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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.



Sunday, February 26, 2006

Swine About Town:

Chubby and I made it for the last seating of Oliveto’s annual Whole Hog Dinner late last night.

The Dry-cured salumi ($16.00):

... had two slices each of Soppressata, Crespone, Felino, Sanguinaccio, Toscano, Rustica, Lonza and Prosciutto. Each were distinctly flavored and textured and all were fantastic. The fat in these salted chubs had a buttery texture and wonderful depth of flavor. Chubby asked the server when Paul Bertolli’s salumi factory was going to open and she said that they were waiting on document processing (before the meat can be.)

Feet and brains ($13.50):

Pork trotters are cooked down, de-boned, formed into patties, breaded and fried. This fancy footwork pays off with a very rich, crunchy on the outside, meaty on the inside feat. Little brain balls are given the same coating and frying and are delicate beneath their protective bready skulls. A blood orange and tangelo sauce adds a tart and acidic counterpoint to break up the richness of the dish.

Tongue ($14.00) with artichokes was a hearty and delicious combo. It was visually deceptive with a creamy sauce enrobing them to make them difficult to distinguish. This did not keep me from art-fully choking down my tongue.

Shoulder ($15.50):

... of "cooked 'round the clock" pig was stuffed into triangoli of pasta and cooked to a perfect al dente. I turned these into my own personal Bermuda triangles and made everything within the area disappear.

Fresh Ham ($26.00):

... was spit roasted and sauced with marsala. I poured my Bianca di Spagna beans ($4.50) onto my ham plate in order for these bland, undersalted, legumes to get a leg up in the flavor department.

Bacon ice cream ($5.00) seemed in keeping with the spirit of the dinner, but suffered from variable temperatures which caused ice spicules to destroy it’s texture. I don’t think that it was made on the day it was served. The polenta cookie helped to abrade this dessert misfire from my tongue and the little square of dark chocolate spackled over the damage. That’s it, bacon is officially out of the running for my favorite gelato flavor.

Oliveto is a bunrab fave. We didn’t know what to expect when (the former chef) Paul went off in pursuit of prosciutto, but the new chef has maintains a high standard.

You can sign up on their website to be notified of their special upcoming meals so you don’t miss any hogs, tomatoes or truffles in the future.

I think that the “hog” in whole hog refers to our eating habits last night. I am still unsteady from all the chow and wine. Chubby seems unfazed by the whole experience. I think it’s because he doesn’t treat his body as a temple, he just goes to them to eat. Check out wat he has to say about a Sunday Berkeley institution, Wat Mongkolratanaram in his newest Yummy Chow review.






Saturday, February 25, 2006

TB is an affliction that can take years off your life. T.B. is also an affliction that can put inches on your midsection.

Weekends at Tartine Bakery are a mob scene.

I had been hearing raves about their bread pudding (small $2.50):

... which they make with brioche. This pretty, currant and apple adorned comfort food wasn’t my thing. I liked that it was served warm and wasn’t too sweet but it was a little to soft and eggy for my taste.

The Morning bun ($2.25):

... should require a prescription. The top is flakey and shatteringly crisp. Coarse bits of orange cinnamon sugar are wound through this hypnotic spiral leading you to a buttery fate. The base is dense with a carmely, butteryness where all the calories decided to put up camp. This zone is normally the undesirable “stump” area when you are dealing with muffin real estate, but in this wondergob, it is the ambrosial, moist and chewy heart. If it’s more important to you to have a good time than to live a long time, these are your new best friend.

Gourgers ($2.50):

... are more like “gorge airs.” These oversized eggy balloons are inflated with black pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Pass the wine and tear off bits of these light and tasty puff balls.

Lemon meringue cake ($3.85 per slice):

...puckery lemon curd layered between moist cake and gilded with singed meringue. This is not only pretty, it’s delish.

Tartine’s chocolate chip cookies ($1.50):

... are the worlds flattest. They only exist in 2 dimensions. This is because they worship the at the alter of the crispy, butter god. The chocolate chunks are not as integrated as they could be, but they offer a nice punchoclation to these shattering discs.

Mr. Espresso coffee is the bean of choice here. If you only want java (but why would you want to skip the pastries?) you can get a lot of dirty looks and head to the front of the line.

The only bad thing about eating dessert first is there’s no room left for one of their grilled sandwiches. Take a look at our previous visits.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA




Friday, February 24, 2006

I was excited to find a Nepalese restaurant
in Novato:

As is my restaurant karma, I walked in for lunch a little after 1 o’clock and the place was empty. I was greeted warmly by (I’m guessing) the owner who steered me away from ordering the gigantor combo plate (for which he would have made more money, but I would not have fit out the door after eating it) and towards something he felt would be a better lunch option.

I got the Khasi Tarkari ($11.99):

The chunks of lamb were not as tender as they could have been, but they were still good in their tomato gravy spiked with chopped cilantro, served with basmati rice. When I ordered I asked for it spicy. I was given a small ramekin of red pepper sauce to season my meat to my desired level of heat.

I asked for tea which arrived blonde and slightly sweet with a touch of cardamom. Although I usually prefer black, this was a nice change of pace.

I wasn’t knocked out by the lamb, but I will trek back for the friendly environment and to see what else they have to offer.

Taste of Nepal
2033 Novato Blvd.
Novato, CA





Thursday, February 23, 2006

Had lunch at a very popular cityside Thai joint today:

It's always packed, but I like going there anyway since it's so good that... it's always packed.

Jatujak Pad See Ew ($7.50):

This is what happens when flat rice noodles, fresh, crisp tender broccoli, chicken breast, egg, garlic and soy sauce all go for a wok together. This wasn’t very spicy, but it was flavorful. I know that they don’t use MSG here, but I think that they sprinkled on a handful of trypophane instead. This is a sleep inducing plate of belly ballast. I do think that they need to remove the “ew” from the name.

Other foods on my list to rename:

falafel – what is up with the “awful” in fal-awful?? This also makes me wonder about an entire class of food that I love so dearly but you need real guts to eat: offal.

trumpets of death – let’s just call them black chantrelles okay?

pupu platter – duh

Koh Samui and the Monkey
415 Brannan St
San Francisco, CA

Got some email about yesterday’s Thai posting:


Thanks for reminding me about Thep Lela. We used to go there fairly regularly until Strawberry Village started remodeling. Since then, it's been off our radar. Convenient location, good food and nice people - a good addition to the limited choices available to us in Marin. Of course, if they ever start serving rabbit, we'll take it right off our list.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Susan,

Glad to put Thep back on your rotation list, it’s easy to forget tucked back out of sight in that mall. I agree about the nice folks there too.

Thanks for your lagamorphic support.





Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Thep Lela

I love making mini Thai burritos when I order Miang Kam ($7.95):

Take a spinach leaf and fill it with a little of each the chopped ginger, red onion, peppers, lime, toasted coconut, tamarind sauce and salted peanuts:

The combination of textures and flavors from the sweet, salty, crunchy, sour, astringent, tangy, smooth, and sharp is a great way to get the meal started. I miss the little, dried shrimp that I’ve had with this dish in other restaurants, but it’s still very tasty.

Noodle Soup ($9.95):

... comes in a big bowl with a clear, fresh tasting broth filled with wide rice noodles, bean sprouts, carrots, zucchini, poached chicken, scored squid (that curls up to resemble a mini pinecone) prawns, broccoli and snow peas. I gravitate towards this dish when it’s cold outside.

Comforting, tasty and warming, this has become a standby.

Bamee Pork ($8.95):

Thin slices of grilled pork are strewn over thin fried egg noodles. The sweet chili sauce is skippable in it’s cornsyruppy mismatch. The dish doesn’t need it. It’s very good au naturel (that is if you call frying “natural”.)

Thep is always a handy place since it’s just off the freeway. I imagine that I will be dropping by more often once the Spanish Table kicks into gear selling their famous almonds, meats and cheeses out of their new Strawberry Village store.

Thep Lela
411 Strawberry Village
Mill Valley, CA




Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Chubby and I decided to grab a cup of coffee at an ubiquitous mermaid caffeine station:

... and found that that the rumors were true. We each asked for a cup of fair trade coffee (only a small percentage of Starbucks’ coffee is fair trade) and they plucked a bag from the shelf, ground the beans and made a nice French press pot:

... and brought it to our table with two porcelain cups. It took longer than getting the already brewed stuff, but to get fair trade coffee at the same price was a good deal. It was better tasting than their normal brew too.





Monday, February 20, 2006

President Hamilton Day

The Hamilton Cafe is not the sort of place you just stumble upon. It's set back from the freeway on the deactivated Hamilton Airfield.

Spanish style architecture mixed with new sprawling housing developments make you feel like you are in Southern California somewhere.

Chubby ordered the Hamilton Burger ($7.95):

... medium rare. It arrived bloody rare on a crusty ciabata roll with one small slice of tomato, a strip of iceberg lettuce, jack cheese that never reached melty status, some wilty slices of red onion (that had been sitting around uncovered for too long) and a little too much mayo. The meat itself was good but the rare meat squished out between the firm bread with every bite. I'm guessing that they usually serve these medium and it's not a problem for most people. The fries were the frozen variety served limp from an abbreviated visit to the deep fat fryer. A standard issue mesclun salad filled out the plate.

I saw a lot of crepes being ordered from the brunch menu (I'm guessing that they pull out this menu on holidays.)

I ordered the meat crepe ($8.25):

... with chopped ham, sautéed mushrooms, avocado, onions, green pepper strips, tomato and jack cheese. The crepe needed to be thinner to have less of a doughy influence over the other ingredients. There were more ingredients than flavor in these cigars of blandness.

The red potatoes also suffered from dullness. They were under seasoned and only dreamt of being crispy. Bits of fruit did little to bring this plate to life.

Hamilton does not set a president and I wouldn'tre-elect it for another trip, but if I found myself wandering around this defunct airbase hungry, I'd order a medium burger and ask for my fries extra crispy.

Hamilton Café
502 South Palm Drive
Novato, CA


Dr. B from Meathenge wrote twice in one day, once about yesterday’s lunch:

Hey Spanky,

Uh, those cauliflower thingies from Delfina, were they deep fried? Cause they look deep fried. I've been roasting mine in a little convection oven and my regular gas oven and they don't get that toasty brown looking, all over.

Just so you know, it's cold over here too.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Dr. B.

Those tricky Delfinites roasted the cauliflower (drizzled with oil) at a super high temperature in their industrial strength ovens to get that tasty brown exterior. Although I generally agree with Homer Simpson that pretty much anything is good deep fried.

Stay meaty,


...and once about Chubby’s Slow Club review:

Goldangit, how come I can't post comments over at the chow end of things? I see the slow club post up and I wanted to go too. I got an invite and haven't made it over, the big city scares my hillbilly boots. I figure if I sneak in with someone else my psyche won't notice. Sneaky eh?


Chubby took this one:

Dear Biggles,

I think you and your psyche would really like the Slow Club. Joy mentioned that she was just there yesterday as well, so it’s a place filled with friendly folks that would make your boots feel like taking it slow.

Your pal,







Saturday, February 19, 2006

Chubby and I decided to check out Pizzeria Delfina:

... for our Sunday lunch. All the outdoor tables were vacant (due to the chilly weather) and we waited a few minutes for one of the six indoor tables or a couple of stools at the bar to free up. This gave us time to deliberate on our order.

Delta Asparagus ($7.25):

This cold stack of spears was topped off with a snowy cap of sieved egg, parsley and breadcrumbs. A lively, acidic, lemon vinaigrette unified this tasty starter.

Spicy Cauliflower ($5.00):

... came with a shower of capers, paper thin garlic slices, and a hint of chilies. Although this room temperature dish didn’t deliver on the promise of “spicy”, that was easily remedied with a sprinkle of the dried red pepper. The florets were given the George Hamilton treatment and their toasty brown color translated into a depth of flavor that played well against the garlic and ample portion of capers. I worried when I saw so many green dots punctuating this dish that it was going to taste like the Bonneville salt flats, but this thought bubble burst with my first not-too-salty mouthful (and I ate them all.)

Mushroom pizza ($14.00):

... arrived first. They told us there was a problem with our other pizza and they were remaking it. So we began with this hen o’ the woods, chanterelle and trumpets of death topped pie with melty tallegio binding this fine pizza. It was good, but the crust was slightly blonde for my taste and I asked for our other order to be “scorched.”

Salsiccia pizza ($13.25):

... had a great crust. Check out how they gave it a nice tanning treatment in their pizza oven.

This had a lot of juicy ingredients so the center of the pizza was liquid-logged. It was still good. The house made fennel sausage, onions, tomato sauce, strips of peppers and onions got a boost from the plate of red pepper flakes, stems of dried oregano, and grated Grana Padano cheese that adorns every table.

I would order the vegetable starters again, but I will steer away from pizzas that sound like they have wetter toppings and I’ll request “scorched” on all future orders.

Pizzeria Delfina is located right next door to their restaurant (which is a favorite of Chubby’s.)

Parking can be an issue, you can park at Cherin’s appliance lot at night, but that doesn’t do you any good for Sunday lunch.

We like to take our Sunday’s slow in the cyber hutch. Chubby finally got around to checking out what Joy told him was one of the best burgers in San Francisco. Check out Chubby’s lastest review of the Slow Club.

Pizzeria Delfina
3611 18th St
San Francisco, CA




Friday, February 18, 2006

It was a little slower than the usual weekend night at Picco, probably due to the cold weather keeping people by their Marin fireplaces.

Chubby and I grabbed a couple of seats at the bar and ordered margaritas with fresh lime juice on the rocks to sip as we scanned the menu for a late night snack.

As always, the raw fish was fresh and tasty. This Pacific sea bass ($9.75):

...was thinly sliced and topped with red and green micro-minced chilies and cilantro sprouts. Firm fleshed and citrus marinated, this was a beautiful and tasty ceviche snack.

The thing I like about Picco is that they don’t rest on their laurels (or their burgers for that matter.) The version that they are serving for the next couple of weeks has Pt. Reyes Blue cheese and crimimi mushrooms. The blue cheese melts into a creamy sauce for this little beef patty topped with caramelized cipolini onions and earthy fungi. They also changed their bun which is now dusted with polenta before baking. The cornmeal gives a nice, thin layer of crunch to the crust. They serve these mini burgers as a plate of three ($9.75):

... but you can even out the number to four for an extra $3.25. I don’t know how anyone can get a drink at the bar and pass up these savory, burger bites.

320 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA




Friday, February 17, 2006


Oakland airport was not the place to be today:

In the morning, the multiple security lines extended all the way through baggage claim and out to the sidewalk. In the evening, I returned (on a delayed flight) to a mecca of frustration. I must have heard a dozen people cel-yell, “my flight’s delayed…no, I don’t know when…”

The only ones who come out ahead in these situations are the people who run the concessions. It occurred to me over my airport breakfast of a bagel and coffee that one horrible message that millions of Americans subliminally wake up to is “zero.”

This “zero” is communicated by your bagel, doughnut, cheerio, fruit loop and apple jack. If the first typographical information that you ingest is “null” aren’t you willingly taking in a unfavorable prophecy? In the interest of building a more positive society wouldn’t it be better to have breakfast foods that comported a message of excellence? Are we stunting the mental stability of our youth by imprinting their plastic minds with a losing message?

I think Cheeri “o’s” should become Cheeri “#1’s” and be in the shape of the numeral “1.”

This is why there is a drop in scientific and mathematical achievement. Education and self esteem begin at breakfast (but just not with my numerically deficient meal this morning.)





Thursday, February 16, 2006


It was just too cold today. My ice shield wipers:

... were rendered useless in this temperature. If I couldn’t have hot weather, I wanted hot salsa.

Tommy's Salsa was empty when I went in for a late lunch. I got the Pescado Mojo de Ajo ($10.75):

...which arrived with hot corn tortillas, standard issuere fried beans and rice. The self serve salsa was helpful in getting the Mojo (de Ajo) working with the battered and fried Alaskan Pollock, shrimp, sautéed green peppers and mushrooms. The shrimp were stiff and dry from being overcooked (luckily there were only two of them between me and the rest of my lunch.) I wish that the filet wasn't battered (which created a doughy, wet skin around the fish) but under this eggy sweater, it had a dense and moist texture which was accented by garlic sauce and a squeeze of lime.

You order at the counter and help yourself to salsa and drinks. Your lunch is brought to your table by the friendly staff. I asked a question about the dish that I ordered, but there was a language barrier and I figured I couldn’t really go that horribly wrong by just ordering and eating what arrived.

Tommy's Salsa
1553 South Novato Blvd.
Novato, CA




Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Peanuts are a ninja food. They say they’re nuts, but they are really in the legume family. They sneak around so stealthily that there are warning signs everywhere reading “may contain traces of nuts” (hmmm... shouldn’t that read “traces of legume?”)

You eat them straight with your beer, sandwiched with your jam, chopped on your Thai noodles, candied in your brittle. You fry with them, soothe skin with them, put monocles on them…I think their publicist needs to strategically create a shortage so that we can revere them as a rarity like truffles instead of picking around them in the nut bowl to get to the cashews.

I eschewed my cash by picking nuts with my lunch today. Pra-ram long song with chicken ($5.95):

... might look unappealing, but the over zealous scoop of curry peanut sauce conceals a mound of steamed spinach and tender chicken. The emerald colored broccoli offered an aesthetic relief from the Skippy inspired robe of nuttiness.

I don’t think I’ll repeat this order, but if I did, I would ask them to get a smaller ladle. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, just not great. I have the feeling that you just need to know what to order at this place. Maybe it’s time for me to solicit a recco on my next visit from one of the nice people who work here.

Chao Praya

1553 G S. Novato Blvd.
Novato, CA




Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I was checking out my strip mall
dining options today. I walked by a scary looking Chinese take away, a Karaoke based bar and grill and poked my nose in Norm’s Hof Brau. There is something so primal about seeing huge, chunks of roasted meat.

I was drawn to the heat lamp illuminated prime rib in this cafeteria style, chandeliered, establishment.

I asked the guy manning the meat “Do you make sandwiches with this?”

The dude in line behind me chimed in, “get the French dip with horseradish.”

Which I did. This Prime Rib Sandwich ($10.25):

... was carved into manageable bits, placed on a crusty French roll:

... and served with a pickle slice and bowl of jus for dipping.

Simple, meaty, satisfying.

This place does it old style. They have meat and potatoes and Thanksgiving food everyday. There are daily specials like corned beef and cabbage as well as nostalgic sandwiches like their Monte Cristo.

Everyone’s very friendly and the line moves along at a peppy speed. It’s not destination dining, just a good, meaty steam table with everything you would expect.

Norm’s Roast Haus Hof Brau
1545 South Novato Blvd.
Novato, CA




Monday, February 13, 2006


Henry’s Hunan:

... is not the place to go if you are on Atkins. You must eat rice with the food that is served here, if you don’t the seasoning will seem off balance (like having straight vegemite as a snack…well maybe not that bad, but you won’t get the full effect.) The smoky, salty and hot flavors won’t work their alchemy on the white, steamy flavor delivery system that is an integral part of the Hunan experience.

Lunch today started with a bowl of their hot and sour soup (free with the meal):

It had that cornstarch-thickened texture that I’m not crazy about but a bit of non-astronaut tang pepped it up.

Vegetarian egg rolls ($3.25) were crisp, small and not too greasy. The accompanying sweet and sour sauce wasn’t enough to elevate these to re-orderable.

Beef with string beans ($8.25):

Tender, thinly sliced beef had a quick moment in the wok with the crisp green beans. Red chili and garlic brought together this flavorful, satisfying dish.

Marty’s Special ($8.25):

Smoked ham, chicken, green peppers, onions, carrots, bamboo shoots in a black bean sauce. I liked the smoky and salty influences that the ham and overall sodium level had on the rice.

The service is quick and friendly. Good for deadline lunch hours. Not destination food, just handy in-the-‘nabe chow.

Henry’s Hunan
1016 Bryant Street
San Francisco, CA




Sunday, February 12, 2006

A good place to stop before catching a movie at the Emery Bay Theater is directly across the street, the Teacake Bake Shop.

Chai latte white chocolate cookie (A) ($2.00):

I should have known better than to have ordered this. It sounded interesting, but, to be fair, I am not a fan of white chocolate, and this was sweeter than I would have liked. I will give this moist, chai flavored concoction a pass next time. Lemon pout cookie (B) ($2.00) is topped with coarse grains of sugar that give a nice crunch to these citrusy treats. These put a lemony smile of my face.

Chocolate sour cream cupcake (A) ($3.00) was my favorite:

This light textured, moist little cake had a tender crumb and good chocolate flavor. The chocolate frosting completed the effect to create a delicious, juvenile comfort food that any adult would also love. Ginger lemon cupcake (B) ($3.00) had a good ginger flavor and was pretty tasty, but there was no competing with that chocolate sour cream cupcake. Brownie bite (C) ($1.00) is a bargain not to be missed. These are little, moist, chocolaty, dense and delicious brownie experiences. The tops have that wonderful, crackly paper thin layer that yields to a rich interior. Fantastic.

Devil’s food cupcakie ($3.00):

... topped with dulce de leche frosting is not the thing to order when you can get the cupcake instead. The cupcakie is like a muffin top, it’s denser than the cupcake, but doesn’t own its denseness in the sumptuous way that the brownie does. It just hovers in a chocolate limbo between the land of chocolate sin (the brownie) and chocolate heaven (the lightness of the cupcake.) Its frustratingly non-committal texture doesn’t work for me.

Overall, I like this place (even though there are some items that aren’t my thing,) The counter people are very nice:

... and extremely patient with the crowds of people who want to mack on some cupcakes.

They serve Mr. Espresso coffee ($1.50) which you can take outside to one of the benches to wash down your snack.


Teacake Bake Shop
5615 Bay Street
Emeryville, CA




Saturday, February 11, 2006

We celebrated D and J’s birthdays over a tasty meal.

Butter was involved.

Tonight’s French Laundry list:


Salmon tartare in sesame cornets with crème fraiche

Dried Coco bean soup over fava beans and meyer lemon

Mitake mushroom soup over waterchestnuts

Cauliflower panna cotta with sevruga caviar

Sabayon of pearl tapioca with oyster and sevruga caviar

Fish crudo with white gazpacho

Shrimp with Haas avocado and sliced kumquats

“Thomas' English muffin” with poached hen egg and perigord truffle coin

Egg custard with black truffle veal stock and potato chive chip

Globe artichokes with picadillo peppers and arugula flowers

Hearts of palm and orange salad with mizuna lettuce

Pave of Nova Scotia tuna with eggplant and brocollini

Sautéed Hake over goulash

Butter poached lobster tail with beets, leeks and pommes Maxine

Butter poached lobster tail with carrots and peashoots

Herb roasted foie gras over toasted banana bread with ver jus and celery

To accompany the foie gras and beef was a sodium selection:

...that included fleur de sel, sel gris, Montana Jurassic salt, Hokkaido and volcanic salts.

Coulette de Boeuf from Snake River with chantrelles, veal jus, romaine and pain perdu

Pleasant Ridge reserve cheese over French Laundry trail mix

Tomme de Pariage with fig Newton and radicchio

Chocolate sorbet with hot chocolate, crème chantilly and Tahitian vanilla marshmallows

Rhubarb sorbet over rhubarb gelee with Jamaican cake

Coffee semi-freddo with hot cinnamon-sugar coated donuts

Mandarin baba with chocolate sauce, Mandarin sorbet, Mandarin orange sections and kumquat slices.

Baked chocolate mousse with dried cherries, crème fraiche sorbet and a sugar tuille (formed over a chef jacket button to make a hole in the center)

Tahitian vanilla crème brulee

Strawberry panna cotta

Candied macadamia nuts coated in chocolate



And a pack of shortbread cookies in case we got hungry on the ride home…






Friday, February 10, 2006

Evil of Axis:

On my first visit to the Axis Café I got the braised pork wrap ($7.95):

... the scant portions of apple slaw and mango bbq sauce combined with the pig were flavorful and juicy, but the dry, brittle, lavash detracted from what should have been a better meaty roll up. I vowed to order the more enticing sounding Reuben on my next visit (which was today.)

Sadly, the “New York style” Reuben ($6.45):

... was a travesty. When it was delivered to the table, my dining companion exclaimed, “Now that’s a skinny Reuben” The thickness of the grilled bread exceeded that of the filling. A 2 bit sized coin of sauerkraut with the war ration of fatty pastrami had so little dressing that it resembled Paris Hilton skinny dipping after dermabrasion.

What I do like about Axis is their spacious patio:

It’s a great place to sit out on an unseasonably warm, February, San Francisco afternoon…maybe they aren’t totally evil after all…

Axis Café
1201 8th St
San Francisco, CA





Thursday, February 9, 2006

I went to check out a place called North Bay Pizza and Pasta because I heard their Guatemalan food was extraordinary. Sadly, they have been replaced by another pizzeria and when I walked in and asked about Central American dishes, they looked at me like I was insane. I slinked out the door and noticed a Thai place in this generic strip mall.

Attracted by the late-in-the-season Christmas decorations, I couldn't resist heading inside to see what the Chao was like.

I ordered the spicy duck ($6.95):

... and was pleasantly surprised with the fragrant, red curry dish that migrated to my table. Thick slices of slightly fatty duck, peppers, pineapple, onions and basil were bound together with the red curry sauce. I worried that the pineapple chunks would overload the scale on the sweet side, but the fruit complemented the dish in a non-cloying way. The steamed spinach and cabbage added a nice texture as well as that satisfying feeling you get when you eat from the correct segment of the food pyramid (I’ve had more of a food rhombus lately.)

Chao Praya
1553 G S. Novato Blvd.
Novato, CA

The anxiously awaited Berkeley Food hall at 1509 Shattuck Avenue is still under construction. I peeked in through the “No Trespassing” door to take this shot:

My friend D told me that the reason why this place (that was supposed to open it’s upscale food court doors in 2005) is still struggling to pull it together is due to the fact that each vendor hired their own different contractor – how crazy is that? I get that people want their individual needs and style catered to, but it must be like having a dozen divas in charge of one trendy party.






Wednesday, February 8, 2006


A brief visit to Thong:

In the past, I hadn’t scrutinized the illuminated board over the Thai fast food stand in the Northgate Mall food court.

I had just walked up and got what looked good from the steam table:

... incorrectly assuming that all the options were laid out before me. I had missed something very important. There is a kitchen in back that cooks dishes to order and their house specials are not posted, you have to request a paper menu that is tucked away behind the counter.

There is also a long list of publicly posted, cooked to order dishes from which I ordered the Kaw Naped ($6.50):

... which consisted of thinly sliced, fatty (but good) duck breast. This isn’t a crispy skinned preparation, it was roasted with a bit of honey and served with two sauces, one soy sauce based, the other sweet with a hint of pepper. A little mound of plain steamed spinach filled out the Styrofoam plate.

The Todmun ($6.00):

... were fried, curried fish cakes with a tofu like texture studded with bits of green onions. They were a bit greasy and didn’t have a crispy component to them (not that they were meant to, they just weren’t my thing.)

From the cold selections, I chose the Salad Nga ($5.00):

... which was refreshing and healthy to boot. The chilled, steamed spinach, shredded carrots and bean sprouts were tossed with a light vinegar dressing and topped with a shower of sesame seeds. I would order this again.

From the special menu (that isn’t posted) I got the Pork Larb ($6.50):

... which was the star of the meal. The pork wasn’t ground, (like I have had it in this preparation at other restaurants) it’s chopped. I liked this cilantro and lime dressed, green onion and lettuce combo. It was mighty tasty.

I am going to try some of the other enticing items on the special menu next visit. The garlic pepper pork, grilled calamari and bean noodle salad with lime dressing sound particularly appealing.

Jhan Thong
5835 Northgate Mall
San Rafael, CA




Tuesday, February 7, 2006


I finally made it for the famous (Tuesday only) cheeseburger ($5.50):

... at Rosamunde’s. After all the hype I was a bit skeptical, but it actually lived up to it’s beefy reputation.

The juicy, (but not greasy) coarsely ground meat patty was cooked to a perfect medium rare (although my cooking preference was not requested at the time of ordering.) It nestled in an onion roll that had a texture that held up to the mustard, ketchup and juices but acquiesced when bitten.

This is a cheeseburger only venue and cheddar is the only option. Thick cut, sautéed, onions, tomato and lettuce create a tasty balance to this burger that skyrockets to number one on the burger holy grail.

The absence of a queue at the counter did not mean that there wasn’t a wait. After ordering, we went to Toronado (the bar next door):

... and found a packed roomful of carnivores in the same burger boat. On days like this, Toronado’s beer sales must be like having the water concession in the Sahara. Once they called out my name, I doubled back to grab my lunch. They don’t make fries (but you can get a bag of chips if you need a spud fix.)

Creating an artificial premium by having Tuesday only availability is working for them but I wish they would break down and have these on the grill everyday.

Rosamunde Sausage Grill
545 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA



Monday, February 6, 2006

The Qi was flowing:

In Asian culture, there are those who believe that the blockage of qi causes an imbalance or deficiency. In Alameda culture, there was no such disruption as the qi was flowing freely this evening.

We oriented ourselves at the Hangar One Qi launch party. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is a lapsang souschong tea liqueur:

... that is wonderfully aromatic with a spicy, honey nose which goes down with an unexpectedly smoothness.

The busy bartenders:

... were mixing up a variety of cocktails at the main tasting bar. Amy had a “smoking gun” made with their St. George Whisky.

They also set up a tea oriented bar in the warehouse area next to the still:

... (no, that’s not Satan, it’s Lance Winters of St. George Spirits.)

The local food blogging community was well represented by Sam and Fred, Fatemeh and C, as well as the reporter behind the grub report. We also chatted with Michael from San Francisco Magazine who we met in Telluride last year. Small world.

Asian inspired appetizers:


... acted as alcohol inhibitors at this fun gathering in Alameda

On our way out, we picked up a bottle and were pleasantly surprised that it’s a wallet friendly $39.00.

If you haven’t been to the Hangar One tasting room, it’s required drinking for natives and visitors. Their aqua perfectas, vodkas and whisky are popular with the bunrabs. Check out Chubby’s visit that he made last year.







Sunday, February 5, 2006

I remember when coming to Greens on a weekend without rezzies meant a looonnnng wait staring at redwood burl, but this doesn’t seem to be the rule nowadays. Has this vegetarian thing has played out or there are just more options for the anti “food with a face” crowd?

The portobello sandwich ($12.00):

... was good but not great. The sharp, melted cheddar fought with the fungus flavor (and won.) The poblano chilies, grilled onions, house made mayonnaise and rocket added interest but not enough for me to order this again.

I did like the accompanying fingerling potato salad with roasted red peppers, cilantro and shallot vinaigrette. It had a nice balance of tang to starch.

Tofu and veggie brochettes ($12.50):

... were grilled over mesquite. The marinated tofu, mushrooms, bell peppers, yellowfin potatoes, onions and fennel were “eh.” They were all high quality ingredients, but not pushed to their full flavor potential. However, the cherry tomatoes and yams gave the rest of the dish a nice (although brief) boost. Another dose of the stone ground mustard vinaigrette might have kept these kabobs from verging on dull.
The side of brown rice with wild rice had a good al dente texture to the grassy grain.

There’s a lot to like about Greens. It has a wonderful, sunny dining room overlooking the marina, the service is friendly and efficient and the ingredients are fresh and high quality. The thought that I stumble across whenever I eat here is that the food feels like the criteria is vegetarian first, tastiness second. To be fair, it IS a vegetarian restaurant, but there are others that don’t seem like they sub out the meat with tofu, mushrooms or eggplant and just focus on making something delicious that happens to be meatless. Ideally, flavor should be the trump card. And speaking of cards…

My friend D had a poker game during which I discovered his new hobby. He now roasts his own coffee beans:

Is this going to be 2006’s answer to the bread machine? Will the personal coffee roaster replace the chocolate fountain as the culinary trend of the moment? The upside is that these little machines do the job quick (about 15 minutes.) D doesn’t have his in the kitchen because it permeates the room with such a strong coffee aroma which he finds distracting. I understand that the fan (which helps to circulate the beans for an even roasting) makes a bit of noise too. I’m a bit dubious about single purpose kitchen machines. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s nice when things are home made, I’m just wondering how they are going to design next year’s kitchen counters with enough room for a chocolate tempering machine, sorbet maker, raclette melter and chicken egg hatchery.

Chubby has been away from the nest hatching a new review. Check out what he has to say about Winterland.


Building A
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA




Saturday, February 4, 2006

Bacar Day:

Bacar can be hit or miss. Luckily, tonight we caught it at it’s best. I got the diver scallops ($17.00):

... which were seared and presented on a cloud of cauliflower puree with slivers of fried garlic.

The rack of lamb ($31.00):

... was cooked to a perfect rare and served atop sautéed broccoli, brussels sprouts, turnips and carrots. This Australian sheep was bone gnawingly flavorful.

Hot apple cobbler ($9.00):

... was drizzled with a bourbon accented crème anglaise which gilded this homey, granny smith filled, crispy-topped dessert.

But most importantly, it was a fun evening celebrating R’s “29th” birthday:

... with great people and lively conversation.

448 Brannan St.
San Francisco, CA




Friday, February 3, 2006

Where to go when you’re near SFO and hungry.

Koi Palace was hopping at 2 o’clock on a weekday. I went to the podium, got my number and had time to visit with all the critters in the waiting area tanks.

15 minutes later I was seated in the main dining room. There were so few carts and trays going by that I did what it appeared everyone else was doing and I ordered from the menu.

My chrysanthemum tea ($1.00) was kept warm on an elevated, metal stand. This was just the thing to take the chill off on a grey day.

The person at the table next to me laughed as I ate my chicken feet ($2.50):

... because I lack the agility to do so with a dignified, I-do-this-all-the-time, casual aire. As claws go, these were some of the better ones that I’ve had, but I can’t say that these cartilagey motivators make a better substitute for the foot I usually put in my mouth (although the black bean sauce had a nice hint of heat that my feet usually don’t.)

The Turnip shreds cake ($3.20):

... wasn’t the gelatinous square of turnip I expected (I think that I meant to order the “turnip soft cake.” ) What I got was an empanada-ish turnover filled with crisp ribbons of turnip. These had a heavy, fat laden pastry that deadened the root vegetable component of this dim sum.

Bee’s nest taro puff ($3.20):

... was perfectly deep fried to a greaseless, lacy, golden brown. I’ve always loved the light and heavy contrast of this dish. There is the frilly, crisp, delicate outside that collapses into the thick taro middle.

Spinach and shrimp dumpling ($3.20):

... have translucent wrappers around fat little steamed green and pink centers. I like the sticky outside and the dense middle. Very tasty.

I wish I spoke Chinese so that I could ask for advice and descriptions in this mostly first generation crowd. This place has a brisk energy and they turn the tables quickly and efficiently.

They have a display of politically incorrect (and expensive) shark fins:

... but it’s more fun to watch the live seafood waiting:

...for their impending (yet delicious) doom.

Koi Palace
Serramonte Plaza
365 Gellert Blvd.
Daly City, CA





Thursday, February 2, 2006

The Bunrab server was down most of yesterday. But we are now back with a vengeance.
Yesterday I revisited Rosamunde’s and got two wild boar sausages in one bun. It wasn’t boaring or particularly wild tasting, just good.

On the other side of the bay, in Berkeley, I got a chance to check out the prix fixe meal at Bendean.
Ben’s Supper
($13.00) is either the latest lunch in the world or an early dinner. In any case, it’s a three course meal served from 5-6 p.m. everyday and throughout the dinner service on Sunday and Monday.

They change the menu occasionally and the lady at a neighboring table was whinging that there was no meat in today’s entrée (uh, I guess the answer to that would be to order off the a la carte menu.)
I was off to a good start:

... with the appetizer of three baguette croutons topped with cold, chopped chicken liver, a dab of whole grain mustard and a mound of pickled onions. The richness of the liver, the crunch of the toasts, and the vinegary bite of the onions were simple and delish.

For the entrée, a soupbowl with a triangle of polenta:

... that was crisped on a griddle and ladled with a crimimi mushroom and leek gravy arrived. The thyme infused sauce was flavored with garlic slices that make me think of that cooking scene in Goodfellas, (you know, when they use a razorblade to slice the garlic paper thin?) This was far from prison fare, it actually wasn’t “restauranty” either, just a homey, comfort food kind of dinner.

I was worried when my fork met with resistance on the Meyer lemon poppy seed cake:

... but it didn’t taste dry or tough, it was a dense pound cake with a nice citrus flavor and aroma. The opiate seeds created a nice texture against the dense cake and crème chantilly.

They use Equator coffee here. I have noticed that this coffee is also being served at the Slow Club and Simmer Restaurants. It’s from a local, fair trade, importer and roaster and I really like their joe.

The people who work at Bendean are warm and welcoming. It’s a small place with bare wood chairs and benches. It’s not uber-casual, but it’s not a table cloth place either, it’s a neighborhood dinner spot with nice people and good chow. At thirteen bucks it’s pretty affordable too.

1647 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, CA


From today’s bunrab emailbag:


I love, love, love your blog! It's clever, witty, and all about my favorite thing in the whole wide world -- yummy, yummy food! Reading some of your North Bay reviews has inspired me to pay the $5 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge to try some of your favorite haunts. Keep up the great work!

P.S. I have sworn never to eat rabbit ever again (the one time I did, I swear I was tricked into it).


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Arma,

Swearing off the eating of bunrabs makes your stock soar at our little cyber-hutch.

Thanks for the words of encouragement.





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