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Archive for August 10th, 2009

It’s been nice hearing from all of you, good friends, from Berkeley, in the past few days, especially after getting an official notice telling me my email account was being closed.  Is that some desperate attempt at cost-cutting on the part of the university?  

I have such good memories of Berkeley, and these memories tend to focus on food and walks.

Running down the hill this morning made me think about another regular route I used to take all the way down a steep hill, and then back up.  Not the one to campus, no.  The one to the Cheese Board and to Peets.  Especially during Jack’s first year, I had the need to walk a lot.  Sometimes I’d walk with Bea and our boys in the strollers all the way down the streets and paths to Solano Ave., to Thousand Oaks School, where they had a tot playground with lots of castoff Little Tikes toys.  Most days I’d walk by myself, with Jack strapped in the Ergo on my back, down Euclid, the Vine Lane path, and Vine, to Peets for a latte and across Shattuck Ave. for a corn cherry scone:  the yummiest, most comfort-foody cornmeal drop scone full of dried slightly sour bing cherries. No other scone has ever measured up.

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Pane e Salute

A meal at this osteria is a total immersion experience.  It was a celebration for us, so we went all out, from the delicate prosecco to the late-night liqueurs: with wine pairings, sopressata, chanterelles and homemade papardelle, wild sockeye salmon, sour cherry cake, and espresso in between.   Everything about the restaurant is an expression of the passion Deirdre and Caleb, the owners, have for food and the kind of hospitality they’ve experienced in Italy.  They wanted to transport not only the recipes and cooking methods home with them, but also the culture of food.  They gave us a good taste of all three last night, during our long meal.  It was all wonderful, but the highlights for me were the antipasti (sopressata, fresh mozzarella dressed with a little olive oil, a crostini with chicken liver pate); the olive oil served with the aperitivo, which tasted like fresh olives and greenery; the chanterelles and pasta, which melted on my tongue; and the wine pairings, which were certainly the most thrilling experiences my palate has had in a long time.   The standouts were, with the antipasti, a blend in the Alsatian gewürztraminer style made by the winery Lincoln Peak in… yes… Vermont; with the chanterelles, “Delfino della Contessa” (the—whimsical and rich—countess’s dolphin), a blend of riesling, chardonnay, and some others, which was bright and full of surprises; and with the salmon, Rainoldo Roso del Valtellino, a medium-bodied red made with the nebbiolo grape, which didn’t overpower the fish with fruit but held its own alongside the walnut-pinenut-basil pesto.

Certainly the most interesting part of the meal, aside from the company of my husband after several weeks apart, was the last part.  Deirdre, in her perfectly natural yet both eccentric and sophisticated grace, brought over two cordial glasses containing two liqueurs she had made herself.  One was dark, and tasted of walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and ginger.  The other was the color of iced tea, but was a combination of two mints, lemongrass, stinging nettle, and lavender.  I look forward to reading her new book, Libation.

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