The Most Ornate Tomato

July 18, 2017

There are many strange things about this recipe from the May, 1978 issue of Gourmet.  For one thing, why on earth do they have a tomato recipe in an article entitled “Spring Vegetables”?  When was the last time you saw a tomato worth eating in May?

But it is also the most convoluted way to deal with a lovely ripe tomato I can possible imagine. So ornate, in fact, that I can hardly wait to try it.

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Menus from 1980

July 17, 2017

This is the menu I stole after a lunch in 1980, at Cecilia Chiang’s elegant Mandarin Restaurant in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square.

And speaking of The Mandarin, if you have not seen Wayne Wang’s beautiful movie about owner Cecilia Chiang (still going strong at 97), don’t miss  Soul of a Banquet.

Meanwhile, across the Bay in Marin, I was reviewing Maurice et Charles Bistrot.  It was less fun than it had been when the irrepressible Robert Charles was on hand, but by then he’d decamped to Truckee to open La Vieille Maison.  I got to know him while writing a story about the garlic cult: I  accompanied filmmaker Les Blank to Truckee where he was shooting a scene ( Bruce Aidells leaning into a garlic massage at the restaurant), for Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers.

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Old Menus from 1983

July 16, 2017

Came upon an old folder filled with menus from when I was a California critic.  I’ll be posting them over the next few days.  This one, from The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg caught my eye.  Marcel Desaulniers (despite his name, he’s an American-born chef), has since sold the restaurant. But he remains famous for, among other things, a cake called Death by Chocolate. (It was not on the menu in 1983.)

With its three Michelin stars, Meadowood is now a much more exalted restaurant than it was in 1983.  But it’s always been good – it was always a favored place for local winemakers to take clients to dinner  – and is still one of the dreamier places to stay in the Napa Valley.

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