Thursday, May 2, 2013


 Yesterday was such a beautiful day that my friend Judy and I decided to celebrate May Day by going down to Pescadero and eating at Duarte's. We cruised through the new tunnel that bypasses Devil's Slide and made our way down the coast, marveling at the blue sky and the sparkling ocean. The fog lay right off the land, rolling up over the horizon with a line that looked cut with a knife. The breeze was perfection and we enjoyed the drive even more because the weather man had said that the next day would be hot with temperatures up in the high 80's. For once the prediction was right.

Pescadero is a tiny little town, south of Half Moon Bay, on the coast with a total population of 643 (according to Wikipedia). Main Street (the only street) like it hasn't changed much since the 19th century when it was founded.

Their website celebrates small town life, right out of the pages of Booth Tarkington, with farm festivals, flower shows, arts festivals and barn sales. You can visit a goat farm, stroll along the beach or view the birds from the wild life refuge that runs alongside the road into town.

Main Street is charming, with old homes, beautiful gardens and a gentle, slow ambiance.

The town is so small that it's hard to believe it's about an hour's drive from San Francisco. There are small homes, a gas station, a post office, two churches, a thrift store and a couple of markets.

But we had come with less meditative things in mind. DUARTE'S! Artichoke and green chili soup, crab cakes, French Bread and other culinary delights.

The business was started in 1894 when the great-grandfather of the current owner, Frank Duarte, brought a barrel of whiskey from Santa Cruz and placed it on top of the bar that is still used today. The price was ten cents for one whiskey, two bits for three. Business thrived until prohibition. During prohibition, according to our waitress, they went in for rum running but, as a sideline, founded the restaurant (1934). The same family still runs the business, serving (according to their website) 13,000 people a month. In 2003, the James Beard Foundation in New York awarded Duarte's an honorary award as an American Classic.

Judy had the artichoke soup and the crab melt. I just had the green chili soup and only refrained from licking the bowl because we were in public. We shared a slice of the olallieberry pie a la mode since we didn't want to do more damage to our waistlines and because we were both stuffed and couldn't eat any more. 

On our way back home, we stopped at Half Moon Bay to walk along the wharf and admire the boats and the occasional seagull. It was a perfect day.

The restaurant doesn't publish its recipes but this is close to their Green Chili Soup.(found on the Internet)

The amount of cream in this recipe may scare some people. I'm not usually one for adding so much cream to soups, but this soup is so greatly improved and transformed by the creamy addition that I put in the full amount. Try it with less, if  you must.

20 fresh, mild large green chiles (the original recipe calls for Hatch Chiles and I have no idea what they are. I used a mixture of Anaheim, Serrano and 1 Scotch Bonnet chili because I like more heat).
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (Homemade Chicken Broth is a great addition to this soup)
1 cup heavy cream


Roast and peel chiles using either the stove-top method or the broiler method. After peeling, put chiles in a large bowl to collect any juices.
In a medium pot over medium-high heat,melt the butter. Add onions and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, another minute or so until the mixture is very fragrant.
Add chiles and broth (3 cups for a thicker soup, 4 cups for a thinner soup) to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook until vegetables are extremely soft and flavors have blended, about 15 minutes.
Whirl mixture in a blender or food processor until super smooth. Whirl at least 2 minutes (this may seem like a long time) to achieve a velvety texture.
Return mixture to pot and stir in cream. Gently heat until mixture is heated through. Add more salt to taste, if you like.
Makes 4 servings Cream of Green Chile Soup or 2 if you are greedy like me.

1 comment:

Zoomie said...

Absolutely perfect day, wasn't it? I was enjoying the sea breeze from home, parked in the shade with a good book.