Tag Archives: cheese

A Different Alameda

For our last night in Spain we went to a restaurant in the old quarter of town called Alameda (not to be confused with the small island city off the East Bay of San Francisco, nor the county in which I reside), which boasts one Michelin star.  On a previous evening we had returned to Sebastian, also in the old quarter of Hondarribia and had the chef’s tasting menu.  I thought to myself, “this is as good a meal as I’ve ever had.  If I lived here I would eat at here all the time.”  While the second sentence holds true, Alameda blew the former sentiment for lovely little Sebastian.

While I managed to take a few pictures, they relate nothing of the scale of this meal.  Alameda is run by two brothers, Gorka and Kepa Txapartegui.  The cuisine has Basque roots, but is classified by Michelin as “Inventive.”  We had two lovely, attentive, and friendly servers, but it was one of the matriarchs of the Txapartegui family who came to ensure our meal met our expectations after our entrees arrived.  Although I consider description of this meal to be a futile pursuit, I will attempt to depict some of it here.

alameda table cloth better

Often, when my dad comes to visit and I am trying to convince him of the legitimacy of my choice of restaurant on any given evening, he’ll say quite seriously, “does it have a tablecloth?  I need a white tablecloth.”  In honor of dad we’ve taken to documenting the tablecloths at various restaurants.  Alameda’s are high-quality starched linen.

amuse bouche

The amuse-bouche was a delicate, super-fine gazpacho, topped with cheese foam, parsley-infused oil, and a parmasan crisp.

spider crab

I began with the spider crab salad arranged atop a tomato reduction and topped with green apples and micro greens.  The crab was absolutely beautiful in texture.


My entree–the tuna.  This picture hardly does it justice, but eating last night was much more important to me than picture-taking, which I take as a good sign.  It’s funny I just realized that from the blog it appears that I’ve been eating a lot of tuna.  I have I suppose.  The seafood is really what to eat in the Basque country.  I have no words to describe the preparation of this dish; I can’t even remember how it was described on the menu.  All I know is what appears to be a simple tuna fillet transformed into the most unbelievable tasting thing in my mouth.  The flavors of the tomatoes, salt, fish, oil, and potato were beyond this world.  Each bite I took made me crave one more.  I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that way before.  It was if nothing would be enough, and each time I took a bite I wished I could continue tasting what I was tasting forever.  Quite an experience.  Sort of Veruca Salt-esque I guess.

mint and melon

Dessert was fruit and cheese.  The fruit is above–a medley of melons and apples in a mint-melon sauce.  Amazing.

new cheese

Finally, the cheese plate.  From top right: a semi-soft cows milk, Roquefort topped with a dried apple slice, brie, quince paste, and the last two are two different dry manchego.  The Roquefort was especially beautiful.  There is no better way to end a meal than with Roquefort I believe.

Well, like I said, a futile pursuit.  But, perhaps if you’re ever in the area you’ll have a chance to experience it all for yourself.

At the Biarritz airport, embarking on many hours on various planes.  Ciao!


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My Table, Friday May 29, 2009

A story in pictures, and a few words.



Acme Bread Company Baguette

fleur verte

From left: Harley Farms (Pescadero, California) “Monet:” goat cheese with a layer of Herbs de Provence and decorated with edible flowers, the infamous Fleur Verte: goat cheese coated with dried thyme, tarragon, and crushed pink peppercorns, and Fresco Italia’s Quattro Stagioni soft cow’s milk round with edible flower

txacolian close

Some readers might remember my adoration for txacolina, a mineral-rich white wine from the Basque region of Spain.  Urki’s Getariako Txakolina is a new discovery from Paul Marcus.  It is a beautiful experience.  The cork smelled of vanilla and flowers, and the txacolina was crisp and dry as expected, and citrus-y too, yet gentle (perhaps gentler than the Xarmant Txakolina), effervescent, but without any sour bite.  


The light bubbles as seen through William Yeoward’s Pearl goblet


Et fin!

All photographs taken with the Canon Powershot G10, an amazing camera I borrowed from I.  Highly recommended.  It makes everything and everyone look beautiful. 

New linen placemats and napkins with hummingbird pattern from my mother.  Towle “Old Lace” silver.  Mottahedeh plats with raised swan design.  Laguiole cheese knife.  Roses from my garden.


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Memorial Day is past and so is Easter, so we’re officially landed safely in white-shoe time of year.  And while summer won’t start officially until the solstice on June 21st, why not celebrate with some white Car Shoes?


I haven’t mentioned soothing in a while because I was afraid the term got overexposed, but summer is close, and it seems appropriate to resurrect it.  Moccasins in general soothe.  White Car Shoe moccasins?  Super soothe.

So–there are less than 3 weeks till school’s out and while my students are probably daydreaming about keggers and no curfew my mind is set on warm afternoons spent with rosé and good friends (and possibly some fleur verte).  I’m excited about this bottle of Shramsberg generously bestowed on me by my favorite neighbors/friends/partners:

shramsberg1Rosé soothes.


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Back By Popular Demand

Hm: “White people don’t show hints of unconscious bias against blacks who belong to the same group as them, a new study suggests.” The Situationist


Yum: Fleur Verte, a perennial Rockridge favorite.

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Huffington, Stewart, Obama, Chili

Last Monday on my Virgin America flight JFK->SFO I watched Arianna Huffington embarrass the entire blogosphere on John Stewart:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Friday night rolled around and I’d invited some people over for drinks. Never one to open the door without something scrumptious to offer, and knowing I. and I needed dinner ourselves, I set about the habitual and lengthy debate about what to cook. I was desperate for some cassoulet, but it was absolutely out of the question. Duck confit and a 3 to 48 hour cooking process was just not going down that night.

So I thought soup, bean soup? Chili? Lentil? Rimpletide tried to get me to make Turkey Chipotle Chili, which I was totally into until I got to Market Hall and realized I needed 2 lbs (!) of tomatillos. Do you understand how many tomatillos that is? All of a sudden I started reading the recipe more carefully–what kind of chili was this? GREEN? No, I was feeling like a red-blooded American on Friday and wasn’t about to get down with some soupy-green-tomatillo based fusion fare. Disaster! The guests would arrive in less than 2 hours!

Standing at the Produce Market at Market Hall I started to panic and wildly Googled chili recipes from my iPhone. My search terms were “chili recipe.” I didn’t trust what I saw on page one of the results, so I went to page two. There, at the top of the second page of search results was Obama’s Chili Recipe, courtesy of none other than the Huffington Post. The rich bitch saved the day after all!

I went for ground Turkey instead of beef for reasons of health and got a deal at Enzo’s because the guy recognized me from my days at Bloomies. I didn’t need many ingredients, so I grabbed two bottles at Paul Marcus (a brilliant $14 Barbera among them from the Bargain Red section), grabbed two sweet Acme baguettes, a wedge of D’Affinois (available by mail from Murray’s if your and outside of the Bay reader), and a creme-based French goat from Pasta Shop and I was on my way home.

I made Obama’s recipe but had to make a few adjustments. If I’d stuck to the recipe I think the chili would have been quite dry, with hardly any broth element. My results were still thick and viscous but I added 3/4 cup dry red wine and 1 cup chicken stock.  To slightly modify Obama’s selection of flavors I doubled the basil and oregano, added 3 bay leaves, and used 2 tablespoons minced Anaheim chile (long and thin, can be found in green or red).

The results were a hit. I would say that the wine and additional basil and oregano gave it a slightly more Euro twist, while the Anaheim chile gave it an unexpected kick.

It was quick and easy for a hearty crowd-pleasing dinner after a long week. Highly recommended.

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