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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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May 17-22, 2009


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  Friday, May 22, 2009

We prefer the original St. Helena location of Taylor’s Automatic Refresher:

...due in part to the picnic area:

...behind the burger stand set away from the traffic.

The weather was ideal for our al fresherco dinner surrounded by children acting like insane, screaming monsters to their heart’s content without annoying innocent beefstanders (since there was plenty of space to run around and a big buffer zone between tables.)

Niman Ranch beef was overcooked in our cheeseburger ($7.99):

The egg bun was too delicate for this American cheese filled burger with shredded Iceberg, dressing and pickles. Replacing the pop down sponge bread would be an improvement.

The Ahi burger ($14.99):

... had the same deflating soppage issue with the bun, but the seared tuna was tasty with a subtle wasabi hit and ginger kick. The crunchy Asian slaw added a nice crunch to this fishwich.

Onion rings ($3.99):

... were on the greasy side, but still had some crunch to them (although I could feel my pores transform into oilwells with each beer battered bite.)

We may not have had the best luck with our chow on this visit, but we do appreciate their list of half bottles of wine and draft beers which can be enjoyed at the shady picnic tables and we find their sweet potato fries and fish tacos to be automatically refreshing.

Taylor’s Automatic Refresher
933 Main St.
St. Helena, CA



  Thursday, May 21, 2009

After yesterday’s peat treat we grafted ourselves to the indigenous rootstocks of Dr. Wilkinson’s Victorian house:

...for the night where we found that the staff had given Jelly Bellys their own individual blanket wrap treatments (which we quickly remedied.)

This morning, we emerged from hibernation on a quest for caffeine. At the cyberhutch, our default breakfast is coffee, toast and Marmite and we were in the mood for something equally as simple so we headed y-east to St. Helena’s Model Bakery.

As we scanned the bready bretheren bunched behind the bacteria boundary:

...where a puffy English muffins ($1.60 each):

... caught our kneady eyes. One of their spokes-models split and toasted this British bun to crisp the fringes of this craveable carbo comestible:

...which we ate with our cups of Peet's coffee.

We’ve visited the Oxbow outlet of Model Bakery, but we prefer the slightly funky neighborhood vibe of this wheaten warehouse.

This muddy getaway was just the thing to keep us grounded and these grounds were just the mud to fuel our return.

Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort

1507 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA

The Model Bakery
1357 Main St.
St. Helena, Ca



  Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You hear a lot of talk about “terrior” nowadays - the “sense of place” which geography imparts to wine, coffee, chocolate or tea, but if you want to take it a step further, you can take your appellation appreciation to the next terrace by planting yourself in wine country.

We were buried in a raised bed of volcanic ash and peat:

... dampened with hot spring water at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs:

“The Works” package includes mud, a mineral bath, sauna, blanket wrap and an hour massage that brought to mind the planting, watering, frost control and crushing of those lucky grapes.

After a float in the mudbath with a clay mask and cucumber slice eyelid lids, we soaked in a bubbly tub of Calistoga water before a sauna, a brief nap wrapped in blankets and a relaxing hour long massage (not one of those bogus 55 minute versions).

These treatments counteracted last week’s theme of “here’s mud in your eye” and we floated out the door in a state of complete relaxation.

When we regained the use of our legs, we strolled down the main drag to grab a casual bite. We were cautioned that the hot sauce was hot when we indicated our peppery preferences at Buster’s BBQ’s:

This caliente concoction was ladled over their tri-tip sandwich ($7.50):

... on toasted garlic bread. Generously beefy, nicely spicy, this was a satisfying belly bomb. One side dish is included in the modest cost of this meal and we went with the coleslaw (rather than the bean, macaroni and potato selections). This cabbage salad was okay, although sweeter than we prefer.

This counter service ‘que:

... was just the place for impromptu fortification after a relentless day of repose.

Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort

1507 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA

Busters BBQ
1207 Foothill Blvd.
Calistoga, CA




  Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It’s easy to prophesize that Pizza Nostra’s crusts are damused by the use of a gas pizza oven with a wood scenting feature (rather than a purely wood burning set up) but we had to seer for ourselves how this hybrid heater handled flattened fare.

The thin crusts of the Neapolitan-style Caprese ($16.00):

... and Napolitaine ($13.00):

... were perfectly pleasant. The Caprese comported tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, and arugula while the Nepolitaine nepotized tomato, mozzarella, capers, anchovies, olives and oregano. We enjoyed the thin ham ‘za freshened with rocket interspersed with punches of the anchovy and olive bread.

The tronchetto esmeraldo ($14.00):

... was a hot pocket of tomato, asparagus, scamorza, pesto and arugula. These tasty tunnels of melty cheese and fresh vegetables were my favorite bite of the bunch.

I predict that Nostra will turn a prophet.

Pizza Nostra
300 De Haro St.
San Francisco, CA



  Monday, May 18, 2009


“Pekin duck legs! Chez Panisse. Monday!”

Our friend D’s irresistible way with words had us at “duck”.

We arrived early and chatted with Chef Jerome Waag:

... before J and D arrived and we sat down to an aptly named little gems salad with a lemony creme fraiche dressing dotted with radish coins and served with an anchovy crouton:

Jerome’s interpretation of a lighter, seasonally appropriate cassoulet was a fava bean ragout with pork belly, carrots, garlic sausage and a duck confit:

... which raised the bean pole on this rustic dish.

We chomped on a bowl of cherries with a cup of herbal tisane before consuming a kumquat strewn custard:

...with a wand of pastry waving over this flan-tastic caramel-lined cushion.

Little strips of candied citrus peel and chocolates sent us on our way from this yummy dinner with wonderful friends.

Chez Panisse

1517 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA

From our Bunrab email, Aaron writes:


Your last post left me wondering... What is nduja? Great post btw...just need some clarification.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Aaron,

It’s a spreadable salumi:

... that Boccalone started selling back in April. We also really liked their lentil-topped, cotecchino sausage which will appear on their list of Boccalone’s offerings towards the end of the year.

Thanks for asking for sal-umination.




  Sunday, May 17, 2009

The 22nd Annual Star Chefs & Vintners Gala was a dream team of local talent lead by chairwoman Nancy Oakes.

This year had the added twist of specialty cocktails made by blue ribbon barmen. We sipped on Scott Beattie’s Hangar One Buddha’s hand vodka, blueberry, ginger and shiso “Beau Regards”:

... while we noshed on excellent hors d’oeuvres. Our faves included Chef Nancy Oakes and Ali Bolourchi’s white sturgeon caviar topped mini English muffins:

... Chef Ken Tominaga’s superior sushi:

... Tatiana Graf’s crostini topped with nduja and a tasty slice of cotecchino crowned with lentils:

... Chefs Bruce Hill and Chris Whaley’s fritatta with smoked trout and caviar:

... Chef Laurence Jossel’s Hello Kitty sized ceviche tacos:

Chef Xavier Salomon’s pea soup over soubise panna cotta:

... and the wonderful Nagashi Somen by Chefs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani. This ame-zing, in-terra-active display began with a cup of cold broth with a little wasabi. Diners helped themselves:

... to green onion, ikura, yamaimo, maguro, and nori before being presented with a metal net as they approached the bamboo waterslide:

Chef Doumani would yell, “noodles!’ and a portion of somen would swim into their grasp. Not only was this lots of fun, it was seriously tasty.

We got to share in a celebratory moment with Marcia:

... when we documented her first drink in a gagillion years. It was fortunate that she had the writing of her new book to distract her while she was treating her body like a temple (but you couldn’t pick a better event to reboot your liver.)

It took discipline to save room for dinner when faced with this field of extravagant appetizers, but after taking a peek in the kitchen:

... we knew our restraint would be rewarded.

Chef Nate Appleman’s shrimp scapece, Chef Justin Deering’s squab:

... and Chef Cal Stamenov’s veal rib eye:

... were all delicious. We enjoyed these perfectly prepared proteins as some serious auction activity:

... showed the generosity of high rolling bidders and big ticket donations which benefited Meals on Wheels.

After the paddles came down, the puddings came out.

Pastry Chef Michelle Polzine’s strawberry tarts:

... Pastry Chef Jessica Sullivan’s ice cream bon bons:

... and Jake Godby’s ice cream sandwiches:

... were worth screaming for.

This event is one of the finest examples of local chefs and business people taking care of their community.


22nd Annual Star Chefs & Vintners Gala

Meals on Wheels of San Francisco









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