Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chez Panisse

I was going to post on this tomorrow, but somebody woke me up multiple times tonight asking for juice and now I can't fall back asleep.

Ahem, but tonight's dinner at Chez Panisse included the following:

Local albacore tuna antipasto with shell beans, romano beans, and fennel

Green tortellini in new garlic brodo

Grilled Wolf Ranch quail with sweet corn fritters and peperonata

White peaches with prosecco gelee and red wine-raspberry granita

Overall it was splendid. The tuna was fine but the real star of that course was the orange cherry tomato, so sweet and tangy. The fennel was very subtle. As for the ricotta-filled tortellini, I haven't had pasta that good since Anna Klinger's beet-filled ravioli. And the brodo (broth) was ambrosial. I kept dipping my nose into the bowl just to smell. It was a prime example of why people bother to make a good, homemade stock. (Just a few days ago I used some old, boxed broth I found at the back of the refrigerator for a sauce and it nearly ruined the dish. What a difference.)

The quail was crisp and delectable, if just a wee bit on the mushy side of tender. I loved the little corn fritters and have decided I need to try and learn how to make some of my own. The sauteed red peppers with onion were succulent without being slimy.

Best of all was the dessert. It came with a little paper banner reading "Happy Anniversary" (they ask at the beginning of your meal if this is a special occasion) and a twist-stick pastry. I went through a raspberry phase in high school and ever since then I won't go near them -- I turned 19 and found them too tart, I guess. But paired with red wine (and a lot of sugar) I found a new appreciation for them. And prosecco jello? I would like jello a lot better if it were always made with wine. I wonder if they made the gelee from scratch -- as in, from a calf's hoof -- or from powdered gelatin. Is there another way to make it?

Last of all they sweetened the bill with chocolates with almond and plum jellies. And by the way, to this New Yorker it was a pretty small bill for what we got. I can't believe they're not charging more -- but then, that's probably not Alice's way.

Dress code, in case you're wondering (I was before we left) is what you could call California smart casual, or maybe haute granola. A few people really dressed up while others arrived looking like they were at a picnic in the park (indeed!). Skirt and blouse for women, maybe a wrap dress or a favorite silk blouse over pants, with nice-ish sandals will do. Silver/glass/semiprecious stone jewelry. Don't go Dynasty here. Lane wore a good shirt with a suit jacket and jeans, and that seemed just perfect.


hippittee said...

haute granola -- did you coin that yourself? if so, you may want to copyright that one!!

i'll get to chez panisse someday...but in the mean time, lovely to hear your description of the evening.

btw - what did you wear to dinner - or perhaps that's a different blog :-)

Lindsey said...

Thanks for the report. I've been waiting to hear all about this. If we ever get there....

I still need to make reservations for Stone Barns. Which was better in your opinion--CP or SB? I mean, I know we're talking Alice Waters and being in CA, and all. I'm just wondering how they compare.

Kara said...

Oh, oh, oh. This all sounds so delectable.

I wish I weren't having pizza for dinner...

Luisa Perkins said...

Happy Birthday! So glad you got to celebrate at Alice's.

Adriana Velez said...

I was happy I got to make the pilgrimage to Slow Foods Mecca. I'm a real foodie, now, righ?

It's hard to tell which is better, CP or Blue Hill (remember, I went to the manhattan, not SB). CP is distinctly Californian. The room is a bit crunchier than BH, though still elegant. I think I liked the food just a bit better at BH, though. Don't tell Alice!

I wore one of those t-shirts with short, puffed sleeves (have them in a few colors and wear them every day, my uniform) over a muslin A-line skirt with an abscract flower embroidered on it and my new perfect sandals -- brown wedges with peep toes small enough that I don't have to have my toenails painted. Was that too much information?

I'm afraid if I had a clothing blog I would have to call it haute granola.

Janet M Kincaid said...

I'm ashamed to confess: In the eight years I lived in California, I never ate at Chez Panisse. That confessed, though, I will say that Alice Waters' revolutionary ideas behind sustainable gardening and wholesome cooking certainly influenced my own palatte and love of cooking. I miss the inspiration that just oozes out the Golden State and makes for good meals....

There's a restaurant in St. Helena (Napa) that is supposed to be AMAZING as well. The French Laundry. And one in Inverness (Point Reyes) called Mankas. That last one had a pretty devastating fire a year or so ago, but perhaps they've rebuilt and reopened... In fact, the night of said fire, Jake and Maggie Gylenhall were staying at the Mankas Inn. Apparently Jake helped fight the fire. Anyway... just more suggestions.