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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.



Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The sun finally made an appearance today so I decided to go to a place where I could enjoy it during my lunch. I chose one of Chubby’s Sausalito reccos. Fish.

Chrysanthemum Greens top this tuna fish sandwich ($13.00):

... with capers, onions, celery and nicoise olives. The locally line caught, poached albacore was accented by lemon mayonnaise in this generously sized sandwich. The torpedo roll looks like it could be crusty (it is heated but not crisped.) This soft, warm roll works okay in this preparation (although generally, I’m a big fan of crusty bread.) To satisfy my need for crispy bits, crunch was supplied by the mountain of fries. I neglected to request mine “extra crispy” but was happy to receive these crisp on the outside, soft on the inside shoestrings.

Thirteen bucks for a tuna sandwich sounds like you are paying for the Sausalito view and not the chow, but in this case, you see the money on the plate and you get to gaze out at the marina as a bonus.

One drawback in this self serve restaurant with premium (expensive) ingredients is that it’s cash only, which may require some planning as some of the entrees listed on the specials board top twenty bucks.

350 Harbor Drive
Sausalito, CA




Monday, January 30, 2006

Going with the grain:

It was late, our stomachs were grumbling, we were on San Pablo Avenue. We worried that we were too late to grab a bite, but we were fed by the nice folks at this aquatically themed restaurant.

At Sea Salt the BLT ($12.50):

... is bacon, lettuce and trout sandwiched in baguette with oven dried tomato, rocket and tartar sauce. It was tasty served with a red cabbage slaw, house made pickles and a tangily dressed, mizuna salad, I just wished the bacon was crispier for textural contrast with the other ingredients.

Fish and chips ($16.00):

... was mighty good. Strips of cod were battered and fried until crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. The chips were nicely prepared with crunchy exteriors and soft, starchy centers. The tangy house made tartar sauce and some good shakes from the malt vinegar bottle made for one tasty meal.

This place is run by the folks behind T-Rex and Fonda. It used to be the Brick House restaurant which I miss for it’s cornmeal pancakes, but hey, Bette’s and Meal ticket aren’t too far away.



Sea Salt
2512 San Pablo Ave.
Berkeley, CA






Sunday, January 29, 2006

Chubby recovered from yesterday’s overzindulgance and was ready for some fortification. We headed out to San Anselmo (which is mostly back to business as usual after all the muddy flooding.) It had been a long time since our last visit to Insalata’s when it was more difficult to get a table. We breezed in today to a nearly empty restaurant.

I requested my grilled lamb khubs zatar ($13.95):

... rare and these seared, sumac, thyme and sesame seed coated kabobs arrived on a tasty house made flatbread scattered with cherry tomatoes, peeled and seeded cucumber and onions. I made little burritos of the ingredients with torn off pieces of the tender flatbread binding the chewy, flavorful, red, lamb, firm chunks of cucumber, acidic bits of tomato and crunchy slivers of onion. Not bad.

The Huevos Rancheros ($10.95):

... were good as well. The house made refried black beans were soupier than expected, but still good. Perfectly poached eggs floated on top of a tomato salsa, cumin yogurt, sliced, ripe avocado and two crisply fried corn tortillas concealed under the black bean lava.

It’s funny, but when restaurants are busy, things seem to work better. Everyone is on their toes and alert. When it’s a slower day, it’s easy to walk away from your station or let your guard down. I got the sense that we wouldn’t have waited quite as long during a rush as we did during this lull.

Minor service issues aside, this was a good meal and I want to come back soon to check out their White Mountain Ranch burger.

“Insalata’s” is an anagram for “assailant” which is a person who attacks. I think that this accurately describes my approach to a plate of food in this eatery.

120 Sir Francis Drake
San Anselmo, CA

Sam from Becks and Posh writes about my Bambi shank earlier in the week:


I thought you were going to say you were glad the venison wasn't so deer!


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sam,

I’m just glad that the doe I paid for lunch wasn’t as many bucks as it would have been for dinner.





Saturday, January 28, 2006


The rain didn’t keep the crowds from Fort Mason Center today.

The 2006 Zinfandel Festival was jammed with zinthusiasts.

The first half of the winery alphabet was housed in the Herbst pavilion, the second, next door at the Festival pavilion. Once you had a band on your wrist, you could hop from one to the other with your ZAP (Zinfandel Associates and Producers) wineglass:

... red plastic tumbler (for spitting), midget baguette and bottle of water.

How can any California wine lover:

... resist the opportunity to taste a multitude of 2000-2004 Zins as well as barrel samples? I enjoyed the Chase Family 2003 Reserve from St. Helena which was nicely balanced with peppery notes and a licorice finish, the medium bodied, Gnarly Head 2004 Zin:

... is a good California vin ordinaire, priced at a Hamilton, and the lighter 2003 D-Cubed Howell Mountain was a friendly, gentle wine.

Chubby didn’t pay much attention to what he was drinking:

... but he decided to stop when his teeth looked like they disappeared. He asked the guys pouring out the emptying buckets:

... if they were rebottling it as two buck Chuck. They looked at him and walked away. Enough said.

I appreciate the democratic arrangement of the wineries:

... and that it’s about the wine, not the flashy Vegas style presentations. There are no mascot bottles of wine posing with the kiddies (there aren’t even any kiddies.)

A few things caught me by surprise:

The number of attendees who wore fragrances. There were so many people in close proximity that there was a point where a mistook the vanilla perfume emanating from one lady (with more scents than sense) as aromatic note from my glass.

How physically fit the crowd was. This group was not in conformity with the national average in their body mass index. I’m not saying that this was a Los Angeles spray-on-tanned, plastic surgery crowd, they just looked healthy (hmmm….could it be the wine?)

Most people were drinking and not spitting. The organizers posted phone numbers of taxi companies on the door and had plenty of bread and cheese to create a blood/brain sandbag levee.

There was a subliminal tiding in the water that I found unsettling:

Trinity”…as in “holy” as in “holy water.”

Are they pushing a new religion based on this varietal festival? Should we enter the registration booth chanting, “forgive me father for I have zinned?”

Are the espaliered vines really crosses? Are the baguettes they give to every attendee really the body of Christ??? Did I just unknowingly attend a cult meeting???

Chubby told me that I am sounding paranoid and Zinfandel itself IS a cult.

Judging by the number of people at Fort Mason today, I think he’s right.





Friday, January 27, 2006


Bambified Bucco

Just off the freeway in Novato, perched over the 101 next to a chain motel is probably not a logical place to search for yummy chow, but I had heard good rumblings about this place from some locals.

My venison shank ($12.00):

... arrived with a onion ring toupee covering what was listed on the menu as “slow roasted” meat. Sadly, it wasn’t cooked to the point of tenderness and it’s reheating didn’t get it to that bell ringing surrender-to-the-touch-of-your-fork that activates Pavlovian responses. The bed of roasted leek enriched mashed potatoes was reheated until warm, but not hot, but the o-rings were freshly made. I did detect a glimmer of inspiration in the dried cherry chutney that acted as a tangy, acidic counterpoint to the richness of the dish (although I wouldn’t order it again.)

A common practice is to charge less for the same preparation at lunch than at dinner. In the evening this is $16.95, so I’m glad I came in when the venison wasn’t so dear.

The service was brisk and efficient. This was true of the hostess too. The vibe wasn’t very welcoming and friendly, but not hostile either.

I may come back to see if my luck gets any better with their Angus chuck burger.

Wildfox Restaurant
225 Alameda del Prado
Novato, CA




Thursday, January 26, 2006


Dolphin Safe

With a name like Flipper’s, I expected a politically incorrect tuna fish sandwich restaurant, instead, it was gussied up burgers.

My cheeseburger “The Big Flipper” ($8.75):

... with Swiss and Cheddar came with tomato, a thick slice of red onion and lettuce. It was good, not great. The sesame seed bun wasn’t robust enough to hold up to the meaty juices and the patty was generic tasting. It needed either more fat or some herbs to give it that extra boost.

A salad that comes with the meal was a poorly thought out pile of lettuce with some watery blue cheese dressing. I really don’t think that they should bother themselves. I personally don’t expect a salad to come before a burger as a separate course any more than I expect a finger bowl afterwards.

The O rings ($1.50 extra with the burger) were on the greasy side. They had too much coating and did not worship at the alter of the crispy god. These circles were not to be mistaken for halos, but resembled zeros. Next time I will order the curly fries which are crisp spiral stairways to heaven.

I apologize for the divine references, I can’t help it since In N Out has cemented my connection between burgers and religion.

It was busy, but we were seated relatively quickly and the waitress was friendly and attentive.
Not worth a special trip, but next time I’m in the ‘nabe I’ll lay down another two fins.


482 Hayes St.
San Francisco, CA

From today’s bunrab email:

Dear Gutenberg,

Looks like you're hanging around Novato. Not many good eats in our town (as you can tell) but there are a few places my family and I like. (Warning, we have 2 small kids, so part of the reason we like some of these places is the fast service, not necessarily a bunrab requirement.) Tommy's Salsa - across from the Post Office. We like their burritos - husband always gets super burrito with chicken, and adds guacamole/sour cream. Kids love amigo burritos. Service is always very friendly (you order at counter; they'll bring food to you if you eat in). Henry's - In the Square parking lot, near Bell Market and Longs. Good burgers and shakes, but I really like the fish and chips. Thick and moist pieces of fish. My mother in law appreciates that she can order only one piece. Stars - at corner of Novato Boulevard and Tamalpais. Nicer than Denny's, I guess it's our version of Applebee's or Marie Callendar's. Wait staff is usually really nice and friendly, and they always put us in a table in the back (with all the other noisy families). Husband really likes the big salads, kids have great menu choices and lots of coloring pages. Hard to find parking sometimes. Hope you find something to like at one of these places.



Gutenberg replies:

Dear Cindy,

Thanks for the Novato info. It looks like I will be having some more lunches in that neck of the woods and it’s good to have some insider tips.






Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Pork with eggplant lunch ($4.50):

... came with a cup of egg drop soup:

... that contained celery, cabbage, fungus, and ribbons of egg. It was better than the one at China House, but not by much. The entrée consisted of thin strips of pork hidden among large, soft, strips of peppery eggplant. It had a nice heat to it, but the eggplant was tired and lacking in flavor while most of the piggy stayed home and didn’t make it onto the plate (but for this price, what do I expect?) The deep fried wonton skins drizzled with a sweet, blood red sauce weren’t my thing. It’s hard to go wrong with something deep fried, but they overcame the odds. It was like a vegetarian imitation fried pork rind substitute.

The thing that I really liked about this place is that they had a real fortune cookie. It contained a strip of paper:

...without random numbers or statements of fact. It was actually a fortune. I haven’t gotten one of these in years. The cookie wasn’t even stale.

Aside from the cookie, I don’t think I’ll have a yen for the food, which wasn’t minging, just okay.

Ming Yen
1628 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA




Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I took a peek
over the counter as I entered Italian Delite:

... and saw two Philly Cheese Steaks sizzling on the griddle. There were a bunch of locals sitting around with their PCS subs and I decided to get one too.

The guy behind the counter (I’m guessing it was the owner) took my order and asked if I wanted everything including hot sauce. He gave an extra shake of it when I enthusiastically took him up on his offer.

I went with the half Philly Cheese Steak ($4.45):

... since the whole version ($8.20) looked like enough for two Vikings.

I have to admit that I went in with low expectations, but my sandwich wasn’t bad. I liked the plentiful, sliced green peppers, chopped white onions, thinly sliced steak with melty mozzarella all with a generous amount of hot sauce. The roll could have been crustier and there could have been more meat, but for under $5 there really wasn’t much to complain about. It’s not trip worthy, it’s just a tasty sandwich if you’re in the nabe.

Do you like bags of chips?

Then you’ll like this place. It’s a funky, little wax paper lined plastic basket sandwich shop. The service is quick and friendly and nobody is wearing designer anything.

Italian Delite Submarine Sandwiches (East Coast Style)

971 Front St.
Novato, CA




Monday, January 23, 2006

Vikings in Novato?

Little known fact: Novato has a large Viking community.

The census does not accurately reflect their numbers, but walking along Grant Avenue, their presence becomes apparent.

During my research on Novato, I determined that they must do a lot of drinking to warrant an exclusive bar:

It is also clear that they like to surf the internet while they Norse their drinks.

They then get into their foreign cars and bust them up just to show how safe they are. Here’s where they get their replacement parts:

I’ve learned that horned helmets represent ceremonial Viking headgear (not everyday, casual garb) so the best way to spot them is to look for liquored-up, computer savvy, men crashing foreign autos.

There were no Vikings (or anyone else for that matter):

... in China House restaurant when I sat down for lunch. I was slightly concerned that the vacant tables were a herald of back burnered food.

I ordered the Broccoli Shrimp lunch ($4.75):

The cup of egg drop soup was slightly peppery but lacked any other sort of flavorful punch. Just a generic, egg streaked, droppable soup.

I was pleasantly surprised that the broccoli was cooked just right. The emerald florets and formerly frozen prawns were tossed together in a cornstarch bound garlic sauce. A standard issue egg roll and mound of steamed rice filled out the plate.

Would I recco traveling to order this dish? No. But I was happy to eat it as long as I found myself under their roof.

The service was quick and friendly (but keep in mind I was the only customer during my whole lunch.)

China House Restaurant
1222 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA

Viking Cocktail Lounge
7377 Redwood Blvd.
Novato, CA

Viking Foreign Auto Parts
1403 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA


Cookie Crumb at had a comment about yesterday’s trip to the Fancy Food Show:

Dear Gutenberg,

Oh mah gah. In one day, *two* references to vanilla salt. Yours, and Ideas In Food (those wacky Colorado flavor-mad scientists). I think it's an idea worth pursuing, and I'm going to -- kids, put on your helmet and goggles -- try this at home. But is it already *over* on the very day I first learned of it? Jeepers.

xx cc

PS: I sorta like the food show, but my aching hips and feet really rebelled last time -- it's huge; plus I got lost inside Moscone Center and couldn't find my way out! Then once I got outside, I walked the wrong direction... Bleagh. Also: Everything is *packaged* at the show. I guess there's no other way.


Gutenberg replies:


Dear Cookie,

What you say is true, the food show is a bit like an ant farm with people playing the roles of the ants lifting ten to twenty times their body weight in food samples. Luckily, the steaks placed around the hall weren’t made by Raid.

Maybe next time you can leave a trail of cookie crumbs as you go (to act as both a personal signature and a mapping device.) Unfortunately, this would mean that you would have to rely on the tidiness of your fellow conventioneers, which may not be practical.

Good luck on your vanilla salt endeavor…how about making a chocolate salt while you’re at it?

Stay salty,






Sunday, January 22, 2006

2006 San Francisco Fancy Food Show:

Following Amy and Sam’s good advice, Chubby and I headed out to Moscone Center today for the Fancy Food Show.

We spent hours sampling, comparing and discovering meats, chocolates, drinks and snacks. It was like an insane person’s tasting menu: a bite of chocolate, some beef tongue, a macaroon, smoked salmon, salt water taffy, hot pepper caramels, prosciutto:

…you get the idea.

It had been years since I’ve been to one of these and it’s interesting to see what trends emerged this year.

Other than the expected olive oils, cheeses, jams, sauces, chocolates, cookies and candies, there was an emphasis on upscale teas:

... drinking chocolates, charcuterie and exotic salts.

There are items like had a more appealing concept than taste (like the caffeinated chocolate chip cookies) and there were items that were just plain delicious like the natural Brandt beef that they were slicing up with just a bit of salt. Yum.

We tried all of the drinking chocolates and we liked Schokinag’s extreme dark version best.

This company also produces professional baking chocolates and I found their white chocolate the least offensive of all I’ve tried so far (I believe that it is the primary responsibility of chocolate to be dark.)

Scharffen Berger
couldn’t put their chocolates out fast enough to keep up with the crowd:

Their chocolate coated nibs, ginger, champagne grapes and coffee beans are all good, but the nibs and the coffee trump the others in my book.

Check out this mozzarella machine:

You can now form buffalo curd in your living room (provided that your living room has a drain in the middle of the floor and hoseable walls.) Just fill the two water reservoirs, load in the lactose and a-whey you go (buffalos not included.)

Niman Ranch was cooking up their nitrite free pork sausages. The sweet Italian with fennel seeds gets top marks.

Alcoholic beverages were represented in full force. I loved the sakes that are made in the Miyazaki prefecture which were perfumery and light.

All of the coffees that I sampled were not to my liking, but many of the teas were very nice (although I didn’t care for the ones that added too many froufrou notes like layering caramel on bergamot.)

Most of the displays were nicely put together to showcase the products, but there were a couple that looked:

... like someone was trying to sell the contents of stolen luggage as quickly and discreetly as possible.

Both Chubby and I agreed on our favorite item of the show. The Halen Mon salts:

We sampled salts throughout the convention center, ones that were smoked over every kind of wine barrel wood and infused with everything imaginable, but the ones from Halen Mon didn’t have a harsh attack or chemical feel. Their thin, flakey salts are reminiscent of Maldon’s, but when I mentioned this to the woman who was presenting the salts she paused and mentioned that Maldon was their main competitor.

They make a variety salts including a vanilla version that would be great over lobster or scallops.
The couple running the small booth were the ones who made the salt. They flew from their salt works in Wales to showcase their wares. It’s a family operation and each canister is labeled with the name of the family member responsible for it’s contents, now that’s accountability. I’m going to have to do a side by side taste off with their competitor’s and take the results with more than a grain of salt.






Saturday, January 21, 2006

There is no other building
that expresses a cozy alchemy like a bakery. The warm ovens, the display cases filled with trays of cookies, cakes and tarts, the revolving pie-go-rounds…what’s not to like?

I Mulder’ed it over and decided to go back and try a couple of Skully’s baked goods.

I got a blueberry morning bun and a chocolate chip cookie.

The morning bun:

... was not my thing. I can see how it could have an appeal with it’s spiraled, blueberry dotted, mildly sweet offer of comfort, but I purchased mine later in the a.m. so it didn’t have a hot out of the oven freshness with a slightly crisp outer layer yielding to a soft, steamy interior. It was more like an enriched white bread with a thin, Danish filling spiral. I admit, that the words “morning bun” make me expect the one at Bette’s Oceanview Diner, with it’s crispy, cinnamon sugar coated, flakey layers of buttery goodness so I went in with a major prejudice.

The cookie:

... was only okay. The deal breaker was that they used mini chocolate chips which made for more of a chocolate speck cookie experience. There needs to be a distinct area of chocolate that maintains its integrity in the cookie. It’s the difference between spaghetti with meatballs vs. with meat sauce, both are good, but only one works when you want a meatball punctuation.

My favorite chocolate chip cookie to purchase is the one produced by Sharffen Berger:

The only bad thing about them is that they aren’t completely consistent. They are always good, but to be truly great they have to work out the chocolate distribution within the cookie. Each bite of the cookie must contain chocolate chips or they fail. Its name makes a chocolate pledge that is not honored when you bite into the vacant, yet buttery, cocoa-free desert of dessert.

Half of good cooking is good shopping, the other is an intuitive, put-yourself-in-the-place-of-the-ingester viewpoint. I fundamentally mistrust anyone who doesn’t spread their peanut butter and jam all the way to the edges of the bread. It’s like littering, but in your own mouth. Why would you not direct your attention to the correct balance and distribution of flavors and textures when assembling a tasty snack?

But to be fair, when you are handcrafting, it’s difficult to be robotically accurate, and just I can’t stay mad at these crisp, thin, butter showcasing, victims of chocolate neglect.





Friday, January 20, 2006

Cheers for Novato

It’s neither right or wrong, it’s personal taste, and I really appreciate when a server doesn’t hem and haw when I ask them:

“What is the best tasting dish?”

“The hash or the enchilada”

Enchilada please”

The smoked duck enchilada ($9.25):

... was on the special board. Their heart was in the right place. They were trying to do something different, creative and fun. But the dish didn’t orbit around the duck, it migrated to the land of enchilada, changed course midway towards mango, avocado, onion and cilantro chutney and looped back around to land near a pond of black beans topped with melted cheddar cheese. I applaud their sense of adventure, but it took them beyond the confines of appealing to my particular palate. I liked the fact that the asparagus tucked between the tortillas was crisp tender, but a simpler dish of smoked duck tacos would have felt less like they put a few pot luck dishes together in a bowl (albeit from a good pot luck.)

I think that I should have taken the first suggestion of hash or gotten one of their Reuben sandwiches again.

The thing that I like about Shelley’s is that the people there are so nice and it’s a funky, little place with no attitude. It may not be anywhere near the base camp of the pinnacle of haute cuisine, but it’s friendly and welcoming.

Shelley's Place
819 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA

Got an email about yesterday’s X File from Agent Mick:


I've never had anything but bakery stuff at (the bakery) Skully's, so thanks for your heads-up about the "food". But I think you did yourself a disservice by not trying some of what they're there for, the bakery stuff. Next time start with the morning buns; I love them.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Mick,

I agree that it’s not totally fair to evaluate Skully’s by it’s non-baked goods. I’ll check out their buns to see if they are rab friendly. Thanks for the tip.

Stay terrestrial,





Thursday, January 19, 2006

File under X:

In my short quest to blow the lid off the food cover up in Novato I decided to check out the simple, homey, offerings at Skully’s bakery.

To be fair, it’s a bakery, not a restaurant. The lunch that they serve consists of soup and some egg salad and meatloaf sandwiches that are wrapped in plastic and placed on the counter. (I was assured that these mayo laden items were not sitting out long.)


I ordered a cup of the black eyed pea soup and the meatloaf sandwich ($6.50):

The soup ($3.00), was comforting in a retro cooked-to-death kind of way. The boarders between the bits of carrot blurred into the disintegrating black eyed peas. No herbs, no fancy stuff. Just fuel-for-the-machine type soup.

The meatloaf sandwich had only one thing that was good. They baked the white bread in house (well, it is a bakery) but the super soft meatloaf cried out for some chunks of onions, garlic and zing, to address the lack of textural (and flavor) contrast between the loaf and the loaf. Unfortunately, that lunch scene from Road Warrior came to mind, you know, with the can of Fido food.. I won’t be back for this sandwich until the next Apocalypse.

Skully’s Bakery

1407 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA



Got an comment from the meathenge man about yesterday’s lunch debackle:


Hey, that Palmar soup you had. Don't sweat it. We've got a Del Palmar place over here and they've gone completely down the tubes. Would you think it possible to have a chile verde taco plate, beans & rice & salsa & all completely tasteless? No, I wouldn't. But it was, 4 meals in a row!

Dr. Biggles

Gutenberg replies:

Dear Dr. B.,

You are a generous umpire to give them four strikes before they’re out. Bummer about Palmar being more “marred” than “palled” with their customers.

BTW, if you are in the know about any good Novato eats (other than Boca, Kitchen and Quezada Market) let me know.

Stay meaty,




Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The stomach bone’s connected to the tooth bone:

It was chilly, but it was a weekday and I was pleasantly surprised to see that menudo ($4.99):

... was listed on the regular menu at El Palmar. A few minutes after I placed my order, I was brought a foil packet of hot corn tortillas, my tripe soup and a plate of dried oregano, chopped onion, jalapenos and cilantro to add depth and texture to the tomato based broth. I added my condiments and gave a stir and it sounded weird. Not like organ soup, more like organ keys. “Clunk, clunk, clunk..” Hmmmmm.

Well, I fished out several bones (that were used to enhance the broth, rather than dispose of a body, I hope…) and I heartily tucked in. This wasn’t a good idea. There were little bones too, just a couple, but that was enough to make me proceed with caution. I think that I will only purchase weekend menudo at the places I really like instead of going with the convenience factor.

Sadly the soup itself fell short in what should have been a flavorful, warming bowl, worth the work of inverting it into one of it’s own kind. No bones about it.

El Palmar
1108 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA




Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I paid a visit to Rosamunde Sausage Grill
to have one of their tasty meat tubes.

I ordered my smoked spicy pork Andouille sausage ($4.00):

with grilled onions and peppers (you get your choice of two toppings which also include sauerkraut or beef chili.)

The skin on this rich and delicious wiener had a good snap, the roll was crispy outside but yielding enough to soak up juices without getting wiener-logged. The jalapeños backed up the caliente from the well seasoned, coarsely ground, sausage.

A friendly and knowledgeable sausage master mans the counter who told me that they get their sausages:

... from different suppliers, and that some are made specially for them.

There’s a beer place next door that you can take your meal if it’s too full in this teeny meatery.

Tuesday is their one and only day that they serve up burgers…I should tell Chubby to put this one on the Grail soon…

Rosamunde Sausage Grill
545 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA


From today’s bunrab email:

"Hey Bunrabs,

I'm a little behind on reading your site so I have a few things to respond to.... I agree that the cookies at La Farine are hit or miss. I think the real star behind that counter is the fruit tart - an excellent way to wow any pot luck. Next time Chubby goes to Cafe Colucci he should order the eggplant tibs. It's the best thing on the menu aside from the chickpea. And make sure to bring your own water, the food is spicy and their cups have a nasty soap residue. Those candies at Sketch are indeed fantastic, but have you tried the custom made ice cream cakes? Oh my God, it is a slice of heaven. How on Earth do you go about getting invited to the French Laundry Christmas Party? Talk about an exclusive event! Love the site. Keep those tips coming.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Gregory,

Thanks for the tips. I’ve been wondering about those custom Sketch ice cream cakes since I’ve seen them listed on the sign outside of their shop. I’ll let Chubby know about the eggplant tibs at Colucci (as well as the water.)

I am behind on my fruit tart consumption. Whenever I see the Downtown Bakery and Creamery stand at the Saturday Ferry Building Farmer’s market I remind myself that I have to pick up one of their delicious looking fruit tarts, maybe I should do a taste off with La Farine’s too (but I’ll wait for peach season.)

As far as TFL goes, they have a lot of guilt about rabbits. You see, they are not always so kind to lagomorphs, they actually…, well, we draw the veil…so as a gesture to even out the carnage, they treat us Bunrabs well.

Stay away from the soapy drinking water,





Monday, January 16, 2006

Salt caramels:

I was at Miette listening to a couple of people whine about the cake prices to the people behind the counter. I get irritated when losers deliver unsolicited complaints that a lovingly prepared, high quality pastry is more expensive than their Hostess cupcakes. Okay, complaining person, here's MY opinion: You don’t have to like, or appreciate, or understand those pastries. Just don’t torment the people who are offering to help you when you could just walk away. Vote with your feet. If everyone walks to Ding Dongs instead of lemon tarts, you win. But please don’t bother people who are just doing their jobs.

Besides, when you were whinging, you passed up one of the best deals in the shop.

Check out what you can get for 50¢:

This salt caramel looks so innocent. Its simplicity is deceptive. Just a caramel in a plain wax wrapper. It starts off all creamy and sweet but the salt finish kicks in and your pupils roll back into your sockets.
I showed a high level of discipline by delivering one to Chubby later in the day. He was hopping-up-and-down happy, but I could tell that he was slightly bummed that I didn’t get a full bag of them.

Miette Organic Patisserie
One Ferry Building
Shop #10
San Francisco, CA

Chubby got some email about the Burger Holy Grail:

Sorry to be one of those who doesn't write all the times they love your reviews, but fires one off when they disagree. Anyway, I belatedly read your Burger Holy Grail and was dismayed to find that IN-N-OUT was your top dog of the fast-food burgers. Maybe IN-N-OUT is like Chez Panisse and the French Laundry, you either get it or you don't. I've tried to like IN-N-OUT since I discovered them several years ago but am always left with "where's the beef" in those cooked-to-death wafer-burgers as well as hating their crappy sauce. Just another rotten fast-food burger to me. On the other hand, I find Phyllis’ Giant Burgers just great and of course light years above IN-N-OUT. It does help to be there when the "main guy" is cooking. Don't forget to ask for sautéed onions (they're free) on your burger; that's not on the menu.


Chubby replies:

Dear Mick,

First of all, I’m glad you come to our site and write in with your thoughts (and typo correction that we received from you a week or so ago.)

The great thing about the Burger Holy Grail is that it is a journey of meaty discovery. I have had really good burgers at PGB back in the day, but the last few have missed the mark. I’ll have to check out your onion tip next time I’m there.

I have to agree with you about the INO sauce. That’s why I sub out ketchup and mustard for it.

As far as the patties go, you’re right, they aren’t as fleshy as Phyllis’, but that’s why I get multiples at INO.

I recommend that you check out the Double-Double Protein Style with mustard, ketchup, tomato and onions in the summer. It’s a pretty refreshing, under three buck, fast food experience.

Your pal,






Sunday, January 15, 2006

All Brunched Up:


Simmer planned to open for Brunch beginning in December, but then came a chef change and then the holidays, and now, finally, the doors are open on Sundays from 10-2.

Today was only the second Sunday that they have been serving and word has not yet gotten out. To be fair, they don't have the most marvellous publicity. There's a little yellow card (I put a red circle around it) in the window that announces the new feature:

Roll over the photo and you'll see how I would have posted the news.

There were only a couple other tables filled in this 36 seat restaurant during our leisurely meal.

There are three omelets listed on the menu named “omelet one”, “omelet two” and “omelet three”. Which seemed very Cat in the Hat to me. But this insouciant discovery did not prevent me from selecting the second one.

Omelet Two ($13.25):

... is not green eggs and ham, but blue crab and eggs.

This delicate half moon of tenderly cooked fetal material encased roasted tomatoes, green onions and carefully liberated pieces of perfectly cooked crab meat. The soft texture of this combination made me look to the potatoes and toast for a bit of crispy contrast, but the browned, diced, herb and garlic spuds were yieldingly soft. It isn’t realistic to expect someone to char them to the edge of burnt, the way I prefer, but I’ll request them that way next time and see if my crispy bit craving can be sated.

The toast was made from pain de mie from Acme Bread (it’s a sour variation of the bread that they supply to Café Fanny for their grilled mozzarella.) It was toasted blonde, lightly buttered and served with an apple butter. Although I liked this bread, I craved one of Acme’s more texturally complex breads like their sourdough wheat, levain or baguette for more of a chewy, crisp crusted, melt-the-butter-into-the-yeast-bubble-holes experience. I asked if they might vary the bread choices in the future and it’s something they will think about when they get a little more brunch traffic coming through.

Chubby got the Croque Madame ($12.50):

... which was an adaptation with the eggs (two, not one) cooked over easy and placed inside the sandwich (not on top.) It had more Black Forest ham then the standard issue model (which falsely made it seem like there was too little Swiss cheese.) They may do this as a pre-emptive strike against the “where’s the beef?” (or in this case, ham) crowd. Just a guess.

House made, crisp, Yukon gold potato chips and a nice little salad rounded out this plate.
The brunch menu includes omelets, scrambled eggs, mascarpone stuffed French toast, granola with yogurt, a blue crab cake (which I want to try next time), mac and cheese and a club sandwich. All of the selections are under $15.

They make a nice French press coffee ($2.00 for an infinite serving) and serve a sake based Bloody Mary (no hard liquor license here) as well as champers, mimosas and wine. They are still getting their footing after the changes they have gone through, but I think that once they find their stride, there won't be so many vacant tables on Sundays.

Check out what Chubby had to say about Simmer shortly after they opened.

Simmer Restaurant
60 Corte Madera Ave.
Corte Madera, CA




Saturday, January 14, 2006

E.T. Pho Hoa:

Today’s chilly weather had Pho written all over it. I decided to try somewhere new and walked by some of my favorite Vietnamese soup places to check out Pho Hoa.

I was warned that it was cash only as I sat down at the communal tables for non-plural diners.
My Dac Biet ($6.00):

... was pricier than most other versions in the nabe, probably because it had more slices of steak in it. Sadly, the generosity that was displayed in steak was absent in the tripe department. The flank and tendon were represented, but that stomachy goodness that balances out this concoction was gastricly bypassed.

They serve their pho Southern style but they used lemons rather than limes and they took the seeds out of the thick slices of jalapenos which made for a milder experience.

I made an impulse purchase of Chanh Muoi ($1.99):

... which is described accurately as “salty lemonade.” It would have been better if it were less sweet, but I think the bits of lemon pulp combined with the salty flavor is a good concept.

My lunch was warming and filling but didn’t come close to knocking Turtle Tower (with it’s bright tasting broth and tasty tripe) from the top of my pho list.

  Pho Hoa
431 Jones St.
San Francisco, CA





Friday, January 13, 2006

Whine about Town:

The best thing about ordering Mussels at Chez Maman is hearing them rattle around like rocks in the pan as your lunch is prepared for you. It’s that Pavlovian ring as they are shaken in the skillet which tells you to start salivating.

The mussels mariniere ($13.00):

... arrived in a lovely, light, briny, white wine enhanced, broth dotted with minced garlic and parsley. They were perfectly cooked and I devoured them between bites of baguette dunked into the liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

The salad ($6.00):

... was overdressed for my taste and on the wilty side. It wasn’t interesting enough to divert the direction of my utensils for long.

Chubby got the burger with guacamole ($10.50):

The richness of the avocado mixture masked the meaty goodness of this normally highly ranked burger. He declared that the guac “gilded the lily” and vowed to only order the excellent cheeseburger here from now on.

Just down the street, we noticed that Chez Papa (which is run by the same people as Chez Maman) was jammed and figured out that it was probably due to their participation in Dine about Town. For just a couple bucks more than I paid for my mussels and salad, I could have gotten those very same bivalves, soup or a beet and feta salad plus a dessert of tart tatin or warm chocolate cake. Next time I have to do my homework first.





Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mac’in on some Naan:

MacWorld Expo:

... has everything but the food. It’s probably due to some non-negotiable arrangement with the Moscone Center that there cannot be good chow for this convention. I walked a few blocks down the street to an Indian and Pakistani place called Shan.

“Okra Masala please”

“No okra today”

“what is your favorite dish here then?”

“do you like spicy?”

“yes, very much”

“you’re sure?”


When my achaar gosht ($6.99):

... arrived I braced myself as I took the first bite of tender, cubed lamb, onions, peppers and spices. I would describe it as mild, not hot. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. I ate it all along with some naan ($1.00) which was good, but I prefer naan with thicker areas to provide a chewy/crispy, charred/doughy contrast. I helped myself to a cup of free chai to wash it all down.

You order at the counter at the back, take a plastic number stand and wait for your food to be delivered to your table. The prices all fall under a Hamilton. I’ll definitely be coming back when they get the okra delivered.

Shan planned to open a North Bay outpost, but, sadly, the deal didn’t work out.

474 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA

I got a comment from Steve R. yesterday:

"Dear Gutenberg,

The site, commentary and images are spectacular, kudos. I was very impressed with the "Menus". Someone was trying to explain the Ferry Building in SF to me; the Menu had me wishing I was there.

Off to "The Big Island", Kona area and would appreciate any links or advice on what to see, do and consume.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Steve,

Thanks for the complements. Chubby is particularly pleased that you liked his Metro Menu.

If you like a good pupu platter, you are off to the right place.

Take a look at Fodors’ mini guides

...for an overview and then try to find the more obscure stuff poking around regional blogs like ‘Ono Kine Grindz.

While you’re there, check out the links to other Hawaii based dining info.

Also, keep an open mind about spam sushi. I know it sounds weird, but you've got to go native.






Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Holding Court:

I’ve been to courts more times this month than Courtney Love. The coffee forsaken, food court at the Ontario International Airport:

... doesn’t even have a Starbucks. How can a major hub of transport overlook the need for non-industrial grade coffee? I chalk it up to a lack of civic pride. I went into each of the gift shops and asked if they had t-shirts with “Ontario” printed on them. They only had “California” clothing. Is it an inferiority complex or a lack of branding? I think if a vendor with actual coffee was introduced into their airport, they would wake up and smell the lack of regional spirit.

I tried to select the lesser evil of the food vendors. I passed up Carl’s Jr., dashed by some speedway themed restaurant and ended up at El Paseo which (I think) means “a walk.” Seems like a weird name for a restaurant. Are they suggesting that I keep walking or take a hike? I did not heed their warning and ordered the carne asada burrito ($8.99):

... which contained a high calorie to dollar ratio which would be a desirable quality if I were trying to survive for a week after a major earthquake, but I wish they had focused on the flavor instead. I atttempted to resusitate the stale flour tortilla, the cold, pre-shredded, Kraft cheese and the dull tasting meat with a shower of Tabasco. But this meal flat lined. It served as only fuel for the machine...

...before getting back to the Bay Area.




Tuesday, January 10, 2006

“Quiet everyone! We’re on the martini shot*”

Another late day but everyone who caught the stomach flu is on the upswing (in a non-stomachy way) and it’s a good thing because there was BBQ for dinner:

Whoever ordered this was dialed into just what this tired group needed to feel loved…meat and lots of it:

There was some pseudomeat for the vegetarians too, but there will never be a soy substitute for gnawing ribs:

*the last shot of the day


Sam from Becks and Posh wrote about yesterday’s post:

"good luck you all - I am sure you are going to make it... lots of hot toddies are in order, surely?


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sam,

Craft services didn’t deliver hot toddies, but as a consolation, they rounded up some flat ginger ale and saltines (not the same though, is it?)

Thanks for your good wishes,





Monday, January 9, 2006

48 hour flu bug:

It started with one guy and spread like wildfire.

So far I have dodged this bullet, but many of my colleagues haven't been as fortunate.

But everyone manages to soldier on fueled by Mexican food:

and the knowledge that we are close to the finish line...




Sunday, January 8, 2006

Atkins Schmatkins:

I had a severe craving for baked goods and headed to La Farine.

Their olive roll:

... is fantastic. Kalamata olives punctuate this crusty sentence of a bun. Olive this sour roll.

I checked out their teacake and cookies which were all in the $1 to $1.50 range. They were hit and miss:

The chocolate cookie was like a chocolate adhesive puck. This would make a tasty denture adhesive, but it doesn’t deliver under it’s intended purpose.

The chocolate chip cookie: was crumbly and nutty. I am more of the crisp, buttery, chocolate delivery system school, so this one didn’t have my name on it.

The teacake had a doughy, almond belly, but it’s starfishy arms had a nice balance of crisp edge and cakey relief. I don’t think I’ll get this one again though.

The ginger cookie was all flashy looking with it’s sugar coated exterior. I loved this thin, crisp, gingery disc and will order this one from now on.

The gorgeous breads have always been a big draw here. Fatemeh at Gastronomie is fond of their pain au chocolat.

Way back when Lili (the original owner) opened the place people lined up for her morning buns which they still make to this day, with lots of butter, sugar and cinnamon. If you are in a hurry, you can apply these directly to your thighs.

La Farine
6323 College Ave.
Oakland, CA




Saturday, January 7, 2006

Courting Disaster:

I'm not sure which is more disturbing: the normal bright-orange-fiberglass shopping mall food court like the truly cavernous one that I was in on Monday, or the insanely upscale white-and-chrome and tastefully designed one that I happened upon today at the Century City Shopping Center:

I mean, I fully expect some of the Hot Dog on a Stick aesthetic in a food court, and it's a little unsettling to mix Panda Express :

...with tasteful and modern graphic design. It makes me suspicious that maybe the General Tzao's Chicken won't have the pizzazz that I'm used to in the tackier environments.

This dilemma was too much for me, so I decided to run away as fast and far as I could, and made it all the way to a very nice little bistro-type joint in Silverlake that didn't present me with any disturbing contradictions, just some yummy comfort food:

Truffled Mac and Cheese ($6.00):

... was not exactly light as feather. Denseness aside, it was nice when you got a bite with some fungi in it (it needed a stir to get them evenly distributed.)

French Beans ($6.00):

...had strips of delicious, dense, spicy sausage woven in. The beans were unremarkable on their own, but this chopped chub did all the heavy lifting in the flavor department.

The Short Ribs ($26.00):

...were tender and flavorful. Crispy bits on the outside guarded meat that fell from the bone. The bed of mash had a slightly grainy texture, but the blanket of meat was good tucker.

Blair's is a nice reason to visit Silverlake when one is in L.A.

2903 Rowena Ave.
Los Angeles, CA




Friday, January 6, 2006

Conspicuous consumption:

It is my understanding that Methadone clinics and Starbucks share an architectural commonality. The premise is that, when you enter, there is a similarity (that translates into a familiarity) which automatically places the customer in their comfort zone of addictive consumption.

I like this instructional instruction:

...about the Starbucks instructional tape.

Today's venti process trailer:

... was accompanied by the mandatory Highway Patrol cops:

... who were very nice. I'm not sure, but it seemed like people cleaned up their language and behavior when they were around.





Thursday, January 5, 2006


When you are being fed by others at work, you won't get chicken gizzards, stink beans or lambs' brains. You'll get something that everyone will eat. Today it was rotisserie chicken. No problem there. It just makes you savor the idea of regaining control over your own meal ordering and snack acquisition.

A random bicycle rider:

...and poorly timed leaf blowers:

... punctuated a long day:








Wednesday, January 4, 2006

“Craft services” is a misnomer. It should be called “snacks” instead:

Gas masks would be a good service for crafts people who work around machines that create a smoky atmosphere.

There was a lot of coughing from a bunch of people working near the smoke machine today, the same people who, when we took a break, ran out to light up cigarettes.

I prefer the sweeter vices.

...over the sweet and sour (but just as red) ones...

Chubby has only one vice. Yummy chow. Check out his latest review of Café Colucci, another misnomer, this time in restaurant form.


Speaking of something called the wrong name:

Pei writes:

"Dear Gutenberg,

'Fortune cookie' isn't an anachronism at all; it's a misnomer! Sorry, couldn't let that slip by the English Usage Nazi in me. Just keeping you honest. Keep up the good eats! I'm going to Lahore Karahi tomorrow thanks to you buns. Looking forward, I'm sure.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Pei,

You got me dead to rights, the term that I should have used in yesterday's blog was indeed 'misnomer', but I made up for my mistake by using that word correctly in the first sentence of today's blog. I guess that fortune cookie could be an anachronism, but only if the restaurant in question was, let's say, in ancient Egypt.

Thanks for letting your inner proofreader out for me, I know that it's a temptation that's sometimes hard to resist. I'm glad to see that you're reading closely.




Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Just (don’t) do it:

“Fortune cookie” is an anachronism. They aren’t fortunes at all. They are strips of random statements and losing lottery numbers:

They are also so programmed into our goodie expectation software that it would be unimaginable to conclude a Chinese meal without one. This is why I am shocked that there is not some sort of corporate subsidy of these bits of paper that are never left unread. This is an advertiser’s dream. A micro sized banner that is guaranteed to have the undivided attention of an audience with disposable income. Even people who don’t eat the cookies break them open to read the hidden message. If Nike sent these twisted confections filled with advertisements on one side and fortunes insinuating that dreams will be fulfilled if you wear their shoes on the other, they could prey upon the superstitions and weaknesses of all the culinarily sated while their guard is down and their defenses are at their lowest. They could even shape the paper into their swoosh logo.

I’ve been to Feng Nian a few times before and it’s always been good but not great. I guess I keep coming because there really aren’t any great Chinese restaurants that I know of in Marin. Jennie Low’s is serviceable and others I have tried are eh.

The bad weather drove me to order some Wok Wonton Soup ($6.50):

The pasta on the wontons was slightly undercooked but okay, the prawns however were lightly cooked and there was a nice bunch of baby spinach leaves thrown in a the last minute to preserve their fresh flavor. The broth that was described on the menu as “rich” but appeared in the bowl as watery was still warming on this rainy day.

Garlic sauce broccoli ($8.50):

... was something that I ordered out of nutritional guilt (always a bad idea.) The florettes were nicely cooked to a crisp-tender but the sauce had a sweet quality that didn’t appeal to me.

The spicy orange peel lamb ($10.95):

...didn’t live up to the “spicy” title. These sticky, deep fried strips of lamb mingled with dried, imported orange rinds and a couple of dried red chilies. This would have been better with more crispy fried bits and more heat.

Feng Nian is one of those upscale Chinese restaurants that doesn’t have Christmas decorations up all year. The hand of an interior decorator is detectable. For some reason, I prefer the less polished looking establishments in which to eat my Hunan, Mandarin or Szechwan food. I know it doesn’t make much sense to gravitate towards the less serene Chinese restaurant atmosphere, but, hey, you can’t pick what you like.

Feng Nian
2650 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA


Chubby got a heart-warming comment today from a
"market maven in Florence, Italy"

Judy writes:

"LOVE your site.. I am addicted to markets anywhere in the world. Moved to Florence from San Francisco... and found your site through Amy's! Love the market menu! I am in the process of making a gourmet walking tour of Florence map. I have a Florence dining guide online since 1998.. and loved your version! Very fun! Will follow the Chubby when I am back in the City in March!


Chubby replies:

Dear Judy,

Gosh, I don't know what to say, except now I really want to hop over to Florence and eat my way through town! Hmmm... Metro-Menu Firenze! Thanks for all the kind words!

Your Pal,







Monday, January 2, 2006

Lots of holiday weary travelers waiting on delayed flights:

Rainy hubs have dominoed the effect and ticketing agents have asked that nobody ask any questions while they get things sorted. What are they planning on sorting? The weather?

Oakland airport is the worst
food airport. Once you get through security you can get a “gourmet” burrito or some other mangled food item. They serve Peet's coffee and Niman Ranch meat at their canteen, but they brew the coffee all wrong and they run the meat through the deflavorizer a few times for good measure. The insult is then compounded when it's time to pay.

After landing in a strange land, I made like the Dawn of the Dead zombies and headed for the beacon of the mall. I have now had a Kenny Roger's meal and am fully aware that I should have known when to walk away and known when to run. I got this 1⁄4 dark meat chicken plate ($6.29):

... which comes with a steam tabled corn muffin and two sides. I chose the frozen spinach and the cauliflower, carrot and broccoli atrocity. I really shouldn't complain, I mean, it's a food court in a mall:

I can't wait for the new Berkeley food hall at 1509 Shattuck Avenue to open (within the next few months.) I'm curious about the soup (or “Soop” as they are spelling it) place and the new Socca that the Gregoire people plan to open.

Maybe Kenny will step up his efforts to secure a stand there.




Sunday, January 1, 2006

Acts of sweetness and desperation:

First the desperation:

I blame the holidays for the fact that I have slipped into my Lazy Sunday mode every day (minus the cupcakes) and by the time I get out it’s 3ish. Chubby and I hit the road and by the time we got to Novato my blood sugar was blood aspartame. The only immediate choices were High Tech Burrito or Mario’s Italian Subs. I had already sampled the wraps (although I don’t know how they differ from analog ones) so we went to Mario’s.

You can tell from the outside that it’s basically a Subway with an Italian angle so expectations were not soaring.

Sicilian Cheese Steak ($5.49):

...was a hybrid of two ideas that should remain two very separate ideas. “Philly” is the only acceptable word to appear before “cheese steak” and this sandwich experience reinforced this preferred word cluster.

The industrial grade mozzarella, green peppers and cardboard flavored meat was laid to rest under a layer of marinara and some white bread masquerading as a roll. Did I eat the whole thing? Yes. But I ate it in a Donner party sort of way, so my empty plate isn’t a fair gauge of this food’s palatability.

Chubby got the Mama’s Meatball Parmesan ($5.49):

... which was better than my sub-par meal (but his was still sub too.) The meatballs, marinara and mozzarella may abbreviate as “mmm” but it needed a crustier roll to hold the m’s together.

Mario’s Italian Subs
934 Diablo Ave.
Novato, CA

Now for the sweetness:

I was perusing David Leibovitz’s blog and had to make a batch of his chocolate-almond buttercrunch toffee:

A perfect activity for a rainy day. This stuff won raves from some candy loving friends.

Chubby thought that the honor of being named Posts of the Week at Cooking with Amy
was the best thing ever. She usually finds three posts that she likes and lists them on Sunday. Well, today she listed Chubby’s San Francisco Ferry Building Metro Menu as all three of these posts. How cool is that?




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