I think I've written before about my completely inexcusable lunch habits. About how I spend all morning writing about food, developing recipes, working on articles, and futzing with various electronic media that half the time 2:30pm rolls around and I realize that the last time I ate was at 7:30 in the morning. So lunch can sometimes be a leftover toast crust from my kids' breakfast, swiped, if I'm lucky, in a jar of peanut butter as I'm headed out the door.
Makes for an occasionally sticky door knob.
Given that context, I was hardly going to say no when my friend Lara invited me up to the cafe at Chez Panisse to help celebrate her birthday. Let's see: stale kid toast crust or poached halibut? Not an especially tough call.
I'd been to the cafe once before, but I remember it as a rather rushed evening, maybe because we'd gone on a Friday night and the place was jammed. Yesterday, a Monday afternoon, we really relaxed and allowed the meal to unfold at its own pace. And the meal wasn't so keen on unfolding quickly, which suited us just fine.
There was a pizzetta with spring onions and herbs; Soul Food Farm eggs baked in a wood oven with lentils, mustard greens, garlic toast, and spicy favas; Northern halibut with cauliflower, amaranth, marinated beets, ginger, and Meyer lemon; and a bittersweet chocolate pave with amaretto cream.
Oh, and a rhubarb-strawberry cobbler with almond-wildflower honey cream (say that ten times fast).
Happy birthday, Lara.