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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

Do you need to answer back? You can send me comments if you want to.

If I want to, I'll post 'em in this very blog.



April 24-30, 2006


go to next week's blogs



Sunday, April 30, 2006

Berkeley International Food Festival:

Wars are fought where boundaries are ill-defined. Today I’ve found that festivals are held in the same places.

The West Berkeley International Food Festival sounded like such a good idea. Great participants, music and a sunny day. What’s not to like? Their press release stated, “Festival goers will visit eateries and food markets along a promenade area running two blocks in each direction from the intersection of University and San Pablo Avenues. Expect restaurant specials, cooking demonstrations, the sampling of dozens of international foods and live entertainment at three staging areas.”

It clearly states that there would be “staging areas” but I pictured a four block long food festival, sort of like a farmer’s market in a continuous stretch, but it was too segmented and spread out to feel like one event.

Most places were selling full meals but it would have been more enticing if they sold snacks and small bites to get people to try things in less committal increments that they might not ordinarily eat. I did find a few places to get individual items. Lanesplitter had slices of pizza for a buck each, I got a tasty chicken kabob for a fiver:

... and this samosa for $1.

To be fair, it’s their inaugural event and I’m glad that they are generating some publicity for the local businesses. Maybe the next one will feel more unified.




Saturday, April 29, 2006

French Laundry laundry list:

What do you do when you want custom made linens for your restaurant that none of the cleaners will touch for fear of wrecking these top quality items? You clean them yourself. The French Laundry is going to open it’s own laundry. It will take a while to get all the machinery and expertise in place, but they will put together yet another business to add to the ever expanding roster. Not only is there the bistros, the bakeries and the restaurants. Soon there will be a butcher shop as well as a hamburger joint where you can get a half bottle of wine to wash down your sous vide cooked patty. There is also yet another fun project up there sleeve which they will announce in the near future.

The new light fixtures illustrate that laundry is clearly on their minds:

I can barely type this since I’m so full of incredible chow. Dinner tonight was beyond delicious. Chubby and I had:


Scottish Salmon tartare in black sesame cornets with crème fraiche

Cold Delta asparagus soup

Cold Carrot soup with chives

Pogen E Sandri, Muller Thurgau, Alto Adige, Italy 2004

Pickled oyster with julienned cucumber and sevruga caviar

Sabayon of pearl tapioca with oyster and sevruga caviar

Kahala sashimi with apple gastrique, mizuna and radish

Uni with truffle sauce peashoots and radish sprouts

Coddled hen’s egg with truffle brunoise and brioche soldiers

White truffle custard with black truffle veal stock and potato chive chipHawaiian hearts of peach palm with Haas avocado, radishes, mizuna and chives

Baby globe artichokes with field arugula, onion rings and mustard sauce

Branzino baked in a salt crust with fennel capers and tomato compote

Muller Catoir, Scheurebe, Pfalz, Spatlese, 2004

Butter poached lobster tail “Ceasar” with caramelized romaine, grated roe and parmesan tuille

Butter poached lobster tail with carrots and peashoots

Terrine of Foie gras with mango relish, onion and balsamic reduction with toasted brioche

Seared Foie gras with Belgian endive and poached prune served with a salt selection.

Bachelet, Cotes des Nuits Village, 2003

Braised pork belly with Tuscan lentils

Liberty Peking duck breast with crispy polenta, globe artichokes and nicoise jus

Coulette de Boeuf with white asparagus, béarnaise reduction, potatoes mille feuille and morels

Pleasant Ridge reserve cheese with apple

St. Marcelan with cherry compote and pain perdu

Field rhubarb sorbet with green cardamom syrup and vacherin

Pineapple sorbet with pinenut pave and pineapple chip

Coffee semi-freddo with hot cinnamon-sugar coated donuts

White and dark chocolate cake with mint infusion with spun sugar

Chocolate filled with liquid butterscotch, Spanish peanuts and gold leaf

Tahitian vanilla crème brulee

Cinnamon pot du creme

Chocolate coated macadamia nuts coated in powdered sugar


Assorted Chocolates

And some packaged, ribboned, shortbreads and signature chocolate bars for the road (in case we were still hungry.)





Friday, April 28, 2006

What’s not to like about being taken out to lunch in North Beach? I was treated to a squid ink pasta with seafood.

I love plucking plump mussels from their hot little homes especially when they are cooked just to ‘til their front doors open.

I was getting worried when the waiter didn’t write down the orders for our table of eight (it reminded me of another old school North Beach restaurant down the street) but he got everyone’s orders right and charmed all the ladies in the process.

I remember going to Caffé Macaroni when it was in the smaller space across the street with noodles glued to the walls. This bigger place looked popular with locals who come in for the welcoming Italian vibe and chow. My host spoke fluent Italian which is always a passport to a convivial Italian restaurant experience.

I reminded my lunch companions about the dining prospects on Monday. With the one day walk outs supporting immigrant labor; it might be a good day to pack a lunch.

Caffé Macaroni
59 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA




Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mr. Pickle’s is a small chain that’s all about sandwiches. Not those little cucumber tea ones either; these are big, honkin’, rich bricks of chow.

This place does mostly takeaway business:

... but there is one window counter with 4 stools.

We split a Tony Soprano ($6.49):

... which was a tasty sub type sandwich with salami, ham, mortadella, provolone and Italian dressing. If you eat enough of them, you can actually resemble the man (at least in the midsection.)

The Tom Tom ($6.49):

... was listed on the menu as containing turkey, bacon and Swiss cheese, but mine didn’t contain any bacon (I guess in the spirit of the Tony Soprano they fuggetaboutit.) The Dutch crunch roll was packed with so much turkey and rich dressing that it would have been the extra wafer thin bit that would have put me over the edge (so I didn’t point out the no bacancy.)

I wonder about Mr. Pickle’s:

... backstory. Here he is, all happy, out in front of his sandwich shop with ammo and sombrero. He names foodstuffs after fictional Italian mobsters… is he a criminal wannabe resigned to a life of sandwich (rather than gun) slinging? Are there little gherkins at home? Did he leave his trousers at home? He’s not sayin’.

This place has that gas station mini-mart vibe with the self serve drinks, chips and lack of seating. It’s great for what it is. It’s just not my thing so I don’t think I’ll be back anytime soon.

Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop

3380 20th St.
San Francisco, CA




Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What was I thinking? I went to a fine dining establishment and ate at the bar. I should have either made a proper rezzie or gone somewhere else.

I don’t blame the restaurant. They accommodate customers who choose to order food at what should be a bar. Sadly, this does a disservice to both the food and the diner.

My mistake was compounded by the fact that I selected the single worst seat at the bar. I sat at the very end, away from the entrance. There is a post, behind which the bartender mixes, muddles, shakes and firmly places glasses down as he works. Not exactly serene.

Although the bar staff is very good, they are multi-tasking and there were gaping, insanely long blackholes between courses of the three course dinner ($61.00).

The amuse was a foie gras mousse:

... with rehydrated, honeyed cherries and chard puree which was amusing, but nothing to get my bouche flapping.

The frog’s legs:

... came wrapped in pancetta casts (without autographs) were a little overcooked and slightly dry. They were served with “leg”umes. These beluga lentils were also slightly overcooked for my taste and were surrounded by a moat of cream and butter enriched garlic and sunchoke puree (which made for a heavy preparation overall.)

The Bison:

... was perfectly cooked to an enticing rare. There was an abundance of morels along with fava beans, slightly shrively green peas and a few carrots. I liked the tender nettle dumplings that sat upon the rich, reduction sauce. Everything was well seasoned except for the meat which was under-salted. Upon request, a mill was produced from behind the bar.

I was informed that the cheese would take a while because there were two other tables that needed to be served. Whenever I hear something of that nature, I think to myself that they would be better off just saying there will be a bit of a delay and leaving it at that (do I really need to hear that I rank #3 even though I ordered cheese with the rest of my meal?)

I’m a big fan of cheese trolleys but they are an awkward bar selection because you are blocking the flow of traffic and have to turn all the way around to survey your options.

It was a simple cheese plate with a small cluster of red grapes, some bread and a choice of 4 cheeses. I enjoyed my selections of two goats, (1 hard, 1 soft) a cow, and a sheep/cow cheese:

Mignardises were good little sweet bites of meringue, mini-tartlets, brittle and the usual suspects.

The espresso ($3.25) was warm but not hot, like it was made in a cold demitasse. It was placed in front of me with the handle at 3 o’clock (I guess they didn’t reset them for daylight savings time.) Oh, and I really am not that picky, I just observe this sort of thing in these types of places, I really don’t care where the handle is as long as there is coffee involved.

The bathroom is well maintained and seriously over the top. I don’t like the idea of the chef’s name being on the toilet paper.

If you have to fancy up the loo rolls just tie a ribbon around them like they do at the French Laundry. If you’re a chef, never associate your name with getting rid of food, it’s just the wrong message.

I am a sucker for those lovely restaurant parting gifts. Danko’s is a mini blueberry bread:

... (think moist blueberry muffin in a mini pannetone wrapper.) It’s always nice to leave with a little wrapped goodie.

The combination of bar positioning, my poor ordering (everything I selected was seriously rich with no relief) and just a sort of rhythmic imbalance to the service, makes me less than eager to return anytime soon. But I will keep my eye open for when Gary Danko toilet paper makes it to shelves at Target.

Gary Danko
800 North Point
San Francisco, CA



Tuesday, April 25, 2006

For me?

Just For You Café was today’s lunch stop.

Chubby got in touch with his feminine side with a Cowgirl ($8.95):

... aka 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, and sausage. A multitude of choices are involved with this combo. He got one cornmeal and one buckwheat pancake. Both were good, but the cornmeal was the hit with its slightly gritty (in a good way) cornmeal texture and sweetness. The buckwheat flapjack had a pleasant, unanticipated lightness.

The Chubster selected the Philippino sausage which was coarse and sweet; this is usually points off, but it worked with this weenie.

My cheeseburger ($8.95):

... was pretty good. The meat had a nice grind and they cooked it to the requested medium rare. I was given the option of their house made bread or a bun when I ordered and I should have gone with the bun. Their bread was fine, it just wasn’t up to the job of hamburger support system since it doesn’t have that outer shell to create more tensile strength.

The fries were good but I may have faked myself out when I ordered them “extra crispy” (which they were.) I think I’ll order them the normal way next time to see if I cheated myself out of moist interiors with my request.

I like the casual vibe and the homey chow in this small, funky cafe.

They have something for everyone on their extensive menu and the people here are very nice. There are big signs as you enter about turning off your cell phone and about hot, fresh beignets. I’m going to have to grab an order of those hot fried dough puffs next time…

Mabel’s Just For You Café
732 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA




Monday, April 24, 2006


House of Pain

The House of Bread
is a chain but it doesn’t have that corporate look to it.

They have a tastin’ station where they dispense samples and explanations. Freshly baked bread is the crack cocaine of the food world.

The yeasty perfume wafting off the hot carbolicious slices of butter transport devices would convince people to join cults…hmmm, is that where communion stems from?

They grind their own flour on site and use mostly organic ingredients. They are not here to give Acme a run for their money. The style of the bread entirely different. Acme is rustic, with European roots. The House of Bread is what I would describe as an American bakery, influenced by European baked goods. They do not produce loaves utilizing wild grape yeasts or with thick crunchy crusts. Their interpretation of bread is what I would call modern meets mainstream.

My turkey pesto sandwich ($5.50):

... was made with Boar’s Head turkey, romaine, ready-made pesto, sliced red onion and tomato. I requested their dense wheat bread. It was a fine sandwich, not trip-worthy, (but I don’t think it’s designed to be). It’s one of those places that you would be happy to have in your ‘nabe so you could pop out and grab a wholesome, quick bite.

In addition to loaves, they make cinnamon rolls and muffins. I got a blueberry muffin ($2.75):

This dense, lemon scented dough gob was not my thing. However, the sample of apple cinnamon swirl that they lopped off for me was a nice, homey, honey-laden bit of sweetness.

The people here are very nice and I like the in-house flour mill (but I’ll bet they think of it as a grind.)

House of Bread

841 San Pablo Ave.
Albany, CA

Now that the weather’s getting warmer, it’s time for ice cream. Like any good drug dealer knows, it’s important to get your clients hooked early, Tomorrow (Tuesday April 25th) is Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s. Check their site for the shop nearest you.


Mick R. writes about the Easter Incanto supper:


Your review of Incanto mentioned their "house-cured country ham". Inquiring midwestern-country-ham-fed minds would like to know what it tasted like. I have a hard time imagining a restaurant doing a real country-ham cure on hams, but what do I know...

Mick R.

Gutenberg replies:

Dear Mick,

Chubby e-mailed Mark at Incanto and asked how they produced this tender, succulent, brined bit of pig. Here’s what he had to say:

Hi Chubby,

Here are the basic details:

We used three 25-lb. Niman Ranch hams, skin-on.

We made a brine of water, sugar, salt, etc. (the normal brining stuff), seasoned with our own mix of spices, including but not limited to: mirepoix, black pepper, chilli pepper, coriander, wild fennel seeds, nutmeg, clove...

We injected all the hams with a brining syringe, and we soaked the hams in the brine for approximately 7 days.

We pulled them from the brine and hung them for ~15 days prior to cooking them for Easter. In that time, they did firm up, lose a bit of weight, and did develop a healthy outer mold.

Were they true country hams? Well for one thing, the curing period was certainly much, much shorter than you would expect for a real-deal U.S. country ham, which would go at least 6 or 9 months. For another thing, they were not air-cured in a shed or barn, left to the heat of a summer, as you would expect from a great American country ham. But for our purposes (roasting them for Easter) the process fit the bill and we were happy with the results.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.







back to last week - April 16-23, 2006



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