Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pa-tay-toe, Pah-tah-toe, Let's Call the Whole Thing Soup

Sure, there's that Italian dish called acquacotta (cooked water soup), but that seems more a misnomer than merely meager. For humble, it's hard to top potato soup, and I'm not talking vichyssoise, which besides being haute coutured into French, gets chilled, and that wait for it implies a certain extravagance of time and denial of immediate hunger. No, nothing gets more humble than hot potato soup, particularly one that won't even allow anything porky to give it crunch, or, well, porky goodness. (Lave me in lardons and I might make a meal of myself.) A few quick snips of chive, that, sure, a bit of simple zip from what looks like a grass. But otherwise, just potato.

On a recent what passes for a chilly night in Santa Barbara, a perfect potato soup could be had at Petit Valentien. Leave it to the French to make something so simple sing, but it did, of the comfort of the earth and a creaminess my waistline can only hope was mostly just from the potatoes themselves (but it sure tasted rich). They must take great care with their food, as it leaves them no time to put up a website.

You can enjoy that with Bonaccorsi Syrah by the glass, and that will lead you to a delightful plate of duck breast, red-centered and skin well-grilled, in what seems more an essence of orange sauce--nothing sticky, just a light lovely jus, that's jus right. (Sorry, the food's way better, and much more deft, than that lame joke.)

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