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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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April 1-8, 2008


go to next week's blogs


  Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Shoddy coffee

Starbucks whipped up interest in their publicity stunt/coffee giveaway this morning. We chose to check out their new coffee formulation after the freebie frenzy so this afternoon; we bypassed our usual cup of Joe to try Starbuck's new Pike Place Roast.

"Are your shoelaces tied tight?" the barista asked. "huh?" I answered, "cause this new blend is gonna knock your socks off" he chirped as he tossed a paper cup in the air with a repellant flourish.

Chubby and I stared at each other and thought that this guy must use the "are you wearing space pants" and "are your legs tired?" lines interchangeably when he hits the bars after work. We forked over our money (and our sympathy) to the cashier who had to listen to this joker for the duration of her shift.

This brew was so weak that we could have worn greased loafers that were 10 sizes too big during an earthquake as we were doing backflips and we would have remained firmly shod.

It tasted like a beverage that was formulated by a committee that was more concerned about not alienating a coffee drinker than delighting one. It had no trace of bitterness and was low in acidity with the retro feel of freshly brewed, percolated, canned coffee.

I would be shocked if new roast re-energized their brand. Forget about new coffees, they need to get down to basics and jettison their hospital cafeteria-style food and hire employees that don't freak out pre-caffeinated customers.




  Monday, April 7, 2008

A number of Bunrab readers have written to us about a burger emporium that has been in operation since 1959 called Bill's Place.

The Sysco truck is no stranger to this S.F. establishment, but to be fair, this is absolutely not meant to be a haven for locavores. It's geared toward students, families and those in need of a quick and inexpensive bite.

I got a Herb Caen Burger ($7.50):

... which is a Monterey Jack cheeseburger made from chuck that they grind themselves. I subbed out o-rings for fries (additional $1.75) which were Sysco-licious with crunchy, browned shells. The burger bun was the standard issue soft, doughy, sesame seed variety and came with iceberg lettuce grilled onions, and pale tomato and pickle slices.

Chubby got a 49er burger ($9.50):

... which was topped with bacon, avocado and raw red onion, that offered a needed crunch to contrast with the soft bun and patty. He wished that he requested his floppy fries "extra crispy" so we ended up sharing the non-floppy onion rings instead.

Both burgers were fine, but the friendly staff overshadowed the food. It's a welcoming, funky yet clean, chandeliered, eatery:

... with a Japanese garden patio.

Not worth a detour, but fine if you're in need of a caloric recharge in the 'nabe.

Bill's Place
2315 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA


From our Bunrab email, Steve H. writes:

Howdy Gutenberg.

You guys seem to be mighty partial to Keller's restaurants. Based on your write-ups and killer good pix, i'm going against my better judgement and having brunch next month at Per Se in Manhattan.



Gutenberg replies:


Dear Steve,

We love Per Se and are envious of your planned visit. I'm curious why you say that it's against your better judgment. It seems to me that there isn't any kind of chow that is right for everybody (not even Sara Lee.)

Whatever your hesitation, you will get some unforgettable chow. Write us and let us know how it went.




  Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tom 8 Oh!

If you have ever pulled a perfectly ripe, sun warmed, tomato off the vine and savored a big messy bite standing in the garden, you have experienced what I believe to be one of the greatest dining pleasures of all time.

The UCCE Marin Master Gardeners' Organic Heirloom and Hybrid Tomato Market is an annual 2 day event that supports sustainable garden education.

On Saturday, April 12th and Sunday April 13th you can purchase some deadly nightshades that are meant for the Bay Area microclimates. If you live in San Francisco, the Black Prince may be your thing or maybe a Stupice (I don't know if many will buy the Bush Champion due to the local climate that isn't weather related.)

For the warmer areas of Marin, you can get yourself an Ugly or an Italian Princess, but you don't need to do your own research because there will be experts giving presentations and they can tell you if you are the Ugly or Princess type.

Think about how much you fork over for tasty heirlooms during tomato season and compare that to the $4-$5 per plant cost of these hard to find vines. This event only comes once a year, so be an Early Girl (or boy) and pick up a Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter or San Marzano Redorta while they last.

UCCE Marin Master Gardeners' Organic Heirloom and Hybrid Tomato Market
Saturday, April 12 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Pini Ace Hardware
Nave Shopping Center
1535 S. Novato Blvd.
Novato, CA

Sunday, April 13 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Marin Art and Garden Center
30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Ross, CA

For info call 415.499.4204



  Saturday, April 5, 2008

French Laundry List

Corey Lee just about killed us with tonight's dinner.


Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne washed down gougers filled with Mornay sauce followed by salmon tartare cornets filled with red onion infused crème fraiche.

Stinging nettle soup was poured over carrots and Hobbs bacon.
The vibrant colors of this dish were matched by its flavors.

Sweetbreads masquerading as a Tater Tot sat upon a concasse of San Marzano
tomato in a pool of spring garlic soup.

Instead of the Beau Soleil oysters, chubby little Massachusetts Island Creek oysters nestled in the sabayon of pearl tapioca topped with sturgeon caviar in this signature starter of "oysters and pearls."

Potato blini were also topped with sturgeon caviar and served with a chive studded beurre blanc.

Kahala belly with green almonds, celery, cherry puree and cherry blossom salt was a phenomenal combo of rich, fresh sashimi, fetal nuts and a sweet tang and crunch from the supporting cast.


Gregory Castells never fails to direct us to wines that we love. The 2001 Selbach-Oster Riesling was a welcome partner to our seafood egg and salad dishes.

Kinki University Blue Fin was presented with charred green onion, compressed cucumbers,
mizuna, avocado and the most amazing, light-as-a-cloud, tangy yogurt
made especially for TFL by Andante Dairy.


Big Fin squid, sushi rice and a tempura broccolini was a perfect balance of sweet and saline.

White truffle infused egg custard with a chive chip

Coddled hen's egg with beurre noisette and brioche soldiers.

Pain au lait with Animal Farm and Andante Dairy butters.

Dutch white asparagus with field rhubarb and mache had a nice barb against the flavorful albino stalks.

Hearts of palm with radish, cilantro sprouts and turnips were a crisp and refreshing course.


The truffle box hovered behind our hand cut tagliatelle and gnocchi
which both received a nice dose of shavings.


Before it was plated, an Australian Rock Lobster tail swam by our table. This was the finest piece of lobster we have ever enjoyed. It was gilded with pearl onions, petit pois, hearts of romaine with a veal sauce.


2005 Nicolas Potel Volnay Vielles Vignes was a great Pinot Noir for our fowl, meat and cheese.

Seared foie gras with bananas, caramelized Belgian endive and curry jus.

Torchon of foie gras with Silverado trail strawberries, Tokyo turnips, watercress and aged balsamic had a refreshed, replacement of hot toasted brioche delivered as we de-livered our plate.


We seasoned our lobes with the selection of salts which was left with us to use on the meat to follow.

White quail with a deliciously crisp skin and moist interior was served
with a pepper and Savoy cabbage spaetzel

Pork belly with string beans and a whole grain mustard sauce

Snake River Farms culotte de boeuf with morels, wilted chard and Bordelaise sauce


We had 2 sheeps milk cheeses, the first was a tomme brulee with hazelnut dusted Delta asparagus, garden mache and black truffle coulis and a tomme brousse with globe artichokes,
San Marzano tomato, arugula leaves and a caper sauce

Dessert began with a Buttermilk sherbet over spiced streusel with candied kumquat

The Michigan cherry sorbet over a dice of sesame nougat was a great contrast
of nutty chewiness and cool red fruit.

FL signature coffee and doughnuts – brioche donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar
with a cappuccino semifreddo

Chocolate parfait over 70% chocolate crumble with passion fruit sorbet


Chocolate mousse over a cinnamon sable topped with salt and a hazelnut with praline ice cream

Meyer lemon posset

Crème brulee


Chocolate coated candied macadamia nuts

Champagne truffles

Strawberry pate de fruits

White chocolate cherry fudge

From the selection of filled chocolates we chose coconut, passion fruit, espresso and banana

Then came ribboned packages of shortbreads in case we got hungry on the way back to the cyberhutch.


Corey and his team continue to amaze us by changing it up each time. Every meal is series of surprises. Sure, it's not for everybody, there was a young man at a neighboring table who announced to his mortified wife, "I would rather have ten pieces of beef jerky" she replied, "but it's good to have new experiences." I felt for both of them. He wanted his beef jerky and she wanted him to enjoy something different. I think that they should have 20 pieces of beef jerky for dinner tomorrow so they can share both of their dream meals.

The French Laundry Restaurant
6640 Washington St.
Yountville, CA



  Friday, April 4, 2008

Johanna Bernstein was pouring Pinot Noir and Pinotage from Fort Ross Vineyard in the wine merchant section of Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant this evening.

We enjoyed all 3 wines we sampled. The 2005 Pinot Noir and 2004 Pinot Noir reserve are both composed of 100% of this varietal. Pinotage is a South African hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and the 2004 Fort Ross Pinotage was our first taste of this peppery, tropical fruit scented red. Our fave was the berry intensive, 2004 Pinot Noir Reserve.

There is no tasting room at Fort Ross Vineyards, but you can find them on many local wine lists including A16, Quince and Foreign Cinema. Johanna said that Michael Mina and Aqua have both recently been added to their list of clients. I wonder if Mark Bright, the Local Kitchen sommelier (and former Michael Mina sommelier with Aquatic connections) had anything to do with this alignment of the bars.

After the tasting, we grabbed a quick dinner in "Kitchen" section next door.

The thin crust pesto and roasted pepper pizza ($12.00):

... came with house-made chili flakes:

We loved this hot pepper dandruff, which leaves those generic red discs in the dust. These were softer in texture than the usual option and we enjoyed the flavorful kick that they added to our pie. The wood-burning oven created a nice blistering to the chewy crust which had a good balance of flavorful toppings. Mark hooked us up with a Valle Dell'Acate Cerasuolo di Vittoria – a nice Italian red for both the 'za and the Rotisserie Chicken ($16.00):

The crisp skin and juicy meat of this organic bird had us picking it up to gnaw off every bit. Perfectly cooked white beans, wilted rocket, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers and pitted olives completed this homey dish.

The atmosphere is casual and the prices are reasonable enough that you can drop by for a bite without stressing about April 15th.

We'll have to try their house-made pasta and roasted fish on our next visit to this lively and welcoming hub of wine and chow.

Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant
330 First St.
San Francisco, CA



  Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's a Tortilla Conspiracy

Say Lati-no to square art because this Saturday you Mexi-can check out some Chicano Tortilla Art for the 21st Century.

The opening reception is April 5th at 6:00 at SomArts Bay Gallery where there will also be special tortilla outreach events on the following weekends including a Tortilla Drawing Rally on April 11th.

If you are a Second Life enthusiast, you can cyber-visit and make some tortilla art without leaving the comfort of your own bunker, but if you only send your avatar, you wont be able to pick up one of their torTilla-shirts:

Rene Yanez and his co-conspirator son, Rio:

... showed us some of the cool artwork that will be on display. Rene demonstrated the production of a corn tortilla monoprint. This Freda Kahlo:

... was for framing, not frying (unless you want a Frito Kahlo.)

Even though they apply a coating to optimize these circular canvases, "The best tortillas to use are the ones with preservatives" Rene divulged. Who cares about the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich when you have the Virgen de Guadalupe on a tortilla?

So if you want to go to a fun, friendly and interactive exhibit - come one, comal, to what will surely be the taco the art world.

The Great Tortilla Conspiracy
Opening Reception April 5th at 6:00 p.m.
SomArts Bay Gallery
934 Brannan St.
San Francisco, CA



Julia and her Mariquita crew were mobbed today during their Mystery Box rendezvous at Aziza Restaurant.

$25 got us:

... some of that stellar agretti, sorrel (to use in our favorite Richard Olney recipe for tart), leeks, purple and Chanternay carrots, Erbette chard, radishes, some peppery arugula, celery, mustard greens, green garlic, a butternut squash, some mint, limes, and Meyer lemons.

They sold out again tonight so if you want a box at their April 17th Piccino pick up, you should order in advance.

Mariquita Farms Mystery Box




  Wednesday, April 2, 2008


If I ran a company that issued Bonds for food, I would evaluate applicants based on whether they tested positive for one or both the following performance enhancers:

1) crispy bits and

2) melted cheese.

Sure, there is plenty of good chow that wouldn't make the cut. But it's a simple formula to apply if you want to boost your averages. MVPs like pizza, cheeseburgers and potato chips have demonstrated that if you want to pump up your odds with a simple shot, this two-tier evaluation is the clear path to a homerun.

Tartine Bakery:

...has been keeping track of batters for a long time and they stir up a roid rage with their dianabolical panini.

Chubby got a Niman pastrami ($10.75):

... with Gruyere, Dijon mustard and horseradish, while I went with the tryptophan-spiked turkey ($10.50):

... with broccoli rabe pesto and provolone. We were both happy with our melty cheese and meat sandwiches with a crunchy armor of top notch house made bread. We had enjoyed the pastrami sandwich on a previous visit and, in retrospect, we should have split one in order to save room for one of their desserts.

Tartine Bakery is always worth a swing by.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA




  Tuesday, April 1, 2008

We took a gastronomic whirl at the oddly named Chinese restaurant - Gourmet Carousel. This building was less inviting than the Bates Motel:

... but then again, we didn't go-round for the atmosphere.

The house soup:

... was no brass ring. The chicken bits were tough with corn kernels suspended in a conrstarchy broth did not make us merry, but complaining about complimentary chow is looking a wooden gift horse in the unamusing bouche.

The fried quail ($2.95):

... was a tasty, greaseless, crispy micro bird that swapped its bird cheeps for shrimp chips.

We ordered a barbequed spare rib appetizer ($6.25):

... but received what I would call char sui. It was the generic but good.

Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce ($6.50):

... was a fine rendition of this Chinese restaurant standard.

We loved the whole flounder ($12.00):

... steamed with ginger and scallions. It was moist, fresh and flavorful.

There were lots of locals dropping by for takeaway. Their menu is focused on rounding out your belly for minimal buckage. It's not a place that we'd add to our regular rotation, but if we found ourselves in the 'nabe, with a little dough, we would loop by for a cheap and cheerful meal.

Gourmet Carousel

1559 Franklin St.
San Francisco, CA




back to last week - March 25-31, 2008



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