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February 18-29, 2008
|Friday, February 29, 2008
Years are like drop-frame time code. They are a technically inelegant way of charting temporal movement. There are slightly fewer than 365.25 days in a year and it’s hard to carpe all of those diems which equal vigor when you get days thrown in all willy-nilly. It’s not as easy as adding one day every 4 years. If the potential leap-year is divisible by 100 (like 1900) it isn’t a leap year unless it is also divisible by 400 (like 2000), in which case it is.
I would be more upset at the H&R blockhead responsible for this birds nest of an equation if its purpose was not to keep Easter (the #1 day for rabbits) in sync with the vernal equinox.
By Gregorian chance, we stopped by Yankee Pier:
... on the last day of their crab festival (it began on February 1st and is Done-geness today.)
We split a crab roll:
... and a lobster roll ($19.95 each):
Both arrived in an East Coast style griddled bun. They offer them cold (with mayo) or hot (with butter.) To quote Homer, “the belly is the most commanding part of the body” and to quote the more profound Homer, “mmmm butter…” Needless to say, we got them hot.
We liked the crisp and thick house made potato chips that were sprinkled with the perfect amount of salt. The cabbage, carrot and onion slaw had too much sugar for our taste and we aren’t big on the watery mayo pool in which it swam, but who cares about slaw when there’s seafood? The lobster had a tough, overcooked texture so we didn’t mind the small portion of this bottom feeder, but the crab was delish. We scarfed down this tender and flavorfully onion accented scavenger meat.
Yankee Pier is one of those places that we enjoy for certain menu items while others are bitter disappointments. Our favorites are the grilled fresh fish and the burger. As far as lobster rolls go, North Beach Lobster Shack has a superior product (with a tender, flavorful and generous filling.) The crab roll however, was worthwhile, but you may have to wait to shell out for one until we take another lap around the calendar.
|Thursday, February 28, 2008
Rustic Bakery germinated with a line of flatbreads (commissioned by Cowgirl Creamery) which eventually gave rise to their bakery and café.
When they opened, we enjoyed dropping by for pastries and Equator coffee, but their options have widened to include take away dinner, granola, Charles Chocolates, McEvoy olive oil and of course, Cowgirl cheeses.
They have a breakfast sandwich that they serve until 11 a.m. and a bunch of cold sandwiches that they make to order.
I chose the turkey ($7.95):
... which I got on one of their housemade caramelized onion rolls. This cushion of bread was spread with pesto and stuffed with thin slices of Diestel bird with some lettuce.
Chubby got a salami and cheese in a sea salt roll ($7.95):
Fra’mani salami, mozzarella and lettuce was a more flavor packed mit than mine.
Both of these lunch rounds were good, but I wouldn’t complain if they got a panini grill to augment their offerings with a crispy shell and oozy cheese.
... which are tongue depressor shaped anti-tongue-depressants. These crisp, buttery nibbles offer a significant reduction in commute time from the bag to your stomach with their express lane shaped mouth ramp. But ease of calorie delivery is not the reason why I find these so appealing. They are delicate propellers of cocoa bean crunch that make contact with the spot. These need to go on our rotation.
|Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The cluck stops here.
There are a lot of foods that you can evaluate by eye, but few with the accuracy of a cooked egg. The dark green rim on a boiled egg yolk is as obvious as a tarantula on a wedding cake.
These rubbery balls do not bounce onto the plate by themselves, they are usually first sliced to reveal their rotten cores. It requires nothing more than a glance to see that a substandard product is coming home to roost.
If a cook chickens out and permits these to cross the pass, they either expect the diner to sulfur in silence or to be in possession of a lead palate. Of course sending the egg back where it came from is an option, but not one that will necessarily fall open to the desired effect. Eggs are usually boiled together in advance; so there is little sense in asking to swap the offending oval for another aborted attempt at egg-sellance. When these huevos rauncheros are passed from cook to server to diner, each party understands that the concern for quality has stopped incubating.
“Can’t boil and egg” is a well-known idiom, but its meaning has become scrambled.
|Tuesday, February 26, 2008
A New York steak ($28.95):
... seemed like it would be a good choice at Lark Creek Steak:
... this evening. This Angus strip arrived done to the requested medium rare. You get to pick a saucing agent from a list of the usual suspects and I chose horseradish, but this 9 ounces of flesh didn’t require anything more than a grinding of salt to bring out its beefy goodness. The hand cut fries were stacked lumber yard style. These tuberfores had nice starchy centers but I should have requested mine “extra crispy” like Chubby did for a greater crunchy contrast.
Chubby got a burger ($13.95):
... which came on a Bay Bread bun with Bibb lettuce. Tomatoes were not mindlessly zombied-in for seasonal reasons, but Chubby asked if there was any possibility of some oniony addition. They kindly obliged and thin slices of red onion augmented his half pound ground steak round. He began to tuck in before nabbing my horseradish sauce which created a burger alchemy that we will repeat on our next steak out-ing.
We were surprised by how much we enjoyed our dinner since we have had mixed experiences at their other restaurants.
He did a little Greco-Roman intellectual wrestling:
... with an audience:
... that was composed of people more interested in the summation of scientific history than matching hosiery:
Axis Café (location of Ask a Scientist)
Is there an actual Bette? I've eaten there twice, having only been in Bay area twice, as I live in North Carolina and it's a bit of a trip just for breakfast, but I am flying into SFO for a week's vacation in April, and I am wanting to have at least one breakfast there. Maybe more than once depending on my significant other. The ham and cheese omelet is a very pleasant experience. On the verge of being custardy yet fully cooked. What I would imagine the food in God's kitchen to be like.
Yes, there is an actual Bette, but unlike the Betty at Bakesale Betty’s in Oakland, she doesn’t wear a blue wig and isn’t as easy to pick out in a crowd.
|Monday, February 25, 2008
The food is honest and good. We usually stick with our tried and true faves, only occasionally veering off into the land of specials. Today we both went with our default lunch order of the Cobb Salad ($11.95):
... which isn’t one of those fussy, segregated preparations with isolated rows of each ingredient (this is Berkeley after all.) It’s already Cobb-led so it can be gobbled. This chicken, blue cheese, avocado, cherry tomato and bacon salad with a perfectly cooked hard boiled egg, left enough room for an apple crisp:
... for dessert.
Bette’s is one of those places we keep coming back to because of the honest chow and nice (healthy) folks.
|Sunday, February 24, 2008
Chubby made a big batch of hot wings:
K. made one of her famously complex and delicious salads with crunchy radishes, creamy avocado, mache and assorted fetal greens and R. made a lemon tart that won raves from the critics.
|Saturday, February 23, 2008
One feature I like on Epicurious.com is the reader comments. After perusing the experiences of other citrus pie enthusiasts, I upped the lemon juice and reduced the sugar for the curd. This produced a pleasingly tangy filling in this pecan crusted, cloud covered round. The pie is now gone and I will try to push the pucker power even further on my next time I make this craveable creation.
|Friday, February 22, 2008
There was no sign of any evil step sisters at Cinderella Bakery, but there was a nice lady who ESL’ed us through some descriptions of the fillings for their hamentashen ($1.80 each):
We chose a poppyseed and a prune which looked similar, but had different pastry crusts. The opiate filled version had a more tender shell than the more cookie-like dried plum version. Both were very nice, but I liked the prune best.
... was filled with seasoned, shredded, cooked and squeezed cabbage. The tender blanket of bread baked around this heady veg was something I would order again.
They have a café next door if Coach tells you to pack on some pounds for the big game. We will have to make our way back for some borscht, house-made headcheese, blinchiki and some of the rye bread we saw lined up by the door.
Cinderella Russian Bakery and Café
|Thursday, February 21, 2008
... tosses pizza from the menu on Friday and Saturday so we found ourselves Roman over to grab one of their thin crusted Margherita Pizzas($12.75):
... before the weekend moratorium. This oval pie had a good ratio of buffalo mozzarella to crust and tomato sauce with a basil chiffonade strewn across the slices. We liked it fine, but our local favorite remains Picco Pizzeria’s blistered beauties.
Shortly after we placed our order, a couple bruscetta arrived:
These crunchy garlic rubbed toasts were topped with tomatoes and olive oil and were a nice alternative to a bread basket.
Chubby got the zuppa di pesce ($17.75):
The plump mussels were cooked to a moist perfection in this basic tomato based soup. Clams and shrimp made for a trief triangulation of warming chow.
The service was friendly and efficient in this popular local eatery. It was a good, homey choice on a rainy night.
Cucina Restaurant and Wine Bar
|Wednesday, February 20, 2008
... as the location of my re-caffienation ceremony. Chubby bet that I would have a headache if I was coffee-free for three full days but my head emerged unscathed - poor Chubby had a pounding, jackhammer of a skull instead (which he blamed on detox transference.)
Javaholics is more of a cyber-squatter hub than a bean mecca, but it was a fine place to zap my parameter ram back into operation. Quitting is for quitters. No more of that loco action for me.
Loco moco ($11.00):
... at Namu, (a Korean/Japanese/American brother owned and operated restaurant) had a chubby Niman beef patty adorned with a couple over easy eggs and gravy with some nice sticky rice. I just wish it had a spicy kick or some more crunchy green onions to amp of up the loco.
“BBQ Belly” sandwich ($9.00):
... was filled with dark meat, shoyu-flavored chicken and Swiss cheese with grilled onions, mesclun and tomatoes. The fries were a little soft for my extra crispy taste, but to be fair, I didn’t make any specification. It was fine, but not reorderable.
We loved the iron pot of fragrant jasmine tea ($3.00):
... served with iron tea cups. Not only was it delicious, it felt like we could pick the heated metal cups up with our wrists to make Kung Fu brands and the pot could be used as a weapon in the event of a ninja attack. Very macho.
Judging from their menu I think it’s more of a dinner and drinks hub than a lunch stop, but we enjoyed our visit to this sunny, wood accented room while drinking iron clad tea.
|Tuesday, February 19, 2008
This Mom and Pop restaurant is just what Tiburon needed – a non-touristy venue with quality chow.
A shot glass of cauliflower soup with chives and olive oil:
... helped to take the chill off as we came in from the rain. This creamy tube was sprinkled with a finishing salt that I sipped off the top. Chubby said, “it’s a shot glass” and downed it to get the proper balance of flavors.
Acme epi comes with a pot of lentil puree, which was a fun alternative to the usual accomplices.
We applaud any restaurant that serves tripe in Marin (in a dish other than menudo.) The gutsy take on stomach ($11.00):
... at this honeycomb hideout was just the sort of rustic preparation that appeals to us. A poached egg crowned the tomato-based contents of this stomach. Grilled bread offered a crispy, smoky, backboard for this belly pleasing dish.
A chorus line of tentacles arrived in a kicky salad of octopus ($14.00):
... which was grilled after a de-beaking. The paper-thin slices of fennel, sectioned grapefruit, aioli, and arugula stepped in with a crisp, acidic, and fresh balance.
... with balsamic onions, aioli and mizuna was an offally nice gesture from the kitchen as they noted our fondness for the tripe. This was our favorite appetizer with its simple, contrasting yet complementary flavors and textures. The thin crisp exteriors of creamy, barely cooked, glands had their richness cut with the vinegared onions and the faint bitterness of the greens.
They make their pastas in-cottage so we had to get an order of gnocchi ($19.00):
... these potato pillows were light as air. This generous serving was fragrant with pecorino, trumpets of death and asparagus.
Calamari inzimino ($20.00):
... was a warming Tuscan and Umbria-inspired tomato stew dotted with cicerchia beans and flavored with garlic, lemon and herbs. This is the sort of food that you want on a rainy night.
If your taste runs more towards salad and spaghetti than tentacles and testicles, you will find items that are free from twisted intestinal demands. Fish, chicken and straightforward cuts of muscle are on the menu, but if you want a burger, you’ll have to head to another venue.
They are just starting up, so there are the expected little bumps here and there. We did a swish-and-switch when I got Chubby’s glass of red wine and he got mine. Tableware is overeagerly bussed by the friendly staff, but needed flatware was not always replaced. All this will probably be smoothed out given time.
They did a nice job with what is a tricky space just off Ark Row. I like the bare wood tables, the coat hooks on the wall, the baskets of citrus fruits on the counters and the Heath ceramics under the food.
Coffee-free DAY 3
After our dinner, I had to forgo my usual cup of black coffee, but if there’s one thing I am keen on, it’s a bet. Tomorrow marks the end of my barista blackout during which I have learned some interesting ways to optimize the effects of caffeine. Check out this article to see if you are getting the most bang for your Starbucks.
So far, no headache. If I make it til tomorrow, I get the smug glow of being right. Chubby still thinks I’m headin’ for Excedrin…
|Monday, February 18, 2008
We left Washington in time to celebrate the birthday of a man who was born a Brit and died an American. George’s lineage is shared with this batch of marmalade:
... although the concept is British, I made this preserve from Meyer lemons:
... from a friend’s tree in Napa.
Washed, sliced thin and with a cheesecloth parcel of the pips:
... (so they can be easily disposed of later when their pectin-tial is exhausted), it is cooked down with water and sugar:
... to rind up as one of my favorite toast toppers. The only amendments that I made were to add a generous hit of Maldon salt (which put the flavors in balance) and I halved (instead of quartered) the troops of lemons, other than that, I kept to the recipe which I will definitely make the next time I squeeze some of these yellow flavor bombs out of P. & S.
Not only are these guys generous, they are creative. P. went to her garden and fabricated this Bunrab-sized bouquet:
... before their visit – a step up from chopping down a cherry tree just to try out a new hatchet.
Our mara-lemon-ade went down our hatchets like continental breakfast army rations (without coffee for me) as we reflected on our gratitude towards President Washington for setting the two term Presidential limit, which was eventually embodied in the 22nd amendment (there are only certain types of lemons worth preserving.)
It’s day 2 of my no caffeine tri-decaf-along and so far, Chubby is wrong, no head trauma. We stopped by Peet’s were he got a fragrant mug of espresso and steamed milk while I had some goofy herb tea. Whenever we visit this particular Peets, we are reminded of the good service that we find at other branches. Luckily, I happened to be less anxious than usual since I knew no joe was in my immediate future.
Perhaps they should follow Starbucks’ example and close up all their shops. More than 7,000 U.S. Starbucks are shuttering on Feb. 26th at 5:30 for 3 hours so that their employees can be re-trained. I love the idea of this synchronized latte lockout. It sounds like a steep in the right direction, but their real problems are more than skim deep.
Once I pick up from my Bunrab rehab, I will check out their bean juice for any signs of improvement.
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