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June 16-23, 2008
|Monday, June 23, 2008
... is that the serve food throughout the afternoon.
I am addicted to the brisket sandwich ($12.00):
... which is a tender, beefy horseradish-laced meat-mitt. The server let me swap out fries for the potato salad. I requested them extra crispy and they arrived what I consider standard (but they were still good.) A crunchy slaw of cabbage, carrot and onion was a fresh contrast on this satisfying sandwich.
Chubby went with a half rack of spare ribs ($14.00):
... which came with both hot and mild bbq sauce (he liked the hot best) These meat sticks didn't subscribe to the falling-from-the-bone school of cooking, but were the solid, meat-sicles worth every gnaw.
A slice of white bread and potato salad were the bovine backdrop.
There were several customers taking advantage of T-Rex's happy hour which begins at 3:00 and ends at 6:00 M-F. They are now serving their $5.00 "outdoor" burger indoors until they choose to reopen their garden area this season.
|Sunday, June 22, 2008
The Picco Restaurant crew went whole hog. They bought a pig from Hudson Farm and it is swining diners in appetizers and mains in the restaurant as well as in the pizzeria.
Today's pizza special ($15.95):
... was topped with braised pork that leant a hammy flavor to this wood oven blistered pie. We loved this buffalo mozzarella, red onion, garlic and oregano 'za, but the tasty tomatoes were difficult to keep in their pizza pen and kept rolling off. It wasn't a problem once we mastered the marble maze action of these sweet and flavorful 'maters.
We also chomped on a Caesar salad ($8.75):
... which is the best version to be had in Marin. Crisp hearts of Romaine leaves were tarred with a farm egg and anchovy dressing and feathered with Parmesan before being run off the plate with olive oil toasted croutons. We think it's criminal to eat this dish with anything other than your fingers…and that goes for the pizza as well.
|Saturday, June 21, 2008
A buddy of mine and I went to our favorite little restaurant in Yountville.
We were a little concerned about having a big meal on such a hot night. Dinner at the French Laundry usually takes us about five hours and tonight we clocked in at five and a half. We started off with a split of champers to wash down our gourgers and salmon cornets.
Chilled spoons signaled the approach of a cold pea soup with mint and Tokyo turnips (from their garden across the street) and a chilled carrot soup poured over radishes and ginger. Both had clean, distinct, fresh flavors to perk up our heat-wavering appetites.
The only heavy element to our meal was as welcome one – the Asian influences. Umeboshi puree, lemon salt and perilla leaves adorned cucumber sorbet which rested on a pedestal of micro-diced cukes. This mint condition cooler was a plum, unencumbered play of flavors and textures:
2006 Schloss Gobelsburg, Gruner Veltliner Kamptal Steinsetz Vineyard had a pleasing acidity that held up it's end of the conversation with the seafood and vegetables that followed.
Black sesame tofu concealed a Santa Barbara uni center. A pool of green apple coulis added a sweetly tart backdrop to this double-roed, gilded wonder topped with white sturgeon caviar:
Kindai blue fin tuna went to school at that Kinki University where it majored in deliciousness. Diced Delta asparagus, peppers, capers and arugula graduated alongside this olive oil poached valordelectorian.
Maldon salt sprinkled, pain au lait from Bouchon Bakery came with Andante dairy butter and fleur de sel topped Animal Farm butter from Vermont.
A meltingly tender courgette omelet was given a saline crunch with tempura sea beans. San Marzano marmalade balanced the dish with a sweet acidity and splash of color against the zuke blossoms:
Australian cultivated truffles were arranged in a Belgian endive salad with hazelnuts, hazelnut puree, watercress and lightly brined lychees. This arranged marriage of formerly unacquainted ingredients resulted in a harmonious union:
A dry, Spanish, high Scrabble scoring, 2007 Txomin Etxaniz "Getaria"Getariako Txakolina kept our mouth from getting board with it's dry complexity.
A couple of flowerbeds of nasturtiums, bachelor buttons and potent chive blossoms were given a pollen push with some fennel fortification. The vegetable gelees utilized the ingredients from traditional bouquet garni in this garnished bouquet:
John Dory with a scallop and nicoise olive mousse was a high falutin take on kamaboko. This cylinder was fired with big fin squid, Meyer lemon dressed favas and a dab of nicoise olive paint:
Lobster mitt with Globe artichokes, green garlic, Hobbs bacon and carrots was gloved in a whipped emulsion made from the vegetable braising liquid.
We dove into a New Brunswick divers' scallop with Medjool dates, cauliflower and cilantro sprouts. I've never had a date with a mollusk before but the chemistry lured my tastebuds out of their shell. The sweetness of the shellfish was propelled further by this pit-icular pairing.
2001 Paolo Scavino Barolo offered a tannic, black cherry, full bodied support to the protein portions to follow beginning with a peace of Liberty duck breast with leeks, apricot puree and Tokyo turnips and a crispy skinned Wolf Ranch white quail with corn and Romaine.
A couple of well marbled, meltingly tender, rare hunks of Snake River Farms culotte de boeuf were flavorfully divine bovine. Instead of serving them with their Idaho-ian starchy bretheren, sushi rice, tempura hen of the woods 'shrooms, brocolini with shallots and sauce Japonaise sent the flavors East before we sent them South.
A Goat's Leap three week aged goat cheese lent its creamy tang to an onion crepe, pickled cherry, frisee, and Dijon mustard.
Ossau Vielle sheep's milk cheese with Iberico ham, caramelized globe artichokes and a caraway emulsion was an earthy umami finish to the savory portion of our meal.
Melon sorbet with crisp olive oil genoise croutons and compressed melon offered decompression from the meat pants course:
We also found refreshment in the strawberry sorbet with Andante Dairy yogurt, granola and Jacobson Farm strawberries (which must have been harvested with tweezers and a magnifying glass.)
A couple of signature coffee and doughnuts acted as the breakfast portion of our dessert.
A chocolate cake with pili nuts, banana sorbet and caramelized bananas was appealing not only for the pili nuts and peely banana but the pod-destrian combo of chocolate and bananas brought to a new height.
An anise pot du crème, Tahitian vanilla crème brulee, sables, caramelized macadamia nuts enrobed in chocolate, a selection of filled chocolates, nougatine with pistachios and almonds, pate des fruits, walnut fudge and coffee.
This might sound like a lot of food, because it is, yet Corey was ingenious about composing a menu that was both seasonal and sensitive to the heat wave. All of the food had a lighter, cooler approach. They didn't have guests sweating pure butter or going into a beef stew coma.
We loved all of the new, delicious, wacked out additions to the menu. They keep evolving, refining and rethinking all aspects of their business.
Their garden across the street is currently supplying the kitchen with about 5% of their produce; they hope to achieve 20% in the not too distant future.
There were many first time guests in the lively dining room this evening and we are always impressed by how well the staff does to alleviate choice-anxiety. Those big menus and wine lists can be a little daunting but after a couple of questions and the help of the sommelier, everyone tucked into some superior chow with the right glass for their particular leanings.
The last activity that cycles through your thinking during a scorcher is two-fisted dining, but the French Laundry has a cool setting.
|Friday, June 20, 2008
Escalating gas and travel prices have forced many to resort to a whole new ballgame in cultural conduct – we now are compelled to become ugly Americans while remaining in America. It's a sad sign of the times that we must now put an embargo on what used to be our major export. No more screaming "garcon!" in Parisian cafés for us, we now strap on a beer helmet and wave around a foam number one hand whilst yelling, "Brovo dude!" to a 3200 square foot Mitsubishi Diamond Vision screen.
It's safe to say that Donizetti composed Lucia di Lammermoor with the hopes that someday, it would be simulcast in HD on a megatron in a major sports arena. Well tonight, Doni's dreams have been made a reality:
While San Francisco Opera-goers sat in the theatre like the first class passengers in the Titanic movie, the party going on below the main deck was happening at AT&T Park.
The War Memorial Opera House charged admission while AT&T suspended Rome-ing charges for this Italian open aria event. The disorganized crowd was no match for the understaffed gate keepers who eventually had to avoid a mad scene by letting the masses in without checking for contraband.
A couple opera dogs, some beer and snacks as fortification:
... was depleting to the tune of 40 bucks. All of our chow was the sort of hostage food that we have come to expect at this type of venue. What we didn't expect was the audio to by grossly out of sync with the video - like a Kung Fu movie (except less cool.)
The seats had the same comfort factor as those at the War Memorial Opera House, where we have numbed our strike zones in the past. Many opted to picnic on the field where they could stretch their legatos mid-act without being staccatoed in a seat. The crowd seemed appreciative, but there were lots of people talking at full volume, crying babies and a less audience-like approach ( it seems that AT&T brings out the ADD) but to be fair, we expected a chaotic vibe, it was the Kung Fu-sync issue that was the deal breaker. Even though we won't come back for another one of these, we're glad we swung by the ballpark - I just wish we came on free sabre day.
Thanks for writing back. I did see the post on Michael Bauer's about the skyrocketing costs of many food items and staples, so I understand restaurants have to pass some of that along to customers. But I still think an $18 burger should at least come with fries!
I can't argue with you on that one!
|Thursday, June 19, 2008
We legged over to this chocolate joint:
...to find this unhinged, humerus confection connected to our mouthbone (after forking over two bones.)
This liquor-ish flavored nugget did not induce madness, but it could provoke an urge to elbow your way through a crowd to get a hold of these sweets that make your heart grow fonder.
From our Bunrab email, Aaron B. writes about about last Sunday's supper :
re: 6/15/08 Turkish hey there, I think I'm overlooking where the Turkish restaurant posted Sunday is located.
That meal was actually prepared by friends – talented ones. I wish they would open a restaurant, but they lack the insanity required to do so.
Great blog, by the way! -Emily
Thanks for writing. I'm sorry that your visit didn't echo ours with a lo-wer check. It's crazy what's going on with prices nowadays. AJ Gilbert of Luna Park Restaurant recently itemized some costs on Michael Bauer's blog and I was surprised to read that in the last year beef has gone up 18% and wheat went up 280%. He also listed increases in costs from the last 6 months of milk (+35%), eggs (+27%) and butter (+14%) so I'm sad to say that our portions are destined to be smaller or our checks bigger…or maybe both.
Seeing you're into food, did you know that bullfighters have been known to eat the balls of the bulls they kill? Bull's balls are considered a delicacy in some parts of Spain. Enjoy!
Isn't it funny how the word "delicacy" is a word used most frequently to convince rather than entice. I think bull fries would be a bullseye!
|Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Like most residents of the Bay Area who aren't being-all-that-we-can-be, Fort Baker never ranked as a dining destination. This re-commisioned military site:
... was chosen for its strategic location for the defense of the bay. They now provide a defense for keeping your hunger at bay in their Murray Circle Restaurant and Farley Bar. Joseph Humphrey is the chef in charge of the 3 hots in these neat mess halls.
We sunk into a couple of cushioned chairs in the Farley Bar:
...(I wonder if military types call it the "F Bar"…where you can get Farleyed up beyond all repair.) We requisitioned a halibut ($15.00):
... in a full body armor of bacon, airlifted on broccolini and ricotta with a caper beurre noisette. I'm not certain if the server passed on my request that the fish err on the side of underdone, but it arrived cooked through and verging on dry (but not enough to warrant a dishonorable discharge.)
The burger ($16.00):
... was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was a high quality formation of flavorful meat on a house made bun. It would have been even better with a side pot of mustard and some onions, (but that's just being picky.) The fries had crisp shells and starchy bellies. I may ask for them extra crispy next time.
We took a peek at their dinner menu, which had a nice brevity and focus on local, high quality ingredients. This is not the place to come for Humvee sized portions and happy hour specials, it's a clubby officers bar with an at-ease vibe.
Follow the signs from the Sausalito exit to Cavallo Point Resort where you will find compulsory complimentary valet parking at this nicely restored fort-uitous food stop.
|Tuesday, June 17, 2008
We liked the idea better than the actual 'za, but predictably, we were able to say that it was the best chocolate anchovy pizza ($15.00):
... we had ever eaten.
The list of libations did not allow for a boring Orson Well shot, I went with a refreshing gin based, celery gimlet ($12.00) which got it's tang from lime and sweetness from agave nectar but was dragged down visually by the tired lime wedge. Chubby was attracted to the bourbon and absinthe Touch of Evil ($12.00) which turned out to be a more feminine drink with its strawberry and rhubarb tint. Although his fruity, liquorish libation was good, we both preferred the vegetal, cactus cooler that I ordered.
Amuses of sour cherry sauced marshmallows with salt and pepper:
... were impaled on spears that we chucked into our bouches.
There is a strip on the menu devoted to smaller items labeled "tease" we selected the three for $13 option:
Chicarrones were cut into dainty strips which were fried up to form a union of fat and skinny. We hogged this tangle of greaseless, crunchy, trough treats. Deceptively light, these snacks did not require any of the bbq sauce, but we would take a dip now and then to add a tangy, sueeet kick.
The foie bon bon looked like an innocent dessert truffle, but it's cocoa and chocolate coat hid a rich, chilled, seasoned lobe lump lurking inside. This de-livered a rich, buttery organ concert of flavor in harmony with the well tempered flavier of the major chocolate note.
Tongue croquette had a crisp fried coating which didn't roll off. There were no knotted cherry stems, only pitted cherry halves to bite on with a couple seabeans and some purslane which stuck out in each rich, fruity, succulent, lengualicious mouthful.
The dark bathrooms draw upon Welles' noir influences (at least I hope that was the bathroom…) A noir option that we were happy to see were black cloth napkins (to avoid a sequel to unpleasant white balance issues.)
Orson is not about miso glazed bass and molten chocolate cake, it's an adventurous and fun food stop. We will definitely return to check out some of their other non-chocolate-anchovy pizza options.
|Monday, June 16, 2008
... in time to grab a bite before this evening's presentation entitled "A Solution to the Omnivore's Dilemma: The Perspective of a Nutrition Scientist".
Dr. Christopher Gardner of Stanford University "feeds and bleeds" test subjects during his studies. He cautioned us to lower the bar on our expectations of the answers he would be able to supply. The majority of the evening was devoted to questions from the audience. If the subjects in attendance are any indication, there seems to be a widespread confusion surrounding basic nutrition.
We solved our personal omnivore dilemma with the grilled cheese ($4.05):
... which was panini-fied to a crisp shelled, melty-bellied, cilantro-infused perspective of a quick dinner.
Atlas is the sort of funky café that we really like. Nothing fancy, just a neighborhood hangout with good coffee and some simple chow.
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