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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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April 9-16, 2008


go to next week's blogs


  Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Over the years, we've had both kinds of luck with our meals at the Buckeye Roadhouse, so we approach their front door never knowing if what awaits us is the tiger or the lady or some sort of hybrid "tidy" or "lager." However, they have one door that remains relatively tiger free and that's the one of their big, brick smoker.

Some shrimp made a stop in this smoking section before landing on my Cobb salad ($16.95):

... which came tossed with cherry tomatoes, bacon and avocado. They cooked the shellfish until it barely acknowledged the heat (the way I like it) it was a fine, tidy, salad but I am still hesitant to let my lager guard down.

Buckeye Roadhouse

15 Shoreline Highway
Mill Valley, CA

From today's Bunrab email, Jill writes about Bill's Place:


I saw your write up on Bill's Place today. I've been thinking about my first dinner there that I had a few weeks ago (prompted by Check Please) and I'm wondering if you have any advise? My husband and I sat at the counter (which we do whenever we can) and ordered burgers. The cooks used a squeeze bottle filled with a yellow, butter looking substance on the burgers and grilled onions/veggies. When a cook went to refill it from a 1-2 gallon container I asked to see it. When I read the label it was pure Trans Fat from Partially Hydro. Veg Oil. I've been thinking of calling the owner but I'm just not sure. Thoughts??


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Jill,

I would give them a friendly call if I felt that it was the sort of place that I would ever visit again. Otherwise, I wouldn't offer input since I wouldn't really qualify as a customer that they were trying to accommodate. Even though it's an old school, basic burger joint, they seem very friendly and some useful customer feedback could be helpful (but I wouldn't expect them to start turning away that Sysco truck.)




  Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kitchen at 868 Grant in Novato is now Portelli Rossi. Same owners; new concept.

I sat on the patio for my lunch of an artichoke salad ($11.00):

Grilled radicchio and Italian parsley were tossed in a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. The flavor of the Manchego shavings disappeared like cheesey breath strips between the chicory tongues. Little chunks (rather than the unassertive slivers) might have been more of a compliment to the bitter radicchio (which could have used a variation of texture and concentration of 'chego flavor.) I love bitter greens, but dish was dominated by that radical-dicchio. The first taste was a fun and welcome bite, but fatigue set in pretty quickly. The artichokes had a thin, crisp, tempura-like batter and were fried to perfection but even the sweetness of the Meyers and those tasty artichokes didn't keep it in balance.

But hey, they just opened, and to be fair, I ate the whole thing.

In addition to salads, panini, pasta, a few secondi items and a bambini menu complete the lunchtime offerings which are served up by a friendly staff. I'll have to check out their pasta on my next visit to Novato.

Portelli Rossi Restaurant
868 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA



  Monday, April 14, 2008

I had a friend who used to work the graveyard shift at a donut shop. In addition to making the donuts, he manned the register and made the coffee - a sort of donut all 'rounder.

Whenever I'd drop by, I'd get "mistakes" hot out of the deep fat fryer. Just the sort of snack that you want at midnight. Yum.

My friend has long since moved on, yet gratis glazed are not a thing of the past.

Flickr.com will purchase one free donut for every We Demand Donuts group member present on Wednesday, April 16th at 11:00 a.m. at Bob's Donut and Pastry Shop at 1621 Polk St. in SF (while supplies last).

If you need a simpler, less taxing tax day arrangement, Dunkin' Donuts' answer to dispensing discount donuts is by comping one with each coffee purchase tomorrow (April 15th.)

On the other hand, you may want to avoid the mastication mayhem if you are still reeling from this weekend's feeding frenzy. We received an open letter to the Chocolate Salon in our Bunrab Email,

Holly writes:

Chocolate Salon:

I have to say I have not seen a more ill behaved crowd in some time. Small children shoveling truffles into their mouths despite the pleas of the maker to not touch with your hands. Parents who ignored this behavior or just smiled, I hope your kid puked or spun in circles driving you crazy. I was pushed, prodded and shoved numerous times by adults. Even the vendors seemed horrified by the mass pig out behavior. I was also kind of dismayed to see people carrying out Tupperware bowls overflowing with the wares, how will they know where each one came from? Wasn't that the point? There were some truly great items but the mass frenzy killed it for me. A good idea poorly executed.


Sarah also writes about yesterday's chocolate fest:

Hi the Bunnies! I knew it'd be better if I steered clear of the chocolate throng and read about it here instead. I'm curious to know if you saw those chocolates with blue cheese that were such a hit at the salon last year. I looked for them a while in stores, but never found them. Fortunately, I too indulged in many a PocoDolce burnt caramel or Aztec tile. I even tried to think of things I could do with those pretty blue boxes they came in. Thanks for the report! Sarah

Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sarah,

Those blue cheese, almond covered, chocolate truffles in last year's event were from Lillie Belle Farms in Oregon. You can order them online here.

They stayed a-whey from this year's chocolate sauna, but this did not mean that there were no curds. I asked the nice people at Marti if they were sampling their cheve chocolate and they pulled one out from storage for me. I am not a white chocolate fan, but I thought that this goat cheese filled dome was reason #2 to not give up on this albino ingredient (reason #1 = the Fat Duck Restaurant's white chocolate and caviar.)

Since you like Poco Dolce, I recommend that you try the almond coconut praline from the Cortina Collection (and not just because it would make a nice addition to your blue box collection.)


There was also a mass email this morning from the Chocolate Salon saying that they are thinking about how to approach next year's event, "…the item at the top of our list is space."

What compounded the final frontier problem was yesterday's hot weather. The room wasn't air-conditioned and the chocolate lost some of its integrity (as did some of the people.)

My suggestion would be to make it a benefit for hunger relief in some of the regions where the pods are harvested, it would mean a much higher ticket price while allowing the producers to contribute to the communities that support their businesses an (with some of the additional dough being spent on an air conditioned, larger venue.)

I think that the great thing about this gathering is the opportunity to speak directly with the chocolatiers while sampling their wares.

We had great conversations with the chocolate makers about combinations that they were experimenting with, upcoming seasonal offerings and specialty items, but this became impossible as parts of the crowd started acting more like the non-Charlie kids touring Wonka's factory.




  Sunday, April 13, 2008

Holding down the Fort Mason

All of humanity showed up at the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon today.

It was like a flash mob whose flash was broken. But diehard fans of the pod did not let this get between them and their fix.


Everyone knows about Polo Dolce's tiles:

... (I have lined my stomach with them many times) but I was curious about their Cortina Collection and asked if they were sampling from this Northern Italian inspired assortment. My question was rewarded as they pulled out an unmarked box.

We tasted a 5 Spice Almond and an Almond Coconut Praline. Both had a wonderful texture with bits of toasty nuts, but the coconut version stood out as my fave.

Poco Dolce's honey and egg white nougat with almonds and pistachios:

... is the best Torrone Bianco I've had. They are also producing a chocolate enrobed version of these white nut-tangles.

We rubbed Elbows:

... at Christopher's where we sampled his Kansas City produced, edible gems. The chocolate enrobed rosemary caramel was like eating an emerald out of a dowager's cocktail ring until the delicate shimmering green chocolate shell snapped to give way to the silky herbed center. Christopher oversees production of all of his goods in Kansas City and makes refrigerated, overnight shipments twice a week to stock his shop on Hayes Street. Inspired by the restaurant across the way from his San Francisco location, he produces one (and only one) chocolate that is only available here, that's right, Absinthe. Sadly, he didn't have any today. But we are going to have to pop in and try one next time we hit Hayes.

We were impressed by Tonet Tibay's Marti Chocolatt:

This L.A. based chocolatier produces some unusual and tasty bonbons. The cheve en choco blanc was more subtle and sumptuous than the goat cheese and white chocolate name would suggest.

We have enjoyed Stephanie Marcon's Coco-luxe Confections:

... for a long time, but have been frustrated that she didn't sell them from her Sausalito factory (we are big on in-person, impulse food purchases.) We were happy to learn that this protégé of Michel Recchiuti will be opening her shop at 1673 Haight St. this summer. We hope that the butterscotch caramel she is developing will available to chomp down while sitting at the hot cocoa bar at her new venture.

In chatting with the Berger-minder, I learned that it will be another month before Scharffen Berger releases their next "limited edition #10" (name tbd.) They are currently scharffening up this South or Central American creation, which they say, will be, "dark, fruity and special."

Art Pollard:

... brought his Amano bars that he produces in Utah. As I enjoyed his fruity, dark Ocumare Grand Cru bar, I asked if he had any plans to expand into filled chocolates. He covertly produced a small box of luscious raspberry centered confections encased in his single origin, 70% cocao, Madagascar chocolate. These filled creations are made by a super secret chocolatier and will be available for order by chefs in the next month or two.

Earlier in the day, Charles of Charles Chocolates was kind enough to dispense candy to the line of anxious early birds.

I think that the people in charge of event scheduling at Fort Mason should take his cue and show a little kindness. They scheduled the Food Addicts in Recovery meeting:

... to let out right when the chocolate event begins. That's seriously messed up.

When it got too crowded for us, we left the cuckoo land of cocoa to cross the parking lot to the tasty land of tamales.

Tamales by the Bay featured local maize masters in a benefit for the Benchmark foundation.

We loved the Rancho Gordo Scarlet beans that Steve Sando was dishing out:

His dried heirloom beans are in such demand that they caught the attention of Whole Foods (who offered to buy out their warehouse, but were declined.)

Steve said that people think there is an infinite bean supply, but there is actually a good chance that they might run out of some of their items due to this year's high demand.

The Queen of Tamales, Maria Martinez:

... lent a regal tone to the proceedings with her chili and cheese filled tubes topped with a nice hot salsa.

These fantastic Chilean corn and onion humitas:

... made by Sabores del Sur were both sweet and savory with a tomato and cilantro salsa.

El Hurache Loco made some exceptional chow:

... including a chicken with mole and a Oaxacan pork with Guajillo sauce. This is the best way to be a Loco-vore

It is said that tamales were originally created as a portable meal for warriors. I find this difficult to believe since eating these did not inspire me to violence. I think that tamales are actually peace promoting in their ability to inspire me to a nap.

It was a fun afternoon of tasting and catching up with food and blogging pals, but it was a relief to take a walk in the cool, Marina air to work it off.

San Francisco International Chocolate Salon
A Taste of Tamales by the Bay
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA



  Saturday, April 12, 2008

Are tomatoes the new iPhone?

Some hardcore nightshade-heads beefsteaked-out the annual heirloom tomato sale an hour before the official opening time. These early girls and boys plucked up all the Marvel Stripes.

We still managed to take away a San Marzano Redorta, Shady Lady, Sun Sugar and Matina for a grand total of $17.

The helpful red-hatted, expert, 'mater-Ds were on hand to match gardeners with plants that work with their particular microclimates and palates.

If you go to the Marin Art and Garden Center tomorrow (Sunday) they will have replenished all of the coveted vines, but get there before all the fruit fanatics.

On our way back to the cyberhutch, we spotted this vehicle:

Apparently a mirror and a scale don't cut it anymore, you need a large truck with a tub of water determine whether you are supersized while you are simultaneously releived of any unwanted pounds, euros, or dollars.

This is all wrong, the test should be simplified: if you can't fit into the truck; you are fat. Most people know when there is too much junk in their trunk without getting taken for a ride.

If you sense that your trunk requires more junk, there are lots of great options for packing on the pounds tomorrow. Whether you are into pounding rice for mochi at the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival, or you want to pound down some margaritas and tamales at the Tamales by the Bay event, you are in luck.

Sweet teeth will be sated at the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon where you can sample some of local artisanal faves like Christoper Elbow, Charles Chocolates and Coco-luxe along with some from further flung factories.

Just avoid that fat truck on your way home.





  Friday, April 11, 2008

You can't spell "Larder" without…

While perusing Boulettes Larder, we spotted simple little pig shaped shortbreads among some of the more ornate sweets in the dessert pen. We got a bizcochito ($1.50):

... which is a cinnamon cookie made with pig fat. They are like cinnamony pie dough scraps that were sprinkled with sugar before baking.

As a public service, Boulettes graphically outlines what could happen to a habitual consumer. Warnings baked into the cookie? Suuu-weet.

Boulette's Larder

San Francisco Ferry Building
1 Ferry Building Marketplace
San Francisco, CA


Lard can also be found at a Tamale Festival this Sunday.

Building D at the Fort Mason Center will be filled with plump, yellow, meat and sweet centered morsels for A Taste of Tamales by the Bay. This event is a benefit for Benchmark Institute, an organization that teaches law to advocates of low-income communities.

Among the vendors scheduled to participate are La Cocina Community Kitchen We were impressed by all of the local, San Francisco food entrepreneurs when we visited during their open house last year.

A Bunrab fave, Rancho Gordo, will be shelling out their cooked heirloom beans for legume lovers to taste as well as having some dried ones available for purchase.

The TOTBTB program includes tamale cooking demonstrations, music and a margarita contest (for making them, not drinking them!)

Tickets are available for purchase on their website.

A Taste of Tamales by the Bay
Sunday, April 13th from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Landmark Building D
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA



  Thursday, April 10, 2008

After yesterday's lacklunchster meal we decided to play it safe today with some tried and true chain restaurant chow at Shalimar.

We helped ourselves to some chai as we waited for our brains ($6.95):

... to catch up with us. These nicely spiced, rich and tender lobes were a mind-altering substance. I've destroyed many brain cells all over town, but I always head back for more of these.

There are no food stylists working at Shalimar:

... but there is a tandoori oven where they tan bread with the doori closed. We usually go with the plain naan for a buck, but we switched it up for an onion kulcha ($2.00):

... since we heard that it's a good idea to explore other kulchas. This stuffed onion mit was ghee-licious.

Goat Karahi ($9.95):

... is a great dish to eat when you are not insanely hungry. You must proceed with caution due to the bits of goat bone hidden in this tasty tangle of kid cuisine. So you unless you want to give yourself a reverse tracheotomy by Khyber passing these into your windpipe, you shouldn't power through this tender and sometimes gristly, tomato sauced, mountain of deliciously spiced goat.

Although we have found some inconsistencies with their dishes (like okra being cooked firm on one visit, and heated until it surrendered on another, we have always left happy and full.

Shalimar Restaurant
532 Jones St.
San Francisco, CA


Chocolate. There are those who insist on preaching its healthful properties, but these are people who can't recognize a good vice when they see it. I firmly subscribe to the belief that you can't trust a person without a vice. I happen to be very trustworthy.

For those who must use the nutrition defense to assuage cocoaphobia, you too can infuse your body with antioxidants and flavonoids until you are a vision of health and fitness at the second annual San Francisco Chocolate Salon this Sunday at Fort Mason.

Check out our photos from last year's event.

2nd Annual San Francisco International Chocolate Salon

Sunday, April 13th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA



  Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Is the next generation going to be a wave of gastronomic monsters with a sense of entitlement? All signs point to yes.

Kids comparing notes on which television food personality designed their summer camp cuisine as they watch a DVD in the backseat of an SUV driven by their live in nanny is our signal to brace ourselves for a wave of demands that stem more from branding than true desire. Kids shouldn't care about which chef does what. It's a false appreciation that is based on status rather than taste.

Forget silver spoons, these are diamond encrusted platinum.

This disquieting site made the name of a nearby eatery sound all the more appealing.

Comforts used to be a friendly food stop, but our recent visits included witnessing rude treatment of a Granny, and getting some of it dished out our way.

Was it was a couple of bad apples or the whole bushel? We decided to stop by to take another core sample.

The host was friendly and there was no elder (or junior) verbal abuse taking place during our lunch.

We split a Cobb salad ($11.95):

... which was a garden variety haystack of chopped iceberg and romaine, boiled egg, avocado, anemic tomatoes, bacon, blue cheese with dry poultry.

Our Vietnamese chicken sandwich ($10.95):

... was a bahn that was not for mi. This over-mayoed roll was filled with a large helping of chicken coated with a sweet hoisin sauce that failed to meld with the shredded carrots, onions, daikon and peppers. Vinegared carrots and cukes came as a side salad.

I'm not sure what "city" food is, but if lunch was any indication, it's not our thing. That's what we get for not allowing our nanny drive us to a place with a celebrity chef…

Comforts Café
335 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA





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