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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I think I overdosed...on Steely Dan







Yeah, I know it has been awhile. Where shall I start? Let's go backwards. Today is kinda heavy although, I have decided to take 2 Tylenol to aid the aftermath of "Sausage Tuesday" at Schmidts which turned into "Porn Tuesday" at TRUCK. My morning bike ride needed a stop at the ever expanding donut shop Dynamo Donuts. When I say expanding, I mean by variety. Today, for instance, I had the Monte Christo. All I have to say is, Jam and Ham combined is divine. That donut along with a Gibraltar was supposed to aid my headache. It was a start.

The past weekend was 3 nights of Steely Dan at Nob Hill Masonic. Looking back maybe it was a little much. I mean Friday was lunch at Boulettes Larder offering a tremendous salad. And when I say tremendous, I mean probably one the most delicious tossed selections of produce available. You can tell who the farmers like in this town based on the production BL does daily. The brownie cookies make me drool just thinking about them. And I am not even going to mention their breakfast because we would need a whole entry for that.

Friday night pre-Aja in it's entirety by the legendary Steely Dan was back at an old stomping ground, Beretta. The usual order of brussels, eggplant, pizza and gelato were in affect. In terms of cocktails, an enhanced OLD FASHIONED and a new KENTUCKY MULE were spot on. I was all blazed for the show. There is not a bad seat in the Masonic Auditorium and the sound was great. We continued to cocktail throughout the set. And late night, post show Castro action went on till about last call before I turned in for the night.

Saturday morning haircut by michaeltheboxer.com and Gibraltar by Blue Bottle at Mint Plaza was my bike route starting at 9am. Then by 1:30pm I was over in the East Bay at CAMINO for my very first brunch. Blown away, I was, by my buddy Carlo's duck dish and the egg dish my friend had. Turns out that egg dish was from Paula Wolfert's latest cookbook where she poaches eggs with yogurt and the result is pure poetry. Jennifer my barista from CENTO also works the coffee bar at CAMINO. Since her shift was through, she joined us for cocktails like their Brandy, vermouth, house-made angostura-style bitters and Tequila reposado, lime, house-made curaçao.

Jennifer then took us on a bit of a field trip for after-brunch coffee. We headed to subrosa on 40th at Webster also in Oakland. This small 10X12 space recently sprouted up and serves Four Barrel coffee so you know it's got to be good. I was so pleased by their Gibraltar, that I decided to try their mocha which was equally delightful. Although the interior space is tiny, there is a patio that looks very manicured and appealing. There is a cool Bike shop and record store next door as well. Seems like Oakland is becoming the new San Francisco.

My friend Laura accompanied me to Saturday's Steely show. We had started the evening off at a fundraiser my friend Chrissie and Dave were hosting at Sothebys in the Embarcadero. It was for a public elementary school called THINK COLLEGE NOW. I encourage folks to donate their time or their money to this great school. The kids we met and talked to were very sweet and inspiring. Laura and I ducked out and headed up to 15 Romolo for some pre-concert libations. The bartender created 3 bourbon cocktails just for me. After a quick stop at the corner liquor store for a wee bottle of Makers, we were off to the Masonic for night 2.

By night 3, looking out at many vacant seats, I realized, 3 shows was pushing it. They did Rikki, Don't Lose That Number and Do It Again which we hadn't heard in previous nights. But to sum up the experience, I have to say that the band was super tight. The man-about-town, Donald Fagan, still has his funk. I was drunk with love amongst many other things. Big Surprise!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

There is no such thing as a "school night" when you live here

15 Romolo

The Original Emmy's Spaghetti Shack


City life offers so much temptation. I am a real sucker for good drinks and good eats. The week offered me many indulgences. A friend rolled into town on Wednesday from New York City. To celebrate, we went to eat off Barry's new menu at Emmy's Spaghetti Shack. We shared and devoured the Arugula, Pear & Crispy Speck with Blue Cheese Crostini and Caramelized Shallots. The Grilled Polenta with Sautéed Mushrooms and Mascarpone drizzled with Truffle Honey was screaming. And my Pappardelli with Cremini Mushrooms, Walnuts & Pancetta in a light Parmesan Sauce about floored me. My friend Chris wouldn't shut up about his Grilled Iron Flat Steak with Sautéed Kale, & Mashed Potatoes & Balsamic Reduction. So, I made him cut me a sliver and I died!!

And then it was Thursday and the same cast of characters met at 15 Romolo in North Beach. It was my first visit and I fell immediately in love with the space. Especially the old newspaper from 1974 wallpapered in the men's room. 15 Romolo features original cocktails and some fares known to be shared. I believe I tried and enjoyed all the bourbon ones like their fiscal agent which consisted of bourbon, green chartreuse, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and cacao nib tincture. Holy atomic pile, Batman! And the rio grande definitely had the civil war theme with it's siete leguas reposado, old grand dad bonded 100pf bourbon, lemon, lime and chili-sugar-salt rim. On to the fare where the chicken wings and the pork sliders just stand out. Even the heirloom tomato salad and the burger are handcrafted and done so well that you don't want to share.

The evening and visit with my friend came to a close but only after a nightcap at Michael Mina. They have a great lounge menu and cocktail list. I went gaily forward to the SAN FRANCISCO SAZERAC with Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey, Peychaud's Bitters. It's served neat in a St. George Distillery Absinthe-Scented glass with peel of lemon. It was hard for Chris not to point out how much he misses the indulgences that San Francisco both provides and influences. I guess you don't know about a good thing till you're gone from it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Carte, A Garage Door And A Counter...


Lunch this week was such an easy and fun adventure. The weather held up nicely for this quasi-Indian summer that San Francisco is happy to welcome. It allowed me to walk to various Sandwich Stops that have become all the craze of the city. My first stop was CARTE415 on Monday. This gourmet sandwich cart is located inside 101 2nd Street, which according to one Yelp review is "A great indoor public space for folks to have their lunch or coffee breaks or even set up a mini team meeting." It offers it's audience freshly prepared, sustainable and affordable sandwiches geared for those "on the run." In the past I have had the fra’mani charcuterie which is their sopressata, cured ham and prosciutto served with quince membrillo, gruyere cheese, peppercress and Italian chilies. Now, I come from Jersey. A very northern part. I'd say Soprano-land. So I know a thing or two about Italian hoagies or subs. And this particular sandwich is a great merger of the Jersey grinder transplanted with left coast mentality. Meaning it almost tastes healthier. Maybe it's the size or the portion, but I definitely don't feel as guilty as I used to, when I was kid. That may also have to do with my Rhonda Byrne-mindset. I think that all things going into my body are good. And therefore they are.

Well, you wanna know what else is good at CARTE415? Currently, they're doing turkey confit. It is confit of heritage turkey leg and breast with fresh mozzarella cheese, local fig jam and saulsalito springs watercress. Now, again, doesn't that have a healthy sound to it? Really it just sounds good and it was everything you would expect it to be and more. It was ready for me, upon arrival, there was no line to speak of at the time (12:05pm on a Monday). They offer green packaging and even 101 2nd Street, the "great glass building," goes through their trash to compost every last bit of garbage. Oh yeah, try the tomato gazpacho and the hummus (when they do it.)

Tuesday we hit the garage door that kindly opens daily during the work week from 11:30am to 1:30pm (or until they run out!), as they like to put it. And they did that day. We got the last
marin sun farms pork porchetta sandwich stuffed with figs, lemon, garlic, & sage, aioli, shaved fennel, arugula at kitchenettesf. This to-go, truck-stop garage door is located in the heart of the DogPatch district near 20th on Illinois Street and is a collaborative effort of several chefs that happen to work in some of the great kitchens in Bay Area. They make around 100 or so sandwiches according to one of the staff, when I asked her. That day, I also traded half of my sandwich for half of their roasted kadota fig, apple, & blue cheese baguette topped with shaved fennel, toasted walnut-parsley salsa. Although you would think the pork to be the better offering of the two, it was the meatless sandwich, that took the prize of most delectable, according to me and my sandwich trader, who will remain nameless. Ok it was Vytas.


It was a kitchen counter called The Sentinel where I met a friend on Wednesday for Dennis Leary's famous BEEF AND PORK MEATBALLS SANDWICH WITH TOMATO SAUCE AND PARMESAN. Leary, who commands the kitchen at Canteen, does double duty in an even smaller kitchen that once housed a cigar shop. He basically gives every sandwich or daily special he offers his blessing. I like the fact that he is out there handing off each order. That personal touch is what makes this place so appealing. The handcrafted seasonal menu is sensational every time I visit. The line moves quick with friendly staff expediting each part of the process. My friend was nice enough to give me a bite of his PORK LOIN WITH PINEAPPLE, CHILI, CILANTRO, CARROTS. I was impressed. The other highlights on the current menu include his CORNED BEEF WITH CABBAGE, SWISS, RUSSIAN DRESSING and SMOKED SALMON AND FRESH SALMON WITH FENNEL AND APPLES. Both remind me of the Jewish delis I was raised on in Jersey and New York.


The sandwich revolution is going strong in the city. It is inspiring and truly tasty. And it doesn't break the bank. I really want to throw my hat in this game. I have so many ideas. Wanna hear about them?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monsters and Treasures for my eardrum pleasures

Bob and me
Monsters of Folk
Most times, music, especially in the live format, blows me away. I have had a historical week of concerts starting back last Monday at the U2 show in Texas. Having witnessed such an event in such a huge stadium, it was nice to have the neighborhood feel to this past weekend's shows. I had a posse that I had gathered together on Saturday around cocktail hour. I provided the bottle of Maker's and a dozen Anthony's Cookies to get our party started. You know the Toffee Chip, the peanut butter and the semi sweet always pair well with bourbon. I know Dave, who hosted the cocktail hour was psyched about the leftovers, for sure. My girl Lori drove Dave, my buddy Matt and I over to the Fox Theater in Oakland to see Monsters of Folk. This outfit features "my man" M. Ward, Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberest from Bright Eyes and most recently, his Mystic Valley outfit, and musician/producer Mike Mogis. We thought we had some time to kill and assumed there was an opening act and after being denied at the very "art deco" Flora, across the street from the Fox, we stumbled over to Luka's. Which, by the way, is never a bad choice. Good comfort food like excellent hamburgers and fries with 3 kinds of dippings. The Mussels are done several ways as well. But it has a party-like, fun atmosphere and it's open late and can be really good in a pinch. Anyway, on to the show. We were only about a half hour tardy and it seemed like they were just getting things going. On the band's website they call the tour a musical event that features songs from their record but also from their individual catalogues. They did an amazing "Golden" by MMJ. I was so digging "Man Named Truth". I think it might be my favorite track off the record. But I was psyched for how much of M. Ward's catalogue they did. "Sad, Sad Song," "Outta My Head" and "To Save Me" are just some of many selected tracks of which I consider to be some of my favorite all-time songs. It was the evening in general, the way the concert flowed and the amazement of talent on stage. These gentlemen are some of the hardest working music makers out there today. They seem to stand direct in the spotlight, bathing in the beauty of the sweet music they all have created.

I had captured so much on Sunday afternoon when the Bauers Bus dropped us off in Treasure Island. I came right in time for one of my favorite local bands. Vetiver's set had me dancing around, shooting pictures and bumping into all sorts of familiar faces to play with. The sound of their latest record (Tight Knit) totally is the sound track for my 70's look that I have been sporting for the last year and a half. But when they played "El Rio," about "the Best Dive Bar in America," (Playboy Magazine 1998) I was supercharged. El Rio is around the corner from my crib at Precita on Mission Street. I have been going to this bar since before I moved here in '96. I didn't even know it at the time, but, I got to meet the lead singer of the band, whose name is also Andy, in the VIP section right before Flaming Lips finished up the night. Duh! He was really sweet and mellow, just like the sweet and mellow music he brilliantly delivers both in the studio and on stage.

I thought that it couldn't get any better than this first set I was catching upon arrival, but then we ventured to the main stage for Grizzly Bear. They are seriously the Beatles or CSN right now. This latest record, entitled Veckatimest, is in on heavy heavy rotation on all my gadgets around the house or mobile. Opening number "Cheerleader" got us hypnotized and we were all the under the spell for the next 9 numbers.

And it just kept getting better, if you can believe it. Walking back to the 2nd stage to see my good friend Bob Mould reunited with his former band mate David Barbe from Sugar. Hearing songs from Copper Blue reminded me of my senior year in high school. The simplicity of the 3-piece band and the roaring energy of the sound was quite compelling. Especially the set closer, "New Day Rising," a classic Husker Du track, warmed the crowd up on this windy afternoon. Bob who just celebrated a birthday earlier that weekend, officially announced on stage that he was now a San Francisco resident. And I am so excited to have him on this coastline.

I ended up staying through the rest of the line-up and was quite impressed with Beirut and The Decemberists sets. A little disappointed by Yo La Tengo but blazed by the Flaming Lips closing set.

Sadly, I left my camera on the bus ride home. I had shot some great pics and videos of the day. All lost forever. I am truly bumming. I am very glad I got to experience it all though. Those memories will stick with me forever.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Bunch of Meatballs With All My Pal's

Me & Jeff

Co-Workers Aaron & Vytas

It seems I had a bit of double dosing in the last coupla days. I went to Anthony's Cookies and Ritual twice yesterday. But it was Friday, during a lunch outing to the DogPatch, with co-worker Vytas and co-worker Aaron, that the "Meatball Double Dosing" really came into play. We had considered kitchenette but they only had a Chicken sandwich and a squash torta. I wanted a bit more options so we parked at Piccino. 3 meatballs, and see, I am including myself, sitting at the table, ordered a half order of Margherita's Pork And Beef Polpette (Meat Balls) with tomato sauce. The biggest meatball, Vytas, still using his birthday week status, was bold and took a double dose. This left us meatballs, Aaron and I, with one to share.

You would have thought I had my fill, but wouldn't you know it, Pal's Take-Away was doing "A nicea meatball-Aunt Nona’s meatballs and tomato sauce on a torpedo roll w/ Annabelle’s wild arugula, parsley, grated Parmigianno". Eating on the counter, talking to Jeff yesterday, I learned a very fun fact and coincidence. Pal's is named after the legendary Pal's Cabin in West Orange, New Jersey. Jeff and I, both grew up going to this restaurant started by two "Pal's" Marty Horn and Roy Sale in 1932. I think it's ironic that we live in a similar era to the Great Depression, with our banks closing and jobs being scarce. These guys toughed it out and now a 3rd Generation of the Horn's still runs the family business. My parents, relatives, and friends still go here to eat. It's encouraging to me to see my "Pal's" Jeff and David tough it out too because I think they are great. They provide delicious food done with distinct passion and exciting design. I am excited to see what they stir up this week. I'm hearing things about a Box Wednesday and hints of meatloaf somewhere in the weekly menu.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Huffing it on Friday...





It is very easy to get caught up in 24th Street. In the recent year or so, there have been recent treasures that have come into the neighborhood. I guess what can always bring me all the way out from downtown, at lunchtime, lately, are the daily dosage of sandwiches that Jeff and David put together, Tuesday thru Saturday, at their counter inside Tony's Market. Pal's Take Away, as they like to call it, is on Hampshire there at 24th Street. Birthday boy Vytas was back for yesterday's lunch adventure in the mission. After ordering ahead, we borrowed our coworker's Cadillac and both enjoyed a Marin Sun Farm Roast Beef on poppy seed roll w/ Gruyere fondue, caramelized onions and Full Belly lettuce. We had the distinct pleasure in trying a Gobba Gobba Hey confection after we finished our sandos. It was a Black Cherry with Lime Buttercream whoopee-like pie. Yummy, I tell ya. I got to meet Steve, the man responsible for this scrumptious pie and was psyched to learn he also is an east coast transplant. The Pal's guys are proud to be selling them and I am proud enough to say, I am eating them. HA!

Vytas, knowing the neighborhood now, suggested we go and get some ice cream. First, we had to go get a Gibraltar from Dynamo Donuts to satisfy one of my many cravings. Especially since Keith was working the kiosk. This man knows good coffee. He has had stints at Ritual and most recently has filled in at The Creamery across from Cal Train. But most times, I find Keith at the donut shop convincing me to grab many donuts while drinking my espresso.

Vytas and I made another friend when we satisfied his sweet tooth at Humphrey Slocombe. It had almost a week or maybe longer since I got to sample the most recent concoctions that can turn up in some of their ice cream flavors. After trying 3 new ones, including one that had Rosemary in it, I settled on a combo of Pumpkin 5-Spice and SKULLSPLITTER Root Beer. Emily, our new friend informed us about the flavors and mentioned the brewery that makes the SKULLSPLITTER Root Beer. Emily, like most that work in this ice cream shop, always sports a friendly smile while enticing folks like me to try their creamy delights.

I tried to take my date to Mission Street Food since it was Thursday night but also because the guest chef was from Hog Island Oyster Co. I anticipated a large crowd and wouldn't you know, even at 9:30, the crowd was still going strong as we drove by. We decided to land at Slow Club instead of waiting it out. It is an easy place for me to always land. Good bar with lots of bourbon selections, a menu that offers one of the best burgers in town and an ambiance that is just the right amount of dark and romantic. It was a Don Draper-like Old Fashioned at the bar before we sat at our table, but then onto a glass of Sauvignon blanc to pair with my Pork Loin. And you will be surprised to know that I did skip dessert. I know, I am shocked too.

I am so excited that the weekend is already here. I look forward to Jennifer's mocha at Cento this morning after I am through with the gym. I am walking there this morning because I have a flat tire that needs to get repaired at some point today. I am up early so I have enough time and don't have to suffer through the MUNI or BART. I am also excited to see Monsters of Folk tomorrow at the Fox Theater in Oak-town (Oakland). M. Ward, Jim James and Conor Oberest are all strong forces in the indie music scene. With their recent collaboration and album, I am psyched to see what kind of setlist they come up with tomorrow. Sunday is Treasure Island Music Fest and the line-up is amazing. Bob Mould, Vetiver, Grizzly Bear, Beirut, Yo La Tengo, Flaming Lips. I mean, HELLO? Can you ask for anything more? It sounds like a Genius playlist on my shuffle. And with that said, it is time to put on my headphones and start this Friday. Can anyone guess what disco song is in my head?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sausage Tuesday's and a hella of a Wednesday Welcome Back...



There is nothing like a few beers and pork to help a San Franciscan feel welcomed home. My friend Riley was quite generous last night. He picked me up and drove me home to drop off my luggage. But then provided to and fro transportation to Schmidts on 20th and Folsom. You see, we have adopted Tuesday nights at their communal table and invite various friends to join in the fun. I got to meet the owner last night and her husband who I growled at when I saw his dirty finger nails. I am a sucker for blue collar straight men. Can you blame me? I woke up early and was off to meet Louk, my trainer, my confidant, the man who knows too much about me. We had our usual banter and fun. He makes me want to be successful enough to have him follow me around for the rest of my life. I love Louk so much. But I digress. And after training I was off to work, YAY! But stopped off at Cento. Oh, how I missed thee...My buddy Glenn pulled up at the same I did and remembered that it was his turn to buy. I explained my Dallas experience and experiment to find coffee/espresso as good as what I was used to in my neighborhoods about San Francisco. That was until I took my first sip of my Cento. Gosh, it's good to be home. Vytas turned 40 yesterday. He happens to be my closest chum at work. He can deal with all of my sides. He is my cube mate as his cubical is next to mine. We share an affinity for good food, good wine, good life. So, I took him out for his special day. At first I thought, Boulettes Larder. I had a meeting at the Ferry Bldg anyway. But, then I saw my friend, my very special friend and former roommate working at the infamous Slanted Door and took a gamble. I asked if they were able to accommodate us at noon in Bill's section, no less. They happily obliged and I called Vytas to explain the schedule change. Of course he was fine with the apparent upgrade and we dined on some Yellowtail from the Raw Bar, some tuna tar tare and of course a delicious German white. Wine that is. But the highlight of the my day, just took place, this evening. My friend Bill suggested the new Wine Bar inches from my house. Noeteca is the new french inspired Cafe on Dolores and Valley St in Noe Valley. Upon entering the establishment, you can feel the love in the atmosphere. I recognized the owner/chef from somewhere. Shane, the waiter, pointed out his prior position at a neighborhood breakfast gem Chloe's. Apparently, Alex, the former waiter of Chloe's and most recently Holiday Inn on Van Ness has been working on this project since last November. His hard work shows. The food was every bit the experience I have had in Paris. The freshness in the produce and the attention to detail in the sauces were warm to the heart and the palate. He explained his wine list and the affordability to it. He truly is after attaining the customer and keeping their interest in upcoming return visits. I look forward to my 2nd time, now if I can only figure out, who will be worthy of such an honor. Meanwhile, I am drunk with all that a Wednesday has to offer and also some wine too. I think I will let this be for now...Bon Soir.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm going back to Cali...Cali, Cali



After a 3rd trip to Uptown Golds Gym, my buddy Ron brought me to Flying Fish for some lunch yesterday. I had one of their Combo Baskets that included 4 Shrimp and 2 Catfish Fillets. The basket has a coupla hushpuppies and fries up-in-there too. But it didn't stop me from going after more of Ron's side of hushpuppies as well. Yum! I was also pleasantly surprised that they carried Harpoon IPA. Reminds me of the college days in the Pioneer Valley, listening to Harpua by PHISH and drinking Harpoons. I am silly that way. The big moment of my Dallas trip was last night at Arlington, aka, the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, which is in Arlington, TX. U2 came into town with quite a bang. Not without controversy of course. Apparently, the gossip around town was that U2 threatened to cancel if Arlington owner, Jerry Jones, didn't agree to raise the monster-size stadium screen to accommodate the elaborate 60 million dollar plus structure that is the 360° Tour. The setlist was full of tributes to George Harrison solo, The Beatles, Motown, Bob Marley and "the church" in songs Mysterious Ways / My Sweet Lord (snippet), Beautiful Day / Blackbird (snippet), I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Stand By Me, Sunday Bloody Sunday / Get Up Stand Up (snippet), and encore One / Amazing Grace (snippet) . In terms of seats, or shall I say, ultimate spot, for viewing this extravaganza, took place in the RED ZONE. It made this giant 100,000 seat Coliseum into an intimate portrait of a band that has not only taken over the world but is working to change it as well. This message is ringleader, Bono's, forte. With snippets of Bishop Tutu talking about us being ONE and Amnesty International volunteers aligning the stage wearing masks of Aung San Suu Kyi during a performance of Walk On to a surprising shout out to the former President elect George W for his help against AIDS in Africa, this was more than a rock concert, this was historical. I am proud to have been there with my brothers, my good friends. And the stadium was just incredible to see in person. I was pooped when we got home and quickly crashed out. Woke up to the rain. 5 days in Dallas and not one ray of sunshine, well, except for my smiling face. And I was all smiles at breakfast. Ron took me to another Bread Winner's Cafe. This one was located on Lover's Lane and seemed like an updated version of the one I went to over the weekend in the Uptown section. Plus, the bread basket on Lover's Lane came with that Blackberry Cream Cheese Sticky Bun I had been drooling over. Oh yeah, it was scrumptious and robust. Since we were in the neighborhood, we went to DRIP and I actually got to request a Gibraltar from the owner Steve Thatcher. Thatcher told me he has been roasting and brewing coffee for more than 18 years. And that he roasts beans he gets from an SF distributor. He has had shops in Texas and Massachusetts. Back in Dallas since December of '05, he delivers a serious shot that really hit the spot. I am torn as a result, in naming my best coffeehouse experience. But as Thatcher asked in terms of my favorite spots in SF, I said I have many. Isn't that a good thing though, to have variety? Dallas had a lot of variety in a lot of ways. And that's the truth. See you on the West Coast. I'm out.


Monday, October 12, 2009

"Don't settle for mediocre"



Rita, 1/2 half of The Pearl Cup, open since February, has the best thing going in terms of Espresso Bars in Dallas. She started nearly 2 year go and has now built the "house of the famous Pearl Latte." It is completely superb. Her and her business partner have the mission of not compromising when it comes to good quality coffee making. "My money is as good as any body's", she tells me. And what a value it is to get that perfectly steamed, good shot, pressed well cup of espresso in all it's different offerings. We want to go back for the Italian Cappuccino, having experienced the secret in the Pearl Latte. Apparently the secret ingredient is "a lot of love, and magic and rainbows and unicorns." Hmmmm, I guess I tasted a few of these. I told her about the Affogato done in San Francisco. The handcrafted ice cream and espresso done in 2 frequent stops of the never ending coffee tour of my life in San Francisco. Blue Bottle uses the Secret Breakfast(Bourbon and corn flakes). Four Barrel uses the 8Ball Stout(Beer). Both handcrafted by one of my favorite ice cream shops, Humphrey Slocombe. I asked her to name it after me, if she finds ice cream, as decadent as that, to use with an espresso pour.

Did some beer drinking time at the Hidden Door yesterday and then a warm, home cooked meal with friends later on. Stew, beer and hanging out with new buds, ah, heaven. I got to experience Metro Diner this morning for breakfast. I came home and told my hosts they could scratch that off there list. After reading a yelp that stated, "the place is inhabited by a few unsavory citizens, some being the staff," I will have to concur. Then I got to try It's a Grind Coffeehouse in the deep Deep Ellum. Frankly, I was a little creeped out by the staff there too. My white chocolate mocha was nothing memorable. I am wondering if Rita may be right when she could not offer up any other recommendations for my next coffee stop after visiting her establishment yesterday.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Knuckle Shocks Dallas and Visits a Starbucks




You are not going to believe this but I was grumpy at some point yesterday. I know right? Well anyhow, I succumbed to Starbucks and got a caramel macchiato. Which, by the way, is 270 calories if you order a grande. Random fact I wanted to point out. Hee-hee! I am pleased to report that I have visited Golds Gym Uptown twice now on my holiday. I think this Golds not only has great eye candy but also maintains a very clean (bathroom) gym. I had to focus and get in a good hour of exercise because were running errands for a soiree later on in the evening. So, I focused on cardio and the guilt from the Starbucks adventure, and watched the Ohio State game and kept the cruising to a minimum. We all headed to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the 2nd half of the game and I cruised straight college boys from Baylor. I passed on the tempting wings, opted instead for a tall wheat beer with my blackened chicken salad. My hosts pulled off quite a party in their new home later on in the evening. The caterer was a crowd-pleaser and treated us to delicious stuffed mushrooms and orzo pasta salads. Very addicting chicken and cheesecake were all on the repeat grabs when I frequented the buffet table. But the party's guests were the highlight of my evening. I was excited to see a bunch of familiar faces and to meet some new ones as well. Forward to brunch this morning at Bread Winners which actually lives up to their "Delicious Day or Night" motto. It is the hip hop happening spot for Sunday brunch. No inferred meaning to hip hop from a musical point of view, necessarily. But, the customers were quite eclectic, reminding me of a California vibe. We ordered a drip for my bud and I had a capp with a reeses cookie while waiting to be seated at a table. I just could not resist peanut butter cups in a cookie. WOULD YOU? Although, I was awfully tempted by the Blackberry Cream Cheese Sticky bun; but slapped my own wrist channeling Beth Grant in Sordid Lives. Brunch was tasty but the company was really the best part. I'd write more but I need a nap. Ron says we are going to coffee in about 45 mins. Perfect pow nap amount of time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Backyard Buzz, Wilco ignites...



As my trip through D-Town continues, I did have a chance to drop by DRIP Coffee yesterday afternoon. Zoia, a barista that works there, claims the drip coffee to be the best in Dallas. I will have to take her word on that. Zoia mentioned that she is responsible for making the chocolate. Apparently the chocolate she uses is Ghiradelli, so it felt like home and therefore proceeded with a Mocha. She was the 2nd to suggest Pearl Cup Coffee as another venture to take on this coffee tour I have embarked on. Hopefully, we can hit at least a couple more on my list today. Last night we went to Jack's Backyard for beers and some grub before heading to see Wilco at the Palladium Ballroom. The layout of Jack's is fantastic and I was surprised that on a Friday evening, there were not more folks taking advantage of this great setting and good eats. I got the suggested Brisket Sandwich, which tasted so good that when Chris asked if I was still hungry and offered me the 2nd half of his, I munched hard! I said, I munched hard! The Cheese Fries had me ripping on the tin foil and scooping up bacon bits and cheese to go with my fry. And yes, I am sick, sick with love for cheese and bacon, together or apart. The Pumpkin beer with old buddies, surprised to see the Samwick in D-Town, was my first grab before dinner. But then settled on a couple Blue Mountains to accompany our meal. I was being lured to holdout for the infamous pecan pie. Of course I was told that it has to be delivered a la mode. And when I hear ice cream, my hears perk up like a horny puppy. It was onward to the Palladium for the show. I loved the venue from the get-go. The sound was better facing the band than on the side when you are trying to get a closer look. It was packed and we weighed out our options on sound versus close proximity for a 3rd of the show. Come to find out that after the 9 numbers we heard, the last being a fave of mine, "Handshake Drugs," they went on to play 2 Encore Sets doing a whooping 27 songs from their various catalogue. Nels Cline, the standout of the show plays the guitar with tremendous power. Jeff Tweedy, lead singer, was so, on top-of-his-game last night as well. It was nice to hear Kamera and You Are My Face and the new Wilco (The Song) that opened the set. It was more thrilling though to be in Texas seeing live music. That gets me pumped. I am so getting excited for Monday. U2 at the new Cowboy stadium...front and center. Woo-Hoo! It will be my 2nd chance to see U2 this year. First, being the Sunday concert at Lincoln Memorial during the Inaugural celebration in DC. That was so hot that despite the 5 degree temperature, we all managed to stay warm jumping and dancing to City of Blinding Lights. It will be great to see the stadium tour. I have heard it's amazing. Its nearly noon on Saturday and college ball is on, I tempted to have a bud light and a bacon donut. What?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day 1 in Dallas and already finding the sweets...


I arrived at DFW around 9pm with a box full of donuts from Dynamo, my last stop before eating lunch at Pal's Take Away and having one last Gibraltar for the road. My buddy Scott, not only shared his short rib, but dropped me at SFO. People that know me well, know that to be "pulling a Samwick" aka bumming a ride. My flight was pretty painless accept for an hour and 15 minute wait on the runaway out. The pilot made up about a half hour in the air despite the thunderous storms to the left and right of us. I was hungry from the journey and my best bud Ron welcomed me with some good Tex Mex and Top Shelf Margaritas at Cyclones Anayas. It was tasty, especially the chile con queso with taco meat. It just sounds good to say that, doesn't it? I had a super size cocktail and was ready to hit the hay shortly after. And so I woke up to the box of donuts and decided to go Vanilla Bean. Lola, Ron's supermodel chocolate Lab was following me around trying to lick my fingers. Who could resist a dog with the same cravings? So I extended my hand when the donut was finally devoured. Up and out the door by 8:15, we were off to meet our buddy Mark for breakfast at the very famous and celebrity spotted Market Diner. Apparently, I was sitting in Sharon's seat, you know, from Basic Instinct. Bob Dole apparently ate there too. Are you impressed yet? Ok, so you know I have been compensating all week with sweet stuff, so you can only imagine my order. Raisin Bread French Toast and a side of very crispy burnt bacon please. And then after Mark raised issue over the fact that Market Diner actually does have peanut butter. Apparently, one of the staff has a secret stash of honey roasted peanut butter that Mark likes to spread on his raisin bread toast. He learned of this from another waitress that gave him da' real 4 1 1. I decided to ask for a side of this honey roasted decadence myself. Rubbing it along with melted butter I did, all over the powder sugar dashed french toast, uh-huh. What better way to start the day with this creamy sweetness?! After a post breakfast visit to Lowes for some knick knacks for the house, Ron and I went on the hunt for a good espresso drink. I had googled high end coffee or coffee brew Dallas and was brought to Urban Dog Coffee. Ron knew exactly where it was and we were greeted by the owner Brady who worked so hard to make sure I got to as close of what I wanted, you know, a Gibraltar, a Cento. Brady went through 6 shots before he was confident with the shot I was to have in my order. I was impressed with his enthusiasm as well as the roasted Toscano espresso beans he uses. The shop looks very bohemian, placed right next to boutique-style Pet Supply store, hence Urban Dog Coffee. But Brady was also humble enough to offer up some suggestions on other stops I may want to make on my coffee tour of Dallas. So stay tuned as I trench through the rain today...I heard it's going to be sunny and 68 tomorrow though. Chow!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Knuckle's is off to Texas...

I am in the midst of packing for a trip to Dallas. My friends Ron and Chris are throwing a housewarming party on the weekend and I am making the journey down to help them celebrate. The big highlight will be the U2 concert on Monday at the newly built stadium. We apparently have VIP right-in-the-front tickets, so it should be a blast. So, knowing that I am going to be without the amenities of the Bay for a few days, I just went and had an Affogato with 8-Ball Stout ice cream (Humprhey Slocombe you rule!) and Four Barrel's espresso. My buddy Scott is offering me a ride to the airport and so, I promised to take him to lunch to express my gratitude. It will be my 2nd day in a row at Pal's Take Away. Yesterday I brought my co-worker Chappy along for the ride. He had the poached cod and I had the braised pork. Chappy's review was, "Dude, nice sandwich...yes sir, you do know food, that was awesome!" Today's menu has me torn. Should I do the short rib or the poached chicken? I did just come off a home cooked dinner last night where my good friend, an amazing chef, did ribs 2 ways. One way was similar to a spare rib and other had been stewed with OxTails. It was damn good! Thanks Chris! So I guess I am leaning toward the poached Chicken. I am packing my laptop up and planning on bringing y'all into the Dallas excursion, so look out. I intend to find some good eats, some good drinks and maybe a few Cowboys along the way. So stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2 Meals with Adventure Girl


After a brilliant mocha with imported TCHO chocolate by my girl Jennifer at CENTO, I had enough energy to borrow a co-worker's CADDY and cruise on down to the lower Haight to enjoy Burger Tuesdays at Rosamunde. It was my first and they were gentle on me. The deal is, starting at around 11:30 or so, folks line-up and eagerly wait for the doors to swing open for orders. I had an advantage with some friends (including the infamous Adventure Girl) already waiting on line as I parked the car around 11:45. When we did actually get to place our order, we all ventured into the Toronado Pub for some accompanying beverages. Another bud was proactive and got us tatter tots and onion rings from Metro around the corner while we patiently waited for about a 1/2 hour for our scrumptious burgers. Served on a onion roll these burgers have the ability to be dressed or undressed with onions, tomatoes, mayo, mustard, ketchup, pickles and cheese for only $5.50. I made up for the price point with my gracious tip. By around 3pm, barely crawling out of a food coma, I ventured back to Jennifer cause I knew, she had saved me some cocoa. Round 2 I decided for a short mocha to save on some calories. ;) I visited my personal trainer yesterday to workout some more of indulgent eating patterns with some healthy weight training, all in preparation for what the night was about to unfold. Usually, a crew of mine meets each Tuesday for sausage night and beer at Schmidt's on Folsom and 20th. But after a 2nd week of bailouts, I decided to crash another crew I had heard were celebrating a friend's bday party at the robust Broken Record. I decided to surprise Adventure Girl for yet another meal of our day. Of course, I recruited an escort to split everything that we collectively decided to order. This included their pulled pork sandwich which was amazingly delicious, as well as their Fritter Sandwich which was out-of-this-world. The Fritter Sando is setup with their crab corn fritters accompanied by heirloom tomato, butter lettuce, avocado and scallions. Whoa-we!!! But I did fall madly in love with their Crispy Broccoli with chili flakes and Parmesan and managed to share reluctantly. By the way, Broken Record is famous for their Whiskeys. And I have to say that $100 goes pretty quick when you buy your friends a round of drinks in this place. But it is an experience like no other. It can include on any given night macho athletic studs still wearing their soccer gear. Mostly I am referring to Captain America who was still wearing his shin guards that had me drooling like as if I wanted dessert. So again I compensated and ordered MONKEY LOVE, see attached photo and you can understand why. Well, I have the lights off in the flat this morning avoiding Peninou, the highly expensive dry cleaning service that literally will charge more to clean some garments then the garments themselves. This would be the 2nd week of avoidance as I am trying to scale down my RockStar lifestyle. Off to wash off and head to a very unproductive Lead Exchange meeting where I get a free breakfast at the very colorful CrossRoads Cafe. Make it a humpy HUMP day, I sure will.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Savory, crunchy and bittersweet Tuesday...

Monday went off pretty well. After working out yesterday morning, I ventured off to my office with an hour to kill before our weekly Sales Meeting. That said, I recruited a co-worker and an old buddy to join me for Cento. Cento is located at 330 Ritch St in between 3rd and 4th and Brannan and Townsend Streets. John, the owner, makes his signature Cento, like no other. It is his version of a Gibraltar found at hot coffee stops like Blue Bottle and Dynamo Donuts to name a few. John's Cento has alotta love and a sweet chocolate after taste. Maybe it is due to the fact that he brews the Hayes Valley espresso from Blue Bottle or it just might be John and the love he has just stored up in his pour. Whatever it is, the milk pour, the heart shape, the accommodating Black pepper and Maple sugar biscuit from Little Skillet next door. All-in-all a great way to start each morning is by dropping by this alley. It has become too common that it almost considered the "new weekend" even though it is only open during the week. Actually, I think they may try to capture this same weekly spirit on Saturdays but don't quote me on it. So, this Cento was just the first adventure of my day. The 2nd came when an appointment with a new sales prospect was delayed an hour. I grabbed my Engineer and dragged him to an early lunchstop that I have been dying to try. The Fried Chicken Sandwich from the newly outside BBQ of Town Hall near Fremont and Howard St. Not only does the sando have coleslaw, but I had gotten a side of it as well. This sweet slawy taste and the crunchy chicken on top of a soft yet crunchy roll has to be some of the best fried chicken out there. My friend Bill claims this fried chicken to be his favorite. I consider him an expert not just 'cause he is a neighbor to Town Hall and frequents it as if it is his hotel lobby, but also because he and I are connoisseurs of the Chicken. This Fried Chicken revolution of which I have alluded to, surrounds me. Back at Little Skillet where I get my morning biscuit, they are doing Fried Chicken and Waffles. And these waffles can be sweet, they can be savory, they can be both. And they can be dangerous due to being habit forming. Just look at my office for example. I think many folks have made it a weekly or bi-weekly venture. Rick, my engineer who got graced the Fried Chicken sandwich yesterday, makes it a weekly option. In fact, Rick may be a Fried Chix expert. Chix being chicken and lady-friends too. By the way, Town Hall also offered up there sweet tea which was delicious and gone to quick I have to say. I was running all over town dropping off robots for new clients to thank them for their business and needed another Cento to keep up the momentum. I needed the buzz to get back to the gym for my 2nd round of back and triceps yesterday after work. I guess you are seeing a pattern, not just with eating but with exercise. I am hoping the two cross each other out and I remain somewhat fit. Each day is different based on proportion and usage of gym equipment. I had a date last night that I was preparing for and managed to squeeze in the most recent Curb Your Enthusiasm episode of which I had somehow almost slept through the night before. This episode is the beginning of the official reunion of the Seinfeld characters 11 years later on Larry David's mockumentary style sitcom on the beloved HBO. I think I may have to watch it again, because it is friggin' hilarious. Larry David is that fine wine that ages and gets better and better. This season so far, may be the funniest. We will have to stay tuned. Ok so my date went off amazingly because we ate late...hint hint. Anyway, my date and I went to a place in my hood, where they recognize me. Since losing my phone in their couch months ago, I had not been to visit in a while. But the phone came back miraculously and I had been eating at their sister restaurant anyway in the Castro (Starbelly). But it was due time I made it back to Beretta and I could see what I was missing. I started with my signature cocktail, their Rattlesnake that includes Rye, maple, bitters and egg white, oh my. I thought the Cauliflower, Beets and Fava bean Bruschetta accompanied the drink well. And then onward to the famously delicious squid ink risotto because by its appearance is the sweetest grey food I have ever eaten. Reminding me of how the Armadillo cake must have tasted in the car port of Shelby's wedding in Steel Magnolias. But I digress back to the Blanco pizza and my 2nd round of cocktails. This time, I made a bartender's choice and they spun me up an amazing bourbon drink with lemon, homemade ginger and a sage finish, oh yeah. You'll never guess what was for dessert. Ok you won, but let me just describe this yummyness. Vanilla Gelato with sea salt and olive oil and a butter cookie sticking out of the top. Thank goodness my date only took a few tastes, because it is my job to lick the bowl and boy did I lick. Yes we are still talking about dessert ;). And so brings us to Tuesday morning, up again before 6am and heading back to, you guessed it, Golds Gym for my Tuesday ab class with Troy. If Troy likes you, he picks on you. Well, he loves me. So I am off to get that love and I leave you with ZZ TOP singing, "I'm a rough boy..."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday early morning wakeup call...

Go to bed early and for me that was 10:30 on a Sunday night. Barely could keep my eyes open for the new Curb Your Enthusiasm. No offense to Larry and the Seinfeld reunion, I was just tired and actually, am looking forward to going back to it, to see what I remember. But I am up however, at 5:30 in the morning. And my body is saying "hey...well thanks for the late night Henry's Hunan followed up by a Zip Car dropoff of friends and a sneaky entry into Mitchells for heavenly Peanut Butter Indulgence and Grasshopper Pie. I know, somebody stop me! Really? Seriously, after all the ice cream I had this weekend, you would think I am good for the year. This weekend, obviously, was about compensating for something...Hmmm...Let me think. So I am about to hit the gym nice and early. Always an adventure, and now, with the usual cold morning/ opening up in the day weather, its darker on my bike route. I have found a great one though. One that takes me from my house in Noe Valley/Outer Mission to Downtown Ballpark SOMA in 20 minutes. My favorite block has to be Alabama Street. I catch it about 26th and ride down past the cool Green Solar House thingy and through 24th and the smell of Chorizo that lingers in the air, off toward and beyond the Atlas Cafe at 20th, onward through the media gulch that lands me behind Best Buy and close to Golds Gym. Golds is where I usually land morning and night, weekdays, before and after work. 9 minutes till I leave exactly. So, I just wanted to sum up the weekend with, I know I am heavier than when I started this blog, but I blame it on San Francisco. My love of my life, the place I came out to at 21 with barely any money in my pocket and a dream. Gosh, its close to 14 years later and I have Deja Vu. But I will spend my last dollar on a night with a mysterious weather condition and a late night atmosphere that feels so unique and wonderful pouring the wines of the world because I live for the experience and the story and the taste of life. And what a life I lead in this crazy town. 3 minutes to go. Wrapping up as I leave for the beginning of the work week, as Bruce Springsteen is singing on my Shuffle, "Glory Days, well they pass you by..." That is my fear and that is why I am still here in San Francisco. Gearing up for the next 14 years to come. I think we will have a lot to talk about. For now with a minute out to half past, I say...Good Morning San Francisco!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tour de Valencia

What better way to wake up then to throw on some shorts and head out the door and down Valencia Street. Well, this is my plan for this Sunday. I have been hosting my cousin Em since yesterday. So far, I have turned her on to 24th Street and the many neighborhood spots I hit on my food and drink tour. We discussed the bacon invasion when I ordered my staple Pancakes at ST. Francis Creamery. These pancakes are like no other. They have bacon, cheddar and green onion. And yes you have to pour the syrup all over them. And of course since I was at the point of overindulgence, why not take a step overboard and have a Creamsicle Milkshake featuring Mitchell's Vanilla Ice Cream & Orange Sherbet. So I did, and I didn't even offer my cousin or her friend a taste. I am a bad host. ;) Well, I made up for it when we realized how full and tired we were after our meal. A hit a java was the only solution. As we approached the donut haven of the mission, the words most munchiers would frown upon were in clear focus. Sorry, there are no more donuts today :( I had gone on & on as I do about bacon and donuts to my cousin, specifically referencing the MAPLE GLAZED APPLE BACON donut, the legendary and daily offering that was no longer available today they say. Dynamo Donuts still had what I wanted. My 2nd Gibraltar of the day. From Java to ice cream. I know, again ice cream. So I have realized that you can't just walk past Humphrey Slocombe. I walked right in and tried Cream Cheese. And pretended to the woman offering more and more samples, that I hadn't had the banana pecan. That was Friday with the co-worker I convinced to join me on my Friday field trip out to Pal's Take Away for the best sando's with an east coast flair on the west coast and my ice cream aftermath. Back to my order, I finally settled on Cream Cheese and Fudgsicle (what up Kirk!). Stuffed and crabby, we all walked up 24th and over Mission back to the house for a very needed nap. A 5 hour nap can make you hungry. I could feel her craving Fried Chicken. I had this sense because she is my cousin and I am psychic. So, we went to the land where I am known as "Action" Man. The Front Porch is part of the very highly known Fried Chicken Movement that us locals can attest to. Em got her fix and was hooked. We drowned our chicken and my delicious burger with Poppy Jasper's until they threw us out on our asses. So we met up some chums including my Adventure Girl and hit Argus for last call. And so here I write at 9am. Up and at 'Em (Em wake up soon, your cousin needs coffee) and ready for the walk I promised my cousin down the famous Valencia Street. For me, a peak of interest may begin as the aroma of cooked cookie dough roams into the air. Anthony of Anthony's cookies claims "we are not trying to be Mrs. Field's." Amen, I say. Anthony believes in the quality of every single cookie that comes out of the oven. I have enjoyed watching this place enhance through success. It is good to know that you can get a French Press from Four Barrel or a protein shake to balance the many flavors of cookies that tantalize your taste buds. I am drawn constantly to toffee chip and the peanut butter. A cookies & cream offering sounds intriguing and I have to say, it pulls it off. Yummy! So seriously, I have only walked a few blocks from my doorstep and I can still go on & on about these cookies. So if it's coffee she requests and I pray that she does, I will make our first stop my RITUAL. Now they know how to make espresso and mocha's and lattes and of course, my newly evolved into choice-of-the-moment, everyone together say, "The Gibraltar!" Gosh, I want it so bad right now I can taste it. No I can't ...DAMN. Back to the upcoming plan to show my cousin the ultimate tour of Valencia. I have been recently converted to the breakfast of the Boogaloos. Or I love to be persuaded to Bar Tartine because hey it's Bar Tartine and they are going to need many a blogs for me to fill up on how much I wuv wuv dem. I am even game for heading straight to Four Barrel itself for a 2nd round. But I here I go again speculating on coffee that I haven't drunk yet and that I am obviously so desiring, that I may have to jump off this 2nd blog that I was soooo eager to write and layout for you. I think you are getting the idea. And I promise to come back well java-ed and less moody. Shalom as we say.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Virgin in the city with the golden gate open wide...

Being that this is my first time, I will be gentle. And cautious because I do have so much I can probably tell, however, it is best to take this step by step. Life is full of questions and I have so many. I guess the more we ask, the more we end up knowing. I am not afraid to ask those questions, I'm just afraid of the answers. Now I must tell you, I have a rather heavy head and I could use a glass of water. The daily ritual of the day is about to take place. Coffee has become something I never I thought I would partake. It has been over a year since my friend "Adventure Girl" took me to Blue Bottle. I have to say, this is one damn, fine, classy, consuming coffee empire of a cup of coffee. Try it, I dare ya...Because you will fall for her too. Oh Blue...Well ok I won't get too dramatic. And because of "Adventure Girl" and the Blue Bottle Experience, I now consider myself an afficiando in the San Francisco coffee scene. So as soon as I am off, I will ride down to Dynamo Donuts near Hampshire Street on 24th and see what donut will go along with my Four Barrell brewed Gibraltar. I hope I am spelling somewhat ok. I do think there will be more to tell and ask questions of once I am java filled and I have had a proper haircut by michaeltheboxer.com. Now there is an experience. A man that can cut your hair and teach you to fight. And he is from Jersey and he is Italian. Well...Nice meeting you Bloggy. I hope I did good for my first time...