Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Making even a simple dish three times in two weeks can teach you more about cooking than trying three different dishes in the same period. Pay attention to the process of making it, and to the small and large differences in the results
Judy Rodgers
Her advice is spot on and we would all do better to follow it more often. Every time I heed what she says—cook, repeat, repeat, repeat—I become far better at delivering table pleasure. It's not a terribly rigorous discipline for me since I'm also a relatively boring cook. I probably overdo it, repeating myself to everyone's boredom, the same dish coming off my stove week after week, year after year, seeking its own root cause.

Judy Rodgers passed away recently. Her restaurant, Zuni Cafe on Market Street in San Francisco has been one of my—and half the universe's—favorite for twenty-five years. Much less stuffy and reverential than Chez Panisse but equally CaliFrenchiFornia in every way. The layout still blows me away, especially the bar. Who sets up a bar to deliberately block a plate glass view? There are floor to ceiling windows, but you must look past the bartenders and their bottles to the street beyond, which is like looking at a partner partially clothed versus naked. Turns out partially clothed is way more sexy.  In the fifteen years or more I've visited San Francisco the city has gotten much richer and uglier and Market Street has stayed its poor ugly self. Judy's restaurant stays pitch perfect.

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