Monday, May 29, 2006

It All Started with the Green Garlic Soup

I remember from a very young age looking upon it with disdain when my parents would make me bring my leftovers home from a restaurant. I hated having leftovers and I didn’t see it as my fault that restaurants served such large portions so I felt absolutely zero obligation to eat the inferior remains of yesterday’s meal. Leftovers also meant playing a game of evasion until I could cunningly hide my “To Go” sack in the garbage bin, and hope that the powers that be wouldn’t notice that yesterday’s leftovers had suddenly gone missing. Who wants to eat soft tacos that used to be crispy, or a burger with a soggy bun? I would ignore and ignore the stockpile of To Go containers, aluminum swans and Tupperware stacking up in the fridge - until the inevitable - Leftover Night. Once a week, whatever was left in the refrigerator, no matter how ripe or old, was stuck in the microwave and an insipid mound of mystery food would end up on my plate. In a battle of wills against my father, I would sit at the dinner table until 11’oclock at night waiting it out until one of us caved, postponing the inevitable for yet another day... Leftover Night, for me, was a barbaric form of torture; much like wearing pantyhose or getting a Brazilian Bikini Wax, only without the benefits. But this weekend, for the first time in 34 years, that all changed…

It all started yesterday with the Green Garlic Soup. A pureed soup, but not cream based, and laced with crème fraiche was silky and luxurious on the tongue; rich, but not heavy and with a gorgeous jade hue. The aroma of the soup was heady yet subtle, everything I liked about garlic and nothing I didn’t. Green garlic (or Spring Garlic, as it is also known), the immature shoot and bulb of the white garlic you buy in the grocery store, resembles scallions or spring onions. The shoot can be used in the same manner as scallions and can also be sautéed or grilled. It is much more delicate and subtle in flavor than their mature counter part, and completely lacks the pungency of mature garlic. In fact, I would be willing to eat it on a first date – even if I really liked the guy…

The restaurants name is Harvest Moon, a new restaurant on the Sonoma Square. The interior is comfortable yet sophisticated with washed yellow walls, olive branch sconces and dark, heavy wood tables. It opened in March and the chef-owner was previously at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. His food couldn’t better pay homage to the Alice Waters philosophy; fresh, local produce used in innovative yet simple ways to coax out and highlight, rather than cover up, the true nature of the ingredient. The bucatini pasta with sautéed nettles, artichoke hearts and ricotta salata was unique, flavorful and delicious. The nettles had an herbaceous yet nutty flavor to them and the dish had the perfect compliment of ingredients. The braised lamb with a hint of cinnamon and star-anise and served atop a rich ragu of French green lentils was meltingly good.

With little pleading, I was able to convince my mom, step-dad and same two friends who had gone last night - to go again tonight. I had to try the slow cooked squid with chickpeas and the halibut was calling my name.

The squid was cooked in red wine until it was soft and succulent. The chickpeas were firm yet creamy and were doused in a thick garlic sauce that should’ve been illegal. I had originally ordered the steamed halibut with mussels, clams, greens, harissa and charmoula but fortunately they were out and so I had the quail instead. Cooked to perfection, the quail had all the flavor of the grill and yet, thankfully, was not burnt nor undercooked – as is often the case. It was served atop a ragu of fresh fava beans and artichoke hearts, also cooked to perfection, and accompanied by grilled polenta that was slightly crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, and with a few nice stripes of char on it providing a lovely, smoky flavor and exhibiting for the first time that grilled polenta needn’t taste like particle board, and when prepared properly, can actually be divine.

Even with the quail being such a small bird, I still was not able to finish my meal and I wanted the flavors to linger... It was so perfectly prepared and so delicious that, for the first time in 34 years, I willingly asked the waiter to “pack it up” for me so that I could take it home and before we even left the restaurant I was already imagining eating it. Then, the inevitable happened. We arrived home and as I walked in the front door – I realized that I had forgotten my wonderful little parcel of leftovers at the restaurant… Perhaps saving me a game of hide-and-seek...

I’m fortunate though that the restaurant is right next to my mom’s jewelry store on the Sonoma Square. Hopefully next time I visit they will be open for lunch as well so I won’t be limited to eating there only once a day…

Harvest Moon Café
487 First Street West
Sonoma, Ca. 95476


The update on my knee is that, along with the tear to my ligament, I also have a frozen joint. My physical therapist works me like a rented mule but I’m still not able to get my leg straight. I’ll be going for an MRI this week, talking to a doctor and deciding if surgery is the next step...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fun update!

In a previous post, “Bequia and the Return of the Prodigal Sons”, I had written about sailing from St. Martin to Bequia and how, just off of Martinique, we’d come across a seafaring rowboat with a Canadian couple aboard. At first we thought it was a life raft and we might be rescuing someone, but when we asked them if they were ok they said that they were just fine and they were rowing to Costa Rica! We came across them on Thursday, February 2nd, 2006.

Today while searching the web I came across a website for the couple. They are circumnavigating the globe entirely on human power – rowing, biking and walking! When we saw them they were just 22 days away from completing a transatlantic crossing that took them nearly 6 months! They actually rowed into Limon, Costa Rica (from Portugal) on February 24, 2006 - twenty two days from the day we saw them!

Check out their adventure - you can read about them and see pictures. Presently, they are biking across North America and are expected to finish up their circumnavigation on May 21, 2006.

Their home page:

Pictures of the transatlantic crossing in the row boat:

Unfortunately, I get seasick looking at a bowl of soup so no rowboat crossings for me...

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