When I was a kid my father used to haul me with him on a Saturday to get me out of my mom’s hair so I wasn’t underfoot. After I had children, I figured my mother had a martini and celebrated a few hours of peace the moment she heard the garage door close. My father would refer to these Saturdays as “our meanderings.” We would go to the liquor store, cigar store, dry cleaners, Petrini’s Grocery, etc. We would always have lunch before grocery shopping because dad said that way we were not hungry and we wouldn’t impulse buy. That was never the case because my dad never met a gherkin, pickled or stuffed olive, or tin of smoked oysters he didn’t buy.
Dad was extremely adventurous when it came to food and picking a restaurant. He subscribed to the ode of worst looking and most off-the-beaten-path were the restaurant “gems.” Often this turned out not to be true but we would give it a go and as my dad would say – it was all about the aroma test the minute we opened the door; garlic in an Italian restaurant, smoky slow cooked meats in a BBQ joint, bacon or French toast at a diner, etc. One fall day we meandered into a Hofbräu that was basically a buffet; in the soup pot there was thick orange paste, my dad excitedly announced, “cheese soup.” I looked at him as if he was crazed as he loaded my tray with a big bowl of the orange paste. He immediately went in search of beer, Tabasco and onions. He found them all and “doctored the soup” he stirred a touch of beer into the soup along with the Tabasco and topped the soup with onions – I consumed three bowls and my love of cheese soup was born.
Fall always sends me in search of cheese soup. I was so pleased when I visited Great Basin Brewery a few columns ago and saw they had cheese soup on the menu. Last week I returned to enjoy a bowl (okay, maybe two) of their Wisconsin-Style Beer Cheese Soup. The soup is made with their Nevada Gold beer and bratwurst sausage. While I enjoy my cheese soup pure – no meats – I have consumed many with meat and kudos to Great Basin the soup is excellent. If you haven’t tried cheese soups go in and enjoy theirs. Oh, and did I mention it pairs great with beer. Great Basin Brewing Company, 846 Victorian Avenue, Sparks (775) 355-7711 (greatbasinbrewingcom.com)
We always had a Friday or Sunday night dinner of fresh fish and in the fall that was petrale sole, my parents ate with the seasons. I’m not sure if the petrale are running during the fall but it was always the time of year when we ate this fish. Doing some research on Whole Foods website (where else?) they also recommend eating petrale sole in the fall and I learned it is an important commercial fish caught by trawlers. I wandered into Sierra Gold Seafood the other day to buy salmon and was thrilled to see lovely petrale sole filets. I purchased a couple of pounds and sautéed them lightly in a little lemon butter and white wine for a delicious dinner. Sierra Gold Seafood Market, 1335 Greg Street #105, Sparks (775)359-5700 (sierragoldseafood.com)
In the fall my thoughts also turn to dressing. I realize Thanksgiving is over a month away but when the leaves turn and the nights get cold, people think of different things and I think of dressing. The other evening I was dining with friends at Campo Sparks and saw a special “Focaccia Dressing” which I immediately ordered. When it arrived it was one of those dishes that you think, “where have you been all my life?” The focaccia bread was broken into large chunks and liberal amounts of butter had been applied with studded garlic cloves throughout the dish. Chef David Holman made it more decadent by adding cheese, and he wasn’t shy with the cheese. When you visit Campo Sparks ask Chef Holman to make it a permanent seasonal dish – that way we can all enjoy it until Valentine’s Day. Plus, I’m thinking of asking if Campo can provide me a tray of dressing for my actual Thanksgiving gathering, and I’ll just omit to tell the family who made it. Campo Sparks, 137 Los Altos Parkway, Sparks (775)501-8970 (camporeno.com)