Friday, December 31, 2010

Kipe’s Kitchen

Sharow, Ripon, North Yorkshire, England (12/16/2010)

While "on holiday" in Englandia two weeks back, my host Greg Kipe prepared for me (a few times even) one of the healthy breakfast creations he has learned how to cook and one of his newest favourites.

A few months back, Greg took cooking classes in Ireland* and they served an "oatmeal porridge" daily for breakfast that he became fond of (okay, I know "of which he became fond" is better grammar, but start your own 'blog if you have a problem with my grammar, Grandpa!). Greg asked them what brand of oatmeal they use to make this, as this was sooo much better than the standard Quaker® Oats oatmeal he was forced to eat as a kid. He found out that this was a local Irish product called Macroom Oatmeal; apparently, it is stone-ground (milled the old way with stone wheels), not steel-cut and that makes a World of difference(?).

Now comes the fun part: trying to locate this product locally in North Yorkshire. However, the effort was futile, Locutus; they could not find this exact style/brand anywhere. An Intro-Net search located an on-line shop in America (in Michigan, of all places, which just happens to be the home State of Greg's wife Cindy) called Zingerman's that carries it. Okay, so now it has to be shipped from the States to get to England (from Ireland originally).

Problem: Greg and Cindy's mail address is just a P.O. Box through the good ol' Military system (U.S. Air Force in this case) and Zingerman's has to have a physical address to ship it to (again, Grammar-Police take note, "to which to ship it" just sounds odd) via UPS.

Solution: Order it on-line and have it shipped to Greg's mom in Pennsylvania. She can then reship it to them through the U.S. Postal Service overseas.

Can of authentic Irish Macroom Oatmeal: $15.00 (US)
Shipping charges to Pennsylvania: $8.99 (US)
Shipping charges from Pennsylvania to England: (estimated) another $8.99 (US)
Total: $32.98 (US)

Standard box of Quaker® Oats Instant Oatmeal (which can be found locally or on Base at the Commissary):
£3 (UK) or $4.99 (US)... Priceless!
I must admit it was very good oatmeal. I did add some Lyle's Golden Syrup** (a British answer to maple syrup) and whipping cream to finish it off.


The breakfast was served with some Bettys Christmas Blend coffee, which is always a great addition to any meal.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Macroom Oatmeal ~ 6.9 (my rating; I mean it is good oatmeal, but it's still just oatmeal), 7.9 (possibly Greg's rating; I really didn't quiz him, but he says this is the best oatmeal he has ever had); Bettys Christmas Blend Coffee ~ 7.9

*(Yes, I am aware of the irony: an "Irish Cooking School" ~ this is akin to a Driving School in China, I assume. Just how many different ways can one cook potatoes and cabbage?)

**(Which luckily is a locally-produced English product, so they only needed to purchase this on the Intro-Net from a Bahamanian storage facility for a nominal shipping charge and import fee.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bettys Café Tea Rooms (York, 12/15/2010)

"Where Switzerland meets Yorkshire"

Bettys* Café Tea Rooms has to be my favourite place to eat whenever I visit North Yorkshire, Englandia. This place is the British equivalent to Dottie's TRUE BLUE CAFE in my opinion. (Anyone know who the British Marilyn Monroe was?) To me, it's just not Christmas in Englandland without at least one trip to Bettys, and it has become a treasured tradition when visiting Greg** and Cindy Kipe around the Yuletide. (Does a Yuletide's ebb and flow depend on a December Moon?)

There are six different Bettys locations throughout Yorkshire: Harrogate, Harlow Carr (which is also in Harrogate), York, Little Bettys (also in York), Ilkley, and Northallerton. A few years back, I did the entire Bettys Tour in one week and ate at all six (we actually ate at both Bettys in York the same day for breakfast and lunch). The Bettys in York is one of the oldest locations and we had a late breakfast/early lunch there last week.

Their breakfast spécialité is a Swiss dish called a Rösti. This is made with "Grated potato (or potahto) and Gruyère cheese mixed with cream and fried until golden. Topped with grilled dry-cured bacon, grilled plum tomato (you say "tomayto", Bettys says "tomahto"), chestnut mushrooms and a poached egg." This is not your typical 'merican hash browns, believe me. Not only is the food first rate, but their selections of tea (hence the tearoom nomenclature) and coffee are also superb. Yes, coffee! Their coffee seriously puts St*rbucks to shame, and most of their teas are much better than Twinings (of London).


Both Cindy and I had the Breakfast Rösti; I just had mine without the dry-cured bacon (actually Cindy had my bacon and I had her grilled plum tomatoes ~ or tomahtoes). Greg went off-menu and ordered a Ham and Cheese Omelette with a side of chips (as this is England, that means French Fries). For hot drinks: I had Bettys Earl Grey Tea; Cindy had the Ceylon Blue Sapphire Tea; and Greg had the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.

Now, I can review the Rösti in my sleep (and have dreamed of it many times) as this is what I normally order when visiting Bettys, but I did ask Greg and Cindy their opinions of their respective meals. Greg is as predictable as I am when ordering breakfast at Bettys and usually gets the Ham and Cheese Omelette and he has stated that this particular omelette is "one of the best he has ever had"; it must be the local Yorkshire ham that does it. Cindy liked her Rösti, she just wasn't as enamoured of hers as I always am of mine.

Bettys Earl Grey tea is a great version of this classic tea blend. The first time I ever had Earl Grey tea (Спасибо, Мише!), I thought there was something wrong with it as I did not know the bergamot used to flavour it was supposed to taste that way. After many years of drinking it, it is now one of my favourite blends of teas. The Ceylon Blue Sapphire is one of their best teas, in my opinion; it is naturally light and sweet and really needs no added sugar (or cream/milk). The Jamaica Blue Mountain is not only one of their best coffees, it is one of the best coffees I have ever had; this is an unbelievable winner.

No additional hot sauces were needed (or requested) as Bettys offers a couple of different home-made chutneys: apple or tomato. They are both really very tasty, but the "tomahto" chutney goes great with Röstis.

If you ever find yourself in Yorkshire (any of the Ridings), do yourself a major flavour and visit Bettys (any or all of them)! It is not just for Christmas, this just makes it a nice thing to look forward to each year at the Holidays.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Breakfast Rösti ~ 8.2 (my rating), 7.0 (Cindy's rating; I think she just doesn't understand the intricacies of the whole Glen Bacon Scale); Ham and Cheese Omelette ~ 7.9 (per Greg's correct perception of the Glen Bacon Scale; he is male, after all, and gets these things); Bettys Earl Grey Tea ~ 7.5 (my rating); Ceylon Blue Sapphire Tea ~ 8.2 (my rating, apparently Cindy can not be trusted); Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee ~ 8.5 (again, my rating; this could easily be the Marilyn Monroe of Coffee and I couldn't entrust this rating to anyone else)

*(This is not a typo ~ or even a "Type P" ~ this is just how they spell the name of the restaurant, without an apostrophe for some reason, and it doesn't denote more than one Betty, I have asked. Someone needs to teach these Brits "kerrekt English speling".)

**(This "Greg" is by no means related to the "Greg" in the apocryphal "French Tomato Salad" story that I had related several months back. No, really, "Greg" made sure that I pointed this out.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Bistro Restaurant @ Cliff House

Popovers(!), etc.

This was my fourth visit to the Bistro Restaurant @ Cliff House this year (see my last post from Sunday, August 22, 2010). There were hardly any surfers out on Ocean Beach this morning due to it being pretty overcast and gloomy, and the view from the restaurant windows wasn't that spectacular because of it.

Today's Hollywoodland Celebrity Autograph Wall (above my table):

(Picture 1, top to bottom)

(A very young) John Carradine; Freddie Bartholomew
Ronnie Schell (really?); Betty Grable
Susan Hayward; David Niven
William “Fred Mertz” Frawley; Eleanore ???*

(Picture 2, top to bottom)

???; Amos Alonzo Stagg (enshrined in both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Basketball Hall of Fame)
Charlie Ruggles; ???
???, ???,???, ???; (George) Burns & (Gracie) Allen

I tried something on the menu that I don‘t think I have ever had there before. I had Joe's Special Scramble ~ Scrambled Eggs with Sautéed Ground Beef (skipped this ingredient), Onions, Mushrooms, and Spinach, topped with Parmesan Cheese. It comes with fresh seasonal fruit, roasted potatoes…
… and Popovers(!).

This is made with lots of fresh spinach, onions, and (sorry, Skip) lots and lots of button mushrooms (Crimini?). This is definitely not one for the fungi-haters out there. I think the addition of some sun-dried tomatoes would really put this dish over the top.

I also had a cuppa their very decent house coffee, which is Peerless Coffee & Teas®.

For hot sauces, I had brought a few of my own and I went with a little El Yucateco® Chipotle Habanero on the eggs and some Trees Can't Dance Tree Fire Sauce on the roasted potatoes. (Thanks again, Greg & Cindy! See ya tomorrow.)

As always, the breakfast was top-notch, but I really keep going back for the most excellent Popovers(!).

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Joe's Special Scramble~ 6.6; Coffee ~ 6.4; (most excellent) Popovers(!) ~ 8.(1)2(1110)

*(Any help in identifying these "???"/unknowns is much appreciated. I should have been able to discern a few of them, as they look very familiar; however, even the friendly, knowledgeable staff couldn't tell me who they were. They were up too high to really get a good look at their signatures/names.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Last Chance Breakfast-co

I figured this will probably be my last opportunity to get back to Dottie's TRUE BLUE CAFE before the end of the year, so it was nice that the weekend rain had subsided for a bit and I didn't have to wait in line getting wet this morning. I sat at the table with the large portrait of Lena Horne on it again. The kitschy salt and pepper shaker of the day on my table: California Redwoods "Drive Thru Tree".

There was a little Sunday morning jazz playing on their stereo ~ someone was singing "I Left Mt Heart In San Francisco", but I didn't recognize the version or the female vocalist singing it. This song seemed very à propos for the morning (or any day that I live here). It may have been Julie London, and this entry I found on EweToob sounds close enough:

I went with one of their stalwarts off the specials board: Sweet Potato, Caramelized Red Onion & Gruyere Tart* ~ Eggs any style, Fresh fruit, & Biscuits. The sweet potato and red onion makes for a very good combination. They sometimes have different combinations, but this seems to be a pretty common one that they offer on their specials board fairly regularly. The biscuits (two of 'em) were fresh, warm, and home-made ~ and very good. It also comes with a side cup of fruit; today's seasonal fruit: blackberries, pineapple, blueberries, grapes, watermelon, and cantaloupe. I really shoulda gotten a side order of their excellent home fries, but that would have been way too much food for me to finish.

I went with a little Chipotle Tabasco® on the eggs (which I had ordered over-medium).

Once again, this truly was "the best breakfast for your buck in San Francisco". And now I am sufficiently gassed up for the rest of the day, Rickie Lee.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Tart~ 7.2

*(They used to call this dish a "Galette", but too many people kept asking what it was, so they now simply call it a "Tart". It is still exactly the same as they have always made it, though just less confusing to the touristas now.

Next thing they will be forced into calling the "Frittata" an "Italian Omelette Thingy" to appease all the fuzzy li'l ferners.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Baker Street Bistro

Une fois de plus

I went to the most excellent Baker Street Bistro* again (see April 17th, 2010 and September 25th, 2010 entries). I know that "serendipity"** is not a French word, but it did describe my finding a parking space directly in front of the restaurant for a change. If it weren't for a slight (but steady) rain and a bit of a chill, I would have eaten outside on their sidewalk patio; they do have a retractable awning that covers the tables and also overhead gas heaters if you feel like eating out there.

The second photo above I have titled "A Self-portrait of the Artist as an Old Fool" (with all due respects to Jimmy Joyce).

I did not see any Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill this morning (it was pretty cloudy and overcast), but I did hear several of them somewhere in the neighborhood.

This place is another of those establishments that has a bathroom that is decorated nicer than my apartment. I like the touch of the old rotary phone (it's not hooked up, I checked) on the side table.

I did not "find" it necessary to go with the Pain Perdu (nor the Oeufs Baker Street Bistro, either) today. I wanted to try something different for a change (plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose?). So I had the Oeufs Florentine*** ~ Spinach, poached eggs, English Muffins, Hollandaise*** sauce; served with home fries and mixed greens. This is your basic Eggs Florentine (which is just Eggs Benedict sans jambon, mais avec des épinards); they make a very decent and creamy Hollandaise sauce. Now don't get me wrong, this was a great breakfast, but I can get Eggs Florentine at a lot of places. If I had never had their excellent Pain Perdu or Oeufs Baker Street Bistro, I would probably order this dish again; I will highly recommend it, though.

Once again, their home fries were very good, roasted with a nice mixture of (what I only assume was) herbes de Provence.**** The side of mixed greens was ~ yawn! ~ just a buncha fancy lettuces; which is fine, I am sure, if you are some kinda stupid vegetarian or something. ("Salads? We don' need no stinkin' salads!")

I had a very good, strong cuppa their house coffee (well, several refills, actually), which is from Moschetti, Inc. and despite the name, they are not an imported Italiano brand; they are actually a local company out of Vallejo. It took me a while to glean the name of the coffee company from the more-than friendly staff ("There are no dumb questions, just dumb questioners."):

Me: What kinda coffee do you serve?
Mexican busboy*****: Something French, I think.
(Sorry, Diane, I did not get his name.)

Not that it needed it, but I went with a little Roland® Piri-Piri with Lemon hot sauce on the home fries. I also brought with me the newest addition to my répertoire des condiments ~ McCormick® Black Peppercorn Grinder. This little portable pepper grinder has three settings; I went with the largest/coarsest setting for the best effect. (Thanks for the great idea, Dave!)

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Oeufs Florentine ~ 7.0; Moschetti Coffee ~ 6.8

*(Useless cunning linguist pointer of the day #1:

As I had mentioned in my original post about Baker Street Bistro, the word "bistro" is of obscure origin and may either have come from the Russian word "
быстро" ~ pronounced "BEE-stra" ~ meaning "quickly"; or it may have come from the word "bistraud", "a little shepherd", a word of the Poitou dialect, from "biste" meaning "goat"; or another version is that it is an abbreviation of "bistrouille", a French term for Brandy mixed with coffee.

However, why not go with the one that sounds the most fun? So it is the impatient Cossacks version for me.

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I have never tried before." ~ Mae West)

**(Useless cunning linguist pointer of the day #2:

"Serendipity" is actually an English word, coined by Horace Walpole in 1754 to describe the heroes of the Persian fairytale The Three Princes of Serendip, who "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.")

***(A veritable International egg dish, but do Firenze and Nederland even get along? What does the EEC think about all this? Will the profits from all sales of this dish go to help bail out Ireland, Greece, and Spain? And what about Naomi?)

****(The standard mixture of herbes de Provence typically contains savory, fennel, basil, and thyme flowers and other dried herbs.)

*****(Busboy? Or is it more PC to say "Municipal Transportation Person" now-a-days?)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Squat & Gobble Cafe & Crepery

I ate until I stopped…

Squat & Gobble Cafe & Crepery has five locations currently throughout San Francisco. This morning, I ate at their original location on Fillmore Street in the Lower Haight. (The Lower Haight is so much cooler than the Upper Haight ~ where most of the touristas flock ~ and has been for twenty years or more now. There are better bars and restaurants there; including two of the best ethnic restaurants in San Francisco: Indian Oven ~ for Indian cuisine, of course; and Thep Phanom ~ for Phanomese cuisine? Both of these restaurants are highly-rated by both Michelin Guide* and Sagat** Survey; and both are also found on Fillmore Street just a block apart.) Despite the rather unfortunate choice of names for a restaurant (it always reminds me of the old "chew and screw" routine when I was younger, you'd think they would just be asking for people to come in and eat without paying; or, worse yet, check out definition #3 in Urban Dictionary for this entry: you will never want to eat turkey again… or take a bath), they are a very good place for crêpes (Note: I prefer the Frenchy spelling with the little hat thingy on the first "e"***, much like the accent aigu on the "e" in "café") and were one of the first crêperies to open in San Francisco (that was not an overpriced Frenchified place, that is), and they have been at this location since 1993.

Squat & Gobble also offer a full line of other kinds of foods: sandwiches, pastas, and other breakfast fare (omelettes, pancakes, waffles, egg cetera); but go there for their crêpes ~ just save room (if at all possible) for one of their great dessert crêpes. They also seem to employ super nice and knowledgeable people. My server was friendly and very cute (and reminded me a little of Eliza Dushku); I mean, how many people out there can reference "Home for the Holidays" (a 1995 movie starring Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr., and directed by Jodie Foster) as a good Thanksgiving movie? (Plus she seemed to pretend to be interested enough in my stupid breakfast 'blog.)


I would normally order the Zorba the Greek (made with authentic Kalamata olives, I should point out), as it is one of my favourites of theirs; but after having eaten a lot of Greeky food already this weekend (see my Friday entries), I wanted to try something a little different so I went with one of their newest entries (which is not even on their printed menu or web-site yet):

Charred Tomatillo Crepe ~ Caramelized Onions, Jack Cheese, Avocado, Peppers (green bell), Mushrooms, Olives (not Kalamata, just the plain sliced, canned variety, but this is okay as no extra flavour was really needed), Tomatoes, and Homemade Tomatillo**** and Ranchero Sauces.

The charred tomatillo salsa was truly first-rate (I "gobbled" up ~ but no squatting ~ the half with it on it first); the ranchero salsa was good and fresh, too, but just not as excellent as the tomatillo one. The crêpe was absolutely stuffed with lots of fresh vegetables (it was easily 2-3 inches thick) and I was very pleased to see that they didn't scrimp on the avocado, there was probably at least ½ an avocado in it ~ nice!

They offer a choice of rosemary garlic potatoes or mixed baby green salad with most of their dishes. I went with the potatoes and was very glad I did; these were excellent and there was a huge amount of them. They were nicely seasoned with lots of rosemary. If this had been made with whole cloves of roasted garlic (see my Eats entry from November 13th, 2010), I would have married it (the Christian religion be damned! I have always been a big proponent of "Don't ask, don't eat!").

I had a cuppa the house coffee with the meal. They serve Capricorn Coffees ~ a good local coffee roastery since 1963 (which even predates Peet's® by three years; but they are just a manufacturer, they do not have their own cafés/shops) ~ it was hot, good, fresh, and strong (well, I was the first customer of the morning).

There are bottles of Tabasco® (both standard red and the jalapeño ~ Green Pepper Sauce) and Tapatío® available, but I went with some of my own Trees Can't Dance ~ Tree Fire Sauce (Thanks again, Greg & Cindy!) on the potatoes only, the crêpe had more than enough flavour with both salsas on top and all the fresh ingredients in it.

My only real complaint is that you have to order and pay at the counter first, so the opportunity to really "squat and gobble" without paying is nullified…

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Charred Tomatillo Crepe ~ 7.1; Rosemary Garlic Potatoes ~ 7.0; Capricorn Coffee ~ 6.5

*(Michelin? Really? Do Goodyear® or Pirelli rate food, too? And would you really trust the word of some giant albino guy with goiters?)

**(What is the deal with all these Sagat Survey ratings restaurants seem so proud to display? Is Bob Sagat supposed to be some kinda humourous disciple of Epicurus? Next thing you know, the Olsen Twins will be rating all the bars and nightclubs around the country… well, and get paid for doing it.)

***(Useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

This diacritical mark is actually called a "circumflex", but I just like the term "little hat thingy" better.)

****(A tomatillo ~ pronounced "toh-mah-TEE-yo" ~ is part of the tomato family ~ and comes from the Spanish diminutive of "tomato", but should not be confused with a standard "green tomato": )

Saturday, November 27, 2010


… R(es)ST(a)U(rant), VWX. Y? Z!

Breakfast by the numbers at Q Restaurant and Wine Bar?

I went back to Q Restaurant and Wine Bar on Clement Street (see the July 31st, 2010 entry) and again was not disappointed. It was another rainy Saturday morning in sunny San Francisco, so it was the perfect weather to stay inside and eat a nice breakfast. I got to sit at my favourite table, the one with the "Wooly Willy"*. However, there was not a magnet to be found to make any tonsorial changes; this was a little disappointing, but the good food and fast, friendly service more than made up for it.

There were some nice weekend Brunch Specials (I am sure the Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict was very similar to the most excellent Chayote Benedict that I had a few months ago, it's just not as fun to say), but I went with an omelette off their regular menu ~ Bacon (skipped it, Glen) with Red Onion Marmalade and Blue Cheese (served with home fries and buttered toast). This made for a very nice combination with just the sweet onion relish (as best as I can tell, made with caramelized red onions and some kind of barbecue sauce?) and the tangy Blue cheese.

For a change I found a restaurant that does not even offer any Tabasco® sauce, but they do have Tapatío®, Castillo® Salsa Habanero, and Original "Louisiana" Brand available, which is a pretty decent and varied selection. It really didn't matter much, as I went with some from my own collection: I made a combination of both a little HP® (original Brown) Sauce and some Trees Can't Dance ~ Belizean Habanero Sauce (Thanks once again, Greg & Cindy!). I did not see fit to put any of the HP® (original Brown) Sauce in my coffee, though, Mr. Farrell.**

I also like that a Tootsie Roll®*** Midgee® comes with the check in place of a peppermint hard candy. That is always fun.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Omelette ~ 6.8

*(I have often been told I have a "magnetic personality" myself. I just happen to have the reverse polarity of everyone else.

I like the name of some of Willy's aliases: "Harry the Hermit" and "Dick the Dude"... Isn't that a local watering hole in the Castro?)

**(You will need to see the 2003 movie "Intermission" starring Colin Farrell to get this reference:

It's well worth the viewing.)

***(Tootsie Rolls® are named after Clara Hirshfield,
whose nickname was "Tootsie". Clara was the daughter of the original maker of these candies, Leo Hirshfield.

They have nothing to do with the 1982 Dustin Hoffman movie, but that movie is worth seeing again, too.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

yiassoo… gesundheit!

Cupertino, CA

On my way home from Gilroy this afternoon, I still had Greek food on my mind so I stopped for lunch at yiassoo (or "γειά σου" in Greek, which simply means "Howdy!"), the one located in Cupertino*. Not only is this place ABSOLUTELY THE BEST fast food restaurant in the Bay Area, it is one of the better Greek restaurants here, too. This place has an authentic Γλυφάδα ταβέρνα feel to it; the only thing missing is a bunch of stray cats wandering around the place.

I have eaten there many times in the past (as opposed to eating there many times in the future?) and have tried just about all of the vegetarian dishes that they offer. Today I just ordered the same meal that I must have ordered a thousand times over in my 3½ years living in Greece:
χωριάτικη σαλάτα, πατάτες, και τζατζίκι με πίτα.

The Greek Salad is very simple and made with tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, onions, green bell peppers, and Feta; all were very chunky, as a true
χωριάτικη σαλάτα should be, and, I am happy to state, there was NO lettuce in it, ευχαριστώ πολύ. The salad comes with no dressing on it, just some dried herbs. You can add your own vinegar and olive oil to taste, or they provide a bottle of their own special homemade creamy Greek dressing to put on it. I used a little of their dressing on part of the salad, but went with the vinegar and olive oil on the rest of it.

The French fries are nice and large ~ not the wimpy shoestring version served at most crummy fast food places (you know who you are, Ronald), but they were not the steak fries variety either; however, they were still sufficient enough to dip into their most excellent:

Τζατζίκι! Served with authentic Greek pita bread (this was just like the kind found at o'Μάκης place, not the poor imitation you can find at most grocery stores in the States); and the τζατζίκι was made with shredded cucumbers, not diced or chopped cucumbers, just the way I like it.

It was all way too much food for me to eat as I was still pretty full from breakfast, so I ended up taking most of it home with me… however, I will not be sharing it with any spoiled dogs.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating:
Όλα καλά** ~ 6.5

*(Cupertino is a small city just northwest of San Jose in Silicon Valley. Cupertino is best know as the home of Apple, Inc., the computer people, not the fruit guys. To most people from San Francisco, anything south of Mountain View and north of Morgan Hill is generally considered "San Jose", it's just easier that way.)

**(Another entirely stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer:

This is just Greeky for "Everything is good!". The Greeks also claim that "O.K." comes from this phrase. Maybe, maybe not. I always thought it came from Tombstone, AZ.)

Sunrise Cafe

Gilroy, CA

I had Thanksgiving dinner down in Gilroy yesterday with an old Air Force buddy ("Hello, Dave!"). For any of you that have never been to Gilroy, it is about 80 miles due south of San Francisco (about 1½ hours drive away), so I spent the night after a great meal ("Thanks again, Dave!"). Gilroy's nickname is "the Garlic Capital of the World", although Gilroy does not actually lead the world in garlic production (while garlic is grown in Gilroy, its nickname comes from the fact that Gilroy Foods processes more garlic than any other factory in the world; most pickled, minced, and powdered garlic comes from Gilroy; check in your fridge or pantry, more than likely you have some Gilroy garlic products). Driving through Gilroy in the summertime at night with the windows open always smells like a pizza factory, and that's a good thing, Martha. Gilroy is also known for its annual Gilroy Garlic Festival where they feature all types of garlicky foods… Garlic Ice Cream, anyone?

This morning Dave and I went to breakfast at a local diner-ish place called Sunrise Cafe (sans accent aigu). Dave said he had never been there before (he has lived in Gilroy for over 10 years now), so this was a new experience for the both of us. When we walked in the door, I saw a business card for the restaurant that had the name "John Karas" on it. I immediately thought this had to be a Greek-owned place. The special breakfasts that Dave and I ordered would pique this assumption. Dave told me a little story about the Sunrise Cafe: several years ago apparently there was a little local scandal with the previous owners, as the wife had the husband killed for the insurance money. That kind of thing always adds to the flavour of a place.

(Here is a link provided by Dave of the nefarious affair: )

Sunrise Cafe has a pretty decent breakfast menu from which to choose. I ordered the Greek Scramble ~ scrambled eggs, fresh diced tomato (noted as singular on the menu), onions, Gyro* meat (which I skipped), and Feta cheese. Dave ordered the Gyro Omelette ~ filled with slices of Gyro meat, fresh diced tomatoes (which was plural here for some reason), and Feta cheese. There was lots of Feta in both the Scramble and Omelette, and from what I could see, there was a good amount of Gyro meat in the Omelette, too. Breakfast meals come with hash browns and toast of your choice; marble rye for me, Jerry, and Dave had plain white bread toast.

Everything was great. Both servings were huge, there had to have been 3-4 eggs in each dish, and the hash browns filled up the rest of the plate. I did the best I could and ate almost all of my meal; Dave finished about half of his and the rest was taken home as a literal "doggy bag" for a mid-morning snack for Dave's "girls": Morgan, Zoey, and Nellie (three very spoiled, but great dogs ~ each was a rescue dog, too). The only thing I might have added in either/both meal would have been some chopped/diced/or whole
Καλαμάτα olives; now that would have truly been πολύ καλό. Dave told me he will be going back there again soon.

Here is a picture of my meal (with noted marble rye, ya old bag!):

This is Dave's most awesome meal:

And this is a totally posed photo of Dave pretending to eat his meal:

They have both the ubiquitous Tabasco® sauce (the standard red version) and Tapatío® on the tables; I went with some of the Tapatío® on the hash browns. In my opinion, the only thing missing was some authentic τζατζίκι for either of the dishes or, better yet, for use on the hash browns.

As we were leaving, I spoke with the owner,
Γιάννης Καράς, and he confirmed that he was Greek. Μίλησα λίγα ελληνικά in my best (worst) pigeon-Greek with him.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Greek Scramble ~ 6.5; Gyro Omelette ~ 7.0 (I had coached Dave on the intricacies of the GBS and he changed his original assessment from a 6.5 to a 7.0; the omelette really did have a lot of Feta and Gyro meat in it)

*(Completely useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

"Gyro", or more correctly "Gyros", is most closely pronounced in English as "yeero" or "yeeros", not as "jiro" or "jiros". "
Γύρος" in Greek means "turn", as the meat ~ normally lamb, or a combination of lamb and beef ~ is generally on a rotating vertical spit. The word root can be seen in the words "gyrate" or "gyroscope"… or "yeerate" or "yeeroscope" even.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sears Fine Food

Since 1938 (well, with a short hiatus in the early 2000's)

Sears Fine Food (and it is interesting to note that they use the word "Food", not "Foods", in their name; both are acceptable, but more places would normally go with the pluralization) as their logo/emblem states is "World Famous Since 1938"; I guess prior to that the San Francisco Tourist Industry must not really have been in full tilt yet. Sears Fine Food is only ½-block uphill from Union Square and right along the Powell Street Cable Car line and in the heart of the hotel district, hence its popularity with all the touristas. I am sure that many locals know about it, but its location downtown (and lack of affordable parking) would preclude many "natives" going there more than once every ten years or so, or just on special occasions. I actually lucked out (it was still pretty early on a Sunday morning and during the tourista off-season) and found a parking spot just one block uphill.

This was my first ever (as opposed to one's "second ever"?) visit here. I had been meaning to get there for many years now, but, like I said, parking, special occasions, etc. I am glad I finally got to eat here, now I won't have to worry about revisiting it for another 10-20 years. The building and its décor were actually worth the visit. I am not sure when the building was built, but Sears Fine Food has been at this location since 1964 (it moved down the block from its original spot on Powell Street). They have many old San Francisco photos inside and some cool antiques. This old Kazoo* range was being used as a sideboard and coffee pot warmer holder.

They offer many good choices on their breakfast menu, but I had to try The World Famous 18 Swedish Pancakes ~ served with Warm Syrup and Country Fresh Whipped Butter (like I could really tell the difference if the butter was from the City or what its sexual proclivities were) and lingonberries (for a small additional charge, but it was well worth it). I figured I had waited this long to try the pancakes, I should actually order them.

The pancakes were good, but the addition of the lingonberries made this breakfast so much better. The flavour of lingonberries is very similar to cranberries, a little tart and a little sweet and goes very well as a topping with little pancakes. At first, I thought that 18 pancakes would be way too many to eat, but they were of the "Silver Dollar" variety (which are about 3" in diameter, not the size of actual Silver Dollars) and I had no problem finishing mine. I probably could have used a little more of the lingonberries, though.

I had a cup of their house coffee with the meal. It was black and hot. That is about the best thing I can say about it; it was no better, nor worse, than most diner coffee.

At the end of the meal they give you a souvenir coin (about the size of a real Silver Dollar, so a lot smaller than the pancakes) which you can use at an antique slot machine, located near the front counter, to see if you will win a free meal. I kept mine as a souvenir; I suppose I can always use it the next time I eat there… in 2020 or 2030.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: The World Famous 18 Swedish Pancakes ~ 6.5 (I would have preferred The World Famous 18 Swedish Vestal Virgins, though ~ next lifetime)

*(And yes, as best as I can figure with a quick Intro-Net search, this is a stove manufactured by the same company that still makes the musical instrument:

"The plant opened in 1907 as a sheet metal workshop, producing stove and furnace parts and peanut vending machines. It began making kazoos in 1916 after its owner was approached about creating a metal version of the wooden instrument that had been around since the 1840s.")

Saturday, November 20, 2010


"Elle est une 'BRIK'-maison… "

Le ZiNC is a French Bistro/Wine Bar over in Noe Valley, right along "Main Street Noe Valley" ~ 24th Street (between Castro and Noe). Apparently, "zinc" is another term for a café or bistro in Paris; the name is derived from the pewter bar tops which became a trademark of those establishments. Although this is technically a "Brunch" place (as stated in their menu), I cut them some slack because they open up early enough for my liking (9:30am).

They have a very nice backyard patio space (with a lemon tree and a fig tree ~ both fruit-bearing even) that has several tables; however, it was still wet out there from the earlier morning rain, so I opted to sit inside for a change. Although it was sunny and warm enough to have sat outside otherwise this morning if the tables and seats had been dry. And this was another one of those embarrassingly nice restaurants that had their bathroom decorated nicer than my apartment (and it was almost as large) with many nice photos and artwork, and one pretty cool (?pewter?) coat-hook that was in the shape of a cat (your coat/hat would hang on its tail).

I had the Vegetable 'Brik' ~ crispy Moroccan crêpe with Feta, red bell peppers, niçoise olives, and tomato. As best as I can discern, a brik is an interesting North African pastry dish made with a thin pastry shell very similar to Greek phyllo dough. The Vegetable 'Brik' has no eggs in it; whereas, their Egg 'Brik' has ham in it, so I couldn't try that one.

My one major complaint (une plainte majeure): les niçoise olives* seemed to me to be just the plain ol' canned, sliced black olive variety; this was really very disappointing. I suppose the cans could very well have been imported from Nice, but that would be like going to Edinburgh and buying a bottle of Jim Beam and calling it "the finest Single malt Scotch whisky". The olives were really rather plain and tasteless; this would have been soooooo much better avec olives de Nice authentique.

There were some pluses, too: it did have lots and lots of Feta and roasted red peppers in it, which is always a nice combination (it was just a shame about l
es olives, Popeye). I did not ask for (nor bring any of my own) hot sauces, but the meal was pretty tasty as it was with a spicy harissa coulis encircling the brik. And they do have small pepper mills on each table, which is always nice.

I also found it odd that a French café does not really have any "regular" style coffee on their menu; the closest would probably be the Café Americano. So, I ordered un café (not "bistro", nor "zinc") Viennois ~ which comes avec crème Chantilly (which would actually be called Schlagsahne in Vien); it was sprinkled with some chocolate and spices and was okay enough, but I have never been to Vienna (nor Vien, nor Vienne even), so I really have nothing to which to compare it.

I also ordered a glass of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (jus de pamplemousse). It was very good grapefruit juice ~ Pink or Ruby Red? ~ but was served in just a wine glass (granted a large wine glass, but that is still pretty small for a juice glass).

I have had their Eggs 'Aurore' in the past; that was a much better dish than today's and was one of the reasons I went back to try a different breakfast. I have not tried their "French Toast" yet (again, as this is an "authentic" Frenchified bistro/café/zinc, why don't they call it "Pain Perdu"?); it looked like a good choice and I may have to go back again to try it one of these days. They did not show any side orders of potatoes available on the menu; I would like to have tried them as I seem to remember them being decent.

All in all, everything was très bien.**

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Vegetable 'Brik' ~ 6.4; (Café) Viennois ~ 6.3; Jus de Pamplem
ousse ~ 6.7

*(Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

The word for "olives" in French is "olives"; the "niçoise" we have already borrowed from the French to specify "from Nice".)

**(This does not mean "Cool Beans!" in French, Luke.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Café Floré

… or Café Flore, or Cafe Floré, or Cafe Flore
(it's all very confusing)

Café Floré* is over on Market Street right in the heart of the Castro. There is really nothing fancy about this place at all. You order at the back counter, they give you a number to put on your table, and they bring out the meal when ready. You order and pay for your drinks separately at the bar. The main attraction seems to be the good, hearty food and its location along "Main Street Castro"; a place to see and be seen. Another big attraction is having Prima Colazione al Fresco** in their large outdoor patio area (plus there are several additional sidewalk tables, at least 10-15 or so, available outside the fenced area); this was a great thing on such a sunny Sunday Fall morning.

I had the Flóré Bénédíct ~ poached eggs, homemade cornbread, oven-roasted tomatoes, mushroom ragoût, hollandaise sauce, and garlic fried potatoes. The use of of cornbread instead of English muffins in this Benedict was an interesting concept; however, their cornbread was a little on the sweet side and it really didn't work for me. The roasted tomatoes are a nice touch, if not a bit chunky/unwieldy on top of the cornbread and under the poached eggs (I don't know if it would be feasible to slice the tomatoes first, then roast them; probably not). The mushrooms were plentiful and chunky in the ragoût (sorry, Skip) which is a plus in my book***. Most breakfast dishes come with garlic fried potatoes; they were good, but not as good as yesterday's Excellent! home fries with the huge tracts of roasted garlic cloves. Overall, it was a nice breakfast combination.

Because 'tis (almost) the season, I decided to go with their special Eggnog Latte****, with some ground nutmeg, Ms. Whitman (from a shaker only, though, fresh-ground would have been much better; and they did not have any Cardamom to sprinkle on top ~ neither fresh, nor in a shaker ~ I asked). It was okay, but I still prefer plain ol' black coffee. Their coffee selections are all from Peerless® Coffee.

Just like Eats yesterday, they also offer Tabasco® (again the standard red), Tapatío®, and Cholula®. This is not a bad selection, but I had brought some from my own collection just in case. I went with some Trees Can't Dance Tree Fire Sauce (Thanks again, Greg and Cindy!) on top of the hollandaise sauce on the poached eggs and with some Roland® Piri Piri with Lemon (Thanks, me!) on the potatoes.

There was one breakfast choice on their menu called Bear's Breakfast ~ I figure they must be either Cal fans or fans of the Chicago NFL franchise.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Flor
é Benedict ~ 6.4; Eggnog Latte ~ 6.3

*(I am going with this spelling avec accents aigu at the end of each word just to make it easier and because it's my 'blog. They actually had this spelled three different ways throughout the restaurant and on their website: Café Flore, Cafe Floré, and Cafe Flore. I know this is the Castro and things can sometimes seem ambiguous, but I did ask and didn't get told what the correct spelling should be.)

**(This is simply Italiano for "breakfast in the fresh air/outdoors". It is not one of the goombahs from "Godfather I", "II", or "III".)

***(Unfortunately my book is just a 12-page colouring book, but I do try to stay inside the lines.)

****(Completely random, useless cunning linguist note of the week:

This is the correct spelling of this coffee drink. It is of Italian origin, not French. It is sans accent aigu; it is sometimes incorrectly spelled as Latté or Lattè ~ see last week's comment on hyperforeignism.)