Thursday, May 31, 2012

Leftovers and doggy bags

Eastside Road, May 31, 2012—
DON'T TAKE A PICTURE of that, she ordered, so I didn't — or if I did, I'm not about to post it here. Yes, it was the last of the paella that she cooked, let's see, a week ago. With the addition of chicken this time — chicken from the box she brought home last night from Olive & Vine. Next time I'll make a half recipe, she says. I don't know: it still tasted good to me.
Sauvignon blanc, Preston of Dry Creek, 2010; Sirah-Syrah, Preston of Dry Creek, 2008

Steak and salad

Caesar salad.jpg
Glen Ellen, May 30, 2012—
WELL, ACTUALLY, it was salad and steak: in a restaurant it's almost impossible to have salad after the main course. Excuse me: the Savor. At this restaurant the courses are not First, Second, and Third; or Appetizers, Entrees; or Entrée, Plat principal. Here the menu falls into three categories: Nosh, Middles, Savor. The names put me off, of course: nothing sillier than self-deprecating cuteness. The dishes, too, in many cases, seemed overly complicated, with too many ingredients; and the service was oddly hesitant and slow. I ate my first course, for example, with the three-ring binder of a wine list awkwardly resting on my lap, the edge quite visible above the table, for lack of a place to put it; waitress and busser came by every now and then, but never offered to relieve me of it.

But it's a pleasant room; the chairs are comfortable; a party of four can converse easily. And the food was really quite good. I began with a revisionist Caesar salad: no raw egg for dressing, a thinned mayonnaise in its place, and torn butter lettuces, not leaves of romaine; and chunks of bread, not croutons; and only one whole anchovy: but plenty of anchovy and garlic flavor, and nice lettuce.

My beefsteak was grilled to exactly the rare degree I'd hoped for, served on a bed of beautifully sautéed baby artichokes, fingerling potatoes, and wild mushrooms, and napped with a buttery sauce that whispered something about marrow, probably deceptively. I was hungry: I'd walked fifteen miles earlier in the day. But it probably would have tasted as good even if I'd done nothing but sit in front of this computer.

The wine list is extensive and runs almost exclusively to California wines, most of them from the Sonoma Valley vicinity. I know virtually nothing about California wines, which I still find in general too alcoholic, to complicated, and too expensive; but I found a white I trusted, and a red that seemed promising, and both bottles suited the four of us perfectly:
"Cigare Blanc" (Roussane/Grenache blanc), Bonny Doon Vinyards, 2008 (dry but full of varietal character);
Zinfandel, Deux Amis (Healdsburg), 2007 (rich and deep but not overpowering — though high in alcohol: 14.8%)
• Olive & Vine, 14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, California; 707-996-9150

Monday, May 28, 2012


Eastside Road, May 28, 2012—
LOTS OF EATING today, which I justify to myself, reasoning that a ten-mile walk needs a certain amount of fuel. (I'm training for a long walk on Saturday; I'll let you know how that goes.) So after walking five miles to the neighboring town of Forestville to meet friends for lunch, and finding nothing there looking particularly promising, we drove to the next town for Mexican food. My huevos rancheros seemed a little bland to me, and Stefan said the same of his chiles rellenos, so even though it's a pretty little place, clean and full of colorful and interesting details to please the eye, and even though the food was nicely made and served with real heart, I don't know if we'll be back. Oh well.

And then back to Forestville, and walk the five miles home, where dinner: salmon, simply broiled, with lemon, and the last of the paella from the other night. And tomorrow we'll fast.
Bohemia at lunch; Sauvignon blanc, Preston of Dry Creek, 2010 for dinner
• Mexico Lindo, 9030 Graton Road, Graton, California

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Off the grill

Eastside Road, May 27, 2012—
A BEAUTIFUL DAY; a friend visiting; why not throw some wood and charcoal on the grill and open a bottle of rosé?

I cut four or five artichokes from the bushes, halved them, rubbed the cut surfaces with a cut lemon, and soaked them in brine for an hour or so; then coated them thinly with olive oil and put them on the grill first. Then followed some long thin green mild Italian peppers, whole. Then the sausages, as you see — from Franco Dunn, of course — and a few leaves of puntarelle from the garden, along with split baguette sections.

clafoutis.jpgLindsey'd made a delicious potato-and-onion salad, and afterward we had a delicious blueberry clafoutis-tarte Mary Jo had brought, along with coffee. Ah the good life…
Rosé, Guilhem (Pays d'Hérault), 2011

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Paella, embellished

Eastside Road, May 26, 2012—
SINCE MAKING PAELLA is after all not an inconsequential matter, Lindsey cannily made enough for three meals: we had the second installment today, with the addition of enough PEI mussels to bring us even closer to Barcelona. Bivalves are not crustacea, thank Neptune, and I eat them willingly, and they do add a nice layer to a pimenton-and-chicken-flavored paella. "Spanish rice," Mom used to call it: but that was merely ordinary rice with chopped bell pepper and onion cooked in it. Lindsey's paella is a world away from that.
Rosé, Guilhem (Pays d'Hérault), 2011


asparagus salad.jpg
Berkeley, California, May 25, 2012—
NOT YET TERRIBLY HUNGRY, and anyway not wanting to eat heavily before a concert, we ducked into a familiar place for salad and a pizza. The salad was interesting and rather good, involving lettuce and frisée, asparagus, a poached egg, and a mayonnaise dressing. I thought my "Molto Aglissimo" pizza a little blander than the description suggested — "roasted garlic, roasted green garlic, fresh chopped garlic, spring onion, parmesan, fontina" — but that was perhaps as well since we were after all going out into society afterward.
• Paisan, 2514 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley; (510) 649-1031

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Eastside Road, May 24, 2012—
GIVEN MY ENFORCED avoidance of crustacea, paella's a dish not generally enjoyed. This makes visits to Barcelona difficult, and is a recurring disappointment to the woman who shares my life — and who is incidentally The Chef hereabouts. (Though, looking back over things, we seem to have eaten at home rarely these last few weeks.)

Tonight she turned to Martha Stewart for inspiration, and the result was first-rate: I almost thought we were in Spain. I attribute this to the Spanish pimenton that we had on hand, thanks to The Spanish Table, a shop I love visiting when we're in Berkeley. Lightly smoked, this pimenton reminds me of hams hanging in cigaret smoke above the bars in Madrid or Sevilla — alas I haven't explored the ones in Barcelona, "Barcelona in the distance", as Gertrude Stein says…

With it, some raw red bell pepper strips to dip into salt; afterward, a nice garlicky green salad. My artichokes can wait until Saturday.
Rosé, Guilhem (Pays d'Hérault), 2011

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

General store

Eastside Road, May 22, 2012—
WE TAKE TOO MUCH for granted. That there are still joints like this, for example: a country bar, like the ones my dad used to spend too much time in on his way home from work, sixty years ago…

For us today, though, it was also a general store, more accurately a deli-sandwich joint, a place for Lindsey and three of her four sisters to grab a sandwich and a drink and sit with the dog under the roof in the shade on a hot windy day and contemplate the beauties of Dry Creek Valley. Truly we live in a marvelous corner.

Lindsey and I chose the Tuna Tapenade sandwich, on focaccia, a sandwich also involving a healthy amount of arugula. Afterward, a cookie and a coffee — Flying Goat; not bad.
Sauvignon blanc: Dry Creek Vineyards, nv
Dry Creek General Store, 3495 Cry Creek Road, Healdsburg; 707.433.4171

Home again

Eastside Road, May 21, 2012—
HOME, FINALLY, AFTER a long day: breakfast at an okay but not up to Potland standards coffee house (literally: a comfortable two-storey house fitted out with tables, comfortable chairs, and Stumptown coffee) in Eugene.

Lunch: that delicious jambon beurré — boiled ham on a thyme-buttered baguette — from Mix, in Ashland. And, long afterward, the exquisite salt-caramel tarte they make: not easily or gracefully eaten while driving!

Dinner: a "Provincial Pig" — a Provençal-style sausage – on a so-so bun at a new and trendy sausage specializer in Healdsburg, and for dessert a delicious Sazerac around the corner. Tomorrow, perhaps, we fast.
With the sausage: Côtes du Ventoux, "La Ferme Julien," 2010
•Vero Espresso, 205 E. 14th Ave., Eugene, Oregon; (541) 654-0504
• Mix, 57 Main St., Ashland, Oregon; 541.488.9885
• Wurst, 22 Matheson St., Healdsburg, California; (707) 395.0214
(Sazerac:)• Spoonbar, 219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg; 707.431.2202

Location:Eastside Rd,Windsor,United States

Sunday, May 20, 2012


May 20, 2012— WE DO LIKE this Eugene (Oregon) restaurant. We ate late this evening, having driven from Portland (there to attend the college graduation of yet another gifted grandchild), and ate in the bar: a fine arugula salad dressed with anchovies, and then this equally fine steak-frites. Comfort food. Martini; Chateau Cornas, 2007 Marché, 296 E. 5th Ave , Eugene, Oregon; 541-342-3612

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Grand aïoli

Portland, Oregon, May 19, 2012—
THERE ARE FEW greater pleasures, perhaps none, than sitting at the dinner table with all the children and grandchildren and now, even, the great-granddaughter. Well, tonight not quite all; the boy was missing, and his wife and three children. But you can't have all of them every time; I'm not really complaining. There were a dozen of us at the table, and we celebrated with an aïoli. Eric made the titular sauce, with lots of garlic; Pavel grilled the meat; Thérèse fixed the vegetables; we all sat around, swapped stories, dandled the baby, and generally had a truly fine time.
Nero bastardo, among other things…

Friday, May 18, 2012

Roast chicken

Portland, Oregon, May 18, 2012—
CERTAINLY ONE OF the great staple dishes: roast chicken. Giovanna had two of them ready, whole birds salted and onioned and ready to go in their enameled cast-iron casseroles, and she served them with roasted potatoes and garlic and carrots, and followed them with a green salad, and then, since it was Giovanna, some cake. What a pleasure.
Red wine; didn't notice. Sorry. Long day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Sammy

Medford, Oregon, May 17, 2012—

THE RASPBERRY IS NOT my favorite fruit: I suppose the fig is. Fruit in pastry is not my favorite dessert: I can't think what would be. But the Linzertorte is an exception to all generalizations: it is the Mozart of foods, or one of them anyway (and, like Mozart, Austrian: though here's another conundrum: Austria is surely far from the top of the list of indispensable nations).

What's the best possible plat principal to precede a Linzertorte? How about a couple of lamb chops, thick ones, local of course, perfectly grilled, pink inside, with a bit of marrow in the bone, served with spinach and orzo and mushrooms, and lightly flavored with Meyer lemon?

And before that, let's see, maybe a green salad dressed up with prosciutto and very lightly blanched apple and walnuts?

Oh yes: we're at one of the Five Restaurants, the irreducible Five, which would satisfy me for the rest of my life…
Champagne; Vouvray, Domaine Huet, 2010; St. Estèphe, Château le Crock, 2005
• New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, 2210 South Pacific Highway, Talent, Oregon; (541) 535-2779

Grilled Cheese

Eastside Road, May 16, 2012—

STILL LOOKING THROUGH Fortunatus tonight, readying for a short road trip to Portland and back, Lindsey decided on grilled cheese sandwiches. She butters the outside of slices of bread — pieces she's put down in the freezer from the ends of loaves — puts slices of decent cheddar between, and grills them in a black iron frying pan.

First, though, she's taken care to heat another frying pan, a little smaller. It goes on top of the sandwiches while they're grilling, smashing them down a bit and toasting the top while the bottom cooks. Ingenious.

With this, superb leeks and carrots; them a green salad; then a hot fudge sundae.
Viura, Marques de Montañana, nv.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hot Dog!

hot dog.jpg
Eastside Road, May 14, 2012—
LAST FRIDAY WE ATE a hamburger at a hamburger joint; tonight we had hot dogs at the ball game. Well, the televised ball game: Lindsey's beloved Chicago Cubs were on the Monday night broadcast, playing their rivals the St. Louis Cardinals, and we weren't about to miss it. Watching a ball game, the proper dinner menu is the classic American hot dog. For us, it's a Niman Ranch frankfurter on a Downtown Bakery bun, with Lou Preston's sauerkraut, sliced raw white onion, and a little commercial pickle relish and mustard. It's a relatively harmless vice, and we indulge it rarely.
Cheap Nero d'Avola

Sausage again

Eastside Road, May 13, 2012—
RUMMAGING ABOUT in Fortunatus's freezer Lindsey came up with a couple more of Franco Dunn's sausages, bought a few weeks ago, I suppose, at the Santa Rosa farm market — our refuge in the months the Healdsburg market is closed for the winter. (Thankfully, it's open again.) These were the Toulouse variety, and while I was happy enough to eat them grilled, with chard and barley pilaf, it made me a little sad to think that once again a winter has gone by without our making a cassoulet. These Toulouse sausages are perfect cassoulet ingredients. I hereby promise myself to make a cassoulet this next winter. Maybe more than one.
Cheap Nero d'Avola

Salmon again

Eastside Road, May 12, 2012—
SATURDAY: FARM MARKET in Healdsburg; and as I've mentioned before, Dave the fisherman is one of the "farmers," bringing catch of his own from off the Sonoma coast when he can, fish he's scored from reliable purveyors when he can't. Today, thankfully, he could, and we had delicious local wild salmon.

It is of course one of our favorite fish, but we're careful what salmon we eat. We're lucky to live on the Pacific coast: nothing wrong with wild salmon from Alaskan waters, or the Oregon coast. But of course we like to eat locally when we can, and there's no better salmon, I think, than our own. Lindsey just broils it, when I'm too lazy to build a fire outside; today we had it with chard from the garden, and another serving of the barley pilaf from a few days ago.
Côte de Brouilly, Château Thivin, 2008

Friday, May 11, 2012


Berkeley, May 11, 2012—
WE THOUGHT WE'D SPEND the afternoon on a sentimental walk around our old neighborhood, Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue — where we'd lived when we were first married, fifty-five years ago today. Much has changed, of course. It's much more densely populated, much more diverse, scruffier. The Piccolo Café has become the Mediterraneum, and that has declined somewhat over the years. Larry Blake's is gone, and the Black Sheep, and the Old Europe where we used to dawdle over a Viennese coffee. Art Music is a thing of the past, and Fraser's, and George Goode.

But Kip's is still there. It's not quite the same: the downstairs café is now a Chinese restaurant; the burger joint is upstairs where the pool tables used to be. And, of all things, a Chez Panisse alum, Jon Helquist, has been hired as a consultant. I'm not sure what he's accomplished; I don't think the votes are all yet counted.

We had a hamburger and a beer. The burgers used to be char-broiled; Kip's was one of the first places to do that; today's version seemed griddled to me, in the more conventional manner. It came on an okay rectangular Italian-style bun (I'm not sure what I mean by that), with grilled onions when we asked for them, a tomato slice, and lettuce; a rather nice green salad on the side.
IPA on draft
• Kip's Restaurant & Bar, 2439 Durant Avenue, Berkeley; 510.848.4340

Café lunch

Berkeley, May 10, 2012—
BACK TO THE CAFÉ for lunch today: delicious, of course. I began with this salad: frisée and cardoons with bits of sautéed pancetta, half a barely hard-cooked egg on the side — an interesting variation on a Salade lyonnaise, the added cardoon a welcome note. (And an instructive one, as we've cardoons in the garden to eat, and now I know what to do with them: strip the stems, strip the fibers, blanche them half an hour or so in well salted boiling water, slice them against the grain. I'll let you know how it works out.)

Afterward, bucatini — hollow small-bore spaghetti, I guess you'd call it — dressed with cauliflower, currants, pine nuts, hot pepper, pecorino, and saffron. A very Sicilian dish, seems to me, and a delicious one, which kept changing with every bite, first one note in the complex of ingredients taking precedence, then another.

For dessert, Pixie tangerines and Medjool dates. I do love a cappuccino with dates: Elective Affinity!
Sauvignon blanc, Cep Hopkins Ranch (Russian River Valley, and Hopkins a neighbor of ours), 2011 (very nice varietal characteristic, well balanced and fresh); Chardonnay, Domaine de Mouscaillo (Limoux), 2008
• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.548.5525

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sausage and barley

Eastside Road, May 9, 2012—
A COUPLE OF SAUSAGES from Franco tonight, courtesy our Fortunatus's freezer, which we will never see empty again, never in this life. These were "Italian" sausages, nicely spiced and herbed, and Lindsey simply put them under the broiler, concentrating most of her effort on a barley pilaf whose recipe she'd clipped from Martha Stewart Living — really not a recipe so much as a simple how-to-do-it, as it can obviously be tweaked according to what you have on hand.

What she had was marjoram from the garden, and Italian parsley, and lemon thyme; and I must say I do love the flavor of marjoram. (It always reminds me of my ’teen years, when I added Schillings's dried marjoram to cans of LeSueur "petits pois" peas, and felt very sophisticated indeed.)

Green salad afterward, with lemon juice in place of vinegar; and then another delicious strawberry shortcake, one of the Hundred Plates I think.
Côte de Brouilly, Château Thivin, 2008

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lunch al fresco

Lunch at Preston.jpg
Eastside Road, May 7, 2012—
NOTHING SIMPLER, NOTHING more pleasant than lunch with friends, under the sycamores at Preston of Dry Creek. It's my favorite winery around here in Sonoma county, and not only because Lou Preston's an old friend, and his wines are old friends too. It's my favorite because it's the homiest, the most authentic to its time and place; and because everything here seems honest and healthful — as well as delicious.

Lou decided quite a few years back to get out of the conventional California winery ratrace, with distributors and marketing and competitions and such driving the production, and instead to plunge deep into the traditions behind winemaking and grape-growing. And, ultimately, much more. He became one of the finest bread bakers I know, turning a limited production out from his Alan Scott-designed oven. He began growing his own wheat and rye. His organic gardens turned out so many cucumbers he took up pickling, soon mastering that technique and branching out further into fermentation in general.

Lately he's added livestock to the mix, pasturing chickens, sheep, and pigs on various corners of his acreage which by now is a very successful example of biodynamics, all based on a combination of climate and soils that represents one of the finest terroirs in the area — which means, as far as I'm concerned, in the world.

We arrived at the winery with only our traveling napkins and a pocket knife. The tasting room provided a wonderful loaf of Lou's bread; Nicasio Valley's soft, pungent Foggy Morning cheese; a coarse peppery salami made by Geyserville's Diavola Salumeria from one of Preston's pigs; a half pint of Lou's olives, cured in brine; and a bottle of his incomparable Madam Preston, a white Rhone-type blend of Rousanne, Vioginer, Grenache blanc, and Marsanne — look at that color in the photo!

• Preston of Dry Creek, 9282 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg; 707.433.3372

AFTER A LUNCH like that, not much of a dinner seemed necessary, especially in the enervating heat we've been enjoying lately. Lindsey'd only been able to finish half her chicken at Rocker Oysterfeller the other day, so we finished that, and a mess of chard from the garden, and called it a day.
Cheap Pinot grigio

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Salmon and shortcake

Eastside Road, May 6, 2012—
PERHAPS IT'S BECAUSE they both announce "Spring!," like the beginning of Schumann's B-flat symphony (It's always seemed odd to me that he put it in B-flat; I'd have chosen A major, or perhaps even E); perhaps it's just that they both begin with the letter "S". For whatever reason, salmon and strawberries seem to engage in some kind of conversation.

Yesterday was the opening of the Healdsburg Farm Market, the first of the season, and Dave the fish guy was there, and we bought salmon. Not local, I'm afraid; he said he went out in search of them, but they were hiding out, and the water was rough, and he came up short. So he had Oregon king salmon, nearly the same thing. Oh wait a minute, he said, that one Lindsey's chosen, that's from one of the ones he did manage to land. Local King salmon.

And this morning I'd driven into town to pick up the Sunday newspaper for Lindsey — she can't do without it — and as luck would have it there was a recipe that caught her eye, involving a "rub" of coriander, celery, poppy, and mustard seeds, along with black and white peppercorns, salt, sugat, and olive oil — and millet. What! I said, when she directed me to the recipe, Millet! To me millet is simply birdseed; I'm not happy at the thought of being made to eat millet. Well, she said, I didn't have any millet, I substituted quinoa. Now quinoa's not much better than millet, far as I'm concerned; in fact it has the added flaw of coming from the wrong hemisphere. I forgive potatoes, but I'm not ready to embrace quinoa, or kiwi either. But I digress.

The salmon turned out to be absolutely delicious. The thick crust of seeds protected its delicate flesh from the shock of cooking, and set off its creamy interior without masking the soft, elusive flavor of the fish. Lindsey put nice buttered favas on the side, and we had our usual green salad, dressed with lemon juice tonight instead of Eastside vinegar.

And then the dessert. It's no secret strawberries aren't my favorite fruit: but these, from the Central Valley, and though rather bigger than I usually think will convey any flavor or juices at all, were absolutely delicious. They'd been sitting out on a paper towel ever since yesterday afternoon; perhaps that helped push the flavor. They combined with the shortcake and the whipped cream magnificently. The recipe came from Lindsey's book, of course — if you don't have it, you really should get a copy, if only for this marvelous shortcake.
Cheap Pinot grigio

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bistro in the country

Occidental, California, May 5, 2012—
FRIENDS FROM HAWAII are visiting, staying in an inn out in the nearby village of Occidental; we drove out to see them today and dine once again in that town's bistro. Occidental was famous for decades for its old-fashioned "Italian" or "Basque" Sunday dinners, at the old Union and Occidental hotels, where you got soup, salad, roast beef or chicken, and ice cream, served out family style at long tables, and counted yourself lucky to be eating out. That was when I was a boy, in the 1950s.

Times are different, of course, and while that alternative may still be available — I'm not sure, and have lost interest — there's also a bistro in town. We stopped in a number of years ago but haven't been back until today. I had a huge butter lettuce salad, a whole lettuce to myself, soft and silky and fresh as paint, with a Green Goddess sort of dressing; and then steak-frites, hanger steak nicely grilled but woefully undersalted, with good equally unsalted fries and a nice tarragon-flavored but otherwise mild aïoli, and tasty buttery spinach on the side. Others shared a Tarte Tatin for dessert, with a puff-paste shell that seemed a little over-baked (and pre-baked, for that matter). Nice place, but infernally noisy.
Pinot noir, Radio-Coteau "Alberigi" (Russian River Valley), 2005(fine varietal, deep, rich, and mature; a little too alcoholic): thanks, Norman!
• Bistro des Copains, 3782 Bohemian Highway Occidental, California; (707) 874-2436

Friday, May 4, 2012

Southern comfort

Eastside Road, May 4, 2012—
OUT TO THE COAST with a couple of old friends this evening, there to try a place we've heard about for years — a New Orleansish place, full bar, big pleasant dining room, old vaguely Victorian farmhouse by the side of the road. A tavern, in fact; it even has rooms upstairs.

We had oysters on the half shell (even though we're four days out of months with "R's"), devilled eggs, green salads, and lamb shanks served with grilled asparagus and creamy grits. Desserts: beignets; crème brulée. The service was professional and friendly, and the cooking quite good. I'll be back one of these days.
Martini; Pinot noir, County Line (Sonoma coast), 2008
Rocker Oysterfeller's, 14415 Coast Highway 1, Valley Ford; 707.876.1983

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Eastside Road, May 3, 2012—
I'M SORRY I DIDN'T think of taking a photograph; they're such beautiful things, and this was the first one of the year. A big beautiful globe artichoke. I peeled the stem a bit, and cut the top off, and trimmed the leaves, and split it in half lengthwise, and then simply boiled it until tender in not too much water, with a weight on it to keep it under.

Meantime I cooked a green garlic pulled from another part of the garden — chopped it up and sautéed it in butter and a little olive oil. That got drizzled over the cooked artichoke. Lindsey had baked a couple of potatoes. With a green salad, that was a fine welcome to our spring garden…
Cheap Pinot grigio

Catching up


May 2 Wednesday: Chez Panisse
Berkeley, May 2, 2012—
THE WEEK'S MENUS look quite different: you can see there's been a slight shift in direction. There's a simple explanation: the May-November chef has taken over the downstairs kitchen. And it's a new May-November chef: David Tanis retired from the position, to take up new duties at the New York Times, and longtime ChezP cook Jérome Waag has stepped up to the plate.

We had to eat in a hurry, as we had an eight o'clock curtain to make. Too bad, because this was a springtime menu to linger over, starting with a truly delicious salad: Oregon King salmon, fava beans, and tiny fennel quarters, with fried capers and Meyer-lemon-and-shallot vinaigrette. Nice balance, fresh and pointed flavor.

Then cannelloni stuffed with chard, ricotta, and green garlic: an unusual dish, rustic in concept with a sophisticated technique, creamy and subtle.

Plat principal: spit-roasted porchetta, pork shoulder rolled around forcemeat, served with glazed carrots and onions in agrodolce — something FrancoItalian in the entire sequence of courses reminded me of a dinner years ago at the Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence. (Except that the dining room and service in Berkeley is much more comfortable, to my taste.)

Dessert: Almong meringata, almost a soft nougat, with tangerine gelato, garnished with sliced strawberries and kumquats — too bad we had to rush!
Fiano di Avellino, Ciro Picariello (Campania), 2009 (crisp and generous); Grignolino d'Asti, Cascina Tavijn (Piedmonte), 2008 (dry dry dry, a perfect chard wine); Rosso vigna, Paolo Bea (Umbria), 2007 (deep, rich, very sound)
• Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.548.5525

Leftover steak
Eastside Road, May 1, 2012—
SOME THINGS JUST get better with time: among them, the flatiron steak I'd grilled on Sunday. When we bought it, Saturday, at Café Rouge's butcher shop in Berkeley, I asked the counterman to salt it well before wrapping it up. The only other thing I did (other than grilling it over grapevine wood and mesquite charcoal) was squeeze half a Meyer lemon onto it, and drizzle a little olive oil on it, before slicing it into strips at serving time. Two days later it was even better, cold; tender and still juicy. (Maybe the previous day's fast helped make it so tasty.)