Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tartine Bakery & Cafe

"Never go against the family, Cold-one!"*

Tartine Bakery & Cafe is located in the Mission over on Guerrero and 18th, down the block from Dolores Park. I drove by there last month after having desayuno at Chava's and noticed a long line out the door and along the sidewalk. I figured that could only mean a new, good place for breakfast and made a mental note (with me that is really the only kind of note I know) to check it out in the future. After eating (for what seemed like) all day yesterday, it was kinda nice to have a simple breakfast of baked goods. This was not quite what I was expecting, but it was still a nice change of pace (or pastry).

I went with the Gaugére Croissant ~ with Gruyere cheese, black pepper, and fresh thyme ~ for a savory pastry; and a Frangipane Tart ~ light almond-cream filling, baked in a flaky pastry shell with seasonal fruit (plums? apricots?, not quite sure) ~ for a sweet choice. I also had a cappuccino from their coffee/espresso bar. I liked the croissant better than the tart; both were decent enough, though. The croissant was similar to a popover in texture and appearance. The cappuccino was just as good as the pastries.

I probably should have gotten a bowl of their brioche bread pudding; it looked pretty good. Otherwise, for breakfast alternatives, they really only offer quiches, sandwiches, and several different types of Croque Monsieurs. They do not really have a kitchen to speak of.

While I was there, they were playing the Kate Bush album "The Hounds of Love", one of my favourites of hers, which is always a plus:

They offer an interesting enough selection of baked goods; however, I am not so sure it merits the long lines ~ there was really nothing to write home about… or to write a 'blog entry about either, but that is already too late.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Frangipane Tart~ 6.5; Gaugére Croissant ~ 6.7; Kate Bush "The Hounds of Love" ~ 7.5

*(Stupid cunning linguist story for the day, Turnabout Is Fair Play Department:

Okay, just so "Greg" can feel a little better about himself ~ and so that I am assured a place to sleep this Christmas vacation ~ here is a similar story of the "art of miscommunication" by stupid 'mericans when traveling in Europe.

When I was a freshman in high school, I was fortunate enough to make a trip to Italia during the Easter/Spring vacation: Milano, Venezia, Firenze, Pisa, and Roma. One morning another student and myself ~ "Hi, Steve!" ~ ventured out on our own during some free time and felt like getting a refreshing, cold drink. We had learned that a lot of times when you order a soda in Italy, it is normally served at room temperature and you need to request ice with it.

We stopped into a corner store and wanted to make sure to ask for a "cold one". Unfortunately our Italiano was limited to a few basic sentences ~ we had learned to count to ten correctly, as there were ten of us total in our troop ~ and whatever Latin we had learned that year in Mr. O'Neil's Latin class. Not knowing the word for "cold", we just assumed you put an "a" or "o" on most English words and it would automatically become Italiano. So we ordered "Due 'colda' Coca-Colas." The lady behind the counter looked at us wide-eyed and said to us quite excitedly, "No! No 'colda' Coca-Cola!" So we answered back just as affirmatively, "S
ì! 'Colda' Coca-Cola!" This went back and forth several times with neither party budging on their assertions. We finally just decided to get whatever they had and hope for the best. After she served us and we were walking away, we found the Cokes to be more than adequately chilled. So we looked at each other and said that old lady must have been crazy!

Less than a minute later, we were passing a pizza joint that sold slices on the street from its window counter. The sign read "Calda Pizza". We looked at each other and said, "Hey, they sell 'cold pizza' slices here." It took us a few more steps to figure out that "calda" actually means "hot" ~ as in the root of the English words ~ from Latin ~ "caldron", "scalding", etc. That poor old lady must have thought all American teenagers had a very strange sense of humour… or taste.

By the way, the word for "cold" in Italiano is "freddo"…)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Taste of Greece 2010

Καλή όρεξη*

Did you say "dance"?

"Will you shut that bloody dancing up!!!"


A Taste of Greece 2010 ~ San Francisco's only Greek Festival. The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral is located about 3-4 blocks from the Mission San Francisco de Asís. Again, my major complaint (like with the Armenian Food Festival two weeks ago) is that there was just way too much good food and I do not have a big enough appetite to eat it all; I might not eat again the rest of the weekend…

I fell in love with Greek food from the very first day I arrived in Greece. I remember it distinctly as it was July 4th, 1979 ~ That's the spirit! ~ and there was nothing open on Base, so they sent me downtown to
Γλυφάδα to a hotel for the night. That night for dinner, jet-lagged and disoriented, I walked to nearby Glyfada Square, not knowing any Greek or what to expect in the way of food. Luckily, I found a nice ταβέρνα and stumbled through as best I could, and ordered my first (of many over the years) χωριάτικη σαλάτα. As the weeks went by, I discovered (and was introduced to) many other great foods that I could eat and would grow to love ~ τζατζίκι for breakfast, anyone?

I figured the meat-lovers out there would enjoy this photo of an entire lamb being cooked on a spit. This is how they used to do it around Πάσχα when I lived there. They would dig a pit in the backyard and the preparations would usually start on Friday night and carry on into Saturday the day before Easter Sunday. I say "preparations", but it was always more of a party/family gathering.

For today's feast, I had:
+ The aforementioned Greek Salad/
χωριάτικη σαλάτα ~ (real Greek) Feta cheese, cucumbers, (real) Kalamata olives, green bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes (sorry, "Greg")
+ 3 dolmades ~ stuffed grape leaves, the vegetarian version
+ Spanakopita ~ Greek spinach and cheese phyllo pastry
+ a nice glass of
κόκκινο κρασί from Πάρος with the meal (Paros is an island in the Aegean Sea, southeast of Athens and northeast of Crete. Paros is a nice island that not too many 'mericans ever venture to; they normally go to the more popular island of Mykonos.)
+ and afterward a glass of
Ρετσίνα (think wine with a hint of Pine-Sol®; not only does it clean your palate, but in a pinch, it will clean your plate, too)

Of course, I had to save room for the really good stuff, too. I had a great piece of Kataifi (see my rave from two weeks ago for the description of this Mediterranean delight) and a Greek coffee (μέτριος) for dessert. I also bought two more pieces of Kataifi to take home along with a piece of γαλακτομπούρεκο ~ custard in phyllo. As far as I was concerned, these were all basically free, as I saved $5.00 on the entrance fee with a coupon from the Armenian food festival two weeks ago and I saved another $5.00 today on an imported bottle of olive oil ~ they had a special going: buy two for $30.00, as opposed to one for $20.00, so I went in with the complete stranger behind me and we both saved $5.00 each (ευχαριστώ, Μιχαήλ).

The only negatives I can think about was that they did not have any
τζατζίκι for sale by itself, nor σκορδαλιά (a garlicy potato/bread dip), nor γίγαντες ("gigantic" broad beans in a tomato sauce ~ another favourite of mine). I did talk them into "selling" me a pita slathered with τζατζίκι that they used on the γύρος which they were selling ~ they were going to just give it to me, but as it was all for charity, I paid for it anyway. It was very good τζατζίκι, too, as it turned out ~ lots of garlic. I mentioned this to the guy at the booth while thanking him again and he said: "Well, what is tzatziki without garlic? Plain yogurt."

All in all, it was a good afternoon of food and music, very reminiscent of a warm Fall day in
Γλυφάδα… the only thing missing was all the stray cats roaming around.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Greek Food~ 7.4; Kataifi ~ 8.5

*(This is Greek for "Bon appétit!". We really don’t have an equivalent in English. No one ever says "Good appetite!" before a meal, do they?)

Baker Street Bistro ~ la deuxième partie

Oeufs Baker Street Bistro ~ yet another "great find"

Une autre revoir à Baker Street Bistro (s'il vous plaît voir: l'entrée d'avril dix-septième). I sat outside in their very large sidewalk patio seating area ~ which is very dog-friendly by the way ~ as today was the perfect day for it. It is officially Fall now and that means the beginning of the San Francisco Summer (for all of the next week or so); the sun was shining and it was probably 75-80° outside this morning. While sitting there waiting for the breakfast to arrive, I first heard and then saw a few of the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill flying overhead, heading out for the morning again.

Usually when I go here I would normally not even look at their menu and just order the Pain Perdu; however, I had eaten here three times already this year and decided to try one of their Oeufs entries. I went with the Oeufs Baker* Street Bistro: ratatouille**, poached eggs, English muffins (which in French are actually known as "ces stupides anglais porc-chiens muffins"), and tomato sauce. All of their egg dishes come with home fries and a mixed salad. I also ordered a fresh lemonade and cuppa coffee; both of which were very good.

Their version of ratatouille was pretty traditional and (to the best of my knowledge) consisted of aubergine, red and green bell peppers, courgettes, garlic, onions, and herbs de Provence (and surprisingly enough, it contained a minimal amount of actual rat in it). Their tomato*** sauce was a good French version ~ not as good as any home-made gravy Italiana, but still very tasty. Much like their Pain Perdu, this was another "great find"; I love a good ratatouille and this made for a very good alternative to Oeufs Florentine that I would probably have ordered. IF they didn't have the best Pain Perdu I have ever had, this oeuf dish could easily become my standard choice when visiting there; however, I probably would never have discovered it without going there for the Pain Perdu in the first place (would that be known as "une Prise Vingt-deux"?).

I did manage to talk two of the three people sitting at the next table into trying the Pain Perdu ~ the lady also agreed that it was "the best French Toast" that she had ever had; I went on to explain to them (read: bore and interrupt their meal) what exactly "Pain Perdu" meant ~ so, as good as the French Toast is, they may never want to visit this establishment in fear of ever running into me again.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Oeufs Baker Street Bistro ~ 7.5; Lemonade ~ 6.5

*(I assume to be pronounced: "Bake-AIR" Street)

**("Ratatouille" was basically an unknown dish to most average 'mericans before the recent Disney/Pixar movie by the same name came out. The ex-wife of a friend of mine ~ "Hi, Harvey!" ~ used to make a killer ratatouille back in the 80's and it was the first time I had ever tried this excellent Frenchified vegetarian stew myself.)

***(Not-so-boring-for-a-change cunning linguist story of the day:

Sorry, "Greg", this story is just too funny not to retell to the entire World Wild Intro-net.

Several years ago while traveling in southern France on a visit from West Berlin, where we all lived at the time, two friends ~ neither of whom spoke any French ~ were at a restaurant eating and had no idea what the menu said as it was all in French. One of them ~ whom we shall call "Greg" to disguise his true identity ~ actually asked the waiter "Sprechen Sie Englisch?". Now the truly ironic part of this is that "Greg" really spoke little to no German either; why "Greg" didn't just ask the waiter "Do you speak English?" is unknown, or why didn't the other friend ~ whom we shall call "Dave" to protect his identity also, who happened to be a trained Polish Linguist in the United States Air Force and also had a basic knowledge of both Russian and German ~ do all the talking for the both of them?! I am pretty sure that they got the chef's special "la sauce loogie" on their meals at no extra charge.

Now here is the truly funny part of the story:

"Greg" hates raw tomatoes. "Greg" loathes them. "Greg" would never order them knowingly if "Greg" had a choice. "Greg" feels more strongly about raw tomatoes than I do about the vile weed. The only thing on the menu that "Greg" could discern was "Salade de Tomates", which is pretty much what it looks like in English. "Greg" figured: "I can always just pick the tomatoes off the salad and eat the lettuce and other stuff." Little did "Greg" know that when you order a "Tomato Salad" in Europe, that is exactly what you get… and only what you get. I wish I could have been there to see the look on "Greg's" face when the waiter brought out a huge plate of tomatoes with just spices, oil and vinegar, and nothing else. It would have served "Dave" perfectly right if "Dave" had ended up with the "Spéciale du Jour: Veaux Cerveau dans un sauce crème", but I think "Dave" actually lucked out and got something edible and ended up sharing it with "Greg".

Now after relating that story, I will probably have to change my Christmas vacation plans for this year… sorry, "Greg", not all of us can be cunning linguists ~ at least that is what "Cindy" always complains about.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chloe♥s Cafe

(Because Steves Cafe just doesn't sound quite as breakfast-y)

I went to Chloes again over in outer Noe Valley (right on the corner of Church & 26th Streets, as the above street signs depict). It is still currently #3 in my Breakfast Rotation (and has been for several years), so I had to revisit it again this Summer while the weather is still nice enough. As it were, the weather was perfect this morning, even if I had wanted to sit outside at one of their several sidewalk tables (I didn't, but should have). While waiting outside before they opened, the smells coming from the kitchen were excellent (probably the preparation for their good home fried potatoes). I still have no idea who "Chloe" actually is. The waitress did not know either (possibly the original owner?); she told me that the current owner's name is Steve.

Today I ordered off their Specials Board. Special Scramble: two scrambled eggs with fresh spinach, roasted yellow bell peppers, red onion, and a choice of cheese (Jarlsberg, Cheddar, cream cheese, or Feta); served with a cup of fresh fruit or home fries, and a choice of toast. I went with the Feta, as Feta and spinach are always a tasty combination, Ζορμπάς! For the toast choice, there really is no other choice for me, as their White Rosemary toast* is the best. I am sure their other breads/toasts are good, too, but this is one of the reasons I keep going back to Chloes. And, as always, potatoes over fresh fruit ~ what am I, some kinda fruity vegetarian or something?!

The scramble included lots of fresh spinach; however, there was really not as much Feta as I would have liked (I know that they usually pile the Jarlsberg on whenever I order that cheese); and I am not so sure that it was authentic Greek Feta** (I asked the waitress and she checked in the kitchen, but she couldn't say for sure). All in all it was still very good. I also ordered a cuppa coffee ~ which was surprisingly good for a change; they usually have pretty weak and flavourless coffee.

I knew ahead of time that they only have Red/plain Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce on the tables, so I brought two of my own: Sylvia's Restaurant® Kickin' Hot ~ Hot Sauce and Roland® Piri-Piri with Lemon. I went with the Roland® (sorry, Sean), which is a Portuguese import. You know what they say? When in Greece, do as the Portuguese do. Plus the ingredients were pretty interesting: lemon, piri-piri peppers, fig vinegar, onions, salt, sugar, and spices (whereas plain ol' Tabasco® is just peppers, vinegar, and salt).

I had to take a shot of their tablecloth; the theme is perfect for breakfast.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Special Scramble ~ 7.2; White Rosemary toast ~ 7.2

*(There is actually a restaurant in town with the moniker of Toast. There are two locations that I know of, and both are in Noe Valley. I have eaten at each of the locations: the one on Church Street ~ just a few blocks from Chloes coincidentally ~ and the one on 24th Street. The funny part is that their standard "toast" that is served with breakfast is really nothing much of which to speak. Their breakfasts are good enough, but do not warrant the lines of people waiting to get in on the weekends. I will have to go back again one day and 'blog on it, but it is not a priority with me as the "toast" was rather disappointing. This would be kinda like going all the way to Paris and getting served crummy French fries.)

**(It could possibly have been Bulgarian or French Feta; neither of which are as good as Greek Feta. It didn't quite have the distinct flavour or saltiness that I am used to with "real Greek Feta cheese". If it is not "
αυθεντική ελληνική φέτα", they should not be able to call it as such; anywhere else but France, "sparkling wine" can not use the nomenclature of "Champagne", after all; and don't even get me started on that whole moutard de Dijon-Grey Poupon® debacle!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010


"Refreshingly Global"

pomelo is located all the way at the end of Church Street in Noe Valley. In case anyone was wondering, a "pomelo" [pronounced: pom-uh-loh] is a large citrus fruit from which several other citrus fruits have been cultivated, e.g. a tangelo is a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine; and it is also known as "the granddaddy of grapefruit".

I used to go to this place all the time in the late 90's, when it was still known as Valentine's. Valentine was the name of the owners' Scotty Dog that would usually be parked out front on the sidewalk. Valentine's was one of my favourite places and part of my regular Breakfast Rotation back then; they had a great breakfast/brunch menu.

However, in 2001 new owners bought the place and changed the brunch menu extensively to match their theme of globularity and the unification of noodles and grains. pomelo still has their original restaurant over on Judah Street near UCSF, but they are not open for brunch/breakfast at that location. pomelo also offers a great breakfast selection, but the location (about as far away from my apartment as you can get in San Francisco without ending up in the Bay) and the fact that they don't open up until 10:00am on Saturdays and Sundays has prevented my going there as often as I used to.

pomelo is still a very pet-friendly place. There was a cute little Chihuahua waiting patiently for her human to finish breakfast this morning ~ and this little dog was not a monster like some unnamed beasts *cough-cough ~ Mini De Niro ~ cough-cough* ("Hi, Cheri!"). I found out that it is not exactly baby-friendly, though, as they don't have any high chairs, just booster seats; not that that really matters much to me ~ let the little rug-rats stay outside with the rest of the mangy pets.

Every breakfast starts with a complimentary mini-muffin. Today's was nectarines & almonds. It was pretty small, but very tasty and fresh-baked. I probably could have eaten another one if forced. Another thing I remember about Valentine's was that they used to start every breakfast with a little basket of several baked goodies.

As mentioned, their menu is pretty extensive and this was another one of those places that I could have chosen one of several good ones. I ended up going with altamira (caracas) ~ arepas - three crispy white corn buns: one filled with egg; one filled with potato, tomato, and queso fresco; and one filled with beef mechada, black beans, fried plantain & grated cheese. I had them substitute a second egg arepa in place of the beef one (I have no idea what mechada is, and I was not about to find out). Arepas are basically Venezuela's version of empanadas or pupupas.
I have had this in the past and knew it to be a winner. This is served with guasacaca, a Venezuelan spicy avocado salsa. Next time I go there, I have to try their "Scandinavian cardamom pancake rolls ~ served with nectarine & pluot plum compote"; that sounds too good to pass up a second time.

I had all of this with a large glass of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (it just made sense).

As for the ubiquitous salsa offerings, they had a pretty decent collection. They have 3 types of Tabasco® ~ Red/Standard, Green/Jalapeño, and Chipotle; and 2 types of Cholula® ~ Original and Chili Lime. (I just found out today that Cholula® is licensed by Tequila Cuervo la Rojena, S.A. de C.V., the people that make Jose Cuervo® products.) I went with some of the Tabasco® Chipotle on the guasacaca; not that it really needed any extra heat or flavour, as it was pretty good on its own.

All in all, I think it was pretty funny that there was not anything on their menu (or none that I could see) that was made with an actual pomelo.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: altamira ~ 7.4; mini-muffin ~ 7.0

Sunday, September 12, 2010

(Baseball) Diamonds for Breakfast

Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland AAA's

"To me, every tear, every frustration is a precious diamond which lingers in my mind. Good and bad experiences, pleasure and pain, are all the richness of which I am proud. I pity people without feelings, they don’t have diamonds for breakfast."
~ Amanda Lear

I didn't have time to have a real breakfast out this morning as I planned to get up early and go over to Oakland to catch the last game of the Boston Red Sox - Oakland AAA's series. I knew that taking public transportation (MUNI and BART) would be about an hour to an hour and a half trip over to Oaktown; so I just had a couple of the leftover pastries from yesterday's Armenian Food Festival with a good (well, as good as I can make it) cuppa coffee; I had the Gata and Pirog with a cup of Bettys Peruvian Pangoa (thanks again, Greg & Cindy!).

The trip over to the ballpark started out fortuitous enough as I found a $1.00 bill already stuck in the fare box, so I only had to pay another $1.00 (½-fare) for my first leg of the trip via MUNI (and don't think I was trying to rip-off the system; I offered the extra dollar to the bus driver, but they are not allowed to take cash). I ended up giving $1.00 to a homeless guy when I got downtown; I explained to him that it was "compliments of MUNI".

When I got to the ballpark, I made sure to have a complete, healthy "Breakfast": Veggie dog with the works ~ spicy brown mustard, chopped onions, ketchup, relish, and a heap of sauerkraut (no one could ever tell it wasn't a real hotdog buried under all that junk); Garlic fries; Ranger India Pale Ale (from New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO); 2 Scoops of Dreyer's® ice cream ~ Chocolate chip cookie dough and Butter pecan; and a bag of Cracker Jack®. This is the real "breakfast of champions", I don't care what General Mills is trying to push on the public.

I went to the ballpark without getting a ticket beforehand. I knew that the
Oakland AAA's have not been selling out any of their games lately and was just going to get the best possible seat available. I am not picky and would have sat in the bleachers if necessary. However, this was not needed at all as I had pretty much my pick of seats. I got one seven rows from the field and only about twenty feet away from the Visitors dugout and directly up from First Base. Pretty nice seats indeed.

As I got there about an hour and a half before the start of the game, I had the opportunity to take some pictures of the
Red Sox Pitchers practicing beforehand. Here is one of John Lackey, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, and Clay Buchholz trailing behind. And another of Jonathan Papelbon warming up before pitching the 9th Inning (and getting the Save... 1-2-3).

And just 'cause it's my 'blog. Here is some eye-candy, Heidi Watney, the NESN on-field reporter:

All in all today was a very good sports day for me:
Red Sox win; San Francisco Giants win; New England Patriots win; Y*nkees lose; Tampa Bay Ray Devils lose; unfortunately the San Francisco 49ers also lost, but so did the stupid Oakland Raiders

Here's hoping all your breakfasts aren't cubic zirconia!

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Boston
Red Sox ~ 5; Oakland AAA's ~ 3; Ballpark food ~ 6.0

Saturday, September 11, 2010

53rd Annual Armenian Food Festival

ՊԱՐԵՆԱՅԻՆ @ St. Gregory the Illuminator
Armenian Apostolic Church

Sorry, this entry is not about breakfast, but it is about some mighty tasty food.

I am sure not many 'mericans could even pinpoint the democratic Republic of Armenia on a map. So as an aid, here is a link (I had a general idea myself, but Wikipedia is much more helpful):

As a teenager I used to work for a catering agency on the weekends in the Summer and we would sometimes cater dinners at the Armenian-American Vets. Funny, I didn't even know we had ever gone to war against Armenia. Wonder who won that one?

Armenia may be a small nation, but I am sure everyone knows or has heard of at least one famous Armenian person. Usually a good indicator that someone is of Armenian descent is if their name ends in either "-ian" or "-yan" (however, I am pretty sure that Martin Yan does not qualify).

+ William Saroyan ~ Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author

+ Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. ~ Creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks; singer-songwriter of the "Witch Doctor" song ("Oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang", which in Armenian means: "This is a very silly song, but it was a #1 hit in 1958 and made me lots of money."); as well as the writer (co-written with his cousin William Saroyan) of the 1951 Rosemary Clooney hit "Come on-a My House"

+ Adrienne Barbeau ~ (her mother was Armenian) Actress of "Maude" and "Swamp Thing" fame (and well-known, large breastesses)

+ Atom Egoyan ~ (Armenian-Canadian) Filmmaker

+ Tim Kurkjian ~ Sportswriter and ESPN Analyst

+ John Koljian ~ a member of the undefeated 1955-1956 University of San Francisco Dons Men's Basketball Team, which happened to also include some other pretty decent players: K.C. Jones and some tall, skinny kid named William Felton "Bill" Russell; John was not only drafted by the Celtics along with those "other" two players, but he was also drafted by the Boston Red Sox (Danny Ainge eat your heart out); if not for a knee injury, John may very well have been known as the Bo Jackson of his day. (Howdy, Nick!)

They had many good vegetarian dishes from which to choose. I went there hungry on purpose, but there were just too many choices, so I limited myself to four items (I had to save room for dessert after all):

+ Ich ~ a cracked wheat dish; similar to tabouleh

+ Dolmas ~ stuffed grape leaves - filled with rice, onions, and spices; however, these had something extra in them that I could not pinpoint ~ crunchy, crispy onions?

+ Sou-Boereg ~ layered phyllo pastry with cheese and parsley; similar to the Greek dish tiropita (

+ Stuffed bell pepper ~ stuffed with rice, vegetables, and lentils (I like the addition of lentils; with the rice, this makes a complete meal for a vegetarian)

The biggest surprise of the day was an imported Armenian beer: Kilikia. It was very good; I am going to be sure to locate it at a local Armenian-Russian market in my neighborhood. (Thank God the Armenians are mostly Christians and not alcohol abstainers like the Muslims.)

And then there were Desserts!!! And not a bad one on the menu. Again, I had to limit myself to four only:

+ Armenian Apple Delight ~ think Apfelstrudel in a roll

+ Gata ~ Flaky, buttery, delicious dessert (that was their actual description; I have never tried this one before, but it looked really good and I am looking forward to trying it)

+ Pirog ~ Apricot jam cake (I have had this before and it is excellent)

+++ Khadaif ~ (known as Kataifi in Greek) Shredded phyllo dough filled with walnuts and drenched in a honey or sugar syrup. This stuff is the Marilyn Monroe of desserts! I used to buy this by the pound when I lived in Greece and then eat the whole thing in one sitting. Sure, it made me sick… but what a way to go. (Would you rather be run over by a Porsche or a Hundai?)

I took all of these home with me to enjoy later on tonight and tomorrow; however, I did get an extra piece of the Khadaif to eat there with a nice cup of Armenian coffee (like Arabic/Turkish/Greek coffee, this is served in a demitasse, lightly sweetened, and with the grounds in the bottom of the cup).

PLUS, while I was there, I picked up a free admission to A Taste of Greece (a $5.00 value), on September 24-26. I know exactly where I will be going in two weeks (and you can all plan on being bored with my details of it, too).

My only major complaint was that there was just wayyyy too much good food and I could only eat so much. If I had to review food for a living I would be HUGE… at least 170-175 pounds!

Come hungry, leave stuffed!

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Armenian Food ~ 7.1; Kilikia Beer ~ 6.9; Armenian Desserts ~ 7.5; Khadaif ~ 8.5


"a french bistro in the heart of Cole Valley"

(For a change, I thought I'd include a little breakfast music to enjoy while reading this today: Tanita Tikaram* ~ "Valentine Heart"… thanks, Karen! You may need to open up another tab on your Intro-Net browser as I still haven't quite figured out how to imbed a video into my 'blog yet. Sorry, Jim.)


Zazie is located over in ("the heart of…" as stated in their on-line menu) Cole Valley. It is over near the intersection of Cahlancole**. There are only two sidewalk tables (which are great if you happen to come there with some canine friends, like I saw this morning), but they have lots of indoor seating, and, better yet, several backyard-garden patio tables. This is a very cool open-air patio space, and today was the perfect morning for it ~ a bit sunny, but still comfortable enough to enjoy with a sweatshirt on.

They have a very impressive selection of pancakes and French toast (Pain Perdu ~ which they did not even state; what kinda Frenchy beestrow is that?) from which to choose (see their menu for particularly the French Toast Tahiti and the Gingerbread Pancakes ~ both of which I will have to go back and try another time). They also have a nice variety of poached egg dishes ("Served on an English muffin with our fabulous light lemon hollandaise, with home fries or salad"), which is what I went with today.
When it comes to a choice of home fries or a side salad, I will always choose the potatoes. Like I want a salad for breakfast, what am I, an herbivorous rabbit or something?

I had the Valence: with roasted eggplant and spicy tomato-chevre sauce (no hollandaise). The tomato-ey sauce was very good; however, the roasted eggplant slices were still cold. I was not sure if this was by design or not, and thought the dish would be much better with warm/hot slices of eggplant. I asked the maitre d' while I was leaving and he told me that the eggplant should have been heated, much as I thought. I will chalk it up to their being very busy (I got there just as they were opening and there was a line out the door waiting to be seated) and someone in the kitchen not paying too much attention.

To drink I had the Zazie Spritzer: sparking blend of cranberry juice, fresh squeezed orange juice, and San Pelligrino; and a strong cuppa coffee ~ I should have asked what brand/blend they use, as it was very good.

I thought it funny that the two women sitting next to me also took pictures of their plates of breakfast; so I didn’t feel so strange when it came my turn to do the same.

They only have Tabasco® sauce (just the red/standard issue) upon request to use, so I used some chipotle-habañero salsa (with which I had come prepared) on my potatoes; the eggs were already fine with their own sauce.

In the patio area there was a sign stating "Défense de Fumer", which always beats "Offense de l'Air Frais" in my opinion.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Valence ~ 6.7 (this probably would have been a 7.1 with hot eggplant slices); Zazie Spritzer ~ 6.5

*(I had never heard of Tanita Tikaram before this morning. A friend on defacedbook had a few EweToob links of her music and I liked what I heard and have been listening to most of her songs while preparing this post this morning.

I don't know why she has never made it big in the States, as she has a great smoky, chanteuse voice and is very pretty. If you enjoy Joan Armatrading or Norah Jones, you will probably like Tanita, too.)

**(Stupid cunning-linguist story of the day:

Zazie is actually on Cole Street near the intersection of Carl Street. When I first moved to San Francisco I used to know a guy named Pete from Boston that lived around there. One night after going out drinking with Pete ~ who had a lot to drink and had a pretty heavy Bostonian accent to begin with ~ and having to drive him home, we asked him where he lived and he slurred what sounded like "Cahlancole". We asked him to repeat it several times, but it always came out sounding like "Cahlancole". We finally figured out that he was saying that he lived over on "Carl and Cole".

Now can someone explain to me what a "bubblah" is in Bostonian and why it is a very handy thing on a hot summer day?)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pork Store Cafe

It's a (no) pork fat thing, Emeril.

I went to the Pork Store Cafe (sans accent aigu) this morning; the one on 16th Street over in the Mission. The original restaurant in the Haight is always a pain to get into as it is much smaller, there is always a long line to get in, and parking is less accessible. They have been open on Haight Street for over twenty years now. I think the Mission restaurant has been open for less than ten years. I remember that at one time back in the 90's they even had a (short-lived) location over in the South of Market Area.

They have local artists paintings for sale on their walls. "Buddha of Belief" by JD Lenzen ($450 ~ which seemed kinda steep to me) was right above my table. I almost sprayed it with some hot sauce by accident. The cap on the Tapatío® bottle had a crack in it (which I did not notice) and as I was shaking it up before using it, it got little splatters all over the table and wall, just missing this piece of art by inches. Maybe JD Lenzen could have then renamed it "Buddha of Unbelievable Salsa" and command another $50-100 for it.

I had the Eggs In A Tasty Nest ~ A bed of hash browns topped with bacon (skipped this), Cheddar cheese, grilled green peppers, fresh tomatos (sic*), onions and garlic with 2 eggs any style, and biscuits or toast. I opted for "over medium" and their home made buttermilk biscuits. This really ended up being more like "Eggs On A Tasty Heap", though, Uriah. I was expecting more of a deep bird's nest appearance to the dish for some reason. It was all still very good. The base of hash browns was nicely seasoned and just "grease-y" enough (with what I hoped was some kinda vegetable oil and not a porcine by-product). Their biscuits (two each) were large and fluffy, fresh and warm; they melted the pats of butter nicely and tasted great with what appeared to be real maple syrup (by the taste and viscosity), which are present on each table.

There are several other good breakfast choices for both Vegetarians and Vegans. They even offer several non-porky items: tofu scrambles, soy chorizo, vegetarian bacon, and vegetarian sausage (I don't know if these are in the patty or links format). I only noticed that they had a vegetarian bacon after I had ordered and the meal came; which really didn't matter as they specifically stated on the menu "no substitutions" with this dish. It's a good thing I didn't request "tomatoes" instead of "tomatos".

They only have Tabasco® (the standard red) and Tapatío® (with faulty caps, apparently) on the tables. I would have expected them to have a better selection of hot sauce condiments; especially at this location in the Mission, where great bottled hot sauces are easily found in any local corner bodega.

"Th-Th-That's all, f-f-folks!"

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Eggs IATN/OATH ~ 6.9; Homemade Biscuits ~ 6.7

*(This was spelled as such on their "Specials" menu; however, they did have it spelled correctly on their regular menu. Maybe they hired Dan Quayle to be their weekend sous chef; it's not as if he has been in demand on the inspirational speaking circuit in the past twenty years or so.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010


... as in flavor*

Savor is located over in the "gentrificated" part of 24th Street in Noe Valley. I had originally planned on going to Savor last weekend, but was sidetracked by the little Chihuahua (and I don’t mean that mean ol' monster, Mini De Niro ~ "Hi, Cheri!"). They have a nice, covered (retractable canvas awning thingy) patio area; however, as it was still early in the morning and a bit chilly, I wimped out and opted for a table right next to one of their gas-burning fireplaces (which is more for atmosphere than actual heat it seems). 

They just have way too many good choices on their breakfast menu. I finally decided to go with one of their Savor-y crepes; don't get me wrong, most of their omelette selections looked great, also, I just wanted to try something different for a change. All of their crepes are served with "home potatoes" (their actual term) and mixed greens.

I chose the Cypress: Spinach, onion, olives (real
Καλαμάτα, ευχαριστώ πολύ), roasted almonds, and Feta cheese with a yogurt cucumber sauce (bka τζατζίκι); however, the Mazatlan: Avocado, tomatoes, sharp Cheddar, and chipotle peppers with salsa fresca and sour cream ~ was also a nice looking choice. I rounded out the meal with a cuppa coffee and a cranberry juice-lemonade mix. 

The crepe was excellent, and it was chock-full-o': Καλαμάτα olives, spinach (even though I just had a nice heaping portion of spinach, Hamli, last night for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant ~ "Hi, Alan!"), and Feta (in nice big chunks, not chintzy little crumbles). The home potatoes (which always taste better'n those "away potatoes") were also very good. The τζατζίκι was a bit disappointing, but still okay; there did not seem to be enough (or any?) garlic in it and the portion was rather small, too.

Well, I never been to Cypress ("… but I kinda like the music, Say the ladies are insane there, And they sure know how to use it… "), and I am not sure if almonds are a major part of their cuisine. I thought it an odd addition to a savory crepe, but it actually worked nicely in the mix. I think the addition of some cinnamon or fresh ground nutmeg would have been interesting in the crepe (or some sort of Greek herbs and spices ~ oregano or something), as this always pairs nicely with spinach or other dark greens (dandelion, beets, chard, kale, etc.).

They only have Tabasco® (both Red/Standard and Green/Jalapeño) and Tapatío® (I forgot to bring any of my own stash). I went with the Jalapeño, but it was not really necessary as I dumped most of the
τζατζίκι on top of the potatoes, which was the best way to go ~ πατάτες με τζατζίκι is always a winner.

I finished everything on my plate except for most of the salad: "Can I have a 'bunny bag' for my leftover salad?".

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Cyprus Crepe ~ 7.0; Home Potatoes ~ 6.7

*(I would generally type this as "flavour" in the Britishlander style, but this spelling went better with the name of the restaurant, and I could not get them to change it to "Savour".)