Monday, February 15, 2010

Chez Panisse Take Two

Pizza with artichokes, olives, onion and herbs

This post has taken me awhile to write. But I think it is perfect that I decided to post this on Malia's (and my) birthday. Malia is my best friend, and I hope that when she reads this she feels like we're eating dinner and celebrating our birthday together. Feliz Cumpleanos Mi Gemela! (No we're not spanish, but I do love the spanish language).

So back to the post - when Malia last came to visit, we spent a fabulous day together hiking in Muir Woods and exploring Berkeley. After a morning of hiking I knew we would be hungry and have a perfect excuse for a three-course lunch at Chez Panisse. As you may recall, I took my parents to Chez Panisse for dinner when they came to visit. I really enjoyed the meal, but there were a few things that could have been better - namely the service.

My second trip to Chez Panisse was quite different, the service was impeccable. Malia and I were seated promptly, at a cozy table, with the sun shining through the windows. The warmth of the cafe comes through much better at lunchtime. There were a number of regulars eating at the same time, but we were treated no differently. Our waiter was very conscientious, refilling our glasses with water before they could ever become empty.

We started our first course with a woodfired pizza, topped with artichokes, olives, onion, garlic, and fresh herbs. The last time I visited, I was remiss about not ordering a California pizza.
This time I ordered it and was not disappointed by the blistered crust - crispy on the edges and chewy on the inside. The toppings played together beautifully. I never would have thought of this combination myself.

The caramelized onions, garlic, and fresh rosemary and thyme really stood out. And the robust olives were not to be overshadowed. After two small slices, we both refrained from eating more so as not to ruin our appetites.

Sweet corn souffle with roasted beets, carrots, and beet greens.

For my main course, I chose the sweet corn souffle. Corn was nearing the end of the season, but boy did the corn work well in this dish. The sweet corn shone in this incredibly light souffle. This is how a souffle is made! The vegetables were tender, sweet, and buttery (I don't think I want to know how much butter was on them). A cream sauce was drizzled over top of everything. Just thinking about it takes me back to that lovely afternoon.

Malia ordered the chicken with parsnip chips and sauteed spinach. The chicken was pounded thin and was incredibly moist and tender. It was crusted with herbs and bathed au jus. The parsnip chips were salty and crisp and the spinach was incredibly garlicky (something both of us love).

Close up - corn souffle and roasted turnips, carrots and greens.

Close up - Chicken, parsnip chips, and garlic spinach.

You may be wondering if we had saved room for dessert. I don't know if "saved" is an appropriate term, but we couldn't resist ordering dessert. We split the fig tart with creme fraiche ice cream. Oh it was the perfect end to the perfect meal. I can't wait for Malia to come visit again, so we can share another wonderful meal together!

Fig Tart

Love you Malia!

1 comment:

Malia said...

Feliz cumpleanos mi gemela! Love you lots and can't wait to come back for another wonderful California meal, but for now I will be tided over with thoughts of Chez Panisse :)