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We went for lunch in the cafe. This is a real treat. If you don’t know, Chez Panisse has defined the “eat local, organic, and sustainable” food movement on the west coast and way, way beyond. Award-winning chef Alice Waters is, of course, a legend in sustainable and seasonal and local and a master at making simple food delicious. A blurb about the restaurant: Alice and Chez Panisse have become convinced that the best-tasting food is organically grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound, by people who are taking care of the land for future generations. The quest for such ingredients has largely determined the restaurant’s cuisine. Chez Panisse has tried for years to make diners here partake of the immediacy and excitement of vegetables just out of the garden, fruit right off the branch, and fish straight out of the sea.

There is a dinner served in two seatings with a fixed-price menu of three to four courses. The menu changes every night and showcases the season’s finest ingredients sourced from local purveyors. We had lunch in the cafe, which is less expensive and features a menu with apps and a few meat entrees.

We started with an avocado/citrus/beet salad, and this was my favorite item by far. It was perfection: beets and thinly sliced blood orange with the most delicious avocados salted and covered in cracked black pepper, with a simple olive oil citrus dressing. I found the recipe and want to share it here. You could also use walnut oil, which pairs well with beets.

Avocado & Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

6 medium red or golden beets
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
1 large shallot, diced fine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange juice
Chervil sprigs
1/4 teaspoon chopped lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon chopped orange zest
2 firm ripe avocados

Whisk in 3/4 cup oil and stir in the chopped chervil, lemon zest, and orange zest. Taste for seasoning.

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pits. Leaving the skin intact, cut the avocados lengthwise into 1/4″ slices. Scoop out the slices with a large spoon and arrange them on a platter or individual dishes. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the beets over the avocado slices and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Garnish with a few chervil sprigs.

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