I have been cooking from Alice Waters' books for years. I find her recipes always spot on, simple ingredients and preparation, and they always turn out a fine meal. As say in comparison to The French Laundry, which to me is inaccessible mainly for the ingredients. I can't just pop out to the market for truffles. That is the beauty of Chez Panisse, it is not ostentatious, it is not snooty, it is not mind altering. It combines perfect ingredients harmoniously with other perfect ingredients simply and without a lot of fuss. It doesn't force the seasons or the exotic. It serves the best things available today. We ate in the downstairs restaurant which is lovely and decorated in an understated craftsman style. The menu is prix fixe, and varies nightly, so I won't elaborate on the details of the courses as they will certainly be different on another visit. Lets leave it at, each was better than good. The service was perfect also. What I went away with was the thought that a good home chef could make most of these courses, after trying and failing many times and using only the best ingredients available. Or just go to Chez Panisse again. Try her recipe for slow roast salmon in the oven. Perfection. But don't use anything other than great wild salmon or it is terrible.
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