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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

Do you need to answer back? You can send me comments if you want to.

If I want to, I'll post 'em in this very blog.



January 1-8, 2008


go to next week's blogs


  Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sol Food was jammed:

... when we popped in to grab one of our standard orders of the ensalada con pollo ($10.95):

Sadly, it was not up to its usual level of tastiness today. The normally tender and juicy chicken thigh meat was tough and stringy. I sloshed a little of their vinegar hot sauce on to help distract me from today’s sole food.

Chubby decided to get some food without a face (after eating the one that belonged to that baby duck yesterday.) He went with the veggie deluxe sandwich ($8.25):

This flat-pressed French roll filled with roasted peppers, Jack cheese, onions, tomato and avocado was okay, but tasted incomplete. It really needed some bacon. Chubby had hoped in vain that the “deluxe” designation would mean that this wasn’t one of those veggie “me too” menu placeholders.

We chalked it up to a bad day for the normally craveable chicken salad, but will probably skip the deluxe sandwich in the future.

It’s unusual for us to leave this place disappointed, but we’ve had more hits than misses in this bright green, peppy food stop so we’ll keep it on rotation.

Sol Food Puerto Rican Cuisine
901 Lincoln Ave.
San Rafael, Ca

We got lots of Bunrab email about yesterday’s balut entry including helpful preparation and serving tips:

“… buy young - the date stamped on the egg tells you day 1 of incubation, so you want to pick the latest date (bigger number) not the earliest date. how to boil - place in a pot of cold water, bring to boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes. eat in the shell while pipping hot - As soon as you turn off the stove, scoop up the egg, place in an egg cut, round end up (not the pointed end). Use a small egg spoon or cake spoon to crack open the top, savor the broth with a bit of salt and black pepper, then slowly coop out the content & eat (with salt & pepper). do no eat the egg white - it's hard a rubbery. Discard it, unless you like the texture. In VietNam, we eat this egg with a mint to prevent gas (as eggs can be gassy)…”


One reader wrote to ask where she could pick up one of her very own:


The address of said asian market where one can pick up an impulse driven 99-cent balut please?


...and Gutenberg replied:

Dear Zelda,

Here's where I got mine:

Asian Market
5 Mary St.
San Rafael, CA

It's right next to the Whole Foods.

Bon appétit!




  Monday, January 7, 2008

After chucking all the power outage collateral damage from the fridge, it was time to clean and restock the icebox. While the nice lady who owns the Asian market rung up our basket of groceries, I eyed their impulse purchase items near the register and added a balut:

... during a Snicker bar moment of impulse shopping.

I’m positive that the supplier of these duck fetuses must have calculated the exact period of time that is required before someone reconsiders this 99¢ expenditure and came up with this strategic sales positioning.

I asked the owner if I should eat it raw or cooked and she told me to boil it for 20-25 minutes and eat it with pepper. I asked her if she liked them and she scrunched up her nose and shook her head.

I boiled “TJ” for 20 minutes (but I think 15 would have been better in retrospect) and peeled back his shell to reveal a Damien Hirst derivative oval:

Chubby and I both got more than our 49.5 cents worth from this texturally complex, preemie, musty foul.

Usually we enjoy baby animals, which have not been toughened by the rigors of time. The thought of eating beak, bones and feathers that were still in a jelloey stage of development sounded kind of tasty, but it proved to be seriously funky – and the worst kind of funky – time released.

I feel like a cloud of duck funk surrounds my head. It might have been an entirely different and delicious experience if I were to cook one a little rarer, but in any case, I have learned my lesson about point of purchase displays.

If you seek an effective weight loss product to fulfill a resolution, look no further.




  Sunday, January 6, 2008

We won Survivor Starbucks by enduring the grub eating immunity challenge and now our urban camping trip is over. Power has been restored to the cyberhutch so no more venting over ventis.

Last week’s Bar Jules five dollar toast got a rise out of Eater SF and SF Weekly. Of course we all understand that when you are dealing with top quality ingredients, you should pay for them, but we knead to know the bread to bread ratio before the cost pops up on the bill and makes us feel crumby.

Today’s toast episode at Canteen was a slice of heaven. Our lightly carbonized, processed mill products came with our entrees (at no extra charge) accompanied by some tasty preserves and butter:

My gravlax omelette ($8.95):

... was an eggy tube lined with chives, shaved fennel and bits of cured salmon. The potatoes had the perfect balance of crispy bits to starchy bits. Each spud chunk had a brown crunchy expanse to justify its existence on the plate.

Chubby got the chicken hash ($11.95):

The server explained that they poach their eggs a little firmer for this mountain of potatoes, chicken with self-saucing eggs. Every bite was flavorpacked and craveable.

The service was friendly, efficient and improves with each of our visits (which are spaced further apart than the food warrants.) We love the music, books and overall vibe of this cozy diner:

... off the lobby of a dormitory for Academy of Art University which has been slowly buying up all the San Francisco real estate in a Monopoly game that is funded by book larnin’-averse young people with rich parents. They should consider putting Starbucks inside of Academy of Art Universities inside of Starbucks like Russian nesting dolls, it would be so much more practical.


817 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA


And speaking of Starbucks, from today’s Bunrab email, Steve A. writes about yesterday’s food puck:


In fact, the eggs for all the Starbucks breakfast sandwiches served in the United States are cooked at just two locations, stuffed into sandwiches, and kept frozen for up to two days before being reheated in the speed oven... As the Starbucks sandwiches cooled, the texture changed noticeably (as is often the case with microwaved sandwiches), leaving tough bread and bacon, rubbery cheese and spongy egg.

In your post about Starbux breakfast sandwiches you mention that they are equivalent to McDonalds Egg McMuffins. Even though Starbux should be better because their beverages are better and they market their chain as upscale with upscale prices, their breakfast sandwiches are actually inferior to McDonalds because they are frozen and merely heated up in a toaster in-store. McDonalds eggs are cooked and their sandwiches are made in-store. Until Starbux stores get a real kitchen instead of warming ovens, it will be this way.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Steve,

Thanks for the info. I think that presenting the egg muffin in a bag with a sticker that reads: “Great Coffee deserves Great Food” is actually a cautionary reminder before you reach the point of desperation necessary to break the seal and access the launch codes to detonate this belly bomb.




  Saturday, January 5, 2008

We are cyber hoboes. Although the traditional bindlestiffs are replaced by Timbuk2 computer backbacks and the townships are cafes with wifi, we left our campfire in search of coffee and electricity. While we searched of cryptic markings on buildings denoting the level tolerance to expect, we realized our the computer squatting hoardes had already descended from their powerless dwellings to fill every table and socket at some of the more tolerant vectors of a la carte wi-fi:

The larger venues on the main streets and malls were like packed boxcars destined for big cities so we headed back to yesterday’s venue to listen to offensively non-offensive music and read deep quotes by deep people from the sides of our venti cups.

Our research indicates that we are not at risk of being run out of town by the Sheriff, they allow the food to take over that role:

Starbucks has drawn their culinary inspiration from one of their peers. In an effort to preserve the integrity of the Egg McMuffin, Starbucks has brought this food wad:

... to the same heights. Biting the flipper that feeds us? The $10 interweb access charge works out to a fin a fin.




  Friday, January 4, 2008

The mega storm has driven us from the cyberhutch by our inability to produce a caffeinated beverage. We hoped our ride:

... was Chitty Chitty enough to ferry us to an espresso enhanced wi-fi hot spot.


... is our emergency evacuation center with the basic needs of shelter, coffee, restrooms and “food.” I think that our tax dollars should pay for Starbucks. They have the infrastructure to take over for the Red Cross and the Nationwide saturation to provide full coverage for all afflicted members of society (café or not.)

We now find ourselves transformed into those who we once despised -we are officially cybersquatters with our laptops draining the juice from a corporate coffee chain’s socket a “venti” sized drink and a scone that was run through deflavorizer twice.

I recognize that I am just like those unpatriotic Americans who are told to “love it or leave it” but I’d rather hate it and stay because as much as I would like to engage in operation Latte Thunder, Starbucks is a necessary evil. A beany safety net. A comforting methadrone clinic for when I hit rock bottom. I’m glad that they are available in the same way an alcoholic takes comfort from vodka bottles hidden in the house like Easter eggs.




  Thursday, January 3, 2008

We surfed by the recently opened Umi Sushi for dinner and filled our bellies with a sashimi assortment ($13.50):

... of maguro, hamachi and sake, some nigiri (in the $4.50 - $7.50 range):

... including tako, sake, kampachi, uni, hotate, blue shrimp:

... and their crunchy grilled heads:

... as well as a dragon roll ($13.00):

“Umi” means “sea” and this theme is echoed in the mural, lighting fixtures and curving sushi bar where we chatted with the owner/sushi chef. This small family operation is open for lunch and dinner. His wife acts as the hostess and his mother makes the noodles for their udon and also creates the traditional Japanese flower arrangements.

During our meal, a customer entered and asked for a table for two, when she was shown the large, communal table (which is the only non-bar seating and was empty at the time) she declined. I guess people can be picky about that sort of seating, but I’ve always found that large tables can be a more practical and fun setup.

We were glad we planned our trip to the Rafael Theatre (just a few blocks down the street) to include a meal at this friendly, casual, sushi stop.

Umi Sushi & Grill
819 4th St.
San Rafael, CA

From today’s bunrab email, Doris writes about our Magnolia Pub visit:

Hey Gutenberg,

Today's post on Magnolia Pub prompts me to mention Wood Tavern in Oakland. My hubby and I went there for lunch a few weeks ago and had a mouth-watering Pastrami sandwich....probably the best we've ever sampled. Their burger was pretty tasty too, though their fries were irritatingly too thin for my preference. Has Chubby ever though about doing a Fries Holy Grail?

Thanks, Doris

Gutenberg replies:

Dear Doris,

We have been meaning to stop by Wood Tavern during their lunch hours for that very sandwich (last time we were too late.) We agree with you about their burger. We’ll have to check out the pastrami after the big storm settles down.

Chubby has thought about many Holy Grails including fries, pizza and coffee, but he has decided to exercise restraint (which is his exclusive form of exercise.)

Thanks for the tip,




  Wednesday, January 2, 2008

We’ve been meaning to go to the Magnolia Pub since sampling their sudsy wares at the Brews on the Bay event aboard the Jeremiah O’Brien.

Bunrab readers have emailed with encouraging burger news stemming from Magnolia so we decided to steel away to see if we liked them, if we really liked them.

I got a pint of Blue Bell Bitter while Chubby went with the purplish Big Cypress Brown:

Both were as well rounded and hoppy as certain yellow rabbits.

They use Prather Ranch beef in their burger ($12.00):

... which was cooked to a perfect medium rare and slightly under seasoned. My personal preference is for raw or grilled onions rather than the pickled ones that come alongside with the slices of tomato and lettuce. A Metropolis bun contained the juicy goods. The fries were good, but next time I’ll ask for them extra crispy.

Check out Chubby's Burger Holy Grail in our Yummy Chow section to see where this meat treat places relative to other good Bay Area burgers.

A side order of onion rings ($6.00):

... had a Blue Bell Bitter batter (which is not related to Betty Botters’s bitter butter batter.) The oil must not have been up to heat when these Cosco Busan tribute wreaths were created. They came with a ramekin of horseradish mayo, but these already had too much Wessonality of their own to require any additional horsepower. We couldn’t finish them.

I’ve never understood why good Pastrami is so easy to come by in New York, yet I have never impressed by what we have eaten in San Francisco…until this evening.

The Reuben ($12.00):

... has house-made pastrami. It may not be the hand sliced version a New Yorker yearns for, but the thin slices of peppery meat with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss on fresh, crusty, rye was definitely reorderable. The thick cut, house made potato chips were a little bland - I would see if I could sub out fries next time.

The casual, funky vibe is welcoming:

... and relaxing with friendly service and a nice mix of people from the community. We will definitely return when we are in the mood for a Reuben, but we will bypass the o-rings for a pizza or one of their merguez sausage corn dogs next time.

Magnolia Pub

1398 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA



  Tuesday, January 1, 2008

We decided to kick off the year with a nothing-fancy breakfast at Sam’s Log Cabin.

Chubby got ham and eggs ($10.25):

... with rye toast. The over easy organic eggs were satisfying with a basic ham slice. The home fries were skippable (since there was not a crispy bit to be found among the sautéed onions and spud slices.)

My scramble special ($8.95):

... with chicken sausage, braised greens and Cheddar was homey and good alongside some basic wheat toast and a heap of those boring taters.

I couldn’t resist ordering a side of house made fish sticks ($5.50):

These catfish bars required tartar sauce buildup to make them toothsome. They were okay, but not something I would reorder.

Even though the chow doesn’t warrant a detour, we like the funky vibe, friendly service and basic egg dishes at this cash only cabin.

Sam’s Log Cabin
945 San Pablo Ave.
Albany, CA




back to last week - December 24-31, 2007



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