Wednesday, November 30, 2011


NE 8th Avenue, Portland, November 27, 2011—
strozzapreti.jpgGUYS SHOP WELL for groceries, so think I. Tonight, our last night in Portland for a while, the thinking had been to order a delivery of noodles from a Korean takeout the family thinks highly of. I was in a minority when we discovered it was closed on Sundays.

Let's just go to the store and cook something, I said, and Pavel and I drove to the supermarket, where we bought an already-prepped boneless pork roast, a couple of packages of padrones, a couple of packages of pasta, and a supply of arugula. Oh: and a lemon or two.

The roast — actually, I'd call it a rollito — took a short hour to cook and needed no attention at all. Simon washed the arugula. We dressed the strozzapreti, once cooked and drained, with olive oil, lemon juice and minced garlic; I sliced up the roast; the arugula was dressed just like the pasta; and Bob's your uncle.
But what was the wine? Red, after a preliminary bottle of very nice Verdicchio…

Sunday, November 27, 2011


NE Eighth St., Portland, November 24-26, 2011

A fine dry-brined roasted turkey has been at the center of our eating every one of the last three days. His companions have been all but totally consumed: the mashed potatoes and gravy, the Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, the cranberry sauce; even the yams and beets have met their fates (though I assure you I did my best to spare them).

Thursday was complicated by having been a birthday here as well, so after the obligatory apple, mince, and pumpkin pies, and a visit to a nearby friend's party for even more pie, we went home to a Lane cake, and they don't get much richer and delicious than that.

The last two days were given over, as you might imagine, to leftovers. No complaints. Cold roast turkey on buttered bread — who'd complain?

Wines: Dolcetto d'Alba, for the most part…

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Revisionist Italian

Portland, Oregon, November 23, 2011—
DINNER OUT TONIGHT, all eight of us, at a neighborhood gem (to use Zagatspeak) new to me, a serious but comfortable place with a thoughtful kitchen, kind service, and an interesting wine list.

I chose one of the vegetable side dishes for a first course: kale with bagna cauda, an idea that had never occurred to me before, but one that makes perfect sense — the lacinato kale has that deep, chthonic quality that marries anchovy so well. Afterward I was less enterprising and settled on flank steak, nicely grilled and accompanied by a huge serving of onion rings, battered with coarse cornmeal and deep-fried.

Dessert was almost too enterprising: Brutto ma buoni, it was called, but instead of the delicious bitter-almond macaroons I so like it was a kind of flip or fool or trifle. Revisionist for sure, but, again, delicious, and nothing to complain about.
Cortese, Tenuta Maiola (Lugana), 2009 (minerals, delicious with the bagna cauda); Galliopo, Ippolito Ciro "Liber Pater", 2007 (fruity but serious)
• Lincoln, 3808 N. Williams Street, Portland; 503-288-6200

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Portland, Oregon, November 22, 2011—
hominy.jpgNOT YOUR TRADITIONAL minestrone, I suppose, but a minestrone nonetheless, and a particularly delicious one: beans, hominy, kale, stock. That had been at home, with
Fabla (Tempranillo/Garnacha) (Catalunya), 2010

Lunch had been downtown, in a "fast slow food" place: a codfish-cake sandwich on a sesame bun with crisp-fried potatoes, butter lettuce, dill relish and tartar sauce, gloppy and tasty, and a couple of fine beignets for dessert.
Pinot grigio, 2010
Violetta, 877 SW Taylor @ SW Park, Portland, Oregoncod.jpg

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sausage-cabbage hash

Portland, Oregon, November 21, 2011—
Sausage hash.jpgLEFTOVERS AT HOME TONIGHT, delicious ones: a couple of those sausages from yesterday, sliced up, and combined with leftover roast potatoes, carrot, and Jerusalem artichoke, with a blanched chopped cabbage folded in, the whole then baked in the oven.

And, later, ice cream from Alma, one of Portland's finest shops, a chocolatier making better Bicerins than, even, Bicerin, in Torino. And a little glass of Clear Creek eau-de-vie de poire, to make today uniquely Portland.
Beaujolais nouveau, Georges Duboeuf, 2011
Alma Chocolate, 140 NE 28th Ave., Portland, Oregon; (503) 517-0262

Sausage and potatoes

Portland, November 20, 2011—
potatos.jpgTHE TITLE TELLS the story: sausage and potatoes, potatoes and sausage. Of those sausages, half came up from Berkeley's Local Butcher, the others are Portland natives. They were quite different, both pork; I wouldn't set one above the other.

The potatoes: well, there's some Jerusalem artichoke in there too, and some carrot, as you see. Roasted in olive oil in the oven, one of our favorite dishes. Thanks, Giovanna!
Rosso da Monferrato, Tenuta la Pergola, 2009; Fabla (Tempranillo/Garnacha) (Catalunya), 2010

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Portland, November 19, 2011—

HOW LONG IS IT since last we had polenta for dinner? Way too long: so it was particularly pleasant to find it waiting for us when we finally rolled into Portland after fighting traffic for hours. On it, a nice smooth supple tomato sauce, and grated Parmesan and good fresh-ground black pepper of course. Afterward, green salad.

Red wine

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lamb chops

Ashland, Oregon, November 18, 2011—
SNOW ON THE PASS — just enough to make us take it slow and easy on the way down; then an hour or two of rest in the cheap motel; then the fabulous dinner. I've written many times before about Charlene Rollins and New Sammy's: it's one of the Five Restaurants; she's a genius of the kitchen. (Vern, her husband, has mellowed into a fine host; the restaurant bears his stamp as much as hers.)

Tonight, though, I realized at the end of the evening that she is not only peerless as a maîtresse de la braise, not only impeccable as a chooser of ingredients; she is something even more rare, a chef as perfectly suited to pastry as she is to savory. Intelligence, a subtle but fully trained hand, a gifted sense of taste both physical and imaginative, and a keen interest in research unite in this woman, one of the most well-balanced, enthusiastic, and egoless geniuses I've met anywhere.

Well, shucks, she might well say at this point, and what did she do for us tonight? We started with the green salad energized with broccoli flowerets, then went on to Anaheim peppers filled with salt cod brandade and served on a bed of pumpkin purée, lifted with discreet pimenton.

From there Lindsey moved on to quail, but I couldn't resist the local lamb chops, succulent, cooked just to the rare degree I wanted, again lifted with a generous but not overwhelming touch of smoky pimento, and surrounded by a bed of braised vegetables: carrot, sweet potato, onion, kale. I could have sworn I was in Spain. ¡Sabroso!

We had desserts, of course: gingerbread with apples and chestnut-honey ice cream for Lindsey, pecan torte served in thin slices, a sort of Spanish twist on panforte da Siena, with salt-caramel ice cream for me — a truly delicious, memorable dessert.
Champagne: Drappier, nonvintage (creamy bubbles, nicely dry); Bordeaux, Chateaux Chabiran,2008 (modest but fully achieved, opening well with the food); Zinfandel, Sausal Creek (Alexander Valley)
• New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, 2210 South Pacific Highway, Talent, Oregon; (541) 535-2779

Coq au vin

Oakland, November 17, 2011—

A PERFECT DINNER for a vertical tasting of Rhone wines and surely one of the Hundred Plates: coq au vin, rooster in wine. These days of course it's never a rooster, not unless you've been either farming or foraging. And come to think of it it's a long time since I've had capon, a favorite dish of mine. Ah well: we're lucky to get one of the sixty billion chickens they say occupy this planet at any given moment.

In any case, coq au vin it was, rich and succulent, preceded by a fine green salad with pecans, and followed by, first, four delicious cheeses, and then apple crisp with heavy cream; and it doesn't get much better. Thanks, John and Susan

Vieux Télégraph, 1985, 1989, 1995, 1999

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Eastside Road, November 16, 2011—
eggplant.jpgTODAY SHOULD HAVE BEEN a fast day, but a few things needed to be eaten, otherwise wasted; and people our age, born during the Great Depression, don't waste food if they can help it.

And, anyhow, it gives me a chance to report on one more recipe from My Calabria, by Rosetta Costantino, which I mentioned here two days ago. I set out one little eggplant too late last summer, and finally picked a half dozen fruits from it the other day; Costantino's book told me what to do with them: slice them lengthwise from the cap, left on to keep things together; blanch them quickly; then marinate them in wine vinegar and olive oil with mint, garlic, and red pepper.

I'm still learning this year's vinegar. It's quite powerful; I should really dilute it a bit, but I'm not sure how to go about that in a stable way. So this dish was pretty vinegary, but the flavor was good. Next time I'll use a little more mint, too.

The tomatoes were from Nancy Skall's garden. It's nearly Thanksgiving; it's odd to be eating tomatoes and eggplant; we don't complain.
Arneis, Tintero (Langhe), 2009

Supper in the café

Eastside Road, November 15, 2011—
AN EARLY SUPPER in the café tonight, as we'd driven down to Berkeley to see a performance of Stravinsky's Histoire du sold at.
There I ate:
Roman-style endive with anchovy, garlic, and egg
Liberty Farm duck leg braised with prunes and red wine; with turnip purée,
carrots, and rosemary

After yesterday's fantasy on Calabrian themes it felt like we'd driven north: first to Rome, as the menu stated, for that delicious salad, whose anchovy was just the right balance — and recalled yesterday's anchovy-stuffed peppers. And then up toward Austria, perhaps, for a braise that nodded toward winter but recalled that it was still, after all, a pleasantly warm day. The rosemary kept the dish grounded in das Land, wo die citrönen blühen, but the prunes, the duck, the turnips suggested Austria. (And by the way the purée was potatoes, not turnips; the turnips were slices of small roots, thankfully, and on the side.)
Chinon, a little tight and somewhat drab
• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.848.5525

Monday, November 14, 2011


Eastside Road, November 14, 2011—
Lagani.jpgI AM ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT a cookbook I bought last week: My Calabria, by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher. Of course I'm completely programmed to like it: it's by an Italian-born woman who grew up in Oakland, where her parents had settled after World War II, having brought not only their cuisine but their vegetable seeds with them. The family reminds me of Lindsey's father's family. It's about cooking from the garden, and from a peasant past.

Then too, the book's co-written by a woman I like a lot who worked her shifts at Chez Panisse. I think I recognize some of her input, but the book's more than that: the principal author's voice is present in every sentence.

I could hardly wait to cook from it, but I waited until today, when I tried four recipes. The heart of the meal was pasta, home-made pasta — nothing could have been easier: a cup of flour, a little more than a quarter-cup of water, some time, my two hands, and a rolling pin. Oh: and a sharp knife and a straightedge: you see the result at the left.

The vegetable was sweet Italian peppers, cooked so easily, but with such an interesting and delicious twist: you cut the stem and core out of the pepper, leave it whole, ribs and seeds still inside, put an anchovy inside, and fry it in olive oil, over high heat.

I strayed from Costantino's recipe for Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino, adapting it to the meal that was taking shape, and using the lagani I'd just made — a sort of fettucine — instead of spaghetti. No point in cleaning out the skillet I've just used for the peppers, I thought, and sliced a couple of cloves of garlic thin, and a couple of tiny sweet tomatoes, and the stipulated hot peppers into the same, sweet-pepper-and-anchovy flavored skillet, cooked them just a minute or two, and then put the cooked, drained lagani in the skillet.

Meanwhile Lindsey had cooked up some little carrots and spring onions (spring, in November?) that had from a neighbor's truck garden; that's what you see at the bottom of the plate. It was a delicious dinner, and the salad matched it: wild arugula from my garden, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Oh yes: I said I tried four recipes. The fourth was marinated eggplants. They're still marinating; maybe I can describe them tomorrow or next day…
Arneis, Tintero (Langhe), 2009 (a very favorite white, fresh, crisp, light-bodied but full of flavor)


Eastside Road, November 13, 2011—
barley pilafHULLED BARLEY with Brown Butter and Scallions, is what you see over there on the left; a recipe Lindsey clipped from the paper three years ago and has served before — a Marion Cunningham recipe, so it's double a favorite.

When I was a boy we bought rolled barley in 75-pound sacks. It looked very much like rolled oats, the sort you used to cook for oatmeal — Quaker Oats. It has quite a different taste and texture. We bought it for the pigs; it was my job to dump the barley into a big vat into which we also poured the surplus skim milk. (We sold the cream.) I never tasted the result, which we always referred to as "pig slop," but I did eat the occasional handful of barley, and always rather liked it.

Pearl barley goes into various soups. Beef and barley soup is a favorite of mine. But this is made with whole-grain barley, which also goes into our old dependable Bog-Man Cereal. Tonight's recipe makes a sort of barley pilaf, and the lightly browned butter gives it a nutty flavor that nicely complements the chopped scallions, which aren't cooked at all except by the retained heat of the barley, into which they're dumped — like barley into pig slop — just before serving. Delicious.

IMG_1258.jpgBefore the barley, as a first course, we had the very last, I'm sure of it this time, of Nancy Skall's lima beans, for this year I mean; I'm sure they'll be back in the market next year. Some pods have two or three rather huge beans inside, some only a couple of tiny ones, barely big enough to notice. They all cook together, so there's a nice range of textures. Even the big ones are delicate and tender. I'll miss them, these next few months…
Rosso da Monferrato, Tenuta la Pergola, 2009

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Salmon; frisée

Eastside Road, November 12, 2011—
IMG_1250.jpgPROBABLY THE NEXT-LAST salmon of the year — Lindsey bought two this morning; one's in the freezer. It was our last Farm Market in Healdsburg for the year; we'll be away next Saturday; then the market closes for the winter. Dave's salmon; Nancy's lima beans; the neighbor's tomatoes — we'll miss them; but we look forward to them next season.

IMG_1253.jpgIt was one of the last of our Meyer lemons, too — only three or four left on the tree; but lots of green ones for the next cycle. And the radishes are coming up; the new lettuces won't be far behind. Kale, too, and broccoli. And after our salmon we had a really delicious salad of frisée from a nearby farm, dressed with olive oil, garlic, salt, and lemon juice. Tomorrow we'll have arugula, and the puntarelle are flourishing…
Zinfandel, Sky Vineyards, 2007

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stuffed cabbage

Eastside Road, November 11, 2011—
Cabbage.jpgWHAT, STUFFED CABBAGE again? Didn't we just have that?

Well, yes, just a couple of weeks ago. But it's such a delicious thing, I thought I'd revisit it. This one was different, better in some respects, lesser in others. Here's how I made it: I browned some sausage and ground veal in goose fat, removed it, and browned chopped celery, carrots and leeks; then I combined all that with cooked short-grain rice, the core and some inner leaves of the cabbage, and a few leaves of chard, all chopped fine. I added an egg for the fun of it. Alas, I did not salt this sufficiently; nor did I flavor it with any herbs — next time I won't fail to add thyme.

I'd blanched the cabbage and deconstructed it; then, starting with the outside leaves, put it back together again, in a stainless-steel mixing bowl, interleaving the cabbage leaves with the stuffing mixture. (In the photo above, the operation isn't yet quite completed.) The finished cabbage — which I neglected to photograph, alas — completely filled the bowl, and I added veal stock up to its rim, then covered it with aluminum foil and baked it in the oven, not too hot, for an hour or so.

The finished cabbage turned out easily onto a platter and looked very nice indeed — I'm sorry I didn't think to take its picture; we just wanted to get on with our dinner. All it needed was a slice or two of bread on the side, but there was a little ice cream for a sundae afterward.

Zinfandel, Sky Vineyards (Napa), 2007: as definitive and true to varietal as Napa county can provide

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baked potato

Eastside Road, November 10, 2011—
potato.jpgWELL, ALMOST EVERY day; we skipped yesterday except for the coffee, toast, tea, and nuts. Maybe a little fruit: someone has to eat it.

And tonight we feasted on a baked potato. When we first started this fasting business, nearly a year ago, we ate a baked potato for dinner on the fast day: now we're happy to go without it when fasting, and feast on it the next day — especially when it's a 560-gram beauty like this one, bought Saturday at the Healdsburg Farm Market. The flesh was that perfect russet texture, not too mealy, and the flavor went deep.

I like my baked potato with just olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add beefsteak and lemon and you'd have Bistecca fiorentina with a potato on the side. Even without the beefsteak it's a meal, one of the Hundred Plates; and the green salad, with good old Eastside Zinfandel vinegar again, followed by a Bosc pear and a few figs from our trees, finished it off nicely.
Brouilly, Château Thivin, 2010 (soft, fruity, easy)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Baker's Dozen

Eastside Road, November 8, 2011—
ForeignCinema.jpgI'VE PROBABLY WRITTEN here before about Bakers Dozen — yes, here it is, just a year ago. The group comprises professional and amateur bakers, who meet to share ideas, resources, and enthusiasm about the various dimensions of baking. I always enjoy these meetings, partly for the information they offer — I always learn something — and even more for the reassurance they offer about the basic goodness and generosity of these women (and they are mostly women, though a number of men are just as committed to the organization.

The meetings are held at a favorite restaurant of ours, too, and lunch is always delicious. Today we had a mixed chicory salad with lemon-anchovy vinaigrette, a crisp pappadum, and grated Piave; then sesame-coated crisp-fried chicken with a cheddar biscuit and spiced kale set off by Moroccan honey. Dessert: a little chocolate pot de crème with a discreet pâte sablée cookie.

All around us dedicated professional and amateur cooks were polishing off their lunches; every plate I saw was perfectly bare when the meal was over. Everyone knew this was delicious. And what bravery, serving a biscuit to a company of bakers! (And it was as tender and perfect a biscuit as I've ever seen.)

• Foreign Cinema, 2534 Mission Street, San Francisco; tel. 415-648-7600

Monday, November 7, 2011


Eastside Road, November 7, 2011—
IT'S GONNA BE COLD tonight; there's a fire in the stove; let's have soup.
I minced a little bit of chorizo and browned it in olive oil in the stainless-steel pot, added an onion, a stalk of celery, and a couple of small carrots, all chopped up; browned them; then added a box of store-bought organic beef stock — later this winter I'll begin making my own. A handful of our own cannellini went in, too; they take a long time to cook, but they're so sweet and nutty. Then I chopped the stalks of eight or ten leaves of chard and threw them in, and added the chopped leaves late in the game, along with a tomato chopped up. Toast rubbed with raw garlic and drizzled with olive oil: a complete meal in a bowl.
Barbera d'Alba, La Loggia, 2010: smooth, too young, delicious.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Huevos rancheros

Eastside Road, November 6, 2011—
huevos.jpgOUT, UNCHARACTERISTICALLY, to brunch this morning, since sisters-in-law were visiting. A double cappuccino with a tablespoon of brandy in it, since there was no grappa at this bar; then a very fine version of a dish I particularly like: huevos rancheros. If the Hundred Plates were a hundred ten, it would be there. Maybe it should be anyhow.salmon.jpg

In this version the beans and rice formed a base for the slightly crisp tortillas; the poached eggs rested on top of those, with a tomato concassée, cilantro leaves — not chopped! — on top, and a spoonful of sour cream. The whole affair was pretty, nicely balanced, and delicious.

Dinner at home: salmon from yesterday's market, with the usual lima beans — I think there will be only one more market this year, and then we will look back fondly on these limas with a certain amount of regret. Sliced tomatoes, as you see; the green salad afterward.
Salice Salentino, Epicuro, 2007
• French Garden Restaurant & Bistro, 8050 Bodega Avenue Sebastopol; (707) 824-2030

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Birthday party

Coleman Valley Road, Occidental, November 5, 2011—
dinnerline.jpgA BIG PARTY for a special birthday of an old friend and colleague tonight, a blustery cold rainy night in the dark countryside, with a very warm assembly of friends in a barn out toward the coast. Since the venue was the Occidental Art and Ecology Center, you can be sure the food was tasty, nourishing, and politically correct — and local. We had: Spitfire roasted pork with applesauce from Llano Seco Ranch; Petaluma gold bean with rosemary from Tierra Vegetables; Roasted Hubbard and Kobocha squash with maple garden, Kale with olive oil, and mixed green salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette, from the OAEC garden; and blue green cornbread with Spring Hill butter, from Tierra. This was after the appetizers: deep-fried potato croquettes; prosciutto, apple and soft cheese on toast; radishes; canapés; with a glass of sparkling wine with a spoonful of elderberry syrup — delicious.

Had I given a toast I'd have said this: the other day someone asked me point-blank to list the three most important values to me: answer quick. Attentiveness, reflection, enjoyment, I responded, perhaps because subconsciously I was already thinking about the qualities this remarkable woman embodies. And she expresses those values in the Two Humble Virtues: generosity and gratitude. She'd invited eighty or so of us, and we ate and drank, talked and sang, danced and celebrated; for Community is at the heart of her great gifts to her world.
White, rosé, and red wines, mostly French and Spanish — too much going on to take notes!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cheese sandwiches

Eastside Road, November 4, 2011—
sandwich.jpgTHAT SANDWICH YESTERDAY was so tasty; why not have the same thing for dinner tonight?

This time I set the cast-iron griddle on the kitchen stove, straddling two burners. A few raw peppers, those little spherical ones, went on first, to roast and blister; and I laid out two or three Nardini we'd prepared a few days ago and had left over in the icebox, to let them warm up.

Lindsey shaved the last of the Gruyère and sliced some more onion to fill the sandwiches, and after putting a tiny bit of butter on the griddle they went on next. As you see, we had some radishes ready to go too.

After the sandwiches were done and the peppers ready and the griddle empty, I threw on a few little cubes of bacon and diced leftover stale bread, figuring they'd add nicely to the green salad. They did.
Vermentino, Epicuro (Lazio), 2010 (fruity, minerals, nice acid, refreshing)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grilled cheese; roast chicken

Eastside Road, November 3, 2011—
IT'S FEAST OR FAST around here, and since yesterday was fast, this must be feast. No fewer than two of the Hundred Plates today: for lunch, grilled cheese and onion sandwiches — Piave and Gruyère, on Como bread from Downtown, grilled on the griddle on the wood stove: for today was cold enough to light the first fire of the season. (It went down to 26° last night.)

Then a nice roast chicken for dinner. Friends arrived with armloads of vegetables, so we had oven-roasted potatoes — cut 'em up, put them in a roasting pan with a little olive oil in it, shake them around, sprinkle them with salt, pepper, rosemary. A garlic clove or two won't hurt.

And leeks and carrots, diced and cooked in a little butter and olive oil.

I salted the chicken, let it stand a few hours, then stabbed a lemon a few times and put it in the cavity, put rosemary branches and thyme branches under the skin on the breast and between the legs and wings and the body, sprinkled it with a little olive oil, and roasted it at about 400° for forty minutes or so. Delicious.

Dessert: ice cream sundaes with chocolate sauce, chopped nuts, whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry. Who could complain?
Rosé, Château du Rouet (Provence), 2010; Vermentino, Epicuro (Lazio), 2010; Côtes de Bordeaux, Château Grand Claret, 2009 (we had guests helping)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nearly Nothing

Eastside Road, November 2, 2012–

Two cups of coffee and a buttered English muffin this morning at the motel. Later, a macchiato at the Palo Alto café that no longer, alas, serves my favorite, Caffe il Doge. A small handful of nuts with the tea. Three small figs at bedtime.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cassoulet (revisionist)

Sunnyvale, November 1, 2011—
THAT SPLENDID WEATHER we've been having these last couple of weeks has turned chilly today, at least down here on the Peninsula, where a cool wind was blowing as we walked a block or so to dinner. So when the waiter mentioned a cassoulet among the daily specials my ears perked up. The Caesar salad I had as a first course was barely tolerable: tired pre-cut romaine, a little browned at some of the edges, and the faintest hint of anchovy — I think some folks wave an anchovy can in the general direction of salad, as others make a game of displaying the label of the Vermouth bottle to the Martini pitcher.
The cassoulet was off-standard, too, but not really substandard, just a little revisionist. In the first place, you can't really make a satisfactory cassoulet as a single serving — though I imagine this is ladled out of a big pot and finished, in its little ramekin, under the salamander.

The beans were good, if a tiny bit undercooked; I liked the addition of tomato coulis, accepted in some traditional quarters; the duck confit was pleasant if a little dry. It was odd to find chopped fennel in the dish, but it was fairly discreet. Chives, though, have no place at all in cassoulet. (Or in much else from the kitchen, far as I'm concerned.) Still, cassoulet is like baseball: bad cassoulet is better than no cassoulet at all. And this, don't get me wrong, wasn't really bad, not at all.
Cabernet Franc, 2009
•Saint Michael's Alley, 140 Homer Avenue, Palo Alto; (650) 326 2530