Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday Night Photos: Lunch at Chez Panisse!

Lunch at Chez PanisseI doubt I'll stop talking about lunch at Chez Panisse for a long time, so you must forget that I already mentioned this lunch when I wrote about food bloggers having fun at BlogHer Food Conference. The side trip to Chez Panisse on the day before the conference was the brilliant idea of Grace from State of Grace, who invited me and Christine from Christine Cooks to journey to Berkeley with her in search of local, seasonal, organic, and mind-blowingly well prepared food. When my meal started out with this Canard Farm rocket salad with pecorino and pine nuts, (containing perfect baby arugula, perfect extra virgin olive oil, perfect pine nuts and perfect shaved pecorino cheese) I knew we had come to the right place.

Christine and Grace both opted for the stunning Heirloom tomato salad with marjoram and aioli, perfectly beautiful and flavorful. (Edit: According to House of Annie, the multi-colored tomatoes are a variety of herirloom called Pink Berkeley Tie Die tomato. Don't you love it?)

Since I'm a landlocked girl who never gets fresh fish I thought it would be fun to see the Chez Panisse interpretation of Fried local rockfish with coleslaw, roasted potatoes and tartar sauce. From the mayo-free coleslaw to the tarragon-flavored tartar sauce, it was unique and full of memorable flavors.

Grace had Pizzetta with scallions and Tomales Bay clams for her main course, and it was a crispy and tasty departure from traditional pizza.

While Christine opted for Monterey Bay squid roasted on the wood oven with gypsy pepper salad, ginger, shallots, and lime. Need I say more?

Since it was indeed a special occasion, I indulged in Frog Hollow Farm plum and peach crisp with pluot ice cream. (Grace also managed to capture just how this shot was taken. She's not a food blogger, so watching us take photos of all the food was a new experience for her.)

While Christine ended her meal with this poached French butter pear with vanilla bean creme Anglaise and candied almonds, which was indeed a fitting metaphor for the elegance of our entire meal.

As memorable as the food was at our Chez Panisse lunch, what I will remember even longer is how much fun I had lunching there with my two wonderful friends. Christine and Grace are both women I met online and already loved by the time I finally met them each in person, and the three of us were delightfully compatible lunch companions. Good food, good conversation, good friends, and for me, the chance to visit an iconic place where I'd always wanted to eat. I don't think it really gets any better than that!

Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, California 94709
510-548-5049
counter customizable free hit

28 comments:

  1. Mmmmm. And that Heath dinnerware looks good enough to eat, too.

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  2. I would love to go there as well, Kalyn!

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  3. Mmm, reminds me of the time we dined at Chez Panisse - what an experience! Local food, done supremely well. Did you eat at the downstairs restaurant or the upstairs cafe?

    I recognize the heirloom tomato in the foreground of your salad - it's called "Berkeley Tie Dye" and it's grown by Brad from Wild Boar Farms.

    http://chezannies.blogspot.com/2008/08/wild-boar-farms-these-arent-your-dads.html

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  4. It sounds like a fabulous meal, shared with some lovely people

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  5. wow. I went to berkeley and just was too poor ever to stop by...always regretted not splurging. looks beautiful!

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  6. It all sounds so delicious! Its a special gift that you had such a wonderful time with your friends. Conviviality flavors food in profound ways!

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  7. SueBob, gorgeous, huh?

    Anh, I hope you do make it there. Very memorable.

    Nate-n-Annie, thanks for sharing the tomato info. I added it into the post. Love that name, may have to try getting some of those seeds for next summer when I'm going to be in full-out heirloom tomato production mode around here with my new tomato beds. We went upstairs for our lunch, but I do want to eat down stairs too.

    Valentina, it was just lovely.

    Nika, so true.

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  8. Kalyn-
    What a wonderful experience. I'm sure you'll pull lots of inspiration from this day but I must tell you- You're recipes are just as fresh and wonderful as those dishes from Chez Panisse. Keep up the great work. Love your blog and your recipes!

    -CJ

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  9. I am officially envious! I have been a fan of Alice Waters and her cookbooks for a long time and dream of eating at Chez Panisse someday. I love Grace's photo of you photographing your dessert.

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  10. It's been about 17 years since I had dinner at Chez Panisse and it's still a memorable meal. The best part was, we took our 7 year-old daughter along and I was going to share my food with her, but instead, the staff brought Whitney a smaller portion of each course and did not charge us for any of that. How nice (and unheard of) is that?

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  11. CJ, wow, thank you! What a lovely compliment.

    Dara, isn't that photo a kick? You must go there sometime, I know you'd love it.

    Eileen, I love that story. What a thoughtful thing for the restaurant to do.

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  12. Sounds delicious on every level. xox

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  13. my parents sent me $100 for my birthday to go out to eat somewhere with my husband...I had decided we need to go to chez panisse, and this post sealed the deal! I can't wait! I'm so glad you went while you were here...

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  14. I am headed back to San Francisco next month so who knows I may have to stop at Chez Panisse.

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  15. The pear dessert looks yummy. Kalyn do you plan to re-create that at your kitchen anytime soon ;-) ?

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  16. The food looks amazing and that photo that Grace took is just very funny!

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  17. I am so deeply envious, Kalyn.

    But I am so glad you and Christine could do this!

    You can keep talking about it as long as you want to, as far as I am concerned.

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  18. I have to go back to SF to dine here. Lucky you! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  19. What fun,and your rocket salad looks out of this world!!

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  20. Looks like you really had a great time. :-)

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  21. Oh, look at that pear in creme Anglaise! I have only been to Chez Panisse once, but I will never forget the experience.

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  22. The French vanilla beans creme looks perfect with the pear on it, good choice.

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  23. I feel like I visited Chez Panisse myself just from looking at your photos :) Would love to try that squid! Looks like you had an amazing time and you definitely took some beautiful photos!

    Sues

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  24. Wow! I am completely and utterly envious!

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  25. I don't get to San Francisco often enough but when I do, Chez Panisse is a must-go for me.

    I daresay the Blue Hill restaurants are the NYC equivalent -- Blue Hill Washington Square in the West Village and Blue Hill Stone Barns in Westchester County.

    I'm glad you had a wonderful time. Meals at CP are always stunningly delicious. The food isn't cutting edge and it isn't avant-garde. It doesn't have to be.

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  26. I am going there next month! Can hardly wait.....

    We'll go to the cafe, though

    You definitely had a fantastic meal!

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  27. I know what you mean about the
    poached French butter pear with vanilla bean creme Anglaise being a fitting metaphor for the elegance of our entire meal. It's just so simple but spectacular.

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  28. What a wonderful post and tribute to good friends and an iconic restaurant. I'm so glad to have been a part of the trio; meeting Grace was the topping on the cake, or, excuse me, pear Anglaise. ;) I truly enjoyed our time together, Kalyn.

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