The Raw and the Cooked

When I saw “Tartare to the Tune of International Roses” headline in the Wine Section of the Chronicle a couple weeks ago, I scanned the story and it’s accompanying recipe for Tartare of Ahi and wrote in the margin, “do this with that Rose from France.”

from our bedroom.jpg

On our first visit to Brian’s new Montpellier abode, we took a day trip to Avignon, on the Rhone River to taste some Chateauneuf de Pape. Little did we know that across the river is the Tavel district, famous for its rose. After touring Avignon and tasting Chateauneuf de Pape, we crossed the river and found Domaine Les Trois Logis, a tiny winery in an addition to a suburban house. We stopped in, chatted up the winemaker and tasted his just bottled rose. It kicked ass! Wow, I bought two bottles, which, with the bottle of Chateauneuf de Pape and two bottles purchased in Languedoc near Montpellier, was the most we could possibly carry back on the plane. I had practically forgotten about it until I saw that headline.

Yesterday, on my Saturday journey to the Farmers Market, I stopped in at Ferry Plaza Seafood and spied a huge piece of tuna, it must have weighed 10 or 15 pounds and darkly shimmered on ice in the fish case. I asked for 3/4 of a pound and he cut a slice weighing 0.68 pounds, close enough. Oh boy, we’re eatin’ good tonight!

Normally, Tartare of Ahi would be an appetizer, and the recipe only called for 4 ounces of Ahi to feed six people. We’re having it as a main course, so I two-plus timed the recipe. What to go with? Probably should be something “white,” since the tartare is vinegary. Hmmm, I have some leftover French Beans from Val’s Kitchen, I grilled some sliced potatoes (in a grill pan), and I made some cucumbers with yogurt, and a green salad. I put those things in four small, colorful bowls on the table, stacked crostini on a small plate and opened the wine.

Now that’s good eatin’ and EZ.

That was written in July 2005—pre-eatsforone—to share with my “foodie” list.


I revisited this menu in June 2006 when I spied fresh Ahi at the Shogun Fish stand in the Market. He’s usually the “Salmon Guy” because he’s there during salmon season, but lately he’s been having other kinds of fish, depends on the weather and where he goes. Also, there’s a strict limit on salmon fishing this year (a long, sad, bureaucratic story). His fish is very fresh, packed in zip-lock bags and fully prepped (the pin bones are even removed from the salmon). I learned that Mr. Miyamura fishes three days during the week to catch enough for the Saturday Ferry Plaza Market and the Sunday Sacramento Market.

Although this menu is very simple, the anticipation of the wonderful shimmering tuna caused me to take my time to get everything perfect.


I didn’t have a ring mold, for example, so I went to City Discount and scored a set of round, copper “cookie cutters” 2, 4, and 6 inches in diameter, on sale for $5 (marked down from $7.50, must not be hot sellers).

The day before, I made the French Beans and stored them in the refrigerator to get their flavors going. I have some roasted beets in the refrigerator. I pickled those.

The day of, I made the Tzatziki Cucumbers with the little crisp and tender, very fresh cucumbers I get at the Market. That, too, went into the refrigerator to chill and get itself into perfect condition.

I find I’ve been going twice to the Farmers Market lately. First at 8AM to buy what looks good—tuna, skirt steak, baby artichokes, purplette onions. At home, I look for recipes to use what I bought, and then go back to get the stuff I need—leeks, tomatoes, eggs, shallots and stuff. I’m lucky to have the market reasonably close by (a 12 minute ride on my scooter); how would I have known that wonderful fresh tuna would be there, or a very nice skirt steak, so how would I know what I need to go with? I’ve reached a point where I hate to buy the things I can get at the Market at a Supermarket. But I digress.

Carol is home and we have a cocktail and “leftovers” crostini (with the extra bread from the croutons for the tuna) topped by a sliced tomato (extra, from a peas and tomato sauce dish) and fresh mozzarella (extra, from a green bean and mozzarella salad).

Then I warmed some of the beans, mixed the dressing for the tuna and started dicing tuna.

Open the last bottle of 2003 Domaine Les Trois Logis Rose we brought back from France, and assemble the dishes.

Oh yes, this is a meal to savor.

Tartare of Ahi
From Lynne Char Bennett in SF Chronicle 7.7.05 modified to serve 2 as a main course.

It is very important the fish is as fresh as possible and that it is handled properly and kept cold.


8 ounces of sushi-grade ahi, finely minced
3 teaspoons capers, rinsed and chopped
5 teaspoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon lemon zest, (I use a microplane grater)
4 teaspoons minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra capers or parsley leaves for garnish

Croutons about 1/4-inch thick with olive oil brushed on one side.


Mix the ahi with the capers, olive oil, lemon zest and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Plate the tuna with a ring mold; garnish with parsley and capers. Serve immediately.

Tzatziki Cucumbers
From the Madison Area CSA Coalition via Mariquita Farms Ladybug Letter

3 of the small, tender cucumbers I get at the Market (or one medium cucumber)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
8 ounces yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Combine all ingredients, chill and serve. Makes 2-3 servings.

French Beans from Val’s Kitchen
(Val was the bean lady at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market… she’s not there anymore. This recipe was stapled as a closure to a pound packet of beans.)

1/2 pound dried green flageolet beans
Pour 1 quart boiling water over beans and let sit for 2 hours or more.
Drain. Put the beans back in the pot and add 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and simmer, covered, until beans are tender (about 40 minutes for me).
In a saute pan, heat 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil, add finely chopped shallots, one or two thin sliced or diced carrots, one chopped branch celery with leaves, salt and pepper and a pinch of basil or thyme. Saute until tender, add to beans. Add 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley. Simmer for half an hour to blend flavors.


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