Salty and Slow San Antonio

by janet on 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

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

Taco Haven
1032 S Presa St
San Antonio, TX 78210

MTFB goes bicoastal

by janet on 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! I’m gonna have a lab and a lab website that starts with my last name and ends in! 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

by Daniel on 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

by janet on 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.

New Years Resolutions: Twenty Chop

by janet on January 4th, 2011

Happy New Year! As Daniel mentioned, I’m gonna try hard to push Twenty Chop (11 <– chopsticks) instead of the horrible five-syllabic Twenty-Eleven. A second option that I will accept is simply “eleven” like when we said “ninety-seven” to tell people when we graduated from high sch– I mean kindergarten?

Anywayanyway. Thank you to Daniel at the end of 2010 for covering my ass. January in Twenty Chop is also crazay but I am pausing to put out my resolutions to hold myself accountable.

But first, let’s check back on how I did for Twenty Dime.

1. Finish Dogs That Should Be Named Oreo Post. Hurm. [Shifty eyes] Welp. I did a teeny bit of work on this in the 365 days I had. See above. This is Bella, a.k.a. Bella-Bee –> Bella Bean –> Beano. R2 and I dogsat her right before Christmas and I LOVED it. Although she is an Oreo dog, I can’t help but devote an entire post to her. Forthcoming.

2. Wake up when the alarm goes off. I think I did just EXCELLENT on this! In fact, I had a series of interviews for faculty positions on the east coast, so I prepped for it by getting on east coast time. Every week for a month I woke up an hour earlier. So by X minus 1 week I was going to bed at 8:30 and waking up at 4:30. Waking up early was exciting! First – so many extra hours to work! Then! The extreme sense of superiority as you see others’ lights turn on one by one. To the point where I was like, “Goddamnit sun you need to set your ass  I’m enjoying this.”

50% success is still an F in academia, so…fail.

I’ll try better on my TWENTY CHOP ones:

1. Start reading the print version of the New York Times. [PRINT version I’m not even going to hyperlink to the online version so there.] Dave Eggers once referenced a study that I can’t find showing that print media compared to online media engages our stress system less, and when it comes down to Dave Eggers vs. my scientific skepticism (even if I am an actual stress researcher), I go with the Staggering Genius. SO. This is part of my grownupification. If a dozen trees have to die and be only partially recycled for it, so be it.

2. Use ten exposures theory to learn to like the following foods: (1) ice cream; (2) cooked salmon; (3) Israeli couscous. Shudder. My strategy with ice cream is to gateway with salty-sweet. Salted caramel maybe. The final goal will be chocolate ice cream – my nemesis. Cooked salmon should be easy in theory, because I looove love love salmon sushi and smoked salmon. It’s the cooked shit though that gives me the willies. And Israeli couscous – I love regular couscous and I like boba. Israeli couscous is just one step along that continuum. But like teenagers, the medium-ness of it is horrifying.

3. Be the first to pick up things that people drop. This is a self-bettering type of resolution, inspired by R2. He is so nice and is exactly that kind of guy that will pick up, for example, a piece of paper that a stranger has dropped, even if a gust of wind blows right as the paper is dropped and blows it down the street into the path of an oncoming car, up all the way to the top of Divisadero, and then out to sea where there are both sharks and horny sea lions.

5. Get my faux squishable onto their website. I don’t want to link to it because I don’t want them to see the trackback, but for my hatchday Daniel HAND SEWED (!) me a giraffe Squishable. The giraffe is my favorite Squishable, because by virtue of making it into a Squishable you have negated the identifying characteristic of a giraffe. My giraffe is actually called a Girmath because of the extreme math that it took for Daniel to figure out how to sew a sphere. Note: Sometimes he is called Girmouth or Girmouf because Daniel had to teach himself how to embroider to do the mouth area. Anyway, on the Squishables site is an area where consumers can submit pics of themselves with their new squishables, so I’m going to take a picture of me with my Girmath and submit it. Heh heh. Fools.

6. Finish Dogs That Should Be Named Oreo Post.

Top 10 Posts of TWENTY DIME!

by Daniel on December 31st, 2010

AHA! Thought you’d sneak by and end the year without hearing from me again? Sorry friend(enemy?), but you’re out of luck. Janet is busy doing important work pertaining to the real world so I’ve been asked to step up and close out the year by rounding up the top 10 posts of 2010. I’m drunk with the sheer power of it! Or you know, just drunk. Anyway, I present to you, our faithful readers, Twenty Dime’s top 10 posts!

1. Bootie: Without a doubt the best post EVAR that fulfills the “More Than” part of MTFB, with probably the best aminal pic skills to date. R2 commented, “It’s a quintessentially creative synthesis of two of my favorite things – MTFB and the Boot – and a reflection of my two favorite ladies.” Well said!

2. Fucking ENCOUNTER restaurant: Because when else were we gonna get the chance to eat there?! Verdict: Go for the free short-term parking… stay if you want to miss your flight.

3. Susiecakes vs. Kara’s: Because we understand that choosing the right cupcakery is serious business, and the last thing we want is for our readers to be paralyzed with indecision. Also, because I am unabashedly proud of my/our first foray into macro food pics.

4. Portland Report(land): A giant crab. A City of Books. Voodoo Doughnut. Baby octopi. And The Beginning of the End. I guess Oregon isn’t just about bowling and Chocobeer.

5. Iguanas Burritozilla: Because it’s a story of the future… and the past! More importantly, it’s proof that I actually contribute to MTFB. And because I ate nearly 3lbs of burrito in one sitting. I hurt just thinking about it.

6. Espana Part II: Toledo: Between the two of them, R2 and Janet nominated almost all the parts of the Spain series for top 10 status. I didn’t go to Spain, so what’s a guy to do but pick the one with castles? Because castles are effing cool, amiright?! Seriously though, you should read all of the Spain posts here. Muy Bueno.

7. Segway Tour of San Francisco: Because you haven’t experienced San Francisco until you’ve seen it from atop a Segway named Special Sauce.

8. Raku: Because you know it’s good when Janet spends an entire paragraph describing just the tofu. And because it’s apparently the first time “Janet = warm & fuzzy & feeling like a real blogger.” Taste the happy!

9. Lemon Blender Pie: Because what good is a food blog if we don’t occasionally throw in a recipe now and then? This one is SUPER easy!

10. Alembic: Because it’s the top post that should have made the top 10 posts of 2009 but was written in 2010. And because not everything goes right in foodie land, no matter how much you love the pink quail eggs.

There you have it! Please remember that today is the last day you can refer to the current year as “Twenty Dime”, so try to drop it into every sentence you use. I’ve found that whispering it creepily at the end has been astoundingly effective. Rumor has it that we’re going to make a push to call next year Twenty Chop (because the 11 looks like a pair of chopsticks), so keep an eye out for that, too. And now Janet and I (and the rest of the MTFB team of contributors) wish you a safe and happy New Year!


by janet on December 23rd, 2010

We recently went to Paxti’s -the one in Hayes Valley- for Charlize’s hatch day. “Say ‘PAH-cheese!'” it says on their banner. I had been to the one in the Marina with R2, just after it opened. I remember that night as it was the first time I watched Star Wars V with R2, who shyly at first and then with locomotive-status enthusiasm peppered the home screening with SW trivia.

I remember this night because there was an epic discussion of Patxi’s vs. Zachary’s. None of the party guests had been to Paxti’s before, so they asked me to describe it. “Well, it’s crust with toppings on top, but there’s also cheese and then tomato sauce.” I then realized I was just describing pizza. “I guess I’m just describing what pizza is,” I said. They agreed.

So I’ll try to do better here. It’s Chicago style pizza. The first thing that means is it is a serious, serious pizza. If you get takeout, the box will weigh about ten pounds when you get it. Maybe more. It’s thick crust – very. The crust was so flakey and tender it was more like a croissant/biscuit hybrid. Dangerous. The toppings and cheese are then placed on top, and the whole shebang is covered with a thick layer of tomato sauce – probably a quarter inch or more, so it’s like pizza-ey soup, which I love.

We got one large “Favorite” with pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives. Birthday girl hates olives, and her husband hates mushrooms, so this was a curious choice, but they picked out their respective nemeses and ate/slurped it up. We also got “Spinach Pesto” with spinach, basil-garlic pesto and parmesan, which came out looking like a normal pizza, not green like I anticipated.

We also got an antipasto plate, choosing prosciutto, Genovese salami, and chorizo. The “artisan” cheeses that accompanied were the true winners – each sharper than Ben Folds’ critiques of the groups on the Sing-Off that packed a punch even with the uber-polite teeny slivers that everyone was taking.

Back to the debate. The whole thing is funny if you know that Tina had gotten Charlize a gift certificate to Zachary’s as her birthday gift.

Tina: [Inexplicably suddenly  a big fan of Zachary’s] Well, nothing beats ZACHARY’S OF COURSE!
Charlize: [Feeling awkward like her guest didn’t like her choice of dinner location] Well, I think this pizza is great! [Now, emphatically] Yeah! Patxi’s is WAY better than Zachary’s!
Tina: [Beginning to worry more about her gift choice] REALLY? Have you HAD Zachary’s recently?
Charlize: [Along with all the other dinner guests minus Tina’s husband who is just giggling at this point, starting to wonder why Tina is shouting about Zachary’s] I guess I haven’t had it in a while, but I still think this is better! [Recklessly] I want another slice! I’m gonna have another slice!
Tina: Well…ok fine well… Happy Birthday! [Proffering giftcard]
Charlize: OHHHHH! Thank you I LOVE Zachary’s!
Me: lol.

I, too, have had Zachary’s, and need to dig up those pictures, but my take on things is that they’re the same. The first three bites or so are thrilling in their density, flavor, and smooth and juicy fattyness, and from then on it’s just a fucking battle. There is no way to get out of this meal without a distended belly, which is a plus for me but a minus for less gluttonous others. Perhaps it’s time to have a direct taste-off; both places offer par-baked pies to finish in one’s own oven. That will have to wait until this round of pizza digests…probably in another three months or so.

Patxi’s – many locations so just go to their website; maybe avoid the Marina one

Fucking ENCOUNTER restaurant

by janet on December 6th, 2010

Are you from the LA area? Then you know about Encounters restaurant – that thingie in the middle of LAX that looks like a spaceship. The only other people I know who have been there are my parents, when the went to UCLA before I was born. So…late 1990’s? jkjkjk like the SEVENTIES!?

It was closed a couple years ago, I thought for renovations, but seeing the multitude of lava lamps in there (honest to goodness – if you dare to go to their terrible terrible website, you will believe me) I looked it up and it turns out that a THOUSAND POUND CHUNK fell off the top. Jeez. Scary as that is, I don’t think that warranted a 12.3 MEELYON dollars pumped into it.

Anyway. I was in LA for 24 hours so Daniel and I decided to do the most blogworthy meal ever. Bonus that it ended up being next door to mine and every other LAX traveler’s terminal. We pulled up in front and parked in one of the four parking spots that had absolutely no restrictions posted. So, in the future if you want to park for a short time at LAX and not pay, you might as well sneak into one of these spots.

Then, we went into a very early-80s looking lobby into the elevator…

…where the lights dimmed and crazy old school space music blasted at us for the duration of our lift. “oh. Em. EFF. GEEEEEEE!” I said in a crescendo.

We got out and saw the aforementioned lava lamps everywhere, and it was very empty. We were led to a perfectly fine 2-top and opened the menu. Whooooo. Pricey. I guess that’s what FIVE fucking dollar signs means, but still, the sticker shock! I had $64 to spend thanks to my per diem, so we got lemon parmesan french fries to start, and then he got the Flame Broiled Prime Flat Iron Steak served on garlic whipped potatoes, sauteed broccolini, and topped with a black diamond truffle and chive butter [$27] and I had some sort of lamb chop thingie, also served over the whipped potatoes.

The french fries were fine. I don’t know that I would pair fries with lemon, but whatevs. Twas preceded by nice, warm bread. Carbovores.

My lamb chop thingie was fine, I guess. Very tender. But it was suuuch white people food! Brown gravy, breading on the chop. And – fucking MASHED POTATOES OUT OF THE MOTHERFUCKING BOX what the fuck? I did NOT spend $27 plus tax and tip to have fucking box potatoes.

However, every single review online said this exact same thing about how it was NOT worth the outrageous prices for this insanely mediocre food and sadness-inducing decor, so I wasn’t surprised. My favorite part  was the side broccolini of Daniel’s and also my asparagus which stank up my urine and the plane bathroom later.

The carrot cake we got as a dessert was my second favorite part (see top). It looked like it was secreting goopy blood eyeballs but the cake was moist and the cream cheese frosting totally passable.

With two glasses of wine, our total bill was $120. OMGWTFBBQDONK1EBALLS.

God, the whole thing was so half-assed! The decor, the service, the food, even the continuity of the space theme. The sides are titled “The Sides of the Moon” but the appetizers were just called appetizers, and the entrees were just called entrees, and the salad section was just “salads.” The only other themey thing we noticed was “Any Spacecrafts with an Interstellar Crew of Six or More shall have an Automatic Docking Fee of 18% (In other words, an 18% gratuity will be added to parties of 6 or more).” Neato. Not. I’m really glad I downloaded and installed Evernote solely to take notes on this meal but then transcribing that one sentence from the menu tired me out so I have no good notes on our dinner. Not.

Oh, and I’m REALLY glad I missed my flight. Not. I was lulled into complacency by my proximity to the gate, but when my mobile phone boarding pass link didn’t work and I went to the kiosk to print my pass it was already within the 45-minute limit (at this point: I had 25 minutes to departure time). So they made me wait in another line until it was TEN minutes to departure time, at which point the guy was like, “You should try making it! RUN! RUN!” So I ran just until he couldn’t see me anymore and then I slowed down. Because there was no way in hell I was getting through security and onto the plane in 9 minutes. The United lady at the re-ticketing booth seemed amazed at my lack of annoyance/upsetness but at the point when I cajoled Daniel into going to fucking Encounter I gave up all complaining rights.

Except this – why is there no “S” at the end of Encounters? Unacceptable and weird!

Why would you ever go? OK fine here’s the address:
In the middle of LAX, LA.
Phone: [wait, why would you ever CALL them?? OK FINE!]

O hai.

by janet on December 3rd, 2010

Well, shit. All of November went by without a single post. My bad. I was traveling to three different cities, was interviewed by over thirty-three people in total, and got a brand new study off the ground. Science waits for no one.

But I have to admit this puts the pressure on me. What could possibly be good enough to serve as a grand re-entrance after an entire MONTH?

I wish I was Allie. She would draw some silly picture that involved an animal and attach a hilarious narrative of her crazy life. IF I were Allie, it’d go a little something like this:

1. Weird, candy-cane shaped limbs.

2. A face and eyes that look like this.

3. I chose these colors because I’m Asian.

4. This is Buttins so I made it a Scottish fold.

5. Her cat eyeballs tend to be like this. See?

But alas, I’m nowhere near her level of genius. So I will stick with nice pictures of food attached to totally non-food related anecdotes, with “fuck” and “balls” and “nom” thrown in liberally.

Many, many of those to come. Stay tuned, and thanks for visiting despite my protracted silence~

Go read the always brilliant Hyperbole and a Half, and fuck YES I am tagging this in the “Art” category.

Nopalito & Humphrey Slocombe

by janet on October 23rd, 2010

“Janet, what is your favorite restaurant in San Francisco?” people always ask. I usually respond “HA! HA! Yeah, did you know how funny lolcats are?” Or, if that fails to change the subject, “HEY! Well! My favorite part in Elf is when Narwhal says ‘Bye, Buddy! Hope you find yer dad!'” and the one-two punch randomness of those statements usually buys me time.

Because there are SOOO many restaurants, great ones, in SF. I recently posed this question to R2 and he said King Foot Subs. I have mocked him for this but (don’t tell him) good god, they do make a mean motherfucking meatball sub.

I don’t even LIKE meatball subs but this one keeps me up at night with lust. The bread is stellar, and the meatballs are SO soft. And, it doesn’t even need to be saucey to be juicy. GOD it’s good. Good choice R2. [Note: don’t get seduced by the kalbi sub, which sounds great but is mediocre.]

But anyway, I would like to announce that I now have a go-to “favorite,” even though that is WAY too difficult of a question. If I had unlimited funds, it would be Fleur de Lys. Bang for buck would be Saigon Sandwich at $3 a pop. But the resto that (a) is consistently awesome; (b) reeks of foodie cred; (c) could ostensibly be any SF-ite’s favorite  is Nopa. I just checked our search field and apparently I have not yet blogged it. That should be remedied!

This is not that post.

This post is about Nopalito, Nopa’s offshoot that opened in the past year. When Daniel was visiting, the two of us with R2 went for lunch. I had very. very. high expectations, because people all over the place were saying they liked Nopalito more than Nopa.

I realize now that these people were just saying that to be hipster cool, and that objectively there is no way that anyone can actually think that.

Because what Nopalito is is: a cute place that serves above-average, very fresh Mexican food. Pictured top is the seasonal Gazpacho Estilo Morelia – a salad of late summer melons, orange juice, queso fresco, chile, and hot sauce. Not sure if it counts as cooking, but I really liked the contrasting sweet/salty/sour/spicy thing that was happening. But any fool with a melon baller could make this (though, perhaps, not conceive of it).

Along with my gazpacho, I had one Taco de Pescado al Pastorseared fish in adobo, chile ancho, orange, onion, cilantro and salsa de morita y tomatillo. Such a fresh, simple three bites! I loved it. The Pac-man looking thing in the back is a Gordita Campechana – a fried tortilla pocket, braised grass fed brisket, chorizo, cabbage, onion, cilantro and salsa taquera de tomatillos. I was a bit concerned when, instead of shattering under my knife like I expected it to, it squishily bent and oozed out oil. When I took a bite, however, it was not stale-oily but satisfyingly meaty and brightened like the sun with a hit of lime. Yum!

Note: When you are there, you must go to the bathroom. Don’t be sketched by the fact that you have to go out of the restaurant and halfway down the block to get to it. It’s the nicest bathroom evar, and hanging above is a cool sculptural piece made of dozens of chocolate stirrers for the mole (you rub the stick end in your palms).

Next, we went next door to the schmancy grocery store, the back of which was DeLessio’s Market and Bakery, which carried Humphrey Slocombe ice cream. I always know when I am catching a cold because I start to crave sweets. I was on the tail end of the cold I caught in Minneapolis, and ice cream sounded amazing to me (!) not to mention blogworthy, so I sidled up to the counter and got the weirdest flavor I could find.

This moody-looking ice cream is LEGIT. It’s called Secret Breakfast. I thought I was being all foodie-brave and cool by getting it, as it contains cornflakes, bourbon, and butter, but apparently it is their most popular flavor. Being-counter-culture fail on my part.

The little gristly, gritty bits of stuff in the almost gelato-ey melty (bc of the alcohol perchance?) were just! so! scrumptious! I thanked the billions of virus/bacteria that were staging a coup in my body for letting me, for once, appreciate ice cream – normally a food that makes me shudder. The coolness soothed my throat, the flakes made it seem more healthy, and the bourbon provided a nice buzz as I drove myself home, sick, in a teeny car, in the rain.

Nopalito & DeLessio
306 Broderick | SF