Thursday, December 11, 2008

Halu Makes Good Kushi Katsu

Is it kushikatsu? Or is it kushi katsu? As The Kid and I were coming back from Green Apple Books, there was a restaurant right next to the parking lot that caught my attention. Halu restaurant does ramen and if you have ever lived near a Japantown, you've probably had ramen. But have you had kushi katsu or yakitori?
I'm still trying to figure out if "kushikatsu" is one word, or two. "Kushi" is the skewer and "katsu" is the deep-fried chunk of meat. The Halu menu has it listed as two separate words and regardless, it is just insanely delicious. Dipped in panko flour and brushed with tasty sauces... we have in order: salmon, ground chicken (which was the best of them all, sauce-wise) and flat steak. The sublime smokiness that permeates throughout the food, adds the most wonderful layer of flavor and it is better than the smoky flavor of American barbecue. Note, The Missus put the forks on the table because she didn't know what we were bringing home for dinner...I know how to use chopsticks.

The grilled eggplant was more to the liking of The Missus, along with the grated ginger.

Of course fans of the film Tampopo or ramen will tell you that the soup will make the dish, regardless of the quality of the noodles...

...Halu has both down pat. What Halu does better than any other Japanese restaurant I have been to, is win me over with their unusual decor. We are talking Beatles, Beatles and the Beatles. There is Beatles posters, photos, memorabilia, and even Beatles shot glasses. There are also posters of Hendrix and a Fender Stratocaster done up like a Hendrix guitar.
There are also surf music posters and gratuitous Beatles music playing while the smell of the food makes you dizzy with anticipation.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

One Restaurant Closing In San Francisco That Will Not Be Publicized

If you look at the Eater SF site, you will see both the temporary and permanent closings of restaurants in San Francisco. Yet there is one joint that you won't read about, except for here and quite frankly, I might be the only human that even knew about it. Do you see this house?

Now you say, "what restaurant?" No, there was a restaurant there, honest. The seating was atrocious and so was the service...reservations were out of the questions also...hell, they were non-existent. Come to think of it, so was the human clientele.

You see, it wasn't a human restaurant, but a fast food joint for crows. If you look at the "square" in the middle of the picture below, where the gray roof meets the cream-colored wall just above the rain gutter...

...there was a piece of metal that ran parallel to the lower gray roof. Some pigeons lived in there and every day, some crows would drop by to see if the pigeons laid eggs. I had tried to take pictures of this on several occasions, but by the time I got my camera out and the shade up, the crows would be gone.
At any rate, they re-roofed that house and closed off the hole, so no more pigeons and no more crows. I'm sure the crows have mixed feelings about this, knowing the ambiance and service sucked, but I believe they found the food was exceptional.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Who's Up For Crepes?

As I have stated in the previous post, my traveling will be greatly reduced in the coming months. However, that doesn't mean that I can't have a nearby vacation. Who's up for crepes? The Kid and I hit Genki Crepes on Clement Street with a vengeance.

If you've never been to Clement St. in San Francisco, I pity you because you don't know what you're missing. It is like Chinatown, only you can actually get a parking place within a fortnight. You also have fine restaurants and take out places that feature Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Persian, and Russian cuisines.

It was so dark and cloudy yesterday, that I had to put the camera on its "night" setting. Note the difference between these two shots of the store's front.

The couple that are seated there, started to get pissed off at me. Either they thought I was spying on them, or that I was going stalkerrazzi. I was just trying to get a clean shot without a vehicle or a bicycle not going by. Then someone had to get in their car and I lost my photo roost. Then a truck pulled up to unload food. This shot took four tries and a bunch of glares from those two.

First, note the crepe grills. Second, note the two parking places across the street. See? I told you there is parking on Clement St. and you'll never see two parking places in Chinatown.
Good gravy, look at all that Nutella goodness!

The cook layered lots of cheddar on my crepe. As you can guess from the name, Genki doesn't make crepes exclusively in the French-style. There is a Japanese and Chinese influence too. Their sweet crepes are slightly better than their savory ones, though temper that with the fact that I tend to prefer most of their savory crepes without the cheese.

Their selection of drinks is unbeatable. A dozen different kinds of Japanese cold teas, sodas, energy drinks, coffees, chais, etc... I always go with the San Pellegrino Aranciata.

He had a #11 which is a ham & cheese and I had a # 18 which is a chicken with sweet chili sauce and cheese. The chicken is excellent and it really doesn't need cheese at all, as it distracts from the Lingham-like chili sauce.

And afterwards?

Books for dessert. I used to think that Green Apple treated crime fiction like a stepchild, but in retrospect, it's better to have it at the Annex. There is more space for it and you won't get run over by angry people looking for the self-help section.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Offiicial Slogan Of This Blog Is...

Well, according to the poll, the official slogan of this blog is "while the world unravels, Cormac travels." Though I don't forsee a lot of traveling in my near future, this doesn't mean I won't any material to post about. A big thanks to everyone that voted.

RachellB has a good Bourdain post from a year ago, when Anthony visited the Google campus and among the tidbits was this gem-

Bourdain enjoys cooking competitions on tv, although he’s suspect of some of the “stars” like Cat Cora and he really hates on Rachel Ray. The only competition show he doesn’t like is Hells Kitchen, even though Gordon Ramsay is a friend of his. He thinks that the show is pointlessly cruel, and this coming from Bourdain, who is known to not sugar coat anything. He also thinks the contestants on that show have the technical abilities of mollusks.

He also added that he loves Top Chef. No surprise, since he appears on the show often. And he says Huang deserved to win, that his cooking was the best, and it doesn’t matter if he was mean or spilled truffle oil or whatever else he was accused of.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why Not An Ostrich For Thanksgiving?

What's that David Grohl?

Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend
Keep you in the dark
And so it all began

Oh, okay. So let me ask The Foo Fighters and yourself, what do you get when you cross Geena Davis...

...with Madchen Amick?

That's right, Ostrich Egg Girl!

I'm gonna miss Jill and not just because she's easy on the eyes, but because she might've tried to cook ostrich for the Foo Fighters Thanksgiving dinner and that would've been great TV!

I'm the voice inside your head

No, Dave, that would be The Missus, telling me to help her with the desserts for tomorrow.

You refuse to hear

Once again, that would be The Missus.

I'm the face that you have to face

I don't have to face you, the Top Chef contestants do.

Mirrored in your stare

Uh, we look nothing alike.

I'm what's left, I'm what's right

Wha, which are you? I thought you voted for Obama like I did.

I'm the enemy

I'm a little tired of listening to Nirvana on the radio, but I don't hate you man.

I'm the hand that will take you down

Bring you to your knees

Once again, incorrect, because that would be The Missus.

So who are you?

Cormac Brown.

Yeah, who are you?

Uh, Cormac Brown.

Yeah, who are you?

I just told you.

Yeah, who are you?

You've spent too many years standing next to the P.A. speakers or you just don't listen.

Speaking of not listening, you didn't listen to your tasted buds and your stomach, because Team Cougar should've won. They had the better turkey (all right, Ariane!) and the better flavor profiles. Though their execution was lacking a bit and...what am I saying? Jaime was on Team Sexy Pants! So go on, Jaime, and represent the Bay Area!

P.S. Danny is kind of turning into a bastard, will he be this season's villain? Because the show is really lacking a Marcel.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Is The Money On Radhika?

The Missus has picked Radhika and hey, maybe she knows something, because her instincts are dead-on. She picked Obama to go all the way, before anybody else that I knew did.

I do know this, Ariane has pictures of somebody doing something that's illegal somewhere, 'cause she might be a good cook, but she's not a Top Chef.

I also know that Carla...

...looks just like Tracy Ellis Ross.

Is Carla, Diana Ross's secret love child?

Naw, kidding. At any rate, when I root, I'm a homer and I root for the home team-

Jaime? Get your spatula out and toss them like so much mango salsa!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nigella, Just Because

Nigella Lawson.

Not just as a contrast to the Padma post down below and not just because Gifted Typist brought her up, but just because...

Lucky pasta.

Who says the English are bland?

The shirt that says it all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Should I Change The Blog's Slogan?

My current slogan is "I travel, I eat and you get your daily serving of ellipses. What could be better?" Meh, not so hot. So I'm thinking of revamping it and you the reader, get to decide between-

A) "While the world unravels, Cormac Travels."

B) "The question asked on both sides of The Pond, 'is Cormac a "gourmet" or a "gourmand?"

C) "You can't spell 'cormorant' macaroni sculpture without "c-o-r-m-a-c," but why would you want to spell 'cormorant macaroni sculpture, anyway?"

D) "Cormac Travels and I didn't even get a lousy T-shirt."

E) "Cormac used to be young, fun and in no need of Tums. Now he's old, sick and he carries a box of Pocky sticks."

F) Or, do I stay with "I travel, I eat and you get your daily serving of ellipses. What could be better?"

Monday, November 17, 2008

*Sigh*, Anthony, Anthony

Courtesy of Eater SF via the Broward Palm Beach blog Short Order, great quotes of Anthony Bourdain from the Miami Book Fair.

Bourdain to Mario Batali about Gwyenth Paltrow-

“Why would you take a trip through Spain with someone who clearly doesn’t eat?”

Mario replied-

“You weren’t available and she’s much cuter.”

Uh, yeah, Anthony? Gwyenth eats, she just doesn't necessarily "keep the food down." And after the birth of "Pear," er, "Tangelo," er, "Pomelo?" Whatever the kid's name is, she actually looks even healthy at times.

Short Order also says of Tony-

Bourdain also takes a stab at the Food Network’s very skinny Robin Miller, claiming that every time she reaches for the refrigerator door, he’s afraid that her frail wrists will snap….and that his daughter cries whenever she hears Robin’s voice.

Tony on Padma-

When asked about most foodies’ favorite cooking competition, Bravo’s Top Chef (his blog for Season 3 was nominated for a Webby), Bourdain said he was a huge fan of host and fellow chef Tom Colicchio but snubbed co-host and former wife of Salman Rushdie (?!?), Padma Lakshmi. Jabbing at the beauty’s intelligence, he said she wouldn’t be his first choice for Barack Obama’s cabinet…or to host a show.

'kay, do I actually have to explain this?

I value intelligence in women and I've never been with a woman that if she wasn't at least smarter than me by thirty IQ points, she was at least more clever than me.

But when it comes to TV shows, sometimes that just goes out the window. Other than the obvious, I didn't like Padma, yet she grew on me...and I honestly can't argue this out. Just look at the pictures, Tony. She's part of the set, ya dig?

Then Signore Bourdain really steps in it with-

"Spanish ham is far superior to Italian ham."

To wit, I reply, stronzo, che cazzo stai dicendo?!

(sh*th**d, what the f**k are you saying?!)

As usual, he always redeems himself in my eyes-

At the Food & Wine Festival and while a photo was being snapped for the Miami Herald, Bourdain, while standing near a picture of his beloved Rachael Ray, wrote the numbers 666 on his hand and placed it in front of Ray’s forehead.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kids, Don't Park In Front Of The N-Judah

So it's unseasonably hot tonight. Call it mild for a summer's night, Shakespeare, but warm for a night in autumn. The Missus, The Kid and I trekked down to Tart to Tart, only it was too crowded to stay. So we got our food and drinks to go, then we schlepped back home and we saw police cars speeding up Irving Street. What the?...

There was an N-Judah Streetcar stuck in front of the stop in front at UCSF and a police car was behind it. Another police car pulled in between the two vehicles and traffic was at a crawl in both directions. There were another two streetcars waiting behind this one and that is saying something, because they usually run about seventeen to twenty minutes apart.

The 71, the bus that runs parallel to the N was already running slow because of construction on Lincoln Way, so no one is heading Downtown any time soon. So what happened? Did someone have a heart attack? Was someone run over by the N, again?


Someone parked their SUV just barely in the right of way of the streetcar. Munch and crunch. Note the dash-painted lines that show which side you should be parking or standing on. I've almost been hit by a streetcar a couple of times in my life, because I was dumb enough to forget that the trucks of the street car go one way, and the chassis can travel another.

A Muni track worker or Inspector is pulling the vehicle's body upward here, they had to get it off the tire. It was difficult to get a good shot, because the police and Muni workers kept walking in front of the camera. Hey, it's not like I can say "hey, forget about the emergency for a second, get out of the way and stop screwing up the shots for my blog!"

Kudos to everyone that helped to clear the area relatively quick, considering all the traffic that was already there from the Lincoln Way construction.

And dang, as of 11:18 PM, I scooped Greg Dewar! Excellent!
Uh, not like that will ever happen again.

Monday, November 3, 2008


My Brother-in-law "J" turned me on to a new kick, dig it. I'm sure you've had a barbecued oyster, but have you ever tried a barbecue clam?

This past August over at his house, before he threw on a marinated London broil for us, he put some medium cherry stone clams on the grill. You just put them on the grill until they open up about a quarter-inch and you take them off the grill with some tongs. Now here is the important part, you have to let them cool for at least two minutes and please be careful, because they are hot!

Give them a dash of Tabasco, and you have an outstanding appetizer. "J" had regular Tabasco and Chipotle Tabasco.

To me regular Tabasco works the best, as it doesn't overwhelm it, but adds the flavor profile.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Who Will Think Of The Vegetables?

Anyone who knows me well, will be the first to tell you that I am not one to judge others. I'm pretty much a live and let live type of person.

So when I say that Sylvester? You can do your bird role-playing all day long and I won't say anything disparaging about that...

...but when you make succotash suffer? Buddy, you are all wrong and you've got problems!

I'm not even getting into you tormenting that poor little yellow bird, because that's what cats do and I guess I will just have to live with that. No, pal, I'm talking about making vegetables suffer more than they already have to.

I mean look at "succotash," it's replete with lima beans and that in itself, already makes it one of the least desired vegetable dishes ever. Then look at that name, "succotash." The first phonetic of the word is the Algonquian synonym for the same word in English. And the "otash" in Algonquian means "I'm not eating this, let's give it to those asshat pilgrims and maybe they'll go back home to England."
In closing Sylvester The Cat, reasses your priorities and what you direct your frustrations on. Get help or it won't be the succotash that will be suffering, but you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

You Named A Restaurant "What?"

I couldn't believe my eyes when I was looking at today's paper online, the name of this restaurant up in Healdsburg, California..."Scopa."

The verb "scopare" in Italian means to "sweep." The more popular usage of said verb though, means to "f*ck."

So on your next date with an Italian national, tell she or he "I know just the right place for dinner" and be prepared to be slapped...or groped. There's no telling until you actually bring it up.

Yeah, go ahead and tell your Italian grandmother "I just ate at Scopa's last night." You better wear at least one earplug while you do that and don't be surprised by the unfriendly phone calls that you will get from the rest of the family, as an added bonus.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Top Chef Has No Love For The SF Bay Area

So this morning I read in Tablehopper that executive chef of Absinthe, Jaime Lauren is going to represent San Francisco during the upcoming season of Top Chef. Excellent, and who else is going to represent the San Francisco Bay Area? Apparently, according to Bravo, Jaime and only Jaime. Whoa, it's like being snubbed by Michelin all over again.

Say, uh, Bravo, in which city did you kick this show off? It wasn't Los Angeles, the city that is too busy being "seen" to actually eat the food, when the people down there aren't sticking their fingers down their throats (manorexia, too!). It wasn't New York, the city that prefers the safe and proven stuff. Not to mention it is possibly the only city in America where it would cost more to film than...why, San Francisco.

Yes, the very city that accepted you, Top Chef, with open arms, and made no pre-judgements about your show. You know, the city that photographed so beautifully and gave you the perfect background for you to establish your show? Yeah, you know that city, yeah, that one. The one that you now treat like a red-headed stepchild.

San Francisco: Would it be possible for us to have more than one chef on the show?
Bravo TV: Shuddup!
San Francisco: But-
Bravo TV: I said "shuddup!" Do you want to taste the back of my hand?
San Francisco: All I was asking was-
Bravo TV: Do you want to taste the back of my hand?

Sniff. Fine Bravo, be that way. We (meaning the Bay Area, not the royal "we") might watch, but we won't watch happily.

As for Jaime? You may be from the NYC, but I will be rooting for you, and only you. Show 'em the back of your hand, girl!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A House Not Even Fit For A Lollipop Kid

From Curbed SF

Remember the "Lollipop Kids" that welcomed Dorthy to "The Land of Oz?" Didn't they live in houses about as big as this?

Nine feet, ten and a half inches wide!

This makes my dinky two bedroom 760 sq. ft. apartment seem like the Taj Mahal. "Claustrophobia?" No, "ColeValleystrophobia."

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Omnivore's One Hundred

Here is a foodie meme that was swiped from Christina Faust's Deadlier Than The Male, though I think I saw it first on Creepy's a couple of weeks ago and I should've lifted it off him back then. I did a list of fifty back in '06 that was more American-based than the one the Beeb did back then. This one below strikes me one that originated on the other side of The Pond as well.

The Omnivore's Hundred

Here's the deal: 1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions. 2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten. 3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

1. Venison.
2. Nettle tea.
3. Huevos rancheros.
4. Steak tartare.
5. Crocodile (every restaurant in San Francisco that offers this dish, tends to close down before I get there).
6. Black pudding.
7. Cheese fondue.
8. Carp.
9. Borscht.
10. Baba ghanoush (my favorite vegetable dish and The Missus makes me a bowl for my birthday and for our Anniversary).

11. Calamari.
12. Pho.
13. PB&J sandwich.
14. Aloo gobi.
15. Hot dog from a street cart.
16. Epoisses (Je crois que je n'ai jamais mangé ceci, or "I believe that I have never eaten this").
17. Black truffle.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (is Boones' Farm still a right of passage amongst underage drinkers? Methinks not).
19. Steamed pork buns (part of the reason I live where I live, is the abundance of dim sum joints).
20. Pistachio ice cream.

21. Heirloom tomatoes (you can't eat any non-Asian restaurant in the Bay Area, without them trying to literally shove these down your throat).
22. Fresh wild berries.
23. Foie gras.
24. Rice and beans.
25. Brawn, or head cheese.
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (why "raw?" Cooked I've had, but "raw?").
27. Dulce de leche.
28. Oysters.
29. Baklava.
30. Bagna cauda.

31. Wasabi peas.
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl.
33. Salted lassi (I've had mango lassi, but not salted).
34. Sauerkraut.
35. Root beer float.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (separately yes, together? No).
37. Clotted cream tea.
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O.
39. Gumbo.
40. Oxtail.

41. Curried goat (yea, mon. Over here and in Jamaica).
42. Whole insects (not intentionally, though I eat about five gnats a day at work).
43. Phaal (I believe that I had this unintentionally. I ordered Vindaloo and they cooked it hot like Phaal).
44. Goat’s milk (and kefir too during my hippie childhood).
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (I've had fifteen year-old scotch that cost that much, does that count?).
46. Fugu (I'm a parent, so this is off of my to-eat list)
47. Chicken tikka masala.
48. Eel (this comes with the sushi I order).
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut.
50. Sea urchin (never again if I can help it, it's the worst sushi next to clam).

51. Prickly pear (it's not memorable at all).
52. Umeboshi (I believe I had this when I was about eleven and I remember not liking it at all).
53. Abalone (this stuff used to be so common that my mom would get fried abalone sandwiches in Half Moon Bay and I'd have crab. Both cost only $4 back in the 70's!).
54. Paneer.
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (not the meal, but unfortunately the sandwich).
56. Spaetzle.
57. Dirty gin martini (not "dirty, no).
58. Beer above 8% ABV (and for contrast? I've had the 1.5%, or whatever that water is that they serve in Utah).
59. Poutine (there's a place in Oakland that I'm going to try this at, though they make it without the authentic cheese curds. They also make #64).
60. Carob chips.

61. S’mores.
62. Sweetbreads (delicious, though I wouldn't touch them now in these mad cow days).
63. Kaolin (now does this mean "clay pot?" Because I've had clay pot cooked food).
64. Currywurst.
65. Durian.
66. Frogs’ legs (allegedly I had this when I was too young to remember, therefore it didn't make that much of an impression).
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake.
68. Haggis.
69. Fried plantain.
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (ugh, never again).

71. Gazpacho.
72. Caviar and blini.
73. Louche absinthe (I'm saving this for when I'm at my Poe/Lord Byron/Gary Oldman as Dracula-days).
74. Gjetost, or brunost (I've had all of the nasty Norwegian, Swedish and Danish cheeses. All I can say is go Italian, people, go Italian).
75. Roadkill (why? All the wonderful fresh food in the world and they put this on the list?).
76. Baijiu (will this help me get in touch with my Hakka heritage?).
77. Hostess Fruit Pie.
78. Snail (more proof that everything tastes good with garlic and butter).
79. Lapsang souchong.
80. Bellini.

81. Tom yum.
82. Eggs Benedict.
83. Pocky.
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (Michelin has no love for the Bay Area, though the bastards probably gave this hole-in-the-wall, the three-star treatment).
85. Kobe beef.
86. Hare (I've had rabbit. Once by accident and once on purpose).
87. Goulash.
88. Flowers (this was the "heirloom tomatoes" of the 80's, they put blossoms on everything).
89. Horse (insert 5th Amendment here).
90. Criollo chocolate.

91. Spam.
92. Soft shell crab.
93. Rose harissa.
94. Catfish.
95. Mole poblano.
96. Bagel and lox.
97. Lobster Thermidor (some day soon).
98. Polenta (one of the most abused food trends of the 90's.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
100. Snake (it's on my to-eat list).

There are no strike-throughs, what does this mean, people? I'll pretty much eat anything thing that is served to me and that I negotiate strike-throughs on Blogger, anyway.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

When You Think Marin, Think "Gelatin"

From now on, when you think of Marin? I want you to think "Jell-o." Liz Hickok is going to do the Marin Headlands up right, as a sculpture. This time, not only can see her artistic process unfold, but you can help her out too. I'll let Liz tell it-

I have just started a Project Space residency at the Marin Headlands (just north of San Francisco), and my art studio will be open to the public 5 days a week through October 12th. Visitors are invited to help me create Jell-O towns and cities for my time-based sculpture inspired by Marin. So please come play with Jell-O and construct the future towns of Marin.
The general public can stop by my studio, located on the 3rd floor of the main building at the Headlands, during open hours:Tuesday-Friday, and Sunday: 12-5 pm
Sept 10th-Oct 12th
944 Simmonds Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965
For directions and more info:
During my 5-week Project Space residency (Sept 9-Oct 12, 2008) at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, I will be creating a time-based and interactive Jell-O sculpture. I will be using the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Project, a currently proposed public transportation system, as inspiration for the sculpture.
This piece creates an avenue to imagine and explore how the urban landscape may change and develop over time if the SMART train project passes in the November 2008 election. Each of the five proposed train stations in Marin will become an individual Jell-O sculpture that will be displayed along a model train line in my studio. Each day I may decide to work on a different hub and experiment with how it could develop. I will use satellite maps as a starting point, but instead of creating exact replicas of the towns, I will be using generic blocks and shapes cast in Jell-O to lay out the architectural scenes.
I have invited local urban planners and designers to collaborate on how they imagine a city or town center could develop. I am also asking visitors to create their own Jell-O buildings, using the Jell-O blocks that I have cast. As time passes, each Jell-O town center will harden and decay. I may tear down an old version to create a new one. This sculptural work-in-progress will not be an argument for any particular urban form but will ideally further the conversations around urban development. The fleeting material will also clearly visualize how our urban environments are alive and changing.
If you, or someone you know, would like to participate between September 15th and October 12th, please send me an email at Or simply stop by during public hours.
If you are in the area, I would love to see you. Otherwise, please check my website soon for new pictures from my residency.
So you see, not only do you get a chance to experience interactive art, but you can help change Marin for the better. And please, to all of you would-be Andrew Zimerns? Don't eat the buildings.

Friday, September 12, 2008

So I Tried Hamachi Kama

Today was payday and in an effort to diversify The Kid's diet, we went to Kana. I don't agree with most of the Yelp reviewers, I like and in the cases of some dishes, even love the restaurant. The main thing that I love about the place is that it is the perfect restaurant to introduce a finicky twelve year-old to Japanese cuisine.

The Kid had hotate bacon, which is skewered scallops wrapped in bacon. Curried fish balls on a skewer and chicken teriyaki, with sashimi. We usually order an entree for ourselves and share a few communal dishes. Tonight the kid and I tried hamachi kama for the first time and while I could describe it to you, Metrodining will do it one better-

Hamachi Kama is the Scooby snack of sushi bars and seafood restaurants. When the chefs need a pick-me-up to sustain them through a long night of endless slicing and nodding to ignorant orderers, they know that the best part of the fish is waiting for them in back. Hamachi kama even appears on many menus and specials lists now that people have learned its secret.

The kama is the collar, or the area of the fish surrounding the first fins near the face of the fish. Unlike halibut cheeks though (halibuts are a flat fish, and the hamachi are round, or more accurately, fish shaped), this facial area of the hamachi is served with some skin and bone, especially bone.

It takes a dexterous hand with the chopsticks to pick out all of the morsels of meat nestled in the spider's web of bone, fin and flesh. But what you dig out is especially rewarding and worth all of the extra effort. Rather than being homogenous, the meat of the hamachi (also called yellowtail) collar varies tremendously from bite to bite; it can be firm or meltingly tender, a dullish gray or a dusky rose.

Regardless of texture or color, the flavor is incomparable. Up there with toro for its juiciness, the collar has a high component of fish oil, making it incredibly moist, both fattier and more flavorful than the fillets. Most often broiled and served with only the lightest brushing of glaze, the hamachi kama shines in its simplicity. The strong flavors of the fish come through, and the heat melts the natural fats of the flesh, which contributes to the high-impact richness of the dish.

"Yellowtail [hamachi] cheeks are very popular. It is a meaty area of the fish and it has a lot of flavor," says Keiko Sakuma, owner of Kaygetsu, a Japanese restaurant in Menlo Park. "We don't have a lot of it, but customers love it."

Sushi restaurants might buy three or four whole hamachi to break down into sushi and sashimi, and each one will yield only two collars. It is the lucky customer who gets to feast on this specialty portion.

Naomi Roda, an owner of Saizo restaurant in Sunnyvale, seconds this. "It is very popular; most customers really like it. There is a lot of customer demand for it." Both women also appreciate that this allows them to use more of the portions of the fish.

Well the hamachi kama we had wasn't dull and gray at all. It either had a solidity akin to the consistency of a good grilled ahi steak, or it was buttery and tender. I must say in terms of the fish itself, it definitely lived up to all the recent hype by all the blogs and magazines that have been toting as a wonderful experience.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

You Hear About It...

...I mean, you read about it and then, proof is provided by the Internet. Courtesy of the Heartless Doll, as printed in SF Weekly and brought to them via Laughing Squid, I give you the...

...Krispy Kreme Chesseburger.

Oh...hold on.


Hey, Anne, where's the defibrillator?

...I think I've had a minor coronary, just looking at that picture.

You sure as hell know that you don't need a rabbi to tell you that ain't tref.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I Missed Out On The Slow Food Nation

They had a Slow Food Nation gathering at Fort Mason and we missed out. I'm sure The Kid would've loved the Charcuterie Pavilion, but we're on a budget. As I checked out Eater SF to see what we missed, I noticed something about this picture...

...look at that fish in the bottom left corner, do you see it? Now move yourself to the right of your move yourself to the left of the monitor. What, you don't see it? The fish's eyes, they follow you around the room. Oooooh, spooky!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Baroness Triggers A Memory

In a post, The Baroness said-

*International Curse Word of the Day: Muenster - some wretched French comestible, passed off as "gourmet" fromage, which is, in truth, rancid foot fungus scraped off of a marathoner's post-race sock, "smoked" over a Galois cigarette, then shaped into a misleadingly appetizing cheese wheel.

The sensory assault which ensues can only be expelled by either rubbing the side of one's tongue on a belt sander, or by a radical taste-bud-ectomy.

Ah yes, France. Most of memories of Paris were horrible, yet I still don't blame Parisians...mostly because they are Parisians. Because they live in such a wonderful city, they are in a way, petulant, existentialist teenagers bored on wine, and ennui. As a word, "jaded" doesn't even come close.

I haven't had Muenster in awhile, though I somehow don't remember it tasting much like we would imagine the monster family of the same name could. I do remember being in Paris during the year of Orwell and we went to a restaurant that literally had cheese on the walls. I mean in every free space, every alcove and all the way literally up to the rafters. Being the young ugly American that I was, of course I wanted a steak with fries, don't spare the steer, garçon. The best the waiter could provide was a salad with a little jambon.

The waiter did not appreciate my attitude, and everything went downhill from there. Let me just say that his English was superb, so he was used to Les Américains barbares. My problem was that French cheese for me, was just for appetizers and only appetizers. I wanted heartier fare...coq au vin, bœuf Bourguignon and the like. Not the appetizers and rabbit food that they dished.

I spent more time arguing than eating that night. Of course because of my age, I wasn't savvy enough to know that if you piss off the waitstaff or the cooks, you will get something undesired in your food. Then came desert and you know that I was still starved by then. If you also know this branch of Le Cuisine de France, then you know that half of the deserts available at that restaurant were cheese.

I didn't say it out loud, but he surmised from the look on my face was "again with the (expletive) cheese?" I ordered ananas, which in my nineteen year-old mind equaled "bananas" and if you had just one year of French in junior high school, you'd think the same thing to...that, and Madeline Alvarez looked hella hot in that sweater.

The word next to ananas? I couldn't read it though in retrospect, it was probably sorbet. God, I'd like to go back into a time machine some twenty-four years and just slap some sense into myself. So he put this small dish in front of me and I said where is the ananas?

"They are right there."

I'm looking for bananas. I envisioned something similar to bananas Foster.

"C'mon, don't mess with me, where are the ananas?

"There...right there. There! La!"

Words and gestures were exchanged...and for short time, cutlery was almost involved. No the police weren't called, although now? I wouldn't even dare to walk within a block of that place, as I imagine that they still have a picture of me up in the kitchen with these words-

Cormac est voulu mort...or mort! Le coût n'est pas d'objet !
(Cormac is wanted dead...or dead! Cost is no object!)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Saw A Celebrity And His Posture Was Perfect

"Sure baby, mañana." It was always mañana. For the next week that was all I heard--mañana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven.

Page 94 of "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac

This passage is especially fitting, since I've put off this post for nearly a month now. Soooo, I saw a celebrity and his posture was perfect, Warren Zevon. Just who was he? You'll have to get to the bottom of this absurd post to find out and no scrolling past the lumpy gravy or you'll miss out on a feast of a tale.

For the first time in my life, I have actually contemplated moving back East. I was happy, being there with my in-laws and while I don't know where I am in Manhattan half of the time, at least I am never truly "lost."

I do find it odd that people cannot divine inspiration from the normal chaos in their lives. Kerouac and so many before and after him, had to discover the vast wide spaces of America, to discover themselves and their writing voices. I have found that being in the middle of nowhere does nothing for my inner narrative nor does being around stable people that I love.

If anything, it is the exact opposite. I write best in the City of Saint Francis...stepping over the junkie panhandlers with their pit bulls. Dodging obnoxious yuppies, SUVs, bullets, prostitutes, trannies, and street preachers. This is where I write best.


That's the voice of the Garmin GPS when you don't take the given route. Sometimes it's fun just to make a wrong turn, just to hear that voice say "recalculating..." Sometimes it's completely accidental, because other drivers won't let you over. Though at one point, the thing got made at me when I didn't take prescribed route and I stayed on Main Street, so it tried to send me to the other side of town.

I mean, what if I drove the car into the Long Island Sound?


Car does not belong in water, please turn back.


Please unplug me and throw me back towards the shore.


I don't like water, please, throw me back to the shore before it is too late.


Look, you bastard, either you toss me back to the shore, or I will shock you with every bit of electricity that's in the car's battery!

On our last night in New York (that is Long Island), I was driving my Mother-in-law's car and we didn't have the Garmin because that came with the rental car, we got lossssst-ah. One of my Brother-in-law's gave me an exit number which I became fixated on and needless to say, we were on the wrong freeway for that particular exit.

No problem, we only overshot our destination by a couple of towns and I had managed to negotiate a nice detour through the Miracle Mile. I recognized the corners, but most of the stores have been completely revamped. The thing that gets me is that the Missus rarely knows where we are, whenever get east or south of Hicksville and she lived here some eighteen years. I guess she is truly a California girl now.

And now? The finale-

So we flew Virgin back and we hit a bit of a bottleneck going through security. It seems everyone was flying that Saturday and the line was a little exhausting. We bought some food, because The Kid doesn't like the roast beef wraps that Virgin serves up and we sat down.

There's a guy sitting across from us who seemed fairly non-descript in a person-watching sense, I didn't see anything I could draw from him, writing-wise until I saw what he was reading. It was a magazine about fantastical and mythical creatures, and this magazine seemed to be pushing these creatures as real. This gentlemen had the magazine folded over and the page that was facing me, had an article about the "The Cat Woman of Brazil."

So my eyes wandered up from the magazine to see who would read this stuff, I knew that it wasn't John Carlucci, because I've seen a picture of him on Facebook before he took it down, though John would've been my first guess. As I looked up, I recognized this guy and my eyes bulged out like a Tex Avery cartoon, good gravy! An Oscar-nominated actor was just sitting there reading this magazine and he had a look on his face like "crap, I've been recognized!"

I opened up my cell phone and was careful not to make it seem like I was taking a picture, and thus, spooking the guy. I typed a message into my cell phone and showed it to my wife...

Don't look up right away, be cool. Paul Giamatti is sitting right across from us.

She looked up after a few moments, very casually, but he knew we were going to be staring at him from here on out. I was so trashed from the trip, that I completely forgot "American Splendor" and "The Illusionist," or I would've pestered him right away. You see, I believe that celebrities should be left alone, it's just the way it's done in New York and that was the way it used to be done in San Francisco, back when we were the playground to the stars before Vegas.

The two main reasons why I didn't recognize him right away, was because his posture is so much better in person. So much so, that you realize that he is hardcore method, the guy gets completely into character when he is on screen. He also looks much better in person to the point that he can pretty much travel incognito, as long as no one studies his face for more than a few seconds.

You'd think that I was the only one, John Lennon, but no one else recognized him right away either. I pointed him out to The Kid, who only knows him from Big Fat Liar and The Kid was suitably impressed. I tried to get The Kid to ask him for an autograph, because I'm a coward like that. The Kid wouldn't do it. In retrospect, I should've threatened to cut off his XBox 360 privledges to force him to get that autograph, because I'm a bastard like that.

Paul was trying to stay below the radar as much as possible, he sat in the third to last row, instead of First Class. He had his headphones on the whole time and the few times I got up, either to use the restroom or let The Missus or The Kid back into the seats, he wasn't talking to anyone nor was anyone bothering him.

We landed at LAX for our stopover and I called Katie about my Giamatti sighting...she of course wasn't home. She has a life and stuff, so I left a message. Then of course Paul walks right by just as I hung up. I was going to get his autograph, but The Missus said to leave him alone and you figure that if someone waits that long to leave a plane, they don't want to be bothered.

An elderly Indian lady in a sari recognized him right away and he smiled at her. This was a fitting ending to a brief quasi-surreal encounter.

Paul: You want to know true terror? I survived a flight with Cormac Brown.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Into The Trailer Park

Suddenly I found myself on Times Square. I had traveled eight thousand miles around the American continent and I was back on Times Square; and right in the middle of a rush hour, too, seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic hooair of New York with its millions and millions of hustling fortaking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemetery cities beyond Long Island City.

Page 106 of "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac

I always get turned around in Times Square and this trip was no acception. We were looking for Jamba Juice because The Kid for the most part, still doesn't eat his vegetables. We couldn't find it and it turned out that I herded us one block short of where it actually it was. This would happen again and to make things worse, Starbucks's fruit shakes were fairly horrid and Jamba was giving out two-for-one coupons for just that day.

We were staying at Holiday Inn near Columbus Circle, when I told everyone before we got to New York that we would be near Times Square. I emailed Coaster, Chelene and Becky the Friday before we got there, to ask them all out to dinner (just like last year).

Coaster was the first to respond and he was to be in Boston on Tuesday night and he and George had another engagement on Wednesday. Becky was the next to respond and her calendar was so full that it seemed like she would be exhausted for Tuesday. So I suggested Wednesday instead.

Chelene was the next to respond and Tuesday seemed difficult. So it looked like Wednesday and I left the choice of restaurants up to them. Tuesday, The Missus, The Kid and I went to Mama Sbarro's which is like Sbarro's, only with better food and some of the dishes are even good. I am a sucker for hearty Italian fare, so it doesn't have to great everytime, but cooked as if some Italian mother put some amount of love in the dish.

Becky came up with Trailer Park Restaurant, which is a fun little dive in the Chelsea district in Manhattan.

A hip little exterior, right? Chelene couldn't make, major work changes both that night and the next day. The wonderful Becky did show and they were both patient, as this required more phone tag than I would've liked, as I don't have the Internet on my phone.

If you look at the top left of this picture, you'll see the official "Trailer Park T-shirts and panties." The Missus said she was going to get a pair of the French cuts with the slogan and I said "hell-to-the-no!"

There are about eight tables in the joint and only four of them could seat our party of four. These faux hipsters were just taking up space, neither eating or giving up their seats. Let's see, I will coin a new phrase for them...let's see, faux + hipster = "fipsters?"

We talked to Becky for a bunch and we tried to tough it out for one of those precious tables. Becky and I agreed that Bubs would love Trailer Park.

Elvis has arrived at the building! So what do you say, Bubs, would this place make your list? We got sick of waiting and we made for Dallas BBQ. They have pretty good food and seats. Go figure.

Becky was a blast to talk to. She was nice enough to put a stay on the restraining order she has out on me. You already know that she is up on all things pop culture and she really knows her 70's music.
This restaurant serves nothing but "burgers and cupcakes." Insert your own dirty joke here. Unfortunately I dashed down the street when we left Trailer Park to take a picture of this...

It's the famous Hotel Chelsea!

Just looking at this place makes me want to write or something and I'm not entirely sure just why. Either that or shoot heroin while the ghost of Cornell Woolrich hovers over me. I'm pissed because I ran down the streets to get a picture of this and I didn't get a picture of Becky and us together.

I mean, it's Blogger tradition, ya know? Well, here's the one from last year to make up for it...

On the next post? A celebrity encounter of the worst kind.