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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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August 22-31, 2007


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  Friday, August 31, 2007

Hotel Vitale was the site of the press reception for Gastronomy by the Bay . This lively cocktail party:

... took place on the patio overlooking the site of this weekend’s International culinary summit – the San Francisco Ferry Building.

Many participants in the upcoming roundtable discussions and book signings were present:

... to lift a glass and nibble on hors d’oeuvres:

Speakers for this event will include some of our favorite local chefs and there will be a benefit dinner for Meals on Wheels highlighting contributions from a team of all-star chefs including Charles Phan, Traci Des Jardins and Damien Dulas.

Book Passage will have chef book signings; there will be cooking demonstrations and other food related activity.

This is the first Gastronomy by the Bay, which will continue as an annual event. Future summits will take place in Paris, Beijing and Mumbai (although for the event in China it will change its title to “Gastronomy by the Wall.”)


Gastronomy by the Bay
San Francisco Ferry Building
September 1st – 3rd



  Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Salsalito Taco Shop is located on Sausalito’s main thoroughfare and their fare is thoroughly - fair.

No cabeza, lengua or tripas tacos are dispensed at this modest, funky little eatery. This place operates within most tourists’ culinary comfort zones.

Guacamole ($5.95):

... comes with a basket of housemade tortilla chips. All standard issue and fine.

Shrimp ceviche ($9.95 large):

... was combo chopped cukes, onion, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and bottom feeders (which could have marinated a little longer.)

The fish in my taco ($3.65) was battered, deep-fried and slaw topped. The contents of my corn tortilla wrapped mit were tempura-esque in a fusiony sort of way.

The pork taco ($3.65) came with little pots of chopped onion and cilantro. It was a fine snack.

They call it a Taco Shop, not a Taqueria, so don’t expect that touch of authenticity that some taco establishments in the city or San Rafael enjoy. Still, the food was tasty and fresh. If you’re in Sausalito and have had enough charcoal grilled burgers, it’s good to check out what is up at this popular emporium for tamed tacos.

Salsalito Taco Shop

1115 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA



  Wednesday, August 29, 2007

J suggested Quince for this evening’s dinner venue and kicked it off with a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Rosé (Bunrabs are particularly fond of this source of bubbles):

... which went well with my Coho salmon tartare ($13.00):

This deconstructed spawner was gillicious with scales of cucumbers and little radishes.

Chubby got the Monterey squid sformato ($11.00):

... which was a tangle of tender-cles with little califlower bits, onion and tomato. I have an inkling that I will order this ten out of tentacle preparation next visit.

The Raviolo ($18.00):

... was a dreamy pasta pillow stuffed with a runny yolked egg and creamy ricotta finished with brown butter. This self saucing culinary upholstery was cravably good.

Chubby got the black sea bass triangoli ($19.00):

... with a pepper emulsion and purple basil.

These tasty circumscribed shapes fit snugly in his belly and were tamped down by his Liberty duck leg ($25.00) with blood peaches, spinach and potato puree:

He gave me a piece of his Liberty which was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It’s tender pink meat paired well with the sweet peaches and duccompianments.

They dredge their fish in flower at Quince. The sole baked in a squash blossom ($30.00):

... was a stomach centerpiece surrounded by summer squash masquerading as sage leaves in a prosecco sauce. This was the anther to my sole search.

We took advantage of their nicely varied cheese selection:

... followed up by some sweet stuff.

The peach and corn tris:

... came with little buckwheat pancakes, honey poached peaches and corn gelato. This imaginative combo of textures and flavors were a fresh and tasty finish to a fine meal.

The service was polished, friendly and efficient. J. noted that they did not once ask if we were done with a course, they just knew. This is a good and welcome point since I don’t like being asked the standard “are you still enjoying that?” which presupposes a compliment in the same way “have you stopped beating your wife?” sculpts your character without any prologue.

We had a culinary rock star in our party and at the end of our dinner, the co-owner recognized her and said that if she had known who was dining, she would have been sure to pamper us. Our culinary rock star friend replied that it is a sign of a wonderful restaurant that we all felt pampered without the pampering.

It was a fun night out with pals and we will definitely return for more Quince chow soon.

Quince Restaurant

1701 Octavia
San Francisco, CA



  Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We grabbed some takeaway from Kopitiam to take around the corner to eat at C’s.

Kopitiam took over the TOGOs spot next to the Lafayette Trader Joes.

The people in this newly redone, green-walled, Singaporean restaurant:

... are enthusiastic, friendly and hospitable. Since we were getting takeaway, they discouraged us from getting their soft boiled eggs ($1.95):

... since they don’t travel well, but we explained that we were only taking them down the street and they graciously accommodated us. These nicely runny protein shots went down the hatch over some rice. The kitchen enhanced their two-tone taste with a grind of pepper and a dash of soy sauce. Simple and good.

Lumpia ($4.25):

... were a nice row of golden fried, pork stuffed cigars with a sweet chili dipping sauce. They were fine, but would be better eaten on the premises so that there would be no opportunity for any of their crispness to be foiled (although they were still mostly crisp.)

The Kopitiam chicken rice ($8.95):

... came with minced ginger and chili sauce on the side. I took my first bite without these flavor boosts, realized my oversight, and mixed the activating ingredients into the steamed chicken over soy sauce tinted rice. This was a tasty combo.

They have some wacky sounding chow on their menu like a deep fried meat sandwich, squid meatballs and peanut butter on steamed bread. There are also a variety of soups, salads, noodles and tofu dishes on this well priced menu with nothing over a tenner.

I was particularly impressed that they redid our egg when they really didn’t have to (we ordered at our own peril.) They wanted to make it perfect so they asked us to wait a moment and gave us some of their crunchy peanut cookies:

... and ice water at one of their tables. How nice is that?

Kopitiam Restaurant
3647 Mt. Diablo Road
Lafayette, CA



  Monday, August 27, 2007

Pres a Vi was sparsely populated at lunchtime today:

Pretty surprising due to the army of hungry mouths that marched by their front door from ILM to other, more distant, lunchy venues. There is an inviting outdoor area, there are burgers, but maybe it looks like too much of a commitment meal for casual and quick diners.

I was excited to see their breadbasket:

... which contained a variety of house made carbo concoctions. There were brittle flatbreads, herb rolls, wheat rolls and some nice, flat oatcakes. An herbed olive oil and a pat of chive-topped salted butter came alongside. Their pastry chef does double duty to make these little carballs and sticks.

My grilled, Korean style wagyu beef ($14.00):

... came at the requested medium rare over a haystack of green papaya salad. The crown of sweet onion kimchi could have done without the sleepy sprig of bug munched, grey-greenery, but that’s just me being picky.

The meat was nicely marinated with bits of hot pepper punctuating this soy sauce based, garlicky preparation. My favorite green papaya salad has not been knocked out of its winning spot, (which would take a lot of doing.)

To be fair, part of the reason why my visit didn’t thrill me is that the real focus of Pres a Vi isn’t lunch. It’s a venue where you come to sample wines with lots of small plates while unwinding (for more than an hour.)

Pres a Vi
1 Letterman Dr.
San Francisco, CA



  Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cold Comforts

It’s too easy for poor service to spoil your chow. Working in the hospitality industry is seriously taxing, but the best people at the job do everything they can to make it look easy. There are countless dollars lost by rude, unthinking or just ignorant actions (and conversely, there are also a lot of customers that are just simply dicks.) It could be something that doesn’t even register to the person who commits an unintentional faux pas, but I think it’s a good idea to speak up if something goes wrong.

Our pie quest led us to Comforts:

... which is a café and a deli. We went to the counter and ordered a slice from the whole blueberry streusel pie and one from the lemon meringue ($3.85 each)

The lemon meringue:

... had a flakey, forgivably tough crust with a little more sweetness to the curd than I prefer. It was fine though.

The “blueberry” pie was 100% blueberry free:

I took the slice of peach and raspberry pie back to the register and informed the person who dispensed this dessert of its non-blue state.

She said, “I guess it was mislabeled” I looked at the label in the display case and said, “yes, you are correct. May I have a slice of blueberry?” She shrugged and said that there was no blueberry as she removed the incorrect sign and turned away. I had already paid so I sat down and ate what was actually a perfectly fine slice of fruit pie.

As I walked to deposit my empties in the trash, I saw a blueberry pie in the case:

I told the fellow at the register about my earlier exchange and he was sweet (as pie) about it. He offered to pack one up for us to take home (I declined, but it was nice that he cared about the impression of customers that were on the cusp of never returning.)  With our pie feathers now un-ruffled, we will have to come back for a slice of the blueberry.

Comforts Restaurant and Deli
335 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA



  Saturday, August 25, 2007

Our quince were hanging like mutated speed ball punching bags begging to be knocked out:

I gave them a wash, baked them covered in foil at 350 for a couple hours, removed the pulp from the skins and seeds, pureed and sieved them before cooking them down with sugar to create some faux maguro:

The resulting quince paste along with some Manchego cheese and homemade crackers:

... were a tasty way to use up today’s harvest.




  Friday, August 24, 2007

We sat down at Om South Indian with some beer to wash down their spinach chicken ($12.99):

A confetti-ized bunch of greens was cooked in a spiced tomato, onion, garlic and cream sauce. This homey dish comes with some basmati and a little cabbage salad.

The fish curry ($15.99):

... has a pot of curry sauce on the side of this whole pomfret. This weekend special was moist and delicious. It looked like a lot of chow, but I made sure to pick out the tasty bits in the head so that none of this curry-lectible flapper went to waste.

This was a far cry from the first, not as impressive, fish curry that I had here shortly after they opened. Since then, we have had some tasty dosai and uthappam. So far, we’ve never needed a rezzie so we keep it in mind if we’re in the mood for a nicely priced, outsourced meal.

Om South Indian Cuisine
1518 Fourth St.
San Rafael, CA


From today’s bunrab email we got some Gira polling comments, Sarah writes:


If I picked up a Gira Polli chicken at 7:00PM -- do you think it'll be as dry as your first one?


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sarah,

They actually rotisserie chickens throughout the evening so they aren’t held from their opening time. I have had several cluckers here in the past, some were clunkers, but most were fine. After a couple in a row that didn’t excite us, we gave it a break. I’m glad we went back though. Given our visit yesterday, I’d say to give it a try (and please email me and let me know how it was.)


Anne also writes about the run of the mill valley chicken:


Thanks for the revisit to Gira Polli. I had stopped going there too because the chicken was so dry and flavorless. But I work near there, so it's good to know it has improved. (I can only get dinner at Grilly's so often!) Also, speaking of chicken, have you tried the rotisserie chicken from the Chicken Hooray truck that is parked in the 100 Shoreline parking lot (on the Highway 1 exit to Mill Valley? I've gotten it once and thought it was pretty good. They also sell potatoes that roast under the chicken - greasy and tasty! In case you decide to try it, they only take cash.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Anne,

I will definitely check out any establishment called Chicken Hooray. Thanks for the tip.





  Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back on rotation

A series of delays caused our lunchtime to arrive at 4:30 today. This odd hour meshed with Gira Polli’s:

... 4 o’clock opening time. Gira Polli had fallen off our rotation due to dinners with chicken so dry it could have been used to make silica gel packets. But that is ancient history. We’re glad we gave Gira Polli another whirl.

We swung by for a whole roasted chicken with two side dishes ($18.95):

We both chose steamed chard:

... over the other offerings of spuds, carrots (yeah, I know, but we really wanted chard) and pasta with tomato sauce. The football shaped rolls that come with the dinner are crust and flavor challenged, but they offered some additional insulation for the trip back to the cyberhutch where we added a shake of Maldon salt to our meal washed down by some leftover bottles of dinner party wine.

Our bronzed bird was moist with its lemon, onion and rosemary infused meat. The chard was simple and good. Not bad for a cheap and cheerful late lunch.

Gira Polli

590 E. Blithedale Ave.
Mill Valley, CA



  Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chubby and I met the blogger at Yumsugar who is hosting the Show Us Your Cookbooks Roundup. I shot this picture:

... of Chubby posing with Richard Olney’s Simple French Food. If you aren’t familiar with the late Richard Olney, he was a seriously smart guy and knew his way around the kitchen. This book may not be popular with the glossy photo addicts, but the recipes in this tattered book are seriously delish.


Given all the carbo-phobic loafers these days, Spork is wise to have their gratis rosemary pull apart rolls:

... by request rather than having these warm, salt topped buns sitting unloved by those who go against the grain.

They were particularly useful in sopping up the juices from our mini heirloom tomato salad ($9.00):

... with little organic clown noses that were sliced in two and showered with vinaigrette, torn basil and snipped chives. Fresh, seasonal and delish.

The in-side-out burger ($14.00):

... has two grass-fed beef patties bordering a special sauce and bread center with a tomato and lettuce foundation. A banana slug of caramelized onions rested on a strip of melted Tillamook Cheddar on this inverse regrub. The overall effect of this decontructo-burger reminded me of meatloaf in the round. This dish reaffirmed my low falutin’ status – I must be able to pick up my pizza or burger with my mitts or it will have a significant loss of tactile-licious during it’s transport. It’s a bunrab personality trait that probably wouldn’t be an issue for others, (but for this reason, I’ll get the tantalizing pasta that appeared on a neighboring table next time.)

The reversed polarity meat tower came with smashed fries:

... which were like taters that were caught in the headlights and fried til brown and crispy. We picked these up with our fingers to enjoy all of their rosemary-scented crispy bits.

Wild Alaskan halibut ($19.00):

... swam in a sea of corn with a saffron sauce and an island of tapenade. Perfect little fetal tomatoes perched on top of this fish brick. We liked this a lot, but due to my personal preference towards the rare, I will remember to request a lighter cooking next time.

The service is friendly and efficient with a casual, low key vibe which matches the setting:

This former KFC was converted with a sense of style and humor. Either a light was out or the bathroom must be part of that dining in the dark fad.

One of our favorite Japanese snack store purchases (aside from Men’s Pocky and lichee gel cups) are the Every Burger:

... so we were happy to see them on our bill (although I’m not sure why they didn’t turn them inside out.)

Spork’s three pronged attack of making good food in a fun setting with excellent service is a success.

Spork Restaurant
1058 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA




back to last week - August 16-21, 2007



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