Sunday, August 29, 2010


Neo-Classical American Cooking

I revisited Ella's (see 'blog-date April 3, 2010) over in Laurel Heights (and, Nick, I had a very "hearty" meal ~ so I guess you could say it was a "Laurel and Hearty" meal). I remember seeing a review of Ella's a long time ago that described the crowd waiting outside to get in as "looking like a 'Friends' casting call" ~ which seems about right for this upscale neighborhood. I still don’t know who "Ella" is, but I like her restaurant (even on their website they never mention just exactly who "Ella" is supposed to be; so, I am choosing Lady Ella Fitzgerald, just 'cause she is my all-timey favouritest female singer ~ that li'l ol' white girl sure had some great pipes!).

Today I sat at the counter that overlooks the bakery/kitchen area. They make all of their pastries and breads fresh every day (and all day long). And no extra charge for the free show!

Their weekend brunch menu changes every week. I love their combinations and how they always use fresh, available ingredients. I had their Potato Scramble ~ with grilled fennel, roasted beets, roasted carrots, and Havarti (to which I had added two eggs over medium laid on top). I was not disappointed and it was excellent, once again. It was a virtual (or actual, even) root vegetable cornucopia (which ties in very nicely to yesterday's mention of Miss Millie's old Roasted Root Vegetables dish.)

I was thinking about going with the Folded Omelette with grilled squash, arugula, lemon roasted onion, fresh thyme, and Goat cheese; but Beets ("Meatloaf, beetloaf! I LOVE beetloaf!"; sorry, Randy) trump arugula any day; however, if the omelette had included Asparagus, it might have been a toss-up. The grilled finocchio would probably have been the deciding factor.

I also had a glass of their excellent Ginger Orange Juice Punch (it was extra spicy today) and their Honey Oatmeal Raisin toast ~ which came with homemade (restaurant-made) Nectarine jam.

As I knew they only carry the two types of Tabasco® sauces: Original red and Jalapeño green, I came prepared with two from my own collection. I noticed that I brought the exact same (as opposed to the dissimilar same?) two hot sauces that I brought back on my original visit back in April: Trees Can't Dance ~ Tree Fire Sauce (Thanks again, Greg and Cindy!) and Cholula®.

The only thing that might have made this dish even better would have been a nice formaggio* italiano instead of the Havarti; perhaps Fontina or Asiago even. I will still be going back again to Ella's, tho’**.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Potato Scramble ~ 7.6; Ginger O.J. Punch ~ 7.2; Toast + Jam ~ 7.2

*(No relation to the great Boston Red Sox player, Dominic DiMaggio; and I think his older brother, ?John or Jim?, even played some Baseball, too.)

**(See 'blog entry from April 3, 2010 to get that lame-o joke.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

the little Chihuahua

y un poquito Sábado Negro

the little Chihuahua (and why not ¿el pequeño Chihuahua? or ¿el Chihuahuahito?) is located in the old spot where Miss Millie's* used to be over on 24th Street (between Castro and Church Streets) in Noe Valley. I actually drove over to that part of town planning on eating at Savor this morning, but happened to be passing a new (they have been at this location for only two months now) restaurant just as they were opening for the morning (¿Cómo se dice "serendipidity" en español?) and decided to stop in there instead. When I got there, they were playing vintage Black Sabbath (hence the maíz-y "Sábado Negro" subtitle above) ~ we are talkin' auténtico Ozzie Osbourne stuff here, circa early 1970's, which I was not expecting for either a Mexican place or at breakfast. I was told that for the first hour in the morning when they open they usually play Black Sabbath stuff. Very cool!

They have a "keeler" Salsa Fresca bar with 5 different choices (plus pickled jalapeños):

(from hottest to mildest; read right to left, Ishmaelito)

Habañero ~ very nice and fruity, and not nearly as hot as I had expected, there is a touch o' limes in it that tempers the heat some; Chipotle ~ with a nice smoky flavour and a good kick of fuego, this was my favourite of the three that I tried, con un sabor fabuloso; Roasted tomato ~ also very nice and smoky with the roasted tomatoes, but just gringo-spicy; Tomatillo; and a Pico de Gallo.

I had the huevos motuleños** ~ "Two eggs cooked over easy served on top of crispy corn tostadas, refried black beans, Royal Ham (I skipped this, el Rey), smothered with our fresh Ranchero sauce and Queso Fresco with a side of Mexican potatoes". The entire dish was very tasty and the home style red potatoes are made with grilled onions and roasted Poblano chiles*** (I had to ask as they could have been Anaheim chiles***), which was a nice touch, I thought. I also had a glass of jugo de naranja (which I think would have been much better if it were the fresh squeezed kind like you can get at most taquerías in the Mission, but that is just a minor quibble ~ un quibblito) and a cáfe mexicano (with two sugars and lots of cream).

They only have Tapatío® on the tables, but this was really no big deal**** as their homemade salsas are way better than any pre-packaged salsas ever could be (¿Cómo se dice "superfluous" en español?).

Their "Brunch" menu also offers Chilaquiles and a few other interesting items: "Mexican French Toast" (I am sure Maximilian Ferdinand would approve ~ or maybe this is the real Moctezuma's***** revenge), Huevos Rancheros, Breakfast Burrito, et cetera. The next time I will have to try their version of Chilaquiles or the et cetera.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Huevos Motuleños ~ 6.9; Papas Mexicano ~ 6.8; Salsas Frescas ~ 7.5

*(Miss Millie's used to be one of my favourite breakfast haunts for many years; unfortunately they closed back in 2005. It was located in what I was told used to be an old butcher's shop. They had a dish called "roasted root vegetables" which was really great and for which I would always go back there; it was made with potatoes ~ both the red and sweet varieties, rutabagas, turnips, some kinds of onions, garlic, and fennel root. ¡Muy sabroso!)

**(I asked one of the cooks what "motuleños" meant and he really couldn't explain it to me; I will just go with "tasty".)

***(Poblano chiles ~ Scoville Heat Units: 2,500-3,000; Anaheim chiles: 500-2,500 and up to 4,500-5,000 for some varieties)

****(Did you ever wonder what is the difference between "no big deal" and "Big Deal"? They both basically mean the same thing. When someone says "It's no big deal.", they are saying that it is of little importance; and when someone says "Big Deal!", they usually are being facetious and mean that it is of little or no importance, also. Now if someone could just tell me how "regardless" and "irregardless" mean the same thing.)

*****(And for any of you being quick to point out: "Hey, Brian, that's not how you spell 'Montezuma'?!", this is the preferred spelling. So, go sunk it!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Almond milk > Rice milk > Soy milk

(And Almond Breeze® is the best of the bunch)

Why are humans the only animals that will continue to drink milk (from another animal yet) after they have been weaned? Sure your household pets will drink milk if given to them (heck, most dogs will drink from the toilet if you let them); however, milk is not really that good for cats or dogs, and can be harmful to some, check with your veterinarian if you have any questions.

Now, I have nothing against real milk, so it's not just a vegetarian thing with me as I am neither a Vegan nor lactose intolerant. (I am a little Vegan-intolerant, though; those smarmy bastages and their no animal products think they are so smart!) Lately, though, I have decided to cut back on my intake of milk and have tried many of the alternative products out there: Soy milk, Rice milk, and Almond milk.

After many, many different experiments with several brands of all types of "milk" (both in cold cereal in the morning and how well it goes in a cold glass paired with cookies), I have determined that the best of the bunch by far is Almond milk ~ and the best brand is Almond Breeze®, by Blue Diamond® Almonds.

I haven't bought real milk in several months now and really do think this is a winner. It tastes good on cereal (especially any granola type or ones with almonds already in them) and is just as good in a glass to enjoy with some nice cookies of your choice. There are just two major brands from which to choose with Almond milk right now: the Blue Diamond® brand and also Silk® PureAlmond, which is produced by the makers of Silk® soymilk.

Almond milk is available in three different flavours: plain, chocolate, and vanilla; as well as unsweetened versions of all of these flavours. I prefer the plain ol' "original" flavour from Almond Breeze® best. These are also available in both half gallon cartons, which are located in the dairy/chilled section of the grocery store, or in 1 quart sizes that are "shelf stable" and usually found in the Asian food section (along with the rice and soy milks). Another plus over regular milk is that both the refrigerated and shelf stable versions have a pretty long expiration date: 2-3 months or so; however, once opened, they really should be consumed in a week or two.

After almond milk, I have found that rice milk is not really that bad either. But all of the soy milk (probably 5-7 different brands) that I have tried are pretty crummy alternatives to real milk. They all taste horrid in cereal and are a bit too watery and chalky for me.

I really don’t think any of these can be substituted in many cooking recipes (if I actually cooked or baked, I might actually be able to compare them), but they are a nice product for any of you Vegans or lactose intolerant people (or lactose intolerant Vegans) out there.

Of course, there is no comparison what-so-ever when it comes to cheeses and ice creams; that has to be made with real milk ~ it’s all about the butterfat, Emeril.

Got Almond Breeze

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Almond Breeze® ~ 7.2; Silk® PureAlmond ~ 7.0; Rice milk ~ 6.5; Soy milk ~ 5.8 (whereas real organic cow milk ~ and none of that low-fat 2% crap ~ is still an 8.0)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Bistro Restaurant @ Cliff House

Re-ducks and Popovers(!) ~ no re-chickens, tho'

I revisited The Bistro Restaurant* at the historic Cliff House this morning (see 'blog-date: Saturday, March 20, 2010). The food here is always good (and there is a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean on clear, sunny days), but I can get good food lots of places (and I can simply look out my window for great views); however, as always, I came back for the Popovers(!).

Above my table along the wall there was a really nice collection of autographia of many Hollywoodlanders** (sampling from bottom to top):
Claude Rains*** (but I could actually see his picture, Mr. Wells****); Nicholas Cage; Shirley Temple; Tommy Smothers; Humphrey Bogart (and I found this pretty cool to be situated just above the Claude Rains photo, Mr. Blaine); Olivia de Havilland; Huey (
Кто вы называете хуй?) Lewis; and the entire cast of "Mad About You"; among several others.

Their best Wall of Fame would have to be this one, though (from bottom to top):
The Marx Brothers; Carole Lombard (right next to); Clark Gable; Jimmy Cagney; Barbara Stanwyck; Bette Davis; Charles Laughton; Spring Byington*****; and Joan Crawford (with her original eyebrows!).

I had the Sautéed Vegetable Scramble ~ Scrambled Eggs, Red Peppers, Tomatoes, Button Mushrooms, & Melted Goat Cheese; which comes with fresh fruit and some roasted red potato halves. This was loaded with lots of Goats cheese and a nice mixture of veggies and 'shrooms (for those of you that aren't anti-fungites). To enhance the flavour, I used some Sylvia's Restaurant® ~ Kickin' Hot - Hot Sauce (Thanks, Sean!) with the scramble; and with the potatoes: Trees Can't Dance ~ Belizean Habañero Sauce (Thanks again, Greg & Cindy! And, for the record, anyone that would like a shout out on my 'blog, I can easily be bribed with a good bottle o' hot stuff). I rounded off the breakfast with a "large" glass of orange juice (it was actually more like a "tall" glass) and a cuppa coffee.

Now, I am not complaining, as this was easily rectified, but… they actually forgot to bring out my Popovers(!) to start the meal off!!! That would be like going to Disneyland® and getting snubbed by the Mouse at the gates. The good news was that when they finally did bring me my Popovers(!), they brought me four Popovers(!) and not the standard-issue three Popovers(!). I can normally barely finish two Popovers(!), let alone three Popovers(!) with the rest of the food; however, I felt it my duty to polish off all four Popovers(!)… I left some of the fruit and scramble instead.

I am sure that I will be going back again later in the year.

Did I forget to mention the Popovers(!)?!

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Sautéed Vegetable Scramble ~ 6.7; Popovers(!) ~ 8.2

*(They actually added the superfluous, inessential, gratuitous, excessive, and absolutely unnecessary "Restaurant"; by definition a "Bistro" is a restaurant already. So this is completely redundant ~ or saying the same thing, even ~ like "Sahara Desert" or "D*mn Y*nkees".)

**( )

***( )

****( )

*****(Spring Byington may be a less-know actress now-a-days, but she was very famous in her day and starred in many great movies: )

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Liberty Café and Bakery

Liberté, Égalité, Petit Déjeuner*

The Liberty* Café/Cafe** and Bakery is located over atop Bernal Heights, not exactly the easiest place to get to in the City, but still well worth the trouble.

I ate out in their garden patio, which is situated between the main restaurant, "the Café", and "the Cottage" (but not referred to as "le chalet" for some reason), which also serves as the main bakery. For a little while, I had the entire patio space to myself, as no one else was stupid enough to want to eat outside that early in the morning ~ there was just one lone dog waiting patiently for his humans to come out of the bakery. I asked the waitress and she said that they do bake special doggie biscuits once in a while ~ I noticed that he didn't get any though (cheapo humans). I didn't even need the umbrellas opened for shade as even the Sun had better sense than to try to break through… I probably coulda used one of the umbrellas to keep the small amount of mist/fog that was still present off, though.

I had the Veggie Omelette (a veritable breakfast fit for the U.N.) ~ "Swiss" chard, Portobello (which I believe is Italiano for "very tasty fungus") mushroom, roasted red onion, "Monterey" Jack cheese; with country (they did not specify as to which was the country of origin) potatoes and "English" muffin (as opposed to "muffin français"). This was a nice combo of stuff, but I think "Swiss" cheese might have paired better with the entire omelette, not to mention it would have bookended the "Swiss" chard very nicely. The home fries/country potatoes (or pommes de terre, even) were very good, just not enough of 'em in my opinion (how do you say "skimpy" en français?).

I rounded out the meal with a fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and a good, strong cuppa coffee***. They serve the English muffins with their own homemade mixed berry jam (the fruit combinations change with the whims of the person making the jams weekly); it was very good and would also be great on some of their fresh baked goods ~ which would have made the meal even better, instead of what seemed like just plain ol' store-bought English muffins (I found this very strange for a place that has its own bakery on site).

They only offer regular ol' red Tabasco®, and I had forgotten to bring any of my own stash this morning.****

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Veggie Omelette et al ~ 6.8

*(I just figured any Patrick Henry references would have seemed a bit too obvious and corn-ballish… and that is the actual technical term, I should know as I just made it up and forced my Microsoft® auto-spellchecker thingy to remember it.)

**(The outside signage is sans accent aigu; however, their on-line menu is avec accent aigu ~ so take your pick... or piqué?)

***(While sipping my cuppa joe, I had this great idea for a coffee-flavoured toothpaste. Think about it. Have you ever just brushed your teeth and then drank a cup of coffee? It has the most horrid, pepperminty/spearminty tang to it. So, why not just cut to the chase and make the toothpaste coffee-flavoured to begin with? I believe this is an even better idea than mayonnaise-fed tuna, Michael Keaton!) 

****(Completely unrelated useless cunning linguist story of the day:

The English word "robot" comes from the Czech word for "work", "robota", which is a similar word in many other Slavic languages. It was introduced in a science fiction play by Czech writer Karel Čapek in 1920. He chose the word "robot" to describe the automatons being made in a factory. 

The word for "work" in Russian is "
работа" pronounced "raBOTa". Now here is the really strange part, the word for "robot" in Russian is "робот" and pronounced “RObat” and is taken from the Czech word. This may be one of the only instances where the Russians ever borrowed anything from the Czechs… well, that, and their freedom from 1945-1990.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Who stuck? Frühstück!*


Suppenküche, which auf Deutsch simply means "Soup Kitchen", is located over in Hayes Valley. This place has a nice German Bierhaus atmosphere to it with long wooden tables which can be (and usually are) shared with total strangers, much like you would in a crowded restaurant in Germany. Suppenküche only serves "Brunch" on Sundays.

When I was living in (which was at the time still "West") Berlin, a good local Frühstück for me normally was a simple fare of just some nice rolls/breads (Brötchen ~ again with the umlaut) with butter and jams, some cheeses (Käse ~ also with an umlaut), and a small pot of coffee (Kännchen ~ umlaut ~ Kaffee). Sometimes there would also be either a hard boiled egg (gekochtes Ei ~ no umlauts) or a sunny side up egg (Spiegel Ei ~ again, o
hne umluate); but that was normally only at my favourite (and sadly now defunct) breakfast restaurant on the Kurfürstendamm (mit umlaut), Möhring (mit umlaut) Cafe (and especially without an accent aigu, as that is the Französisch ~ mit umlat auch ~ Scweinehund way of spelling it). The last time I was in Berlin (December 2003), I was very displeased to see that there is now a St*rbucks® where one of their locations used to be.

For breakfast today, I had the Reibekuchen** mit hausgemachten Apfelmus (Potato Pancakes with Homemade Applesauce***). This was exceptionally good and made with extra thick pancakes, not the normal flattish kind I was used to, and they had an very crunchy/crispy outer shell. The Apfelmus was good and fresh, but it was the smooth variety; I would have preferred it to be the chunkier/chutney-style. With the meal, I also had a side order of Gurken Salat (a fresh cucumber salad) and a HUGE cuppa coffee (eine große Tasse Kaffee); both were very tasty.

My only complaint with the entire meal was that it was kinda early in the morning and I was pretty full from all the food so I had no room (or inclination) to get one of their imported Deutsch Biere, of which they have several very good ones to choose, and many vom Fass. Not to worry, though, I have been there many times for dinner and have tried several different brands.

I am not sure what any of their soups taste like for breakfast, though…

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Reibekuchen ~ 7.0; Gurken Salat ~ 6.5

*(Useless cunning linguist story #1:

"Frühstück" is German for "breakfast". It is interesting to note this word has two umlauts in it. In German, the umlaut is just a way of accenting certain vowels ~ ä, ö, and ü ~ to have it pronounced differently. The word "umlaut" comes from German: um- "around"/"the other way" + Laut "sound". Hence, Frühstück is pronounced more closely to "froo-shtook".)

**(Useless cunning linguist story #2:

I am not sure what the difference between "Reibenkuchen" and "Kartofellpuffer" is; I assume it is just another regional way of saying "pancakes", much like in 'mericaland we can say "hotcakes", "flapjacks", "johnnycakes", "flat tire", etc. I also don't know why there is no umlaut over the "u" in "Reibenkuchen". Lowell Skelton never taught me that word. Now, "Brennt meine Nase?", he did teach me.)

***(They spelled this as two words on the menu as "Apple Sauce"; however, I prefer the one-word spelling, Mr. Chapman.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Art’s Café

Kimchi and rice for breakfast, anyone?

Art's Café* in the Sunset (over in the Irving and 9th restaurant alley area) is a tiny little "hole in the wall" (in the words of the guy sitting next to me); it only seats 14 people max, Max ~ and everyone has a seat at the counter. Art's is a Korean family-owned and operated place and is only open for breakfast and lunch. They have several nice "Omeletes"** from which to choose and some nice Korean dishes for lunch. As everyone has a counter seat (and great view of ~ I assume ~ Art preparing the meals), it is pretty cool that the counter is covered with kitschy postcards from all over the World.

People come from all over the City to eat here, specifically for their hashbrowns, which are good. There is really nothing particularly special about them, they are just your basic shredded and grilled "potatos", Dan Quayle; however, they are served very thin (think German Kartofellpuffer-style) and extra crispy.

The couple sitting next to me were also Korean and had what Art's calls "hashbrown sandwiches" (and they had a side order of plain rice and kimchi to go with it). Art's stuffs "omelete"-style ingredients into the flattened hashbrowns and fold it over to look like a potato "omelete", per se. (And just who is this know-it-all Percy guy, and why does he always seem to get referenced?) I liked this idea a lot (and it is a great Vegan way of eating an "omelete") and would have ordered that if I didn't know what I was already going to order.

I ordered the Bi Bim Bop*** Veggie "Omelete": spinach, zucchini, carrots, (soy)bean sprouts, and Swiss cheese(?)****. I had ordered this once before and knew it to be a great choice. It was just as good the second time around. The Swiss cheese goes good with "omeletes", but is not something I would generally associate with a classic bibimbap.

For hot sauces they offer Tabasco® (plain ol' standard red), Crystal®, and their own homemade gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), which is great and had much more flavour than either of the other two prepackaged bottles could provide. I covered both the "omelete" and hashbrowns with this sauce; very tasty and with just the right amount o' heat, too.

Come soon, Needa!***** And come back often…

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Bi Bim Bop "Omelete" ~ 7.0; Hashbrowns ~ 6.4; Gochujang ~ 7.4

*(Avec accent aigu on the menu, but the outside sign and their website do not have the acute accent mark. I went with the "Café" spelling just 'cause I prefer that spelling, Frenchié.)

**("Omeletes" are how it is actually spelled on the menu. I am not giving them a hard time here, I just like how it is "mispeled". The accepted spellings are normally "omelet" or "omelette", and the latter wasn't even recognized by my auto-spellchecker thingy until I forced it to remember it.)

***("Bi Bim Bop" or "bibimbap" is a popular Korean dish. The word literally means "mixed rice" and is a mixture of julienned vegetables served over rice and normally with an egg ~ raw or fried ~ on top; all of which makes it a good choice for an "omelete".)

****(When I was living in Berlin-town, there was a Korean-Swiss restaurant right on the Kurfürstendamm/Ku'damm ~ which was "the Champs-Élysées of Berlin" at the time, Percé. I always thought that was a strange culinary combination, but the food was very good. Bulgogi fondue, perhaps?)

*****(Korean for "Thank you!" is "gamsahabnida" and sounds a bit like "come soon needa/come sum needa". At least that was how it was described to me by my Korean linguist roommate back at the Defense Language Institute, Presidio of Monterey. Hey, I just remembered, that bastage still owes me $250.00 from a loan I made to him back in 1978! The only other phrase I can remember ~ or butcher ~ is "Onions on your sneakers!"; actually it is "annyeonghaseyo", meaning "Hello!")

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Chilaquiles ~ Mexican for "very tasty"

Located right in el Corazón de la Misión, Chava's Mexican Restaurant, since 1976 (¡Ese es el espíritu!) is a great place in which to get un desayuno Mexicano auténtico (at least to this gringo's tongue). All meals come with complimentary tortilla chips, salsa picante (a basic tomato-chili pepper one), guacamole, and a pico de gallo* salsa (made with lots of fresh cilantro; many people don't like too much cilantro, I love it). And I noticed another homemade salsa on another table, after I was almost done eating, which was hecho solamente** de chilis pequin, sin tomates (pequin chilis are often 7-8 times hotter than jalapeños on the Scoville scale, 30,000 to 60,000 units) ~ con un sabor muy fantástico, y mucho fuego.
As their homemade hot sauces supply more than enough flavour and heat, I felt it superfluous*** to bring any of my own bottles of hot sauces.

There are several nice Mexican-style folk art murals adorning their walls, which makes for a nice atmosphere while eating there.

Chava's used to be located several blocks away from its current location. About 10-12 years ago now they had a fire at their original location on the corner of Capp and 18th Streets. Ironically, the old restaurant used to be a favourite hang-out for Firemen Trainees in San Francisco, as their training facility was only two blocks away. The old location is still boarded-up and not in use to this day.

I had the Chilaquiles: 2 scrambled eggs, onion, tomato, bell peppers, cheese and tortilla chips (which are sautéed in the pan first from fresh corn tortillas) ~ and had them add two serrano chilis that are available on the tables to eat raw or to add to your meal (serrano chilis are a bit hotter than jalapeños, too, with a Scoville rating of 10,000 to 25,000 units). This is one of the main reasons I have been going to Chava's for about twenty years now. Chava's may not be the "best" chilaquiles in town; however, I am not Mexican and didn't grow up with this dish so I really don't know; what I do know is that they are my favourite, as this was the first place where I had my first taste of chilaquiles. And like Tiramisù, they never seem to be made quite the same way in any two restaurants

I generally take my coffee "black, no sugar"; but whenever I eat breakfast at a Mexican restaurant I like to make it a Caffeè Mexicano ~ con mucho leche y azúcar ~ like the indigenous populace would. I figure, "when in Rome, do as the Greeks would"…

On the weekends, meals also come with homemade corn tortillas; prepared by una tortilladora excepcional ~ all she does is make tortillas all day long. This is another great excuse to go to Chava's for breakfast on the weekend.

Chava's used to be in my "Breakfast Rotation" for several years, but as I normally only go there for their excellent chilaquiles (they do have other good breakfasts for me from which to choose: Huevos Rancheros, Huevos a Mexicana, Huevos con Nopales, etc., all of which I have tried in the past; but I normally go back for the chilaquiles), this made for a boring trip 6-10 times a year. As it is, I still go 3-5 times a year. Chava's is a good place to keep in mind if any other of the "players on my roster" go on the DL (see fire story above). "¡Béisbol hablado aquí!"

"¡Y tu Chava's también!"

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Chilaquiles ~ 7.6; Salsas ~ 7.0; Tortillas ~ 7.5

*(Useless cunning linguist story #1:

Pico de gallo is Spanish for "rooster's beak". I have heard a few different etymologies for this name. One is that eating this with tortilla chips resembles how a rooster would peck his food; another is that the chilis used in a typical salsa look like a rooster's beak. I have no idea which is actually correct, I just know the salsa is tasty.

I hope you will enjoy esta pequeña cancíon while reading this 'blog, or just while eating some chips and salsa. "Gallo del Cielo" ("The Rooster from Heaven"):

 It was written and performed by Tom Russell, originally from Los Ångeles, but best known as a Texas Country Music singer. I have seen him perform live a few times in the Bay Area and was introduced to his music by my friend Skip ~ "Howdy, Skip!". This is one of my favourite of his ballads.)
**(Useless cunning linguist story #2:

One of the first complete Spanish sentences I ever learned when I lived in Texas over 30 years ago was: "No me molestes. Solamente mirando." ~ thanks go to Doug Knapp/"Mongo", wherever you are ~ I really have no idea if I am spelling it correctly, though. It basically means: "Don't touch me. I am just looking." I asked him to teach it to me when we were making one of our trips to Ciudad Acuña ~ which is across the Rio from Del Rio, Texas, and one of the closest border towns to San Ångelo where we were living at the time. Most Mexican border towns are very popular with 'merican Military male types for their cheap booze and "Boys Towns". Sorry, but this ain't your Father Flanagan's kinda Boys Town, Bing. )

***("Superfluous" does not refer to any DC or Marvel funny book heroes, I looked it up; but it does seem to be more than a sufficient or required word. And what is up with "ubiquitous"? You hear it everywhere now-a-days!)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Judy’s Cafe

Judy's Cafe (sans accent aigu, s'il vous plaît) in the Marina District (on Chestnut Street) is a good place to go if you like omelettes, as that is what they mostly are known for; they have a large selection on their printed menu and a few more on the weekend specials (be sure to check out the specials board outside before you go in, they don't have them listed inside, but the staff will normally mention them).

I ordered off the specials board (just 'cause I'm "special", too ~ at least that is what my mother and teachers always used to tell me) and had the Artichoke Omelette: artichoke hearts, sautéed mushrooms, ham (skipped it), Jack-Cheddar cheese, and tomatoes. I like how they prepare their omelettes; they don’t have the ingredients folded into the middle, but have the eggs on top of all the junk. This would be a great idea for me, as whenever I attempt to make an omelette it usually ends up just being "scrambled eggs with stuff in it"* (which is one of the reasons I do not even try to make these any more). The pluses were that it was chock full o' artichoke hearts and mushrooms. The minuses were that the artichoke hearts were the marinated type, which is not really that bad, but I would have preferred fresh or just ones in a light brine; and the mushrooms appeared to be just your typical canned button variety, a fresh crimini would have been a lot tastier.

Their omelettes come with a choice of homemade (mini) pumpkin loaf or blueberry muffin, English muffin, or 9-grain toast (Can you really name more than 4-5 different grains, isn't 9 overkill?). I usually go with their pumpkin loaf (which is definitely worth trying), but wanted to also get a side order of their "handcut homestyle potatoes" (home fries with lots of herbs and spices), so I asked them to skip the bread. Their home fried potatoes are very good, so I was glad I saved room for them; however, it was still all too much food for me to finish. To complement the meal ("My, you are such a lovely little omelette!"), I also ordered a large glass of fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit juice (which was "large" and "fresh-squeezed", I am happy to state).

As with many of the other female named breakfast places in the City, I meant to ask just who "Judy" is/was, but completely forgot. I assume she was probably the owner’s mother as there were a few portraits on the wall of an older woman. The walls are also covered with autographed photos of celebrities and athletes: a couple with local favourite Anthony Dominick Benedetti ("I left my artichoke hearts in San Francisco…"?), several San Francisco Giants photos and memorabilia (including some big-headed dude named Barry something-or-other), Cheech Marin, etc. I sat underneath a photo of Dwayne "Dobie Gillis" Hickman.

I parked over by the Presidio and was rewarded after breakfast by seeing several (13-14) of the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill flying around. One of their evening roosts is in the tall trees in the dog park near the Lombard Gate (I hope Mark Bitner doesn't put a hit out on me for giving this "local secret" away).

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Omelette ~ 6.5; Handcut Homestyle Potatoes ~ 6.6; Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill ~ still 8.2

*(The funniest thing is that I overheard a lady at the next table describing this exactly as how she makes omelettes the same way. I had to tell her that is how I make them, too.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


… don’t let your babies grow up, period.

I had breakfast in North Beach at Mama♥s on Washington Square this morning. This is another local (and tourist) treasure for breakfast spots. The operative word here is "little" ~ only 10-12 tables (and many of those are just a "table for two"). Much like Dottie's, the wait is generally ½-hour to an hour (today I waited ½-hour just to get inside the door and another 15 minutes to order ~ more on that in a bit); however, the food is more than worth the wait, as long as the weather is clear and nice (being as it is Summer in the City, it was a cool 55-60° max and foggy this morning ~ somehow I really doubt that John Sebastian was talking about San Francisco in his 60's classic Rock-and/or-Roll song).

Mama♥s could easily be in my "Breakfast Rotation" somewhere (along with
Dottie's, Ella's, Chloes, Baker Street Bistro, Boogaloos, and Cliff House ~ DFA-ing whom, I am not quite sure) if not for the location and wait. Early Sunday mornings are easy to find a decent parking spot (I actually found one right along Washington Square Park), but just try to find a decent (free) spot after 9:00am otherwise on the weekends. The ordering process at Mama♥s is kinda strange: after waiting outside (it only feels like forever), you will again wait in line at the counter to order your meal and pay for it up front; then, only after there is a table open, they will seat you. This process can be another 15-20 minutes in itself.

Mama♥s offers many different types of French toasts from which to choose and what they call "Momelettes". I had the Kugelhuph French Toast. This is made with a home baked brioche-style bread. The bread has golden raisins, cinnamon, dates, and sliced almonds in it. And they added berries on top: (fresh) strawberries, (fresh) blueberries, (probably frozen) raspberries, and some champagne (? tiny little suckers) grapes on the side. This makes for a very tasty combination (and they have gen-u-wine maple syrup ~ none o' that watered-down imitation stuff ~ which is a big plus). I rounded out the meal with a side of grilled red potatoes ('cause there wasn't enough carbohydrates in the meal already) and a glass ("large" and for real again for a change) of ruby red grapefruit juice.

About half-way through the meal, I overheard the waitress tell another patron to be sure to try their homemade olallieberry jam that is on each table. She was right ~ it went great with the grilled potatoes. Otherwise, they only offer two types of Tabasco®: Red (standard) and Green (jalapeño).

While waiting in line I only saw a few (2-3) of the Wild Parrots* of Telegraph Hill flying overhead. I made sure to point it out to some people standing in line and explain the story to them. One of them has been living in San Francisco for four years and had never heard of this "only in San Francisco" phenomenon, and he had an out of town guest from Missouri (I am sure they don't see many wild parrots flying around St. Louis or Kansas City).

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Kugelhuph French Toast ~ 7.5, Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill ~ 8.2

*(Useless cunning linguist story of the day:
One time when I visited
Mama♥s, I overheard a German couple speaking and saw a flock of the wild parrots flying by and I pointed up and said "Papageien", which is German for "parrots". The couple must have thought me completely daft and just stared at me blankly, "Oh, the idiotischen Americaner; he thinks that all birds are 'parrots'." I pointed up again and said, "Nein, Papageien." They looked up this time and noticed the green and red feathers and answered back to me in perfect English: "Those ARE parrots!"; I then went on to explain the story to them, too. I only remember this word in German as it is much the same as the word for "parrot" in Russki: попугай ~ pronounced "papa-GUY" for you non-Cyrillic readers. Similarly, the word in Italiano is pappagallo; and "parrot" in Greek is παπαγάλος ~ pronounced just like it looks.)