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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

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September 8-16, 2007


go to next week's blogs


  Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rock em Sock em

My favorite coffee drink? The Gibraltar:

... at Blue Bottle kiosk on Linden Street:

Why? Because it’s the perfect balance of strength and creaminess. It’s an ass kick with a velvet sock. This midget latte is named for the glass it is served in and this Gibraltar rocks.

Blue Bottle Coffee
315 Linden St.
San Francisco, CA



  Saturday, September 15, 2007

Meat and Greet

Incanto’s open house for their new line of salted pig parts was the cure for boarish food.

This small batch, cold cured, flavorful chow goes under the brand name of Boccalone which means “big mouth”.

Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore have modified a USDA inspected facility in Oakland where they produce this impressive and varied assortment of protein delivery systems.

We weren’t surprised by the impeccable texture and depth of flavor of their brown sugar fennel salami, capicolla, lonza,  and pate since we came anticipating the high quality goods that are consistently produced by the Incanto team.

They threw in some curveballs with a sweet, salty and crunchy guanciale brittle:

... a breakfast sausage:

... (made from a recipe for Easton Sausage that Chris found in his grandmother’s safe), an intense and impressive salted pig’s liver and an incredibly delish blood sausage that they served with a fried quail egg on a thin crouton:

Whether you are a boar or a piglet there is a subscription box with your name on it. If you join the Salumi Society you can choose between these two sizes (2 lbs with 3-4 items @ $29 and 3.5 lbs. with 5-6 items @ $49) and pick them up in Oakland or San Francisco.

If you are the type to wait for the sausage mood to hit you, you will be able to grab some at BiRite Market and Avedano’s  in the near future (not yet though.)

If you are seduced by that bacony brittle, there are plans to partner with Michael Recchiuti on these jowl-licious treats.

Also on the horizon are prosciutto cotto for your holiday meal at the end of this year.

Pick ups begin for San Francisco Boccalone Salumi Society members October 13th and in Oakland on November 3rd.  If you want to dip your trotter in (without a 3 month commitment), you can get a one-time sachetto (if there are any to spare.)


1924 International Blvd
Oakland, CA

Incanto Restaurant
1550 Church St.
San Francisco, CA

235 Cortland Ave.
San Francisco, CA

BiRite Market
3639 18th St.
San Francisco, CA

Recchiuti Confections
San Francisco Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA




  Friday, September 14, 2007

Fort Mason was the place not to be seen this evening. We were invited to attend the first of a series of Dining in the Dark events put on by Taste TV.

Russian Army surplus night vision goggles were the headgear of those governing this blind tasting.

This not so light meal was an exercise in trust and coordination or perhaps it was a hazing ceremony for a fraternity that we are now a part of. We did get to fraternize with Sarah and Ms. Tablehopper , before the dimmers were taken a notch lower than the illumination level at Oola.

Ambient light crept past some of the blackout curtains:

... so most diners blindfolded themselves to complete the effect. We had a fun time talking with our tablemate as we replaced our see-food diet with one that required no garnishing.

Prey animals and people from large families tend to eat faster to insure their survival, tonight’s mode of nutrition delivery required a slower pace, especially for those who ordered the chicken, which needed some cutting up (we went with the herb crusted salmon which was a fork only endeavor.) The 3-course menu was ambitious given that there was not a proper kitchen:

... for a large crowd, but they were happily taking feedback to help streamline their strategy for the next version.


Dark Dining
Fort Mason Center
Building A
San Francisco, CA


From today’s Bunrab email, Trevor writes:



I was really excited to see the pics of the Chicken Hooray truck. I have seen something very similar in Brussels with one exception, potatoes cooking in the chicken drippings. Yum. I don't see any potatoes in your pictures.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Trevor,

We wanted some of their potatoes cooked in chicken fat, but they didn’t have any on Wednesday.

They based their truck on one that they had visited in Switzerland, so perhaps the one you saw was part of a European convoy.





  Thursday, September 13, 2007

Yankee Pier is our ‘spur of the moment, on a Lark, burger joint. Even though we find the food and service to be hit and miss, we occasionally succumb to the Pier pressure while remembering to just say “no” to certain sectors of the menu.

My mug of chowder ($6.50):

... kicked things off with a boot of rich, creamy chunky goodness. This thick, New England style artery coater had lots of clams and spuds with a dill biscuit dropped in the middle (in case I felt the need to cork off my aorta while I was at it.)

I got my default cheeseburger ($12.90):

... but subbed out the fries with a vegetable salad ($1.50 supplement):

... to counteract the chowder. This lettuce, radicchio, corn, grated carrot, salad was straight out of Good Housekeeping. I’m not crazy about Y.P.’s fries but this turned out to be a bad swap. The burger however, was reliable with its Angus patty topped with melty Cheddar and a nice slice of heirloom tomato.


Yankee Pier
286 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA



  Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gyration Location Notation

A tip from a Bunrab reader led us to the Chicken Hooray! truck:

... which stops in Mill Valley on Wednesdays from 3:30 'til 7 in the 100 Shoreline parking lot.

Sadly, they had none of their chicken fat potatoes during our visit so we took our whole chicken ($12.00):

... and rolled out.

Although the white meat was a little dry, it was still okay with its rosemary-rubbed, bronzed skin:

Hitting the truck during an off hour (when most of the workers in the nearby buildings were still busy at their computers) may explain our low meat moisture level by keeping our bird in a prolonged, heated, holding pattern.

The fellow manning this rotisserie on wheels said that they would switch their Wednesday Mill Valley run to Fridays in a month or so.

Workers from these offices probably find it convenient to steer to this truck for their dinner brake after their shift.


Chicken Hooray! Truck
Rotating locations




  Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I ordered from the Bong Su “Power Lunch” menu ($17.00) from which you select an appetizer and entree and they will get you “out the door” quickly (but not with the same Phan-esque  of those other S.F. Vietnamese spots.)

I selected “shrimp cupcakes” (alias: banh khot and banh can):

... for my starter. A rice flour and coconut milk batter is cooked in a dimpled pan to create these lenses filled with shrimp and grated dried shrimp. A lime fish sauce is meant to be poured over the tops (not dipped due to disintegration issues.) I liked the crispy exteriors against the creamy interior, firm shrimp with a mini dried shrimp and green onion afro.

A generous portion of Ngo Om Chicken:

... had a nice peppery heat to this lemongrass infused, skinless, boneless chicken curry. A shower of chopped Ngo Om greenery added an herbaceous relief to this meal that really called out for sharing. My side order of brown rice ($2.00):

... was useful in the sopping department but I get the feeling that it’s better to come with a group and get a selection of entrees to avoid mono-flavor fatigue.

Bong Su’s proximity to Moscone Center meant that a parade of lanyard-labeled tourists zombie-walked along the sidewalk in a continuous stream. There were even a couple of them seated in this sparsely populated dining room:

... (but they seemed more interested in their plated food than eating my brains.)

The service was friendly and efficient with an attention to detail. The check arrived with one of their namesake flowers inside of the box.

Loungey techno pulsed in this sandstone and fabric accented space, which made me feel like I really should be having a cocktail instead of wine. They have a happy hour on M-F from 4:30-6:30 for those who want more Bong for their buck.


Bong Su Restaurant and Lounge
311 Third St.
San Francisco, CA



  Monday, September 10, 2007

We were in North Beach playing tourist-Tetris on the narrow sidewalks and marveled at how the cluster of the less-than-stellar Columbus street eateries were brimming with out of towners while just off the main drag on Green street, the Lobster Shack was empty.

Chubby and I split a double play ($33.00):

... which is two of their famed lobster rolls ($17.75 each when purchased separately) in one basket. We decided to mix it up with one “Maine style” (with Hellman’s mayo and green onions) and one “naked”.

Split top, fried white bread buns were stuffed as full as a foie gras goose with succulent, red meat. These shellfish had a moist and tender texture with meat that was cooked to the proper level of doneness. The naked version comes with some drawn butter and lemon slices which I used on both treifwiches. They didn’t overdo the dressing on the Maine version. It had a judicious allowance of mayo/onion dressing and was well balanced with the squirt of lemon and toasty bun.

The slaw that comes alongside was also dressed with a nice light hand. This mayo tossed cabbage and carrot tangle could have used some chopped jalapeño, but it opted for a supporting role to the ‘ster.

The service is friendly and efficient. You order at the counter, pay and they bring you your chow in this casual little picnic table filled shack.

They don’t close between lunch and dinner (which I love due to my often ill-timed lunch urges) and serve all manner of seafood in salad, sandwich and dinner plate variances. If you are with phish-a-phobes they can get a burger, dog or chicken sandwich. It’s B.Y.O.B so you have to hol your own alca in yourself.

Next time we come to this East (coast) meets West joint, we will have to check out their fish and chips, chowdah or oyster po’boy.

North Beach Lobster Shack
532 Green St.
San Francisco, CA




  Sunday, September 9, 2007

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for anything that supports Project Open Hand:

... but the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival feels odd to me.

What I miss is a cohesive message (other than chocolate = good, duh.) Safeway is a sponsor of the event:

... but their big signage and monster Safeway cookies don’t fit in with the artisanal food that I hope for in any specialized culinary gathering.

And what is up with the booth for Crunch Fitness?

Yes, we know we really should be working our glutes, but this is like having a scolding nun in a strip club...on second thought, repressed parochial students might really get off on that…

There was an eating contest for kids as one of the stage attractions:

This struck me as inconsistent since Safeway has a section on childhood obesity on their website which states,

“As with all children, those with weight problems need acceptance, support, and encouragement from their family...”

I don’t think that the “encouragement from their family” means cheering them on as they cram another pint of chocolate ice cream into their gob at record speeds…but hey, since when have I been politically correct? I guess it’s every kid’s dream to give it a try, I’m just glad that I don’t have to clean their automobile carpeting tonight.


Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
Beach and Larkin Streets
San Francisco, CA


One nice thing about venturing into a tourist territory which  is normally off our migratory path is coming across a forgotten San Francisco gem. We hadn’t seen the Musee  Mecanique:

... since its move during the remodeling of the Cliff House years ago. This magical (and sometimes creepy) collection:

... of what people did before they surfed the web:

... is a fun diversion from the tourist madness of Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Musee Mecanique
Pier 45
Shed A at the end of Taylor St.
Fisherman’s Wharf
San Francisco, CA

On another chocolatey note, Mick R. writes about his visit to Charles Chocolates today:


Today I stopped into Charles Chocolates Café intending to try several of their chocolates with the goal of choosing some for a small gift, that is if I liked them enough which was in question because I haven't been wowed with their offerings in the past (tried elsewhere). I walked in and up to the counter/display case. I asked the person behind the counter if they had offerings I could taste there, since I wanted to try several. He looked very puzzled and said something indicating that he didn't understand what I wanted. Thus started a flabbergasting round of discourse during which he never once got the point that I wanted to buy one of several types and eat them right there. He kept getting this puzzled expression and asked things like, "you want one pound" (no, one piece), etc etc. I did try a sample of their fleur de sel and found it completely forgettable. Then I asked him which one that was (pointing to the two versions of fleur de sel in the case, one bittersweet) and he replied "it's fleur de sel." After a few more unsuccessful tries to buy one of several types and eat them there I had had enough and just walked out. He had no accent at all and I saw no reason to think that English wasn't his native language. I think that's it for me and Charles Chocolates. Later I tried and then bought a box of Poco Dolce "tiles" of various flavored chocolate with sea salt. Just stunning and the opposite of my impression of Charles fleur de sel.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Mick,

We are also big Poco Dolce  fans and we have gone so far as to tile the insides of our stomachs with them (thanks in part to our pal Sam.)

Sorry to hear about your bad experience at the Charles Chocolates Café. We had a similar experience at Peet’s coffee today and ended up walking out (which we rarely do, but there is just so much rudeness that we could take without caffeine in our systems.)

Service can easily make or break a fun food outing. Our bunrab saying for when we encounter bad service is: “my snack is ruined.”

In any case, we’re glad that you ended up with some chocolate satisfaction.  Of Poco Dolce’s many tasty varieties,  I have to say those sea salt topped burnt caramel and chili squares are darned good.





  Saturday, September 8, 2007

Brews on the Bay is an annual San Francisco event focused on locally produced suds. Eight San Francisco Breweries dispensed their lagers, ales and stouts on the S. S. Jeremiah O’Brien, docked at Pier 45.

They run a tight ship so have you sign a waiver before you have permission to board.

This is not the swirl-and-sniff crowd.

Nobody poetically announces what nuances await your delicate palate as they fill your mini beer mug.

All snobs were made to walk the plank during this hopping afternoon of shipboard camaraderie.

21st Amendment, Magnolia Pub, Speakeasy,  Beach Chalet, Gordon Biersch:

...San Francisco Brewing, ThirstyBear, and Wuder Brewing all lined the deck so you could do laps of taps.

Compared to San Francisco wine events, this is a younger crowd:

... and unlike wine events, there is no spitting - there is drinking.

The inevitable queues formed when it came time to make room for more beer:

This was a fun way sample a variety of San Francisco’s local brews while getting loud and dancing:

... to live music:

... or, for those wallflowers, there were quieter corners of this ship to buy a snack:

... from the Thirsty Bear food stand and take in this beer loving crowd

Brews on the Bay continues tomorrow, Sunday, from noon to 4:30 p.m. They sold out on Saturday’s event, but when we were getting our passes, they had limited tickets available for Sunday.

San Francisco Brewers Guild
Brews on the Bay
S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien
Pier 45
San Francisco, CA




back to last week - September 1-7, 2007



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