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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

Do you need to answer back? You can send me comments if you want to.

If I want to, I'll post 'em in this very blog.



July 25-31, 2006


go to next week's blogs



Monday, July 31, 2006

It’s a fair bet that any restaurant in a modern, luxury hotel will have air conditioning. Usually, this is the furthest consideration when selecting a lunch spot, but when it’s on the warm side, it becomes the tipping point in the decision making process.

I had no rezzie, but was seated without a wait in Ame’s wood accented dining room where I ordered the black cod ($25.00):

... It was sake marinated and served on triangular shrimp dumplings in a broth colorfully strewn with shiso, carrots and shitakes.

The fish was moist, delicate and cooked to a perfect level of doneness. The shrimp filling in the dumpling was densely packed with a uniform, fine grind. If they were lighter or had  more textural interest with larger bits of bottom feeders mixed in, it would have been even better. The broth had a clean and multidimensional taste. I was happy with my lunch except for the wine pairing.

I inquired about the compatibility of a white Burgundy with the cod, but the server said that the Rex Hill Pinot Noir would be preferable due to the mushroom component in the dish. I went with the recco and found the tannis drowned out the delicate flavors of the broth and erased the sweetness of the cod. I stopped drinking it and had the water instead.

He might like the combo, but it’s not my thing. 

My warm stone fruit tarte tatin ($9.50):

... wasn’t the flipped over, upside down, caramelized stand in for an apple dessert that I held in my mind. It was a yellow peach tart with an almond paste filling. The crisp pastry and warm fruit was peachy. Muscat ice cream was smooth and rich with a nice balance of flavor. I just wish that the scoop was missing the few stray ice bits (they must have fallen off the cover as it was being plated) but it didn’t have nasty ice spicules throughout.

I had a nicely made Graffeo coffee espresso before hitting the road.

Ame is a good place staffed by friendly and considerate people. I like the unstuffiness of this beautifully decorated, hotel restaurant.

Ame Restaurant
689 Mission St.
San Francisco, Ca




Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Beard Papa mascot:

... looks more like he should be fronting for frozen fish sticks than Japanese cream puffs, but I guess he knows what he’s doing since there are lines out the door when people dash out for a lunch time or after work pastry.

I was a bit underwhelmed by the ones that I sampled in New York, so I didn’t hurry to queue up at Yerba Buena Gardens right when they opened. But I was in the nabe and thought it was time for another puff.

After the initial frenzy of the new San Francisco branch opening, there are finally off hours of the day with no wait.

I like the way they fill the pastry to order so a crisp shell is standard issue. You can feel your arteries clogging as you take your first bite of the chocolate cream puff ($1.95):

The gigantor size of this fat pill makes for a flavor monotony after the first few bites.

The caramel and vanilla varieties ($1.95 and $1.75 respectively):

... don’t make me think of a flavored pastry cream. Instead, they remind me of Jello pudding.

If they made a smaller, golf ball sized version of these I wouldn’t have a feeling of jumping off a pate a choux cliff and sinking into an ocean of custard.

As far as the calorie to dollar ratio goes, this is probably the most economical form of energy you can buy. Who needs that middle part of the food pyramid anyway? Even so, they aren’t the kind of pastries I personally crave.

Beard Papa
99 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA




Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cotto” means “cooked”, so I’ll bet you can put together what “salami cotto” means.

The Fatted Calf makes this mega-sausage and pops it in the smoker for good measure. It emerges from it’s smoky hangar as a Boeing Airbus that takes you on a non-stop trip to Club Fed. Instead of beads; peppercorns and garlic are the currency and you will learn the art and craft of sandwich making (or whittling if you can’t be bothered to get some bread.)

This big hunk ($8.00):

... was between a half and three quarters of a pound and is to be kept refrigerated between snacks. This type of chub is a softer variety than the dried versions and is melt in your mouth good.

I also picked up the required fegatelli plus some petit sec which are little herbed slim jims that were the result of a wealth of herbs (an over herbundance) at FC. They made these little meat snacks and got their fans hooked, so they are on their product rotation.

And speaking of fegatelli and petit sec, they are one of the fabulous prizes on Sam’s blog today. She is doing a 24 hour blog benefiting Food Runners who help to make us a better community by limiting the waste of our local food resources.  Check out Sam’s gorgeous photos of her radish crostini and make a pledge to support a good cause.


Fatted Calf
Saturdays at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market
as well as the Berkeley Farmer’s Market

From today’s bunrab email, Mick writes:


Couple of things... I stopped at Marin Sun Farms storefront in Pt. Reyes Station last weekend and their kitchen wasn't yet operating. They said they've been having trouble getting a chef but should get it up and running soon. But I don't now what soon really means. I read your pleased, if not glowing, description of the shawerma at the Falafel Hut in San Rafael. I had one of those soon after the place opened and was way underwhelmed. The cook put a lot of effort into constructing it, chopping and slicing, but I found it small for $6.95, the meat chopped very small or ground, with a one-note-taste sauce, nothing at all like Aram's (in Petaluma) larger version with much larger pieces of meat and a more complex sauce (plus their red pepper sauce on the side). Have you tried the one at Aram's, alas available only Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the last time i was there.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Mick,

The first time I went to the Falafel Hut things took a lot longer, but they seem to be a little quicker now.

The slices off the beef and lamb meat cylinder were nicely seasoned, I see your point about the fine grind, it may not be your thing, but I though it worked against the crunch of the chopped veggies. The tahini sauce is mild, so it’s not going to satisfy a red pepper craving. Your description of the Aram version sounds too good to pass up. I will have to check it out!

Bummer about Marin Sun Farm’s kitchen delay. After the flood they had their work cut out for them. I gave them a call and they said they would open “in about a month” and I asked what that meant. They said it is dependent on when they get a chef. I asked about that beet burger that Chubby loves, and he said that it will be up to the new chef whether it’s on the new menu.

Thanks for the tip,





Friday, July 28, 2006

Today was the first time I had ever dined and dashed. Well, maybe it was more like dashing and dining. I placed a to go order and when the lady handed me my bag of food I left without paying. The owner found me outside munching on my food and gently reminded me to pay. I was so embarrassed.

I went back outside to finish my shawerma ($6.95):

The spiced beef and lamb were nicely seasoned and the crunch from the cucumbers and onions against the tahini sauce, tomatoes and chopped curly parsley made for a tasty lunch.

I know that curly parsley was pushed out of the culinary ring decades ago and there have been those who have tried to bring it back from it’s exile in the ‘70’s. It’s friend the Iceberg lettuce must have a better publicist to have gotten it’s comeback so much sooner.

I still cringe that I made the owner chase me down for payment, but my embarrassment won’t keep me from returning (and paying) in the future.

Falafel Hut
1109 Fourth St
San Rafael, CA


From today’s Bunrab email, Elle write:


That's too bad about 3 Degrees in Tiburon-I have not tried them yet-sounds a little off-I hope they can get it together-did they not use rice oil in their deep fryer for the fries-oh the horror!!!


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Elle,

I’m rooting for them to get it together, but I’m going to give it a lot of time before I check it out again.

If I remember correctly, you are the person from the California Rice Oil Co.who has written in before. Those fries that I had yesterday wouldn’t have been the best showcase for any oil product…a fry is a terrible thing to waste.


Elle also writes to Chubby about the burger grail:


Hey, have you reviewed M&G Burgers in Larkspur or Fairfax yet?? What is your favorite burger in Marin??


Chubby answers this one:

Dear Elle,

I have been to M&G for both their ordinary cheeseburger and their gussied up Cowgirl cheese burger. Both were okay, but not really my thing.

In Marin, I like the mini burgers at Picco (which I’m not really sure qualify for this discussion due to their Hello Kitty-ness in sizing.) The Yankee Pier burger is my top Marin pick, followed by Boca’s burger in Novato.

Marin Sun Farms is due for another visit (they had some severe damage from flooding and were closed for a long while.) I want to see if they still have that delish burger with the beet slice. Yum.

Your pal,





Thursday, July 27, 2006

Three Degrees leaves me cold

It’s cooling off enough that it was a little chilly in Tiburon today.

Three Degrees Restaurant at the Lodge at Tiburon:

... has just expanded their service to include breakfast and lunch. I asked for a seat in the warmer dining room but was told that I would receive “better service if I was seated outside” because they “had just seated a large party in the dining room.” I said that it was too chilly for me outside (as I pointed to the poorly populated dining room. He urged me to follow him anyway (listening skills anyone?) and asked if I wanted an iced tea. I said that it was too cold and that I would prefer a hot tea (which warmed me up enough to be less irritated at being blown off for the more comfortable seating.) Rosa Parks would LOVE this place!

To add insult to injury, my burger took forever to arrive. It took so long that I got three unsolicited apologies for the wait. Hey, maybe that’s what those “degrees” are, the stages of apology you will get as a customer.

This cheeseburger ($13.00):

... was made with Niman meat shaped into a patty that was too wide for the bun. If they had made it thicker and matched the size to the roll, the meat to bread ratio would have been better. The house-made herb bun got juice logged on the bottom. The grilled onions were in a narrow clump along with a single slice of tomato, one of pickle, and a leaf of lettuce. More tomatoes were needed to balance out the flavors. The grilled onions were sliced too thick and dominated their portion of the sandwich. Overall, the distribution and balance of ingredients was in need of adjustment.

Although they looked fine, the fries were on the greasy side  and the house-made ketchup was watery and sweet.

Their menu is aimed at tourists more than locals. Not only is it connected to a lodge, but the ferry docks are nearby and there are all those hungry shoppers there who couldn't get a waterfront seat at Guaymas.

Appetizers ($7-$13) include salads, crab cakes, spring rolls and tamales. Entrees ($12-$25) consist of sandwiches, main course salads, roasted chicken and fish.

To be fair, they just began lunch service (so kinks are a normal part of the equation) and there were some nice people working there so this visit could be a fluke. But for now, I need 3 more degrees of separation.


Three Degrees Restaurant
The Lodge at Tiburon
1651 Tiburon Boulevard
Tiburon, CA




Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Catching up with our friends S and L was a great excuse to visit Zax Tavern. We started out with some of their cocktails. S had a their classic martini which was made with Hangar One vodka. I got another Hangar One drink, but mine was made with their Fraser River raspberry vodka (which is only produced by St. George Spirits in June, so it becomes scarce this time of year.) My cooling, berry perfumed, beverage included lemonade and fizzy water (but not for long.)

We started out with an order of the twice baked goat cheese soufflé ($8.00):

... which was light and tangy. Its smooth creaminess contrasted nicely with the fresh, crisp matchsticks of apple and paper thin shavings of fennel and celery in a light cider vinegar dressing.

Thin slices of roasted gold and red beets ($9.50):

... concealed a layer of blue lake beans which were scattered with crunchy, toasted hazelnuts and a slice of Bermuda triangle cheese (which quickly disappeared.) The earthy beets, pungent cheese, and crunch from the nuts were all unified with a tasty sherry vinaigrette.

We also got a side order of escarole ($3.75):

These liberally peppered leaves were darned good.

Chubby’s steak ($21.00):

... was cooked to a perfect rare (as requested.) This Niman Ranch beef was tender and flavorful alongside the crispy smoked paprika frites. Blue lake beans and summer squash were cooked to a nice crisp tender. 

I got the pan roasted Alaskan Halibut ($21.50):

... which was cooked just right. Its moist and flavorful meat was capped off with a kalamata olive tapenade which added a pleasantly salty and meaty component. The fried artichokes were good, but slightly greasy over the smashed Yukon gold potatoes and tomato broth.

It’s easy to overlook Zax since it’s not on our normal migratory path, but it’s a welcoming place with nice people. In addition to the dining room, you can eat at the bar or just come in for one of their well constructed cocktails.


Zax Tavern
2826 Telegraph Ave.
Berkeley, CA




Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I walked up to the ice freezer at Safeway and it was empty. I rolled my cart to the alternate ice case and there were only a few stray cubes scattered about. No ice? What if I had a kidney harvest victim in an iceless bathtub at a Motel whose hand was gaffers-taped to a telephone with a note about my horrible deed? And what about that kidney? It needs ice stat!

Okay, that’s not why I wanted ice, and it could be easily argued that within the realm of culinary creations that do not require a lengthy recipe, I could get it together to make some, but a few ice trays never produce enough. I like a huge sack of cold rocks sitting in the freezer waiting to transfer their energy.

I’m glad that the freezer at Sketch was fully operational. It was time for some cooling granita. Back in the day, you could get two flavors in a small, but those simple times are over and the two flavor  option is now the medium size.  Has Hollywood’s influence convinced this pretty, ice-chested, ingénue to go up a cup size? Or is it low self esteem? Peer pressure? Did the spoon not look good on a small? At least they didn’t use sili-cone implants.

The medium was actually a good size to get a chilly dose of half lemon verbena and half watermelon granita ($4.50):

This was seriously spot hitting, but it did occur to me that a shot of Hangar One vodka over the top would have been a welcome addition.

I also picked up a couple of their fabulous, buttery, chocolate chip cookies ($1.50 each):

I have tried all the CCC options on 4th Street and these are my faves.

Don’t forget to punch your ice cream card:

... (to get one on the house after you scoop out $50.00)

1809A Fourth St.
Berkeley, CA

The General Manager of a San Diego restaurant is taking his work home with him by keeping his eye out for internet activity about Red Pearl Kitchen


Thank you very much for the wonderful review and pictures of our cuisine. We are very excited about our potential and your blog will really help get the word out. Please let me know if you are going to be in San Diego again as we hope you will come on in.

Thanks again,


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Adam,

Thanks for your note. Us Bunrabs are notoriously shy (being creatures of prey) but if you ever see a couple of rabbits chowing down in your place, you can be pretty sure it’s us.






back to last week - July 17-24, 2006



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