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Saturday, February 21, 2015

THE CUISINE OF 15 CRAIGSIDE


At 15 Craigside (left), health and food dominate the discussion.  While I have avoided joining any committees since my retirement more than 15 years ago, I was talked into serving on the Food and Nutrition Committee, for there is every reason to believe that the cuisine here can be materially improved.

Mind you, the general evolution from what suffices at Arcadia (right, an older and sister seniors community) to something closer to a combination of Zippy's, Rainbow Drive-in and a small Japanese restaurant, complemented by a decent salad bar with soup, plus dessert, was a major step forward.

Unfortunately, the driving motivation of the cooking crew seems to be focused on fixing grub for 90-year olds who can't tolerate fat nor salt.  The vegetables are almost always way overcooked and the cafeteria atmosphere detracts from anything resembling fine dining.  Perhaps I'm probably being too harsh, for how many homes pass for a Michelin 3-Star restaurant?  Further, from my discussion with people living here, most actually seem satisfied with the current sustenance.  But no reason why lifestyles can't be enhanced over time to suit my wishes.

The problems, of course, are cost and the need to satisfy the wide tastes of 200 people.  Will there be a way to delight more residents with the enthusiastic support of the kitchen staff and upper administration?   Those would be my combined goals.  I no doubt will be taking on a task the equivalent of Saving Planet Earth and Humanity, something at which I have miserably failed.

As an aside, every so often when I see something on the menu that I can make more palatable, I do something called take out, paying $1.50 for, usually, lunch or dinner.  I have a nice little kitchen with two burners, a microwave oven, toaster-baking oven and full refrigerator with freezer.  There is something more appetizing about a dish coming straight from the stove to your table, like, for example, the right temperature.  At lunch yesterday, we had clams linguine with garlic bread and a salad with tomato rice soup.  The pasta here is usually more than acceptable, but anything can be improved with some thought and creativity.  So I quickly refried the linguine in butter, and picked seven basil leaves from my lanai garden to match the seven manila clams, added some onions to the salad (topped with truffle oil and balsamic vinegar) and tomato rice soup (with a few dashes otabasco plus raw onion rings):


I opened a bottle of a Stanford University Governor's Selection, a 2012 Knights Bridge Chardonnay, which just arrived in December, and the potion was truly spectacular.  This was easily the best Italian meal I've ever had in 15 Craigside, or anywhere else, this year.  Not quite up to my best lunch ever at La Terrazzo dell-Eden in Rome (left) or Pierre Gagnaire at the top of the Lotte Hotel in Seoul, but very satisfying, and almost free, relative to those extravaganzas.

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