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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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February 9-18, 2009


go to next week's blogs


  Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Now that aluminum water bottles are de rigueur in the Bay Area, Oakland airport security garbage cans filled full bottles of Calistoga have been replaced by a mad scramble of travelers to dump water into the gutter outside in a vile vial attempt at security. While we all know that it is really a bananas effort to pump up sales at the captive audience canteen. Fruit + water = $4.32:

With a handful of exceptions, Joachim Splichal owns all of the restaurants in Los Angeles. There’s Patina, Patina at Disney Concert Hall:

...the Pinot restaurants, Nick and Stefs, eat. and all the rest.

I grabbed lunch at Patinette:

... his cafe at the MOCA:

... in downtown Los Angeles. The Kurabuta pork panini ($5.00):

... was their take on a Cubano with pork, ham, cheese, yellow mustard and pickles. It was a good, crunchy-crusted, soft bellied, double pig sandwich (and an incredible bargain compared to airport snacking.)

On my way back to the street, a sculpture:

... offered an invitation to avoid aviation but I declined this upright and lockheed positioned air craftwork warning and braced for another round of security scrutiny.

Patinette Cafe at MOCA

250 South Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA



  Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gerald Hirigoyen’s Piperade had a dining room that was as full as our stomachs as we rolled out into the chilly San Francisco air from this evening’s Basque-inspired feast.

We began with tender calamari on a bed of minced fennel, olives and capers topped with almonds ($12.00):

... followed by goat cheese stuffed piquillo peppers ($13.00):

... with added textural interest from pine nuts and sweetness from golden raisins.

Their recommendation of the 2004 Ijalba Crianza Graciano, Rioja went perfectly with the procession of provisions.

A terrine of ham and cheese ($13.00):

... was not sheepish on flavor. This crispy, salty slice was balanced by an frisee and apple slaw.

Clams, cranberry beans, thin slices of chorizo and a few seabeans al-clamized a crisp-skinned filet of Bolinas black cod ($28.00):

... which was cooked to a moist perfection.

Perfectly pink duck ($26.00):

... nested in shaved sunchokes with cippolini onions. A halo of huckleberry sauce gave a nice fruity and acidic balance to the richness of the meat.

Rack of lamb and lamb sausage with braised fennel and potatoes ($29.00):

... sated our meat tooth before we moved onto our sweet tooth with a warm, moist and rich chocolate cake snowcapped with creme fraiche ($8.00):

... and a Gateau Basque ($8.00):

... with a custardy belly to its almond cake, served with cherry preserves.

If donuts could turn into clouds, these would be the result - orange blossom beignets ($8.00):

... were light, greaseless and rolled in sugar to precipitate re-orders of this citrus-kissed cumulus comestible.

We were impressed by Chef Robert Petzold’s consistent delivery of perfectly cooked and seasoned proteins and the wonderful perfume that proceeded our demolition of his preparations.

It’s great to see a San Francisco restaurant filled on a Tuesday night but it’s not surprising given this level of food and service.


1015 Battery St.
San Francisco, CA



  Monday, February 16, 2009

Marinitas is the current talk-eria of San Anselmo. This hermana restaurant of Insalata (located just up the street) retained the full bar:

... from the ill-fated EAT and Ted’s but switched up the decor and chow.

The house made chips arrived hot, crisp and craveably salty with a tomato and a tomatillo salsa:

Both were good, but we preferred the green tomatillo for its tang.

We shared the classic ceviche ($8.50):

... which had little scallops, shrimp, avocado, lime, red onion and a cocktaily sauce over a booster seat of shredded lettuce. It was okay, but not a reorder.

The crispy chicken tacos ($9.75):

... had bits of potato melded in with the melted cheese. Watercress added a freshness to these fried, crisp edged half moons. These were texturally good, but were a little bland for our taste.

House made tortillas wrapped around lightly grilled cod ($11.75):

... were topped with a seedy cabbage slaw. These were tasty but are diners ready to spend money on a food that has a long standing categorization as cheap in this economy?

No matter how Marinites spend their masa money, the bar will keep people coming through the door with its good price points, friendly staff and cool altar:

218 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
San Anselmo, CA



  Sunday, February 15, 2009

Texture is important in candy. Savoring creamy, brittle and chewy confections appeals to the sweet toothed masses, but there is only one time of year that the American market is flooded with sweets that are chalky. Conversation hearts:

... have this text-ture to their printed pastel pulmonary products which are emblazoned with random commands and declarations that usually solicit a “huh?” rather than the promised conversation.

Hunger for knowledge (rather than chalk-candy) keeps them flying off the shelves. You’re curious if they’ve updated the “FAX ME” to “tweet” so you take a look, but the words are small enough that you have to pick one up to read it and since you’ve touched it, you are compelled to eat it. Marketing brilliance.

We sated our crumbly confection craving with some old fashioned divinity:

The decision to make this sweet was made with the full understanding that we travelling on a warning sign bordered road. Humidity can put the confectionary kibosh on this culinary creation, but we lucked out and despite the rain, these egg white and chocolate sweets firmed up into chocolate-streaked, glucose lumps. Next time we’ll add nuts to keep them from being cloying, but hey, at least it goes with the seasonally sweet spirit.




  Saturday, February 14, 2009 - Happy Valentine's Day!

We didn’t post about any of the Bay Area Valentine’s Day special dining offers since (with few exceptions) you’re better off going on a themeless day to experience the best a restaurant has to offer.

Since we abaited the idea of dining out, we cut to the cyberhutch after netting some goods at the Tokyo Fish Market. We reeled in uni:

... hamachi:

... maguro:

... sake, daikon sprouts, nori, Japanese cukes, avocado and some wasabi tobiko, (but they also had habenero and yuzu flying fish roe as well as one that was dyed black if you are into goth sushi.)

After our sashimi, nigiri and maki-madness induced protein high, we vowed to make this expedition again soon.

Tokyo Fish Market
1220 San Pablo Ave.
Berkeley, CA



  Friday, February 13, 2009

As we have mentioned before, Marin is not the go to place for Chinese food.

A Bunrab reader (who also laments this limitation) oriented us towards a serviceable stand-in for belly ballast.

Egg drop soup:

... was a typical version of this scrambled liquid.

Potstickers ($5.00):

... were meaty and not too doughy with a decent vinegar sauce.

Assorted chow mein ($6.47):

... had lots of green onion with bits and bobs of meat (as though it was the destination for all the kitchen trimmings.) This dish had “hungry high school student” written all over it.

Broccoli prawns with rice ($6.70):

... had a cornstarchy slipperiness to this mountain of broc-o-bottom feeders. It was okay, but not something I would reorder.

There was not a single Chinese diner in the drab dining room:

... but it appeared that regulars were happy with the big portions, low prices and fast preparation at this cash only, take-away centric shop.

We’ll have to come back to check out the Mandarin beef next time.

Little Mandarin
536 Third St.
San Rafael, CA



  Thursday, February 12, 2009

I would love to be proven wrong, but the new instant coffee that Starbucks is releasing next week sounds like a weak idea. Sure, you don’t need an 11k dollar Clover machine to make a good cup of joe...but instant? Really? It’s like seeing that mermaid drunk in a dive bar with smudged mascara and one bra strap down, reminiscing about how hot she used to be, crying and pleading when she’s 86’ed before yelling a string of profanities at the bouncer as she is dragged, (tail flapping wildly) to the door.

They are calling their new “soluble” product “Via” as in “I will be stripping my brand of prestige via this beverage”. Via might be delicious, it might be like drinking chocolate flavored angel tears but hawking this instant coffee is like marketing L’Oreal’s slogan in reverse. It’s a tacit statement that the importance that should be placed on your personal enjoyment of a beverage is so negligible you might as well suck on an old, damp dishrag.

Table Cafe brews their beverages with respect for their customers . I got a pot of black tea (that was far superior to a damp rag) to wash down a tuna melt dosa ($10.00):

... which was one of their tangy, lacy crepes wrapped around, well, a tuna melt with crunchy romaine. It was just what I was craving.

The vibe is always welcoming and the chow is always tasty at our favorite place to spend our dosa dough.

Table Cafe
1167 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA

Pintxos are a deal that you can beat with a stick since they will be stuck into these bite sized Basque snacks that they will be serving at Bocadillos to mark its 5th anniversary.

These tapas will change daily and at $2.00 each, you can taste your way through this happy hour menu which includes kiwi with beets and cheve, lambs tongue on pear chutney with fresh herbs and tortilla Espanola with Manchego on toast weekdays from 5 - 7 p.m.


710 Montgomery
San Francisco, CA


Acme Chophouse has a new 3-course prix fixe lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Fridays called Acme Market Menu. You can check out the deets here.

Acme Chophouse

24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, CA



  Wednesday, February 11, 2009

If there was a brochure detailing the physical and mental impact to anticipate after a dinner at The French Laundry, Butterhead would top the list of afflictions. Most diners are unaware that their cumulative butter intake alters the make up of their blood, creating a thick, sauce-like fluid which churns though their circulatory system accumulating in the brain inhibiting the (now butter-encrusted) neurons from firing.

This subdued mental state is echoed physically as it inhibits strenuous physical activity causing the subject to look to the French Laundry goodie bag:

... for amusement which only perpetuates this buttery cycle.

In an effort to slowly and incrementally convince our systems that we were on the same team, we headed out to the farmer’s market for some pies.

El Porteno:

... was sold out of their popular Prather Ranch beef and chicken empanadas so we went with the two savory selections that remained ($3.00 each.)

Eight minutes in a 350 degree F oven heated the ham and cheese and Fugazzetta so that their tender, buttery, pastry was crisped and the cheese was melty. Fontina, mozzarella and prosciutto made up the ham and cheese while the Fugazzetta was filled with Cheddar, mozzarella, dried oregano, onion and egg. We like both of our hand held half moons of cheese and plan to make it to the market before the beef pie sells out on our next visit.

El Porteno Empanadas

Corte Madera Farmer’s Market
Wednesdays noon - 5 p.m
Town Center central courtyard
Corte Madera, CA



Mark your Calendar

All of the major wine producing regions in the US will be represented at Fort Mason where everyone can AVA good time at the public tasting of the SF Chronicle Wine Competition.

4,736 wines entered to score the uncorked spoils of this spitacular scuffle and you can create your own personal reenactment of this January contest (to see if and how your results vary from the expert panel) or to check out what is going on in other stomping grounds around the nation.

SF Chronicle Wine Competition Tasting
Saturday, February 28, 2009
2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Tickets $60 advance $80 at the door (if available)
Festival Pavilion
Fort Mason Center



  Tuesday, February 10, 2009

French Laundry List

Tuesday is traditionally when restaurants have their B team on duty but we discovered that they refuse to go that far down the alphabet at The French Laundry.

We sat down to champagne, gougers and salmon coronets before caramelized shallot soup was poured over Brussels sprouts, black truffles and Hobbs bacon.

Their signature “oysters and pearls” had plump Island Creek oysters in the tapioca sabayon with white sturgeon caviar.

The foie gras of the sea - monk fish liver, sat on a bed of turnip panna cotta with a yuzu glaze. This rich, earthy, creamy and tangy tub went well with a citrusy white Rioja:

Aquacultured abalone with globe artichokes, carrot, gnocchi and a San Marzano tomato compote was the sort of foot we enjoy putting in our mouths:

Infant octopus was peppered with Piment d’Espelette and served with an inhumanly perfect, miniature dice of Haas avocado, pressed cucumber and frisee. This was octo-gone in seconds:

Madeira was the perfect counterpoint for their truffled custard with a chive chip.

Pain au Lait with Andante and Diane St. Clair butters and a glass of Meursault pumped up our heart of peach palm salad with Medjool dates, cilantro sprouts, carrots, leeks and creme fraiche.

Parsnip agnolotti were topped with a blanket of shaved black truffles to augment the truffle butter that coated these tender pasta pillows:

An insanely delicious sturgeon with haricots verts, carrots, browned potatoes and crispy fried capers:

... made it difficult to believe that there couldn’t be a better bite to be had until we moved on to the butter poached lobster tail with green garlic, sunchokes and peppers:

... accompanied by a Saint Joseph Blanc.

Delectable seared lobes of foie gras with braised Belgian endive, mizuna, Marcona almonds, winter citrus and Tahitian vanilla:

... went perfectly with a Vouvray.

A Modicum of Rutherford house wine flew down with squab that was cooked sous vide (to a perfect degree of rare) and served with oxsalis blossoms, Tokyo turnips, beets, wild asparagus, carrots and chives in a truffle broth:

Snake River culotte de beouf was umamified further with king trumpet mushrooms, pea tendrils, and a tamari and yuzu sauce.

The cheese corisican was Tomme de Berger with oxsalis leaves, hazelnuts, Michigan cherries, fennel and cherry jus:

Green apple sorbet with poached cranberry, granola and a cinnamon pain perdu got us ready to dirty our palettes with coffee and doughnuts. This FL classic of cappuccino semifreddo with a hot brioche donut completed our cycle to breakfast before we were presented with chocolate souffles with malt ice cream and chocolate sauce accompanied by a gilding glass of Banyuls:

Mignardises, chocolates, Equator coffee and some shortbreads to take home insured that we had all the calories needed to hibernate through the rest of winter while we count Z’s and reflect on how The French Laundry only deals in A’s.

The French Laundry Restaurant

6640 Washington St.
Yountville, CA


From our Bunrab email, Kate totally busted me on my Jamba rant:


How can you make such disparaging comments about breakfast? To be honest, I'm hurt. How can you dismiss eggs cooked to please your preference, salty and crispy potatoey goodness, unlimited coffee in your cup and BACON!!!??? Have you not given thought to the bacon? Come on Gutenberg...take your snide b-fast remarks back...I believe you've been too hasty on this one.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Kate,

Crispy potatoes? Coffee? Bacon? Hmmmm...okay, you’re right. Never mind.




  Monday, February 9, 2009

Breakfast is the least important meal of the day. It is expected to be quick, cheap and booze free - the holy trinity of a bad dining experience. Peppy conversation is as welcome as battery acid poured in your ears and tobacco counts as a vegetable. Brunch is an attempt to bring breakfast into stemware territory, but we all know that it’s really just lunch with eggs.

Jamba Juice has entered the breakfast arena with steel cut oatmeal ($3.95) which has a nicer, chunkier texture than Starbucks’ “perfect” oatmeal but has the same blandness due to a lack of salt. I believe that the spoon is Caltrans orange to alert the diner where the oatmeal ends and the utensil begins. Fortunately, I carry salt at all times (without it you will die) so we were able to correct this mush-take.

The apple and berry toppings:

... seemed inspired by generic, tinned pie fillings. The only acceptable option was the banana:

... (which was sliced to order.) The brown sugar crumble topping had hard little gravelly bits that caused us both to pause mid-bite (to rule out the thought that steel cutter shavings had fallen into our meal.)

To be fair, it is low blending fruit to be disappointed with a fast food breakfast. After all, nobody is really expecting an haute meal.





back to last week - February 1-8, 2009



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