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Rover’s Again

July 6, 2009 Leave a comment

napoleon

In January I wrote about our first lunch at Rover’s, and in March I wrote about our second. Rover’s, as you may recall, is one of the finest restaurants and Seattle, and it’s just down the street from us, but we had never eaten there before these lunches. Since our second lunch, on March 20, we haven’t been able to return. They serve lunch on Fridays only. The next Friday, Gail flew to Scotland. The ten Fridays following, I had to teach. Then there was another engagement the Friday after that, then we had to drive to Vancouver the Friday after that. At last, two Fridays ago, we had the option of eating there, but my cousins John and Joan were visiting and eager to see Pike Place Market, so we went there and had lunch at Serious Pie (as described here). Last Friday there were no obstacles to going. So we did.

Our meal was superb. Gail and I ended up ordering the same items. Alas, three days on, I don’t remember the details too well. We started with one of the soup choices, Walla Walla onion (now in season) and bacon with mushrooms. As with the other soups we have had there, it comes to the table with some item stacked in an otherwise empty soup bowl — the mushrooms in this case. The liquid comes out in a teapot and is then poured into the bowl around the central stack. The liquid itself was smooth and creamy in consistency. I would describe the color as brownish gray, but Gail suggests golden tan. That certainly sounds more inviting. I don’t know. Anyway, it was great. Caramel color, Gail now adds.

For our entree, we chose the Moulard duck breast, which came with quinoa and some other spectacular items that now completely escape me. The duck was perfect. I need to take notes in the future. But let’s move on to dessert. It was sublime. Called a Napoleon, it was by no means a traditional one. It was more like the ideal chocolate bar. At the base was a thin, rectangular chocolate cookie. Sitting atop it were five creamy mounds of chocolate, shaped like Hershey kisses, topped by a chocolate filament. And on the side was cookie crumble.

Our friend Kai joined us. She had the same dessert, but chose a cold asparagus soup with smoked salmon and, for her entree, the sturgeon. I tasted tiny bits of each. Excellent.

And no visit to Rover’s is complete without a tableside visit by Thierry Rautureau, the Chef in the Hat. Now that I’m not teaching, we discussed our plan to have lunch there every Friday this summer. He approved, but also suggested we try their Sunday brunch. And he spent some time discussing possible future developments. He was a delightful host, as always.

Categories: Food, Restaurants

Bill Russell

July 6, 2009 1 comment

redme

I read Bill Russell’s new book Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend (written with Alan Steinberg) last Thursday. A pleasant little book, though extremely repetitious. I bought it for Joel for his birthday 10 days ago, knowing he might not be too keen to read about the Boston Celtics, but thinking he might enjoy the historical perspective it would provide on basketball in the 1950s and 1960s. He went back to Boston a week ago and the book stayed here. When I was in the midst of some project in the basement bedroom Thursday afternoon, I saw it sitting around, so I began to read the Prologue. A few hours later, I had finished the book.

Bill Russell is one of the giants of sport whom I always regret that I came to appreciate too late. Like a number of other figures of that era, he was still at the height of his powers when I began to follow the given sport, but I was too focused in those early years of fandom on rooting for my own team to enjoy the greatness of players on other teams. And none in basketball was greater than Russell. Only in his final two years as player (and coach), when the Celtics yet again won the NBA title, did I begin to understand that there might be something special about him. I eventually got to place him in proper perspective: the NCAA championships for the University of San Francisco in 1955 and 1956, the Olympic gold medal in 1956, then the NBA championship in his first season as a Celtic, in 1957, followed by eight in a row from 1959 to 1966, the break in 1967 when that great 76er team of Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, and Billy Cunningham won, and then the final two championships. A record unrivaled by anyone in any other major team sport. And the Celtics won all those championships because Russell re-defined the game, in partnership with his coach Red Auerbach, putting defense and quickness at its heart.

Well, you can read about it in the book, though without much detail. It’s mostly a collection of anecdotes about Russell’s relationship with Auerbach alternating with repetitious philosophizing about what true friendship is. I enjoyed it. In part, I enjoyed getting a fuller picture of two men I used to view as enemies. But Joel’s comment when I told him I had read it struck me as on target. He had in fact started it before he returned to Boston, but decided it was written for nine-year-olds.

For more thoughts, see Bill Bradley’s review in the New York Times last month.

Categories: Biography, Books, Sports