My day off: Friday. Sadly started earlier than I might have preferred, but our friend Bruno had offered us his truck to let me use to carry away part of the rising tide of refuse in and around our home and he needed to drop the truck off early…so…715AM I was at the door, meeting and greeting and thanking, then waiting for my wife to get ready for work so I could drop her off at BART (the movie The Longest Day is based on men waiting for women, you lovely things, you), and eventually…I was alone.

Headed for Cafe Tribu to relax with a cortado and jalapeñocheddar scone (new–and perfect for breakfast–I actually had two) and then…simply unwound. A little iPad surfing, a little reading, a little email checking and…what’s this?

The Spanish Table weekly newsletter had a recipe for duck with Fideos (Spanish-style noodles) from the hot Spanish restaurant Duende in downtown Oakland so I had dinner set (sorta).

Teaser. Here is a shot of the duck in vegetable broth simmering away, getting cooked and infused with layers of flavor, and now, back to my irregularly scheduled report of the day…


But then to work! I sorted through the shed, cleared a safe path to the second floor bedroom, and drove off to the corner where the jornaleros would be hanging out waiting for day labor jobs and hired Marvin and Ariel, both from Guatemala. The huffing and dragging only took a couple of hours, they both left with $30 apiece and I had less stuff to deal with.

Given it was such a hot day, I changed into shorts (they still fit! from our trip to the Philippines where I had actually bought them nearly 18 months ago which felt great), took my two bikes to the shop to get adjusted, hit the coffee shop at Tribu again for more reading, and then to pick up the new chair Angela had bought several days ago, replacing the broken one just consigned to junk heap.

At 330PM Bruno showed up to collect his truck, we shot the shit briefly and he took off for home, leaving me to my bike and a trip to Monterey Market, Magnani’s Meats, and the aforementioned Spanish Table to pick up the necessary ingredients like arrope.

Yeah, that’s what I said. What? Arrope? It also called for roasted chestnuts and olives but…but, well, instead of arbequina type I will be using nicoise (I am sure the culinary gods will forgive me).

I’m sure they will. Here is a shot of the arrope, a sweetish sauce made from the leftover grape mash from making wine. I only needed an ounce and I have enough now for a load of other dishes–need to dope out what to do with that stuff that is left over.

The other item is the Chateau de Cougat Bordeaux (2010) which we highly enjoyed with the Fideos.


Duck legs are dense, thick pieces of meat that benefit from slower, deep cooking, usually a confit style literally poached in duck fat. This method called for the duck legs to be poached in broth, seasoned with salt, peppercorns, cloves (don’t worry, only two little ones), and trimmed carrot, celery, and onion. Already twenty minutes into the simmering and the pleasant smell of the broth is circulating in the kitchen–very nice.

Though the recipe said 45 minutes to boil the duck till ‘tender’, that leg ain’t quite there yet so I’m giving it another 20; inside is still pinkish.

Here’s the recipe in a nut shell. Boil the duck legs in water flavored with carrot, onion, celery, salt and pepper and bay leaf. Fry up the Fideos in a bit of oil, set aside. Cook onion and garlic and tomato sauce to a thick mess–called the sofrito to which you add the reserved Fideos. While the duck was cooling, remove its skin and fry it up in strips as a crisp garnish.

When the noodles are done, add the duck pieces handily snipped into bite size nibbles, and chestnuts. Garnish with fried duck skin bits, arrope, and shreds of Treviso radicchio. Serve.

I think I’m going to crack open that bottle of Chateau de Cougat Bordeaux (2010) now while I get cookin’.

Aaaaand…excellent dish. Superb flavors. Look, here it is.


When my wife tasted it at first, she was perplexed. She would get a hint of sweetness that would suddenly disappear, followed by a mix of savory duck, crisp noodles, and salty olives. “But did you like it?” I intoned with insistence.

Oh, yes“, she replied, “...but my mouth is confused. But yes, it’s definitely delicious!

Ok, then. Good. I tasted it and from the moment I saw the sofrito coming together I had a premonition that this was gonna be a rockin’ culinary success. My thanks to Katy at the Spanish Table for calling out this recipe and for for publishing it here. Highly groovy flavors, let me tell ya.

Here are some of the ingredients. Note that the arrope is a little bit sweet and could be very versatile in a lot of dishes, from desserts to meat marinades to weird things you do behind closed bedroom doors.

But seriously, a delicious dish which, based on my proportions, was suitable for purportedly only two people, but after my wife and I each had a serving, there was enough for a third leftover for her tomorrow.