Friday, November 30, 2012

The rest of the soup

Eastside Road, November 30, 2012—
YES, THE REST of the soup, nothing more but a few sticks of celery, nothing less. We're still a bit off our feed. But we don't complain.

Red table wine, "Guadagni," Preston of Dry Creek, 2011

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chicken sandwich; boeuf daube

Eastside Road, November 29, 2012—
LUNCH TODAY: cold chicken sliced off the Thanksgiving carcass (the rest of which went into a soup pot), on toasted Como bread from the bakery. Nothing else: no butter; no watercress; no parsley. Just toasted white bread and cold chicken, a marriage made in heaven.

Then dinner at a Breton-oriented bistro in town, where the prix fixe menu was a bargain: a "shot" of good hot hearty mushroom soup; a green salad whose beets weren't all that bad; a piece of beef brisket stewed en daube accompanied by decent mashed potatoes; a small chocolate profiterole. The beef was Spartan, I thought, innocent of carrot and turnip — I'll have to make a real Provençal version one of these nights soon.

Picpoul De Pinet, 2011 (soft and engaging); Bordeaux, Alexandre Sirech, 2008 (a little austere and wooden)
• Bistro 29, 620 Fifth Street, Santa Rosa, California; (707) 546-2929

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Meal from a box

Eastside Road, November 28, 2012—
WE DO THIS SO RARELY that I don't really feel much reason to apologize: eat a factory-made meal of some kind. There's this line of organic soups and stocks you can get here and there, packaged under more than one label. I'm not sold on the stocks, though I admit we keep a box or two of chicken stock on hand for emergency purposes — I'll try to do better about that now the weather's colder and roast chicken is a more logical choice for dinner every ten days or so.

Among the soups, though, we do rather like the tomato-red pepper. I heated up a box tonight, adding a box of water to the thick concentrate, and the penne in tomato sauce left over from Saturday, which I notice I forgot to blog. Well, we're still in a bit of a fog here from the last month of travel, and the flight back, and the wretched colds we've come down with.

Tomorrow that chicken carcass, from Thanksgiving Day, goes on the stove for chicken soup. That should do it!

Mourvèdre, Preston of Dry Creek, 2009: tangy, rich, very dark, fine.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Eastside Road, November 26, 2012—
I WON'T PRETEND we didn't lunch well: the garden salad you see here, and then a particularly nice pizzetta involving artichokes, nettles, onions, fried rosemary, and cheese. Oh: and date caramel ice cream, deep and mysterious.

• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley 510.548.5525

But then tonight's dinner! Sure, it was simply the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, but every aspect of the dinner had gained in depth in the four days between. Stuffing; mashed potatoes and gravy; Brussels sprouts and chestnuts — all seemed deeper and richer. The roast chicken, eaten cold, had firmer, toothier texture; the cranberry sauce was bright and flavorful. And then another green salad…
Cheap Pinot grigio

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Español, mas o menos

Eastside Road, November 25, 2012—
A LITTLE LUNCH today, since we found ourselves with an odd hour and an old friend (in fact a sister-in-law) on our hands, and there's this new place in town, and why not.

Tapas is the nature of this new place, and the first item on the menu is Fermin Jamon Ibérico: why go further? But fortunately the ladies did: Lindsey ordered Bacalao fitters, which came with orange-infused aïoli and a little parsley salad; and Susan went for chorizo braised in cider served with Padron peppers. We shared, and we enjoyed. We'll return.
Manzanilla, Osborne
Bravas, , 420 Center Street, Healdsburg; 707.433.7700

Dinner remained somewhat in the Spanish mold at a meat-and-potatoes place an hour's drive south, where we met a couple of friends who'd made a similar drive from the east. I like the place, with reservations. It's comfortable, the ingredients are good, the technique solid, the service knowledgable and low-key; but the menu holds few surprises and the wine list, while fairly extensive and enterprising, seems to lack corners I'd expect. Still; and Oh well.

I had a nice though revisionist Caesar salad, with a hardboiled duck egg instead of the necessary raw egg dressing, and boquerones instead of proper anchovies, and lettuce instead of romaine. But still a nice salad.

Then John C. and I split a forty-ounce rib-eye steak, which came with roast potatoes and three sauces (horseradish cream, Bearnaise, "jus"), and was cooked exactly to specification, and had a fine dry-aged texture. First-rate, I thought. A little creamed spinach gratin on the side, with a hint of nutmeg.
Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillans, Domaine Barat, 2010 (tight and acid at first, but nice though light on opening later); Barbarescco, Cantina Sociale dei Produttori, 2007 (modest but nicely handled and a good fit with the steak)
El Paseo, , 17 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, California; 415.388.0741

Friday, November 23, 2012

The comfort of the familiar

Eastside Road, November 23, 2012—
A FOUR-MILE WALK with a couple of friends, then an unexpected invitation to dinner in their house — a very pleasant way to wind down from yesterday's feast. Our hostess dredged some boneless pork chops in flour, then seared them in butter and olive oil, seasoning them with salt and pepper and offering some mustard sauce alongside. Delicious.

With them, as you see, Brussels sprouts and roast potatoes, and afterward a most interesting and delicious combination of flavors involving chocolate with chili pepper, licorice tea, and the last glass of Zinfandel. There's always something new, and it's nearly always a great pleasure.
Rosé, then Sangiovese, then Zinfandel, Hook and Ladder (Russian River), 2010 (very sound, well balanced, well made, with good finishes)

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Eastside Road, November 22, 2012—
FAST YESTERDAY, FEAST TODAY. And why not: it's Thanksgiving Day, and Lindsey knocked herself out, partly for me I'm sure, partly for herself and for Us, partly for the tradition. It was just the two of us, for the first time in a number of years, I think. (I'm not sure. It should be easy to check, but the Internet is slow here at home.)

Here's what we had, after an exceptional Martini (what the hell, it's a holiday). We had celery, olives, and pickles; we had stuffing, mashed potatoes, and Brussels sprouts with chestnuts; we had roast chicken with gravy. I must say I prefer a good roast chicken to turkey, any day of the week, Thanksgiving included. I like goose, Guinea fowl, and chicken. I particularly like capon, but it's years since I've seen one. Tonight's chicken was local, organic, politically correct, and dead. We lost no time rinsing it, salting it, and roasting it according to Judy Rodgers's instructions in her fine book.

We had tasty butterflake dinner rolls from Gayle's Bakery in Capitola. They survived the trip perfectly well. We had cranberry sauce, molded in the nice heart-shaped mold Dominique gave us so many years ago.

Afterward, a particularly nice pumpkin pie. Lindsey did not buy the crust frozen at the Downtown Bakery, though that would have been perfectly fine; after all it's more or less her recipe. Instead she made it here, at home, out of ingredients.

We ate by candlelight, and we remembered to be thankful for our family near and far, for our friends living and dead, for the food we ate and the work and expertise that brought it to table. You can ask for no more. We are indeed blessed.
Chardonnay, Mazzocco "Stuhmuller" (Alexander Valley), 2007: well balanced, good varietal, more fruit than oak: almost enough to revise my opinion of California Chardonnays

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Home again

Eastside Road, November 20, 2012—
FINALLY HOME AGAIN, after three weeks away. The principal meal of the day was on the road, though, and you see it in the photo: grilled sliced beef with cauliflower gratin, Brussels sprouts, mustard and horseradish: a fine meal on a looking-forward-to-winter afternoon. That left us wanting nothing more for dinner than a plate of steamed romanesco and some peanut butter on toasted raisin-nut-rye bread from Gayle's Bakery, whose bread we do indeed love.
Zinfandel, "Chez Panisse," Green & Red Vineyards, 2010 (it's nice to be home!)
• Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria, 504 Bay Ave Capitola, California; 831.462.1200• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; 510.548.5525

Monday, November 19, 2012

On the road

Monterey, California, November 19, 2012—
A LONG BEAUTIFUL DRIVE today up California's remarkable central coast. We started in Ojai, then stopped for lunch at an old-fashioned steakhouse curiously, almost despairingly reconstituted in one of those enormous shopping-center "malls" built in the optimistic urban-renewal 1980s and '90s: but the grilled ham and Swiss was good (though on innocuous white bread), with house-made cole slaw involving apples, cabbage, and onions in a watery mayonnaise, and a really fine dill pickle.

• Shaw's Steakhouse and Tavern, 714 South Broadway, Santa Maria, California; (805) 925-5862

Then on up the dramatic coast, watching the sun set off to our left, and into the old state capital Monterey for a cheap motel and a worthwhile bistro. Here I warmed up with a Martini (left over from last Friday, when one wasn't available, as I recall) and a couple of little artichoke-risotto fritters; then a variant on a Salade Lyonnaise: but with butter lettuces, bacon, a fried egg (not a poached one, but gently and subtly fried). Not bad; not bad at all.Eggsalad
Syrah, Copain, "L'hiver," 2008 (somewhat spoiled by lacquer-thinner ester on the nose)
• Montrio Bistro, 414 Calle Principal Monterey; (831) 648-8880

Pork chops ma façon

McKee Street, Ojai, California, November 18, 2012—
AFTER A DAY DINING in an Airbus, about which there's not really much to be said, we finally landed at LAX and claimed our luggage, had a decent cappuccino at Intelligentsia, and then drove to Ojai to spend the night with friends. But we didn't arrive empty-handed. We stopped off to buy pork chops, potatoes, a couple of bottles of wine, and a couple of necessary items we weren't sure would be on hand: garlic and a lemon.

They were on hand, of course; no friends of ours are likely to be without garlic, and these two grow citrus fruits. Oh well.

I crushed a tablespoon of fennel seeds and a teaspoon of black peppercorns, using a wine-bottle and the breadboard for mortar and pestle — a very good substitute, by the way, not that they didn't have a couple of those on hand as well, as it turned out. I added a microplane grated zest of the lemon and moistened it all with a little white wine.

After oiling the chops, which had been salted as soon as we got them through the door, then allowed to stand an hour or so, I rubbed in the fennel seed mixture. These got pan-fried for a few minutes, first quite hot to sear the surfaces, then turned down and covered. Meanwhile Lindsey had roasted fingerling potatoes with a few cloves of raw unpeeled garlic and rosemary in the oven. A green salad after, and you have a perfect meal.
Pinot grigio, Fat Cat (Napa), 2011 (could have been better: slightly corked); Red table wine, southern France, forget the label, doesn't matter…

Last Australian dinner

Warranwood, Victoria, November 17, 2012—
THERE'S NO DOUBT about it: Australia is a carnivorous country, and if this offends you, you're at the wrong webpage. It was a foregone conclusion that our last meal in this Melbourne suburb, where my kid brother presides over a huge family involving four daughters, four sons-in-law from four different countries, and six grandchildren.

That first supper, so long ago, was this mixed grill. Tonight, after that fabulous Polish midday supper, hardly anything seemed necessary, but damned if we didn't do it again: steaks, both lamb and beef; sausages; pork chops; all cooked over wood, and served with a big green salad, and afterward French pastries bought at a Cambodian specialist in them… And tomorrow we'll eat in the airplane.
Various red Australian wines, to be sure.

In the Polish manner

Mount Evenlyn, Victoria, November 17, 2012—
TO THE HOME of the groom's parents for lunch today, a very festive and I thought rather formal affair. Bride and groom are honeymooning in Bali, as seems appropriate; this was the first family tête-à-tête since the wedding, a week ago, and Lindsey and I were there too, as visiting aunt and uncle of the bride.

Australia is a cosmopolitan nation, having welcomed a good many expatriates in the last few decades — my brother among them. And Melbourne is a sophisticated city. The groom's parents immigrated a number of years ago from Poland, looking for a better future than that country could offer back in the 1980s. They've done well, and enjoy an enviable life-style that includes a good cellar and a way with their country's cuisine.

We began with appetizers: sausage, cheese, pickled vegetables, and glasses of Mumm's. Then we moved inside for the proper meal. Marc smoked that salmon himself, very lightly: it was delicate and delicious. The cole slaw involved carrot, cabbage, and onions; the whiter slaw was a marvelous combination of apples and leeks, raw, tossed in a light mayonnaise. Potatoes with scallions round out the plate as you see it; they're cooked in a light vinegary stock — a warm potato salad, no doubt, but, again, light and summery, as befits the season.
Macon blanc, Louis Jadot, 2006; Chardonnay, Ardèche, 2006

Friday, November 16, 2012


Hill Court, Warranwood, Victoria, November 16, 2012—
NEXT-TO-LAST DINNER here in Australia for a long while, I think, a bittersweet occasion. We ate at home, and Lindsey made Aunt Victoria's antipasto, which doesn't photograph well, I'm afraid. Here's the recipe: a jar of mixed pickled vegetables, often called "giardinera"; a couple of cans of good tuna; enough tomato paste to bind the whole. The longer it sits, within reason, the better, of course. What else you see here: lentils left over from the other day; tarulli; part of a dinner roll. There was also cheese, and lettuce leaves.

Afterward, fettucini dressed with Parmesan and olive oil and black pepper; and then some very good chocolate ice cream. If I think of it tomorrow, I'll let you know the brand name…
Unsatisfactory wines: a Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Coli, 2010, slightly corked; a red wine, "Brunswick Street," nv, soapy and sweet, reminding me of Famiglia Cribari from the old days. Well, in fairness, a little bit of Shiraz/Cabernet, Rosemount Estate, 2010: much nicer.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Croydon, Victoria, November 15, 2012—
THAI TONIGHT: six of us around the table, ultimately noisy enough, I'm afraid, getting to know one another, that we outlasted all the others in this small friendly strip-mall restaurant. I had three or four delicious Toon tong: puff-pastry parcels, as the menu said, filled with minced chicken and vegetables, flavored with garlic, coriander, and paprika — Thai ravioli, I suppose, dipped into a little cup of sauce.

Then Pad pet ped yang, pieces of duck with cabbage, boo chou, onion, carrot, snow peas, and who knows what flavorings, very savory in its unctuous brown sauce. Really a delicious dinner; I'd go back to this place any time if it were a little closer to home.
Chardonnay:Banrock Station, 2011 (crisp, some acid); Kellybrook, Yarra Valley, 2010 (sound with good varietal, not too full); Sauvignon blanc/Semillon: Four Sisters, Victoria, 2011 (nice balance and flavors)
• Thai Chaiyo Restaurant, 24a/16 Hewish Road, Croydon; (03) 9723 1889

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Hill Court, Warranwood, November 14, 2012—
DINNER AT HOME again tonight. Lindsey cooked up a mess of lentils, with carrot and chopped pickles and capers and scallions and a mustard vinaigrette. With them, Swiss chard from the garden — John calls it "silverbeet." Afterward, apricots John "bottled" (we call it "canned") last summer: delicious, and reminding me of the fruit our mother used to put up, over sixty years ago…
Shiraz/Cabernet, Penfolds, Koonung Hill, 2010

Leg of lamb

Warranwood, Victoria, November 13, 2012—
A COUPLE OF GUESTS to dinner tonight: what to cook? Well, we're in one of the lamb capitals of the world, why not a roast leg of lamb?

In truth it's one of my favorite meals, and I can't think when we last cooked a leg of lamb. I asked the butcher to butterfly it, and in less than two minutes it was done, beautifully. At home, I ground garlic, salt, and rosemary in a mortar and pestle, moistened the result with white wine, and spread it on the butterflied lamb, which I'd previously salted and moistened with olive oil.

Then I rolled it back up, held the flaps in place with skewers and twine, and roasted it, in a quite hot oven at first for half an hour or so, the at a reduced temperature. We just put it on the shelf above a black iron skillet that had Dutch Creamer potatoes in it, with a few sprigs of rosemary and some unpeeled cloves of garlic. As the lamb roasted, fat dripped down onto the roasting potatoes.

In an hour so it was all ready to eat. Lindsey cooked up some green beans with fried chopped shallots, and we had a nice green salad from the garden — rocket and lettuces, dressed with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Apple crisp for dessert. Why do we ever go to restaurants?
Semillon/Sauvignon blanc/Viognier, Jacob's Creek "Three Vines," 2010 (a nice full fairly crisp blend); Durif, Deen De Bortoli "Vat 1," 2010 (new to me, full and rich but not over-alcoholic, good match to the lamb)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Flounder by the bay

Warranwood, Victoria, November 12, 2012—
IN THE MOOD for fish, we drove out to the bay for lunch: for me, this plate of fried flounder, with as you see mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and carrots, and a great deal of butter. On the side, "bruschetta" — in fact a small pizza bianca with tomatoes concassée — and an order of French fries. And then a small ice cream cone!
Pinot grigio, Oxford Landing Estates, 2010
• Sophia, Frankston Pier, Frankston, Victoria; 9701 3334

Day after wedding brunch

Steak eggs
Yarra Valley, Victoria, November 11, 2012—
YESTERDAY, THE DAY AFTER the wedding, we brunched at a Yarra Valley winery, the scene of the bridal couple's first date, some years ago. Fearing I'd never eat again, I ordered steak and eggs. They came with a layer of boiled ham between, so in fact I had a breadless uitsmijter, with plenty of Béarnaise sauce — and, why not, an order of delicious toast on the side, since this place has a fine on-site bakery as well.

• Bella Vedere Winery,874 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream, Victoria;(03) 5962 6161

BACK HOME AGAIN we were content to pick lettuces and roquette from the garden, dress them with olive oil and lemon juice, and have that with some mortadella and cabana (a dry cooked sausage new to me, a little like a mild chorizo) and good bread, and a bottle or two of Pinot grigio.

Wedding day

Healesville, Victoria, November 10, 2012—
THE BIG DAY finally at hand, we feasted on Viennoiserie at home for breakfast. Then the women got to work making bouquets, braiding hair, and putting finishing touches to frocks while the men strained into their suits, and we drove out to the wine countryside for the wedding.

The first reception involved cucumber sandwiches and sparkling wine in a park on a glorious afternoon. That was followed by another, with canapés and (in my case) Pinot grigio; and then a three-course dinner at the hotel restaurant: smoked local trout on a Niçoise salad with tarragon and lemon aïoli; roast lamb and confit of lamb shoulder with roasted fennel caponata and olives; hazelnut and pear tart with honey ice cream. I thought that for a small country hotel, serving perhaps eighty guests simultaneously, the dinner was remarkably good — but the circumstances were so splendid almost anything would have been fabulous.
Riesling; Cabernet sauvignon; sorry, didn't get the details
• Healesville Hotel, 256 Maroondah Highway, Healesville 3777, Victoria; 03 5962 4002 Couple

Friday, November 9, 2012

All'italiana; alla giapponese

Melbourne, November 9, 2012—
AN AFTERNOON SPENT exploring the city began with lunch, of course, in a small special place my brother John had recommended: "You can't do better," the volunteer at the tourist information desk agreed. Lindsey liked her gnocchi ordered plain, with butter; I tucked into this slightly revisionist spaghetti alla carbonara — a judicious sprinkling of chopped scallions had been folded in with the egg, pancetta, and cheese. Otherwise it was quite as it would be in Rome, and, hey, when in Melbourne…
Pinot grigio
• Waiters Restaurant, 20 Meyers Place Melbourne; (03)9650 1508
BACK IN OUR COMFORTABLE temporary suburban home in Warranwood, John's wife Mel had furthered her campaign to seduce me to the pleasures of the Japanese table. Just look at her prep!
SoupMushrooms, carrot, leek, scallions, Savoy cabbage — all to be made into a delicious soup with mirin, soy sauce, a bit of butter I think, and who knows what else flavoring the broth. Added, to poach exactly the right amount of time: little cubes of yellowtail, fresh from the Australian seas. I am persuaded.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Warranwood, Victoria, November 8, 2012—
VEGETABLES FROM THE GARDEN tonight. Well, not all from our garden, my brother's garden I mean, but some. But the artichokes were, and they were delicious, big globe chokes, steamed and eaten with mayonnaise. Then we had a mixed sauté: Savoy cabbage and leeks from the market, peas from the garden. Simple and tasty.
Sauvignon blanc, "Upside Down," Marlborough (New Zealand), 2012: grassy, fresh, crisp

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Flathead en papillote

Warranwood, Victoria; November 7, 2012—
FISH TONIGHT: a variety new to me, "flathead," a dry firm white fish something like a perch, I think. Mel cooked it en papillote, dotting it with butter, garnishing with scallions and a bit of ginger, moistening it with sake, and wrapping it in parchment to bake in the oven. Delicious.

On the side, rice cooked with spices and currants; coriander and sour cream; mangos. Also delicious.
Sauvignon blanc, Yellowtail, 2010

Mixed grill

Warranwood, Victoria; November 6, 2012—
MY BROTHER IS A GENEROUS man, and his dinner welcoming us to an Australian visit was copious. Twelve or fourteen of us were at table, as his daughters and their families are close. Plenty of sausage, chops, and steaks were on the grill over a wood fire; various of the women had prepared salads, many from greens picked on premise. Dessert: A fine apricot upside-down cake. Good bread, good meat, good god, let's eat, was the prevailing mood, and the result the best dinner you can have.Table
Shiraz, One Road (Australia), 2010

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lunch al fresco

La Crescenta, November 4, 2012—

LUNCH AT THE HOME of a couple of friends today, a friendship going back thirty years to early days at Chez Panisse. They've long since moved to southern California, but we forgive them since they're still in the business — on the supply side, farming and baking. We had a plate of sliced cheese and salumi, a delicious tossed salad, and a beet salad I actually liked — even though in principle I loathe the chthonic beet. These were roasted, peeled, sliced, and marinated in a delicious vinaigrette along with a few carrots treated similarly, and a fair amount of torn mint leaves were involved as well. Delicious.
Quincy, Laporte "Les Niorles," 2010: true to type, crisp, refreshing

Tapas, sort of

North Hollywood, November 3, 2012—

A LIGHT MIDDAY SUPPER today, since we have two plays to take in before bedtime. The lady in the box office recommended this place, calling it a tapas place. Not quite, but I see what she means.

My green salad was huge and tasty: chopped frisée and arugula, cotija and Mahon, pasilla and pepitas, and plenty of salt. Afterward, their version of a grilled ham and cheese: Mahon again — I do like that cheese — with ham, of course, and pickled jalapeños, on a toasted baguette, with beet and yam chips on the side. Crème catalan for dessert.
Sangria, then a Lustau oloroso
• Bow and Truss, 11122 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; 818-985-8787

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Salad and soup

Pasadena, November 2, 2012—
WE RATHER LIKED this place last time we came, and it's just re-opened after a three-month renovation, so we thought it would be fun to check it out again. The menu's changed: a few "small plates" have been added, and a new wood-fired oven makes pizzette and Alsatian tarts possible.

I started with a revisionist Caesar salad (a term I find myself typing increasingly often), the romaine chopped, the anchovies white boquerones, and including artichoke hearts — good, but no Caesar, not in my book. And then this curious "Wedding Soup" which seemed somehow Polish to me: a nicely executed velouté with generous chunks of white sausage, bits of red pepper and tomato, black kale, and an egg whisked in — something new to me, and very pleasant. Dessert: a truly revisionist Tarte Tatin, baked in an individual cocotte, with vanilla ice cream and salt-caramel sauce.
Verdejo, Medino del Campo, Valiadolid (Spain), 2010; Sangiovese, Mazzoni "Rosso," Tuscany, 2009
• Bisro 45, 45 South Mentor Avenue, Pasadena; (626) 795-2478

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An old favorite

Los Angeles, November 1, 2012—
NO PHOTO TONIGHT: it was just too dark, and I can't bring myself to use a flash in a restaurant — it's bad enough to be taking pictures. And it's too bad, too, because the dinner was fairly photogenic, though it tasted even better than it looked.

This was the first and remains, I think, the flagship restaurant of Suzanne Goin, whose credits include three of my favorite restaurants: Al Forno in Providence, the now lamented Campanile which we helped close last night here in Los Angeles, and Chez Panisse. Lucques has been joined by two other Goin rests, AOC — which I like though it is small plates, a format I find not entirely to my taste — and Tavern, which we haven't yet visited.

I started tonight with a revisionist Caesar salad: lettuces with anchovy dressing, torn croutons, parmesan and sieved egg. And then on to the kind of main course I really love: braised beef short ribs with swiss chard, roasted cippolini and horseradish cream — not English, not French, not really Italian though leaning in that direction except, perhaps, for the horseradish. In any case, a fine substantial dish.

The chocolate tart with mascarpone and pistachios was very pretty to see and full of flavor but the pastry tasted a bit of the refrigerator, I thought; a small flaw in an otherwise first-rate dinner. Oh well.
An interesting list here, though not given to inexpensive bottles. We had a delicious dry Vouvray, Pierre et Catherine Breton "La Dilettante," 2009; and then with my beef I had a glass of good sound Syrah.
• Lucques, 8474 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, California; 323-655-6277

Shutting down

Los Angeles, October 31, 2012—
MIXED EMOTIONS TIME: the closing of a restaurant we've enjoyed for years, owned and run by a man we respect. Mark Peel was surprised when we turned up at the closing-night party. In fact, he didn't recognize us: we were masked like all the guests at this open-bar party. It was a nice party: I talked to Craig, who thinks LA is a fine place, and who is into fashion; and to Antonio Palma, from Nuoro, who is trying to come to terms with the English language, and to a few others, and ate my fill of canapés: what we used to call lunch meat, and bocadillos, and tapas, and cicchetti, and so on — pickled green beans, little slices of bread, cubes of cheese, mortadella, salami, little meat balls, pieces of fruit…
a Martini; rosé: Something Moon (Provence), 2011; sparkling Vouvray
• Campanile, 624 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles