canalés baked by Broken Frame, the gibassier nearly as good as Pearl Bakery; the canalé different in style from Ken's Artisan Bakery, a little damp inside, but good. My espresso was a single-origin Indonesian bean, beautifully roasted, fruity and spicy and expertly drawn.

    Giovanna made cole slaw and potato salad; we had hot dogs from Laurelhurst Meat Market on buns from Pearl Bakery, fresh-made mustard, sauerkraut of course, onions both fried and raw. With it, one of my favorite beers, Peter's Beer from Trader Joe. And the Sox beat the Yankees, 9-7, in a tight game.
  • Coffeehouse Northwest, 1951 W. Burnside Blvd., Portland; tel. (503) 248-2133
  • Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Happy birthday, dear Grace

    Portland, Oregon, April 3, 2010—
    THE ENTIRE FAMILY loves eating, of course, and it was Grace's 23d birthday, the first she'd spent in this country in five years, so the choices were all up to her.

    Lunch, then, at Olympic Provisions, a meat restaurant. We were six at table, but only three at our end: we split a "hand pie" — pork rillette in a delicious flaky pastry — and then I went on to a sandwich comprising Saucisson sec, Mahon cheese, mortadella, iceberg lettuce, red onion, pickled peppers, mayonnaise, and boquerones on a ciabatta roll. This was a beautifully composed sandwich, all the meats made in house, the other things carefully selected.
    Gamay, "Lex Hexagonales" (Touraine), 2008

    Dinner at home. We'd gone to the Farmers Market in the morning, where I bought buffalo liver for later this week, and lamb shanks for tonight. We cooked them in the usual way, browning them in a little olive oil, then covering them and cooking them slowly for a few hours with a couple of bulbs of garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled. At the end I reduced the sauce, added white wine, ran the garlic through a sieve, and served it all with fresh egg noodles also from the market; broccoli rabe and turnip greens on the side.
    Grenache blanc, Abel Clément (Vaucluse), 2008

    And, of course, Giovanna made a birthday cake, from Flo Braker's fine book Baking for All Occasions: Heirloom Banana Layer Cake with Prune Filling and Seafoam Frosting. No one writes the baking books better than Flo, and no one reads and prepares the recipes better than Giovanna. What a fine dinner for a birthday girl! Happy Birthday, Grace!
  • Olympic Provisions, 107 SE Washington St., Portland, Oregon; tel. 503-954-3663
  • Flo Braker: Baking for All Occasions (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2008)
  • Friday, April 2, 2010

    Le Patissier

    Corvallis, Oregon, April 2, 2010—
    LUNCH WITH BHISHMA in a place I'm glad to see: Le Patissier. We first met this fellow — the patissier, I mean — here in Corvallis a few years ago when he had a little shop in a strip mall — well, a parking lot. Then he lost the space and, as far as we were concerned, pretty much dropped out of sight.

    A couple of years ago, though, he reopened — a much larger, airier place in a mall on the other side of town. Bhishma tells me the patissier, Didier, settled here in Corvallis because after looking up and down the Pacific coast this area was the most like the part of France he'd come from. Where could that be, I wonder: somewhere in the Centre, I imagine.

    In any case, I had a quiche-Lorraine with a green salad — a perfect, classic quiche, flaky and buttery, the filling nicely set, not at all dry; a good mustard vinaigrette on the greens. With it, a fresh cool soft vin blanc.

    Dinner at Giovanna's: fusilli with a simple, tasty parsley dressing.
  • Le Patissier, 370 Southwest Western Boulevard, Corvallis, Oregon; tel. (541) 752-1785
  • Back to New Sammy

    Ashland, Oregon, April 1—
    LUNCH AT THE BISTRO today: New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, also known as New Sammy's Wine Bistrot. Or maybe that's just the new addition, with its long bar, its elegant-Mexican setting. Doesn't matter: Charlene's in the kitchen, whether you eat dinner in the old rooms or lunch (or dinner) in the new one; Vern's presiding over the wine selection; you can't go wrong.

    And at lunch you go so right. Currently it's still only fifteen bucks for lunch, a bargain. I had a plate of garden-fresh Savoy cabbage with potatoes and carrots and two house-made sausages, one blanc, the other more highly seasoned (lots of cloves, interestingly); and for dessert (at an extra cost) a fine selection of three cheeses: Elk Mountain aged goat cheese with membrillo, Rogue Creamery "Oregon Blue" with truffle honey, Perolari Taleggio with green tomato jam. I'd go back tomorrow for the same, but we'll be heading for Portland…
    Pinot grigio, Collio, 2007; Banyuls