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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.



Saturday, December 31, 2005

BZ and R know how to put together a New Year’s party:

A great group of people, delicious coq au vin, leeks, zukes, and spuds:

... rang out 2005 culminating with a flan de queso:

I’d never had this delicious Puerto Rican hybrid of flan and cheesecake before. Yum!

The kids outnumbered the grown-ups but were too busy with various video games to figure out that they could stage a revolution.

L&L brought champers to toast the year ahead.

A great ending to a great year.


Susan R. writes:

"Having been to the Ferry Building a zillion times, I thought I had "done" the highlights. But Chubby's new Metro Menu has proven me wrong. I've obviously missed a number of yummy treats. Thanks for taking the calorie hit and pointing out so many of the wonderful choices available to us all. Now have some carrot soup and stay dry in this storm.


Chubby replies:

Dear Susan,

I never pass up taking a “calorie hit” in the name of yummy chow. Glad you liked the edible tour.

Your pal,




Friday, December 30, 2005

Another rainy day meant it was time to do some baking.

I checked out the Scharffenberger.com recipes and decided to make one of their chocolate cakes:

As I folded in the egg whites, I realized that I had made this particular recipe before. It’s Lindsey Shere’s Rich Chocolate Cake recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts minus two tablespoons of butter. Maybe it was an honest mistake, but it seems like they could acknowledge that this is an adaptation of her recipe since they use her wording verbatim in most of the instructions.

Chubby is less into baking and more into eating. Check out his latest review of San Francisco’s Boulevard Restaurant (which he went to to celebrate the completion of his latest Metro Menu.)

The NEW METRO MENU is centered a couple of blocks away from Boulevard at San Francisco's Ferry Building, which has a vast aray of fantastic chow. It’s a particularly handy place this time of year when you want a roof over your head as you eat your way through some of the best foods in town.

Got some nice mail from Ann (who pressed the “do not post” button) in the bunrab comments today.

Thanks for the note of encouragement.





Thursday, December 29, 2005

Denied entry to Bakesale Betty’s:

I wish they put their holiday info on their website. sigh.

I got my baked goods fix by making cream cheese brownies:

...at home instead.

M & R came over and we caught up over salad and a little home-made pizza:





Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A break in the rain meant all of humanity spilled out into the streets today. The Ferry Building was jammed and, as always, the hostess at the Slanted Door gave instructions to hover over the bar for vacated seats:

Those without rezzies vultured over diners shaking down their beef but I decided to quit while I was ahead (it looked like it could get vicious.)

I drove through Fisherman’s wharf (which I usually avoid, but somehow my car Christine’ed over in that direction):

... and reflected that tourists must come here and think this is representative of San Francisco. Eeek.

The only place that seemed off the beaten track today was the wave organ:

It’s a musical instrument that is “played” by the waves. It’s best to come during high tide (for less subtle musical action) but it’s also a nice place to just take in the view.

Wave Organ

at the Dead End of Yacht Road
San Francisco, CA





Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The big candy bar companies are always coming up with synchronous “special edition” releases. They have covered the white chocolate, dark chocolate, coffee, inside out, orange, and giant versions, now it’s time for “extra creamy.”

I think that this is a misnomer. It tastes like it’s extra melty through the addition of some softening agent or extra oil. Ew. The only permutation that I have enjoyed in the past is the dark chocolate KitKat which is not good chocolate, it’s just good in a mass produced, fast food kind of way.

The perfect antidote to this confectionary abomination is some sweets from Sketch:

Salted chocolate toffee – crisp, buttery toffee covered with chocolate and sea salt had a wonderful balance of flavors.

Candied Almonds – these toasted nuts were crisp with a thin veil of caramelized sugar and a hint of salt.

Pâté de fruit – intensely flavored reduced pear essence was delish.

Marshmallows – fantastic cloudlike cubes with bits of cocoa nibs.

Sketch is known for it’s delicious ice creams and sorbets, but their candies are a bunrab fave.

1809A Fourth St.
Berkeley, CA




Monday, December 26, 2005

My flamenco guitarist friend
, K, told me that the burger at Marin Joe’s was not to be missed. K. is no stranger to the Bay Area food and wine scene so I had to take Chubby to check out his recco.

I got the broiled cheeseburger ($9.50) with Jack cheese:

The French roll was hollowed out a bit to create the correct bread to meat ratio but the sturdy texture of the bread was too much for the underseasoned patty. Instead of the usual slice of tomato and onions, there were a few pepperocini and pitted black finger puppet style olives alongside. In a moment of health consciousness, I asked to sub out the fries with veggies. Boy, was that a mistake:

They cook them 70’s style, you know, when the objective of cooking vegetables was not to enhance their flavor, but to kill every single microorganism within a one mile proximity to the vegetable matter? The handy thing about cooking in this fashion is that you can tell when you have reached your objective but looking into the pot to see if everything has lost any trace of green. I don’t think that this completely conforms to the ethos of the slow food movement.

Chubby ordered the Special Cheeseburger ($11.50):

...which looked impressive in its hollowed out sourdough loaf with a heap of sautéed onions. Sadly, it looked better than it tasted. We had high hopes for our lunches as we watched the cook grill our burgers over the glowing charcoal to the specified medium rare, but Chubby had the same issue with the texture of his bread. He was better off with the addition of the grilled onions (some of which I nabbed to give my burger a bit more oomph.) Chubby ordered his fries extra crispy. They didn’t have that nice textural contrast of a soft interior, they were dried out. It could have been due to the special cooking request so I can’t really fault them.

I wouldn’t go back to order a burger (or veggies) but there is something time-travelly about going into this dark, vinyl boothed, coffee shop:

It feels like you are killing time before an Elks meeting.

Marin Joe's
1585 Casa Buena Drive
Corte Madera, CA




Sunday, December 25, 2005

Tonight J made
the best turkey:

... I have ever eaten in my whole life. Not only did it have all the cosmetic appeal of a perfectly browned, magazine cover ready bird, it was cooked just right. No dry white meat here. The skin was crispy, the dark meat (always my personal fave) was fantastically good. I’m usually not a big turkey fan either, but I can quit eating it after reaching this pinnacle. It didn’t stop there, every imaginable side dish paraded out of the kitchen to test the capacity of the dining room table:

... (as well as everyone’s stomachs) partnered with wines from Kermit Lynch (who is getting a legion of honor award, how cool is that?)

Great friends, stellar food and wine and kids hopped up on sugar made for a kick ass Christmas.




Saturday, December 24, 2005

Fortification was necessary before braving the Christmas Eve masses in Whole Foods. Dim Sum seemed like a quick way to prepare.

The shrimp in the Har Gow ($2.60) had a good texture. The Siu Mai ($2.20):

... were also fine in their porky, mushroomy way.

I didn’t care for their doughy potstickers ($2.20) or the green onion pancake ($2.20):

... which relied on it’s deep fried status to distract from it’s lack of green onion (or any other interesting flavors.)

The noodle crepes ($3.20):

... had bits of pork inside and were fine with a bit of hot chili sauce.

The steamed chicken buns ($2.20):

... contained nice chunks of chicken but were bland.

It’s not a cart style, impulse buying kind of dim sum. You fill out a list of what you would like (which is probably a good idea in a small place like this.) The service was a bit scattered, but passable. I don’t think I’ll be coming back, but it got me fueled up for the mob at the market.

House of Lee
885 4th St.
San Rafael, CA




Friday, December 23, 2005

I selected my lunch special
because it was the only one listed as “spicy” (in retrospect, I realize this was a bad criteria to employ.)

The green curry chicken ($9.95):

... was your garden variety preparation. Nothing to rave about and nothing to complain about (except maybe that it did not live up to it’s “spicy” promise.) All of the lunch specials came with a choice of a fried or soft spring roll. (I chose the soft, which was good in a generic sort of way) rice and a house salad are also included.

I think that there should be a law against green “house” salads being served in Asian restaurants. It’s a concession to Western tastes that always misses the mark. They usually go by the following profile: Iceberg lettuce with some grated carrot and dressing on top. They are never, never, ever, tossed (there’s reason why you don’t hear about Japanese salad bowls or Thai salad tongs.) Usually they are composed in advance on plates that are loaded into a fridge for the server to grab, squirt with dressing and bring to the table to pacify you as the main course is being prepared. It’s like airline food without the security check. Nobody likes these enough to crave them, they are just busy work for your jaws.

Maybe I was just in an irritable mood but I had the unfortunate luck of dining at a table in an elevated section of the dining room. It’s an older building so whenever the (very petite) Thai waitress walked by (and she did this constantly) the floor would reverberate like a diving board during an Olympic competition. Despite my annoyance (at something that couldn’t be helped) the service was fine. Next time I’ll ask to sit in the lower part of the room.

R’noh Thai
1000 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA

Things took a turn for the better after I answered the doorbell. My fabulous neighbors made this incredible paté:

Immediately after I snapped this picture, I tucked into to the chicken-livery goodness of this pomegranate geleé topped, silken, spread. This is the sort of rich, comforting food calls for a cold night, crusty bread and good wine.







Thursday, December 22, 2005

Getting a noseful of Indian spices as I came in out of the Sausalito rain was herald of good flavor to come. The place was pretty empty so I was surprised by the slow and awkward service, but everyone was friendly when they did materialize. Once I munched on some of the papadom:

... I snapped out of low blood sugar mode. A sweet and tangy tamarind sauce and a yogurt based, coriander, green tea leaf, mildly hot mint sauce made for good papadunking.

I got the Rogan Josh ($14.95):

... lunch special which is a lamb curry served with carrots, peas, cauliflower, and rice. The meat was a little dry, and the vegetables a little bland but the accompanying naan was very good. Crispy fringed, doughybellied, blistered, with just the right amount of salt and oil. I ate every bit of it.

Chubby got a fennel pizza ($14.95):

... which had a naan base topped with paneer cheese, shrimp, fennel and lemon butter. This is the dish to order if you are a linebacker and Coach tells you that you have to gain 25 pounds by Friday. Chubby gave me a slice and I thought that it would have made for a more balanced dish if the fennel was sliced thinly on a mandolin instead of the slightly too thick bits that lay under the overly thick blanket of gooey cheese. It was tasty though.

Gaylord India Restaurant
210 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA




Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Dungeness Crab noodles ($11.95):

... seemed like a good seasonal pick for lunch. The rice noodles decided to stick together and make a little tangled yarn ball that was slightly sweet from the tamarind sauce and flecked with green onion. The soft noodles and delicate crab meat needed a textural contrast to make this feel less like I was convalescing from lockjaw. I did however, eat the whole thing so it wasn’t that off-putting.

Then it was time to make David Leibovitz’s Rocky Road:

Man, is this stuff good.

Thep Lela
505 Strawberry Village
Mill Valley, CA



Tuesday, December 20, 2005

There is something so comforting
about a pancake on a cold day. Sweet or savory, it’s a round, hot blanket of doughy goodness.

Check out this Paneer Pea Uthappam ($6.25):

It’s a rice and lentil pancake (aka Uthappam) that’s imbedded with peas and cilantro leaves in a carbo-mosaic of sourdough deliciousness. It came with a bowl of thin lentil soup that had chunks of carrot and lemongrass as well as tomato and coconut-mustard seed condiments. I left no evidence of any of their existence.

The masala tea ($1.25):

... was spiced with ginger and cardamom. I appreciate the fact that they don’t sweeten this tasty, milk enriched beverage.

Udupi Palace serves Southern Indian Vegetarian food and has branches on the East and West Coast as well as Canada. They serve dosai, curries, Indian breads and rice dishes all priced under $8. The service was reasonably efficient.

Don’t expect anything fancy, it’s an inexpensive place with good veggie/Indian chow. I’m definitely coming back to try the dosai combo next time.

Udupi Palace
1901 University Ave.
Berkeley, CA

Who named this piece of heavy machinery?

I'll leave you with that. Sometimes my mirth gets the better of me.




Monday, December 19, 2005

Finally made it to Couleur Café
for lunch. I got the Mediterranean Salad ($9.00):

... which turned out to be a little sampler plate with a thick hummus, roasted eggplant spread, tzatziki, roasted peppers and pita wedges. The tricky thing about this dish is that all the ingredients are held in the fridge (for obvious reasons) and had a chill that dulled their flavors and textures (you know that slightly gelatinous mouthfeel you get from roasted peppers and are sliced and chilled? Not good.) This dish could be livened up with a some good feta, but I wouldn’t order this one again.

The cheeseburger ($10.50):

... was a round patty in a rectangular roll which is a blueprint for poor meat to bread distribution. I really like the burger at their affiliated restaurant, so I expected this one to be the same delicious experience, but the bun was under-toasted and immediately got a mushy interior, the patty didn’t have the chopped parsley that the Chez Maman one has incorporated into the meat, along with CM’s perfect bun and aioli. Oh well. But the accompanying fries were perfect. I asked for them extra crispy and that’s how they came.

Next time I’m going to order one of the baguette sandwiches which seem like a good lunch value at $5.00.

I think that the chocolate fountain:

... is a terrorist plot. The idea is that Americans will purchase these machines, fill them with delicious chocolate and create the perfect vector for disease. How evil is that? Chocolate as a viral delivery system. I guess if you gotta go, that’s not the most horrible way to do it.

Sam from Becks and Posh writes about Friday’s Brazilian Cotillion:


Your first Caphirina? Where have you been all of your life?


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sam,

Yes, it’s true, I have a sheltered existence, but you have been out and about gathering wonderful items for a good cause.

All bunrab.com readers should check out Sam’s menu for hope prizes including some of the Bay Area’s finest food and drink from Fatted Calf, Hangar One, Tabla Café, Marin Sun Farms, and more.

All the dough goes to support earthquake victims in Northern India and Pakistan and you each $5 contribution gives you a stab at winning. Pim at Chez Pim (who masterminded this event) has put up a $200 Manresa dining certificate.






Sunday, December 18, 2005

Chubby wouldn’t stop chanting “chicken livers, chicken livers…” on the way to the French Laundry holiday party. Thomas Keller personally oversees the annual preparation of these toxin filtering innards and when Chubby saw the gigantic bowl brimming with this ambrosial spread:

...he was in chicken liver heaven. I’m not sure why C prefers these to the amazing sturgeon, beef, cheeses or cornets of salmon tartare:

but everyone has their own fetish food. My addiction is their truffled popcorn. They don’t just give a drizzle of truffled olive oil, nope, they microplane black truffles into a bunch of fleur de sel and sprinkle it over the freshly popped kernels. Yum.

Usually mini desserts rely on their cute, Barbie, bite sized novelty appeal and put less of a premium on being good in their own right. Well, these babies were so good:

...that I had to prevent Chubby from upending a tray directly into his mouth.

Running this party is like trying to contain a thermo-nuclear explosion, but Thomas and Laura do it with elegance and finesse (even through the torrential rain was threatening not to drain from some of the tented areas.) Everyone had a fine time. Lots of great conversation, wassailing by a talented youth choir, and the most hospitable and warm gathering imaginable….and the best food and wine…and chicken livers.

One more thing that Chubby couldn't resist was adding his commentary to the guest book.





Saturday, December 17, 2005

Most everybody drives to the market where they pull into a parking space to park, yet when they get their shopping cart these same people wheel it into the middle of the aisle to block all other traffic.

I can’t help but wonder if it is because there is no penalty for this bad behavior (the way there is with a motor vehicle) or if it’s just an oblivious, uncaring act. I was stuck behind two shoppers discussing what brand of chocolate to buy for their new chocolate fountain. These are the bread machine of the 00’s, people will use them once and then shove them to the back of the cabinet.

Dinner with friends on this rainy night was lamb, eggplant, and my favorite turnip dish:

...from Richard Olney’s cookbook Simple French Food.

Even though I have purchased a new copy of the book (since my original copy is falling apart from years of use) I continue to use the battered one. If I came across this book in a shop now, I don’t think that it would catch my eye next to all the books with glossy photos. Most of the recipes sound dull but there are some amazing acts of alchemy in the simple onion panade, sorrel tart or endive gratin.





Friday, December 16, 2005

de Young and de restless:

Finally made it to the de Young Museum
. It turns out that the place was practically abandoned this evening (I hear it’s normally jammed.) The grounds and building are gorgeous, and I found a object of desire for any true chocolate enthusiast. Check out this cocoa pod shaped coffin.

Later in the evening, my friends took me to a Brazilian place for dinner which was a lot of fun. They introduced me to Caiprinha, a drink made with limes and a sugar cane liquor (which was tasty and packed a punch.) They also showed me how to mix the manioc root with the beans and rice (I would have just eaten it as it was presented on the plate and wondered why it seemed out of place…it’s good to go with people who know what they are doing when you don’t.)

When the lights dimmed, I thought it was somebody’s birthday, but then two scantily clad dancers:

... created a mini carnivale – you can’t spell Brasil. without bra!

Canto do Brasil
41 Franklin St.
San Francisco, CA




Thursday, December 15, 2005

I heard that they got a new chef at Fork and wanted to check out what changed since Charles Solomon revamped the menu.

The Hawaiian Ono

... was topped with black trumpet mushrooms and served in a “bouillabaisse sauce” that was studded with chunks of garlic. The broccoli was fine, but the fish was dry and flavorless and the oily fungi and garlicky broth didn’t work well together.

When I asked the server which wine she would recommend with my lunch selection, she excused herself to get advice and returned with a glass without asking if the selection or price would be acceptable.

I hadn’t seen this presentation of ice water before:

They freeze water in a glass so that for the first portion of your water-drinking experience it stays at the bottom, like a reverse hour glass.

I know that Thursday lunch isn’t normally covered by the chef, so I could chalk it up to an off day, but this lunch was certainly Fork-etable.

198 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
San Anselmo, CA




Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Café Fanny’s proximity to Kermit Lynch and Acme Bread makes for a convenient way to grab a bite while shopping. Not much has changed on the café menu over the years, but the grilled raclette sandwich ($6.95):

... grabbed my attention. They use Acme’s pain de mie and smoosh it in their panini maker till it’s melty. This cheese traditionally scraped, all bubbly and hot, over boiled potatoes, but the bread was a fine substitute. A layer of tapenade provided a salty, anchovy, punch, and there were a few cornicions on the side. My only problem is that my appetite is way bigger then this sandwich so I had to seek out supplemental food after my mid day meal.

Check out this guy doing the painting:

... on the side of an apartment building today. He was dangling on this rope, going about his work like he was Spiderman. My spidey sense tells me he didn’t have his workers comp paid up…

Café Fanny
1603 San Pablo Ave.
Berkeley, CA



Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Who is in charge of holiday decorations in SF? They are so fired:

The thing about decorations is that they should make the thing you are decorating look better than it did before it was decorated. I think that this is either of the Tammy Faye eyelash school of décor or an homage to Cristo gone horribly wrong. The sad truth is that tarting up these meters is like spraying too much designer imposter perfume on as a bathing substitute.

The thing I dislike most about lunch is that most restaurants have a cutoff time of 2 or 2:30. I know they have to be cost effective, but it’s a bummer to be denied mid-day chow. When 3 o’clock rolled around I was happy to find myself in Larkspur where I knew I could get a great late lunch.

It was time to get one of those Dungeness Crab Dosai ($12.50):

... after seeing it on the menu at Tabla on Saturday. It was pretty darned tasty. The crab’s exoskeleton is replaced with a crepe which also contained red onion and citrus aioli. There is avocado inside and it comes with avocado-orange salsa too. The sweet crab meat, creamy avocado, crunchy onion and tang from the orange wrapped in the crisp, savory crepe, really hit the spot.

I asked the owner about the tea she was making for another diner. She said that she blends three green teas from Silk Road together to create her own blend. I had to get a pot ($3.00) of this fragrant and delicious brew.

Tabla Café
1167 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA





Monday, December 12, 2005

The line at Saigon Sandwiches moves in increments because the sandwich lady asks about 5 people what they want, she makes the banh mi (with a helper) and then they are quickly bagged as the next 5 or so people call out their orders.

The lady in line behind me said that she drives to the Tenderloin for the banh mi from the FiDi which has “luncheon meat” for filling. She started picking up banana leaf wrapped treats “for later” even though she “didn’t have the foggiest what they were.” I admire her snacking spirit.

Today I got the Xiu Mai Banh Mi ($2.00.):

Although the pork meatballs aren’t as big as the ones from Hoang Dat, I like the coarse grind of the meat with the crunch of the toasty bun, carrot strands, cilantro and jalapenos. The sauce is slightly sweet (which I don’t ordinarily gravitate towards, but it works here.) I should have asked for extra cilantro and peppers but I just wasn’t thinking. I love taking a bite out of these toaster oven heated bread torpedoes filled with meaty goodness. Mmmmm.

Dessert was a sticky rice combo ($1.25.):

Although this looks as though it is a tribute to some obscure sports team, it’s really sweetened sticky rice cooked with coconut milk. The blob on the orange side is a prune and the speckles on the green side are sesame seeds. It didn’t take long before I gave up on using the wimpy plastic spoon and just picked it up.

Saigon Sandwiches
560 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA



Sunday, December 11, 2005

Chocolate Chip Cookies (or as I call them “si, si, si"s) are proof that there is goodness in the world. These simple, crisp, buttery chocolate delivery systems were on Chubby’s mind tonight and he made a batch in a matter of a half hour.

He is used to the collision of a good idea and ill-preparedness and has a system for going from zero to cookie in 30 minutes. First he pulls the butter from the freezer. His doctor gave him a special implement to use in cutting this (or blocks of chocolate):

...after an unfortunate confrontation between him and a frozen one pound block of this yellow fat.
This is a great device for breaking down the butter to throw in the Cuisinart:

The frozen chunks are blitzed with the white sugar which provides the traction to convert little golden rocks into a paste. Then it’s in with the rest of the ingredients:

... using the recipe from the back of the Nestle package (but Chubby subs out the Nestle chocolate with other brands that he prefers.)

The house smells really good now.


Sam from Becks and Posh saw my entry about yesterday’s lunch and writes:


"Too funny. I hadn't been to Tabla since ILM moved to the City from Marin. On Friday we both had the day off and so I declared to Fred we were going to Tabla for lunch. Yes - we drove the 16 miles, or whatever, just for one of Tabla's fabulous dosa. It was wonderful and great to see Suzanne. She gave me a hug cos I hadn't been in for so long and I was touched.
Did you try the choc chip mint icecream yet??? I URGE EVERYONE IN THE BAY AREA - if in Marin eat lunch at Tabla and that's an order.

Bunrabs! You have made me want to go again and I only just went there on Friday.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sam,

We love that ice cream. Especially with one of the French Press pots of coffee. We have also happily filled our bellies with the Scharffen Berger brownies, gingersnaps, and si, si, sies.

I noticed that there are little packs of house made candied nuts and ginger muffins that I want to try too. I think that these are special holiday items. They are also taking custom orders for ice creams and sorbets for the holidays.





Saturday, December 10, 2005


I was determined not to have a bad lunch today (after yesterday’s debacle) so it was off to Tabla.

I ordered my fave, the lamb meatball dosai ($10.00) with avocado orange salsa. This perfectly browed crepe also contained crunchy cabbage and pickled onions. Yum. Chubby got the turkey dosai ($9.00) with the pear chutney:

He liked the chunks of turkey breast, caramelized onions, avocado and wilted arugula all rolled together in a big tryptophan cigar. The tangy meyer lemonade ($3.00) washed it all down deliciously.

Now that Dungeness season has begun, there’s a new dosai on the menu (that I want to try next time) with avocado, red onion and citrus aioli – sounds good.

It was din with friends and as a side dish I made the coleslaw:

... that I like from Chez Panisse Vegetables. You just chop up a savoy cabbage, slice a small red onion, chop some cilantro and a jalapeno, juice a lime, drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle some Maldon salt, grind some pepper and that’s it. It went alongside a Niman pork butt and some potatoes. Cranberry, pecan, pumpkin upside down cake and biscotti for dessert followed by Aqua Perfecta from Hangar One.

During dinner, J brought up an important issue. Should you floss before or after you brush. It turns out that I was the only one at the table who did both (I brush, floss and then brush again) this was looked upon by others as excessive (but at least I avoid this dilemma that others face.)

Tabla Café

1167 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA




Friday, December 9, 2005

I had a huge craving for fresh pasta when lunch time rolled around. I headed to Fabrizio in Larkspur:

...because I remember having a wonderful plate of house made pappardelle during a dinner there long ago.

After perusing the menu, I asked the server:

“is the fettuccine house made?”


“you no longer make the pasta here?”

“no we don’t make it here for consistency”

That explanation seemed even odder to me after I received my Linguine with red baby clam sauce ($7.95 lunch special with salad.):

Why would you want to consistently make this dish? The pasta was overcooked, the clams were rubbery and gritty but at least that distracted from the overall blandness of this composition. The salad was a mesclun that was dressed almost exclusively oil. It was like the Exxon Valdez grounded itself on my salad plate. As tempting as it is, I actually don’t think it would be entirely fair for me to judge this place solely by this unfortunate visit (given my pleasant experiences in the albeit, distant past.) The problems were compounded by the rushed and surly service which continually reminded me that I should have gone to Tabla instead for a dosai in a hospitable environment.

After blowing a tenner at Fabrizio, it was time to make up for it at the poker table:

Chubby and I did pretty well in the chip department and our host D, fixed up some fine ravioli from Phoenix Pastificio in Berkeley. Big pillows of tasty filled pasta where just the antidote to this afternoon’s lunch tragedy.





Thursday, December 8, 2005

Who needs a yule log
when there’s javalog?

I know these must be environmentally correct and all, but these caffeine tubes lack the poetry of a hunk of wood in the same way a screwcap seems less celebratory than a cork stopper in a bottle of wine. Technically, a screwcap can outperform a cork and even the French Laundry has one on their wine list. But it’s going to take the pampered public a while to fully accept the idea as elegant. Nobody is going to want to pay “screwage” and the ceremony and paraphernalia associated with bottle opening will have a little adjustment, but it will take a while. I just don’t know if we’ll ever be ready to go a step further to “boxage.”

It was a busy night at the Xmas-tree lot:

The chainsaws were roaring and lots of festive Jason-types were truncating trunks and crucifixing the bottoms of pines. The house smells very treey now and before I know it, it will be time to turn it into log logs. Hmmm maybe I’ll mix some used coffee grounds in and save the planet.

Chubby and I went to get some non-log coffee at Bette’s To Go. And while we were at it we got a slice of the apple berry tart and apple cranberry crisp:

The crisp was the clear winner with the tart cranberries against the sweetness of the topping and the tender apples. In general, I prefer crisp toppings to have a less homogenous texture (with clumps of oats, nuts, and bits that the butter made stick together) but this was good anyway.

The tart had a ratio of crust to fruit that was too high for my taste. It was okay, but I prefer their pies.

Simmer is going through a chef change. Chubby and I really enjoyed the meals that we had there during their first several weeks and we’re curious to see what the new chow is like. I’m betting that their goal of opening for Sunday brunch this month might be too tall of an order given the shuffle. Check out Chubby’s earlier review.






Wednesday, December 7, 2005


My friend O won’t eat squid because he says, “it’s like chewing on condoms.” I, myself, am unfamiliar with that particular sensation, but I always reflect on his distaste for these tubes of the sea whenever I see them on a plate before me.

Pla Muk Pad Prig ($5.95):

... aka spicy calamari, were not as hot as all those slices of jalapeño made me suspect. I gobbled down all of the peppers (with many little seeds) and didn’t break a sweat. The rings and tentacles were not condomy at all but I wished that the sauce had more depth. I liked the textures of the tender squid, the bamboo shoots with a hint of crunch and the peppers, but the sauce didn’t unify the flavors or lend interest to what should be a more interesting dish.

It’s always good to try out an unfamiliar Thai place, but it doesn’t make me sway from my good old fave in the ‘loin, Thai House Express.

Racha Café
771 Ellis St.
San Francisco, CA




Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Couleur me hungry

We walked into the open doors of Couleur Café at noon today to find the employees sorting salt shakers and bustling about, but there was no food to be had. Tomorrow they open for breakfast.
Their menu looks great. They have a dish suggested by one of San Francisco’s best food bloggers (Hachis Parmentier with Duck confit, mashed potatoes and gruyere) which sounds like the perfect dish to order on a chilly day like today.

The menu covers little plates of cheese and charcuterie, salads and all the basic protein groups done with a French flair.

Dejected by their lack of openness and in an act of desperation, we made a tragic mistake by going to a place with a ♥ in it’s name. Yes, we went to I ♥ Teriyaki. *

It started out fine. The Chuka salad ($3.95):

... was had nice strips of crunchy seaweed with a touch of sesame oil and some pickled daikon on top.

The bentos were supermarket sushi without the supermarket. The Hamachi Sashimi box (9.95) and Chicken Teriyaki with Sashimi box ($10.00):

... felt like the culinary equivalent of paint by numbers. The sections were filled in, just to be filled in. Overdressed salad, noodle salad, edamame, and rice acted as the universal bento spackle accented by genericaki chicken and hamachi. But to be fair, who in the world would expect anything different with a name like:

I Teriyaki
270 Potrero Ave.
San Francisco, CA

Couleur Café opens tomorrow!
300 De Haro St.
San Francisco, CA

Their website isn’t working yet, but it’s going to be www.couleurcafesf.com.


*If this makes no sense to you, and you're browsing with Firefox, there should be a little icon of a heart between "I" and "Teriaki". Gotta have my HTML 4!



Monday, December 5, 2005

That’s why I’m going to Kathmandu:

Since Dr. B
from Meathenge alerted me that they were using Fatted Calf products at Gioia Pizzeria. I made my way by for lunch today for a $3.00 slice with FC sausage, gypsy peppers, red onions and pecorino romano.

“One slice of Calabrese please”

No sausage today

Those are three ugly words. I decided to go for some Nepalese food and wait to have my slice until they have replenished their chub arsenal at Gioia. Their pizza is very good, thin crust style and I like it a lot, I just didn’t want to adjust my pizza dial so I trekked to Kathmandu instead.

Aloo Tama Bodi ($7.95):

... is what you want if you are carbo loading. A big plate of rice accompanies this stew of sourly spiced (in a good way) potatoes, black eyed peas and bamboo shoots. Filling and good belly ballast, but nothing to make a special trip for.

The server was very nice and in the spirit of all the dining experiences that I have had recently, I was shorted on my change – what is up with that? Honest mistake, but I’m on a serious roll here.

Kathmandu Restaurant

1410 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, CA

Gioia Pizzeria
1586 Hopkins St.
Berkeley, CA

I got an email about last night’s cinematic experience

Susan R. writes:


I can't agree with you more about the sound at that theater. Reading your post is like listening to myself talking to the manager. I was planning to go there this week to see that very movie. Now they are off my list too. Thanks for saving me the time and aggravation.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Susan,

Glad my cautionary tale paid dividends. There’s just no excuse for charging good money for substandard cinema (or food.)

Stay selective,




Sunday, December 4, 2005

Good tamales and bad luck.

I got one of the chicken and one of the pork tamales ($1.50 each):

... from Quezada and am convinced that these are the best in all of Novato. Okay, well, maybe that’s not like saying that they are the best in the Mission, but they are mighty tasty. Nice chunks of meat with a slightly caliente salsa, light masa, and all for a buck and a half. This was a better deal than this evening’s film.

Quezada Market
350 Rowland Blvd.
Novato, Ca

Goodnight and Good Luck was playing at the Century Cine Arts Marin in Sausalito.

The entire print had badly distorted audio. I found the manager to report the problem and they were already aware of it. This was actually the flawed replacement for the bad one they were projecting days ago. I asked if it was necessary for customers to ask if the movie is presentable before purchasing a ticket (this is not the only time I’ve been disappointed at this theatre.) I was offered a $2 pass for another movie, but declined. This venue is now officially off my list. Being blown off by the folks here was tantamount to a “Good night and get lost.”





Saturday, December 3, 2005

Lunch was a fish platter at Miller’s East Coast West:

Nova lox, smoked whitefish and sturgeon. yum.

I asked for kishka and they gave me something called "derma":

... it made up for it’s lack of visual appeal with a comfort food richness.

I ordered a cup of tea and was asked which kind to which I specified, “Earl Grey.”

Two Japanese women took a seat at the table adjacent to mine and order two teas and they were brought green tea bags. They look up at the server and asked, “uh, could we get Earl Grey?” I think that this is racial food profiling.

I was trying to figure out the tip when my credit card receipt arrived for over two thousand dollars. Hmmmm… they fixed the bill quickly and it was off to the market.

Osso Buco with friends tonight. What could be better?

Our pal, D, brought over these pictures taken 10 days ago:

He needed to have the tip of his nose reconstructed, so the surgeon cut a flap of forehead skin and attached it to the nose's end. The flap stayed attached to the forehead until the blood vessels in the nose fed the skin newly attached to it. He’s all put back together now and you wouldn’t know that his head had been rubix cubed so recently. He’s back to his good looking self with just a teeny fading scar to show for all this fuss. Modern medicine is amazing.

Appetizers were endive with salmon:

... and for dessert, my favorite persimmon pudding recipe from Lindsey Shere’s cookbook.





Friday, December 2, 2005

It was 1:30 and I thought there would be more of a lunch crowd at T Rex:

...but there were only a couple people at the bar and a few people eating. I have been curious about this new barbeque joint. It’s run by the same people as Fonda, Lalime’s and Jimmy Bean’s.

The Pulled Pork Sandwich

... was made from good pig, but was sweeter than I prefer. The bun to pork ratio was a little too high. But to be fair, I ate the whole thing so it wasn’t all that bad. I asked if I could sub out French fries for the BBQ chips that were listed on the menu and it was no problem. The haystack of greaseless shoestrings hit the spot. A little mound of apple cabbage slaw and a few pickle slices provided some acidic, crunchy contrast.

I’m anxious to come back to check out their brisket and ribs.

T Rex
1300 10th St
Berkeley, CA

It looks like Couleur Café may not open today:

They were still building the bar and hanging lamps when I peeked in today…maybe next week…




Thursday, December 1, 2005

Rain drove me inside for a quick lunch in San Rafael. Unfortunately, the rays of good fortune did not shine on me inside either.

I asked for hot tea as I sat down. The amicable waiter brought a steamy pot, tea cup, cream and sugar. I waited a couple of minutes and poured the clear, hot, tea-less water into the cup. No tea. It was an honest mistake, and when I pointed this out, a tea bag was presented.

I ordered the Tostada de Salmon ($8.50):

which is an openfaced bruschetta with chopped tomato, ribbons of smoked salmon and saffron infused mayonnaise. It was fine, with decent fish and passable tomatoes. I was still hungry but the server was busy with other customers so I decided to just pay and go. I was shorted on my change (which I believe was another honest mistake which was quickly resolved) but there were too many little things that didn’t go right that it doesn’t make me want to hurry back.

Sabor of Spain
1301 4th St.
San Rafael, CA

I like this graffito from the ‘loin:

It must be a new series that KRON is producing. Vegan Narc, staring Woody Harrelson as an undercover non-dairy officer ready to blow the lid off the flesh eating underworld of San Francisco.







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