We don’t blink an eye when considering a 70-mile drive to eat lunch. But do we need to bring family into this when said family member, Chuck’s cousin Barbara, has to drive 105 miles? Yes, we do. Especially when it was her idea.
Our destination was Pescadero (CA) and Duarte’s Tavern, which was featured on an early season of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives during which Guy Fieri sampled the artichoke soup, abalone sandwich, cioppino, and olallieberry pie. And during our lunch I had the chance to sample all four.
“In the 1950s, the third generation joined in. My father, Ron, enhanced the menu with his famed artichoke dishes along with introducing the equally famous crab cioppino…. The fourth generation arrived in the mid-eighties (and) have been running this business together for the last twenty years…” (duartestavern.com).
Barb’s entrée choice was one that she described as a new favorite—the hot crab and cheese sandwich.
The sandwich was as simple as they come. Two abalone steaks were pounded until tender, lightly dusted with flour, and cooked on a flattop. The sourdough bread had been toasted on the inside so as not to get soggy. And the sandwich was presented with a lemon wedge and a dish of very good tartar sauce. Since this was my first taste of abalone, I wanted to start with it in its “virgin” state—no embellishments. The flesh is mild and sweet and not unlike a calamari steak. After tasting it both ways, I still preferred the flavor of the abalone sans lemon or sauce.
For Chuck it was the cioppino. And would you look at the size of that bowl!
And Barb’s and my soup had come with bread, which neither of us ate, but it was put to good use with the cioppino broth.
On to dessert. Barb’s choice was the pecan pie which she has decided is better than her own. Since I judge all pecan pies by Barb’s, Duarte’s has achieved a high standard.
One pie trumps them all, selling 10 times more than any other kind: olallieberry. The red, knobby fruit that looks like a blackberry’s big cousin has a sweet-tart flavor. Olallieberries are harvested along the California central coast for only six to eight weeks in summer, usually starting in mid-June. But Duarte’s freezes at least 30,000 pounds each season to be sure it will have enough to make this signature pie year-round.
“Why are folks so obsessed with olallieberries? ‘Part of it is the unusual name,’ says Kathy Duarte, fourth-generation owner of Duarte’s. ‘Plus the pie is quite good. The crust is fantastic, and the filling is not covered up with a lot of sugar or tapioca. It’s old-fashioned, straightforward’…” (viamagazine.com).
This crust was so rich and tender that I initially thought that it had to have been made with lard. But the recipe that accompanied the article quoted from above called for vegetable shortening. Still, it was one of the most delicious restaurant pie crusts ever. And Kathy Duarte was right on target when she says that the filling isn’t overly sweetened.
We had a great 5.0 Addie visit with Barbara accompanied by great 5.0 Addie lunch. How better to spend a day?
To review the role of Adler and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.