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?)