Towse: views from the hill

April 12, 2006

And a big thanks to Restaurant Whore

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 12:46 am

And a big thanks to Restaurant Whore AKA Joy at Confessions of a Restaurant Whore for writing yesterday about her search for some place — any place — in the greater San Francisco area where she could find tasty, ungussied-up Maine lobster.

She gave a heads-up to and a thumbs-up for Old Port Lobster Shack on Veterans Boulevard in Redwood City.

As a result of the ensuing discussion in the comments tail and because the whole discussion was making me crave lobster, I asked his nibs, who was down in the South Bay today, to swing by Marina Food (10122 Bandley Dr, Cupertino, near the corner of Stevens Creek Blvd and Saratoga-Sunnyvale Rd) and pick up some live Maine lobster for dinner.

We needed, I told him, to check and report back on the liveliness of the lobster and the current price at Marina. Dinner tonight and ‘rolls tomorrow will be our sacrifice for the communal knowledge base!

(Report: Very lively! Price: $11.99/lb)

Update:… and live Dungeness crab. $2.99/lb, according to his nibs.

Ah. Maine lobster. Melted butter for dipping. Acme sour batard for sopping up the mess. A bit of green salad with balsamic dressing because his nibs seems to think I need to eat more green stuff. I’ll be one happy camper at supper tonight.

Next up, we’ll have to check out the live Maine lobster at Ranch 99 and do a compare and contrast report. Don’t you think? For the common knowledge base!

For Nobody and other Ding Dong fans

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 12:30 am

For Nobody and other Ding Dong fans:

A cartoon from Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

[WRITING] SFF story prompt

Filed under: writing — Towse @ 12:01 am

  Posted by Picasa

I finally had my camera with me as I passed this business. This sign is on the door of a building on Grant across from Washington Mutual Bank. There’s another, bigger sign on the side of the building at the corner of Grant and Pacific, on Pacific. I’ve wondered since the day I first saw the signs, what if the owners really do mean Golden ‘Time Travel’?


[SFX] Twilight Zone theme

April 11, 2006

ALA’s Booklist is now online

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 9:23 pm

ALA’s Booklist is now online.

The reviews database and some sections are subscription-based. Other sections (like Review of the Day and other content on the “front” page) are free.

Booklist offers a free 30-day trial subscription. Subscriptions aren’t cheap: $89.95/yr. $170/ 2yrs.


Slow loading.

[WRITING CONTEST] Murder at the Mustard Museum

Filed under: writing-market — Towse @ 6:48 pm

Deadline: must be postmarked by 15 May 2006
No entry fee. Entries must be in English.

Complete description, rules, and more…

The 2005-06 Mustard Mystery Contest is a writing contest. Chapter One of Murder at the Mustard Museum is complete and appears in the 2005-06 catalog of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum and on this web site. Contestants will write their best Chapter 2 and a summary of how the story turns out for the opportunity to win the Grand Prize of $5,000.

Who can enter? The 2005-06 Mustard Mystery Contest, is open to all writers and aspiring writers, with the exception of employees of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, sponsors of the Mustard Museum or of this contest, as listed below. Entrants under the age of 18 may must have the written consent of a parent or legal guardian. Only one entry per person. There is no entry fee. No purchase of mustard or products from the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum is necessary.

Collaborative efforts are welcome but only one prize for a winning entry will be awarded.

Judging criteria. Judging will be on the basis of literary merit and the creative use of mustard in the story line. Photographs, drawings, or any other illustrations should not be sent and will not be considered.


Remember each entry will consist of two writings – a completed Chapter Two (not to exceed 2,500 words) and a summary of how the mystery turns out (not to exceed 800 words).


Entries become the property of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum. The winning entry will become the basis for a finished novel to be published by the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum.

Chapter One

[FOOD] Restaurant Lulu (SoMa)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 3:45 pm

Restaurant Lulu
816 Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 495-5775

The weather yesterday afternoon was overcast a bit, but walkable. We decided to chance a walk to dinner and made reservations at Open Table for a restaurant we’d heard a lot about but had never been to: Restaurant Lulu, south of Market.

The walk there took about an hour. It would’ve taken less if I’d made sure where the restaurant was. His nibs made the reservation and (luckily!) printed out the specifics. We’re walking down Montgomery, toward Market, then down Market. He tells me Lulu is between 4th and 5th, so we turn down 4th. “How far are we going?” I asked. “What street is it on? Brannan?”

“Yes,” he answered.

Well, the upshot is that I’d asked whether Lulu was on Brannan, and he’d said it was, so we walked down to Brannan, cutting over to Fifth on our way. We get to the corner of Fifth and Brannan and I ask, “What’s the address?” so I can decide whether we need to cross Brannan.

He looks at the piece of paper he’s fished out of his pocket and sez, “816 Folsom.”

“Folsom? You said, ‘Brannan’”
“Well, I meant ‘Folsom.’ We just need to go another block or two.”
“No. We’ve gone too far. We passed Folsom several blocks back.”
“We did?”
“Sure. That’s Townsend up there. After that, there be dragons.”

So, we turned and retraced our steps.
Total distance to dinner: ~ 3.2 miles
Total distance home from dinner: ~ 2.6 miles plus a .25 mile diversion …

Walking is good for you … and we were just a couple minutes late.

The restaurant is interesting, a rebuilt warehouse with arched wood roof. The main room faces the wood-fired ovens and rotisserie and is big, with side rooms where Restaurant Lulu was seating large parties last night. (The American Educational Research Association and other conventions were in town, and Lulu is just a block from the Moscone.) Dress is casual for both customers and wait staff, who all wear Levis or something close thereto.

The menu is Provençal and changes every day, depending on what the chef has available. Small plates. Large plates. Sharing. You get a small-ish plate and the entrees come in big dishes with a serving fork and spoon. The intent is to divvy up what’s there between the folks at the table.

Our waiter last night had the most incredible voice. If I’d been a voice agent, I would’ve lured him away from his wait job. He went over the menu, what the specials were, what the signature dishes were, and left.

Two women were seated at the table to the left of me. After a bit and before they ordered, they asked to eat at the bar. One of them had an ear infection, she said, and couldn’t hear the other. Moved they were, and the table settings replaced.

The tables at Restaurant Lulu are fairly close together, and the place is pretty big. The restaurant is noisy, but not as noisy as some places we’ve been to. We could talk without shouting. We did joke about learning ASL, however. Of course, it was a Monday night. Fridays and Saturdays are undoubtedly noisier.

When our waiter came back after what seemed a long while, we gave him our dinner order and asked for one of the three Cabernet Francs on the wine list, the Andrew Rich from Oregon.

THREE! Cabernet Francs.

The wine list was amazing. A whole slew of wines by the glass. Another whole slew of DRCs. Not an inexpensive wine list, his nibs told me, but far larger than we’d expected. DRCs! A whole slew! Some day maybe we’ll have the spare change to go out to dinner and spend hundreds of dollars on a bottle of wine.

The waiter headed back to the kitchen with our order and the bus staff brought fresh rosemary bread and butter. The bread wasn’t warm — one of my mum’s pet peeves about most restaurants — but was delicious.

We started off with an appetizer plate: choose three from the choices available. We chose rabbit rillettes, foie gras (a soft pate), and smoked salmon. We both agreed that the foie was the best of the three. The rabbit rillettes were tasty as well. The salmon was salmon on a toast round. Nothing special. Sure, it was shaped like a rosette and sprinkled with dill, but that was about all there was to it. Three bits of three choices. Hm. Not easily divisible by two. We decided to have one each of the three and then split the third piece of each choice in half and share.

Another pair of women were seated next to us. These women were very loud and obviously, from their conversation, from the American Educational Research Association convention. I mean really loud. I didn’t wince. I know I didn’t and neither did his nibs, but they must’ve noticed a wince from someone else in the near vicinity because, before they even got around to ordering, they asked to move to a small table over against the west wall and picked up their menus and moved before the waiter had a chance to check to see if that was okay with the room host.

Next a couple, obviously from the American Educational Research Association convention from their conversation, were seated next to us. Trust me. This restaurant is not the place to have an intimate, private conversation, not that this couple was doing so. This couple was still there when we left so it really wasn’t us who were driving the other patrons to other seating.

His nibs ordered the Monday night special, rotisserie veal, served on greens. The bit I had was tasty, juicy, flavorful.

I had the short ribs, which were excellent. Tender. Flavorful. Falling off the bone. The sauce was dark and tasty, but, like last night, a bit too salty from added bacon. What’s up with that? The small bite-sized potatoes that accompanied the meat were also very tasty, cooked with the broth and garlic. Both main dish serving sizes were generous, but just as well I didn’t have a spoon (other than the “serving” fork and spoon that come with the family style dishes) because the salty sauce left in the dish would not have been good for me.

For dessert his nibs order their trio of sorbets: grapefruit, orange and apple-cinnamon. The sorbets were fine, but nothing to die for. The dessert wine selections take up the entire verso of the dessert menu and include way more single malt scotches than I’m used to seeing on a dessert menu. I was tempted, but knowing what a bottle of Talisker costs and what their per-glass price was, I decided not to go that route. I ordered my usual glass of Bonny Doon Vin de Glacière.

Glad we tried Restaurant Lulu, just to see why they make the SFC list of Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants, but we agreed that we don’t think we’ll be back. There are so many restaurants in this city that there’s no reason to return to a restaurant that doesn’t serve a meal that knocks your socks off. Restaurant Lulu is the perfect place if you have a large party, or you’re at Moscone and need to go to dinner. If I’m going to walk that far, though, I need to have food like the seared foie gras or sweetbreads at Isa to lure me.

We walked home up 4th to Mission and up Mission until we cut over to Market. We were going to walk home on the Embarcadero but changed our minds, so we headed north on Battery, then headed left and backtracked up to Montgomery (there’s that extra quarter mile of distance) and home that way.

Passed by the new Myth Cafe (opened at the beginning of April) at the corner of Montgomery and Pacific. Checked out the menu. Yummy looking food for real reasonable prices. We loved the only dinner we’ve had at Myth and will certainly return some day for seconds. Maybe to celebrate the long-awaited closing of escrow? Say. There’s an idea.

Myth Cafe used to be Zeroº. Before it became Myth Cafe, the signage out front amused me no end, because it reminded me of a guy I know from the ‘net who calls himself Zero. Oh, well. Call me easily amused.

Myth Cafe. On my list of places to check out soon.


Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 3:16 pm

Unlike some people I’ve heard tell of, my neighbors don’t complain about the sound of chimes, bless them.

(I’ve heard tales of some folks who moved into a condo off Telegraph Hill Blvd and hung chimes only to have their neighbors ask — nay, tell — them to take the chimes down. Noise, doncha know.)

I love the sound of chimes and have seven or eight sets hanging from the spiral fire escape. Over the weekend, I repaired and rehung two sets that had been damaged in an earlier storm.

But now, the wind is kicking up and the chimes are raising a ruckus. I needs must go out on the fire escape and lay the chimes flat on the stairs so they won’t blow away or break in the wind.     Done!

Word on KCBS this morning was that the north bay is due for 4″ of rain today with this storm that’s coming ashore. I’m watching the radar and, by golly, here she comes …

April 10, 2006

[FOOD] Garçon! (at Valencia and 22d) & Adventures in Moving (or Public Transit from Here to There)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:59 pm

1101 Valencia St. SF, CA 94110
(415) 401-8959

“The rain’s stopped for a bit,” his nibs said. “Let’s find someplace to eat out in the Mission or Noe Valley and go out early and roam around an unfamiliar neighborhood before dinner.”

Sounded good to me, so we proceeded to spend a significant chunk of time thumbing through restaurant names, checking to see who was open on Sundays, what did they serve, were they located in a roamable neighborhood. …

We finally settled on Garçon! at the corner of 22d and Valencia and booked a 7 p.m. seating with Open Table.

Alas, all good plans and all that. The rains started up again. The pinpoint Doppler radar at CBS showed that a wave of showers was headed through and would then taper off. We waited another thirty minutes for the showers to let up, then headed down to the F-Line. … and just missed a trolley.

Well, another one would be by in ten minutes or so, but …

… but it wasn’t.

Four jampacked-full F-line trolleys headed the other way, toward Fisherman’s Wharf, before the next F-line trolley headed our way. That trolley was too full to stop. We waited some more. By now we were standing under the roof of the stop, avoiding the drizzle. Five or so other people had joined us. Another F-line headed to the Castro showed up. It too was packed. The driver took pity on us, though. He opened the back door for us to get on because there was no way we could get on through the front. We’d pay our fare on the next leg.

We got off at Market to wait for the 14 out Mission. Every eight or nine minutes, the schedule said. Quite a while later (far, far longer than nine minutes), a reticulated 14 arrived and let us on. There was one other rider on the bus.

The bus turned the corner onto Steuart and stopped outside the Quiznos. The driver needed a bathroom break and flushed us off the bus. A while later, duty done, she got back on, let us back in and headed out. There were now all of five people on this huge bus. What’s up with that?

By the time we left downtown and headed out Mission, the bus was packed full. The passengers packed in more and more densely as new passengers piled on at each stop.

A nodding-off girl hanging onto a strap in front of me took out her cellphone.
“Are you holding?”
“I said, ‘Are you holding?’”
“Look, I’m leaving for Southern California tomorrow morning. I only need enough to tide me over tomorrow morning until I leave.”
“How much for …”
“You’re expecting some, though, right?”
“It’s going to be delivered soon, right?”
“Look, can I come by the house?”
“OK. I’ll stop off at Walgreen’s and pick up a rig and then come over. 0-5-4-9, right?”

I thought to myself, how dumb is that. If I were looking to knock over someone picking up drugs, I’d follow this girl off, wait while she went to Walgreen’s, wait while she stopped by the house, then mug her as she came out.


She sure didn’t need any drugs at this moment in time. What was she scoring for? Oh, tomorrow morning. Maybe she was just planning ahead for the morning. She didn’t look like her brain was in any shape to plan. Her eyes glazed over and she nodded off, then woke up in time to get off at at 16th and Mission, across from the Walgreen’s.

By now, our plans to poke our noses around the neighborhood were moot. What should’ve been a half-hour trip had taken forever. The bus was far more crowded than I’m comfortable with. I was glad we’d got on when it was relatively empty and I could find a seat.

The crowd of people was getting to me. We shoved (literally!) our way off the 14 a stop early, getting off at 21st. We walked down Mission to 22d, hung a right and walked a couple blocks up to Valencia, arriving ten minutes before our reservation. There was one other couple in the place, a guy and a woman, who were well into their meal. They had two bottles of wine on the table, two sets of glasses, and were discussing their food in low voices.

We settled down at our places. The restaurant is relatively small, with a lounge between the restaurant/bar and the kitchen. A singleton bathroom is off the lounge on your left, just before you get to the kitchen.

The main room is painted beige and shades of brown. Windows look out on Valencia and 22d. We could see what used to be an old drugstore with original signage on the other side of 22d.

The tables have paper covers. The ambiance is low-key. The staff is thin and speaketh with French accents. The bus staff is excellent.

We were told up front that there was no ahi tuna appetizer. The soup of the day was asparagus with a touch of cream. After much deliberation, we ordered and his nibs chose a cabernet franc from the wine menu.

His nibs had the French Onion Soup gratinee, which Bauer praised yesterday as the best in town. I had the Salmon Tart, a thin crust cracker base with smoked salmon and capers, crème fraiche and red onions on top. The tart came with a green frissee salad with a touch of Dijon vinaigrette. The tart had a touch of Dijon dressing beneath the salmon and capers as well. We were both pleased with our choices.

For a main dish, his nibs had the Papillotte of Sole, cooked with black olives, peppers, tomatoes, basil. A large leaf of basil topped the fish during cooking. The kitchen crowned the sole with a blop (as his nibs put it) of crème fraiche after they opened the parchment.

I had the Duck Confit with Pommes Sarladaises, bacon and mushrooms. The dish was settled on a bed of frissee. The duck was a bit dry, but there was enough juice to offset that problem. The skin was crackly, just like I like it. The mushrooms were definitely Ym. The bacon added a touch too much salt to the dish. I don’t know how the confit would have fared without the added bacon taste, though, or I’d suggest just leaving the bacon out. The best duck confit I ever had was in an inn in the Dordogne. This dish, albeit tasty, was nowhere near knocking that dish off its pedestal.

Dessert was the Floating Island with a small pour of their recommended accompanying dessert wine, one order of dessert/wine shared. His nibs had most of the Floating Island. I had most of the dessert wine. The Floating Island was fab. The meringue was solid but not too so. The creme anglaise was delightful. Meringue. Creme anglaise. Tasty. What’s not to like? I can make Ile Flottante myself, but it’s so much nicer to have someone else go to the bother, and I couldn’t’ve made it any better. The dessert wine tasted better with the dessert than on its own. I am partial to Bonny Doon’s Vin de Glacière and wish it had been a choice.

By the time we were ready to leave, the restaurant had pretty much filled up. Not bad for a Sunday night. I got up to use the bathroom before we trekked home and moved the small table so I could squeeze out, knocking my water glass, which hit the floor with a splatter and crash. The staff, which seemed used to people knocking things about as they squeezed past the tables, were there in a jiffy. The mess was cleared by the time I arrived back to the table.

We walked the two blocks back to Mission and waited a bit for the 14-bus. Got off near Steuart and Market. Looked all the way up Market but couldn’t see an F-line coming, so we walked the mile-plus or so up the Embarcadero to Levi’s Plaza and Filbert and on home. Glad I was we’d decided to walk, because the F-line never came.

If you’ve got the time, public transit in San Francisco works like a charm. You never have far to walk. You can usually get anywhere you want to go directly or with one transfer. Sometimes, though, the connections don’t synch, or the ride doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to. Take your time. Count on delays. My ride to jury duty last Thursday took minimal time. The ride to dinner yesterday took far, far too long.

If you don’t have the time? Well, you can always pay $20 (one-way) — our estimate of what a taxi ride to 22d and Valencia would’ve cost us — for a taxi instead of the $1.50 public transit will set you back.

Paxton Gate, Rogue Taxidermy. PETA members please skip this post.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:23 pm

I wrote about Paxton Gate a while back, but my short bit didn’t quite capture some of the weirdness that ripples into view when you come across a place like Paxton Gate. The article on Christopher Moore reminded me of those ripples of weirdness, when I trundled off to find a link to Monique Motil‘s work.

The first link I found, which gave me the link to Motil above, was to the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists.

Monique Motil is a working member of the group. Hm. Interesting stuff.

Who besides Motil is a member of the group? Well, the first person I clicked through was Jeanie M. Whoa!

 Posted by Hello

Jeanie M lives here in town and is the person who created the mouse angels that intrigued me at Paxton Gate.

Strange taxidermy? How about this Jeanie M. model of Saint Sebastian? Jeanie M. also has pics of Bride And Groom mice pairings she’s created for wedding cakes. Check out her gallery.

Um. Yes.

Click through the other Rogue Taxidermy members and the interesting links at your own risk.

Article on Christopher Moore in today’s SFC

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:14 pm

Comic horror author writes of Death’s antics in S.F. — ‘A Dirty Job,’ but somebody had to do it by Marta Acosta, Special to The Chronicle / Monday, April 10, 2006

The article mentions Paxton Gate, a verrry cool place over on Valencia. Moore used some of Monique Motil’s “Sartorial Creatures” in A DIRTY JOB, his latest book.

PLUS! Moore’s moving back to San Francisco in June to write a sequel to BLOODSUCKING FIENDS.

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