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 Name: Gutenberg

 Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

 Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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January 1-10, 2011


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  Monday, January 10, 2011

Televisions act as hypnotic centerpieces:

... in the booths at Hubert Keller's Burger Bar (where he has fleur de leased space in the Union Square Macy's to provide a place for shoppers to drop.)

We went with a "country natural" ($10.50):

... which had a superior texture and flavor to the finer grind of the Angus ($9.75):

Both came with the expected accouterments that customers configure to personalize their patties.

O rings ($3.55):

... were greaseless, breaded, ketchup transport systems. This basket of gaskets and the meatwiches are a quick and peppy pit stop fuel up (unless you belly up to the telly.)

The Burger Bar

Macy's Union Square
251 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA




  Sunday, January 9, 2011

The treat bag from Cyrus:

... had an Alice in Wonderlandy message on the brownie:

... (which we dutifully obeyed) but unlike the foodstuffs down the rabbit hole, it didn't matter which side we nibbled from, they both made us bigger.

Morocco was swell but it didn't offer a lot in the way of artisan chocolate. Amano bean-eficently halted our hankering with Art Pollard's Art-isan wares.

The Chuao 70% dark chocolate ($9.95) raised the chocolate bar in this coffee-kissed creation.

We were nutty for the hints of almond and plum circulating in this sensational, snappy, tempered treat which we chased with the Cuyagua 70% dark chocolate ($8.95), a limited edition, melony melody that offered a sensuous, spice before we explored the jewel box of their 12 piece collection ($24.99).

We savored each cocoa creation but our faves were the Sidr honey which had a nice note of nectar with a beautiful, bitter buzz, the cinnamon ganache topped with a crunchy, candied pecan, the exotic cardamon and pepper, the gorgeous tangerine ganache, the subtle key lime, and the long luscious finish of the Guayas palet d'or.

All of these gems ornamented our mouths with balanced, finessed flavors that keep us coming back for more of this cocao crafted in Utah.

Amano Artisan Chocolate

450 South, 1325 West
Orem, UT



  Saturday, January 8, 2011

Champagne and caviar carted our way and rolled down our tongues at Cyrus.

Krug and osetra:

... came with the etcetera of blini cushioned with "freeze dried" creme fraiche, compressed cukes, Meyer lemon and chives.

We shed the tiers of our canapes:

... as we tuned up our tongues (with the tones of sweet, sour, saltly, bitter and umami) through a warm up scale of nibbly notes.

An amuse of hiramasa with onion, carrot and avocado:

... 'shimi'ed down with a fresh flap of flavor before a line up of shrimp with blood orange, radish and cuttlefish:

An afroed mussel had a crisp tempura crust served along side a Billy B. soup:

... which we renamed "Billy A." for it's muscular performance.

Foie gras softened from the warmth of an egg en cocotte in a black truffle jus:

A caraway and rye tuille offered a shell to this shirred thing.

Shavings of Matsutakes made a mound of mushroom mille feuille next to a seared scallop:

... while a tube of Tasmanian trout was wound with smoked soba:

... and touched off with a tea-firric oolong broth.

Lentils pulsed with broccoli, cippolini onion and fungus:

... and a tempura'ed tofu:

... delivered a soy-liloquy with more of those Matsutakes in a sea of stock.

We opted in on the white truffles that dotted our poached poussin:

... over an uni-fied froth with Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

Braised pork cheek:

... rested on a rice bed of truffled risotto with a quenelle of cabbage and parmesan tuille.

The striploin of beef in an oxtail-umeshu consommé:

... was plum delicious with a disk of daikon.

We got a curd-esy call from the cheese cart from which we rinded our way through the runny, firm and moldy melange of lactation formulations:

Panforte and date gelee:

... were pleasing peripherals to the wheels on wheels.

Miso custard was piped over a sesame sable in a salty soylute to a passion fruit gelato:

... before a hazelnut layer cake:

... with praline gelato and a chocolate pot de creme with Meyer lemon and warm donut batons.

Mignardises were mobilized on a final cart of candies before we sipped on Peerless espressi and carted ourselves away.

Chef Douglas Keane's Japanese-influenced chow washed down with white Burgundy and Barolo (reccoed by the swell somm, Chase Dubay) made for a pleasing progression at this Healdsburg hub of fine grub.

Cyrus Restaurant

29 North Street
Healdsburg, CA



  Friday, January 7, 2011

We went on the free TCHO chocolate factory tour that is offered twice daily.

They currently forbid flip flops, people with infected wounds:

...and photos in this production pod where tempered treats are cooly crafted.

A video, walk around and tasting were all good fun on this hour-long TCHO show that we capped off with Blue Bottle beverages infused with TCHO.

TCHO Chocolate

Pier 17
San Francisco, CA
Tours Daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Tickets reserve your spot.



  Thursday, January 6, 2011

We obtained our letters of transit in Casablanca and bid ferrel well to the cavalcade of cats:

... that prowl every souk, bab and station in Morocco.

These ferrel feline vanquish vermin and add a fez-tive fuzz to each of the cities with kitties.

The food:

... archi-texture:

... music and most of all, friendly Moroccans made this a great getaway:

... which was ignited by our conversation with Spruce's Mark Sullivan who encouraged us to investigate this region's contagious culture.

On our flight back, we got a chance to sample some forbidden fruit:

... and found these Moroccan minis weren't our thing, but this didn't sour our 'sperience of navigating past Navidad by mingling with Muslims during our allah-day.

We loved the people, food and art but we're happy to be back to the booze, bacon and bikini bonanza that we know and love.




  Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We took a van to Volubilis:

... to run through the Roman ruins:

... in this excavation site exposing the ancient extreme makeover home edition mentality:

... of the conquering community that gave the Berbers the boot.

Then on to Meknes:

... to meander through the markets:

... and have a meh lunch:

... before hightailing back to Fez and our favorite sandwich lady:

... for some mits of minerally-tasting meat with fried eggs, potato fritters, hot peppers and pepper sauce (15 MAD or $1.80US):




  Tuesday, January 4, 2011

We get steered away from the types of foods that locals enjoy (even when we are standing in front of locals enjoying it.) They tell us that it will make us sick and that we would be happier at a tourist restaurant. Oddly, it's out of friendliness and concern; they want us to like their city and they think that foreigners have delicate systems that can't deal with much outside of a little couscous.

Looking around the souks:

... we ducked down an alley and jumped into a queue of locals and no tourists (except for us). Customers were snapping up goods from this bustling little stand:

A superhumanly swift lady took orders, collected payment and stuffed Moroccan bread with fried eggs, potato fritters and chopped hot peppers before ladling pepper sauce over the fried filling. These pockets (5 MAD or 60¢ US):

... were so wondrous, warming, creamy, crispy, hot and spicy that we queued up again for seconds.

A guy who frequented the booth practiced his English on us by welcoming us to his city and telling us that the fried foods were too difficult and heavy for our stomachs. We told him that we thought the food was delicious and worth the risk. He shrugged and wished us well.

Douchebag visitors don't help culinary cross cultural confidence.

We were seated next to some travelers who were scolding the server of their Moroccan style mint tea for putting sugar in it. When their tea was delivered without the offending ingredient, they laid into him about how unhealthy it was and how horrible it tastes to put sweetener in any beverage..then they tore into him about his religion - yikes.




Mark your Calendar

Jardiniere's Monday night prix fixe dinners continue into 2011 with the same $45 price (for 3 courses including wine pairings.) Whether you want Greek goods, Ducky dining or Punjabi portions, there are some enticing eats planned.

Starting tomorrow night, Jardiniere is launching Wednesday Wine Nights. This means half off the cost of wines from the featured region (think Bordeaux, Loire Valley, California...) Check out the deets here.


300 Grove St.
San Francisco, CA



  Monday, January 3, 2011

We hauled our asses past the asses hauling hides:

... to the tanneries in Fez.

Limestone tubs filled with a potion of pigeon droppings and cow urine are used:

... to treat the skins before they are scraped and taken to the colorful craters for dying.

The area had typical restaurants:

... as well as faster food options. We went with lunch at a dinky dining detour:

We chose the lamb kidney, beef kidney and liver from the cooler:

... and the cook chopped, skewered, grilled and sandwiched the goods in Moroccan bread. cumin and salt finished our hand held awesome offal offerings (30MAD or $3.60 US for both):

A group of fun Thai students:

... on break from their Swedish school were cozily crammed with us into the eating area (one teeny table surrounded by a narrow ledge/bench).

They also came from Marrakech where the men of the group loved the food and the women hated it. One of the women had a big bag of clementines (she was abstaining from the local prepared chow) and gave us each one as a gift. Little moments like this are always the ones we fondly remember from our travels.




  Sunday, January 2, 2011

A seven hour train trip:

... went by quickly as we chatted with a student about Moroccan life. We got a chance to ask her some of our burning questions like "what is the secret to correctly balling up couscous to toss into your mouth?" She explained that her grandmother could do it, but it's not really a skill that holds much relevance to her generation. We learned a lot about daily life and regional practices - like the sum that is paid to a woman upon marriage based on her weight (the more she weighs the more money she gets according to this Southern city custom.)

Our riad in Fez didn't look like much from the outside (in order not to attract the evil eye) but once we entered, it had the requisite courtyard in the center with all the rooms opening toward the interior.

"You are lucky, you have Bono's room" we were told. Although we did not find him in our suite, there was a large, framed, photo of him strewn with flashing Christmas lights in the lobby:

We were perfectly happy with or without him.

We supped on a tajine of dried out, under-seasoned chicken, olives and preserved lemon (150 MAD or $17.85 US):

... as well as a fishy-smelling seafood bastilla (180 MAD or $21.40 US):

... which became our motivation to eat at the street stalls that all the staff advised against.

The signage attracting us to our dinner needed no text:

We humped over for Moroccan bread that was slashed and stuffed with seasoned and spiced minced meat to produce an excellent Sloppy Joe Camel (6 MAD or 75¢ US):

The dramatic dromedary had a magnified beefiness that did not desert our desire to gullet this ungulate.

We'd walk a mile for this meal.




  Saturday, January 1, 2011

Like any food stand assemblage, Jamaa El Fna:

... has both enticing and not so 'ticing offerings. The food stalls that didn't do much for us were the ones that tried to cover all the bases:

... with an array of items from tajines:

... and couscous:

... to fish and chips. These tended to be the biggest booths and we found their flavors to be flatter than some of the other options.

We did enjoy the tongue in cheek offerings (30 MAD or $3.60 US):

... at some of the smaller stands. Tender tongue and chunks of melting meat were fished from a big steamy pot. A communal container of cuminy salt was passed to perfect the seasoning before tearing into this rich and flavorful meat mound.

There are no napkins at the market stands, but you can get squares of paper to degrease your eating hand or if they see you are getting overly oily they sometimes offer a dampened square of paper so you can enjoy a glass of mint tea without any slippage.

Running water is done with buckets and feet rather than plumbing so low-geine is the expectation one must carry to this square in which executions once took place. Fortunately, we were not to be included in the death toll (or digestive toll) and loved our dinners at this dining destination. Jamaa El Fna? - F.N.A!










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