Archive for May 2003

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Asparagus with Egg Relish

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add 2 eggs and boil for about 12 minutes. Add washed, broken asparagus and boil for another 4 minutes or so. Drain and shock with cold water.

While this is going on,

Fry a spoonful of capers in olive oil in a medium pan until they open up into little flowers. Drain on paper towels and put in a bowl.

Toast a handful of pine nuts in a toaster oven set to medium darkness, one cycle, or until the nuts are brown. Remove the nuts and chop and add to the capers.

Gather about 4-5 heads of basil flowers and shred them into the bowl.

Grind black pepper in and add kosher salt.

Chop one clove garlic and cook briefly in olive oil, till fragrant but not brown. Add to the bowl.

Peel and coarsely chop the hard-boiled eggs and add them to the bowl. Add about a tablespoonful of olive oil and stir everything together. It should be somewhat moist.

Eat the asparagus with spoonfuls of the relish.

I also ate fried plantains and fried sliced Yukon Gold potatoes with this.


Written by orata

May 26, 2003 at 10:42 pm

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Some days echo with bliss: food and sun and laziness.

I woke late this morning, around 11, just missing the new Car Talk; I called Sarah and then I called Molly and we decided (it being too late to catch high tea in Pleasanton) to go to Toutatis in downtown Oakland (719 Washington at 7th St) for crepes. “Oakland is so depressing sometimes,” I said, and Molly agreed, saying, “I wonder if it was always this way? I mean, I remember as a kid thinking, ‘Oh, so that’s what a prostitute looks like’ but not feeling depressed by it.” We drove on past the empty dead sunny streets, the high-rise apartment buildings like the outskirts of Barcelona drained of all the people, the clean square grass yards, and she said “Maybe I just wouldn’t be depressed by it as a kid, but I’m depressed by it now.” Seventh and Washington was similarly empty, as downtown Oakland inevitably is on weekends. Toutatis inhabits the ground floor of a Victorian, just beside the Oakland Library bookstore (which was closed); when Molly and I walked in, we were the only two customers, although an older lady and her husband came in a little later and sat down. We were seated in the table by the front window. Maps of Brittany (St. Lo, Mont St. Michel, Cherbourg, Manche) and postcards of fishing village harbors and windswept stone cottages were pressed under the glass tabletop, and magazines were arranged on the bay window’s countertop–San Francisco Magazine’s Cheap Eats issue and Us Weekly and CFO and many others.

I got a Galette Provencale with cheese–tomato coulis (thick chunks of tomato, not the thin jam I was expecting from the coulis served in Thailand), onion, Kalamata olives (pitted, which Molly pointed out is extremely inauthentic), and rosemary-fragrant, crunchy dried herbes de Provence strewn over the top. The thin, lacy, buckwheat crepe was folded into a triangle whose crispy edges pointed off the edges of the plate, and cheese was melted between the layers, bumping the price up to $8 instead of $6.25 for the vegan version. In the center of the crepe the coulis and cheese melted the crepe into a mush and I understood why their menu specified that they would not package their crepes to go. I had an Orangina as well. Molly had a cafe au lait served in a big bowl with a marshmallowy cloud of white foam dolloped on top, and a dessert crepe with caramelized apples and whipped cream.

Although the staff was hurrying us along a bit, I decided to get a dessert crepe as well–mine was topped with whipped cream and napped with a homemade caramel sauce–thick, luscious, sweet and voluptuous, making my pitiful hazelnut brittle hang its head in shame. The crepe had considerably less presence than the savory galette (it basically served as a soft thin sponge for caramel sauce).

Afterwards, we walked around the empty streets of downtown Oakland, past an art gallery with birds and a big brown boxer-type dog lying amidst the sculptures, and discussed LA and whether Molly would go crazy from moving there, and the relative merits of conferences versus those of business trips. Chinatown was much more populated and we looked at the beautiful blue-glazed dishes and cheap woks and packages of almond jello and tins of curry sauce in the big store on the corner, and frozen durians and longans in boxes on the street.

We went to Elephant Pharmacy and I got a Chimp Mint to benefit the Jane Goodall foundation. It contained a trading card of a low-ranking but ambitious chimp named Mike, who would display using four empty kerosene cans when other chimps only had one.

We went to Molly’s and I ate walnuts and feta wrapped in mint leaves.

I came home and saw the Satsuki Arts festival at the Buddhist temple on Channing. Nothing of interest–fish prints with rubber fish were cool.

Made the following:

Line-caught wild salmon (2 fillets, $10.65, fillets costing $8.50 a pound): flesh so deeply colored it was still almost red when it was cooked, instead of anemic pink. I marinated it in white miso paste with a little soy sauce, sliced garlic, ginger powder, mirin, and bergamot juice. Scraped off the marinade and cooked the thick, wedge-shaped fillets skin-side down in the handleless nonstick frying pan at 500 degrees for about 20 minutes. The skin was blackened but tasty.

Purple asparagus (1 bunch) and 1 zucchini and 3 yellow sunburst squash. I cooked one white onion and 2 cloves garlic till soft, almost caramelized, then added a handful of pine nuts to toast in the pan and stirred in 2 spoonfuls of blackberry jam and a pat of butter to melt together. I added a little soy sauce and mirin. I added the veggies and stirred them to coat in the glaze and then cooked till crisp-tender and added salt and pepper.

Wild rice/brown rice mix. 2 cups rice, 4 cups water. Chewy but still a little too soft.

Meal greatly appreciated by all.

Written by orata

May 19, 2003 at 1:46 am

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Bergamot pots de creme with hazelnut brittle topping:

4 egg yolks

1 1/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Zest of one bergamot

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Simmer the cream with the bergamot zest and vanilla bean (scrape the seeds into the cream). Meanwhile, whisk the eggs together with the sugar. Remove the vanilla bean, add the vanilla extract, and pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk together and pour into 4 ramekins. Bake in a water bath, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Brittle = bad (too bitter and hard as a rock), but if you want to make it:

Toast 1/2 cup hazelnuts and rub off the skins while still warm. Chop coarsely and divide over the tops of the custard cups.

Mix 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water and boil until the sugar caramelizes. Pour over the nuts. Chill till caramel hardens.

Hit caramel with hammer until it breaks and try to suck the custard off the rock-hard pieces of nut brittle.

Written by orata

May 17, 2003 at 1:15 pm

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lemon cream pasta:

chop garlic, saute in butter, add heavy cream, add lemon zest, simmer and reduce, add mint leaves, nutmeg, thyme, lemon juice, salt, pepper.

boil fresh fettucine with asparagus and peas.


Written by orata

May 7, 2003 at 4:11 pm

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Friday, May 2, 2003 A Menu For Peace

Ruby grapefruit and wild fennel salad, $8.25

Star Route Farm Little Gems with beets and green goddess dressing, $8.50

Willey Farm cucumbers with spring onions, anchovies, and olives, $7.75

Full Belly Farm asparagus with pickled artichokes, rosemary, and egg, $8.75

Half Moon Bay sand dab baked in the wood oven with sweet onions,

pine nuts, raisins, and bay, $11.00

Pizzetta with tomato sauce, Monterey Bay squid, and aïoli, $14.00

Garden lettuce salad, $6.75

Baked Sonoma goat cheese with Viki’s lettuces $8.75

Spring onion and green garlic soup with farro and herbs, $6.75

Fedellini pasta with morel mushrooms, peas, crème fraîche, and mint, $17.00

Local king salmon with spinach, sorrel, Bintje potatoes, and rosé butter, $18.00

Grilled Niman Ranch pork loin with snap peas, little turnips, orange zest, and sage, $18.50

Pan-fried Hoffman Farm chicken breast with caper salsa and celery root-rocket salad, $17.00

Pizza with wild nettles and pecorino, $17.00

Crostata di Perrella with goat cheese, mozzarella, prosciutto, garlic, and herbs, $17.00

Side orders: a plate of olives, anchovies, Parmesan, or Tuscan olive oil, $3.50 each


Artisan cheese selection:Pleasant Ridge Reserve, St. Pat, and Ouray, $8.50

Rhubarb galette with muscat ice cream, $8.75

Bittersweet chocolate-almond torte with Cognac cream, $8.50

Cardamom coffee caramel custard with chocolate wafers, $6.25

Strawberry-orange sherbet with gingersnaps, $6.00

Candied Meyer lemon ice cream with ossi dei morti, $6.25

Jim Churchill’s Pixie tangerines and Black Sphinx dates, $6.50

Service charge: 15 percent Sales tax: 8 1/4 percent

Corkage: $20 per bottle, limit two (750 ml.) per table.

Most of our produce and meat comes from farms and ranches that practice ecologically sound agriculture.

The Café now accepts advance reservations one month ahead to the calendar date.

Please refrain from cellular phone use within the café and restaurant.

Also a very fruity glass of a 2002 Sauvignon Blanc from Cheverny in the Loire Valley (Domaine du Salvard?), and French roast coffee.

Written by orata

May 2, 2003 at 5:07 pm

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