Tuesday, April 12, 2011

50th Birthday Celebration

I had a great birthday, and thank you all for the warm wishes! Everyone is great to take time out of their day to say "happy birthday".

Here I am ready to dash out the door on my way to Chez Panisse in Berkeley. First, a rice cake with peanut butter, a glass of A. Margaine Premier Cru champagne, a gift from the owner of Vintage Wine Merchants in Santana Row.

And what is that box I am holding? It is a wireless 2 terabyte external hard drive for my computer! Who said diamonds are a girl's best friend?

I started the day with a 60 minute, very long walk on the stair mill, then a very long shower and steam. My club has a full service salon and spa, so the locker room is fairly luxurious.

Then home for two fried eggs and real toast. I honestly do not recall the last time I ate that, and I enjoyed it quite a bit!

We then drove to Berkeley where a woman walking by took our picture as we stood in front of Chez Panisse.

I started with a glass of Cremant du Jura, Andre et Mirelle Tissot, France while David had a Dolin Vermouth de Chambery. Coop had a D'Arbo sour cherry fruit soda.

Pictures are a bit dark as I didn't want to bother anyone in the restaurant with a flash.

For my first course I had Cardoon and radicchio salad with anchovy, garlic and egg.

David had baked Andante Dairy goat cheese with garden lettuces and Cooper had a Pizzetta with wild mushrooms and gremolata.

Two glasses of 2009 Muscadet de Cotes de Grand-Lieu, La Noe, Eric Chevalier.

A woman sat down in the booth right behind me and I said "Guys! That's Alice Waters! (the founder of Chez Panisse), and they said "no it's not!" Then we heard one of the other women say "So Alice, tell us about your.....

Cooper's eyes got big, it was her, enjoying lunch there right behind us.

David managed to get an autographed menu for me, wishing me a happy 50th, from Alice Waters!

Then I had local clams and mussels with saffron, leeks, and romesco sauce.

It was stunning, as you can see, I cleaned my plate.

David had fried Petrale sole with root vegetable slaw, roasted potatoes, and remoulade sauce.

Cooper had grilled Magruder Ranch pork leg with fried shoestring potatoes, charcroute rouge, apples, and juniper.

Two glasses of 2009 Touraine Rouge, Francoise Chidaine, France.

For dessert, I had a wonderful bittersweet chocolate marjolaine with cognac creme anglaise (and I am still paying for the cream, 5 hours later...damn!)

David had candied Meyer lemon ice cream with citrus compote and madeleines.

Cooper had a bowl of Churchill-Brenneis Orchards Page mandarins and Bahri dates. (He said they were the best tangerines he ever had and loved the dates, they were like none I had ever tried).

Two cups of Blue Bottle Coffee Company Chez Panisse House Blend coffee and we were done.

Done and done in. 2 hours it took, sheer bliss the entire time. It was wonderful! Then David bought me Alice's new cookbook called "In the Green Kitchen (autographed too, how convenient that she was there on my birthday!).

I told Cooper that this would be a good book for him to take when he moves out. It has the basics of creating wonderful, healthy meals. He liked this idea, he enjoys Chez Panisse quite a bit.

But, we had our sites on dinner so trooped across the street to Andronico's for fresh favas and asparagus, I would make poached salmon in herb broth, but I will write about that later.

Maybe when I retire I will become a restaurant reviewer? As you can tell, I pour my heart and soul into everything I love!

If you have never tried the Chez Panisse cafe, yet you love fresh, local, simple foods prepared so the true flavors shine, this is the place to go. I first took David here for his birthday over 25 years ago, and we have been returning time and again.

Cooper was first at the "fancy" downstairs restaurant when he was 3 weeks old, they welcomed him (and breast feeding mom) with open arms. At one point, David took him to the foyer because Cooper was crying, and we didn't want to disturb others. The waiter took David's meal away, and as soon as he sat down he brought him a new plate, freshly prepared and hot.

Chez Panisse cares about food and they care about people. Please try it someday, it will become a special place for you too.
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