Chez Panisse

I had the great fortune of escaping the Toronto cold last week for a conference in San Francisco.  And while I was there, there was no way I could go without a visit to Chez Panisse.

DSCF0005

DSCF0007

Chez Panisse is a restaurant in Berkeley, California, founded by Alice Waters, who started the sustainable and local food movement in North America.  The restaurant has partnered with local farmers and foragers to bring fresh, local, and delicious food to its customers.

So, being a supporter of these ideals, I knew I needed to make a foodie pilgrimage to Chez Panisse as soon as I found out I’d be in San Francisco.  I booked myself a table at the upstairs (à la carte) café and had a lovely lunch there last week; I’m still tasting the memories.

All fancy-food-ideals talk aside, the meal was perfect because it was based on simple food, done fresh and done well.

I had a fennel and orange salad on baby greens (picked only hours earlier):

DSCF0009

(Please excuse the photo quality, I was shooting furtively…)

DSCF0010

Along with the best bread I’ve ever had, courtesy of ACME Bread Company:

DSCF0011

And then the best part of my meal came.  The jaw-droppingly, astoundingly satisfying and gratifying thin-crust pizza.  With grilled radichio.  And pecorino.

DSCF0015

And flash-fried rosemary, and a dusting of shaved parmesan.

DSCF0014

Oh my word.  This was not pizza as I knew it.

I have had a couple of disappointing pizzas lately (room service at the hotel, plus a poor-choice delivery night), and you know how people say: “even really bad pizza is still good, because it’s pizza”?  Well, they’re wrong.  Really bad pizza is disappointing, and sometimes soul-crushing (believe me, you would have felt the same way if you’d been traveling for 12 hours and had this room service pizza).

But this radicchio pizza at Chez Panisse?  Divine.  Inspiring.  And perfect.  In fact, the entire meal was perfect – I wouldn’t have changed a single thing.  Right down to the lovely dessert: a persimmon pudding with pears and the best caramel sauce I’ve ever had — almost burnt, but not quite.

DSCF0018

DSCF0017

DSCF0016

I must admit to coming home with a copy of the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook, so you’ll be seeing some Chez Panisse-inspired meals around the blog in the future.  My tummy is rumbling already with an-ti-ci – – – pation.

If you want to read more about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, I really enjoyed these two articles:  this one from the New York Times on making family lunches from scratch and this one about Alice Waters coming to visit a journalist whose pregnant partner made chicken fingers.

What are your memorable travel and food experiences that inspire you? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Inspiration, Travel

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

5 Comments on “Chez Panisse”

  1. December 14, 2010 at 6:07 am #

    You lucky, lucky thing!

    • December 14, 2010 at 9:39 am #

      Yup, I’m totally spoiled!!! 😀

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cranberry Poached Pears with Cheesecake Filling | The Kitchen Operas - January 2, 2011

    […] Truffles) on the side.  Yep, delicious.  The caramel sauce along with the pears was inspired by my visit to Chez Panisse in December, where I had a persimmon pudding served with poached pears and caramel sauce.  […]

  2. San Francisco 2011 – Samovar | The Kitchen Operas - September 9, 2011

    […] A long lunch, eating local deliciousness at Chez Panisse (blog post coming soon, but you can read last year’s thoughts in the […]

  3. Arugula Salad with Pickled Red Onions in a Lemony Vinaigrette | The Kitchen Operas - October 4, 2011

    […] summer I was fortunate to eat again at my favourite west-coast spot: Chez Panisse. As part of my decadent meal, I had a gorgeous salad: “Willey Farms Eggplant & Rocket […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: