Eastside Road, March 16, 2014—THURSDAY NIGHT we dined at home, a simple and relatively quick meal both in preparation and in destruction: one of Franco's Greek sausages, sweet and spicy, with lots of coriander; broccoli steamed with a little crushed garlic; sautéed potatoes.
Rouge, "La Ferme Julien" (Rhone valley), 2012: French, ordinary, dependable
Friday night we were in a local restaurant we'd never been to before and will likely never be to again — a throwback to an earlier age, with waiters in white jackets with gold-braided epaulettes, an enormous dining room, display cases full of movie memorabilia, and an officious and compulsive view of table service. Oh well: after sampling a fontina-and-prosciutto tart ordered by someone else, with its spray of good small-leaf arugula, I had a Caesar Salad with a real anchovy on top of the chopped romaine, then the beefsteak you'll find below — an enormous serving of meat on a bed of obligatory old-fashioned restaurant vegetables, with a tiny dollop of sun-dried tomato sauce. The beef was not very good — corn-fed, I'm sure, heavy, and oddly devoid of flavor. But the wines!
Blanc Fumé de Pouilly, Domaine Didier Dagueneau (Loire), 2010 (soft, smooth, ingratiating); Montlouis sur Loire "Les Choisilles", François Chidaine, 2010 (serious, almost assertive, complex); Red blend (Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah), "Eleanor," Coppola (dull and confused); Beaune, Domaine de Montille, 2007 (full, mature, fruit and terroir)• Rustic, 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville; (707) 857-1400
Yesterday we lunched at a "new" spot in town, in fact just a year old, where I enjoyed a hearts-of-artichoke platter with pecorino, lots of variously treated olives, and prosciutto.
Viognier/Sauvignon blanc blend, Preston of Dry Creek, 2012 (crisp and sound, but an uneasy cépage to my way of thinking• Healdsburg Shed, 25 North Street, Healdsburg; 707-431-7433
And then last night we were at home again, thankfully, and Cook worked from this back-of-an-envelope recipe involving a tomato sauce with onion, garlic, mirepoix, basil and bay, butter and olive oil; and the pasta is tossed with tuna, capers, grated lemon peel, and chopped parsley, and the result is pungent and fresh, velvety and substantial.
White wine, "Paso a Paso" (Spain), nv (pleasant, undistinguished)
One of the reasons I record these experiences at the table is my enjoyment of the considered life, the pleasure of contemplation in retrospect. I often think about the scale of time and attention.
I think that unless we consider the matter directly we think of a meal in terms of the time it takes to eat it, of a book in terms of the time it takes to read it. Writing a book, like cooking a meal, can be complex, considered, informed by skills and awareness that have taken years to consider — or can be tossed off as quickly as technology and thoughtlessness allow. A good bottle of wine contains grapes, soil, climate, years of personal experience and centuries of geography. It's only right to spend a few minutes contemplating all this, and basking in the gratitude it draws out of us…
Rather nice cheese-prosciutto tart…
…and dumb beefsteak at Rustic
Great tuna-sauce pasta at home