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December 1-8, 2007
|Saturday, December 8, 2007
We took our pal L. out for a cup of Joe (not it’s real name) at the Peets (it’s really called Peets) in the San Francisco Ferry Building and I gave my standard coffee name. The barista (not a real name of an American job) paused and said, “are you lying to me?” and I admitted that it was my coffee name. My internal monologue chimes in, “didn’t your training video say not to ask your customer if they were a liar?”
After being stripped of my secret identity, I sauntered over to our table, removed the lid from my coffee and was horrified to discover that I’d been short-poured:
Chubby opened his and he was also given an underdose of caffeine. Our friend L. had wisely ordered an espresso drink and did not suffer from this indignity.
A smaller portion of coffee may sound trivial to those who do not inhabit the land of caffeine fueled activities, but as with all drugs, the exchange of currency and product is done with a level of exactitude that greatly exceeds that of hand grenades and horseshoes (both of which would fit in this cup without the coffee overflowing from the displacement.)
As I lamented that my Miami Vice aluminum briefcase was not filled with the agreed upon merchandise, Chubby said that they would probably be happy to top off my cup if I went back and asked, but due to my chemical deficiency enhanced irritation with the Ralph Nader of barista-vigilantes, I decided that it would be a wiser move to cut my losses and devise a more credible coffee name.
|Friday, December 7, 2007
The sub-arctic temperatures meant that all the diners stayed bundled up in their jackets. We ordered at the counter and sat down at a table that had a bad draft. As we were getting up to try our luck at another table, a neighboring family said that they had tried to get away from the drafts too, but with no success. I asked an employee if the ceiling fans could be turned off and she said that they needed to remain on for proper air circulation. At least we knew that we wouldn’t get food poisoning from poor refrigeration…
I requested my blue nose bass ($16.00):
... blue and they fished it off the stove in time to preserve its melodic bass line. A stewed combo of onions, peppers, olives, celery and tomato adorned this rustic preparation. The Caesar salad listed on the menu materialized as a mesclun and radish salad which was delivered by way of the Caesarian section. It did not induce any praise, but was a normal, healthy, baby lettuce salad.
I appreciated the light hand in cooking the fish, but the sauce and sides didn’t make me want to adopt this into my rotation.
Chubby got the calzone ($9.75):
... which was a homey, bread pocket of pre-cooked chopped pork, avocado, Jack and Cheddar cheeses and tomato sauce. It was what I think of as a turnover rather than a calzone due to the slices of avocado inside this pork mit. Upon reflection, Chubby thought that the burger might have been a superior selection, but to be fair, he did eat the whole ‘zone.
Next time, we’ll order breakfast and a burger…on a warmer night.
|Thursday, December 6, 2007
The mango salad ($8.00):
... was a refreshing combo of ripe mango, iceberg lettuce, green and red onion, toasted walnuts and prawns in a lime vinaigrette. There was just enough salt to accent the sweet fruit in this simple, fresh starter.
We split some spicy and sour soup ($6.50):
... which was warming with a nice peppery heat. The chicken was dry and stiff under the slices of mushrooms bobbing on the surface. Their coconut milk soup is a better bet.
We chose the beef (rather than the chicken) in our eggplant curry ($7.50):
... which had a nice hint of heat in this Thai basil infused green curry. We enjoyed this combo of bell peppers, asparagus, pumpkin and eggplant steeped in a coconut milk hot tub served with rice.
Citrus & Spice describes itself as a Thai-California Eatery which allows me to shed my automatic discomfort when I see no Asians eating in an Asian restaurant. Unfortunately, that discomfort shifts from Eastern to Southern due to the cushion-free status of the seats. This isn’t out of place during a quick lunch, but after about 45 minutes one of my conjunctions loses its function (and I’m not talking about “and” or “or”.)
From today’s bunrab email Aaron writes about yesterday’s burger:
I love you bunrabs and I normally feel like we are all on the same page, but I think that it is a bit unfair to downgrade a burger for not having tomato in December. My favorite burger is at Eccolo, where it is served with juicy heirloom slices...but only for about 5 months a year. I understand that the tomato is a part of the iconic American meal, but can't we just accept that leaving the tomato off when it's not supposed to be around makes it all the more enjoyable when it is?
We totally agree about seasonal offerings and feel that those heirlooms should be inherited by those burgers when the executor deems appropriate.
|Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The Balboa Café:
... is part of the PlumpJack Group which is founded by Mayor Gavin Newsom and it’s the sort of place that a public official could feel right at home drinking a few martinis made by the stylish, white coated barmen.
We were seated at a table in the bar area:
... and went from waiting patiently with the stack of closed menus to prarie dogging as the servers passed to finally getting up and approaching the host and asking if we could order. Instead of telling me that she would summon our server, she was incredibly cool and took our order herself.
I got a regular burger ($11.50) and Chubby got a cheeseburger ($12.00) with bleu cheese:
They both arrived to the requested medium rare and we appreciated their understanding of bread to meat ratios. They form the rectangular patty to fit the pleasantly crusty baguette without any bready overhang.. The meat was juicy and nicely seasoned but we wished that sliced tomatoes came with the lettuce, pickled onions and house made pickles. A haystack of fries eased our woes as we tucked into our meal while we watched a group of old timers play liars dice as basketball played on the flatscreens.
There was no drink order query when my glass sat empty for the second half of my burger (which surprised me for a bar) and (with the exception of the nice woman who took our order when she didn’t have to) the service felt absent, but to be fair, it is a busy place.
Chubby has added this burger to the grail; it would have ranked higher if only it had sliced tomatoes.
|Tuesday, December 4, 2007
There are 3 screens pumping out non-stop NFL action and if you need to take a time out, the bathroom speaker broadcasts the audio so you don’t miss a down.
This Philly station is not the place to bring your vegan yoga pals for tea, it is a sports bar and has the snacks to prove it.
The buffalo wings ($7.00):
... come with a choice of mild, hot, hotter and fire in the hole intensity sauces. We tend to prefer fires that remain out of our holes, so we requested “hotter” but quickly realized that we should haven’t been as timid as the sauce was. These chick sticks were standard t.v. watching fare with blue cheese dip along with carrot and celery to make you feel as though you have technically had a vegetable.
Onion rings ($5.00):
... had crisp, breaded shells with thick sliced allium gaskets, not bad, but nothing to make an “o” face over.
We got one traditional beef cheesesteak ($7.00):
... with onions and whiz on a soft Amoroso roll. These belly bombs are what the linebackers must live on. It is the most efficient calorie delivery system I will ever experience. The cheeze whiz (that's what makes it "traditional") instantly sacked my tastebuds while the thin slices of beef scrambled for the endzone. I wasn’t the best receiver for this football o’ chow which isn’t my draft pick.
The chicken version ($7.00):
... with provolone and onions was not the wishbone formation that this punter had hoped for. The chunks of fowl were slightly dry and bland., but to be fair, I think that the chicken and veggie options are only on the menu to please the red meat averse.
Jake’s is a place to keep on rotation if you like football and fried snacks. It’s not my thing, but there were some customers who came in, grabbed a beer and were right at home.
|Monday, December 3, 2007
I am afflicted with butter brain syndrome. This preventable malady invariably strikes the day after a visit to Yountville and lasts about 17 hours. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, restless sleep while generating serious BTUs, hot dog fingers and butter in place of blood throughout my vascular system.
Once this stupor lifts it’s time to break open the goodie bag:
Not only did we munch on a selection of ganache, peanut butter, fruit and caramel filled chocolates:
... shortbread and chocolate bars, we got some cool French Laundry note pads so we can write ourselves reminders not to get butter brain on our next visit.
From todays Bunrab email, Sheila writes about our laundry list:
In the FL review you mentioned, "cod melt." Are you referring to cod "milt" AKA the male, hmm, seed sack? I just tried this delicacy at Incanto on Friday night and really enjoyed it. They served it very simply on grilled bread with a little fennel salad. We didn't ask exactly what it was until after eating it, although we assumed it was some sort of cod roe.
You are indeed correct, it was the Japanese delicacy (now with corrected spelling) and we must visit Incanto to check out their handiwork.
|Sunday, December 2, 2007
There were several new canapés including these bay scallops in a Jacobson apple foam with cauliflower florettes and white sturgeon caviar:
Beau soleil oysters with a sabayon of tapioca and white sturgeon caviar shine in “oysters and pearls”
We both got a couple big fin squid steaks with umeboshi, Tokyo turnips and perilla leaves which went well with our Leitz 2004 Riesling:
Then came an extraordinary dish that blew us away. It was a gratin of savoy cabbage with Asian pear and Santa Barbara sea urchin. This earthy, crunchy, creamy fruity, oceany combo was so good that I wanted to stop eating because there would be nothing that could surpass this product of a freakishly talented chef. The continuing parade of enticing chow urged me to get over my reluctance to move on from this surf and turf done right.
A cod milt was like the lightest, wackiest, brandade imaginable. This breadcrumb topped cod piece was a fishy tater puff.
The white truffle custard with black truffle ragout and a chive chip anchored us with another of the FL’s greatest hits, but instead of a coddled hen’s egg arriving in a little glass sidecar, they approached with a new creation. A fragrant mushroom cloud was released when the lid came off a matsutake broth over a custard base:
Marinated beets, Satsuma mandarins, cilantro sprouts and Belgian endive was earthy, bright and fresh.
Valley acorn flan was served with thin shavings and cubes of persimmon, shaved celery branch, and parsley sprouts with a black truffle gastrique. This flan-tastic salad was simultaneously rich and refreshing.
Russet potato gnocchi arrived as well as a plate of tagliatelle both were showered with sheets of white truffle and drizzled with beurre noisette. White Burgundy washed down these carbos crowned with the ultimate grown up Easter egg:
Pave of bluefin tuna melted in our mouths with a scattering of Akita Komachi rice, edamame, mizuna, slivered and lightly candied pili nuts and a yuzu emulsion:
Two butter poached lobster tails went swimmingly with Marzano tomato compote, globe artichoke, braised cipollini onions and arugula and the other with pommes Maxine, beet essence and “melted” King Richard leeks.
The salt selection arrived as a herald of offal goodness.
Seared foie gras was served with seared abalone with Romaine leaves and ribs and a mustard and egg emulsion.
The outside of the duck migrated to the table with Brussels sprouts and salsify. A Barbera di Alba made this even more salsifying.
An all day braised Kurobuta pork belly kicked buta. Sunchokes, cranberry and cilantro sprouts gave a frame of earthy acidity to this phenomenal piggy noir which went well with a pinot noir from Brewer-Clifton:
Snake River culotte de boeuf with a sauce Bordelaise, golden chantrelles, glazed carrots and cardoons was cooked until the web of marbling barely melted into this tender muscle dish. A Ridge cab capped this ribeye nicely.
Adante Dairy’s Acapella goat cheese sang along with apple, English walnuts and frisee
Mt. Allerno sheep’s milk cheese was served with pain perdue, onion and black truffle gastrique
Quince sorbet with gingerbread crumbs and gingerbread puree perked us up with a seasonal kick
Buttermilk sorbet with honey poached cranberry and granola was a wintery snowball to the mouth.
Hot brioche donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar served with a cappuccino semi-freddo (aka coffee and donuts) was another familiar tent pole in our hedonistic progression.
Next came some high falutin’ S’mores with cashew milk chocolate parfait rolled in chopped cashews over a caramel and graham cracker cake with marshmallow flambé. A 20 year old Dow tawny port added kum ba yah to this campfire.
Chocolate pave with caramel ice cream
Meyer lemon posset
Tahitian vanilla crème brulee
Chocolate coated candied macadamia nuts
Black olive financiers
Unfortunately, they didn’t have one of those implements that they use to tamp the cannon ball all the way in, but they were prepared in every other way. There was a lady who was feeling a little chilly and asked to have her coat. The host offered her the option of one of their pashminas and she happily draped the soft wrap around her for the rest of her dinner.
|Saturday, December 1, 2007
... “seared” they don’t try to second-guess me. It arrives to my preferred level of doneness. You get to choose two sides and I usually go for the broccoli.
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