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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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October 1-8, 2008


go to next week's blogs


  Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bui is a restaurant that took over the Bendean space a couple years ago and we finally managed to swing by to grab a bite at this Vietnamese spot in Berkeley.

Constructing a menu isn’t roquette-science, the further towards the top, the more likely the sale and if you add the word “crispy,” I, like many, will usually bite.

Even though Bui’s “crispy calamari” ($8.50):

... wasn’t the lightly battered squid rings that I had imagined, the sesame seeded strips were still okay and didn’t require a dip in the peppery mayo-based sauce.

We both got identical combination rice plates ($9.50):

... with pork, shrimp and an Imperial roll. The thin slice of marinated pork was flavorful and tender and its shrimpy companion didn’t suffer from that overcooked, lunch special-itis that seems to be the norm with most mid-day seafood combos. The garden variety roll was fine and for under a tenner, this made for a decent refueling option.

Bui Restaurant
1647 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, CA



  Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Prather Ranch brisket sandwich ($10.50):

... was flavorful and tender within its braised cabbage and horseradish-lined rye bread boarders with along with a tangily dressed salad. But no matter how good my lunch is at this restaurant, I always regret when I bypass their tasty burger.

There is no doubt that they serve up a good lunch and dinner but a little known feature of this eatery is that Serpentine has what we consider the best San Francisco happy hour.

On the second Thursday of the month from 5-6:30 p.m. you can find a list of Serpentine firewater that includes four specially priced cocktails as well as a red and white wine option. They set out simple and delicious nibbles that we coveted during our visit in September. The place to unwind this Thursday is Serpentine for a Plymouth gin Bramble and delectable snackage.


Mark your Calendar

This weekend the umami of all events, Asian Food Beyond Borders, takes place at the SF Ferry Building.

There will be seminars for the hungry, curious and confused and if you are like me and happen to fall into all of these categories, orient yourself to the Far East of San Francisco to experience more flavors than your biology teacher thought possible.

The list of events is impressive.

Food and wine pairing? Check. Symposium? Check. Cool Hand Jook-style Balut eating contest? Hmm..I guess there are some borders after all...

Asian Food Beyond Borders

October 10-12, 2008
San Francisco Ferry Building


  Monday, October 6, 2008

It had been about a decade since our last visit to Tommaso's but everything seemed exactly the same (in a good way) when we sat down for a salame and mushroom pizza ($23.00):

The wood burning oven gave a nice singe to the crust of this old school 'za, with toppings that fall into that same scholastic classification. At the newer pizzerias like Delfina or Picco, your bologna (or salumi) has a first name (whether it's Fatted Calf, Boccalone or Fra'Mani…) at Tommaso's, it's more of a no-name situation, but even so, it works for this friendly, walk-in only, North Beach institution.

Tommaso's is a good stop to keep in mind for a couple of beers and a few slices - we might even make it less than 10 years before our next visit.

Tommaso's Restaurant
1042 Kearny St.
San Francisco, CA


  Sunday, October 5, 2008

Brett hosted a pot luck for David Lebovitz at the soon to open Contigo.

It was great to chat with friends while we poked around Brett’s gorgeous restaurant. The space is invitingly chic and we are anxiously awaiting a plate of sardines from the wood burning oven when he opens in November.




  Saturday, October 4, 2008

When David Tanis’ A Platter of Figs arrived at the cyberhutch, we couldn’t wait to cook up one of his simple and appealing seasonally based menus.

The recipes were scalable and this evening’s dinner was so delicious that we vowed to make this combo for company next time.

Double Duck Breast with Baked Figs and Duck Liver Toasts

3 Tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon juniper berries
A few cloves
2 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, slivered
6 large Muscovy duck breasts, about 1 pound each
Baked Figs (recipe follows)
Duck Liver Toasts (recipe follows)
Aged balsamic vinegar

Put the salt in a small bowl. Finely grind the peppercorns, allspice, juniper, cloves, and bay leaves in a mortar or spice mill. Mix the ground spices with the salt. Add the garlic

Trim the duck breasts and lay them on a baking sheet or platter. Season each breast on both sides with the spice mixture, massaging the seasoning into the flesh with your fingers.

Now pair up the breasts, and make each pair into a sort of sandwich - that is, stack one breast on top of the other, skin sides out. With butcher’s twine, tie the “sandwiches” together, to make 3 compact little roasts. Wrap and refrigerate for a least several hours, or overnight.

Place the breasts in a shallow roasting pan and let them come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pop the roasts into the oven and cook for 15 minutes. The duck will have rendered a fair amount of fat. Carefully pour off the fat (to save the fat for cooking, cool, strain, and refrigerate). Turn the roasts over and return to the oven for 15 minutes more, or until nicely browned. An instant-read thermometer should register 125 degrees F. for a succulent, rosy medium-rare.

Remove the duck from the oven and pour off any accumulated fat. Let the roasts rest for 10 or 15 minutes.

Remove the twine and cut the duck breasts crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices on a warmed platter, and garnish with the baked figs and liver toasts. Drizzle a little aged balsamic vinegar over the duck and figs. serves 12


Baked Figs

24 ripe figs
Thyme branches
Olive oil

With a sharp paring knife, cut the figs in half top to bottom, right through the stem, so their natural shape is preserved.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scatter a few thyme branches in the bottom of a shallow earthenware dish (or two) just large enough to hold the figs. Place the figs cut side up in the dish. Spoon a few drops of olive oil over them.

Bake the figs for about 20 minutes, until they puff a little and look juicy. Serve the figs on the duck platter, warm or at room temperature.

Duck Liver Toasts

1 1/2 pounds duck or chicken livers
Salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 slices pancetta, in small slivers
2 large shallots, finely diced
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
A splash of dry sherry or sherry vinegar
4 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 baguette, sliced and toasted

Trim the livers, blot on paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and shallots and cook until the shallots are nicely browned.

Add the livers and turn up the flame. Stir well and continue cooking, shaking the pan occasionally, until the livers are cooked through but still a little pink. Slice one to check. Add the thyme and sherry, and transfer the contents of the pan to a cutting board. Let cool to room temperature.

With a large knife, chop the livers with the pancetta and shallots to a rough paste, then put the paste in a small mixing bowl. Mash the butter into the paste with a wooden spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep at cool room temperature until ready to serve (up to 2 hours), or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.

Spread on toasted baguette slices.

Excerpted with permission from
A Platter of Figs and other recipes
by David Tanis
Artisan 2008
Christopher Hirschiemer photographer.



  Friday, October 3, 2008

The InterContinental Mark Hopkins was anything but still as the the Tour de Champagne infused Nob Hill with sparkle.

The winning formula of champagne paired with champagne was enough to win us over - especially when Alfred Gratien and Pol Roger were involved.

An ocean of oysters offered fortification between the pearly beads in our flutes.

Ruth’s Chris crossed our path with beefy open-faced sandwiches

... to insure sobriety before K&L’s Gary Westby wisely suggested we try the strawberry scented, Bollinger Rose.

Everyone chipped in towards the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in direct cash donations or through the silent auction:

... which included the best bidding item we have ever seen - reservations:

We, on the other hand, left with no reservations about this effervescent evening.

Tour de Champagne
San Francisco 2008



  Thursday, October 2, 2008

We rolled back to Limon Rotisserie for some of their ceviche ($9.25):

The lime bathed fish assortment of shrimp, halibut, squid and octopus was sparklingly fresh under a cap of onions and peppers. This cilantro-showered seawall came with a hunk of sweet potato and a 70's flower-shaped slice of choclo-on-the-cob.

Vampires beware – they drive wooden stakes through hearts before they grill these prime pumps. These grilled beef hearts ($7.25):

... were resuscitated with hot sauce allowing us to transplant these organs without fear of rejection.

The side of fried yucca:

... had a tempura like shell with a starchy belly (it's good that there weren't more of these or we would be the ones with starchy bellies.) Kernels of fried choclo were corn-nutty bites between our side of veggies.

Of course, we had to order the rotisserie chicken half ($9.50):

... which was just as delicious as the bird we had on our previous visit.

Great food and low prices make Limon Peruvian Rotisserie worth keeping in rotation.

Limon Peruvian Rotisserie

1001 South Van Ness
San Francisco, CA

I am not acquainted with one single, sensible person who doesn’t adore champagne. To us Bunrabs, it is the perfect beverage, it is celebratory, luxurious, consoling, refreshing and most of all - fun. A glass of champagne has the power gild haute cuisine, alchemize the simplest chow or divert your attention from bad food. It de-weaponizes the saber by converting it into a serving device, provides the punctuation for what would otherwise be a run-on sentence of existence, and has an infectious, mood elevating quality. What’s not to like?

Unlike the Tour de France, the only “pain” involved in the Tour de Champagne is the “sham” variety and there will be no blood test involved (unless you run afoul of the law - then you’re on your own.)

Executive pastry chef Emily Luchetti of Farallon Restaurant is among those sweetening this sparkling event which benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Tour de Champagne
Friday, October 3rd, 7-10 p.m.
Tickets $120
InterContinental Mark Hopkins
1 Nob Hill
San Francisco, CA



  Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Boccalone’s prosciutto cotto caughto our attention as we perused Cottage Eatery’s lunch menu. They fuse this pork product with cheese in their Cubano Italiano ($10.95):

This hot pressed, crisp crusted sandwich had thin slices of house made pickles and peppers layered in this craveable, cross cultural, comestible.

The Cottage burger ($13.95):

... was a plump, nicely seasoned, house ground, chuck patty on a Kaiser roll. The juicy beef caused the bottom of the soft bun to flatten out pretty quickly, but this was still a tasty meal augmented with slices of tomato, lettuce and red onion. I asked if they could make the fries extra crispy and the server explained that the potatoes that came with the burgers weren’t fries, but she asked the kitchen if they could sub some out (since they usually serve fries during dinner only.)

Their lunch menu is brought to you by the letter “s” with salads, sandwiches, soup, seafood and spaghetti and we will definitely return to check out some more midday offerings, but the star attraction remains their dinner menu.

We have yet to find a restaurant in Tiburon with better chow and hospitality than at this Cottage.

Cottage Eatery
114 Main St.
Tiburon, CA




back to last week - September 24-30, 2008



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