On Monday, my amazing husband passed his oral exam for his PhD. After 3.5 years of studying, he finally moved from PhD student to PhD candidate! Hooray! 🙂 So, to celebrate, I decided to surprise him with dinner at Chez Panisse, which is seriously one of the most amazing restaurants in the Bay Area.
For those of you who don’t know, Chez Panisse is an all organic, locally sourced restaurant with an inventive menu that changes daily. Alice Waters is a pioneer in her field – and I greatly respect her for the work she’s trying to do for the school lunch program and The Edible Schoolyard (but that’s for another post 🙂 ). My husband was obviously super excited when he heard that we were going to Chez Panisse. I’m not usually good at keeping surprises for months at a time (I had to make this reservation months in advance!) But this time I did – which made it even more of a surprise for him 🙂 Our reservations were for the cafe upstairs, because there were more vegetarian options for us there.
I love the warm, inviting ambiance of this restaurant! We were already starving when we got in, so we went right to ordering – after they brought out their fluffy, warm, homemade bread with the tastiest all-natural butter I’ve ever had!
Our first entree was the hand cut herb pasta with wild mushrooms – which sounds simple, but it was the most flavorful pasta I’ve ever had! I’m pretty sure they added a lot of garlic and a variety of herbs to the sauce, along with what was probably a healthy helping of butter and olive oil 🙂 Soo tasty though!
I also ordered a ginger orange soda – which looked like rose wine when it came out! It was a really interesting drink – the soda wasn’t too sweet at all – it was actually quite refreshing with a nice hint of ginger to it.
But back to our entrees. In addition to our pasta, we ordered the pizza with wild nettles and pecorino. My husband didn’t even know what nettles were before the pizza came out – and I had only had them once before and didn’t really enjoy them (nettles can be kind of bitter if they aren’t cooked properly). But these nettles were crispy and really flavorful – with hints of garlic, crushed red pepper and probably a host of other spices that I couldn’t identify 🙂
Yummy! And of course, we couldn’t leave without ordering dessert. We ended up getting the Sierra Beauty Apple and Cranberry Tart with Cinnamon Ice Cream. The tart wasn’t too sweet and you could really taste the apples and whole cranberries! The cinnamon ice cream just had a hint of cinnamon and when paired with the sweet crust of the tart and the “tart” filling, rounded out the dessert perfectly.
As usual, and amazing meal at Chez Panisse! My husband and I left very full, content, and happy. And of course – he was relieved that his exam was over! It was the perfect dinner celebration 🙂