I 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!
1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, California 94709