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Thursday, September 04, 2003

In honor of Mice's birthday, we had an evening of total decadence.

First came the trip to Chez Panisse. I've wanted to go for years. Like, ten years. Since before I moved to Berkeley. And when I lived in Berkeley, I promised myself that I would splurge before I left and go for dinner just once. And yet I left, and only now did I finally make the pilgrimage. And though insanely expensive, it was some of the best food I've ever consumed. Okay, the best.

The first course was an antipasto plate of salami, fried squash blossom, torpedo onions, and marinated peppers. The fried squash blossom was the big surprise. It tasted of squash, basil, salt and peper and was so perfectly delicate. It was just the sort of thing you could easily eat twenty of without blinking. We were teased with just one, but one was a perfect treat.

The second course was fresh fetuccine with Chino Ranch corn, lima bean and chanterelle mushrooms. The corn was sweet and crisp. The mushrooms were yummy (and I'm not really a mushroom person), the lima beans were brilliant green. It was really very colorful between the white/yellow corn, the reddish mushrooms, and the brilliant green lima beans sliced so thin. The sauce was light and seemed almost like a lightly thickened chicken stock.

The third course was a spit-roasted duck with sauteed Gravenstein apples, Romano bean and leek compote, and crispy potatoes. The duck was rich and flavorful. I removed most of the skin and fat, but got a few bites of skin from the leg where it wasn't so fatty and they were an explosion of flavor. The beans were fresh and green and crisp. The apples were a nice complement to the duck, and the potatoes were little fingerlings quartered lengthwise and pan fried. It's hard to mess up a potato.

The fourth course was a fig and rasberry tart with muscat ice cream. The rasberries were the best I have ever tasted. It still wasn't enough to get over my dislike of figs, but it was quite good. Rick finished mine when it got too fig intensive for me.

Finally, they pushed us over the edge with a tiny little chocolate truffle. And then we were off to phase two of the most decadent birthday ever - Watercourse Way, Room 1 - for an hour or so of tub time.

I got home around midnight, well fed, well soaked, washed and dried and slept so well that I woke up before the alarm. It's not an evening I'll be able to repeat any time soon, but that's the life. Good friends, good food, and good hot water. God bless California.

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