Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Car Talk

Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers


Car Talk is a weekly NPR[1] radio show hosted by due fratelli pazzi, Tom and Ray Magliozzi[2] (pronounced: "mahl-YOTZEE", or closely there enough). While their show is generally about cars, car repairs, and "and the", there is a valid breakfastary connection for me.

The show is actually taped on Wednesday afternoons, but it is (re)broadcast locally here on Saturday (on two different NPR affiliates) and Sunday (on just one station) mornings. It has become something of a tradition with me ever since I stumbled across the program completely by accident one Saturday morning while searching through the dials (see, kids, car radios back in the early 90's used to be analog and you would have to turn actual knobs to change channels). For the past twenty years or more, I have been religiously enjoying the (fr)antics of these two nut-jobs
[3] (and I may even have learned a thing or two about simple car repairs/maintenance between all the laughs, but I am sure that was all accidental, too) while driving to my early morning repasts. Now I catch their show anytime between 9:00-11:00am on Saturdays (or just 10:00-11:00am on Sundays).

The two cohorts/antagonists are brothers from Cambridge, MA. Tommy is the older of the two, and both brothers actually are graduates of Massachusetts Institute of Technology/MIT (guess they couldn't get into Hahvahd or Tufts). And, if you have ever listened to the show, you may find it hard to believe, but Tommy even has a PhD (in his case, I think it might stand for Doctor
of Phunology, though). Ray also operates the car-repair shop in Cambridge that they both own; the shop is not that far from the Central Square T stop (and in the vicinity of MIT). My brother Kerry (who works in nearby Hahvahd Yahd) has taken his own car to the shop in the past (whether they were successful in fixing any of his automotive maladies has never been determined).

One of my favourite things about Car Talk is that it is a show that is broadcast in three halves (split into three twenty-minute segments). I use this same obfuscatory logic all the time myself whenever ordering one of my favourite non-alcoholic drinks: half orange juice-half cranberry juice-half ginger ale. If the poor, befuddled bartender complains and says: "But that's three halves!", I just tell them to make it in an extra large glass.

Another fun thing about the show is that at the end of each show they credit a list of silly, pseudo-names of their official Dewey, Cheetham, & Howe[4] staff, for example:

Airline Seat Tester ~ Wilma Butfit
Car Talk Bouncer ~ Euripedes Ibreakayourface
Car Talk Ice Rink Manager ~ Sam Boney
Chief Negotiator ~ Bernadette Bridge
Conservative Political Commentator ~ Eileen Tudor-Wright
Corporate Spokesperson ~ Hugh Lyon Sack
Customer Car Care Representative ~ Haywood Jabuzoff
Director of Staff Pay Increases ~ Xavier Breath (and his assistant, Tony Von Thinkett)
Head of Working Mother Support Group ~ Erasmus B. Dragon
Proof Reader ~ Erin Spelling
Russian Chauffeur ~ Picov Andropov

(and, of course, the entire Payne-Diaz family)
Adopted Son from Sweden ~ Bjorn A. Payne-Diaz
Brother in the Military ~ Major Payne-Diaz
Customer Service Specialist ~ Begonia Payne-Diaz
Distant Cousin in Mexico ~ Jaime Royal Payne-Diaz
Father-in-Law Liaison ~ Royal Payne-Diaz
Mother-in-Law Liaison ~ Stella Payne-Diaz
Recently Discovered Uncle from Warsaw ~ Zbigniew Payne-Diaz
Teenage Daughter ~ Sasha Royal Payne-Diaz
Two-year-old ~ Ariel Payne-Diaz

You get the idea.

They end every show with the sage admonition: "Don't drive like my brother!" Years ago I had license plate holders made for both my brother Kerry and myself with that motto. I have been complimented many times by complete strangers driving by: "Hey, Car Talk!"

Sadly, all good things must come to an end; according to Wikipedia:

"On June 8, 2012, it was announced that after 35 years of hosting the show, the Magliozzi brothers were retiring and that Car Talk would stop producing new episodes as of October 2012, but that NPR will continue airing the show in reruns."

As long as they keep rebroadcasting the shows, I am sure I will keep listening along on my way to breakfast every weekend.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Tommy Magliozzi ~ 8.2; Ray Magliozzi ~ 8.25 (just to cause some fraternal strife; as a younger brother myself, I have to give an extra .05 to Ray for putting up with Tommy for all these years)

1. NPR stands for National Public Radio, that is the PBS of the radio-waves. However, I am not sure if that makes Tommy "Bert" to Ray's "Ernie".

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer del
giorno, numero uno:

"Magliozzi" ~ is Italiano for either "buffoonery"* or "bad mechanics"*.

*(Nah. Don't believe everything you read on the Intro-Net.

Actually, "maglio" is Italiano for "hammer/mallet", and I am sure that is also how Tommy and Ray have been known to work on the most simplest of engine repairs.

I could not find any corroborating evidence that the similar Spanish first name of "Magglio" also means "hammer". So I am sorry Mr. Ordóñez Delgado, it looks like Henry Louis Aaron gets to maintain that particular sobriquet. You are more than welcome to keep "Maggs", unless you'd prefer "Bad Mechanic", though.)

3. While Tommaso e Raimundo are neither Hickory nor Pecan farmers, I am not insulting them by calling them this. This is a term of endearment (emphasis on the "ment" part of the word) which they bandy about amongst and abouts themselves all the time.

4. The "Chief Legal Counsel" being Hugh Louis Dewey, Esquire.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Town’s End Restaurant & Bakery


(The first EweToob link should be self-explanatory ~ or do I need to explain myself? ~ the second one is to celebrate the season.)

It has been a while since I ate breakfast at Town's End Restaurant & Bakery (see last 'blog-entry from June 13th, 2010). As they are located over by AT&T Park, I figured what better place to enjoy an early morning repast during the 2012 World Series. I think it important to note, that the last time I ate here, Matt Cain also pitched (and won) that day for the San Francisco Giants. Also of a Baseball connection, the owners of Town's End used to own Home Plate (see last 'blog-entry from October 13th, 2012) before they opened this place over twenty years ago now. They are located right along the Embarcadero with a great view of the Bay and the Bay Bridge.

They call the early morning meal "Brunch" on the weekends, but they open up early enough (8:00am) to forgive that snooty-ass moniker. They have a pretty decent selection of items from which to choose on their standard Breakfast/"Brunch" menu, as well as a few "Brunch Specials" which change regularly depending on what is in season. I went with the seasonal October Omelette: organic yellow pear cherry tomatoes (now, if that ain't a mouthful), Portabella[1] & Lobster[2] mushrooms, roasted cipollini[3] onions, & Nicasio Valley Farmstead cheese. "We use organic cage-free eggs from Petaluma Farms."; "Eggs & omelettes are served with a choice of potato-carrot pancakes (with apple compote & sour cream), grilled polenta[4], or fresh fruit."; "All meals are served with a selection of pastries from our bakery." (That would make sense for the "& Bakery" part of their name). I also had a cuppa coffee.

This was a good enough omelette; I like their frittatas better, though. It was made with lots of tomatoes, some halved and others whole (depending on their sizes). I was not sure what to expect from the Lobstah mushrooms; they are actually reddish in colour and have a lot milder flavour than Portobello mushrooms. I went with the grilled polenta for a change; I have had their potato-carrot pancakes many times in the past and knew them to be top-notch (and, once again, any fool can make a stupid fresh fruit salad… as long as the fool has some stupid fresh fruit available); the polenta was very good, but their potato-carrot pancakes are still better. Today's basket of mini-baked goods included: 1 chocolate chip muffin, 2 cranberry muffins, and 1 scone. And today's homemade jam was a very tasty tart Red Plum.

Town's End offers for condimentary supplements both Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (the standard red) and Cholula® Hot Sauce. I had brought a few of my own and just used some of my Youk's Hot Sauce (Thanks, Brian!) on the omelette.

For any of you still following along here, today's entry would be my breakfastary 'blog milestone POST #300. (I'll bet you all thought I would grow tired of this stupid 'blog-stuff after a few months. Ha! Sometimes my AADD can be curbed by…

Oh, look! Squirrels!!!)

en Bacon Scale Rating: October Omelette ~ 6.8; Basket of mini-muffins/scones ~ 7.0; Red Plum Jam ~ 7.4

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-horticultural pointer del giorno, numero uno:

"Portabella" (also called "Portobello" and "Portabello"; I prefer the "Portobello" spelling) mushrooms are just large, mature crimini or button/common mushrooms. I can't find any reason why these are called what they are, but "porto bello" in Italiano simply means "beautiful harbour". Perhaps they were first cultivated in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

2. For anyone else unfamiliar with the Lobstah mushroom, here is some info from our friends at Wikipedia:


3. Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-horticultural pointer of del giorno, numero due:

"Cipollini" just means "little onions" in Italiano. The word for "onion" is "cipolla", the diminutive would be "cipollina" (singular) and "cipolline" (plural).

4. Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-epicurean pointer del giorno, numero  tre:

"Polenta" is Italiano and comes from Latin for "hulled and crushed grain (especially barley)". The word "pollen" comes from the same Latin word root.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

M’s Cafe

(No official web-site.)

1376 9th Avenue (Between Irving and Judah Streets)

phonicular contact: (415) 665-1821

(It was either going to be this 1980's New Wave relic EweToob link or one from Eminem, but I am not a big fan of the real Slim Shady or even the fake Marshall Mathers, Mrs. Cleaver.

In case you were wondering, Martha and the Muffins were also known as "M + M" for a while. I'd like to see what Alfred Einstein[1] would make of that equation.)

Sometimes a low-falutin' breakfast is just what is called for, especially after my trip to the upscale Munchkinland Café last Sunday. M's Cafe (I am not sure if this is avec ou sans accent aigu, as there wasn't one on their printed menu or on their awning and signs), over in the Inner Sunset, was the real deal (and it was neither "slim", nor "shady" I was very happy to see).
M's Cafe is a small "Mom" & "Pop" restaurant, with seating for just 36. "Mom" does the order taking and serving, and "Pop" does all the cooking. They open up at 7:00am, six days a week (they are closed on Tuesdays). Their early morning menu is simply called "Breakfast" as it correctly should be.

It's not really that hard to park in this neighborhood early on a Saturday morning, but I played it safe and parked two blocks away in Golden Gate Park, just across the street from the San Francisco Botanical Garden (formerly Strybing Arboretum[2]). There is usually lots of free 4-Hour parking available if you get there before all the damn touristas do in the morning.


Pocket-Sized Urban(e) Rant of the Day (cont.):

Okay, I can see snooty, upscale locations like North Beach and (s)Nob Hill falling prey to these stupid little jokes of "parklets". However, the Inner Sunset is a relatively nice neighborhoody neighborhood; it really hasn't been infected/infested by the gentrification virus. I was very surprised to see one of these just down the street from where I was eating. At least this stupid one only wastes two parking spots along 9th Avenue. You really can't expect someone to have to walk two whole blocks all the way to Golden Gate Park to enjoy some outdoor greenery, now can you?!

M's Cafe has a pretty decent/standard breakfastary menu from which to choose. There are also a few interesting specials on their menu. I was thinking of getting the Meatless Eggs Benedict ~ sautéed onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and two poached eggs. They even offer an Irish Breakfast (gachhh!) ~ Two eggs, two slices of Irish bacon, two links of Irish Sausages, two pieces of Black and White pudding (double-gachhh!), served with home fried potatoes and two slices of toast (and, contrary to popular belief, a real Irish Breakfast does not consist of a six pack o' Guinness® and a boiled potato). I ended up ordering the Spinach, Cheese, and Tomato Omelette ~ served with home fried potatoes or fruit, and two slices of toast. I also had a cuppa coffee and a large glass of orange juice.

"Pop" messed up and made my omelette a Spinach, Cheese, and Mushroom Omelette by mistake. "Mom" was going to take it back and have him re-do it, but it was no big deal, and I ended up keeping it as I am not averse to the fungal little beasts. Besides, I was actually thinking of getting that omelette until I saw the other choice; I just think that spinach and tomato is a better combo than spinach and mushroom. This was a good enough omelette with lots of spinach and tomatoes… er, mushrooms in it. Of course I went with the home fried potatoes as my side choice (I can make a damn fruit salad myself at home… if I ever had any fresh fruit around) and sourdough as my choice of toast. These were really good home fries; crispy in spots and creamy/potatoey in others. The coffee was black and hot ~ typical diner fare. I really wasn't expecting anything else; if I had wanted to get a decent cuppa, I could have always gone to one of the nearby coffeehouses (of which there are several within a two-block area).

For condimentary supplementation M's Cafe has Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce, Crystal® Hot Sauce, and a Sriracha-style hot sauce. I ended up using some of my own Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce (Thanks agains, Amys and me!) on the potatoes; and some Cholula® Hot Sauce (Thanks, Brian!) on the omelette.

If you are wondering "Who is 'M'?", so am I. I forgot to ask and may never know now…

Glen Bacon Scale RatingSpinach, Cheese, and Tomato… er, Mushroom Omelette ~ 5.9

1. Alfred Einstein was Albert's lesser known and not quite as smart younger brother. Alfred was the one that formulated in the late 1980's the Theory of Relative Stupidity, "E = mc Hammer".

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-horticultural pointer of the day:

"Arboretum" comes from Latin "arborētum", meaning a plantation of trees, equivalent to "arbor" (tree) + "ētum" (suffix denoting a place where a given plant grows).

Other related 'merican/English words: "arbor/arbour", "arboreal/arboureal", "arboresque/arbouresque", and "... 'at's no sea lion, 'at's an 'arbour seal, 'enry".

Sunday, October 21, 2012

farm : table

the mini-"meh?!" factor.


(Today's EweToob-ish link is two-fold: a) this weekend is Noel Yang's 24th annual Bridge School Benefit concert, and 2) it kinda goes with the theme of today's Lilliputian breakfast, Lemuel. Play this one LOUD!)

i ate breakfast this morning at farm : table (they actually have this in the minuscule[1] on their sign and web-site, which seems completely appropriate with the portion sizes). they are located on post street, in the lower nob hill area (or upper tenderloin, take your pick).

To say this place is tiny, Tim, would be a huge exaggeration. There is only one large bench-table inside the front room space (in the above photo, what you see is what there is) that can seat 6-8 people (six people comfortably; eight people that really like each other) and two sidewalk tables that can seat 2-3 people (again, optimally two people; three people if all they get is coffee drinks and nothing to eat). So, if my calculations are correct that would be about 10-14 people total (good thing it wasn't twenty-one total or I would have had to take off my shoes). Okay in all fairness, this place is really just a glorified coffeehouse which serves coffee and pastries/baked goods; however, they do have a very minor breakfast menu with a few (about 4-5) different breakfastary items that will change daily/weekly with whatever is freshly/seasonably available. I sat outside at one of the small, round tables; luckily it was only a bit chilly out this morning (the Sun was out at least).

Pocket-Sized Urban(e) Rant of the Day:

In front of the restaurant, there is one of the newest urban (and completely useless) phenomenon called "Parklets". This mini-mind idea seemed to have sprung up a few years ago in North Beach with a few of these showing up along Columbus Avenue (sure, because it's not hard enough to find a parking spot along that busy street as it is). This particular one takes up three car spaces; they are usually just two car spaces, though. Now I am all for making the best use of what little space is available in a crowded city. However, you want to experience verdancy? Just go to Golden Gate Park, dammit! It's not as if it's that hard to get to from anywhere in the City.

Anyway, back to breakfast… I had their Frittata "with late summer vegetables and cheddar, plus a side salad". I also had a cuppa coffee; they offer ROASTco Artisanal Coffees (a local roastery out of Oakland), today's blend/roast was Honduras.


This was an extremely pint-sized frittata (about the size of an English muffin in diameter and thickness) and even the side salad was pretty teeny. The frittata included as summer vegetables (apparently in keeping with the whole diminutive theme): baby zucchinis and some white onions; and that was all I could detect (maybe it was a rather petite late summer harvest from which to choose, too). This was actually pretty good, but I can hardly recommend this place to anyone with an appetite larger than a three year old's; plus, they do not offer any kind of potato side dishes (either large or small). At least the coffee was good and strong.

I didn't really ask what farm : table had in the way of condimentary supplements, but I did use some of my own Serious Food… Silly Prices, Sweet Heat Hot Sauce (Thanks, Cindy!) on the frittata; and a teensy amount of BIG PAPI En Fuego Hot Sauce Off The Wall Triple (Thanks, Kerry!) on the salad (just a skosh ~ as a little goes a long way). I also used some of my portable black pepper grinder (Thanks for the idea, Dave!) on both.

Now this really is a perfectly respectable coffeehouse; however, it really doesn't warrant going back to again for breakfast. (I wonder if Steve Martin is a part-owner of the place.) Maybe next weekend's breakfastary travels will bring me to the Brobdingnag Café

"It's a small World… but I wouldn't want to paint it." ~ Steven Wright

glen bacon scale ratingfrittata ~ 6.4 (even if it were an actual adult-sized portion, I probably would still have only rated it 6.5 due to the lack of late summer vegetable choices); ROASTco, Honduras ~ 6.8

[1] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/semi-grammatical pointer of the day:

"Minuscule" comes from the Latin word "minusculus" simply meaning "smallish", Clark.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Balompié Cafe


(There is no correlation between today's EweToob link and either Balompié[1a], Fútbol[1b], or Soccer[1c]. I just couldn't think of any good songs that were either Soccer-related ~ Really? You wanted to listen to another rendition of Gerry and the Pacemakers "You'll Never Walk Alone"? ~ or had anything to do with El Salvador.)

I had desayuno this morning at Balompié Cafe; they are located on the corner of 18th and Capp Streets over in the Mission. Balompié Cafe has been in business since 1987, and they will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year on Día de los Muertos (while that is actually a Mexican holiday, I don't know what they call Hallowe'en locally in El Salvador). There are three locations: two in San Francisco (both in the Mission) and one in El Salvador (in the city of Metapan).

Balompié Cafe is mainly a Salvadoran pupusas[2] joint and Balompié/Fútbol/Soccer fan hang-out. This is probably one of the best places in San Francisco to get pupusas. They offer several varieties of pupusas, including seven (siete, 7!) different vegetarian versions even. Balompié Cafe has several large flat-screen TeeVees with Balompié/Fútbol/Soccer games always going. Most everyone sits at the long table in the middle of the restaurant which has seating for twenty or more (which is really just five tables of four lined up) and have good views of two of the TeeVees. There was a match on this morning at 8:30am when I got there; however, I am not quite sure which teams were playing ~ with all of the ads and crap on players' jerseys now-a-days, it may very well have been the Barcelona Fiats vs. the London Fuller's Prides, for all I could tell. Who was winning? It looked like the blokes in the bright yellow jerseys were winning to me…

The rafters are covered with Balompié/Fútbol/Soccer scarves; from many countries, different teams, and even both types of "Football".

I had thought about ordering some pupusas with breakfast, but knew that they have a minimum order of two pupusas ~ you can mix and match any type you like, but it has to be two total ~ and that would have been way too much food to eat for me with an egg dish. I suppose I probably could have paired those with a simple breakfast of Plátanos, frijoles, queso, crema (fried plantains, beans, cheese, and sour cream). I ended up ordering Huevos con loroco[3] ~ eggs with loroco, a native Salvadoran vegetable, rice, and beans; served with two homemade corn tortillas. I also had a cuppa house coffee. (I made this into café el mexicano ~ with two sugars and lots of cream/leche. I have never been to El Salvador, so I don't know how they drink their coffee.)

This was a decent enough scrambled egg dish; I liked the unique flavour of the loroco in the dish. I do like nopalitos in a scramble/omelette better, though. The corn tortillas were excellent: very thick and hot off the griddle (which is to be expected, as a place that specializes in pupusas will usually have fresh corn tortillas, too). The coffee ended up being no charge with the meal. I tried pointing out to my server that they didn't charge me for the coffee; I am not sure if something was lost in the translation, as she kept pointing to the "Tax" part of the bill. Maybe it was just easier to comp me the coffee than to ring it up again. So, what is the flavour of loroco? It's kinda similar to spinach, but not quite; something is also lost in translation with the flavours.

Like most Mexican restaurants in the Mission, Balompié Cafe has for condimentary supplementation the ubiquitous Tapatío® and their own homemade salsa. I skipped the bottled stuff and generously used a lot of the homemade salsa all over the eggs and rice and beans; it was pretty tasty, but really only Gringo[4] hot.

Glen Bacon Scale RatingHuevos con loroco ~ 6.0; Papusas (which I have had a few times in the past and am rating from memory) ~ 7.5

[1] Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer del día, número uno:

a. "Balompié" in Spanish is another name for what 'mericans refer to as "Soccer".

b. "Fútbol" in Spanish is also another name for what 'mericans refer to as "Soccer". This one is easy enough to translate, as it comes from two English word roots "Fu" (meaning "Don't even think o' steppin' on me shoes, ya fargin' bastage!") and "Tbol" (meaning "That ball on a pole that no one ever knew how to play with in the schoolyard.").

c. The 'merican term "Soccer" (this really isn't a "stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer", more of a "stupid, useless cultural differentiation") comes from a shortened form of "(As)soc(iation Football)" plus "-er". This was originally 19th Century British university slang and was called "socca", and later "socker".

[2] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-culinaristic pointer del día, número dos:

"Pupusas" are a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla. The name comes from the Spanish word for the Pipil word "pupusaw".

By the way, the correct term for a place that specializes in pupusas is called a "pupuseria", much like a place that mainly serves tacos is called a "taqueria", and a place that mainly serves diet foods is called a "dieria"*.

*(Okay, I made that last one up, but it may even be true for all I know. I was just seeing who *cough-Cassy-cough* really reads these stupid, useless pointers of mine.)

[3] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-horticultural pointer del día, número tres:

"Loroco" is an herbaceous vine with edible green flowers, which is indigenous to El Salvador. Unfortunately, I really can't find any word origin of "loroco" on any on-line searches. Perhaps, it was just an old Spanish word meaning "herbaceous vine with edible green flowers".

[4] Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer del día, número cuatro:

Most people know that the word "Gringo" is a Spanish and Portuguese slang word used to denote foreigners (big secret there). However, not many people know that it is probably an alteration of the Spanish word "griego" meaning "Greek". Much like we have the expression "It's all Greek to me."**, the Spanish have an expression "Hablar en gringo." which means much the same.

**(Also a common phrase heard throughout the Y*nkees locker-room.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012



(I have no idea who or what "Zazie" is. There was a poster on the restaurant wall of an old 1960 Louis Malle movie called "Zazie dans le métro", so this is my EweToob retro reference to that.)

This morning for petit déjuener, I went back to Zazie (see last 'blog-entry from December 31st, 2011), a little French bistro in the heart of Cole Valley. (Well, they call their early morning meal "Brunch" on the weekends, but the French word for "Brunch" is just "brunch", so what is the fun in that. You can consider that a cunning linguist pointer of the day if you'd like, or not.) The restaurant filled up pretty quickly this morning as soon as they opened, as their garden patio was closed due to dew. Half the fun eating out is "eating out". They did open it up a little later while I was still eating, as they were getting backed-up outside and probably gave the customers the wetter option.

Zazie has a decent enough "Brunch" menu from which to choose, but I felt like something different other than an egg dish for a change and ordered the Ginger
bread Pancakes (2) ~ with Bosc pears (in season) and lemon curd. (They offer this as one, two, or three pancakes.) I also ordered a side of home-fries and a large glass of Zazie Spritzer[1] ~ sparkling blend of cranberry juice, fresh squeezed orange juice, and Perrier water.

I am pretty sure that I have had these for breakfast many years ago at this restaurant. These were two large, extra thick pancakes (easily equal to four regular pancakes). Three would have been way too much for me to finish. As it was, I barely finished what I had (well, there may have been a few bites left.) These had a good gingerbready flavour. They even have bags of their pancake mix for sale if you want to buy some and make your own. And apparently Bosc pears are in season, which is nice. This was served as two halves on top of the pancakes; I would have preferred it already sliced and fanned out, though. The homefries are very good (probably roasted not pan-fried); however, there were only two (large) cloves of roasted garlic in with them.

Upon request, Zazie offers as condimentary supplements just Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (the standard red). I used some of my own Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce, Habanero version (Thanks agains, Amys and Brian!) liberally on the potatoes.

I didn't go there again this morning after "Brunch", but I discovered a new ice cream joint a few weeks ago (Thanks, Lori!) called The Ice Cream Bar. It is just on the next block of Cole Street down from Zazie (toward Haight Street). This is made to resemble an old soda fountain from the 30's. The jerk[2] behind the counter (no, I am not being my normal condescending self, that is what they are called ~ he was actually very nice) even had the olde-style uniform, dressed all in white and wearing one of those caps (you know the ones that resemble white Air Force flight caps; I won't repeat what we used to call them in the Air Force, though).

The Ice Cream Bar makes all of their own ice cream on the premises and usually has between 15-20 different (and eclectic) flavours available daily. I tried both a scoop of Basil ice cream and a scoop of
Sweet Corn ice cream the day I was there. I also tried a taste of Banana Puddin', complete with vanilla wafer chunks in it. The son-of-a-bitch… er, I mean, jerk also told me that they will be doing a Concord Grape ice cream (which would pair very nicely with a scoop of Peanut Butter ice cream) in the coming future; I really would like to try that one.

The Ice Cream Bar not only serves ice cream, but they have a small lunch/dinner menu. Additionally (and this is where they are probably hoping to make their money and creating their own niche), the have an extensive soda fountain where they can mix up all sorts of phosphates, elixirs, frappes, milk shakes, and sodas. I had a Basil-Bergamot soda before I ordered any ice cream, and the nice jerk (Military Intelligence?) didn't even charge me for it, as he said he is still new and would consider that a training soda. I chose my own flavours from a long list of choices; the knowledgeable jerk (jumbo shrimp?) even knew that bergamot is the secret flavour in Earl Grey tea.


Glen Bacon Scale RatingGingerbread Pancakes ~ 7.0; The Ice Cream Bar ice creams and soda ~ 7.2

[1] Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

You know what a "spritzer" is; I know what a "spritzer" is; but apparently the idiots at Microsoft do not have a clue what a "spritzer" is, as their spell-check function does not recognize this word.

"Spritzer" comes from German "Gespritzter", a noun derived from the past participle of "spritzen", a verb meaning "to squirt, spray, sprinkle, splash".

[2] Stupid, useless etymological pointer of the day:

The name "soda jerk" comes from the "jerking" action that the server would use to swing the soda fountain handle back and forth when adding the soda water.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Home Plate

"Home… is where I want to be,
Pick me up and turn me 'round"


(That is supposed to be their official web-site; however, I couldn’t get it to work.)

2274 Lombard Street (between Steiner and Pierce Streets)

phonicular contact: (415) 922-4663

(There really is a lack of good Baseball-y songs available on EweToob, so this will have to do for today. And, yes, I am aware that the original Talking Heads version is much better ~ probably my favourite song of theirs, and definitely in my all time Top Ten Rock-and/or-Roll songs ~ but I am pretty sure that I have linked that particular version at least once or twice here already.)

It's that time of the year again, folks! You know the season: the autumnal colours are appearing and you can just feel the festiveness in the air… of course I am talking about the colours Orange-and-Black and Postseason Baseball! Go Giants! (Unfortunately for the Boston Red Sox this year, they thought that the "Postseason" started on September 1st.) So, in honour of the season, I went back to Home Plate (see last 'blog-entry from October 16th, 2011 ~ almost exactly a year ago now) in the Marina/Cow Hollow, right along Lombard Street. As their name implies, they have a Baseball-y theme going on their walls; I sat right under this Willie Mays plaque this morning.

(I have no idea who the other two idiots are in that song, but anyone talkin' Baseball knows without a doubt that Willie Mays is/was the Best Overall Baseball Player… evah! "Say hey!")

Home Plate has a very decent standard breakfast menu (especially in the way of omelettes and frittatas) and they offer several specials daily. I was thinking about getting either the Spanish Scramble or Angry Benedict (of course, without respectively the Cajun-style dead, decaying animal flesh jammed inside porcine intestines or the dead, decaying aquatic insects).

One of the really nice things about Home Plate is that everyone gets a complimentary home(plate) made mini-scone with two home(plate) made jams; this week it was mango and strawberry jams. Now, this might not sound like a lot, but their jams are always very good and the scones are usually still warm out of the oven.

I ended up ordering the Garden Omelette ~ avocado, onions (both white and green), bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and Cheddar[1] cheese; and chose hashbrowns and sourdough toast. I also had a cuppa their house coffee (which I think is Thanksgiving Coffee Company). I really wish that I had ordered a glass of their fresh Watermelon Juice (which I didn't notice until after I had finished eating), too.

The omelette was stuffed (as was I after I was done eating) with lots of fresh veggies, especially of note avocado; you'd think that the way some restaurants skimp on this ingredient that we lived in Florida or something. I went with hashbrowns for a change, but their potato-carrot pancakes are really the best.

Home Plate has as condimentary supplementation both Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (the standard red) and Cholula® Hot Sauce. However, I went with some of my own BIG PAPI EN FUEGO HOT SAUCE Off The Wall Triple Hot (Thanks, Kerry! I know that this is a Red Sox related product, but I don't know of any Barry Bonds hot sauces that are available legally over the counter.) on the hashbrowns and some Cherry Republic® KaBOB's Kick'en Hot Sauce (Thanks, Cindy!) on the omelette.

Guess that this must be the place… for breakfast. (And I am not being naïve about it at all.)

And did I mention…


Glen Bacon Scale RatingGarden Omelette ~ 6.8; Freebie home(plate) made mini-scone and jams ~ 7.0; 2012 San Francisco Giants ~ 7.5; 2012 Boston Red Sox ~ 5.5 (ouch!)

[1] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-fromagery pointer of the day:

For anyone that has never heard of Cheddar cheese before outside of Somerset, England, "Cheddar" is named after the village in England where it was originally made. The word comes from Old English "Ceodre" (circa 880), probably from "ceodor" (meaning "ravine"), as there is a nearby gorge.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Liquid Bread

Bier (German/Dutch), Beoir (Irish), Bière (French), Birra (Italiano/Maltese), Μπύρα
(Greek), Bjór (Icelandic), Bere (Romanian), Bira (Turkish), Bia (Vietnamese), Пиво (Russkij/Ukrainian/Serbian), Pivo (Czech/Slovak/Croatian), Piwo (Polish), เบียร์ (Thai), بيرة (Arabic), آبجو (Persian), Գարեջուր (Armenian), Cwrw (Welsh), ビール (Japanese), Cervisia (Latin), Cerveza (Spanish), Cerveja (Portuguese), Serbesa (Filipino), Øl (Danish/Norwegian), Öl (Swedish), Olut (Finnish), and Sör (Hungarian).


"Beer[1] for breakfast?" Let he who is among you that hasn't had a six-pack or two before lunchtime cast the first stone (or get stoned first)!

Actually this 'blog-entry is not about breakfast, but just about the liquid gold, fermented beverage. My 'blog, my 'rules, after all. However, it is interesting to note that there are many similar ingredients to bread: water, grains, and yeast.

Beer is the third most popular drink in the World, after water and tea. (Unless your name is Mitt Romney, then it would be just water, 7up®, and ginger ale.) Beer is one of the oldest prepared beverages, possibly dating back as far as the early Neolithic or 9500 BC. There is archeological evidence of it dating to circa 3500-3100 BC. (So, while Beer is not quite as old as the invention of the wheel, I am sure the first DUI was handed out circa 3499-3099 BC.)

Beer is an alcoholic beverage made by brewing and fermenting cereals (especially malted barley, although wheat, corn, and rice can also be used), usually with the addition of hops as a flavouring agent and stabilizer. Beers generally fall into two broad categories: Ales
[2] (made with top-fermenting yeast that ferment more quickly at warmer temperatures) and Lagers[3] (made with bottom-fermenting yeast that ferment more slowly at cooler temperatures). In the category of Ales, there are several sub-categories: Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Scotch, Belgian, Porter, and Stout. Lagers have the sub-categories: Pale (to include: Pilsners[4], Helles, Light Beers, and Märzens[5]) and Dark (to include: Dunkels, Schwarzbiers, Bocks, and Doppelbocks).

One of my favourite Beers is Guinness® Original/Extra Stout. This is especially best when served on tap from a keg at a good Irish pub that knows how to properly pour a "Pionta Guinness, le do thoil!" I have even had the pleasure to make a pilgrimage to the original Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. If you ever visit Dublin, it is well worth the tour.


Probably my second favourite (and lesser-known) Beer is Black Sheep Brewery Riggwelter[6] Strong Yorkshire Ale. You can locate this Beer in 'merica, but usually only at the larger import liquor stores. Whenever I visit North Yorkshire, I try to get to the Black Sheep Baa..r & Bistro at least once during my stay to get some really fresh Beers, along with a pretty decent lunch.


My favourite 'merican brewery would have to be Samuel Adams®, and my favourite progeny of theirs would have to be their Seasonal Brew Octoberfest. (Note: This style of Beer is actually called an Oktoberfest in German. It is a minor point, but spelling matters, 'kay?) "This authentic Märzen style, harkens back to the brews of Munich over 200 years ago. With 5 varieties of malt, it has a deep rich character & silky smoothness." "Hearty and smooth with a deep malt complexity and roasty sweetness." This brew truly matches or surpasses many of the Oktoberfest Beers that I had when living in Germany even.


Home brewing of Beer (as opposed to home brewing of coffee) has become very popular in the past twenty years. I have even had the opportunity to assist in the brewing of a few batches of Beers (drinking the output is much more fun, though). Another fellow 'blogger, Cabin Jim (by the way, he is the one to blame for me getting started with my own 'blog ~ you can direct any hate e-mails to him), has been trying his hand at this hobby lately. You can check out his bucolic 'blog here and look for the label "Home Brewing":


And just in case you really would like some Beer for breakfast, there is always Well's & Young Banana Bread Beer:


Cheers! Ein prosit! Céad míle fáilte! *urp*

Glen Bacon Scale RatingGuinness® Extra Stout ~ 8.5 (consider this the Marilyn Monroe of Beers); Black Sheep Brewery Riggwelter ~ 8.2 (consider this the Nicole Kidman of Beers); Samuel Adams® Octoberfest ~ 8.1 (and this would be the Uma Thurman of Beers)

[1] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-fermentary pointer of the day, number one:

The word origin of "Beer" comes from Middle English "bere", from Old English "bēor"; related to Old Norse "bjorr", Old Frisian "biār", and Old High German "bior".

[2] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-fermentary pointer of the day, number two:

The word "Ale" comes from Old English "alu" and "ealu"; related to Old Norse "öl" and Old Saxon "alofat".

[3] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-fermentary pointer of the day, Nummer drei:

"Lager" comes from German "Lagerbier", meaning "beer for storing", from "Lager", meaning "storehouse".

[4] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-fermentary pointer of the day, Nummer vier:

"Pilsner" comes from German "Pilsener", meaning "of Pilsen", a town in Bohemia (the Czech name of the town is Plzen) where it was first brewed.

[5] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-fermentary pointer of the day, Nummer fünf:

"Märzen" comes from German "Märzenbier", meaning "March Beer"; according to a Bavarian brewing ordinance, a true "Märzen" can only be brewed between September 29th and April 23rd.

[6] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-fermentary pointer of the day, number six:

"Riggwelter" is Yorkie-dales-speak for a sheep that is on its back and cannot get up without help. This comes from Old Norse "rygg", meaning "back", and "velte", meaning "to overturn".

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blackwood Café & Restaurant

American Thai Fusion
(Because 'merican Vietnamese Fission never really happened.)


(This EweToob link was the best that I could come up with anything "black" related; plus, Chris Robinson performed yesterday at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 12.)

I had breakfast (or rather, "Brunch") this morning at Blackwood Café & Restaurant over in the Marina. It is located in the space that housed Chilayo just last year (see 'blog-entry from November 13th, 2011); I liked that place (they had keeler salsas), it is just too bad it couldn't have stayed open on the trendy, upscale Chestnut Street restaurant row. Like yesterday's meal, this is another place that opens early every day (8:00am) and calls their morning meal "Breakfast" during the week, but "Brunch" on the weekends. It's the same menu all week long, too. I sat outside in the large sidewalk patio, which has seating for sixteen people at two long table-benches. There is a large outdoor fireplace that can be heated if needed. I was the only one sitting out there this morning and it wasn't necessary; I did keep my coat on, though.

Blackwood really doesn't offer that much in the way of breakfast entrées, but they do have some interesting items. I liked the sound of the Rice Polenta ("one sunny side up over our homemade rice Polenta, scallion, sesame, mushrooms, sweet basil, fried egg, crispy bacon."); however, they have taken this off the menu. It is still on their on-line menu and the menu on display at the entrance, but my server stated that it wasn't a very popular dish with their customers, so they took it off the printed menus. What the heck do stupid customers know?! I opted for the Morning Salad ~ Poached egg, oyster mushrooms, mint, low-fat cilantro lime vinaigrette[1], peaches, and Levain[2] toast. I also had a cuppa their house coffee (I forgot to ask what brand/roast); it was pretty decent ~ dark and strong.

This salad was pretty interesting with the poached egg atop a bed of mixed greens (you know, the standard mesclun[3] combo of arugula/frisée/baby spinach/etc. stuff) and it included lots of nectarines[4], not peaches, actually (either that, or their peaches suffer from a bad case of mange), thinly sliced. (Not that I could really tell the difference between nectarines and peaches in a blind taste test ~ well, Stevie and Andrea would have to let me know.) This also had a lot of mushrooms in the salad; so this is definitely not for the fungi-shy (Sorry, Skip). The levain bread was grilled, not toasted; this is always a good way to prepare it. There was a garnish of two crispy rice noodles sticking up from the salad (you may be able to see them in the above photo); I have seen this more and more often at Asian fusion places ~ what the heck, they are edible, just like parsley and such. Now this is not something I would get all the time, but it was a nice change of breakfastary pace. I think it would work just as well with plums, too (or even peaches).

Blackwood offers for condimentary supplements just Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce, but both the standard red and green Jalapeño versions. I had come prepared with some of my own hot sauces, but none were really needed on the salad. I did use some of my own fresh cracked pepper from my portable grinder (Thanks for this great idea, Dave, it has come in very handy often).

I know what you're thinking: "Salad for breakfast, Brian?" Well, it beats rice and fish… 555!

Glen Bacon Scale ratingMorning Salad ~ 6.4

[1] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-epicurean pointer du jour, numéro un:

Do I really need to explain "vinaigrette"? Well, it simply comes from French "vinaigre" (meaning "vinegar"), plus the diminutive "-ette" (meaning "done ate it, Paw").

[2] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-epicurean pointer du jour, numéro deux:

"Levain" is a type of sourdough bread; it simply means "leaven/leavening" in French.

[3] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-epicurean pointer du jour, numéro trois:

"Mesclun" comes from Provençal (Southern France) "mescla" ("to mix") and literally means "mixture".

[4] Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-fruity pointer of the day, number four:

(And this is the best information available from dictionary.com) "Nectarine" is "a variety of peach tree… the fruit of this tree, which has a smooth skin… C17: apparently from 'nectar'…"

Really? I could make up something better than that.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sweet Maple

"Ever since I was a kid my folks fed me bigotry for breakfast and ignorance for supper." ~ Samuel Fuller

(I wonder if he had a healthy helping of hatred for lunch, or just went emotion-starved for the midday meal.)


I went back to Sweet Maple (see last 'blog-entry from July 2nd, 2011) for breakfast this morning. They are located on the corner of Sutter and Steiner Streets (just a block from Fillmore Street in the Japantown/Lower Pacific Heights/Fillmore District area). This is a pretty popular neighborhood place that seems to do a very good breakfast business. They have a waiting area with single seats for eight and a large bench that could seat four if needed. During the week, they call their morning meal "Breakfast"; however, on the weekend, they call this meal "Brunch". It all looks very similar to me on their menus. They do open every day at 8:00am, so, to me, that is really good enough to be called just plain ol' "breakfast"; no need for any fancy-shmany monikers, Mrs. Bing.

I sat at their trendy bar to eat (which has seating for twelve, itself) and got to watch some ESPN College Game Day on the large screen TeeVee while waiting for my meal. I really was looking forward to trying one of their Morning Pizzas (which was the main reason I went back there today); however, after I had already ordered, my server came back and informed me that their pizza oven was not working this morning. Luckily, they have a pretty decent breakfast/"Brunch" menu from which to choose: many omelettes, scrambles, Benedicts, French toast, pancakes, and the above-mentioned Morning Pizzas (when available).

After looking through the menu again, I was thinking about ordering the Athenian Omelette ~ mushroom, arugula, and mild goat cheese (I am not so sure what the connection to the Greek Capital was, though ~ spinach and Feta would make much more sense), but couldn't pass up the completely 'orrible-sounding Kimchi Benedict ~ tofu, sautéed kimchi, green onion, and chipotle[1] Hollandaise; served with herb roasted potato medley. I also had a cuppa America's Best Italian Roast coffee (I have had this brand of coffee before and it is very tasty ~ good and strong ~ but not really the Best Coffee in 'merica or Italy, even; a rather bold statement if you ask me).

Due to its completely horrid-sounding name and apparent incongruous Benedict combination, I had a feeling I would really like this dish. I was correct. This was a surprisingly good Benedict with a bit o' Seoul ("soul", get it?). I liked it a lot. It was made with lots of kimchi (so, if you don't like spicy, rotted cabbage, I wouldn't suggest ordering this one). The chipotle Hollandaise was very good also; tasty, and with just a trace of heat. With some extra added sweetness of maple syrup (I had to have something with their namesake with the meal, didn't I?) in my coffee, it all went together very well. Korean-Mexican? Who knew? Plus, this dish was even Vegan friendly with the tofu added in…

My one minor complaint was that this Herb guy was a little stingy on the potato medley (which was my minor complaint last time, too). This was made with blue, red, white, and sweet potatoes.

Sweet Maple has as their condimentary supplementation Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (both the standard red and green Jalapeño) and Tapatío® (along with the aforementioned
maple syrup on each table/counter setting ~ I am pretty sure mine was decaffeinated, as it had a red top, which was good, as I had several refills of coffee). However, I went with a little of my own Serious Food… Silly Prices Chunky Habanero Hot Sauce (Thanks, Cindy!) on the potatoes.

Wild Parrots of San Francisco Update

While riding home I heard several of the Wild Parrots of San Francisco flying overhead along Geary Boulevard, but couldn't see any when I looked up. They haven't made it as far as the Outer Richmond yet, it's probably too cold and foggy for their liking.

Glen Bacon Scale RatingKimchi Benedict ~ 6.9

[1] Stupid, useless (and probably a repeat) cunning linguist/pseudo-culinaristic pointer del día:

A "chipotle" is a smoke-dried jalapeño chilli; it comes from Mexican Spanish and ultimately from Nahuatl (Aztec), and is said to be a compound of "xilli" (chilli) and "poctli" (smoke).