chez panisse

Just as a warning: this post is photo heavy. It's pretty standard for me to go somewhere and take a lot of photos, but I have to be really in love with the photos to share the majority of them.

That's where Chez Panisse comes in. If you haven't heard of world-famous Chez Panisse, I won't judge you. I didn't know what the restaurant was up until a few months ago but it turns out my parents used to eat here a lot in the late 80's, early 90's.

Norris, one of my dearest friends, was an intern for the Office of Alice Waters and wanted to show me and Jamie where she worked (and what she got to eat every day for lunch).

walls of menus past
the menu

This restaurant was all about the details. The etchings on the glass carafe, old prints of former Chez Panisse menus all over the walls, the fact that the waiters carried around wooden boxes to hold silverware.

nettle & pecorino pizzetta
crab & scallop endive salad

We ate family style. We ordered two appetizers, three entrees, a dessert and shared everything:

Crab and scallop endive salad (my favorite)
Nettle and pecorino pizzetta
Mushroom and pea ragu pasta
Quail and squab with persimmons and herb toast
Fried rockfish with potatoes and celery root
Chocolate meringue and mocha ice cream drizzled with espresso caramel sauce

It was the best way to taste everything without getting too full too quickly (which was inevitable anyway).

mushroom & pea pasta
quail and squab
fried rockfish
chocolate merengue, mocha ice cream & espresso caramel sauce

After taking a long, leisurely lunch in the cafe, Norris took us on a little tour of the restaurant and of Alice's office. Each of the spaces was humble and small-- a real testament to their rustic meals and their approach to food. The kitchen was crowded and busy, humming with warmth.

For an entire week, Chez Panisse only needs two standard sized garbage cans. (You know, the kind that can fit one adult in it and no one else.) Everything else is either composed, reused or recycled. How amazing is that?

restaurant kitchen
cafe desserts of the day
in alice's office

And then we walked into Alice's office. Alice's office. 

An entire wall dedicated to cookbooks. Lemony soap in the bathroom. Striped twine for sending out books to friends. It made me happy to think that even though she's become so well-known for "pioneering California cuisine," she still takes pride in the beautifully simple things.