Glen Ellen, October 23, 2011—
SUNDAY SUPPER on the farm today: twenty or so of us, gathered for a farewell meal with David Tanis, who's leaving Chez Panisse after many years as downstairs co-chef. We were at Bob Cannard's farm, which supplies by far the lion's share of produce served at the restaurant, and the late afternoon light over the Valley of the Moon hills was strikingly beautiful.
The menu seemed to me the perfect expression of Californio cooking: ranch-style cooking drawing directly from what's available, pointed up with discreet use of exotic spices. It centered on a spit-roasted pig, a wild one Angelo had shot for the occasion — succulent, lean, full of flavor, healthy. The table was laden with salads and vegetables: slaw, poblanos stuffed with corn and cheese, sliced tomatoes, roasted beets, shell beans, onion salad, crudités. There were delicious sardines with lemon zest, peppers, and olive oil; there were olives of course, and grilled bread; there was sliced tongue with chimichurri.
For dessert there was an apple tart with figs cooked in red wine and whipped cream. And best of all, throughout, there was the company of cooks and diners, people who knew why they were so happy with what they were confronting; and good conversation; and memories and good wishes for the future; and generosity and gratitude.
Rosé, Domaine Tempier (Bandol), 2008; Zinfandel, Skye Vineyards (Napa); Syrah and Pinot noir, noncommercial (Sonoma and Napa counties) (true to varietals, sound and delicious)