Thursday, August 30, 2007

melons and peppers

HAAAAA, the eating of melons.....In France, the reverence goes to the famous "melon de cavaillon" a little town of Provence. It is prized for its unique fragrance and heady taste, and the juicy-ness of its flesh. But I love all melons.My father, a lover of melons himself,would choose carefully his melons by the famous thumb pressure at the stem, and the ritual sniffing at he other end to inhale its sweetness.Ripe ? yes, perfect, preferably served as a lunch first course, either filled with sherry ( if served as a small half) or with a dash of black pepper, to enhance further the sugar.
Now enter the FRUIT pepper, generously brought back by J from a trip to Holland this summer.Since I cannot read the ingredients list, it seems to be made of a medley of dry berries,pink peppercorns and coarse sugar. I had to try it on a sharlyn melon and it was not only pretty but absolutely delicious with a hint of heat which is the natural complement to the pleasure of eating melons in the summertime......

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

a fennel morning

I love summer.Today is a beautiful California summer day.I breathe in the soft air, sweetened by the fennels flowers all around.
I indulge in the caress of the sun on my bare arms as I pedal down the street.I remember the indolence of long summers past, and I want to lie again on those scratchy blankets on the grass, nose in the insect world, green, green all around,lost in a sensation of blissfull happiness.
I have always loved the taste of anything.licorice of course, but also in the little white sugar candies with the fennel seed in the center, and tarragon which is a quintessential French herb, used discretly but sublimely with cucumber, in a refreshing salad,or in a creamy sauce adorning a baked chicken.And then there is fennel.also part of the French repertoire, used mostly as a bed for baked fish, but also in a crunchy sweet salad, where it can be mixed with cherry tomatoes,chickpeas,garlic,cucumber ,red onion and a cube of feta..Such a good summer day lunch at my house.....

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

composition in green and white

dinner with C. always a blast of heart, soul and a little green.
After pipping peanut butter in perfect dollops in celery boats,my bags caught my roving eyes.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

cesar numero deux

Here in Francophone Berkeley, we already have a Panisse, a Fanny and a Cesar. Names plucked from the delicious movies by French director Pagnol who with simple stories told the emotional lives of these characters in the Provence of the 30's. After the great success of The first Cesar, another, bigger one opened in Oakland a year ago. Sad to say, but we only managed to pay it a visit last night.Snatching the last table at 7 on a Friday was a coup, the space was filled to the brim with happy customers ,their voices resonating loudly over the Latin beat. wood tables set simply with a silverware bucket, a free dish of marinated olives arrived quickly.They were herby,with a touch of fire, soaking the spicy olive oil.:perfect ! rosé for me,cosmo for him.We ordered from the tapas menu and gave them all a 10. The food is lusty to the point of embarrassement.The flavors are intense, the food is rich and moist, my lips were burning from the pimented tomato sauce and the garlic aioli that went with the thick fries, but were cooled down, and refreshed by the orange and parsley piccata that pooled around the O of baby calamari.The salt cod and potato cazuela didn't disappoint: bubbling hot, garlicky and smooth. Better than Cesar 1 ! Another shock to the senses was the perilous pairing of escarole( divinely and robustly dressed) with ambrosia melons and smoked worry, it was truly phenomenal. Can I mention dessert ? we were in moaning zone with the Cesar sundae: dark and deep chocolate cinnamon ice cream, chocolate sauce with almonds and speared by two home made churros ( I could eat those all day: crunchy and sugared, with a soft center).
This Sunday, they are celebrating their 1st anniversary.Shall we go to the paella on the patio in the afternoon 0r the flamenco performance at night? I could easily go to both. Such fun. and so satisfying !