Friday, August 29, 2008


A Bay Area landmark, Chez Panisse focuses on showcasing fresh, organic, and locally grown ingredients. Our first (and definitely not last) visit to Chez Panisse was to their upstairs café, a slightly more moderate, lively, and rustic version of the elaborate restaurant downstairs. The wood, brick, and copper interior of this craftsman-style eatery made us feel warm, cozy, and right at home.

with morel mushrooms
Right away we could tell that the quality of the ingredients is what makes Chez Panisse so famous. The succulent morel mushrooms on this pizzetta tasted like they were hand picked from the garden outside. With nothing more than some cheese, a dab of truffle, and a light and airy crust, this pizzetta was so simple yet bursting with flavor.

Alaskan Coho Salmon
with corn, okra, coriander & lime
I have never tasted corn so fresh. The combination of sweet corn, okra, coriander, red pepper and lime was out of this world. I honestly can’t really remember the salmon – but the sweet, buttery, and clean tasting flavors of the corn salad still make me droll as I’m writing this months later. Too bad Chez Panisse changes their menu daily – I may never get to experience this again.

Grilled Laughing Stock Farm Pork Sausages
with sweet peppers and fried shoestring potatoes
These organic sausages were juicy, spicy, and accompanied by sweet, locally grown red peppers and crisp shoestring potatoes. Again, the freshness of the ingredients made this a winner.

Flavor King Pluot Tart
with vanilla ice cream
I happen to have a friend who works at Chez Panisse, and thus our waiter “took care of us” by bringing us this complimentary plout tart. Although we normally go for chocolate, he said that it was one of their best desserts – and he was right. After all, we can have chocolate anytime. But only Chez Panisse would feature plouts that were picked right off the branch and bought at the farmers market that morning.

After eating a meal at Chez Panisse, you really understand how the quality of ingredients really makes a dish shine. We can’t wait to go back and try the restaurant downstairs, and have another glimpse into the amazing culinary masterpiece that is Chez Panisse.

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