Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cafe St. Jorge

"There is usually an easy solution to every human problem ~ neat, plausible, and wrong!" ~ H.L. Mencken

Place: Cafe St. Jorge[1]
Location: 3438 Mission Street (on the corner of Kingston Street)
Hours: open at 7:00am Monday to Saturday; open at 8:00am on Sunday (for what they call "Sunday Brunch")
Meal: Baked Egg Breakfast Slider (gf/o) ~ organic, free-range baked egg topped with melted Portuguese cheese (Ilha Azul[2]) served on a Portuguese sweet roll; one Pastel de Nata[3]; and a bottomless cuppa Stumptown Coffee Roasters

(Today's EweToobular juxtaselections are simply because the place is located on the corner of Kingston Street. Kingston, Jamaica/Reggae, get it? Good.

Besides, I could not decide on the right Jorge Harrison songs to use.)

I wanted to try a new place for a change and I had planned on going to Cafe St. Jorge  last Sunday, anyway. They have been open for just over a year now (July 2013), and this was my first visit there (either breakfastary or otherwise). They are located way down on Mission Street right where Bernal Heights meets the Mission, so it is not exactly conducive for me to do a quick pop-in to. 

Cafe St. Jorge is mainly a coffeehouse joint. They do have some fresh-baked (on premise) items, but most of the baked goods items are from local Portuguese or French bakeries. I liked the large open space (high-ceilinged and uncrowded). There are fourteen tables for two (or seven tables for four); one table for three; a window-bench seating area for five to six people, but there is no table there; and some sidewalk seating ~ several seats and a bench, but just one table for two. Like most coffeehouses, you order at the front counter, pay first, they give you a number (I got "Lucky #7" this morning), and then they bring out the food to you when it is ready.

Off the standard/printed menu, there really were only a couple of other items that looked good to me: Organic Quinoa Bowl (v/o, gf) (quinoa, steamed choice of milk, fresh fruit, walnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar, sea salt) or Orange Blossom Waffle (v) (which can have either fruit or granola/yoghurt added). They also had one weekend special on the board up front; it was some kinda fig jam toast, which did not sound too bad, either. Unfortunately, there were no side potato dishes on the menu that I could see.

I had to ask the front-counter guy (by that, I mean the guy working the front counter; he was neither a Communist, nor a transvestite from what I could tell; I wonder what a Communist transvestite looks like ~ do they have to wear red fishnet stockings with a sickle-and-hammer design on them?) what "free-range eggs" were. I mean, how far can one egg roll, anyway? I also had to ask the guy at the counter what "gf/o" meant; and, just in case you think like I do, it does not mean "Go f*ck-off!" (which after all the stupid, way-too-early morning questions I asked the poor guy, he must have been thinking), it simply means "gluten-free option". Not that I opted for anything "gluten-free", though.

While there was really nothing exceptionally outstanding with the Baked Egg Breakfast Slider (gf/o), it was decent enough, and the Portuguese sweet roll made for a nice change. The slider (gf/o) also came with sliced tomatoes and lots of baby spinach in it, the "baked eggs" just seemed like scrambled eggs to me. I have no idea what Ilha Azul cheese is, but it worked well enough in the slider (gf/o); there is an actual Portuguese cheese called Queijo São Jorge, why it is not used here, eu não sei.

The whole point of eating breakfast (or "Sunday Brunch" even) at a Portuguese coffeehouse/bakery was to try something new for a change. The Pastel de Nata was the perfect item for that. It was basically an egg custard in a puff pastry shell. It was a very nice bite or two, too.

Cafe St. Jorge does not serve any actual Portuguese brand of Coffee, but Stumptown Coffee Roasters (out of Portland ~ the one in Oregon, not the one in Maine or Portugal) is a very decent roastery.  They only serve two different roasts/blends: Holler Mountain Blend (a dark roast) and Hair Bender (a lighter roast). I liked the Holler Mountain Blend better than the Hair Bender and had two cups of it as opposed to just one cup of the lighter blend. Cafe St. Jorge also offers 12 oz. bags of several different blends/roasts of Stumptown Coffee Roasters for sale at the front counter.

I have no idea what Cafe St. Jorge offered in the way of condimentary supplements, I did not really see the need to ask. I used just a little of my own Florida Gold Premium Habanero Hot Sauce (Thanks, Kerry!) inside the slider. I have no idea what kind of hot sauces are available in Portugal, though.

There really is not enough on their breakfast (or "Sunday Brunch") menu for me to make the long trek over there again, but I can recommend the place to anyone that happens to live nearby and I could see stopping in again if I am ever in the neighborhood… and besides…

Here be Coffee!

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Baked Egg Breakfast Slider (gf/o) ~ 6.3; Pastel de Nata ~ 7.0; Holler Mountain Blend ~ 7.2; Hair Bender ~ 6.6

1.  Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer(s) of the day, número um:

(Parte A)

"Café" (com o acento agudo) means basically the same thing in Portuguese as it does in French and Spanish; it has the dual meaning of both "Coffee" and "coffeehouse". 

(Parte B)

There are several places in Portugal with this same name, but I am pretty sure this place is named for São Jorge (Island), Açores. I do not know why they used the English abbreviation for "street" in their name. The actual word for "Saint" in Portuguese is "São", and "São Jorge (Saint George)" is pronounced something like "San Zhorzhey".

And here is the real interesting "Cliff Clavin Little Known Fact of the Day": In addition to being the Patron Saint of both England and Portugal (and being despised by all reptiles worldwide), Saint George/São Jorge is also the Patron Saint of Coffee and Coffee Roasting!*

*(Nah, not really! But it sounded pretty believable, right? Besides, everyone knows the actual Patron Saint of Coffee and Coffee Roasting is São Maxwell da Casa.)

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, número dois:

"Ilha Azul" means "Blue Island" in Portuguese. Faial, another island in the Azores, which is neighboring São Jorge, is sometimes referred to as Ilha Azul. It has something to do with a bunch of stupid blue-flowering plants that bloom all over the island in the summer.

3. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, número três:

"Pastel de nata" simply means "cream puff/tart" in Portuguese.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Judy’s Cafe

"If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." ~ Anatole France

(And if fifty million people own "smart phones", it doesn't necessarily mean that they really are "smart".)

(No official web-site)

Place: Judy's CAFE
Location: 2268 Chestnut Street (between Avila and Scott Streets); phonicular contact: (415) 922-4588
Hours: open for breakfast at 7:30am every day of the week
Meal: Veggie Etc. (Omelette) ~ choice of 3 veggies (my choices: spinach, Bermuda onions, and a blend of Jack and Cheddar cheeses) and a choice of homemade pumpkin (mini-)loaf, blueberry muffin, English muffin, or 9-grain wheat toast; a side of homefried potatoes; and a large glass of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice

(Neither of today's EweToobular songs have anything to do with "Judy"; I just like the music, and I really did not feel like using a Judy Collins or Judy Garland juxtaselection.

Who knew that Bobby Flay could sing and play the guitar?)

After a very long hiatus, I decided to go back to Judy's CAFE (see previous 'blog-entry from August 7th, 2010). I do not know why it had taken me this long to get back there again; at one time, I probably went there several times a year. It is a very popular Marina breakfastary destination, and one of the few remaining spots on Chestnut Street for an early morning meal.

The walls are adorned with autographed photos of Hollywoodland folk and Sports stars. And it was à propos that I sat right underneath a promo-photo of Robin Williams from "Mrs. Doubtfire" (it was not autographed, though). Just to be safe, I double-checked around to make sure there were not any photos of Betty Joan Perske; that would have been a bit too creepy for my liking.

While it was not overly crowded there today, it can get full pretty quickly as their seating area is rather smaller: (downstairs/main restaurant) seven tables for two and one table for four; (upstairs/balconial area) seating for maybe twenty-four or so; and (weather permitting/sidewalk area) five tables for four and one table for two. Most of the sidewalk tables were filled-up by the time I had finished breakfast, but it was still pretty open inside (downstairs and upstairs).

File under: "Pay Attention, Stupid!"

One of the customers asked for his son's baby stroller[1] that he had given to the wait-staff earlier (the place really is that small) to hold until they were done. Well, the guy was completely preoccupied (and pretty obnoxiously rude, if you ask me) checking his mobular device when he asked for the "stroller" and one of the Mexican busboys misheard him and handed him a "straw". Hahaha! The idiot accepted the straw and then it took him a few seconds to figure out something was wrong. Next time, daddy-o, your all-important Twittering can wait until you are outside and squared away. Jerk!

Judy's CAFE has a pretty decent selection of omelettes and they also have Sweet Inspiration and Egg Breakfasts sections on their menu. A few other meals that looked good to me were: Garlic (Omelette ~ homemade salsa, avocado, garlic, Jack and Cheddar cheeses); Cream Cheese French Toast (farm style egg bread stuffed with cream cheese, sprinkled with powdered sugar, covered with bananas); Potatoes Etc. (homefried potatoes, mushroom, onion, topped with melted Jack and Cheddar cheeses, with Italian or chicken apple sausage, ham or ground sirloin ~ which I would have ordered without the dead, decaying animal flesh, of course); etc.

They have a very strange way of making their omelettes. The omelettes are made kind of deconstructed, with the scrambled eggs/omelette part placed on top of the mess of ingredients (i.e. not really a "folded omelette", more like an "upside-down open-faced omelette"). They are all still very fluffy, though. One other thing that I did notice was that there were actually red onions in the mess, not Bermuda onions (which are usually white or yellow, and wearing those funny short trousers); not as if I could really tell by taste, though.

I went with the homemade pumpkin (mini-)loaf for my bread side, and it was very good. Who would choose plain ol' English muffins or toast when given the choice of two other fresh-baked goods? (Probably the same kind of idiot that is too busy playing on defacedbook when he is supposed to be retrieving his kid's stroller.) The (mini-)loaf was still warm and a good receptacle on which some butter to melt.

The side of homefried potatoes was a HUGE plate/pile; they were very nicely herbed, too. It was an awful lot of food to finish with the omelette and 
(mini-)loaf, and I really did not quite finish it all.

There was lots of pulp in the grapefruit juice, too, just the way I like it.

Judy's CAFE offers for condimentary supplementation both Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (the standard red) and Tapatío®. I went with some of my own Dave's Gourmet® Ginger Peach Hot Sauce (Thanks, Jim!) on half of the potatoes and some Fat Cat® Strawberry Serrano Hot Sauce (Thanks, Cindy & Greg!) on the other half of the potatoes; I also went with some Born to Hula presents Devon Allman's All Natural Hot Sauce Chipotle Blues (Thanks, Kerry!) on top of the omelette.

the Wild Parrots of San Francisco Interlude

After breakfast (in an attempt to walk off at least a bit of the carbo-overload), I went for a little stroll over to the Presidio. (I had parked over by the Lyon Street/Chestnut Street gate anyway.) I walked around the little park with the duck pond in it (in the Letterman Digital Arts Center). I only saw two to three of the Wild Parrots flying overhead, but I did stumble upon a murderous-looking group of 20-30 Ravens/Crows hanging out in a couple of the trees. I attempted my newest (and probably annoying to most Ravens/Crows) Raven/Crow call that I think sounds a bit like a drowning Turkey. A few weeks back, I heard one Raven/Crow making the sound in a tree over at Raccoon Island and I was told by some people that it is a pretty standard vocalization of theirs.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Veggie Etc. ~ 6.6; Homemade Pumpkin (Mini-)Loaf ~ 6.9; the Wild Parrots of San Francisco ~ 8.2

1.  Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

Just because I had to know, I asked one of the Mexican wait-staff how to say "baby stroller" en español, he told me it is "cariola" (well, in Mexican Spanish, at least).

I did not bother to ask them how to say "straw" in Spanish, though. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen

"To err is human, and so is trying to avoid correcting it." ~ R. Reycraft

Place: Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
Location: 3150 24th Street (on the corner of Shotwell)
Hours: open for breakfast Wednesday-Friday at 8:00am and Saturday-Sunday at 9:00am
Meal: Vegetable Hash ~ (?) Asparagus, Pea Shoots/Tendrils, some Lemon zest (perhaps), & Crispy Potatoes served with Fried Eggs & choice of toast; a slice (more like a huge chunk) of Cinnamon Babka[1]; and a cuppa (and several refillas) Mr. Espresso® Organic Bolivia Cenaproc

(I don't know about you, but when I think "Jewish Deli" the first EweToobular juxtaselection that comes to my mind is Reggae und Hip-Hop musik aus Berlin.

I do think that Pierre Boulle[2] might take a little bit of an exception to Mr. Fox' use of all these simians in his videos, though.)

I know what you are thinking, "Un deli judío en la Misión?!" (well, you might if you thought in Spanish), but today's breakfastary destination was Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen, smack dab in the heart of the Mission. They state that they are "dedicated to building community through traditional Jewish comfort food"; however, I am not sure that necessarily means 100% Kosher[3], as I noticed a Reuben sandwich on the menu (see, meat and cheese are not really a Kosher combo; well, neither were Martin & Lewis, I suppose). And just so you don't think I am anti-semantics in any way, unlike a lot of other Grammar Nazis, I actually know the difference between "Jewish", "Hebrew", and "Israeli".

Like a lot of area coffeehouses, you order and pay first at the front counter, get a number, and they bring out the whole megillah to you when it is ready (a half of a megillah isn't usually enough for a full meal, of course).  Their seating consists of three tables for four, four tables for two, and one extra large table that can handle a klatsch[4] of eight to ten people. Additionally, there are three sidewalk tables for four to six people along the Shotwell side.

Some other comfortably Jewish food ideas for breakfast for stupid vegetarians might be: Matzo Brei (matzo fried with eggs ~ with salt & pepper, sour cream & jam, or maple syrup); Challah[5] French Toast (thick cut slices of house baked challah topped with warm maple syrup & seasonal compound butter); or Market Scramble (seasonal market vegetables scrambled with eggs; served with rye toast & house jam). Don't worry, for any of you that do partake of the dead, decaying animal (just none of the porcine variety) flesh, they offer several other Jewish breakfastary items on their menu. There are no sides of "bacon", but they do have what they call "crispy pastrami[6]" instead. I don't want to tell them their business, but I bet French toast made with either cinnamon or chocolate babkas would be very good, too.

This was a very excellent dish (just not Vegan-Kosher). The reason for my "(?)" in the "Meal" section at the top is that their on-line menu actually has this as being made with: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Red Onion, Delicate Squash, Fried Sage & Crispy Potatoes. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find both asparagus (probably one of my All-time Favourite Ground Fruits of All-time) and pea shoots/tendrils (which I also hold in very high regard) as I had checked the on-line menu the other day and didn't bother to see that they must have updated it recently on their printed menus when I quickly perused it this morning. I had to ask what the greens in it were. I probably would still have liked this if it had included all of the vegetables they had listed on-line (Brussels sprouts are also another favourite of mine, Jean-Claude). And I am not exaggerating any here when I say this probably was 50% asparagus, and not just a piece or two here and there. 

I chose challah as my toasty side choice. I think the choices were: rye, wheat, or challah. Challah actually makes a good toast? Who nu?!

They did also offer Chocolate Babka, but I was glad to see that they did also have the cinnamon version. And I will have both Ms. Benes and Mr. Brandt know that a cinnamon babka is lesser to no other babkas, even chocolate. This babka had lots of cinnamon in it; it was sort of a Jewish cinnamon roll on Steroids (if Steroids or PEDs are Kosher, that is). I happened to toss the slice of orange garnish that was on top of the hash into some crumbs of the cinnamon babka; I later ate the slice of orange and knew from past experience that cinnamon and orange are actually a pretty decent flavour combination (and 100% Kosher even).

They give you an empty Coffee mug at the front counter when you order and you get to serve yourself (and any refills, too, of which, I probably had two or three). I have had Mr. Espresso® many times before, and this was very good roast/blend and went very nicely with the cinnamon babka.

For condimentary supplementation, I only noticed Tapatío® at the Coffee/condiments area. I used some of my own Big Papi En Fuego Hot Sauce Off The Wall Triple Hot (Thanks, Kerry!) on one half of the pile and some Pickapeppa Sauce on the other half of the mess.

Hava nagilah… what the heck, they are kinda small, have two nagilahs on me!

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Vegetable Hash ~ 6.8; Cinnamon Babka ~ 7.2 

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, numer jeden:

Now this was actually news to me, but "babka" comes from either the Polish or Belarusian word for "grandmother". I knew that "бабушка/(babushka)" was the Russian word for "grandmother", but the similar Slavic word-roots never even crossed my mind.

(Of course, Herr Gates and his troupe of Goose-stepping, Spell-checker Nazis do not recognize this common baked goods item at all.)

2. Were you aware that the same guy that wrote "The Bridge over the River Kwai" ("Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai") also wrote "Planet of the Apes" ("La Planète des Singes")? I wonder if anyone has contacted Sir Marky Mark to also do a remake of the original Sir Alec Guinness movie yet?

3. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, מספר שתיים:

"Kosher" comes from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term "כשר/(kashér)", meaning "right"/"fit" (as in "for consumption").

4. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, Nummer drei:

I can only assume that "klatsch" is a typical Yiddish expression used in most New York delis, but I can't confirm it from my usual go-to lexicon of all things Yiddish, "The Joys of Yiddish" by Leo Rosten, as this word is not listed in it.

Anyway, "klatsch" comes from the German verb "klatschen", meaning "to clap (hands)". 

5. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, מספר ארבעה:

"Challah/challa (לחם)" is simply the Hebrew word for "loaf of bread".

"How can one recognize a Reform Jew in a bakery on Friday? He orders a challa and says, 'Slice it.'" ~ Leo Rosten 

(Überraschung, überraschung! Der Gates-Führer und seine Jungs do not recognize this as a valid word either. I suppose it's not "white-bread" enough for them.)

6. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, beş numara/număr de cinci:

This was also news to me, but "pastrami" was borrowed from either the Turkish word "pastirma" (a type of dried meat/beef) or possibly from the Romanian "a păstra", meaning "to preserve". 

Sunday, August 3, 2014


"Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling."  
~ Margaret Lee Runbeck

(Just my luck, my train would blow by that station, anyway.)

Place: UNIVERSAL cafe
Location: 2814 19th Street (between Bryant and Florida Streets)
Hours: open for "Brunch" Wednesday-Friday at 11:30am and Saturday-Sunday at 9:00am
Meal: Soft Scrambled Eggs ~ (?) with some kinda mushrooms and some kinda cheese and maybe one or two other ingredients (I didn't write down the exact ingredients as I figured I could just check on their web-site for this weekend's "Brunch" menu items; however, I figured wrong; they do not have the Weekend "Brunch" Menu updated correctly; kids, let this be a lesson to you, always take copious notes ~ and if Copious isn't around to steal his notes, just cheat off of Plentiful's test), toast, lettuces; a side of Garlic-herb Potatoes; and a cuppa (or, more likely, a "keep 'em coming" refilla) Equator Coffees & Teas Mocha Java Blend

(Sure, I could have used the EweToobular juxtaselection of the original song by the Beatles, but Fiona Apple is much cuter than John, or even Sir Paul. Now just who the heck is this "Jack Groovy" guy that Fiona is singing a paean to? Om! 

The secondary song is mainly a nod to one Jerome John Garcia, who would have been 72 years old on Friday. I just like Tim Pretty & the Homewreckers' version better than the Grateful Dead's.)

I went back to UNIVERSAL cafe (see last 'blog-entry from June 30th, 2012) for breakfast this morning (well, they have it listed as "Brunch", but they open early enough on the weekends for me to still call it by its less snootified name). This place really isn't in the Mission or Potrero Hill neighborhoods, it's kind of an in-between land (something like the "Gaza Strip" of San Francisco ~ if the Mission were "Israel" and Potrero Hill were "Egypt" ~ I wonder if that would make all the neighborhood Hipster Doofi "Hamas-holes"?); maybe we can come up with yet still another stupid, useless neighborhood acronym/designator ~ "MiPoH"?!

UNIVERSAL cafe is not that large of a place and their seating situation is: eight bar-stool/counter seats; fifteen tables for two (which can always be combined into tables for four, six, etc.); and a sidewalk patio area seating with four tables for four and two tables for two (this being the middle of the Summer in San Francisco, I opted to sit inside where it was a lot less overcast and chilly).

There were only two or three viable choices on this weekend's menu for stupid vegetarians, which really put a rimple in my breakfastary plans. The other two possible ideas: Grilled Flatbread (aka "thin-crust Pizza"; now, this may or may not have been topped with spinach, black olives, padron peppers, Pecorino, and Mozzarella ~ see above explanatory excuses for not having any idea what this weekend's "Brunch" menu really entailed; someone at the next table over ordered this and it looked very good) or French Toast (again, this may or may not have been with blueberry-strawberry compote, candied pecans and almonds and Chantilly cream).

Soft scrambled eggs: pretty hard to mess up really. I mean, these were good, but, other than the fresh mushrooms and cheese, I probably could have made these just as well at home… if I ever had any eggs, too. The side of "lettuces" was just a buncha rabbit food junk; also something that I could probably cook just as well at home myself. Their version of homefries was very decent, though.

Of particular breakfastary note, the Coffee was an excellent cuppa this morning. I have had Equator Coffees & Teas (a local roastery out of San Rafael) before and usually enjoy it, but today's was truly an exemplary one (and I mean that in a very positive way, I am not making an example out of a bad experience). I must have had three to four cuppas (that would be two to three refillas) of the stuff. It always surprises me how a professional restaurant or coffeehouse could mess up brewing Coffee. If I want bad Coffee made from good brands, I can always make my own at home. 

I didn't really bother to ask what UNIVERSAL cafe had to offer for condimentary supplements, but the last time I ate there they had both Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (the standard red) and Cholula® Hot Sauce. I used some of my own El Yucateco® XXXtra Hot Sauce Salsa Kutbil-ik® de Chile Habanero (Thanks, Brian!) on the scrambled mess and some Fat Cat® Chairman Meow's Revenge (Scorpion Pepper Sauce) (Thanks, Cindy & Greg!) on the potatoes. While this could very easily be an extremely painful hot sauce, Fat Cat®'s is actually not that bad (see yesterday's 'blog-entry for an extreme ridiculousness) and can be used with a little heavier hand than might be thought possible.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Soft Scrambled Eggs (including Garden-herb Potatoes) ~ 6.3; Equator Mocha Java Blend  ~ 7.3 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

the Grove

"A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company." ~ Charles Evans Hughes, Sr.

Place: the Grove
Location: 301 Hayes Street (on the corner of Franklin Street)
Hours: open for breakfast Monday-Friday at 7:00am and Saturday-Sunday at 8:00am
Meal: Ranchero Baked Eggs ~ two eggs baked in a house made roasted dried red chile sauce and smokey black beans, topped with Cotija cheese, avocado, sour cream and cilantro, served with warm, local La Palma Taqueria corn tortillas; a raisin-cinnamon roll; and a cuppa Verve Coffee Roasters House Blend

(I know one former North Yorkshire resident will enjoy today's EweToobular songs. It seems I have been a little remiss in posting any songs from this N'Awlins-based band featuring a trumpet with a thyroid problem. I probably mighta shoulda posted some of their music last week with the Brenda's 'blog-entry.

And, yes, I could have linked "China Grove" by the Doobie Brothers for a good juxtaselection, but that song really sounds dated today, not like this much newer sound displayed by Tuba Skinny, of course.)

It had been quite some time since I last ate breakfast at the Grove (see last 'blog-entry from September 23rd, 2012), so I figured a return visit was overdue. the Grove is a mini local chain of coffeehouses in San Francisco with three remaining locations: Hayes Valley (this morning's destination); Lower Pacific Heights (Fillmore Street at Pine Street); and Downtown/Yerba Buena (Mission Street at 3rd Street). The Marina/Chestnut Street location (their original spot, I think) closed last year sometime (June 2013-ish?). This was my first time having breakfast at their Hayes Street location; I have eaten lunch there a few times before. The Hayes Valley location is one of the newest of their restaurants, only opened for a few years now (January 2011-ish?). Coincidentally enough, I parked just two blocks away over on Grove Street this morning.

This is a very large space for a coffeehouse, with various seating areas that can accommodate about 50-60 people inside ~ to include some original seats from the old Waldorf Astoria Hotel (see below photo, or see photo below); plus, there is sidewalk seating for sixteen along Hayes Street and an additional twelve seats along the Franklin Street side. There are also a large central (electric/gas) fireplace and indoor water/wishing fountain (and I made sure to leave a copper coin memento of my own, Mrs. Blankenship… now if the stupid Red Sox can just win this weekend's Series against the D*mn Y*nkees I will know that thing really works).

Like most coffeehouses in the city, you order at the counter and pay for the meal first, then they give you a number to place on your table and will bring the food out to you when it is damn good and ready! For "just a coffeehouse", they actually have several other good breakfastary suggestions: Eggs and Avocado Toast (mashed ripe avocado on grilled thick-cut Semifreddi's sweet batard[1] with lemon, organic olive oil, and coarse sea salt; topped with two poached eggs, chives, and served with dressed mixed greens; I liked the simple sound of this one and might need to check it out in the future); Mexican Migas (eggs scrambled with crushed La Palma tortilla chips, pico de gallo, Monterey jack, topped with avocado, cilantro, and Cotija cheese; sliced, pickled jalapeños served on the side; this is probably just another version of Chilaquiles); or Warm Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding (heated-to-order and topped with classic vanilla icing, served with a side of fresh strawberries; if I ordered this one, I would probably have had to order a side of Crispy Golden Hashbrowns to counter-balance the whole sweet-savoury thing… "Golden Hashbrowns"? "Military Intelligence"? "Polite Y*nkees fans"? "etc.?").

This came in its own single-serving skillet, and the waitress-server lady made sure to point out that the handle would be very hot (and, of course, I just had to touch it to make sure. It was very hot, by the way. Why do they even bother to tell people that? Idiots like me would never even think to do so unless prompted.). This had a very nice tasting Ranchero sauce (well, before I ruined it with the addition of some nuclear condimentary supplementation). This was sort of a Mexicano version of a Shakshouka (see 'blog-entry from Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen from December 15th, 2013). While this was not really an awful lot of food, it worked out nicely with the pastry beforehand for my appetite purposes.

This is really not meant as an insult to Verve Coffee Roasters, but I thought my cuppa this morning was a little on the weak side. I will put it down to either the blend/roast is meant to be somewhat "blonde" (I prefer a much deeper, darker flavour myself), or maybe it was just the first batcha that was brewed this morning that was a little watered-down. I have had Verve at other places and it is generally a very decent cuppa. The plus of it is that it was served in a very large cup (mini-bowl).

For condimentary supplementation, the Grove has Tapatio® on all the tables and they also have Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (the standard red) available if you ask. I foolishly used some (and seriously I used just five carefully counted-out drops of the stuff) of my own Blair's After Death® Sauce with Liquid Fire (Thanks a lot, Sean!). This stuff is really very, overly spicy. I have had the same bottle now for a little over two years and have yet to really make a dent in it (well, if the bottle were made of tin and not glass, that is). I figure at this rate, I will still be using this stuff up by the time the Red Sox win the World Series again (and just my luck they will miraculously win it all again in 2015 just to make me have to use it all up by next October!).

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Ranchero Baked Eggs ~ 6.4; Verve Coffee ~ 6.3 (normally this would be 6.8-6.9 at least)

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

First off, Herr Billy-boy and his troupe of Spell-checking Nazis did not even recognise this as a valid word. Once again, I must state that these fargin' chemise brune bâtards really need to get out to eat more often.

"Bâtard" (which is the correct spelling, with the little circumflex hat thingy) simply means "bastard"/"illegitimate"/"mongrel" in French (and was one of the first swear-words I ever learned back in 7th Grade French Class from ce bâtard de rat Monsieur Dyer). In bakery terms, it usually is just a shorter, rounder version of a baguette (which, thankfully, Microsoft has no problem spell-checking). Why it is called "bâtard", je ne sais pas. Maybe it was just named after some bread-loving politiciens ou avocats en Paris.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Brenda’s ~ French Soul Food

"When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other." 
~ Eric Hoffer (or Frank Caliendo, I always get those two mixed up)

Place: Brenda's ~ French Soul Food
Location: 652 Polk Street (at Eddy Street)
Hours: open for breakfast Monday-Friday at 8:00am; open for "Brunch" Saturday & Sunday at 8:00am
Meal: Two Eggs Any Way You Like 'Em ~ with potato hash or grits, plus toast or cream biscuit; a side of Three Granny Smith Apple Beignets[1] ~ sweetened with cinnamon honey butter; and a cuppa Community Coffee® with chicory

(There is really no juxtaselection with today's EweToobular songs, I just recently discovered Lake Street Dive and like their sound. Plus, in the first video, I think it is so cool to have the sheer audacity of filming a video in an actual playground in front of a buncha loud, obnoxious, indifferent rug-rats, which is just sheer awesomeness.)

A sunny Sunday morning? Half the city is cut-off by the San Francisco Marathon, anyway? What better destination than to head over once again to Brenda's ~ French Soul Food (see last 'blog-entry from June 17th, 2012). Even though they call the early morning meal "Brunch" on their menus, any place that opens up earlier than 9:00am is breakfast with me, Jake.

There are several items on their standard printed menus that are good for both stupid vegetarians and those that partake of the dead, decaying animal (particularly of the porky persuasion) flesh, and there were a few other good ideas off the weekend Specials chalkboard (which I would like to point out is an actual chalkboard, not one of those new-fangled, fake "dry-erase boards"): Bananas Foster French Toast (w/ warm butter-rum sauce; I had this the last time I ate there, and it was excellent, but I opted for something where I could also enjoy their excellent beignets, too); or Muffaletta[2] Sandwich (w/fries or slaw; the sandwich isn't really stupid vegetarian- or Vegan-friendly, though); additionally, they had a Guava Mimosa as a weekend drink special.

Apparently "I like 'em" over-medium. For a change, I went with the grittier choice of sides ~ and they were nice and buttery, too. I had the cream biscuit (which I can only assume is some version of a buttermilk biscuit) as my bready side. Why would anyone not choose this over plain ol' toast? And this is not insulting plain ol' toast in any way, but fresh-baked always trumps out of a loaf bag any time. When taken as separate pieces of an entire breakfastary puzzle, there really wasn't anything overly exciting with each component (over-medium eggs ~ okay; grits ~ good; cream biscuit ~ very good); however, when you add all of them together, it was truly very tasty. 

Now here is probably as good of a place as any to mention their outstanding homemade jams (I couldn't wait to do so in the condimentary supplementation area). There were two different types on the tables today: strawberry and peach. The peach happened to be on my table and I am very glad of that as I might have missed it otherwise. It was extra chunky and made with cinnamon and cloves in it (I asked the manager/maître d'-guy; my palette ain't that discerning). I generously used a good amount of it (seriously, I thing I used up half the jar) on my cream biscuit. I also saw fit to use a good dollop (or three) on one of my beignets.

I only ate one of the beignets before/with breakfast ("Brunch", whatever), and took the other two home with me to enjoy later in the day. I really liked this N'Awlins version of a jelly doughnut. ("Ich bin ein Louisiana Krapfen."?!) I have had them a few times now there and knew them to be very good. I wonder what a banana beignet might taste like. They don't offer that particular choice at Brenda's, but it is a standard flavour in N'Awlins. Plus, it's just fun to say "banana beignet"; go ahead say it ten times fast, you know you want to.

The cuppa Coffee really turned out to be more of a small bowla Coffee if you ask me, which didn't stop me from getting a few refillas all the same. What is the opposite of "Demi-tasse"? A "Bruce-bol"? (And I know that an "Ashton-bol" would be more current, but Bruce Willis is still much cooler than Ashton Kutcher any day.)

In addition to the abovementioned homemade jams, naturally, Brenda's has Crystal® Louisiana's Pure Hot Sauce on all of the tables. I just used some of my own Nando's® Extra Hot Peri-Peri Sauce (Thanks, Kerry!) in with the grits, and some Hula Girl Chipotle Habanero (Thanks, Jim!) liberally all over the eggs.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Two Eggs Any Way You Like 'Em ~ 6.2 (with their homemade peach jam factored in ~ 6.4); Granny Smith Apple Beignets ~ 7.2 (with their homemade peach jam factored in ~ 7.4); homemade peach jam ~ 7.5

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

"Beignet" comes from French, from Middle French "bignet", from Old French "buyne/buigne" (meaning "bump" or "lump").

2. I had to ask my waiter-server guy if a "Muffaletta" meant a sandwich made with a slice of black bread and a slice of white bread.

Actually, this can be spelled several different ways: Muffaletta, Muffuletta, Muffoletta, Muffiletta, Mufullettc.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Squat & Gobble Cafe & Crepery

"Everybody makes mistakes, and a mistake is, after all, Nature's way of telling you you're an idiot." ~ Vaughn Meader

Place: Squat & Gobble Cafe & Crepery 
Location: 1 West Portal
Hours: open daily at 8:00am (all locations)
Meal: Zorba the Greek (savoury crêpe) ~ Cheddar & Feta Cheese, Onions, Spinach, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Roasted Eggplant, & Kalamata Olives, Served with a Cucumber Yogurt Mint Sauce (Served With Your Choice of Our "Famous" Rosemary Garlic Potatoes, French Fries, Mixed Green Salad, Fresh Fruit, or Chef's Soup of the Day); and a glass of Lemonade

(Today's EweToobular juxtaselection is mainly from the title of the song. For some reason it is not letting me embed the actual video like I have been able to do in the past, so you will have to do the ol' cut-and-paste if you wish to listen to the song while reading along here.

The video portion was put together by a very close and old friend of mine, Skip Way. ~ Hey, Skip! ~ He takes pictures that his sister Andrea has photographed and makes them into a video collage with music by some of his favourite musicians ~ well, those musicians that have been nice enough and given him 100% permission to do so.)

It had been some time since I last ate breakfast at a Squat & Gobble Cafe & Crepery (see last 'blog-entry from March 5th, 2011), and this includes any of the four locations in San Francisco. The West Portal shop has just recently (as in since March of this year, recently) reopened after having been closed since a fire demolished the entire building (and several others on the block) back in October 2012. The good news is that the brand new building has a second floor added to it which doubles the capacity of the place. The new size of the place probably makes it not only the largest of the Squat & Gobble locations (the Marina spot might rival it a bit with its backyard patio), but probably one of the largest crêpes joint in San Francisco now, too. It is now much more upscaley than your typical crêperie in San Francisco, which fits in perfectly with the more upscaley West Portal neighborhood, anyway. The new interior décor is all pastelly and high-ceilinged. 

I still think that Squat & Gobble is a horrible-sounding name for a restaurant, though (if anyone wishes to disagree with me, I submit doing your own Google search for the term "squat and gobble", then get back to me if you still feel like disagreeing with me… or ever have an appetite again for honey, or potato chips, or turkey). And I hate to sound like such a grammar critic, but I wish they would spell crêpes[1] with the correct diacritic; plus, the correct spelling of a place that sells crêpes is a "crêperie" (again with the diacritical mark and ending in "-ie", not "-y"). And I won't even go into the whole "Café" versus "Cafe" debate again (it don't cost ya nuthin' extra to spell it avec accent aigu ~ another diacritic, by the way, Monsieur Êbêrt).

D*mn St*rbucks mini-rant Interlude

Speaking of overly pretentious upscaliness, it's bad enough that there is a d*mn St*rbucks joint already in the West Portal neighborhood, but now there is a brand new d*mn La Boul*nge Bakery (which has been owned by d*mn St*rbucks since June 2012 ~ Thanks for the heads-up on that one, Mrs. Blankenship!) located right across the street from Squat & Gobble in the spot that once housed the old Walgreens for many years. And like d*mn St*rbucks and any restaurants that have stupid parklets in front of them, I have place all d*mn La Boul*nge Bakeries on my (ever-growing) "Do Not Patronize These D*mn Bastages" list. I was equally appalled that the d*mn joint was packed with idiots this morning when I walked by, too. (So, there, Doc Estes!)

Anyway, back to the breakfastary part of this d*mn 'blog-thingy. 

Squat & Gobble not only serves crêpes (both of the savoury and dessert kind), they also have other categories on their Daily Menu: Omelettes, Scramblers, and Breakfast Specials. Some of the other dishes that I was debating on this morning were: Veggie Fajita[2] (a savoury crêpe; Caramelized Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms, Roasted Corn, Cilantro, Black Beans, Jalapeño Sour Cream, & Pepper Jack Cheese, Topped with Homemade Ranchero & Tomatillo Sauce & Crispy Tortilla Strips); Whole Thing (a dessert crêpe; Fresh Bananas, Maple Glazed Walnuts, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, nutella® Chocolate, Powdered Sugar, & Whipped Cream ~ which I would have gotten with a side of Their "Famous" Rosemary Garlic Potatoes); or Castro (an omelette; Feta Cheese, Tomatoes, Spinach, & Kalamata Olives). Like most crêperies and coffehouses you order at the front counter, pay first, and then get a number to take to an empty table and they bring out the food when it is ready.

I liked this crêpe a lot. What was not to like? It included a lot of my favourite ingredients: spinach, eggplant, Kalamata olives, and Feta. My one minor complaint would be that there was not enough Feta in it for my liking (of course, this is generally my complaint with a lot of places that have Feta as an ingredient). 

Of course, a "Cucumber Yogurt Mint Sauce" is better known as Τζατζίκι (see 'blog-entry from July 17th, 2014). Their version was made with diced pieces of cucumbers, I like the shredded cucumber version better, but this was still a decent one. It probably could have maybe used a little more garlic in it, but I think that is true with most things.

Of course, I chose Their "Famous" Rosemary Garlic Potatoes for the side. Who in their right mind would choose a plain ol' mixed green salad or fresh fruit??? Even I can cook those at home. The roasted potatoes were very good on their own (and had not the least trace of being oleaginous at all), but were even better with the small tin of Τζατζίκι dumped on top. Technically the Τζατζίκι is meant to be dumped on top of the crêpe, but I have known for many years (decades) now that Τζατζίκι pairs very well with potatoes of any kind. Let's face it, potatoes are great and Τζατζίκι just makes them taste even greater still.

From what I could see, Squat & Gobble offers just Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (the standard red) and Tapatío® (See? This company has no problem using a diacritical mark over the "i".) for condimentary supplementation. I used just a soupçon (See? I used the "ç" there, and while it is letter and not really a diacritic, I was not charged any more for doing so.) of my Fat Cat® Strawberry Serrano Hot Sauce (Thanks, Cindy & Greg!) on top of the crêpe. Plus, as mentioned above, I utilized the Τζατζίκι to its potentially fullest on Their "Famous" Rosemary Garlic Potatoes.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating[3]Ζορμπάς ο Έλληνας ~ 7.0; Τζατζίκι ~ 7.2

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, numéro un:

"Crêpe" comes from French, from Latin "crispus", meaning "curled", "uneven", or "wrinkled".

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, número dos:

"Fajita" is a Mexican (or Tex-Mex) diminutive and comes from the Spanish word "faja", which means "strip", "band", "sash", or "belt". 

3. File this under: "You never know what you might find when searching on the World Wild Web". 

I happened to mention the "GBS Rating" to someone last week on defacedbook and they didn't get my reference to the obvious "Glen Bacon Scale Rating" here. So just for the h-e-c-k of it, I did a quick Google search of "GBS Rating" and found this information:

Apparently the "GBS" here stands for "Gottfries-Bråne-Steen", and has nothing to do with anyone named "Glen Bacon".