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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My First Time...at CANTEEN

A couple weeks ago I got to try CANTEEN. I was with a very good friend of mine who was in town for business. It was brilliant because we ended up dining together earlier that day at XYZ at the W Hotel. It was a bit cold and rainy so Michael and I both ordered W Burgers. They come on brioche buns and have butter braised mushrooms, d'affinois cheese and fingerling potatoes. We did substitute the fries for the fingerlings. And ordered Arnold Palmer's.

After lunch, Michael insisted on walking to his meeting. I insisted that we stop by one of my 17 mayor ships around the city. Special Xtra offered up an espresso for Michael and I stuck with a Macchiato.

Later that evening, I picked up Michael at the St Regis. We hopped a cab over to CANTEEN for their 7:30 seating. When we walked in the place, I immediately felt it's comfy atmosphere. We sat at the counter, side-by-side and took in the kitchen view. And there was "the man", Dennis Leary tasting and cooking up the evening's fare. We decided on a Pinot Noir for our wine. I ordered the Pork Shoulder Confit with prune-pepper glaze braised treviso to start. It was magnificent as expected. We also had warm, fresh baked bread and soft butter. The bread certainly reminded me of the hand crafted sandwiches I get at Leary's daytime gig, The Sentinel. For my main course, I ordered the Poussin with stewed lentils, leeks, fregola and truffle sauce. Very impressive. And for dessert, the legendary Vanilla Bean Souffle.

Michael and I couldn't stop talking about our meal when we got back to the St Regis and were in the bar having cocktails. The magic of the 20 seat room. How simple and clean everything was in it's preparation and execution. Leary makes food come alive with just the slightest hints and ingredients. I am excited to go back and see what else I can enjoy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

frequent stops at certain spots...

Lots of images come from my eye... phone

The Ferry Building houses one of my favorite restaurants, Boulettes Larder. And I usually am in there once a week. Typically, on a Friday for lunch. About a month ago I was in there, on a Friday, with Jake from Humphry Slocombe. We shared everything. Glasses of rose, the beef stew. We had the warm cheese and also this salad with shrimp and flounder. It was fabulous!

I was back in there just a couple of Fridays ago with my good friend Lori for lunch. This time we had a Tavel rose to drink. And the menu offered Brussels Sprout Soup which was pretty amazing, I might add. Similar to most of my meals there, I always insist on sharing with my guests. This time I insisted we share poached chicken breast salad with karashi, frisèe & escarole. So fresh, so clean, so delicious. And Lori ordered the legendary pulled pork sandwich, a staple on every menu, which I ended up eating half of.

That day was special because I also got to try Zambo's 1st brew at 21st Amendment. I met the new Brew-maker who just moved here from Southern Cal where he worked at another brewery which I can't think the name of. His 5 South Pale Ale is a great first run and has had me running back almost daily since it got tapped.

I should also mention that I tried sips of Anchorage Vacation which reminded me of a saison because of it's lightness. Vytas was drinking it, of course. Since the weekend had obviously arrived, I also celebrated with a Strong Beer. The "Straight To The Face" Double Trouble Imperial IPA" to kick it in gear. Oh yeah, it did!

Rye Whiskey drinks came later at a private Speakeasy with some of my friends. We noshed on yummy puffed pastries, we had ice cream. I can go on...

Another place I have been frequented a lot lately is Rosamunde because they have 24 Drafts. I mean, really! I have had their La Choufe 8% ABV and a Pheasant Sausage for instance. And the St. Bernardus, oh my! They have one of my all-time faves right now too. The Russian River Damnation (7.6% ABV). I just love this place.

The other day I was in there with my buddy Rex before the Hornet game. We had sausages and a couple of beers. I was feeling like an Arrogant Bastard and a large fry with curry ketchup. And so I did...

Speaking of basketball, my last game was this past Wednesday. But boy, what a game! I had 2nd row, down-on-the-floor center court seats. Wooooo!! Now that is the way to see the game. Makes me want to work harder and smarter.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Little Tale About The Farmer's Market On A Thursday...

Lately, I have been running to Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building a ton. My friend Lori tipped me off about a scone and a cookie I just needed to taste. So a few Thursday's ago I visited Louie and Luis at the Arlequin booth and ordered up the Chocolate Cherry Cookie and one of the last Formage Blanc, Fig Honey Glaze Scones and was in an immediate state of bliss. I went over to Kate and Katie at Blue Bottle's Kiosk and shared my cookie. They were easily seduced as well. Kate suggested I come back to the market again for the Porchetta Sandwich (RoliRoti) at lunchtime.

I persuaded my admin Rita to do a long walk from the office around noontime. We waited patiently for The RoliRoti truck experience. Oh boy, was it ever! It is a mobile rotisserie grill. And the "meat man," Mr. Thomas Odermatt was such fun to watch, as he led a staff of happy, enthusiastic workers. I wanted to hop behind the line myself and start slicing the succulent cuts of meat cooked to Odermatt perfection. Upon further research, I discovered that it is in his blood. His dad was a Master Butcher in the Swiss Alps and taught him all his secrets. Like how to choose the right meats and the importance of cutting it in just the right way. Dang! Rita and I were floored and loving every minute. We sat next to my buddy Walter, who just happened to be dining with a co-worker. Man, that taste still is easy to recall. The crunch was so memorable. And the potatoes too.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention- The real Korean "tacos" we got from namu. This ssam style "taco," is seasoned rice, kalbi short ribs, daikon and kimchee salsa, kimchee remoulade, housemade teriyaki folded into japanese and korean toasted seaweeds. 2 for $5. They were pretty radical I must say.

I ended up skipping dinner that night and for good reason. You see, I stopped to see my bud Jake at Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream. He put hot fudge sauce on some Chocolate with Smoked Sea Salt Ice Cream and I about fell over. It was habit-forming. In fact I had it yesterday after boxing class. Isn't that ironic?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Valentine's Day, Year Of The Tiger Begins, The Bears Dance And All This Strong Beer Is Starting To Catch Up With Me...


It is easy to find me on any Sunday in the city.  I have this pattern of walking for coffee along Valencia Street and ending up in Hayes Valley for brunch.  On Valentines Day, which this year, was also the beginning of the Chinese New Year, I battled through a hangover headache all day.  I thought, for sure, some coffee at Four Barrel would help.  Matthew was behind there new single origin bar, now open on the weekends.  He recommended the Kenya and said it was like how a Pinot Noir is, because it changes every time you drink it.

I clocked into Bar Jules about a half an hour later still with head aching.  So I ordered some Bubbles and a Burger.  I figured it was time for a "little hair of the dog."  I was with Shana, whom I asked to be my Valentine and Strong Beer Drinker for the day.  My head needed some clearing up first before even thinking of beer.  And the burger certainly helped.  Marin Sun Farms Beef and the shear thickness of it always makes it hard to pick anything else on the menu. And I always get it with cheese and bacon.  That is a no brainer.

Fast forward an hour and Shana and I are at the kiosk on Linden Street ordering our Blue Bottle Gibraltars made by A.J.  Shana got us some Rosemary Shortbread cookies to munch on while we waited for drinks to come up.  As I ate the buttery goodness, all I could think of was that A.J. had the magic touch to cure this heaviness that remained in my head.  Otherwise, I might have to give into some Advil.

I certainly was not ready to tackle a lot of Strong Beer Drinking. But we did end up at Zeitgeist for an Elysian ESB after all.  There was a PLAY T-Dance for the Bear Weekend over at DNA Lounge starting in the early evening and I needed a power nap.  So just after one beer with Shana, I bailed and walked toward home.  I ended up bumping into the Egg Cream Cart and the Sweet Constructions folks over at FABRIC8.  I got some cookies from the Sweets and an egg cream and a few pieces of rugala from Egg Cream lady before landing home for a quick nap.

I finally was rid of my headache when I headed over to the dance later that night.  Most folks ended up dancing the night away.  My night ended around midnight because I was one of the unfortunate that did not have President's Day off.  Oh, what a headache that was...