Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Guest Post: Rainbow Doodle Cake!

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

My stick figures are as true-to-life as it gets.

While Janet was in Japan getting her cultural heritage on with R2 in tow, I spent my days baking a beautiful cake.   Ok, it was only 2 days, and the cake is by no means beautiful.  But it has a great personality.  Sort of a butterface, or in this case, a butterfondant.  

This seems to happen to me a lot.  I love baking, and the stuff I make tastes really fucking good, but I’m kind of a failure when it comes to decorating.  Case in point: Giant Cuppycake.  That one tasted bad too, but whatevs.  A couple months ago I went crazy for a party Logo and I were hosting and made a shit-ton of desserts and the results were astoundingly lovely.  Alas, that was not the case this time.   

I decided to make this cake after a request from Eggroll to make a glorious dessert for a weekend away in Arrowhead for the Tough Mudder and Lisa’s/David’s birthdays.  For those who don’t know, the Tough Mudder is a ridiculous display of manliness and stupidity under the guise of a 10 miles race with obstacles.  Obstacles like diving in ice water and running through electrical wires charged with 10,000 volts.  SUPER FUN!!!!1!  

My inspiration for this cake was the amazingly beautiful Canuck cake blog Sweetapolita.  That woman makes some gorgeous cakes.  And gorgeous babies, just look at the pictures of her children on there!  And she married a gorgeous man.  Some people have all the luck.  I figured it would be fun to make a fun, surprising cake and have everyone write all over the pristine, smoothly fondant-ed outside. 

Not my cake.

I made the cake part of the cake the Wednesday before the weekend because I didn’t want to bake at high altitude–tried that in Mammoth without making adjustments and the cake was deflated and dry.  Still edible, but this one had to be gorgeous and thus I baked the cakes early and froze them.  The recipe is super easy.  I used cake flour instead of regular flour because I wanted to and mine says it’s expired so I need to use it up.  Apparently cake flour is treated with chlorine so it’s really soft and results in a lovely, soft, light crumb.  I subbed 1 c. + 2 T. of cake flour for each cup of regular flour and it worked out fine. 

Rewind to my initial preparations for this cake.  I went to the only cake decorating supply place in West LA, Gloria’s (silly side note: their URL spells it “suplys” hehe).  I think it was under construction because the right side of the store looked like a bomb had exploded.  Still, the place had everything!  I enjoyed rummaging immensely and spent a lot of time looking at the gel food colors.  SO pretty.  Ended up with the Americolor “school training kit,” so I’ll be set if I ever go to cake school.  AND I got these awesome food coloring markers so everyone could draw on the cake. 

Pretty colors!!

There was no way I was going to make my own fondant so I bought a fancier-looking one than Wilton because Wilton is the cake decorating devil and they’ve taken over everything with their cheapy fondant cutters and shit!  I made a good choice, too, because this fondant was actually tasty instead of tasting like sweet plastic. 

Fancy French name means it’s better.

After making the batter, you have to weigh it and then split it into 6 bowls for dyeing.  I thought this would be pretty difficult but it went quickly, though I used all of our cereal bowls and all of our forks for stirring the colors.  Logo was like “what happened I just did dishes?!” and I was like “Sorrrryyyyyy……”   Good story, huh?  Here’s a picture of the pretty batter.   Some of it, at least.

 Blue + yellow = green.  Lessons in color chemistry.

And here’s a couple pictures of the cakes cooling.  The layers are super super thin so I was glad I parchment-papered the bottoms of the pans to prevent any cake-butt loss.  The blue layer is missing because I had to rescue it from overcooking due its runtiness.  I’m like the mom that pushes aside that baby that won’t make it because it’s too small.  But the purple layer looks blue so pretend it’s both blue AND purple!  Yay! 

I obviously didn’t bake them in rainbow order.

Ignore the finger gouge in the green. 

I wrapped each layer in plastic wrap after cooling and realized when I stacked them that one of my cake pans was actually a pie pan and was slightly less than 9″.  So two layers were littler than the others on top of blue being super thin and yellow having a weird hump.  Not an auspicious beginning.  At least the colors are vibrant, right? 

Always use protection.

Fast-forward to assembling the cake: everyone was at the Tough Mudder except me and Stosh.  We went to breakfast (I had chicken-fried steak and eggs–I won) while the layers defrosted and then I made cream cheese frosting–Lisa’s favorite!–and frosted the cake.  I forgot to take pictures of this part, probably because I was having major issues getting it smooth because the layers were so lopsided.  Eventually I gave up, figuring that it didn’t have to look good since I was just going to cover it in fondant.  That was a poor decision.  Just so you know, fondant will form to whatever shape is underneath it.  Even weird cake lumps and gooshy frosting.  

The P-sug went into every crevice of the wooden table.  Whoops.

I did ok rolling the fondant out because it was very pliable and easy to work with.  But then when I put it on the cake, I didn’t cut off the excess soon enough and the bottom slowly ripped off, leaving a large hole in the fondant.  I tried using the remaining fondant to make another layer, but I didn’t have quite enough. 

First layer.  Not as ugly with flash.

That’s when I got the brilliant idea to make a bow!  It didn’t turn out half bad, but while I was making it the fondant already on the cake continued to settle and got lumpier and lumpier.  Eventually, the bottom of the cake looked like cellulite and when I tried to smooth it, the frosting underneath would squish out around the bottom.  Grossssss and delicious on my fingers nom. 

Ghett-bow!  Punny.

Everyone else said the cake was lovely, but they’re just nice friends.  They dutifully signed it and drew some fun pictures, including a lovely peen drawn by Eggroll’s brother. 

Complete with veins and hair.

Please compare my decorating skillz to those of my sister-in-law, who made the cake below for her friend’s wedding.  It’s breathtaking–all buttercream!!  Such sharp edges!  But then I learned that it took like 27 hours to do and she ended up crying in the kitchen more than once and I felt better about my 3-hour cake.   I could make it perfect if I spent 27 hours too!   

The story of this cake’s inception would make a good chick flick.

We FINALLY got to cut into the cake after all those hours of labor, and it was truly beautiful.  All the nasty fondant was forgotten and the cake was deliciously sweet and vanilla-ey.  With everyone getting drunker as the evening progressed, appetites increased and the cake slowly disappeared.  Aftermath.  Looks nom.

Ultimately, it was a success.  A delicious, colorful, lumpy success.  Make this shit for a fun time and an impressive reveal.

Off The Grid: Food truck circle/circus

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Have you ever wanted to get food from a food truck, but were too scared that your pants weren’t tight enough, your fedora not awkward enough, your scraggly mustache not hideous-looking enough? I mean, you bought yourself a vest so you could fit in, but as you nervously smoothed the front with your hands, did you worry that it wasn’t threadbare enough, or the buttons not ironically gaudy enough?

Did you ever want to get yummy, cheap street food without wilting under the stare of a hundred hipsters judging you?

I did.

So I went to Off the Grid, which is a weekly gathering of SF food trucks at Fort Mason. (It also happens around the city on other nights but this is by far the biggest with 30+ vendors.) I was apprehensive about it being too scene-y, but I figured it would take a lot of energy to ride a fixie all the way from the Mission to the Marina, and hipsters seem to take it as a point of pride that they have no muscle tone whatsoever, so I hoped I would be safe.

And I was.

As R2 and I approached the lights in the middle of the Fort Mason parking lot, we saw a giant circle, the border comprised of food trucks and tents with two gaps – the entrance and exit, respectively. As we stepped into that hallowed circle, I nearly fainted with joy.

Here were young people, old people, family people, weird people… and instead of calculated boredom or angst, there was only eagerness and howling hunger.

We attempted to do a lap to be organized about our dining plan, but halfway around the circle we gave up and went for the shortest line, which was for Red Truck. We picked up Chinese fried chicken with hot sauce for a piddling $2, and it seemed like as soon as we gave our name to the guy another guy was yelling our name with our chicken. In my state of extreme hunger and excitement I totally forgot to take a picture, but visually it looked a lot like fried chicken with hot sauce. It tasted a lot like heaven. It had a complex peppery flavor that I might even describe as “weird” but with the Sriracha it burst into flames of complex, crunchy, fatty, spicy goodness.

Riding high on that triumph, we next went to a vendor whose name I am regrettably missing. It was Argentinean if I remember correctly, but maybe it wasn’t. (So sue me. I was in a joy daze).

Don’t judge me! I HAD to use flash or it would have been hopelessly blurry! Anyway, I think it captures the spirit of OTG – off center, exposed in multiple ways, and delicious-looking. I get scared when the thing containing the innards is neither soft nor crunchy but somewhere in between, but this glorious green thing, whatever it was, was appropriately and pleasingly chewy to stand up to the tomato and carnitas. As a texture-eater, I found this little pocket to be totally delightful, and one of my favorites of the night.

While R2 waited in line for it, I danced on over to the Onigilly stand, which was selling rice balls filled with salmon or hijiki, which is a super salty/sweet preparation of seaweed. I got one of each, duh, and ran back to R2. Rice isn’t a slurpable foodstuff, but that’s what it felt like I was doing. Putting rice up to my mouth and inhaling, basically. It’s been ages since I’ve eaten hijiki so I was cuddled up in a nice nostalgia bubble.

See, this is what happens when you attempt to take a food photo at night without flash. Of course, it doesn’t help that it’s almost all eaten and being grabbed out of my hands by a greedy R2.

I didn’t begrudge him this grubby behavior. Because this was the Chicken Tikka Masala burrito from the Curry Up Now truck that we had been lusting after from the beginning. We were in that superbly annoying situation where the line was outrageous, and yet once we were in it NO ONE got in line after us. But all of that was forgotten once we had the huge, hot thing in our hands. Oh God. I mean I can’t. It’s…just…so JUICY! and … taste so good! I’m sure this burrito will keep me up at nights, crying, once I move to New Jersey.

Finally, we ended the night at Chairman Bao‘s truck. We got one Red Sesame Chicken bao with scallions and bok choy and one pulled pork bao with Savoy cabbage and preserved mustard seeds. Poor things. Nothing could possibly follow the transcendent curry burrito, and we were stuffed to boot. I can say that the chicken one was a flavor esploshun and the proportions were absolutely perfect in both baos.

The whole shebang is catered by quality alcohol purveyors like Alembic. Not that you needed any help in reaching a giggly, high, staggering, I-LUF-YOU-GUUUUYS state. If you are my stalker, you are in luck, as you will find me at OTG every Friday from now on.

Off The Grid
Fridays at Fort Mason
Just drive to the northernmost part of the city, you’ll find it.

Things I have eaten in daylight that should be eaten in daylight

Friday, May 6th, 2011

LUNCH: Due to my impending move to the east coast, everyone keeps asking me what I’ll miss most. I am realizing that honor might go to the teeny Sunday Farmer’s Market at Fort Mason, not because I buy that much from it (no need to cheat on my CSA box) but because of the Chaac Mool stand. For those of you trying to plan fun things like “Let’s eat all the tacos in SF and see which one is the best!” – go fuck yourselves because this is the best taco on earth. Make sure you get the carnitas taco. It will come out to your sunny picnic table on a small Dixie plate. The tortilla will be hot, with the underside slightly crunchy. The pork will be insanely juicy, and with a dollop of their neon-green hot sauce on top of their green salsa verde, oh god! I’m foaming at the mouth, either from saliva overload or because I just had a seizure from thinking about this taco.

R2 always also gets a tamal (you have two options – veggie or pollo). Why does he do this??? Doesn’t he KNOW that our time is ruuuuunning OOUUT? Any jaw movement not used toward masticating a carnitas taco is a shameful waste!

Reasons the tamal is not as good as the taco: (1) I wish cotija cheese had more sharpness; as it stands it doesn’t add to the combination; (2) moistness varies from week to week, whereas taco is absolutely stellar in its gushy-ness 52 weeks of the year; (3) it’s just not the taco.

So run run run to the Farmer’s Market on Sunday! We can elbow each other in line to fight for the first taco.

BLUNCH: If you wake up on the spaghetti-and-meatballs side of the bed, go to Caffe Delucchi. I mean, have you seen such a perfectly representative specimen? I got this with their slightly-more-expensive housemade fresh pasta, which upped the delectableness a thousandfold. R2 was staring at it, and I guessed that he was either (a) lusting after my perfect plate of satisfying comfort or (b) wanting to recreate the Lady & the Tramp scene but not asking because he knew I would say no.

He ordered well, too.

I don’t know why the polenta looks yellower than a banana (foreshadowing!), but there you go. This is Polenta with Pulled Porkhot, soft polenta topped with pulled pork in a lightly spicy marinara sauce and poached eggs. This alliteratively pleasing dish was the kind of thing (if not for the egg-hatred) I would go bananas (foreshadoween!!) over. R2 squished the eggs, stirred, and created dripping, hearty spoonfuls over and over again. Quite awesome.

3 PM SNACK: I am like the little guys from Despicable Me when it comes to bananas. Banana cream pie and banana Laffy Taffy (soo silky soft!) are my two favorite banana foods. We went to Chile Pies & Ice Cream and pretty much died when we ate this. Well, *I* did. I think R2 is just saying he loves pie so that I will think he’s cool.

This is a tre blogworthy pie, and what prompted our visit. It’s their signature Green Chile Apple Pie with cheddar crust and walnut streusel topping with organic vanilla ice cream and red chile honey drizzle. I longed for it to be even more salty or spicy or otherwise weird and exciting, but it was just a slightly crunchier (on account of the chiles) apple pie. Basically it couldn’t stand up to the sheer lusciousness and creamy satisfaction of the banana cream pie so eating it became a chore.

HANGOVER CURE: This is an R2 find – Shalimar on Polk. It’s just a no-nonsense, almost-divey Indian joint. There is no better cure for dizzy, miserable nausea than an order of their chicken tikka masala. The oily grease that floats on top fills in the holes in your soul and soothes your raggedy stomach lining. It’s not just the grease – Indian spices were basically made by God/Brahma to cure hangovers. Caraway, cardamom, coriander, cumin, fennel, and ginger calm the stomach and turmeric contributes to liver detox. As I sit in exactly such a state on a plane right at this moment, I find myself wanting to stick a straw into the screen. Instead, I will have to placate my raging, impending vomminess with one of Virgin’s bullshit “meals” of pita chips + 5-hour energy. At least I successfully switched to an aisle seat (I lied and said I was eight weeks pregnant and needed to be able to quickly escape to the bathroom on account of my morning sickness. Going to hell much?).

 

Chaac Mool
Fort Mason Farmer’s Market
Sundays

Caffe DeLucchi
500 Columbus
San Francisco, CA 94109
415.393.4515

Green Chile Pie & Ice Cream
601 Baker Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415.614.9411

Shalimar
1409 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
415.776.4642

Grilled Cheese Invitational and World’s Cutest Puppy

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

With a title like that, there’s no way you wouldn’t read the whole post. But just to be sure, I am putting the puppy picture at the very end.

R2, Daniel and I went to the Grilled Cheese Invitational in LA last weekend. Their motto is “Bread-Butter-Cheese-VICTORY!” which makes sense to me.

We all got judging tickets, which meant that we could go to the competition arena and judge the entries. It all sounded like a dream, a cheesy dream, and I couldn’t wait!

11:00 am, day of festival, at Tinx’s house:

Janet: [clutching a huge ham sandwich] OM NOM NOM NOM!

Tinx: Aren’t you going to be eating a shitload of grilled cheeses soon?

Janet: Eee! If Daniel asks this is YOUR sandwich OKAY?

Tinx: Why?

Janet: Because he’ll be pissed that I’m ruining my appetite!

Tinx: He’s not gonna care.

Janet: Yes he is.

Knock knock.

Daniel: [Walking in] Tillamooooook!

Tinx: Hi!

R2: Hi!

Janet: Hi!

Janet: [Absentmindedly picks up sandwich and starts eating it again] Snarf snarf.

Daniel: WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU ARE GOING TO RUIN YOUR APPETITE!!

We made it to the festival, in a sort-of-shady part of downtown, by 1:30 pm. Despite my rebellious snacking, I was very low blood sugar, and the three of us were totally cranky.

Then the door checker gave us our judging bracelets, and I perked up. Then he gave us two tickets and said “That’s for your two judging tastings.” Whaaa? Just two? There were over 200 competitors! And…tickets? Does this mean it’s not a cheese-eating free for all?

It did indeed mean that. There were 17 professional stands where you had to purchase samples for anywhere from $2 to $7.50. This made us crankier. Then there was the competition arena, where the 200+ amateurs cooked their grilled cheeses in several heats throughout the day. They handed them out to people with judging tickets as they finished cooking them, often one at a time, so at any given time 1 out of around 50 people would get an actual tasting. Usually it was the person yelling the loudest or the girl with the most prominent boobs. Bogus. This made us the crankiest.

I realized were were in that dangerous headspace where you simultaneously have lost the will to live but are ready to shoot someone in the eyeball. I said, “Let’s just get one into our belly” and lined up for the shortest line, which was the Mendocino Farms stand.

Pictured in the background is the $3 Asian pork belly Cubano with chinese hot mustard, caramelized Kurobuta pork belly, prime honey ham, provolone, house made sweet chili sauce and Asian pickles on a panini grilled ciabatta.

Whoa, right?

Pictured in the foreground is the $2 French Onion Soup Melt with smoked gouda fondue and cave aged gruyere with caramelized onions on panini grilled dolce forno pretzel roll.

Fuckin-A, right??

The former was one of those sammies that start out all weird but in the end all the flavors combine to be something more than the sum of its parts. The Asian mustard POW was the best part. The latter was my favorite of the entire day. The idea itself is so pleasing, and the execution, especially with the exotic bread, was outstanding!

Next, we met the World’s Fucking Cutest Fucking Puppy. But I’m not showing the picture until the end, remember?

Daniel and I had lost R2 at this point, and I worried that he was crouching in the corner in some low-b-sug-induced sulk-seizure, but instead I spied him being fed a grilled cheese sandwich by a huge, bearded dude in a very seductive way. I felt like I was interrupting a private moment so I looked away. Then I looked back and realized it was one of R2′s high school pals, and they’re always doing silly shenans like that.

I was all riled up from the one-two punch of puppy-beard so I forgot to take a picture of our next set of sandwiches, which were from the Mix N’ Munch Grilled Cheese (their apostrophe is in the wrong place, stupid) stand. We got a $2 Mix N’ Munch Breakfast Sammy with cheddar, bacon, fried egg, and tater tots on Shepherd’s bread. I dislike egg and I REALLY dislike tater tots, so this one wasn’t for me. I did appreciate, however, that instead of being a monstrosity that it could easily have been, it was all tidy and compact and looked, for all intents and purposes, like a regular Velveeta grilled cheese. We also got a $3 Char Suit [sic] N’ [we already know this was sic] Cheese, with Chinese barbecued pork, pickled onions and provolone on egg bread. In terms of Asian fusion points, Mendocino wins. Mostly I was distracted by the huge fat chunks in the pork, which on top of the provolone was a lot of white blandness. Oh, we also got the last cantaloupe water, which made many folks in line curse at us.

Everywhere we walked with the above item people ran up and asked where we got it and what it was. We got it from the Cynthia Washburn stand and it was an off-menu arancini. Basically a chunk of mozzarella surrounded by a clump of rice, breaded and deep fried. Heavenly. This one was particularly amazing because it had huge chunks of vegetables inside like spinach and carrots. I also really appreciated that it was so hot we could barely pick it up. Next time I’m super drunk, I hope this will magically appear in my hands, because I can’t imagine anything better and my hands will be numb and won’t hurt quite as much.

This one, also from Cynthia Washburn, wins my gourmet award. It is the$4 Ruby Canard, with duck confit, truffled chevre, and red onion port marmalade on rosemary bread.

There are probably those grilled cheese purists who would scoff at such a concoction. But creative and schmance grilled cheeses have their place too, which is why the Invitational has four categories:

Love, American Style – White bread, butter, orange cheese (American or Cheddar). NOTHING ELSE.

The Missionary Position - Any type of bread, butter and cheese. NO ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS.

The Kama Sutra - A sandwich of the savory nature, with any type of bread, butter and cheese PLUS additional ingredients, and the interior ingredients must be at least 60% cheese.

The Honey Pot – Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese, and the interior ingredients of the sammich must be at least 60% cheese, PLUS additional ingredients, and with an overall flavor that is sweet and would best be served as dessert.

Click through for outrageously detailed paragraphs describing each category if you are bored.

I expected the Ruby Canard to be over-the-top decadent, but it really wasn’t. R2 and I came away with the same single conclusion, which was that we really like goat cheese.

Winning my decadent award instead was the above-pictured $7.50 Chicken N. [sic - what the hell everyone?] Waffle Melt, with sharp cheddar cheese and fried chicken on two golden waffles. By far the longest line we waited in, but I passed the time by first going to to the First Aid tent to steal some spray-on sunscreen. The paramedics looked super bored. One of them took one bite out of a grilled cheese sandwich and pushed it away. “I don’t really like grilled cheese sandwiches,” he mumbled sadly.

Then I passed the time by bopping to the music of March Fourth, which is this crazy kooky indie scary/creepy/cool awesome marching band, as it came through the main drag. Surprise surprise, they are originally from Portland.

The Chicken N. Waffle Melt was being sold by The Grilled Cheese Truck #2 (there were two and they both sold different things), and came with your choice of syrup or gravy on the side. We, of course, got one of each. I also got a Plain and Simple Melt, with sharp cheddar on French bread.

Yes, the gravy was THAT kind of gravy. The thick, chunky, pale kind that you might mistake for condensed cream of mushroom soup. This one had some cayenne pepper in it, and the fried chicken was very salty and crunchy, and the waffles were sweet and fluffy-soft and the whole shebang was pretty freaking awesome. The regular grilled cheese I got was tossed to the side after one bite, poor thing.

I was bursting at the seams, but we couldn’t leave without getting (a) a free 5-hour Energy that ladies in short shorts and visors were passing out and (b) a $3.25 Bacon Me Crazy from The Feast Truck, with mozzarella, strawberries and bacon coated with brown sugar and cayenne topped with a chocolate balsamic reduction drizzle.

It didn’t taste as weird as it looked (that’s what she said). I think cooked strawberries can sometimes get a gross slimy texture and this bordered on that, but otherwise it was fine. Who knows. Maybe my taste buds were on strike after being overworked.

We felt stupid buying judging passes and not judging a single sammy in the competition arena, so we waddled our way over and pressed ourselves up against the fence. The competitors were on the other side slowly making their sandwiches one by one. Then, festival workers would take a completed sandwich, turn to the crowd, and bask in undeserved attention as we all shrieked and begged for one of the samples. The ticketing system had gone out the window an hour earlier so it was an actual free-fer-all. One of the guys came close to Daniel, and he half-heartedly reached out a hand, but didn’t get one. I looked over at R2 and he was like “enh…” and equally half-assedly waved his hand at another worker.

Clearly we were full and our hearts just weren’t in it. To add insult to injury, there was a grilled cheese poetry contest being broadcast at ear-bleedingly loud decibels just to our left. Beyond the headache this generated, it made me double mad because R2 had composed a poem and not submitted it. I am SURE it would have won, so I am publishing it here:

Shall I compare thee to a grilled cheese sandwich?
Thou art fine and full, but not so satisfying.
Would that I were pampered and rich,
My heart still melts while cheddar’s frying.
Sometime too hot my passion burns,
By blackened char, gold flavors dim’d;
But bite for bite, opinion turns
And sandwich gone, I found I’ve sin’d.
I find fine dining my tongue eschews,
Nor are fair viands my heart’s true wish
‘Tis grilled cheese that I always choose,
Eternally the most delish.

And when I die, when laid to rest,
‘Tis cheese I will have loved the best.

Finally, we had had enough, and without judging a single sammy we wobbled/rolled our way back to the car. When I got back to SF, all those who had seen my Facebook status bragging about it were dying to know who won. First of all, we would have had to stay until SIX pm to find out the results, which would have been the death of us. Second of all, and just mentioned, we did not ourselves judge a single sando. Third of all, the winners and their sandwiches have nonsensical names so it wouldn’t make a difference to tell you. An example – the winning team of the Kama Sutra category was Super Duper Zung Chung and their entry was called the Fromage Connection. Meaningless.

So who cares! Especially when you have made it this far and can reap your just reward: The Fucking World’s Fucking Cutest Fucking Puppy. To get the proper sense of scale, you must realize that this puppy is being held by a child who is herself tiny. It was about the size of a bagel. You might even mistake it for a squirmy bagel and put it in your mouth. In fact, when I asked Daniel “how would you describe the teeniness of the puppy?” he said “Edible! Like literally fit in my mouth maybe.” So, without further ado, here it is, in all its tongue-y squee glory:

 

Slimy the Salad Slug

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Fuck Imma vom writing this post because I have to look at the above picture. Plus it’s going to be on the start page of my Chrome for weeks now.

I was in LA recently, and on Sunday I went with Tinx and DJ Deer and Daniel to the Brentwood Farmer’s Market. We were a hot mess from partying till 4:30 am the night before. But the morning wasn’t going to get any better.

DJ Deer: [fiddling on phone] I’m going to check in for my flight now.

Me: [Hurting from the effort of small talk] Good idea.

DJ Deer: Wait, what’s today’s date?

Me: Sunday.

DJ Deer: I mean the DATE.

Daniel: The 27th.

DJ Deer: I did something really stupid.

So it turns out that he had booked his flight for the following week, which is just silly because that wasn’t even the right MONTH. While he freaked out about that, my eyes were sparkling because the Brentwood farmer’s market is one of those where there are proper food stalls, not just bullshit veggies.

Tinky chose pupusas. Basically a fatty quesadilla, but with the stuff actually incorporated into the masa. Here look:

Superb…looking. I didn’t taste it, since my attention was solely focused on my lamb gyro. Not content with one huge serving of food, I asked Daniel if he wanted to also share a falafel platter. He said yes, of course, and this is precisely why I keep him around.

My gyro was perfection. The lamb shards were crisp on the edges, the tzatziki was cool and creamy, and the whole thing was damn near impossible to pick up, which is the mark of a good gyro. It replenished whatever vitamins and minerals I had lost the night before and I was feelin’ ACE!

Onwards! I flipped open the falafel plate container and handed it to Daniel to hold in his lap (we were plopped down on a curb) so I would have two hands: one to pick up and dip the falafel, the other to make perfect salad bites with proper proportions of olive, feta, lettuce, and onion.

The falafel was a little bit dry, and besides, nothing beats Bella Pita fresh-fried falafel. I ate maybe a fourth of it and said “I’m done with that” to Daniel.

But then I remembered I had to take my Metamucil pills (don’t pretend like travel doesn’t gum up your insides too) which, on account of their horseyness, must be washed down with food. So I re-flipped open the container and started stabbing at it while Daniel held it for me.

Olive, feta, lettuce, onion, eyeball.

Wait, two eyeballs.

Wait, EYEBALLS?

I screamed EEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEERHHHH and ran fifteen feet away.

Tinky also started screaming out of confusion, and DJ Deer a little bit too.

“There’s A! … BAD! … THING!” I cried.

Daniel started pivoting back and forth, not knowing what to do or what I was talking about.

“DON’T MOVE! DO NOT! DO NOT MOVE! DON’T MOVE!” I shrieked.

Just then, a random man walked through our cluster of chaos, looked into the salad, and said, “Oh that’s not good.”

“You’ll get a refund for sure,” he continued. “Better that they know so they can fix it,” and sauntered off.

WHO CARES MOTHERFUCKER? At that point, the slug had crawled up and over the lip of the container and was hanging by a centimenter of its own slime.

Daniel started moving again, making it swing back and forth like a pendulum.

“DON’T! MOVE! DO NOT! DO NOT!” we all screamed at him.

Finally it plopped down on the ground and DJ Deer ran in like a paparazzo, took a picture, and ran away again.

“Should I…throw this away?” Daniel asked, PTSD-style.

“YES!” I yelled, and experienced the most massive shudder from my toes up to my head.

Ugh. Terrible. How did we not notice it the entire time we were eating it? And did I stab it with my fork, and thus did I imbibe slug fluids? What if I stabbed it through its sexual organs, and what if I imbibed its SEXUAL FLUIDS GAHHHHHH.

These thoughts are not productive nor realistic. I gotta stop.

To wash the slug semen out of our mouths, we went to Cafe Luxxe. It is a legit coffee joint where people come from miles and miles away. Their baristas always win foam competitions and stuff. Indeed, the heart-flower did soothe my horror-struck psyche a little bit.

And then we impulse-shopped Alfajor cookies. They had just 5 ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, cream, and salt.

Just looking at them, you can already tell their texture. Crumbly in the most toe-curling way:

The center was not chocolate like you’d think if you were a dumbass and didn’t read what I just wrote. It was a caramel goo which was doggone outrageous.

So with that, my psychological slug-shaped wounds were healed. But then fucking DJ Deer uploaded the picture to Facebook with the caption “Slimy the Salad Slug” and we looked at it (why!) and were traumatized all over again.

Slug
Hopefully dead and in hell
Otherwise, at the Brentwood Farmer’s Market
Gretna Green Way, Brentwood, LA

Cafe Luxxe
11975 San Vicente Blvd
Brentwood, CA 90049
310.394.2222

There that shall not be named

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Not cuz it’s evil, but because I don’t know if the food was included in the NDA I signed lol.

This was at one of those companies that follow the Google model; ie free food for their employees. I was given a tour of the facilities but as I walked through the space I kept snagging on the snack stations. Glorious L-shaped nooks filled with snacks like Pop Chips (they taste a lot like Kappa Ebi-sen/Calbee Shrimp chips, which I can no longer eat without dying due to my acquired allergy) and those dehydrated fruit thingies and even tiny tins of Altoid mints! And every drink known to man, including things I love but can’t often find like Diet Mountain Dew. MMmmMMmMM.

I quickly calculated: 4 pockets in my jeans, two pockets in my coat, a big purse, and oh good I wore my loose bra today so I could stuff it if needed. I wasn’t above going hermaphrodite-style either in my skinny jeans.

I got one thing of Pop Chips and then my guide was already off and away, her impossibly high heels (I say impossibly because I take pride in hacking high heels all the time, and hers were higher) clicking on the concrete floor. How does such a tiny person walk so fast I grumbled, simultaneously wondering which was more uncouth: busting out the chips and eating them while walking or the blatant crinkly sound coming from my bag.

Someone should have told me SIMMA DOWN NA, because she was headed to the cafeteria. Oh goody goody goody. Even though it was St. Patrick’s day, it was Indian day. This was a vegetarian Mulligatawny soup. Do you like how I styled this shot with the cucumber hint water?

To be honest, I was very worried about busting out a camera, given the non-disclosure agreement and all. I got away with it, probably because I was surrounded by many Asians who were too busy ching chong ling long ting tong-ing.

I love cucumber water. Maybe it’s classical conditioning because they often co-occur with massages. hint water is so gross, though. I KNEW it before I drank it, but it was a classic case of decision overload ending up in the absolute worst pick, exacerbated by the fact that everything was freaking free.

The soup was thick and salty and therefore I loved it. It was so thick and salty, however, that it made me suspect they mislabeled it as soup when it was actually some kind of curry. This made me muse about what makes a soup a soup, which made me want to revisit the idea of soupscoop.com (which is now finally taken, by the way).

Pictured top is a potato and tofu curry, some sauteed greens, rice, Indian vegetables, and a slice of moist, quivering lamb. I cursed and cursed and cursed my choice to go into academia. I know for a fact that several people surrounding me were also psych majors in college, so that was definitely my fuckup. It was then my lower lip’s turn to quiver as I looked around in jealousy at these people who were probably coming right back here in six hours to eat dinner. In between they were probably going to go by the snack station, unwrap a free Clif bar, and throw it away after eating three bites. Assholes.

In other news, I don’t think I realized it’s Clif with one “f” before.

My final item was a cute mini cupcake celebrating the day properly. It had cream cheese frosting and was a perfect two bites. My host then encouraged me to load up on snacks before I left, and in fact pressed more items in my hands, saying “These are really nommy too! You have so much more space in your purse!” Her understanding tone plus her usage of the word “nommy” were almost enough to start the waterworks again.

I love this place. I want to go to there again.

Salty and Slow San Antonio

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Let’s be honest. I’ve been in hibernation mode. The grueling nature of the past five months has taken its toll, and hibernation is an apt metaphor because eating was not a priority, and neither was writing breezy posts filled with f-bombs about said eating. Just sleeping and being furry.

But then I felt it. The glorious warmth of the sun, which drew me out of my stupor. Quite literally the sun in sunny Texas, but also the heat and life-giving power of the best breakfast taco I have ever eaten. More on that later.

First, I should explain that I was in San Antonio for a conference. They must have been doing some sort of tax firesale, since fully three conferences that I go to are in San Antonio this year. Having done Round 1 in January, I was NOT impressed with the food-related offerings of the city. I really liked the Riverwalk, mostly because (a) it reminded me of Disneyland and  (b) the daredevil-ness of not having a single fence or railing made me feel like I was in a slightly dangerous Disneyland, which strikes me as a pretty awesome thing. But the food? No.

The second time, however, I was armed with a secret weapon: Sharisa. My secret weapon was armed with her own secret weapon, a little zygote that sent constant “EAT! EAT!” messages to its host. Their combined power was unstoppable, and Sharisa had unearthed tons of culinary gems that my own research had not.

The first night, however, we went to the hotel restaurant, Sazo’s. This was mostly out of exhaustion, desperation, laziness, and giant-groupness, not because it was on any of our lists. It was here where the “Slow and Salty” meme was born, because everyone’s dishes were almost inedibly salty, and it took us 45 minutes from the time we laid down our credit cards to when we got them back to sign. WTFBBQ (literally on the BBQ part). I won’t waste any more time on Sazo’s.

The following day we went to Boudro’s for lunch. Boudro’s was on everyone’s “I heard that place was good” list, but it was also (a) in the hotel room “Where to Eat” guide, (b) on the Riverwalk, and (c) on my fucking BOARDING pass as a “local attraction!” so I was skeptical.

We were seated at a lovely outside table in partial shade, looking out over the cute lazy river. Pictured top is my Prickly Pear Margarita -tequila, triple sec and fresh lime juice, frozen and layered with prickly cactus pear puree. A more beautiful margarita there never was. The rim was some sort of smoky salt concoction with a tamarind hit. Beauty and booze blended to make this a very intoxicating drink indeed.

Pictured just above is our tableside guacamole. Tableside guacamole is a big, big thing in San Antonio. I’m sure one restaurant started it and all the others were like “Goddamnit look whatchoo’ve done” and followed suit. This one was – you guessed it – salty. I appreciated the unique touches, though, like roasted serrano pepper and orange juice instead of lime. I also enjoyed listening to the table next to us lecturing their server on how they make their guacamole, and I thought to myself “the poor servers must get that all the fucking time.”  In that tone of voice but not with the same words, the beleaguered server said, “Yes, it’s so interesting hearing everyone’s home recipes!”

My entree was actually an app – the Texas Tapas: skewer of pork tenderloin al pastor with pineapple, grilled Hill Country jalapeno sausage, smoked duck, spicy marinated vegetables, corn pudding and barbeque sauce. The spit-cooked pork was oh so tender and my favorite part of this dish. The sausage was fine – too salty with the BBQ sauce and nothing special besides. The corn pudding was perfect when I slapped on a button-sized amount on everything. The duck slid off the bone in what could only be described as a seductive manner. I merely poked it with my fork and suddenly it was on my plate all wet with BBQ sauce. The whole dish was pretty refined for a Riverwalk joint. A+.

That night I was already back in San Francisco, since I had a thing I had to be at for work the next day. The third night I ate at the TGIF in the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport on my stopover while flying back.

The fourth day we went to lunch at the Monterey, a place that Sharisa had found. Right before we left the hotel were were talking to a very distinguished prof, and when we excused ourselves for lunch he said “Is the restaurant logo a big M?” and we chirped an amazed “Yes, actually!” but then it turned out he was being an asshole and suggesting we were going to McDonald’s, so there was a lot of confusion which all eventually concluded in anger all around.

I suggested we take a cab, but there was a giant St. Patrick’s day parade going on, so Sharisa and our other dining companions (including Betty!) forced me to go on what ended up being an almost-death march in the 85 degree heat in conferencey clothes. My kneepits were dark with sweat stains, gross! And right after I had hotel-dry-cleaned these pants!

We got to the restaurant, which is super cute, but most of the seating is outdoors with no semblance of shade, partial or otherwise. The owner, Brad or Chad I can’t remember, was very friendly. Betty had a flight in 1.5 hours so she ate quickly and jetted…or tried to, except the cab didn’t come for FORTY FIVE minutes and BradChad had to finally get on the phone with the cab company and yell “GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!”

Sharisa and I ordered basically everything on the menu, beginning with grapefruit soda, continuing onto Double-order French fries with crystal hollandaise, then fried green tomato, Benton’s bacon, soft eggs, crystal hollandaise, and then a Po’boy with fried oysters and pork jowl, and then finally their special of the day, which was a short rib hot dog. Scary Larry got French toast with pork belly and strawberries, which sounded like a neato combination.

These french fries were. the. best. They were very clearly properly twice-fried, so crispy on the outside that we might have been biting into apples. Note that they are not sweet potato fries; they are actually that golden brown. The dipping sauce had a smoky streak in it, which was nice.

I guess “pork jowl” just means fatty bacon. Maybe I happened upon not the freshest oyster, because this guy made me a little queasy. A fishy oyster wrapped in a thick armor of batter right up against not-rendered pig fat was a bit much for me. Thank goodness the bread was crusty and toasted or else I might have fainted mid-chew. Sharisa really loved it, so maybe it was just my particular oyster or else her baby is controlling her brain like this. [For the love of god, don't watch 0:50 onwards!]

Here are the fried green tomatoes. I really loved the book and have always wanted to try them. It was hard to discern their flavor since they were covered in yolk and similarly-colored hollandaise with bacon to boot. Mostly I would describe this dish as a fun fatty texture bomb.

Here’s Scary Larry’s weird thing. I believe that was espresso syrup underneath it all. I have been burned one too many times by under-rendered pork belly, so I was worried for him. But as you can see, it was properly almost-burninated and I reallllly wanted to lean over and steal a bite, but he was sick and besides, I hate French toast.

In sum, I was pleasantly surprised to see such interesting food tucked away in a little corner of San Antonio, and while I didn’t love absolutely all of it, absolutely none of it was oversalted like the rest of the damn town, which automatically nets Monterey an A+.

I think we are growing up, because none of us got obliterated in the customary way at the conference banquet on Saturday night. This was a good thing, because I had the wherewithal to go on another death march with Sharisa Sunday morning to a breakfast taco joint called Taco Haven a bit out of the way. Ever since the little one implanted in her uterine lining, she has been most ravenous in the mornings, so breakfast tacos were high on her agenda.

As we walked toward the door, we spied through a window a worker bee making tortillas from scratch. Good sign. Also a good sign: they were recently voted “Best Breakfast” in Food Network Magazine. I ordered one Torres special – refried beans, cheese, bacon, and guacamole (above), one chorizo and egg breakfast taco, and one chorizo and potato breakfast taco.

Our kind server asked me whether I wanted flour, corn, or whole wheat tortillas. I opted for corn for the breakfast tacos, since that’s how I like them at Tacos Por Favor, and went with flour for the special. Sharisa got flour for all.

Right now I want to shove my lappie aside and run around my apartment yodeling, because that is the magnitude of emotion that I experience whenever I think about these tacos. This “bi-winning” high, though, is quickly followed by a devastating low when I think about the fact that eating them again isn’t something in my near future.

The tortillas – the TORTILLAS! I have been trying to come up with an adequate description for days. “Pillowy” is a good start. Just enough chewy to make them addictive. I want to make a full bedding set (including bedskirt) out of these tortillas so I can just roll myself into a Janet burrito and eat my way out, taking naps as needed.

Sharisa very sensibly ate her tacos in parallel, rotating between the three. I snarfed up my entire chorizo and egg one and was scolded by her. “What if that’s the best one?!” she asked. Good point. And it was. Womp-womp. I wasn’t too sad, though, because the chorizo and potato one was super, and the flour tortilla from my Torres special was, as I mentioned, soft round heroin. I scooped out half of my Torres fillings and filled it up with the chorizo and potato, and that was even more ecstasy-inducing. I realized then that a flour tortilla + chorizo & egg would be the most scrumptious thing on the planet, and that realization made me really, really sad. Because we would fly away from this glorious place without me ever reaching breakfast taco Nirvana.

As we walked back, we were both pretty despondent to leave. Sharisa tried to brighten my mood by asking what we should eat for dessert, except I said “More breakfast tacos” to deflate her attempt. This made her slow down and say, “Should we go back?” and I stopped and said “SHOULD we?” and she said “SHOULD WE?” and I said “SHOULLLD WEEE?!??” but we didn’t.

We should have. Stupid.

Boudro’s on Riverwalk
421 E Commerce St
San Antonio, TX 78205
210.224.8484

The Monterey
1127 S St Mary’s St
San Antonio, TX 78210
210.745.2581

Taco Haven
1032 S Presa St
San Antonio, TX 78210
210.533.2444


MTFB goes bicoastal

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Hooo now that I’m recovered from the dizziness from that effing cheese skirt photo, I has an announcement to make! The extreme busyness to which Daniel is referring was a series of interviews for faculty positions in universities all over North America. After a grueling three months of these shenanigans, I’ve finally decided on a top-notch university in the lovely and beautiful… New Jersey!

Look at me, I’m all growed up! I’m gonna teach undergrads (and obsessively check ratemyprofessors.com)! I’m gonna have a lab and a lab website that starts with my last name and ends in -lab.com! I’m gonna stay up nights worrying about tenure!

Ahhh twill be the life.

I’ll also be within striking distance of New York City and all the glorious eats contained therein! Fuck. Yeah.

Ut oh this means I have a giant fucking backlog that I have to clear. This means: HAIKUS!

So so so much hype

Meatballs should be decadent

These were just meh, yo

OMG that’s fish!

Tuna with spaghetti, WHAT?

Chewy crunchy NOMS

Burninated kale

Puffy crust, umami blast

Well done, A16

A16 | 2355 Chestnut Street SF | 415.771.2216

So hungry at 5

Happy hour half price – heart!

Truffled popcorn, fuck

Flatbread half price too

Ham, Burratta, broccoli

Nectar Wine Lounge mmm

Nectar | 3330 Steiner Street SF | 415.345.1377

Tea leaf salad, god

Haunts me in my dreams, oh god

God almighty yum

Some sort of noodle

Should have ordered two Tea Leafs

Nice eggy-ness though

Poodi is curry

Funny name so we got it

Burma Superstar

Burma Superstar | 309 Clement St SF | 415.387.2147

This is Croque Madame

I got a yucky club, shit

R2 wins this one

Chouquet’s | 2500 Washington SF | 415.359.0075

Now I’m in LA

Watermelon apple juice

“Everything Nice” gulp!

I love jicama

No mayo tuna salad

Too healthy bad choice

Wrong one delivered

Worth the wait Havarti nom

Crunchy mouth-roof ouch!

What is this sammy?

Tinky got it – Caprese?

Look at that baguette!

Coral Tree Cafe | 11645 San Vicente Blvd LA | 310.979.8733

Deep fried chickpea app

Spicy crunchy addictive

Eat them with Beano

Embarras de richess

Brown Bear Ale was my fav’rite

Taste all beers for 10

Veggie paella

Just as good as fishy kind

Wait I miss sausage

Grilled Bistro filet

Chimichurri sauce and blood

Carnivore hard-on

Thirsty Bear | 661 Howard St SF | 415.974.0905

Oh Mamacita

Duck tacos be still my heart

Way too pricey, loud

Mamacita | 2317 Chestnut St SF | 415.346.8494

Lamb meatballs, sauces

A16′s can suck it dude

What are smaller balls?

Words cannot explain

Egg and cheese and meaty bliss

Ristobar my love

Ristobar | 2300 Chestnut St SF | 415.923.6464

Sebo sashimi

Anthony Bourdain went there

No Reservations

Only dab the soy!

Sushi platter broke the bank

Blackboard Eats thank god

Sebo | 517 Hayes St SF | 415.864-2181

Yay it’s Sharisa

Tacolicious Paloma

Festive red sugar

Top one was the best

Middle not spicy don’t fret

Bottom is mango

Fish and carnitas

I’ll miss these in Jersey, sigh

More, more cilantro!

Tacolicious | 2031 Chestnut St SF | 415.346.1966

Miso-glazed black cod

Tempura maitake

Thrillingly scrumptious

Butterfish special

So good but made me vomit

Got on R2′s sock

Umami | 2909 Webster St SF | 415.346.3431

Back in LA now

Pre-dinner snack of fried squid

Slurped up all the sauce

Deep fried corn fritters

Just like Cornell Chariot’s

Sweet, crispy, fatty

Three cheeses, goat too

Came with tomato soup shot

Eyes roll back in head

They’re famous for this

Braised short rib so soft, silky

Eat it with a spoon

Mini ice cream cones

Of course I did not eat it

People loved it though

Upper West | 3321 Pico Blvd LA | 415.586.1111

Where did I eat this?

Somewhere in Noe I know

Breakfast burrito

???? | 24th St SF | ????

Fresh shucked on the Wharf

Sliding down my throat oh yeah

Oysters are my crack

One of the stands | Fisherman’s Wharf, SF

Squeeze Inn

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Go ahead, look under the skirt.

HELLOOOOO Loyal Readers! It’s been a while and for that I apologize. I’ve been neglecting MTFB; Janet is seriously the busiest person I know and I’ve dropped the ball on filling in for her… even though I am probably less than half as busy. Oops. Onward!

So, what do we have here?! That gorgeous, tantalizing THING pictured front and center is none other than the Squeeze Burger with Cheese from Squeeze Inn in Roseville, California. On the menu, the burger basically reads like your standard burger: “Our famous 1/3 lb. 100% Beef Burger with all the fixins. Mayo, Mustard, Tomato, Lettuce, Pickles, Onions on a Sesame Seed Bun.” You might be thinking, “MEH! The cheese costs EXTRA! Why would I waste my time on this??” Well, if you could get a taste of heaven just by handing over an extra buck and change, would you do it? Because THAT is exactly what this is my friends. Heaven.

I’ll take just a moment to mention that the beef patty, bun, and “all the fixins” are delicious and the burger is big and juicy, but the cheese is what launches it into the stratosphere. Here’s how they describe what they do: “Our famous squeeze with cheese is made in a unique way. After cooking the patty on a flat top grill we cover it with a handful of cheese and the top of the bun before throwing a handful of ice chips on the grill and covering the whole thing is a hood. The skirt comes out perfectly.”

Close your eyes and imagine! Your patty is just about cooked to perfection, and at just the right moment, a mountain of cheese is dumped on your burger and topped with your bun. Immediately after, they toss some ice in and cover it, creating this bizarre atmosphere where your cheese melts and forms a puddle/skirt around your burger, helped along by the steam while at the same time not quite burning it. NOM! I am salivating just thinking back to it. The cheese comes out sorta crispy, sorta burninated, and all kinds of delicious. This is no mini skirt either. It extends a good inch and a half past the edge of your bun.

Just look at it! The hard part is deciding how to eat it… does one tear off the skirt and eat it separately, like oh-so-delicate cheese chips? Or does one politely fold the skirt under the bun so that it can all be eaten at once? The choice is yours, but I guarantee that either way will open your eyes to a new way of burger consumption. The instant the cheese skirt touches your tongue, your taste buds will thank you and sing your praises as the BEST. WING(WO)MAN. EVAR. If you’re ever in the Roseville area (or near the Sacramento or Galt locations) feel free to do some skirt chasing, it’s a sure thing.

Squeeze Inn
106 N. Sunrise Ave.
Roseville, CA
(and 2 other locations)

Bouchon and Bottega, Yountville

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I have been working on some sort of pun/joke about Yountville fine dining establishments that begin with “Bo” and are owned by chefs whose last names begin with a “k” phoneme, but it’s not quite there yet. So I will just straight up say “I went to Bouchon and Bottega. Both are in Yountville, which is a teeny and adorable town sandwiched between Napa and Sonoma.  The former is owned by noted chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame; the latter by celebrity chef and resident skeeze-despite-being-flaming Michael Chiarello.”

I mean, have you SEEN Michael Chiarello’s show on Food Network? He has a crazy lisp and talks about fluting things. Fellow FoodTV junkie Finni and I were sure he was gay, and then one day he mentioned his “wife and kids” and I fell off my chair, texted Finni from the floor, and then she fell off HER chair! There is NO! WAY!

But when he was on the first season of Top Chef Masters I realized he’s not gay, he’s just a snake, and the lisp is a human form of hissing. Ugh. I wanted to shower after that episode where he was oozing all over the ladies who came to his catering station.

Anyway, for my hatch day, R2 outdid himself and swept me away to wine country, where we stayed in an amazing villa in The Villagio Inn and Spa. It was one of these sprawling places that you can just wander around, marveling at the cute corners and paths lined with strings of fountains. They had tea daily complete with tiny crustless sandwiches, scones, and clotted cream. There was a super old couple at tea on the first day with the KEE-YOOTEST puppersons that was waiting on the outside of the glass door, looking in and making intense eye contact with anyone who would look at him/her. I named it Eye Contact Dog, but then I really wanted to know its proper name, so I sidled up to its owner who was refilling her tea.

Me: [Sweetly] What is your dog’s name?
Her: [Sharply] Any milk?

Confused, I backed away. Did she think I was the help? Did she not even notice me and was talking to herself? Or was her dog’s name Enniemelch?

Ennie-way, that night we went to the dark and romantic Bistro Jeanty. The lighting was untenable, despite the fact that we were seated fireside, so I don’t have any postable pictures, but we had a blogworthy but in the end slightly gross set of appetizers - LANGUE D’AGNEAU: warm lamb tongue and potato salad and TERRINE DE LAPIP: rabbit pâté with a celery root apple salad and mustard dressing. Both were mayo-ey and chunky with a not-unoccasional cartilage crunch which wasn’t great. Our entrees, however, glowed. I got Coq au vin, even though I hate bird, just because I spied Buttered egg noodles under sides, which came with the tagline “Yummy with Coq au vin.” I loved the use of “yummy” on this fine French dining menu so I went with it, and good fucking lord. I think I ate just one hunk of chicken for posterity and then inhaled the egg noodles, dipping just the ends in the gravy of the coq au vin soba-style. When people asked me after the fact how my hatch day was, I just say “buttered egg noo…” and trail off in a drooly daze.

The following day we took an epic walk and laughed at some cows that were grazing. The CHRRUUFF sound of the blades of grass getting ripped off their roots and then the CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP sound! And they just ate all day long! We watched them for a long time and then I heard a frog croaking nearby and I hate frogs so we left.
Lunch was at Bouchon. We were seated at our server’s favorite seat in the house – adjacent to the charming Christmas tree. We had the soupe du jour which was a sunchoke soup with creme fraiche, lemon oil, and toasted walnuts. You can just look at it and guess how awesome it was. I could have gone to the trouble of constructing perfect spoonfuls composed of all elements, but just poking at it willy-nilly netted very different flavor profiles (god have I become a person who uses the term “flavor profiles?”) with each bite. I silently snapped my fingers under the table and mouthed “Garcon I’ll take a vatful” and R2 said “Huh?” and I said “Nothing.”

Then, he had the Croque Madame: grilled ham & cheese sandwich on brioche, fried egg & mornay (Bechamel with parmesan and gruyere cheese added, swoon) sauce served with French fries.

Our server, who we both liked exceedingly, was attentive and peppy but not unctuous. She had no make up on, which fit with her “I’m here to make sure you eat delicious food and that is my only job” demeanor. She cracked jokes that I could see myself making. Anyway, she offered to make R2′s fries black truffle fries for a piddling more, but we decided against it (WHY WHY WHY). Instead of crying, I just dunked the fries in the aioli accompaniment, which ended up being truffle aioli so that was a fucking win. The sammy was rich and light at the same time. R2 slurped it up, even the horrifying-looking yolk-edge slime-tendon that was clinging to the side of the plate at the end.

I had the Quiche du Jour, which was Lorraine. It came out quivering with a crusty top.

More mousse than quiche, utterly reminiscent of Japanese chawanmushi. Silky and soft and hung out in a really nice way at the back of my tongue. I found myself eating around the bacon just to get at the egg. I wanted to have it with a spoon at night with PJs on like women in commercials encouraging other women to indulge by oneself in ice cream.

Then, to the Villagio spa, where it is free to soak for guests. My activity plan was as follows: Shower to get clean, outdoor jacuzzi to get hot, read Nook Doggy Dogg in a lounge chair outside to get cold, steam room to get hot, more reading outside to get cold, sauna to get hot, even more reading outside to get cold again, and jacuzzi again to leave me toasty warm. I was alone basically the entire time, and being nekkid in an outdoor spa is really liberating! I did some attempts at naked synchronized swimming in the jacuzzi but it was tough with the bubbles going.

Then, back to Bistro Jeanty for $1 oysters during happy hour. We ordered 10 (why not a dozen??) and then ordered more – a proper dozen. We washed it down with some bubbly and strolled over to Bottega.

This is the thing about Yountville. The whole town is basically two blocks long, and yet it houses French Laundry, Bouchon, Bottega, Ad Hoc, Redd, étoile – it’s really amazing. So Bistro Jeanty was next door to Bouchon was across the street from Bottega, etc.


There, we were about half an hour early. And despite being warned not to blow R2′s cover (he was going to act confused as to why the reservation was at a “different time” than when we made it for), when he gave our name at the front I yelled “WE ARE SUUUUPER EARLY!” by accident.

No matter. We were promptly seated in the restaurant that was packed despite it being a winter Wednesday in the boonies. I ordered a flight of Chiarello’s own wines, which were fine. For our app, we ordered grilled octopus; specifically wood grilled octopus with olive oil braised potatoes, pickled red onion, salsa verde. We hoped and hoped and hoped that it would be as delicious as the pulpo a la plancha  we had in Spain, and while it wasn’t THAT good, it was the best octopus we’ve had Stateside.

“This is by far the best pulpo we’ve had Stateside,” I said, obnoxiously. Then I heard myself and looked around, but all I saw were approving smiles and nods. Pretentious Yountville jerks.

For our mains, which came in too low of light to photograph, R2 got the whole fish special. While not as horrifying as this, it came out looking like you’d think a whole dead fish would, and tasted fresh and good but not transcendent or anything. I had the brodetto (Italian version of like a boulliabaisse) for the sole (ha) reason that such stews are usually off limits to me as I am mortally allergic to shrimp, crab, and lobster, but this one was: Adriatic Seafood Brodettomonkfish, mussels, rock cod & fresh Monterey calamari, forno-confit tomato broth, olive oil crouton, and paprika-saffron rouille. It’s a FLAVOR PROFILE that I don’t often get to experience, so it was such a soul-warming treat. I’m pretty sure I was crying when R2 tore me away from the little town of Yountville, back to the food desert that is San Francisco (boo hoo Janet).

They’re all on the same road right next to each other, so just map yourself to Yountville.