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Lark, Oxtail, and More

March 13, 2011 Leave a comment

We’ve had a pretty good run of dinners the last few days, thanks to Gail and Joel. i was thinking a brief rundown might be in order.

Wednesday: On Saturday night four weekends ago, we tried to eat at Lark, but couldn’t get a table. No problem. We simply went three blocks up and ate at La Spiga, where we had such a good dinner that we returned two weeks later to celebrate my (non)-birthday. There was a problem though, which is that Gail had bought a $100 voucher for Lark a year ago for $50 and it would expire two nights ago. Plus, I wasn’t showing sufficient enthusiasm for going. So it was that Gail announced to me last Monday that she and Joel were going to Lark on Wednesday. I decided to join them.

As the website explains, Lark’s “menu features small plates of locally-produced and organic cheese, charcuterie, vegetables, grains, fish, and meats, all prepared with a signature focus on flavor and quality.” You can get a better sense of how they implement this by looking at the on-line menu. Each page of the menu has the note, “Our menu consists of small to medium-sized plates. We encourage family-style sharing.” And our waitress suggested that the right number of small plates for three people was 7 or 8. We had never eaten at Lark before. Therefore, it took us a while to sort through the menu and come up with an acceptable list of shared items. Here’s what we ordered:

From the cheese menu, “Smokey Blue: rich, hazelnut smoked blue.”

From the vegetables/grains menu, “Sunchoke soup with chestnuts, brown butter and duck confit” and “Rosti potatoes with clabber cream.”

From the charcuterie menu, a goose prosciutto that’s not on the current on-line menu, so I can’t quote their description. It came with marcona almonds and a balsamic spread. And we ended up with two plates of it through some misunderstanding, which was just as well given how few of the thin prosciutto slices came on each plate.

From the fish menu, another item not listed online, bacon-wrapped cod.

From the meat menu, “Meyer Ranch hanger steak with Provencale sunchokes, truffle sauce.”

Oh gosh, this isn’t adding up. What else could we have had. Oh, also from the vegetables menu, “Sautéed half wild mushrooms with garlic, olive oil and sea salt.” And maybe one other dish that I’m forgetting.

They came in waves. The cheese. Then the soup and prosciutto. Perhaps that’s when the mushrooms came also. The fish and steak. The potatoes at the end. They were fabulous. But then, everything was.

I think if I were to order for myself in a traditional way, I would have had the soup to start, the steak and potatoes next, and then dessert. Speaking of which, we ordered three desserts. I chose the chocolate madeleines with Theo chocolate sauce, not currently listed on-line, which is how I would have finished my meal if just ordering for myself. They were bite-sized and there must have been about 20 of them. (I shared.) Joel chose a tarte tatin. The menu lists “Bartlett tarte tatin with Calvados caramel and vanilla ice cream,” but on Wednesday the tarte tatin was made with pineapple. Gail had the mascarpone cheesecake.

We were glad we went.

Thursday: I don’t know where the idea came from that we should eat oxtail, but Gail and Joel decided Thursday was the night for it. They must have planned the whole meal. All I know is, when I came home, the meat was cooking on low heat and with Gail out until later, Joel got the sauce and the polenta going. Gail helped Joel finish on her return and then plated a beautiful meal. I wish I had taken a picture of it. The oxtail pieces sat atop the polenta, with the sauce ladled over it all. The raisins and blanched celery gave the sauce an interesting texture. The meat came right off the bone and was delicious.

Who needs Lark when you can eat so well at home?

Friday: Joel was out Friday, so Gail and I were on our own. I called from my office and we entered into a long debate, as I resisted the idea of going all the way up to the Northgate area just to get Indian food. But Gail was convinced that Saffron Grill was our best bet, as other long-time favorite Indian restaurants have declined, and I finally relented.

I know. I should always relent. A hard lesson to learn. Dinner was excellent. And the place was packed. It’s an old Denny’s, which is to say, it’s much larger than the typical Indian restaurant. Cavernous. Yet we were lucky to get a table.

What did we eat? Well, we’re pretty predictable. We always start with pappadam and vegetable samosa. Then we have Tandoori chicken tikka, chana pindi or (in this case) chana masala, and then, if we get a third main dish, lamb korma. Plus roti. All were superb. We don’t usually get dessert, but Gail insisted that I try their baklava. I should explain that in addition to Indian food, they serve Mediterranean food, which is why baklava finds its way onto their menu. And the waiter brought us a complimentary second dessert, kheer (rice pudding, with nuts and cardamom). I’m not usually much of a rice pudding eater, but given that their kind offer, I partook. Pretty good.

Saturday: As I mentioned in my basketball post last night, we found our way to Northlake Tavern, where we more typically eat on Friday nights. Not much to say. I love it, for unaccountable reasons. Salad. Pizza. Pear cider. And a thrilling UW overtime victory over Arizona in the Pac-10 championship game.

Sunday: Gail and Joel made a chicken stir fry on rice. Broccoli. Pea pods. Bamboo shoots. A great end to the week.

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Categories: Food, Restaurants

Change We Can Believe In, XIV

March 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Change We Can Believe In: Don’t Mess With the Man

I wrote twice last week (here and here) about the mistreatment of PFC Bradley Manning, held in solitary confinement in the Quantico brig, spending his nights naked, and not even convicted of a crime. Last night I wrote about State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley’s description three days ago of Manning’s treatment as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid” and President Obama’s response two days ago that the Pentagon had assured him that “the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards.”

Well, okay. I’m glad that’s clarified. The Pentagon certainly knows a thing or two about how to treat people held in military prisons who haven’t been convicted of anything.

The latest news is that Crowley has been fired for speaking his mind.

P.J. Crowley, the state department spokesman, stepped down Sunday after saying publicly that treatment of Wikileaks suspect Pfc. Bradley Manning in military detention has been “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

In a statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote that she accepted his resignation with regret.

“P.J. has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian. His service to country is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best,” Ms. Clinton wrote.

Back in June 2008, Joe Klein quoted candidate Obama as saying, “I don’t want to have people who just agree with me. I want people who are continually pushing me out of my comfort zone.” (Hat tip: Luke Johnson, via Glenn Greenwald.) That was then. Now we know otherwise. Crowley is lucky that he hasn’t joined Manning in solitary confinement.

(See also Will Bunch’s comments.)

Categories: Politics