Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rocco’s Café

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." ~ T.S. Eliot

("I have measured out my life with spoons, too. They just weren’t full of coffee." ~ Tallulah Bankhead)

Place: Rocco's Café
Location: 1131 Folsom Street (between 7th and 8th Streets)
Hours: Breakfast Monday - Friday 7:ooam - 11:30am; All day Saturday and Sunday (open at 8:00am)
Meal: Tomato, Basil, & Provolone Cheese Frittata (includes English muffin, wheat, rye, or sourdough toast & Rocco's Breakfast Potatoes) and a cuppa coffee

(Sorry, this was as close to a "Rocco" song that I could find on EweToob, Colonel Francona. This is the alternate/single version.)

This morning I had mia prima colazione a Rocco's Café (senza accento chiuso on their signage, ma con accento chiuso on their web-site). They've been around since 1990, but this was my first time ever eating there (breakfast, lunch, or dinner). They have a large enough space with seating for 40-50, plus an additional eight seats at the counter overlooking the kitchen/cook area. The walls are covered (literally) with old photos of San Francisco, actors and actresses, and other old-timey memorabilia. My server-lady this morning was super friendly; it was still pretty early and they weren't too busy, so I am sure she hadn't been taxed by a buncha idiots yet for the day. And unlike so many other eponymous restaurants in San Francisco (Who is "Dottie"? Who is "Ella"? Who is "Chloe"? etc.), there is an actual "Rocco" associated with this place; Rocco was the grandfather of the owner.

The house stereo was playing old 30's and 40's music stuff. It seems that back then the clarinet was the predominant instrument in the Big Bands (Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Allan Stewart Konigsberg, etc.), sort of the 30's version of a lead electric guitar.

stupid, useless parklets mini-rant of the day
There is another of these wastelets (a two-length car space one) right across the street from Rocco's Café, in front of BrainWash Cafe-Laundromat; for which, you have made my boycott list, too, mister! (It’s too bad, too. I always liked the idea of a joint café-Laundromat. I used to do my laundry there once in a while years ago, and it was a nice way of killing time while your clothes were being washed. Plus, they serve Beer.)

Rocco's has a pretty decent standard breakfastary menu and they also have a Breakfast Weekend & Holiday Specials section. On the regular breakfast menu, they have everything from Pancakes & French Toast to Grilled Polenta topped with Cheese & Marina Sauce (which I thought about getting) to several 3-Egg Omelettes and 3-Egg Frittatas (five different ones). I figured (correctly) that the frittata was a good way to go. Off the Weekend Specials (it wasn't a holiday this weekend, unless you want to count "Kill-off the Taínos for Queen Isabella Day" a real holiday) both 3 Eggs "Spuds a la Rocco" (topped w/ Avocado, Marinara, & Sharp Cheddar) and 3 Eggs Poached in a Sweet Tomato, Basil Marina Sauce (w/ Italian Sausage & Warm Italian French[sic] Bread) sounded very good. They also had on the daily specials chalkboard: Cappuccino[1] Cake or Chocolate Raspberry Cake; if only I had room for dessert.

From the ingredients, I knew that I was going to like the frittata right away. The major plusses were that the tomatoes were also roasted before throwing them into the mess ~  this just adds to the flavour (Sorry, Greg.) ~ and there were lots of fresh basil chiffonade (which the Spell-Check Nazis at Microsoft don‘t seem to recognize as a valid word; you may want to contact Rachel Ray or Emeril Lagreasy about that, Billy-boy) throughout it. This was all reminiscent of a good Pizza Margherita. The homefried potatoes were made with a lot of red onions in it; always a good thing. I chose sourdough as my toast choice (I wonder if it was Italian-French Sourdough Bread).

Rocco's has Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (both the original red and the green Jalapeño) and Tapatío® for condimentary supplementation (just missing Cholula® for the San Francisco Triumvirate[2]). I went with some of my own Born to Hula presents Devon Allman's All Natural Hot Sauce Chipotle Blues (Thanks, Kerry!) on the potatoes and some Serious Food… Silly Prices Mango Hot Sauce (Thanks, Cindy & Greg!) on the frittata.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Tomato, Basil, & Provolone Cheese Frittata ~ 6.5

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-baristatic puntatore del giorno, numero uno:

Here's a little-known Cliff Clavinesque factoid*: the word "Cappuccino" gets its name from the Capuchin Monkeys of Central and South America. When the Spanish and Portuguese first started planting coffee in the Americas, it seems these pesky little primates would eat up all the coffee beans before they could be harvested. Not that the little tree-swinging buggers needed any extra jolts of energy, but they would really create havoc with the plantations after ingesting all that caffeine. The local farmers had to come up with a plan to curtail this and started using old, empty barrels of Rum to catch the animated primates in. This is where we get the saying, "More fun than a barrelful of monkeys."

*(Geez, did you really buy all that? Never believe anything you read on the Intro-Net. Well, that is what my French model girlfriend always tells me.

Here is the actual stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer:

The frothy coffee drink "Cappuccino" comes from the diminutive form of "cappucio", Italian for "hood". Both the drink and the Capuchin Monkeys (diminutive monkeys in  their own right) derive their names from a group of friars named the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. The monks (the Christian ones, not the long-tailed American primates) wore red-brown hooded robes, which the colour of the coffee drinks somewhat resembles; also, when the Spanish explorers first encountered the little monkeys (the American ones, not small friars), they appeared to be wearing hoods like the Capuchin brothers.

However, there is no proof whatsoever to the assertion that Capuchin Monks were fond of either Skittles® or Arizona® Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail.)

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-historical suggerentibus die, numero duos:

(And I promise that this one is true.) 

"Triumvirate" comes from the Latin phrase "trium virorum", which is the genitive plural of "tres viri" ("three men"). A single member of a triumvirate is called a "triumvir" and the plural is "triumviri".

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