Tuesday, May 29, 2007

chez panisse, the update

Monday night dinner at Chez Panisse downstairs.

We started off with almonds and olives. As usual, my mother suggested I try olives. On my last SF vacation, I tried olives at least twice, and grimaced each time. Since then, I've tried other olives--and had tried them again twice this weekend--but these were olives I found myself unable to stop eating. They were slightly warm, slicked with oil and salt, and tasted like good olive oil had solidified and grown strangely shaped pits. We ate our way through the helping of olives and then we ate more. They brought bread (Acme, of course). First course was a warm onion tart with a little salad of microgreens and egg, pancetta for my mother's but not on mine, mild flavors but very fresh. I think you'd like the pancetta, she said.

I don't eat bacon. But I've been thinking about it, I replied. I remember enjoying bacon, especially dipped in maple syrup. It's been on my mind, lately, bacon, and it's one of the only meat products I actually have a taste memory of. Probably because I keep accidentally eating it.

The second course was chicken with morels and hand-cut pappardelle with peas and spinach. I'd like to hope they make their own pasta, rather than cut the pappardelle from strips as Sonsie used to do. Being Chez Panisse, I'm sure this is the case (although I was surprised to lean my lovely olives were sourced from Provence via NYC, rather than locally). They look like little brains,I said, and my mother warned me. I proceeded to eat every scrap on my plate, from the perfectly moist chicken (perfect chicken #3, and again something that inspired me to make perfect chicken, though of course I wouldn't know where to start). What I liked about the morels was that they lacked that slippery mushroom texture that gets gummy in my mouth. And then I began thinking of getting some ramps, peas or fiddleheads and morels from the mushroom store at the FB, and learning to cook.

Finally, (and thank heavens it wasn't plain fruit with dessert) bing cherries in syrup with toasted almond ice cream. An unsightly, not-great S shaped cookie garnished the dessert. But everything else was perfect. Down to the half bottle of A. Rafanelli Zin we shared in homage to last August's trip to Healdsburg (and SF, before it became my new home).

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