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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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February 10-17, 2008


go to next week's blogs


  Sunday, February 17, 2008

During a walk around Spokane:

...we popped into a café for a coffee break. Chubby offhandedly mentioned my “addiction” and a bet ensued.

Chubby said that I would get a headache if I didn’t have caffeine for three days. I am certain that this will not be the case.

After this discussion, we encountered this weak willed squirrel whose desire for a bean based boost reduced him to dumpster diving for his fix:


Our new friend Skippy is the one with a problem, not me.

We thanked our kind hosts and headed out from the Spoke to the hub of Seattle. Chubby chugged espresso drinks while I had some hippy tea bags with sissy names from the corporate whale chain to celebrate the end of our visit. Ginger tofu and herb tea? I think Spokane has me brain-washingtoned.




  Saturday, February 16, 2008

Chew, chew train

Frank’s Diner is housed in a railcar:

...that has changed tracks from pulling a cabooses to widening them.

We waited on the platform for 20 minutes at this popular junction before sitting down to a couple orders of Frank’s Breakfast Combo ($9.89) This comes with eight dollar sized pancakes, hash browns that you can get regular, extra crisp, with onions and or gravy (I got mine extra crispy with onions.) In case I was still hungry, I had bacon scrambled eggs and thick cut wheat toast:

This is big, hungry boy chow.

And speaking of big, hungry boys, Chubby got his Pullman sized plate:

... with a flakey biscuit that had its cut sides dipped in oil before being browned on the griddle. Gravy and onions interlocked his spuds with some over easy eggs and two jumbo links (that had a luncheon meat flavor not unlike Spam.)

The service was well conducted at this fast track to a terminal station (if you shovel all this coal in and don’t keep it rollin’.) Even though we weren’t on board with this heavy rail system, we were glad that we locamoted to this friendly whistle stop that is the Spokane hub of grub.

Frank’s Diner

1516 W. 2nd Ave.
Spokane, WA



  Friday, February 15, 2008

Mizuna Restaurant looked like a promising pick with its local organic and seasonal menu. We started with fresh spring rolls ($9.00):

... stuffed with ginger tofu, cilantro, shredded carrots, cabbage, daikon sprouts and chopped cukes. A pool of black sesame freckled peanut sauce provided a beany dip for these hippy snacks. The noodle salad did not offer a break from the peanut, carrot and cilantro theme. This was like a dish you would order in Berkeley near campus between classes while net-squatting in a café.

Chubby got a grilled veggie sandwich with goat cheese ($9.00):

... which came with a bowl of leek and potato bisque that was heavy on the salt (and we aren’t saltaphobes either.) The eggplant, onion, and roasted pepper sandwich was fine (but not reorderable.)

My ahi ($11.00):

... arrived at the requested rare next to a spinach salad. Miso dressed daikon sprouts, cuke slices, cabbage, cilantro, and shredded carrots were topped with a pink hat of pickled ginger. The fish could have used some simple seasoning or dressing, but it was fine for refueling.

The service was friendly but rushed. They bussed Chubby’s plate without asking if he was going to finish the soup (he wasn’t) while I was mid-salad. The server asked him if he wanted “dessert or etcetera?” He declined and they brought the bill while I was still eating my food. I guess the “etcetera” would have been the feeling that we weren’t being hurried.

We may not have found culinary excitement, but the people are hospitable. Even the visitors are friendly. We were checking out our tourist map and a smiling couple asked, “where did you get that?” We showed him where to find Spokane's visitor center, and he said, “there’s nothing to do here is there?” I told him that he could go take a look at the giant Radio Flyer wagon:

“Already did it” they chortled as they walked down the skywalk to the mall.


Mizuna Restaurant and Wine Bar
214 N. Howard
Spokane, WA



  Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine’s Day is to dining as St. Patrick’s day is to drinking. This is not to say that it’s bad, just that it’s compulsory. The menus often favor gimmick over flavor with prices that seem like you are getting gouged at the airport.

The Oakland Airport has added some computer friendly seats with electric sockets:

... but they still have nothing worthwhile to plug into our pie sockets. Southwest got all prom committee with their decorations:

I woke from my mid-flight snooze to see ribbons dangling from the bulkheads:

... and thought that I was supposed to grab one to start the flow of oxygen.

The flow of steam had stopped many years ago at the Steam Plant Grill:

We grabbed some bar food:

... that vaporized any expectations of the chow competing with the remarkable architecture.

The staff was friendly and efficient even if the chow can be mist.

Steam Plant Grill

159 S. Lincoln
Spokane, WA





  Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We went to see our friend who is a Paleontologist, speak at Central Perk:

...(no, his name is not Ross, and this is not based on an episodic television series.) Central Perk is a café in El Cerrito just off Central Ave, and Kevin gave a talk on Darwin as part of the East Bay Science Café series.

It was an evening of better food for thought than the other variety, but in order to delay our extinction, we got a turkey and Swiss panini ($6.00):

... with a scary potato salad (neither of which qualifies as our natural selection.) Fortunately, this was not the focal point of our visit and we perused the diverse landscape:

... before Kevin’s lecture that was engaging for both the initiated and mildly curious.

It was unique in that he did not rely on any video and the questions did not originate from dodos.

Central Perk
10086 San Pablo Ave.
El Cerrito, CA

East Bay Science Café




  Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We wound our way back to Serpentine:

... and had a window of opportunity to grab one of their tables with the condition that we vacate in an hour. Due to this timing issue, we chose to forgo appetizers and went with a couple mains.

Since the Slow Club is the sibling of this new eatery, we knew we couldn’t go wrong with a cheeseburger ($13.00):

... Prather Ranch is good P.R. for any patty round and this pickled red onion and peppery rocket punctuated recipe was pretty respectable. It didn’t knock the Slow Club off the top of the Burger Grail, but it ranks in the top 10 posh burgers.

The Acme bun, held up well to the juicy meat that was given a kick of pickled onions and buttermilk blue cheese. We requested the fries “extra crispy” and were rewarded with soft centered, crunchy-shelled, tater sticks.

The seared cod ($22.50):

... rested on a rich, creamy, eat-it-with-a-fork winter vegetable chowder. The fish was cooked perfectly with a moist, meaty belly. Sweet carrot chunks, potato, smoky bacon and manila clams were immodestly displayed behind these cod pieces.

Next time come for dinner we will make a rezzie so we can enjoy a more leisurely meal in this chic yet casual bar and restaurant.

We loved the chow and the friendly and efficient service and will definitely wind our way back.

2495 Third St.
San Francisco, CA




  Monday, February 11, 2008

The Berkeley Repertory Theatre has a series of free science lectures called Science at the Theatre. This evening’s scheduled speaker, Jerry Tuskan, was replaced by his associate, Dan Rokhsar, who told us how to make ethanol out of corn juice and the proper way to pull the guts out of a termite while doing his best John Turturro impression:

For such an interesting series, I was surprised at the number of empty seats.

After a Q&A that was dominated by people who were more interested in trumpeting their own agendas than actually asking a proper Q, we got in the pizza queue at Pie in the Sky:

Downtown restaurant is closed on Mondays, so Pie was a practical and peppy-roni stop for a post plant pathology presentation pizza.

Our thin crusted slices were refreshed in the oven. We got a slice of pepperoni ($3.25):

... which was good, but we found the other specialty pies more interesting. The Son of Sky ($3.50):

... with Mozzarella, pitted kalamata olives, pesto, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and ricotta and the Sky Pie ($3.50):

... with Mozzarella, eggplant, rocket, tomatoes, tasty patches of salty Feta and toasty chunks of walnuts were both worth reordering. My fave was the Sky even though the combo sounded like an overloaded Christmas tree, it was actually good.

The friendly and efficient staff, the funky décor and the rabbit painting at this counter service fast food hut was just fine by us. We converted their pies into fuel and hit the road back to the cyberhutch.

Pie in the Sky Pizza
2124 Center St.
Berkeley, CA

Science at the Theatre
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Community Lecture Series
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
2025 Addison St.
Berkeley, CA




  Sunday, February 10, 2008

We polished off the leg of lamb leftovers from our dinner party last night and capped it off with some of the remaining dessert. Just as you should not cook with wine that you would not enjoy on its own, it seems sloppy to use joe that you wouldn’t use to wake up with. We took a crème anglaise steeped with four tablespoons of ground beans, strained out the grounds and churned up a batch of fro-jo.

J noted that its melting pattern betrayed its 100% cream (and no milk) status. J. knows his melting patterns. I normally do not serve coffee with cream and sugar pre-combined (or with egg yolks for that matter) but this was a perky sweet that I was glad to have ‘lator.





back to last week - February 1-9, 2008



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