Saturday, February 19, 2011

La Cucina of Union Street

"It's a big enough umbrella, but it's always me that ends up getting wet… "
~ Abraham Lincoln(?)

(I like Sting's hat, but the video is kinda lame for its day. By the way, that is not Sting in the above photo, that would just be my buddy Luigi wearing my Wareham Gatemen cap.)

(There is no website available, which just shows you how unimposing and unassuming this great little place really is.)

I finally made it back to Union Street for breakfast after a long break (see May 1st, 2010 entry, Rose's Café). Parking in this neighborhood is always a problem, and that it was raining pretty steadily (if not that lightly) made me worry about finding a decent close parking spot. I ended up finding a legal spot just two blocks uphill* (no problem getting down to Union Street, just a little exercise after breakfast). There are many great places to eat at on this upscale street with all the historic Victorian houses along it; I need to get back again soon.
I went to La Cucina** of Union Street this morning. It is right on Union Street in the Marina/Cow Hollow neighborhood. I think they specify "of Union Street" as there are other establishments in the Bay Area named "La Cucina" (some restaurants, some fancy-shmancy kitchen supply stores); they are not a chain of local restaurants. I was the first person to arrive for breakfast this morning and had my choice of tables at which to sit. I asked if I could sit outside in one of the two sidewalk tables they had set out (it was still raining pretty hard), and the lady (probably the owner) said without missing a beat, "Sure, but it will have to be self-service." They also have a great backyard Patio-Porch deck thingy (this is the actual technical term for it, I don't make this stuff up); it has seating for about 16 people (when it's not raining).

After looking over their menu (which had many selections that I know I would have liked) and their specials board, I went with one of their specials: Breakfast Tostada*** ~ which was made with two corn tortilla tostadas (picture a tostada sandwich) layered with black beans, salsa, cheddar cheese, avocado, and sour cream, with two eggs of your choice (I chose chicken eggs ~ over medium). I almost passed on this selection as it really sounded kinda boring. How does one say "serendipity" in Italiano?****

Not only was this an excellent choice, I think they should put it on their standard menu. It is made with fresh corn tortilla tostadas ~ not any store-bought, pre-made flat type shells. This was a very pleasant surprise as I was picturing the typical
Taco Bell®-ish flat, crunchy style of tortilla shells. That wouldn't have been so bad, but that was what I thought would make it "kinda boring". The homemade, fresh corn tortilla shells really make a world of difference and is what really sold me on this breakfast. This would have been great with either frijoles refritos or whole Pinto beans, but the frijoles negros really make it even better, also.

Not only was the tostada a great find, but their weekend version of hash browns are excellent (I asked the lady-owner and she said that they only make this version on the weekends, and there isn't even a name for them). They are not the typical shoestring shredded potatoes hash browns. They seemed a little finer shred; not quite "riced", but almost that consistency. Plus they add some Cheddar cheese to the mixture. I wasn't exactly sure if that was the case, but I checked with the lady-owner again and she confirmed this for me. My only complaint might have been that the portion was a little on the smallish side, and this would have bothered me if I ever possess a bigger appetite; as it was, I finished everything on my plate and was comfortably sated with what I had.

I also had a large glass of (real ~ I saw it being made) fresh-squeezed orange juice and a cuppa coffee (which was actually pretty good for a change at these little places).

They only offer both Tabasco® (the standard red version) and Tapatío®. I came equipped with a brand new hot sauce from my collection, Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce. (Thanks, Amy!) This paired very well with the Breakfast Tostada. La Cucina’s homemade salsa was pretty tasty on its own; adding some of the P.A.F.F.P.S. just added a lot to the flavours. It wasn't "blow the top off your head" hot, but it packed enough fuego to make any Fireman proud (probably equivalent to a Four-Alarm Fire, not quite a Five-Alarm Fire). You really can't beat excellent taste and a good charitable cause for breakfast.

After breakfast while wandering around doing some 'le vetrine (or escarparate), I saw a small group of about four to five Wild Parrots of San Francisco flying overhead (as usual, I heard them first and then looked up and saw them). This is always a good thing, too.

And as if a great new breakfast find weren't serendipitous enough, on the way back to my car (all the way back up two blocks ~ uphill, mind you) I found a $5.00 bill on the sidewalk getting all wet in the rain by itself. I made sure to give it a little shelter in my wallet… honestly!*****

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Breakfast Tostada ~ 7.2; Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce ~ 7.0

*(For those of you that have never been to San Francisco and are thinking "What a wimp. It's only two blocks uphill.", well, this part of town has some of the steepest inclines in the City and walking uphill two blocks is the equivalent of a good four to five blocks uphill in other places.)

**(Useless cunning linguist pointer of the day,
numero uno:

La Cucina" simply means "the kitchen" in Italiano. I suppose the family that owns the place is of Italian descent.)

***(Useless cunning linguist pointer of the day,
el número dos:

Tostada" literally means "toasted" en español, but it is usually made with fried corn tortillas in Mexican dishes. Most of the waitstaff and kitchen workers appeared to be Mexican, I am sure this is why the breakfast special was so good.)

****(Useless cunning linguist pointer of the day,
numero tre:

"Serendipity" in Italian is "
la serendiptà". I will never understand where they get all these great-sounding different words.)

*****(It does not need to be pointed out to me that Abe Lincoln's birthday was actually last Saturday. It is still Presidents Day weekend, so that's good enough for me. If you don't like it, you can just shoot me, Mr. Booth.)

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