Eastside Road, August 28, 2012—WE MOSTLY SKIPPED EATING yesterday, even though it was Monday, not the usual Tuesday fast, because today is Tuesday, and the 28th; and Chez Panisse opened its doors on August 28, forty-one years ago. An extraordinary thing to contemplate.
There was a birthday dinner celebration, of course, a benefit for the Edible Schoolyard; a chance to have a good dinner while dropping a bundle into tax-deductible charity. So we fell into line, and were happy to do it: particularly as we were joined imprévu by an old acquaintance, a constant close friend of the restaurant, who had shown up with a bottle of '71 Bordeaux for Alice, and was rewarded with… dinner and our company.
You see the menu over there to the left. The apéritif was fried breaded olives, little brandade puff-paste barquettes, grilled Nardello pepper strips, anchovies. The tomato salad involved cucumber, haricots verts, shell beans, and garden herbs in a soft vinaigrette, and was truly delicious.
Alas for me, the soupe de poissons included lobster; no way to avoid it. I was perfectly content with a deep, rich soupe à pistou in its place; and the grilled squab, with a marvelous gratin Dauphinois and its mesclun salad, was memorable.
Glaces: mulberry ice cream, plum sherbet, and white peach sherbet; bonbons: chocolate truffles; candied citrus; chocolate-dipped pistachios; calissons; fruit jellies… by now, hard to keep things in focus…
Cremant with white peach; Rosé: Bandol, 2011; Gigondas: "Terrasse du Diable" Les Paillière, 2009 (stern but fruity, austere); Château Latour à Pomerol, 1971 (apt, mature, sumptuous, precise; and thank you, Duke!)• Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.848.5525