April 16, 2009

Chez Panisse

I had the very fortunate pleasure of dining at Chez Panisse last weekend! Have you been? I’d highly, highly recommend taking a trip to Berkeley for dinner! Alice Waters has been creating relaxed, home-cooked meals from locally grown ingredients since 1971. The menu changes from night to night based on what ingredients are fresh and available. She only chooses items from organic, sustainable farms and each dish is made from vegetables that are in season. This cooking philosophy reminds me of what life is like in New Zealand, simple. I love that you can always be surprised by the menu no matter how many times you visit the same restaurant.

“Alice and Chez Panisse have become convinced that the best-tasting food is organically grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound, by people who are taking care of the land for future generations. The quest for such ingredients has largely determined the restaurant’s cuisine. Chez Panisse has tried for years to make diners here partake of the immediacy and excitement of vegetables just out of the garden, fruit right off the branch, and fish straight out of the sea. In doing so, Chez Panisse has stitched together a patchwork of over sixty nearby suppliers, whose concerns, like the restaurant’s, are environmental harmony and optimal flavor.”

The decor was so charming and comfortable, it was unpretentious. The kitchen is open, and I loved watching the chefs at work! I had an organic rocket salad with pine nuts, sheep’s milk ricotta cheese and sun dried tomatoes to start. My main meal was a wild mushroom lasagna which had 4 types of mushrooms! The fresh vegetables were wonderful! The homemade pasta was thin and light, not too rich or heavy like a typical lasagna, delicious! I had elderflower tea for dessert, but couldn’t resist a bite of Tim’s pink lady apple and lemon tart!

Feel inspired but aren’t going to California any time soon? Good news, you can buy the cookbook! I think I might get one, start shopping at farmers markets, try cooking simple, quality, fresh meals…it was that good!



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