Sunday, January 30, 2011

Brenda’s ~ French Soul Food

"Please Eat Responsibly"*



http://www.frenchsoulfood.com/


Brenda's ~ French Soul Food (over on Polk Street in the Tenderloin, near the Civic Center) was recommended to me by another regular customer at Dottie's TRUE BLUE CAFE last month when I ate there; he saw me writing notes about my breakfast and he said if you like Dottie's you will probably like Brenda's, too. Unlike Dottie's, Ella's, Chloe's, Eddie's, etc. there is a real "Brenda" associated with the restaurant AND she actually does the cooking, too. This is another one of those tiny, but good places; the total seating is only 34 (8-½ tables). So get there early or prepare for a bit of a wait; and much like Dottie's, this place is located in a sketchy area of the Tenderloin, so there is not much to do while waiting outside.

Brenda's offers many good breakfast/brunch** options on their regular menu and on their weekend specials board: today they had three different versions of Eggs Benedict (Fried Catfish, Florentine, and Molasses Ham) and a very tempting Pear Brown Betty Pancakes w/Whipped Cream. I liked how the silverware and napkins settings are in empty cans on the tables (Steen's® 100% Pure Cane Syrup, must be a Loosiana thing).

http://www.steensyrup.com/

 



While I was waiting for my order, I was entertained with a little N'Orleans Jazz playing on the house stereo: some Bessie Smith and Louis Prima that I recognized. So I am including a few links here from EweToob for your listening plaisir aussi:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX8ptPn3P9I&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMwseIJwNao

As I just had Eggs Benedict yesterday and I knew I was going to have a side order of their Beignets*** (and didn't want all sweet, bread products ~ not to be confused with "sweetbread products", 'cause that would just be gross for breakfast), I went with the Creole Veggie Omelette ~ Corn macque choux**** (Gesundheit!), tomato, onion, pepper, spinach, Cheddar; served with a choice of potato hash or grits, and cream biscuit or toast. I also had a cuppa the house coffee Community Coffee & Chicory***** this is the same brand of coffee that Just For You cafe serves (see my last post from January 3rd, 2011). I went with the Beignets ~ Plain - for the die-hard traditionalist (3 each); they offer four different types of Beignets, and all of them sound good.





The omelette was very good with lots of fresh veggies; the corn was fresh, not frozen ~ always good; fresh spinach (again, not frozen) ~ also good; however, the peppers fooled me, Jerry! I thought they may have been pasilla chilis, but the waiter told me they were just plain ol' green bell peppers. Everything was fresh with lots of flavour ~ a nice all-around combination. I skipped the cream biscuit or toast (I would have opted for the cream biscuit) that come with the meal as I knew there was no way I would have room for that and the beignets and I really wanted to try their beignets. Their potato hash (which was just home fries à la N'Orleans) was okay, just not as good as the rest of the food ~ potatoes, green onions, and lots of spices; their grits looked pretty tasty (a good sized bowl with lots of cheddar cheese in them), so I will definitely get that as the side next time. The coffee was good and strong with lots of chicory, and served in a very large cup.

The beignets were excellent all by themselves, fluffy and hot, dusted with powdered sugar. Then I discovered they had a homemade strawberry jam on each of the tables. I am generally not a big strawberry jam fan (it always seems kinda pedestrian to me), but their version was great and made the beignets even more excellenter. I am not sure what the "Je ne sais quois" ingredient was in their jam: Ginger? Cinnamon? Whatever it was, it really made the jam jam.




For hot sauce condiments, they only offer Crystal® Louisiana's Pure Hot Sauce; so I went with some of my own stash: Sylvia's Restaurant® Kickin' Hot ~ Hot Sauce (a Loosiana-style hot sauce from New York City… Thanks again, Sean!) on the potatoes along with some fresh cracked McCormick's® black peppercorns on the potatoes and omelette.

Responsible eating is something that everyone needs to try. So, get over to Brenda's and "Laissez les bon temps beignet"!


Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Creole Veggie Omelette ~ 6.8; Coffee ~ 6.7; Beignets ~ 7.0; Homemade Strawberry Jam ~ 7.1


*(This is the slogan on the back of the t-shirts that the waitstaff were wearing.)

**(While they technically call their weekend breakfasts "Brunch", this place opens early enough on Saturdays and Sundays ~ 8:00am ~ for my liking to ignore that snooty sobriquet.)

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

Beignets are basically French doughnuts. The word beignet is French for "fried dough".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beignets )

****(Macque choux = ??? I tried to look up the definition of this on the Intro-Net, but really couldn't find a decent answer. Let's just say it must mean some kinda N'Orleans-Frenchy corn relish.)

*****(Roasted chicory root is a common additive to N'Orleans-style coffee. I like it; it gives the coffee a pretty unique flavour.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicory )

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Bistro Restaurant @ Cliff House

'Blog Post #100... and Popovers(!)



http://www.cliffhouse.com/bistro/lunch.html


I happened to notice that this entry is my 100th post in this stupid li'l 'blog. So it seems fitting that I went to one of my favourite (and historical) places for breakfast this morning. This was my first visit to The Bistro Restaurant @ Cliff House for the year (see my last post from Saturday, December 11th, 2010). I really love their Popovers(!), but have to disagree with the whole name of "Bistro Restaurant"; that just seems kinda redundant to me, and it says the same thing all over again even. I sat at a table with a large picture window overlooking Ocean Beach. There was a great view as the Sun was out and the heavy fog that we have had for the past few days has decided to take a holiday to London; there were a few surfers out braving the waves and coldish weather on Ocean Beach this morning.

After breakfast I took a short hike down to Sutro Baths ruins (Jim, this was the same place we went to in July, where you got the cool video of the mother osprey teaching her young how to hunt/catch food). Sorry, Jim, this doesn't really count as a cross-'blog entry as it was less than a mile there and back, and I don't have one of those nifty hiking watches like you do. I am pretty sure the altitude went from sea level to a little above sea level. Per my standard watch, I am sure that the time was close to 10:20am, on a Saturday in January. I can't be any more specific than that as the calendar date part of my watch is not synched with the rest of the dials. I was given this really nice watch last year for Christmas by some friends (Thanks, Cindy and Greg!) which they had bought in Russia during a Volga River cruise. Unfortunately, all of the instructions are in Russian and are a bit confusing (and just in case you think I'm a terrible cunning linguist, it has been over twenty-four years since I last had to pretend to be a
русский шпион; plus, I asked one of my native Russian neighbors for help, and he even said the instructions don't make much sense). Hey, I did get three out of four of the dials synchronized correctly; that is good enough for this дурак.



I was going to write a short history about Sutro Baths, but I am a bit lazy, and what good is the Intro-Net if you can’t "borrow" from it once in a while. This is from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutro_Baths

Now, the main reason I keep going back to the Bistro @ Cliff House (I have decided to forego the additional Restaurant part of their name here to save on typing… but, having just typed this parenthetical sentence, I guess it would have been easier to have included it after all) is for their most excellent Popovers(!). Their egg breakfasts are all very good, too, but I can get those at any other bistro-restaurants. They brought me a record five (5!!!) Popovers(!) today; three are always more than sufficient for me, but I did "force" myself to eat four of them. With the first one, as is my habit, I put some (well, a lot) of butter on it while it was still warm and fresh outta the oven and added large dollops of orange marmalade, Lady (sorry, no mocha chocolata ya-ya was available)... 'cause that is just how I Popover(!).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQa7SvVCdZk

I ordered the Classic Eggs Benedict ~ it was decent enough, but nothing extraordinary (see my post from July 31st, 2010 for an excellent take on the Benedict family, Arnold). Of course, as I had it without the ham/Canadian bacon, it really couldn't be considered very classical. The fresh fruits with it today were watermelon*, cantaloupe*, honeydew melon*, pineapple*, and grapes*.



I went with some fresh, cracked black peppercorn (from my portable McCormick® grinder) on everything ~ and, yes, even on the melons (actually, especially on the melons, as this has a great flavour combination). And I did something new for a change instead of adding hot sauces on the eggs and potatoes. For Christmas I was given several bottles/jars of spices (Thanks again, Cindy and Greg!); however, if you know me and how much I hate to actually cook, this would be like giving Mel Gibson a non-alcoholic beer… or a copy of the Torah. Well, I brought a particularly interesting spice jar with me: DASH Slíce Chilli** Dukkah*** ~ "A slice of chilli crushed with premium nuts and spices giving a tasty tang to our Australian dukkah." This one was made of: Hazelnuts, Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, Sesame seeds, Corriander**** seeds, Cummin***** seeds, Chilli, Turmeric, Papprika******, Salt & Pepper. I used this generously on top of the Hollandaise sauce on the poached eggs; the Hollandaise sauce was fine as it was, I suppose, but they never really have that much flavour, anyway.

On the wall next to/above my table today were these Hollywoodland photos (top to bottom, left to right):




Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom; ???
???; ??? (possible name of June C…)



??? (w/dogs); ???
William Powell; Claudette Colbert




Leonard Franklin Slye; Mary Martin
(Interestingly enough, this is one publicity photo of Roy Rogers without a cowboy hat on. They were pretty rare.)
Marlene Dietrich; Wallace Beery
??? (possible initials "LV")

Most of the names/signatures were either too faded or too high up on the wall to read; someone at the restaurant-bistro really needs to chronicle this collection (I asked one of the older servers there for help and he could only identify Slapsie Maxie for me). Again, anyone that can help with identifying these "???" individuals will get my eternal gratitude and a free breakfast of your choice at Dottie's TRUE BLUE CAFE.


Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Classic Eggs Benedict ~ 6.0; Dash Slíce Chilli Dukkah ~ 6.6; Popovers(!) ~ 8.2


*(Useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:
I knew that in Spanish watermelon is "sandía" and cantaloupe is "melón". One day, I was at a local taquería and they had a fresh honeydew melon juice drink. I asked the Mexican guy at the counter what is the word for "honeydew melon" in Spanish. He really didn't know; he said maybe it's just "melón verde", which simple means "green melon". Muchas gracias, dude.

By the way, the word for pineapple in Spanish is "piña", but a lot of people probably already know this.

I have no idea what the Spanish word for grape is; I never really order grape juice.)

**(This would be the Britishlander/Aussie-Aussie-Aussie spelling for chili pepper. This is not really a useless cunning linguist pointer as, technically, we all sorta speak the same language, mate.)

***(Useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, part too:
A dukkah, or alternate spellings duqqa or dukka, is an Egyptian side dish consisting of a mixture or nuts, herbs, and spices. Dukkah in Arabic means "to pound", as that is how the mixture is usually prepared. This appetizer is usually served in a little plate or bowl along with some good olive oil and bread. The idea is to dip some bread in the oil and then in the dry mixture. It is really pretty tasty. There is a local Lebanese/Turkish place that I go to that has a great version made with sumac.)

****(sic. This was the actual spelling on the jar. I could not really locate this alternate spelling anywhere on-line, though. So, I am just assuming it's actually "coriander" and not some kinda Aussie-Aussie-Aussie aboriginal hallucinogenic herb.)

*****(sic. See above Aussie-Aussie-Aussie spelling explanation.

Hmmm? Maybe I ought to reconsider these as cunning linguist pointers after all.)

******(Okay, they really didn't spell it this way, but they had added the extra consonants to all the other words, Mr. Dundee.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Peet's Coffee & Tea

"What's wrong with this picture?"



http://www.peets.com/


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kFkFPxW-TU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9QZhLSKEps


There is actually nothing wrong with the above picture (please do not attempt to adjust your computer screen), the line is just from the Ahnold Schwarzenegger movie The Terminator (the first one). When Ahnold first arrives back in 1984 from 2029 ~ naked as a jaybird (because a jaybird in formal wear would be very unusual) ~ he is accosted by a group of Los Ångeles tough-guys (one of them played by a young Bill Paxton in one of his earliest film roles), and he asks them ever so nicely if he could have the loan of some of their apparel. The mean ol' street-punks demean and insult poor Ahnold and ask him if it was "Wash day, right?"; they learned that they should have been a little more polite to an out-of-towner looking for assistance.

Laundry Day + NFL Championship Games = no spare time, brother

I knew I wouldn't have time for both a nice breakfast out and time to do my laundry before the NFC Championship game started this morning (well, including the pre-game shmegegge*, which is normally hosted by a bunch of shmegegges), so I decide to go with the proverbial "Double avicide with a single lapis" and do my laundry and settle for breakfast of coffee and pastry at the Peet's® Coffee & Tea on Geary in the Richmond, which happens to be two doors down from a little laundromat. Normally for me, it's not really "breakfast" without an egg dish of some kind (French toast and pancakes count), potatoes (hash browns, home fries, or even French fries), and coffee or tea. I decided that one outta three ain't bad; this percentage is actually considered being a Superstar in Baseball terms.

As luck would have it (What is it called when luck doesn't have it? New England Patriots Football?), I still have two Peet's® gift cards, one from my birthday and another one from Christmas. (As well as one from St*rbucks, which I will only use when the good coffee ones are depleted ~ or maybe I will just donate it to some homeless guy, or would that seem too cruel?) These more than were sufficient to pay for my coffee and pastry. I even offered to pay for the coffee of the police officer in line behind me, but he said he had a gift card to use, too.

Peet's® Coffee & Tea has been a part of the Bay Area coffee scene since 1966.
Peet's® was one of the first purveyors of fine, fresh-roasted coffees to be sold in its own stores (St*rbucks actually stole the idea from them; they just seemed to have perfected the whole franchosity idea). I can't say I am a genuine Peetnik, but I do enjoy their coffee and go there often.

Today's (non-decaf) brew being served was their Sumatra blend. This was a good blend, but I've had better from
Peet's®. However, this one still beats 90% of the swill served by a lot of places (*cough-cough… McDonald's®… cough-cough*).

http://www.peets.com/shop/coffee_detail.asp?id=42&cid=1004

I also had a Cranberry-Walnut scone; it was just okay, nothing really special. It was a nice All-'merican combination of ingredients, though; both cranberries and walnuts are indigenous to the New World. I think that a Cranberry-Orange-Walnut scone would have been even better. It's not as if Peet's® bakes them fresh themselves, anyway.



That foofy looking jacket thingy on my cup of coffee is actually a pretty cool, reusable, cloth cup holder called a HipGrip. It was a gift from friends several years ago (Thanks, Cindy and Greg!) that has seen a lot of good use. It saves on the waste from the normal paper/cardboard zarfs** that coffee shops give out now-a-days. I really don't know why more places don't sell these cloth holders.

http://www.thesatinbutton.com/hip-grip-coffee-sleeves-m-107.html

As for Peet's® coffee, I am sure that "I'll be baaack…" (well, of course I will; I still have over $10.00 left on the two gift cards).


Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Peet's Sumatra Blend ~ 7.0; Cranberry-Walnut Scone ~ 6.4


*(Stupid cunning linguist pointless pointer of the day, part one:

"Shmegegge" as defined in The Joys Of Yiddish by Leo Rosten:

"Pronounced, always with disdain, shmeh-GEH-geh or shmeh-GEH-gee, to rhyme with "the mega" or "the Peggy". Ameridish slang. Origin: unknown; probably, a dazzling onomatopoetic child of the Lower East Side.

1. An unadvisable, petty person.
2. A maladroit, untalented type.
3. A sycophant, a shlepper, a whiner, a drip.
Also used to describe:
4. A lot of "hot air", "baloney", a cockamamy story. "Don't give me that shmegegge!"

I think of a shmegegge as a cross between a shlimazl and a shlemiel - or even between a nudnik and a nebech.
The word is popular in theatrical circles, conjuring up, by its very sound, vividly unlikable characteristics.
Miss Sophia Loren used the word with considerable brio in an interview with a New York Times reporter. The combination of great beauty, an Italian accent, an elegant shrug, a tone of derisive dismissal, and a Yinglish word marked a high point in the life of this colorful epithet.")

*(Stupid cunning linguist pointless pointer of the day, part the second:

"Zarf" is an Arabic word that means "container" or "sheath".

Also, this is a great word to remember when playing Scrabble™ and you are trying to get rid of that pesky "a" or "r" before the end of the game.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baker Street Bistro

Where the best Pain Perdu still presides…



http://www.bakerstreetbistro.com/


I went back to Baker Street Bistro ~ over in Cow Hollow*/the Marina ~ for my first (and I am sure it will not be my last) breakfast there this year. I sat outside (and was the only idiot doing it for a while until more folks showed up a little later); it was still a bit cool this morning, but the Sun was out ~ and it's the law out here in California: if the Sun is shining brightly you have to dine al fresco, Al. It did warm up nicely while I was sitting there eating, anyway.

When I first arrived this morning, I did not see any but heard some of the Wild Parrots of San Francisco across the street from the restaurant; it sounded like they might roost in the backyard of one of the houses in the neighborhood. (Mark Bittner, did you buy a house in Cow Hollow?) After breakfast, I did wander over to the Presidio** (I was parked just a block from the Lombard Gate, anyway) and did get to see some (about 6-7) Parrots flying around and in the large Eucalyptus trees where they roost, in the small park across the street from Liverpool Lil's***. It's interesting to note that neither the Parrots nor the Eucalyptus trees are indigenous to California; plus, Eucalyptus trees are not indigenous to Central America either. The Parrots seem to like these trees as they are pretty high off the ground for safety; and, as such, I really didn't get any good photos of them this morning to add with this post.

Seeing as this was my first visit this year to Baker Street Bistro, I had to order the Pain Perdu again, Frank. With a side o' home fries and a cuppa good, strong, black coffee. The Pain Perdu comes with a side of fruit salad/fresh fruits; today's fresh fruits were: oranges, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, and apple. Now I could go on and on and on and on, anon… about how great this breakfast truly is, but I have raved about it here before (see 'blog entry from April 17th, 2010) and will just let this picture say my 1,000 words for me:



On the home fries, I used some of my own hot sauce, Trees Can't Dance ~ Tree Fire Sauce (Thanks again, Cindy and Greg!); the Pain Perdu was just fine as it was (if I had only had some ketchup, Moe!). This is a pretty nicely flavoured hot sauce from England. The ingredients are: Vinegar - 48%, Water, Chillies (not my normal spelling of this word, but it seems to be the preferred Britishlander spelling) - 14%, Onion - 14%, Sugar, Spices, Fresh lemon juice, Fresh lime juice, Honey - less than 1%, Garlic, Mexican oregano (which I assume means cilantro) - less than 1%. I forgot my little portable McCormack® pepper mill/grinder and really should have brought it as I also forgot that Baker Street Bistro only has shakers with the fine powder black pepper ~ good for sneezing, but not as much fun on potatoes.

Today I performed another premeditated "Pay-It-Forward" random act of foolishness. While I was sitting outside, a group of four people were trying to decide whether to eat there or not. I happened to mention that Baker Street Bistro has the best Pain Perdu ~ not just in San Francisco, but possibly the entire U.S. of A ~ and some very good Eggs Benedict dishes. The four of them decided to try the restaurant out (it may not have been due to my recommendations, but more than likely in spite of my insistence on the Pain Perdu). A couple of women sitting a few tables away overhearing me also asked me what I would suggest. I stressed both the Pain Perdu and Oeufs Baker Street Bistro (a Benedict-style dish with poached eggs, ratatouille, and a tomato-based sauce instead of the typical Nederlander sauce ~ see my 'blog-put from September 25th, 2010 for more on this particular treat). However, neither one of them got either of my two favourites. Pity. I was fully planning on paying for their meals behind their backs. Instead, the next couple that sat down outside happened to order Oeufs Baker Street Bistro (entirely without any kibitzing from me) and as the guy was wearing a Boston Red Sox cap, I paid for both of their meals without their knowing it.

The moral(?) of this story: when I suggest the Pain Perdu or Oeufs Baker Street Bistro, order one of those (or just be a fan of the Boston Red Sox)… you might just get un petit déjeuner gratuit.


Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Pain Perdu ~ 8.2;
Boston Red Sox ~ 8.5


*(Why Cow Hollow, you ask? Or even if you didn't ask, I'm telling you anyway. This from Wikipedia:

"Cow Hollow is a generally affluent neighborhood located between Russian Hill and the Presidio, and bordering the Marina on one side and Pacific Heights on the other. The land was used for cow grazing (as its name would imply) and a settlement for fishermen (the coast line was much closer to this area than it is now). The main shopping thoroughfare is Union Street, known for its restaurants, boutique shopping, health spas and wellness centers.")

**(Boring cunning linguist tit-bit and history lesson for the day:

The word Presidio in Spanish is a garrisoned fort or military post. It comes from the Latin word Præsidium ~ guard, garrison, post; literally, defense, protection. See Preside.

The Presidio of San Francisco ~ or El Presidio Real de San Francisco as it was known in Spanish ~ is another nice neighborhood of San Francisco, located at the northernmost point of the peninsula. It started out in 1776 ~ That's the spirit!~ as a Spanish military center. For years it was owned and operated by the U.S. Military/Army, and since 1994 has been part of the National Park Service/Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Maybe if Hollywoodland would film more movies in this neighborhood, we may forget that Meg Ryan was once a cute up-and-coming young actress and not the aging, puffy-lipped, adulterer that she is today.

Coincidentally, the Presidio Real de San Carlos de Monterey, founded in 1770, currently houses the Defense Language Institute/DLI in Monterey, California. This is the main learning center for many future cunning linguists… and perverted spies alike.)

***(I really should check out Liverpool Lil's again for breakfast; however, I was a little disappointed the last time that I ate there that they do not really offer a Full English Breakfast ~ see 'blog entry from January 1st, 2011 ~ on their menu. Someone needs to inform Sir Paul of this neglect right away and have their name revoked. I mean Lillian would never stand for such an oversight, right?)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Eddie's Cafe

양철 지붕 breakfast with every cup.




I went back to Eddie's Cafe (see October 16th, 2010 post) over on Divisadero, near Alamo Square, for breakfast this morning. I got there a little earlier than they open, so I walked over to Alamo Square for a few minutes (this was only a 15-20 minutes walk through the park, so it does not constitute a "Hiking" cross-post, Mr. Turner). Unfortunately, it was a pretty foggy morning and the views were not quite as spectacular as most tourists come to see.




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alamo_Square

Why "Alamo" in San Francisco you ask, Mr. Bowie?


"Alamo means poplar tree in Spanish and in the early 1800s, the lone cottonwood on Alamo Hill marked a watering hole along the horseback trail from Mission Dolores to the Presidio. Mayor James Van Ness set aside 12.7 acres of the hole in 1856, naming it Alamo Square. Confirmed by the state legislature the following year as a public park, Alamo Square and its Victorian residences started down the potholed road to Historic District, over 100 years later."


(Excerpt from the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association site.)


Now how many of you will remember this?


Of course, Alamo Square is best known for all the surrounding historic Victorian houses in the neighborhood and most notably for a row of Victorians known as "The Painted Ladies" along the eastern side of the park. Friends of mine actually own one of these (Hi, John and Erin!); their house is the second from the left end (or the first one of all the similar ones in the row); this house was also owned by author Alice Walker (Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Color Purple" and other novels) back in the 70's.





Like the good (ex-)Greek (resident) I am, I went back to Eddie's Cafe bearing a premeditated gift of a Cavern Club mug (imported and hand-delivered all the way from Liverpool, Englandia, mind you). As noted during my last visit, they have a pretty significant collection of coffee mugs and I wanted to add to it. While I was "on holiday" last month in England, I made sure to pick up one that I figured they wouldn't already have. I was going to just get a Beatles one ~ a Sergeant Pepper one or an Abbey Road one ~ but figured those could be purchased in most gift shops anywhere else. This mug I actually bought at the "official" Beatles gift shop in Albert Dock (along the Mersey, ferry ride optional) in Liverpool.

For breakfast this morning, I had the Cheese Omelett* (with Swiss cheese) with "Greets"** and Homemade Biscuits. They offer a choice between hash browns or grits and toast or biscuits. Homemade biscuits are always a better choice than plain ol' toast. I normally prefer home fries or hash browns with breakfast (potatoes being the true breakfast fruit), but I figured the grits (which were a very nice heaping mound/glop) would go better with my "Seoul" food. I also had a cuppa coffee served in the Cavern Club mug.





The food is really nothing much special, but it was still good and so much better than I could ever attempt to prepare at home (whenever I make "omeletts" myself, they tend to just turn out as "scrambled eggs with sh*t in 'em"™). All in all, it is good ol' hearty diner-fare in a very friendly neighborhood atmosphere.

I knew from my last visit that they only have Tabasco®, Crystal®, and Tapatío® as hot sauce condiments, but I also knew they are a Korean family-owned/operated restaurant so I asked for (and received) a little Korean hot sauce ~ gochujang ~ from their private stash. I had come prepared with three bottles from my own collection, but did not even need to use them. The gochujang was very tasty: both sweet and spicy, with lots of flavour.

I was informed by one of the owners(?) that because I had brought a mug for them as a gift, my breakfast would be on the house (that is kind of what the Korean words at the top of the page mean). It seems that this is their policy. Who am I to argue with Korean traditions? Kim Jong-il?

Holiday to Liverpool/England: £1,000
Magical Mystery Tour: £14.95
Cavern Club mug: £6.00
Free breakfast: Priceless


Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Cheese Omelett ~ 6.0; Gochujang hot sauce ~ 7.2


*(I am not really making fun of the spelling on the menu, I like the originality of it. Heck, if I didn't have a "spel-chek" thingy on my "kompyooter", I would have no idea how to spell it "eyether".)


**(That would be "grits" as pronounced by my Uncle Tom from Northern Florida, aka Southern Georgia. I had never had "greets" until he came to stay with us one Winter and my mother had to learn how to prepare this standard Southern breakfast staple.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Q

Quality Quisine, Suzi Q*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6YOhfHwpLQ&feature=related



http://www.qrestaurant.com/


Q Restaurant and Wine Bar (over on Clement Street) is one of the newest members in my Breakfast Rotation. Q was added due to location (it's only about thirty blocks away from my apartment and one of the closer good places in the Richmond District) and for its good breakfast choices (see both November 27th, 2010 and July 31st, 2010 entries).



Today I sat at the Dragon Table. There is nothing to play with here, but it's still a fun tableau. I was going to sit at the "Willy Wooly" table (my personal favourite), but forgot to bring my own magnet (it seems that Q lost theirs) to play with.



There were several nice choices on their Brunch Specials. The Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict ~ which is reminiscent of their most excellent Chayote Benedict (see my July 31st, 2010 post rave) ~ sounded especially good, and I will have to try it one of these days. They seem to have this on their Specials Menu pretty often so I opted for another of their interesting Eggs Benedict variation:

Black Bean and Corn Cakes Benedict ~ with bacon (no thanks, Glen) and avocado, and (a heap o') home fries. This was another excellent idea, with lots of corn kernels in the cakes (which I assume are made with rice, black beans, and corn); corn = good! This was not as great as the Chayote Benedict, but it was still very good.



I have been informed that the photos of some of my egg dishes "look like something the cat coughed up". (Thanks for the Quote, Cindy!) I blame this on my photographer, but he is not a professional and only gets paid with a free meal. (Actually, these can be viewed a little better if you click on the specific picture in Question and it will populate your screen by itself.)

Q's hot sauce offerings are Castillo® Salsa Habanera, Tapatío®, and Original "Louisiana" Brand. I went with a little (too much) of the Salsa Habanera on the large portion of home fries. I left the Hollandaise sauce alone on the Benedict for a change, as I wanted to be able to taste it; it was pretty good (if I had brought some Cholula® with me, I might have added some of that after the fact, though).

Today with the bill they brought a Green Apple Frooties® (by Tootsie®) in place of the ubiQuitous peppermint candy. Quite nice.

I got there as soon as they opened this morning, but a little later in the morning there was a line out the door. My suggestion: get there early or you may have a long wait to get in; however, I have a feeling even Captain Picard might not mind waiting in this Queue.


Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Black Bean and Corn Cakes Benedict ~ 7.0


*(What is the female version of a Mullet called? Muffaletta?

I always liked Suzi
Quatro, she was never as talented as Joan Jett, but I found her pretty Qute.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzi_Quatro )

Friday, January 14, 2011

Zama Golf Club Restaurant (Japan, 01/14/11)

Today, a special cross-post, done by my friend Jim Turner, who has his own 'blog, Hawksbill Cabin, a favourite of mine. You can catch his 'blog by checking out the 'blogroll to the right.†


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c98qdFQF7sw




I’m visiting Japan on business and have been here a few days, staying at Army Base Camp Zama. When I first arrived, we drove past the golf course with its excellent sign, suggesting that there would be worthwhile views here (although Fuji-san is not visible...false advertising) – and then I got to base lodging, where I found the menu conveniently included in a welcome packet. And so, finding time on my hands before my first meeting on Thursday, I took a brisk stroll over to the Zama Golf Club restaurant for breakfast.




On first impression, it looks like any other golf club, so I walked in and took a seat near the window overlooking the first tee and #6 green. The décor, colors and furniture, reminded me of a Los Feliz favorite, House of Pies*, from the old days in Los Angeles (I used to golf more then, too), so I was soon comfortable and got busy with the menu.


The first item there is “The Eagle**” combo, which sounds promising at just $5.25: two eggs your way, two sausage patties, and French toast with maple syrup. That’s a bit much for me at breakfast, so I went to the second item: “The Early Riser” – although I was clearly not up all that early – for $4.95 you get two eggs your way, choice of meat, toast and grits or hash browns (rice is a third choice on most menus here). A southern boy, I was tempted by the grits but since I planned to cross-post this review, thought I'd better go with Brian’s "favourite," the hash browns.

Now there is a notable third item on this menu called the “Run-A-Way”: an English muffin with fried egg, cheese, and a choice of meat (spam – incredibly popular here, people give it as a gift! – sausage, or bacon). If I go back, I might just check the box on that one.


After placing my order I got busy with the other Breakfast at Epiphany’s tasks. For condiments, we had basic red Tabasco, and soy sauce; there was also liquefied Sweet and Low (no thank you, refined white sugar is fine by me). My coffee arrived, and it was a robust blend, so I asked about it. I hoped to hear “Suntory Boss” because of the great Tommy Lee Jones commercials here in Japan***, or “Georgia” because I had one of those from a vending machine and got quite a jolt. But no dice, this was a bulk packaged restaurant dark roast, although the bag proclaimed Latin American heritage.


The food arrived just as the waitron gave me a refill on my coffee. I enjoyed the meal, although I have to admit I wish I’d been as resourceful as Brian for my condiments, I’m really not fond of the vinegary taste of Tabasco. Also, there wasn't any jam for the two slices of toast I had left over after soaking up the over easy yolks. Still, on a sunny morning with a beautiful view across the rolling hills of a golf course, in Japan, that’s a disappointment I quickly got over.

Glen Bacon Scale rating: “The Early Riser:” 6.8 – it would probably have fared better if (1) I picked the grits, or (2) I had something besides Tabasco to spice it up a bit; Generic Latin American dark roast: 7.0. If I do come back to this base, it’s inevitable that I’ll have breakfast here again.

*House of Pies is a local landmark in what was then the trendy Los Feliz neighborhood of LA, before I moved away and Silver Lake got trendier. Obviously they are famous for their pies, but you can get a good breakfast there, and you’ll probably be dining with an incognito celebrity or two.

**The Eagle, in this context, could refer to the patriotic symbol of these United States, or to the very desirable golf score you get if you finish a hole two under par (also known as a hole-in-one if you’re on a par three).

***I did a whole post on this topic on my blog:


http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/2011/01/altcoffeejp.html

†(I copied and pasted most of this directly from Jim's 'blog, so if you have any "probelems" with any "mispelings" take it up with Jim ~ he's about 6'3" and truly "Big In Japan".

I was especially proud of his Glen Bacon Scale rating prowess.

Now if Jim thinks I'm gonna reciprocate by doing a hiking post, he's gonna have to wait a very long while.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ella's

Neo Classical American Cooking


http://www.ellassanfrancisco.com/


This was my first visit this year back to Ella's over on California Street in Laurel Heights* (for my last visit, see August 29th, 2010 entry). I still have no idea who this "Ella" person is, but she makes some damn fine food.

Their weekend Brunch menu changes weekly and always has some nice choices. I liked the sound of the "Open faced omelette with pasilla pulled pork, tomato corn relish, chipotle crema and jack" (without the piggy portion, of course), but I went with the "Potato scramble with assorted grilled vegetables and feta" (with two scrambled eggs added to the mess). The roasted vegetables today were: red peppers, red onions, corn, zucchini, carrots, and green beans. There were no really exotic ingredients (e.g. kale, pea sprouts, fennel, etc.) in today's scramble, but corn and feta are always a good tie-breaker for me when deciding on a meal; and they use fresh corn off the cob, not the frozen kernels.

As I have stated in the past, they make all of their own baked goods (breads and pastries) fresh daily. I had their honey-oat-raisin bread for toast again. It's very good, so why mess with it? Maybe one of these days I will try another of their breads; I have had their buttermilk biscuits in the past and have liked them, too.





I also had a glass of the Ginger Orange Juice Punch ~ today it was made with (in season) blood oranges (which gives it the appearance of ruby red grapefruit juice) ~ and a cuppa coffee.




They only have the standard red and Jalapeño Tabasco® varieties of hot sauces; knowing this, I came prepared with my own Trees Can't Dance ~ Tree Fire Sauce (Medium Hot) (Thanks again, Greg and Cindy!) and Roland® Piri Piri with Lemon, and I put a little of each on different halves of the pile.

This was another "neo classical" winner for breakfast; any meal centered around potatoes is always good with me (after all, Fish & Chips without the chips would just be some greasy fish wrapped in old newspaper).


Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Potato Scramble ~ 6.9; Ginger O.J. Punch ~ 7.2


*(I have no idea who this "Laurel" person is either, but according to Wikipedia:


"Laurel Heights is a neighborhood to the south of the Presidio and east of the Richmond District. It is bordered by Geary Boulevard or the University of San Francisco campus to the south, Arguello Boulevard to the west, California Street to the north and Presidio Avenue to the east. The Laurel Village shopping center is located on California between Laurel and Spruce, the California Pacific Medical Center is on California between Arguello and Maple, and a UCSF campus is located in the north eastern corner of the neighborhood."


As far as I know, there is no "Hardy-Ashbury" neighborhood in San Francisco, though.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Eats


(Sorry, still no website available.)


For the 2011 Season, I made a major Theo Epstein-like decision and I have moved Eats (on Clement Street; see November 13th, 2010 entry) into my standard Breakfast Rotation*. So we shall be seeing a bit more of this Rookie in the line-up this year. Welcome to the Bigs, kid! (Just don't be expectin' no Cy Young, as that is sure to be won ~ yet still again once more ~ by Dottie's TRUE BLUE CAFE.)


Upon the recommendation of Shelly (I was actually served by Kent, but no way was I going with his porky pick), I had the Spinach & Roasted Mushroom Benedict (v) ~ white cheddar, hollandaise, side potatoes or salad. As the main reason I have bumped this eatery into the Rotation was for their unbelievably Excellent! Home fries, there was no way I was going to get a crummy ol' salad with the meal. This would be kinda like asking Jon Lester or Timmay Lincecum to learn to pitch the Knuckleball. ("Salads? We ain't got no salads. We don't need no salads. We got the stinkin' rose in our Excellent! Home fries...")

I was glad to see that the Benedict was no Arnold and had lots of fresh sautéed spinach (always good) and roasted mushrooms (also good; sorry, Skip). The two poached eggs were both served on one large English muffin half and the other half was served like a little toast top hat (they were just Thomas'®, I asked); I used the top half to "butter" with the succulent roasted garlic cloves .

I really can't rave enough about their most Excellent! Home fries: which are made with lots of roasted garlic cloves (there were at least 12 today!) and chopped green onions. The garlic cloves were a bit messy at first until I figured out that I didn't need to peel them with my hands and that there was an art to shucking the paper/wrapping; I finally got the hang of de-papering them with my fork and knife ~ but it was well worth the sticky fingers for the first few cloves.

I also had a cuppa the house coffee ~ it was just okay. With home fries like they have, who cares what the coffee tastes like? After the first few cloves of roasted garlic, everything tasted like garlic, anyway.



To drink, I ordered From the Juice Bar: Mean Green ~ cucumber, pineapple, Romaine (as in lettuce), lime, and grape (also the green variety). This drink has a horrible colour, but actually was pretty good; the fresh flavour of the cucumber comes through and there is only a hint of the Romaine ~ which is tempered by the lime and grape, anyway. Other than the sickeningly dark green colour, you would really never know there was any Romaine or greens of any type in it.



For hot sauce condiments, they offer Cholula®, Tapatío®, and the standard red Tabasco®. I had brought a few from my own collection and went with some Sylvia's Restaurant Kickin' Hot ~ Hot Sauce® (Thanks again. Sean!) on the Benedict and some Trees Can't Dance ~ Belizean Habanero Sauce (Thanks again, Greg and Cindy!) on the Excellent! Home fries. They also have pepper and salt mills on all the tables and on the counter top ~ so I made good use of the fresh cracked black pepper liberally on the Excellent! Home fries and eggs.

If anyone ever complains about the ingenious idea of the roasted garlic cloves in the Excellent! Home fries ("Oooh, but I don't like garlic!") and they stop making it with them in it, you can expect this Rookie to be shuttled back down to Single A toot-sweet!


Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Spinach & Roasted Mushroom Benedict ~ 7.0; Mean Green ~ 6.9; Excellent! Home fries ~ 7.5


*(Unfortunately that meant DFA-ing someone: Sorry, Chloe's, but Eats is a lot more local for me and their Excellent! Home fries was a big factor in this move. I will also be moving Q into the Rotation and sending Boogaloos down to AAA for this season. Again, this was mainly a locale decision, both Eats and Q are a lot easier to get to than these other two; however, I am sure that the other two veterans will both see action several times during the season.)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Just For You cafe


http://www.justforyoucafe.com/


I made the "long trek all the way over" to Dogpatch this morning to revisit Just For You cafe (see October 24th, 2010 entry). For some reason the restaurant name on the awning states "Mabel's Just For You cafe", but I am not quite sure who "Mabel" is as I think the owner's name is actually Adrienne. Just (another one of those mysteries in life) for you (and me).

Always a good sign when dining out is a place that plays some interesting and good music, today they were playing a little Buena Vista Social Club ~ "Chan Chan" ~ on the house stereo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rRJP8rVg-4&feature=related

As I had the Frittata of the Decade the last time I was there (and even though it is a new year, it's still the same ol' decade), I decided to try something different from their menu. The Greg's Scramble looked tempting, but I had already had some of Greg's breakfast cooking (okay, it was a different Greg, but still a Greg) while on "holiday" in Englandia two weeks ago, so I decided on Huevos Rancheros: 2 eggs any style on a tortilla, smothered in special sauce, black beans*, and melted cheddar cheese. They have three different types of Ranchero sauces from which to choose: Red meat sauce HOT!, Vegetarian red sauce HOT!, and Hatch, New Mexico green chili sauce ¡YOWZA! (made with chicken stock). I also had a side order their tasty, chunky home fries and a cuppa their most excellent N'Orleans-style coffee (which is Community Coffee® ~ The Genuine Flavor of New Orleans).

Their Vegetarian red sauce is fresh-made with roasted chilis which give it a great flavour, and the actual spicy heatness** will vary from batch to batch depending on how hot the chilis are that day. Today's version was pretty en fuego; it had enough heat and flavour that I didn't need to add any extra salsa from the multitude of bottles that they have on hand, and I am glad I didn't muck it up by adding any other salsas before trying it.

They use black beans instead of the normal pinto beans/frijoles refritos, which is nice. I like both, but black beans gave it a little more auténtico Sabor cubano as it seemed to pair well with the music being played. Their version of Huevos Rancheros is very good, but their home-made kick-ass Vegetarian red sauce is the real winner here. I can't speak for the other two non-vegetarian sauces, but if they are anywhere as good (and I am sure they are), give them a try, too.


Edmund McIlhenny be damned, I went with some El Yucateco® XXXTRA HOT SAUCE Salsa Kutbil-ik®*** de Chile Habanero (and, I am still learning, it is sin "ñ") and The Pepper Plant® Original California Style Hot Pepper Sauce on the home fries ~ a little on both sides of the heap. The El Yucateco® was XXXcelent and very spicy (with a Scoville Heat Unit of 11,600), and The Pepper Plant® was also pretty good (not sure of the Scoville Heat Unit as it was not listed on their website or on the bottle, but it wasn't too spicy); however, neither matched the depth and flavour of the home-made Vegetarian red sauce.

I find it pretty funny that Just For You is now offering Provolone cheese on their Frittata of the Decade due to a remark/suggestion that I made when I last ate there in October (Thanks, Adrienne/"Mabel"!). If only I had known it was that easy, I would have also suggested that any idiot that has a local breakfast 'blog should get to eat for free.


Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Huevos Rancheros ~ 7.0; Vegetarian red sauce ~ 7.5; Community Coffee® ~ 6.9


*(The first time I ever had frijoles negros was at a Cuban restaurant in Miami back in 1983; it was the first time I ever had fried plantains, too. Black beans have been a favourite legume of mine ever since. ¡Gracias, Jordan y Pam!)

**(Not an actual word, but what the heck was the "Intro-Net" twenty years ago, nu?)

***(This is interesting that they not only have the company name as a registered trademark for their product, but also this specific "Original Mayan Recipe" variety of salsa is a registered trademark. My Spanish is a little rusty, but I think "Kutbil-ik" translates loosely as "Water? We ain't got no water. We don't need no water. I don't have to show you any stinkin' water…!")