Richard, and I went to Berkeley Jan 31st with my long-time friend, Jodie Evans to celebrate New Year’s Eve and Jan 1st at the great restaurant, Chez Panisse. I had the honor, some months ago, of introducing the famous chef, Alice Waters, when she received an award at the Armand Hammer Museum. Alice started Chez Panisse some 35 years ago and, with it, she revolutionized much about how people eat in the United States. Most everything comes from local vendors and farms and is 100% fresh and made exquisitely. She started the Edible Schoolyard program around the country. This has school children plant, grow, harvest and sometimes, cook, eat and sell their produce. She was the inspiration for the Obama White House to put in a vegetable garden. She is an integral part of the global food movement which includes the organization Slow Food. Alice is a beautiful, inspired, free-spirit of a woman, surrounded by friends who have loved her and been a part of her life for many, many decades. In her restaurant it is not easy (especially New Years Eve!) to tell who was staff and who were friends and guests. We are becoming friends and so when she invited Richard and me to celebrate the New Year with here at Chez Panisse, I jumped at the chance.

I had never been to the restaurant before and as we got out of the car and approached the entrance, my heart was racing. That’s when we took this photo.

My friend Jodie Evans, Scott, me and Richard in front of Chez Panisse when we arrived the afternoon of the 31st. My heart was racing I was so excited to finally be at Chez Panisse

We got there in time for a late lunch. Here are some photos of what we ate. There were a lot more dishes but I forgot to photograph everything. Beginning with something as simple as the various olives and continuing on, you’d take a bite and realize that never in your life had you ever experienced the particular flavor before. All extremely subtle but orgasmicly great. Take the nettle pizza for instance. I took a bite and after a few seconds, a new flavorful taste hit the back of my throat in the most delicious and unique way.

Scott Peacock, Alice Waters, me and Richard

This was part of our luncheon...nettles and pizza. It was to die for. As was all the food

Although the restaurant was a hub of activity getting ready for their biggest night of the year—a Chez Panisse traditional party, Alice sat with us and was a calm and lovely as could be. I’d have been a nervous wreak. Scott Peacock, a friend from Atlanta where he was renown chef at Watershed, was with us. An old friend of Alice’s, he was going to cook a traditional southern New Year’s Day brunch of Hoppin’ John and ham…the collard greens represent bills, the black eyed peas represent coins and the ham, good fortune.

After lunch, Jodie, Richard and I laughed ourselves silly at the new “Fockers” movie. Truly funny—Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller are perfectly matched foils for each other.

New Year’s celebrations were had back in Chez Panisse, complete with paper hats, horns and streamers, fabulous food and dancing. It was a perfect way to ring in what, I feel deeply, will be a good new year.

Beautiful Alice Waters, her beau Greg, my dear friend from Atlanta, chef and writer Scott Peacock.

New Years festivities.

We got back last night and this morning I had brunch with my son, daughter-in-law and BBF, Paula Weinstein and her daughter, Hannah (my Goddaughter) and our dearest friend, Molly Rhodes.

I feel optimistic, full of love and friendship and am back working on my book!! And here I thought that was over. My editor surprised me with a swath of new changes she suddenly sprung on me. Yikes!

I can hardly believe it but 2 years ago tomorrow, I started blogging for the first time while en route to New York to start rehearsals for “33 Variations,” the first Broadway play I had done in 46 years.

Tuesday, I begin rehearsals to do it again here at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. I have never done theatre here and I am very excited—to rejoin the cast (only 2 new cast members), our wonderful writer/director Moises Kaufman, and our stage manager, Linda Marvel. This is also the first time I have done a play for the 2nd time and I am curious to see what will be new, what discoveries I will make having had 2 more years of growing up. And here I am, still blogging. I intend to do as I did while in the play in NY…blog every day about the experience. We open to previews January 30th.

Happy New Year to all. Love, Jane

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  1. Boy am I glad you’re writing/blogging.
    Really great to hear about your day-to-day life.
    Glad you revere good food/ingredients and great friends as much as I do!
    Who is playing opposite you in L.A.?
    I’ve known Samantha for a long-ass time, missed it on Brdway and would love to catch it here.
    I’m on Twitter, @marciliroff

  2. Happy New Year, Jane! Still hoping you’ll play the mother in the movie adaptation of my novel “Lucky Stars.” I think your manager has the script that Jamie McGurk gave him (and to your daughter-in-law with whom she’s friendly). Would love for it to happen! Best wishes, Jane Heller

  3. Hello Jane,
    You open to previews January 30th, that is something. Thinking on your trip up to Berkeley , reminds me of the 70’s I used to drive up to Berkeley and into San Francisco from Long Beach and back just to enjoy the food ,stop off sometimes and spend the night at Pismo Beach.
    Eight hours up and Eight hours back, some ride along the coast. The food looks great, I have read of Alice Waters before ,good ideas. Been doing someresearch on Sir Roger Casement- you were interested in the Congo, his work there and in South America at the turn of century was brilliant. But Roger Casement was a decent human being and a patriot. That’s why they hanged him.
    The research on this life would make a fine film ,if anyone could believe that it was non-fiction.
    Still try to contact you ,if you got your script?

  4. Break a leg, Jane!

    That food looks amazing–reminds me that I’m due for a night of fine dining. If you are ever in Kansas City for any reason (though I’m not sure why you would be), I recommend Le Fou Frog. It’s my favorite. 🙂

    I watched Barefoot in the Park the other day, for about the hundredth time, and I think you get more beautiful with each viewing. Thank you for one of my favorite films!

  5. The pictures of the food makes my mouth water. Would love to go to LA one day and visit Chez Panisse. You look absolutely amazing. You are a true inspiration to woman of all ages. I have always loved you for your honesty and down to earth personality. I love people who are not afraid to say it like it is and are not afraid to admit their faults and are humble but also proud of their accomplishments and rightly so. Your appearance on Oprah was so inspirational to me. You said things that helped me with my own life. I would like to thank you for sharing your life with us and so honestly and heartfelt. You are one classy lady. Wish and hope all the best for you Jane. Keep on living life to the fullest. Love Diana

  6. Happy New Year Jane …

  7. Hi, Jane. I want to wish a very happy New Year to you and your family. I so enjoy reading your blog. Break a leg with the run of “33 Variations” in L.A. I hope that 2011 is your best year yet.
    Lots of love.

  8. I am looking forward to seeing 33 Variations, Ms. Fonda!! So much!! I enjoyed reading your blogs about the show in NYC. I have been following ever since. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us!


  9. Sounds like an interesting restaurant! Happy New Year to you, your family, and friends! May 2011 bring you everything you hope for and more!

  10. Lovely blog. Keep it up. You’re an inspiration.
    Happy New Year to you.

  11. Happy new 2011 day, jane and richard. We are wishing you all good things ~ wealth, health, wisdom and passion. I reached 65 november 28! My third act! I await your book with much anticipation! Peace and Grace, moon & lady b

  12. Jane, Happy New Year, and Happy belated Birthday.
    I’ve missed your blogs. Love this one. I’m excited you are doing the play in L.A. and look forward to living vicariously again.

  13. Thanks for sharing your Chez Panisse visit. It brought back sweet memories for me. Many years ago, I’d drive into Berkeley from suburbs to shop at the Co-op market down the street from Chez Panisse. Wonder if Alice Waters ever shopped there! You described my feeling when entering the restaurant (upstairs section) …almost reverential and thankful for her ‘eating fresh’ concept which I had taken for granted since my mother from Croatia was the first Martha Stewart and Alice Waters combined!!!..oh how I miss her. She would have been 100 yrs. old today and always ‘cooked from scratch’ ..never from a box. Her homemade apple strudel had crust as thin as paper. Today I am so thankful for those memories..and lessons! Happy New Year Jane!

  14. I for one am glad you decided to blog. The way you share your life makes you seem like a very ordinary person and I have to stop and remind myself of the things you have done. It is a beautiful reminder that in the essence, famous or ordinary, we are all humans with a lot of the same needs. Happy New Year.

  15. Looks like everyone was having a great time.

    Happy New Year….hope 2011 brings nothing but love and happiness to you, your family and friends!


  16. Happy New Year!!!! I’m so glad you’ll be blogging again. I missed your daily words. I’m sure you when you’re doing the play you will be wonderful.

  17. Hi Jane,

    I’m a huge fan of yours, and whenever I hear you’re doing an interview, I try to tune in. Today I saw you on “The Talk” and you looked really nervous. I was remembering other interviews — Oprah springs to mind — and you looked nervous then, too. I was wondering, do you still get nervous when you appear in public? How do you deal with the jitters, if you do? I think you’re the greatest. Thanks for being you!

    Love, Jessica

  18. I saw you on The Talk today with the gals. Beautiful inside and out. I do that plank exercise often. It is the best one for tightening the abdomen. I am too thin but still need to keep things from sagging. Also movement is the way to graceful longevity and sitting is stagnation. Love your slideshow photographs. My…. Ted’s eyes.. are they really that blue!

  19. i am so inspired by your new workouts-cannot wait to start! I am 62. I have had 2 new hips and 2 new knees and am ready to get back into LIFE. Thank you!

  20. Ms. Fonda- I wish you only health,wealth and serene happiness in this new year! Christs Blessings to you and yours!

  21. Chez Panisse! What a swell way to launch the New Year!

    I wonder if you saw this beautiful piece about Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis that appeared in the New York Times in 2003:

    Savoring The Chemistry of Southern Cooking

    I saved the article, because it touched me so deeply.

    “33 Variations” was my favorite play of ’09, and your performance was gorgeous. Enjoy Round Two!

    Wishing you health and joy in the New Year.

  22. Glad you all (Georgia talk) had a great New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year right back at ‘ya. My NPR producer spouse and I had a quiet one and loved it. I say the year ended nicely with some good things passed in Congress. I feel that the omens are positive this year. You are now in California (much of the time, you thespian you) and Jerry Brown is back as governor. The election hurt badly but had some bright spots like him. Sadly we in Florida have much to fear from the man that some of us elected to head our state.

    Break a leg with your return to play the same character again for the second time. Remember Paul Newman won his only Oscar for reprising a character. I say to you again MAKE THIS PLAY INTO A FILM SO THAT ALL OF US CAN SEE YOU IN THIS ROLE.

  23. Scott Peacock looks like he has lost some weight. He looks great!

    • Yes he has. And he is gorgeous and kind and perfect. I want him to find love.

  24. You have been an inspiration in ways I couldn’t begin to describe or list. Just when I think I’ve outgrown the effects of being a ‘motherless daughter’… Thank you and Happy New Year!

  25. Ah, to be young, in love, and opening in LA.

  26. I just discovered your blog because some local bloggers in the Bay area were aware of your appearance at Chez Panisse. My son and daughter-in-law live literally around the corner from Chez Panisse on Rose Street. My darling, beautiful 7-year-old (today) grandson benefits from the edible Schoolyard program initiated by Alice Waters because he attends a local public school in Berkeley. The students in the Berkeley schools don’t think twice about the lunches; they think it’s normal. Now if only other school districts would do the same. We parents and grandparents thank Alice Waters and Ann Cooper for doing what they’ve done for school lunches. Thank you for giving it attention in your blog.

    A little off topic: I love that you publicly embrace your grandmotherliness. A story you told on “Oprah” about snuggling with your grandson brought tears to my eyes when he said he “wasn’t ready” when you were going get up from the snuggle.

    All the best on your performances in 33 Variations. LA could use a little class. Just kidding. Hopefully my husband and I will be able to drive down to see you.

  27. Speaking of the LAT, I once said hello to you at the front door of the paper, shook your hand. A highlight for me.

    On the other hand I also shook Richard Nixon’s in the Globe Lobby of The Times. A light on a diff level.

    Break a leg,

  28. I can’t believe you were in Berkeley and didn’t call me? 🙂 I have yet to eat at Chez Panisse. Maybe one of these days …

  29. I live about a mile north of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, near the main commercial avenue – Solano Ave.

    There’s a variety of very good restaurants on Solano, but one of the best ones and the one you might get a kick out of dropping in on next time you’re up here is, ta da – Fonda. Nice place, and focuses on unique Latin American small plates.

    No, I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but like to go there from time to time.

    It’s part of the grand pageant celebrated every year when they close off the 1.5 plus miles of Solano Ave. in Berkeley and adjoining Albany, and have a huge party, the Solano Stroll, with foods, vendor stands, and different bands playing every 3 blocks or so — 100,000 – 200,000 people show up that day in Sept. each year:

    Come visit any time!

  30. Chaz:Panisse….sounds like such a wonderful restaurant! I’ve read about it occasionally over the years! So glad you finally got to go there! Sounds like your lunch outing was such FUN with your friends! Then also going to a New Year’s eve party there too must have given you many positive feelings to start the new year!! Love the pics!

    I started reading your blog 2 years ago when I read in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that you were starting one. I thoroughly enjoyed it so,so much when you started writing about behind-the-scene situations while you were doing your play in New York….lots of fun to read!!:) I’m very excited for you to be doing the play,”33 Variations”, in Los Angeles now! Great! Have fun!

    Take care!:)

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