Posting will be light today as I must catch up after my return to cold, rainy Chicago. Here are few of my holiday snaps (no work snaps) from Davis:
. . and into California’s Great Central Valley, almost all farmland
First meal out in Davis: lunch at Redrum Burger. Once called Murder Burger, it was subject to a lawsuit because the name was already taken, so they simply reversed the name to make it something out of “The Shining”:
Burgers and fries:
My friend (and informal host) Phil Ward, an entomologist and ant expert, sharing a pitcher with me at the Delta of Venus after work, one of the last redoubts of the with-it-restaurant in Davis (it’s funky and hippy-ish, and serves Jamaican and Caribbean food as well as a good selection of local beers):
Et moi. . .
Putah Creek, the lazy stream that flows through campus. Parts of it are lined with coastal redwoods.
Although there was a formal dinner after my first Storer lecture, it was in a University facility and I didn’t take pictures. The next night, however, my friends Phil and Michael Turelli took me to Tucos, one of the three or four fine-dining restaurants in Davis.
As an aperitif, we began with a round of Pliny the Elder, a very highly-rated beer made by the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California. It was quite good: hoppy, but not too heavy on the hops, with a lovely floral nose:
Then three types of appetizers: medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese and apple and wrapped with bacon, herbed goat-cheese crostinis, and cachapas, Venezuelan corn cakes with melted cheese, served with sour cream:
My main course was one of my favorites, the Brazilian national dish feijoada, described on the menu as “A Hearty Plate of Stewed Grass-Fed Beef and Pork Sausage and Farofa (Toasted Yucca Meal) Served with California Medium Grained Rice and House-Cooked Black Beans (Never Canned Beans) and Pan Fried Collard Greens.”
The wine was EBO Val di Cornia Suvereto 2008, a gutsy super Tuscan (and it better have been for $60 per pop—thanks, Storer folks!):
Bread pudding with golden raisins for dessert:
The next day my host, Luke Mahler, took me to a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in West Davis, Shanghai Town. We were the only non-Asian customers, so things looked good. And the food was excellent. We ate too much, starting with scallion cakes with sesame seeds, Eight Treasures, Lion Head Casserole, and Dan Dan noodles:
Lunch the next day was at a famous taco truck several miles north of Davis. Everybody in town knows about this La Kora:
I had three: birria (goat), carnitas (pork), and al pastor (beef), along with a Mexican orange soda. There are no tables or anything, so we sat on the curb. The tortillas are hand made, patted out by a woman who works in the truck (it seems to be a family business):
The area is apparently inhabited by feral kitties, and one came up to me. I tried to offer it a nom, but it was skittish and, after meowing a few times, walked away. It was one of the most beautiful stray cats I’ve ever seen (it was in good condition), and I deeply wanted to take it home. Look at that silver-gray coat and those blue eyes!
On my last night, I collected on a very old bet. My friend Rick Grosberg, an evolutionary biologist who works on invertebrates, bet me in 2008 that Obama would not win the presidency. He deeply wanted Obama to, so I took the opportunity for a “sucker bet.” I bet him a duck dinner that Obama would win, telling him that if he did, Grosberg would be so elated that he’d be glad to make me a duck dinner. (I made the same bet in 2012, so I have another dinner to collect.)
Grosberg paid off with a magnificent meal: he’s one of the two best male cooks I know. We started with a flute of Veuve Cliquot, served with local olives and pistachios, flatbread, and a local goat cheese. Then came the magret de canard (duck breast), cooked on the rare side, the way I like it. Rick had marinated it all day in pomegranate juice, molasses, and a brew of other stuff I couldn’t remember, then grilled it outside:
Cutting the magret, clearly cooked properly:
The side dish was a wonderful casserole of leeks, Comte cheese, and croutons:
A plate fit for a king:
After the champagne, the wines included a fantastic Rioja from 2004, and then, for dessert, a sweet Italian—Recioto de Soave. It was the first time I had this wine, and it was luscious, tasting much like a late-harvest Riesling:
For dessert there was a grapefruit pound cake made by Rick’s partner, the well known pianist Lara Downes. Sadly, I nommed it before taking a picture.
As lagniappe, I got to hold their pet rabbit, Snuffles:
As you see, there was no dearth of noms. The next installment (I hope) will be photos of Davis’s annual Picnic Day, when the university puts on a big party with parades, sheep d*g trials, dachshund races, and all kinds of bells and whistles.