Eastside Road, March 2, 2013—JUST LOOK AT THIS fabulous last bit of my blood-orange salad! Lindsey peels them with a knife, slices them fairly thin, and tosses them with sliced white onion, adding a few drops of olive oil to the mixture. That, and a few grains of salt, is all there is to it, and it's one of the glories of the table, one of the Hundred Plates.
That was dinner Thursday night, otherwise a dinner of leftovers — both the main dish, macaroni and cheese, and the wines, little bottle-ends of white, rosé, and red. A day of gustatory repose, you might say; and today will be another; we may well even fast, so well did we eat yesterday.
Too well, perhaps, and certainly too much. Lunch in San Francisco with a couple of friends, one on the mend from a recent indisposition, and looking much better than we'd expected. A celebratory meal, then, at the pleasant communal table where you feel you're in the bosom of family even though your neighbors are in fact perfect strangers.
(Perfectly sociable, though; the solitary woman on my left conversing pleasantly about shared menu orders; the fellow at the end apologizing, as he leaves the table, for not having had an opportunity to converse at length. I'd never seen him before.)
Here I lunched on a complex, nicely integrated, very interesting dish: trofie in a chicken ragù with pancetta, cabbage, very faint hints of caraway and paprika, crème fraîche, overstrewn with parsley. Eastern European, as the menu had promised; more specifically, Austro-Hungarian, and delicious. Before it, a cup of bracing beef-based soup; afterward, a slice of this magnificent
Côtes du Rhône, Dauvergne Ranvier, 2010 (well balanced though Viognier-dominated, very attractive); Brouilly, Domaine Ruet, 2007 (forthcoming, mature)• Boulette's Larder, 1 Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco; (415) 399-1155
DINNER WAS AT another friend's restaurant, a new one, opened only six weeks ago, previously unvisited by us. It was full of energy, dark, vivacious, boldly and beautifully decorated, the walls, furnishings, menu, service, and above all cuisine grounded in total authenticity, everything as appealing, attractive, and engaging as anyone could ask.
Here we fairly feasted: pickled sardines with artichokes, fava leaves, and pea sprouts; patatas bravas; baby octopus with pork belly, black truffles, and butternut squash; duck liver paté with wild arugula and toast; sweet house-made botifarra sausage with gigante beans and braised greens, and, perhaps my favorite, sweet Piemontese beef tartare, beautifully mixed with egg, capers, and onion, and served with shoestring pimenton potatoes.
Dessert? But of course! I had a fine rich soft chocolate torte, with mocha-flavored crème anglaise and "candied coffee" ice cream; Lindsey had apple-huckleberry crumble with fried almond streusel; Grace made do with a fine, authentic "flan tradicional." Everything here seems authentically tradicional, but equally in the moment, our moment.
I can't overemphasize the pleasures of this table, this restaurant. Here at last our friend Paul Canales, formerly chef at Oliveto, has found the perfect expression of his many enthusiasms. The food is fun, nourishing, vital; and so is everything about the setting in which it's served.
Gamay, Andrew Lane, 2011 (friendly and unassertive)• Duende, 468 19th Street, Oakland; 510-893-0174