I was shocked to learn that a fire broke out at Chez Panisse yesterday (see also: SFGate, Berkeleyside), badly damaging the restaurant’s front porch and facade. Two weeks ago we ate there (for the first time) with Stephanie’s mom Chris, who was visiting from France. The restaurant is named after a character from a trilogy of French movies that the three of us had watched together. We were able to get a Saturday lunch reservation at the Café on short notice, which turned out to be a revelation—it was wonderful to emerge from our three-course meal into the broad daylight with a good part of the day still ahead. The food was impeccable, and it made for a fine conclusion to Chris’ stay.
I had intended to make soup. I ended up with puree. First I steamed two diced celeriacs, a bunch of very thin carrots, and two or three small potatoes (all from our veggie box). When everything was tender, I mashed them together with two cups of chicken stock, which I then attempted to thin, unsuccessfully, with another two cups of water; it seemed a shame to dilute it any further. I added the rest of some leftover sour cream and seasoned it with salt and pepper. After pureeing the mixture with a hand blender, I garnished it with some crumbled feta. Heady stuff, those celeriacs.
On Saturday we camped at Joseph D. Grant County Park east of San Jose with Casey and Kyle. It was probably the coldest weather we’ve ever camped in—I’m pretty sure it got below freezing during night. Inside my sleeping bag I was wearing wool socks with heating packets, jeans, boxers, a tshirt, a fleece pullover, a hoodie, a winter jacket, and fleece gloves! It was not the most technical garb, and I probably should have been better prepared, but we’d only planned to camp for a single night. We were down there because one of Kyle’s coworkers had invited us to help pick olives at his wife’s family’s home in the nearby countryside.
Pita chips, baby carrots, homemade mozzarella and hummus, saucisson, and cornichons for lunch on our back porch
In my case, I like to roast slices of eggplant and peppers in the oven, drizzled with olive oil, until they’re soft and brown. After letting them cool, I chop’em up and throw them into a pot to simmer with tomatoes (also chopped), herbes de Provence (or whatever fresh herbs I have on hand), salt, and a copious glug-glug-glug of olive oil. Cook until it’s done.