Lots of food photos this week. Tuesday, I got to eat lunch at Chez Panisse and Thursday I got to take a food tour of the Gourmet Ghetto, a small area in Berkeley where there is lots of terrific food.
Mecca. I met Tracy and Allison there. We had a lovely lunch, the space is so pretty and we had terrific service. I have to say, I was underwhelmed by the food. I know it is simple, I was ready for simple. I like simple. Nothing was bad, just not what I imaged Chez Panisse would be.
Pizza with wild mushrooms and gremolata. The mushrooms were stellar, the rest was, um, underwhelming.
The best part about lunch, aside from the lovely company, was a jar of these of these candied citrus peels. I don’t think I would ever had had the patience to make them myself, so I am grateful to have them!
A soup of my own creation – so good I made it twice. I know I owe you LOADS of recipes but this one will be first up.
I also sautéed up a big batch of tofu. Tip – use extra firm, marinate in tamari (or other soy sauce) for about an hour. Dry fry in a non-stick pan, taking care to keep turning the tofu so it browns on (almost) all sides. If you think tofu is mushy or flavorless, try it this way.
I went on a Gourmet Ghetto tour with Edible Excursions and the amazing Sarah was my leader. The Gourmet Ghetto is a small few blocks radius area in North Berkeley around Chez Panisse. Many restaurants and food shops have sprung up around there in the years that Alice Waters has been changing America’s ideas about food. The tour was a really nice mix of old traditional places and new start ups and we had many many good bites. I was incredibly full by the end and had learned a lot. The above photo is of an amazing chocolate tasting at Alegio Chocolate. We had lots of samples but I was blown away by their simple 70% chocolate which only contains cacao and sugar. We tasted it alongside another “premium” chocolate that has vanilla extract in their chocolate and, after Alegio’s, the competitor tasted like perfume.
I like ice cream as much as the next person but it surprised me that the best thing I ate all day was the gelato at Lush Gelato. We got to taste as many flavors as we wanted and then got a cup to take outside with us. I tasted every chocolate flavor (because tastes don’t count, right?), then settled on the chocolate orange sorbet and the apple sorbet. I was totally blown away by the chocolate sorbet – incredibly creamy and very subtle orange flavor.
Potato Puffs. Think fried mashed potato balls with a tartar sauce like dip. Crazy good and addictive.
This is the sign at the Cheeseboard Collective. Those are all cheese that are available on a given day. That place is amazing and inspiring. It features a pizza everyday (one that people wait in line for), as well as terrific baked goods. We got to taste their sourdough and it was super sour and crisp. I bought English muffins to take home and some of their pizza dough because, as easy as it is to make your own dough, it’s even easier to buy it. My boys Freaked Out about the muffins. They are amazing.
The pizza that day. Mushrooms, ricotta salata, scallions, sesame oil. Doesn’t sound like it should work but it did beautifully. Much better than the pizza I had at Chez Panisse.
One of our favorite holiday traditions when we lived in Seattle, was to go to our friends Jenn and Jos’s house. The decorated their beautiful house with incredible gusto and good taste. They always strung these little mittens across their fireplace and I was enchanted by them. Each year, I would ask where they got them and each year I would forget to buy them. Jenn and Jos came to visit us about a month ago and they brought us our very own mittens. I was so touched. Each one is filled with a little gift and the boys have LOVED opening them. See San Francisco in the background?
I knew I was missing Cheryl’s cookbook on my bookshelf. I didn’t know that I was also missing all of these other ones. Turns out they were all partying together in a forgotten box but are now in their rightful place.