Monday, July 2, 2012

Chez Panisse: At Last

This weekend we traveled to the Bay Area in an attempt to enjoy at least one real day of summer. We started our trip at Berkeley Bowl, the most amazing grocery store I have ever seen in my life. By the end of our exploration, we were joking about driving 1.5 hours every week just to do our grocery shopping at this place! I mean, look how many kinds of cucumbers alone the produce section carries:

Need squash or eggplant? Talk about having a variety to choose from:

When it came to yogurt, I haven't seen this kind of a selection since I was in France. I discovered the most amazing small-batch, French-style yogurt called St. Benoit. Produced in Sonoma, it tastes like a cross between yogurt, custard, and manna. I even found out that they carry this product at the Sacramento Natural Food Co-Op, so I can find it locally. Hooray!

For lunch, we fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine by eating at Chez Panisse Cafe. As I walked under the wooden sign into the wonderfully atmostpheric restaurant, I blissfully sighed, "I'm here, Alice!" (Waters, that is.)

The menu changes every day here, according to what is in season and at its best.

Our meal began with a crusty, hearty wedge of artisan bread and yellow, creamy butter.

Here is what my husband ordered Devil's Gulch Fried Rabbit, served over amaranth greens, sweet corn, and green tomatillos. He said that if everyone could make rabbit this delicious, it would be eaten much more commonly in America.

And here was my selection: Romanesco de Peix, a bowl of squid, mussels, clams, and shrimp cooked in a tomato-leek broth. It was simply perfection.
Finally, I couldn't resist dessert, especially since I desperately wanted to compare the apricot galette with the version I make using the Chez Panisse recipe - just to see how close I come in replicating the taste. Result? Because their galette is cooked in a wood-fired oven, the top gets a bit blacker and the bottom a bit browner and crisper, but other than that, it's definitely the same recipe - and a wonderful one.

Finally, we ended our trip with a stop at Stinson Beach. The smell of eucalyptus and fog and sea air always stirs something deep and moving inside of me. When the clouds quickly blew away, the sun was surprisingly hot and we moved on to exploring a little bookshop in town. It was a wonderful memory for this quickly fleeting summer of ours.


  1. I have heard epic stories about Berkeley Bowl. I think you should make it at least a monthly trip! And ending it all at the beach is just perfect.

  2. Wow! Glad you had an amazing time!


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