CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Saturday, October 29, 2005

V is for Victory

Like most celebrations, this one flew by so fast that I can hardly believe it happened.

The shower, my friends, is over.

And it fucking rocked, if I do say so myself.

I put my money where my mouth was and served up some tasty eats if I do say so myself. And the expectant parents were their wonderful, gracious selves, reminding me why we chose to do this in the first place. Lucky baby, this child will be. Plus, they got us a gift certificate to A16 as a (totally unnecessary) thank you gift. That's good for a shitload of free babysitting.

Thanks to all of you who cheered me on. It made me smile in between tearing out of fistfuls of my own hair (God, I hate doing fucking crumb coats on my cakes!).

And thanks, especially, to G&A, who have been such good sports about my ranting, and such good friends about, well, everything. In the grand scheme of things, a baby shower is the very least we could do.

I promise to return with your regularly scheduled programming by Wednesday. With an actual restaurant review and everything. For now, I'm going out to get my drink on, in a monster truck sized kind of way.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Friday, October 28, 2005

Not Dead...But Close

To those of you that have inquired, I am still on the map, and mid-way through a Coco500 post, but that aforementioned baby shower? Yeah, it's tomorrow.

Hara kiri never looked so good.

The man at the deli counter at Whole Foods last night didn't help, when after waiting 750 years for my fucking turn, he gave me the wrong amount of ham for my itty bitty ham and swiss sandwiches. And I did not realize this until leaving the counter. So I then, again, had to wade through the Whole Foods crowd, which, apparently, is comprised of the STUPIDEST PEOPLE ON THE WHOLE DAMN PLANET.

And would someone please tell me why, after years of having them, Costco no longer has mini Aidells sausages? AND NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE. AND I NEED THEM BECAUSE MY FRIENDS ARE HAVING A BOY GODDAMNIT AND I WANT TO MAKE A CHILDISH PENIS JOKE WITH MY HORS D'OEUVRES.

Seriously, kids, I'm losing it.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Monday, October 24, 2005

I Heart Costco

Costco may be my favorite non-restaurant place ever. I just love it. In fact, I was at two different Costcos on Saturday and then another one on Sunday. Just something about being there just makes me all Zen and shit. But I've never been a buy my food there kind of gal, because, well, who really needs five pounds of cheese? I'm usually there buying household appliances or deoderant or books or something.

But right now, they have big ol' things of chanterelle mushrooms for $6.99. Pretty fucking awesome, right? And they *do* sell organic lettuce.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Monday, October 17, 2005

I'm Ready to Stick a Chopstick in My Eye (Deep Sushi -- update)

The title is a direct quote from Jon this evening. We decided to get some sushi at Deep. What a fucking mistake.

There were three of us. We arrived, with reservation, at 7:30. We ordered by 7:40. Our first pieces of food (edamame and miso soup) arrived at EIGHT FUCKING THIRTY.

There was only one server. And two sushi chefs. They would bring us one thing, and then it would be twenty minutes before the next thing would come. It was RIDICULOUS.

I've had bad service there before, such as when my dining companion was served her entire order before any of mine came when I was clearly on the verge of dying from low blood sugar. I think they finally brought my food when I passed out on their floor. They are just so fucking clueless there.

Their fish is good, but their service just sucks balls. I just can't ignore it any longer. SUCK SUCK SUCK.

This was not "pacing" by any means. This was just bad service and worse management. All three of us went from patient (and even sympathetic to the lone server) to annoyed to irate.

The kicker was when part of our order finally did come, missing the quail egg that presumably makes the roll as expensive as it is. Grrrrr...

It was so awful, and we were so helpless, that I honestly began to understand what drives monkeys to throw feces when they are irritated. I was on the verge of ripping off my sandal and hurling it myself.

I hate writing this because I love, no, ADORE servers and have more respect for what they do than almost any other profession. But this was just too awful to ignore.

I hate it when my tricks are bad. It just leaves me feeling dirty and regretful.

Did I mention that it sucked?


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

What Happens in Vegas...

That's right, I'm going to Vegas tomorrow. For two days only. Without Jon. Not nearly as exciting as that sounds, as I will be with one of my friends, who is pregnant AND vegetarian. But I'm going to shove some fine eats down my pie hole if it kills me.

If anyone wants to chime in with where I should go, have at it. My last visit was about a year ago, so pipe up with any new places I should know about.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Special Order

We had the privilege of paying our second visit to Manresa last night. We had the even greater privilege of sharing that meal with two people who have very rapidly become some of our most favorite human beings in the universe. No small task considering our slightly misanthropic tendencies.

Manresa, in short, fucking rocks.

We were blown away on our first visit, but this second one took it to a whole new level.

A level on which, I might add, I strayed far, far, far outside my usual culinary boundaries. As did the others at our table. And I'm really, really glad I did.

I really hope at some point to post about this FIVE AND A HALF HOUR meal, but I know that writing it will take me at least as long as the meal itself. That said, this meal could not go with out *some* mention, hence I managed to drag my tired, bloated ass to the computer for today's post.

For now, I leave you with the knowledge that Manresa is as extraordinary as anyone has told you, David Kinch is not only a talented chef, but a charming man and the company couldn't be beat. Meals rarely get more perfect than that.

If you haven't yet eaten there, just go for Christ's sake. You won't regret it.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Nostalgia in a Glass

Sorry about that tattoo post, folks. Brian meant to post it on his blog and accidentally posted it on mine -- I was as surprised to see it as you were.

At any rate, Jon and I popped into Luna Park last night for a late night snack of their classics (goat cheese fondue, tuna poke and s'mores) and I noticed they had a new drink.

The Raspberry Lime Rickey.

Now lately, I've been waxing poetic about this drink from my youth. Found on the east coast, a Raspberry Lime Rickey is made of soda water, lime juice and raspberry syrup. And I *really* miss them, especially during the warm months. They just taste like summer to me (although Chez Panisse's strawberry sorbet can give them a run for their money on that one).

Luna Park's version has Hangar One lime Vodka, lime juice, pureed raspberries and *I think* a splash of soda all on the rocks. I tried to fool myself and the waitress by saying I wasn't drinking that night, but one sip of Jon's and I had to get one of my own. Now I'm not usually one to get excited about a non-wine related drink. This is a fantastic fucking drink.

So fantastic, in fact, that I daresay it's the best goddamn drink I've had in a good long while. And I made sure to tell them so.

I see many, many more of them in my future.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Heart's Desire (Desiree Cafe -- San Francisco, CA)

***DECEMBER 23, 2005: I am so, so, SO sad to report that Desiree has now closed. There is hope since Anne plans to start something else up soon...stay tuned...***

Due to the fact that October is jam packed with Jewish holidays, and I happen to teach at a Jewish school, I've got a fair amount of time off this month. This is totally sweet and makes up for the fact that I went back to school in the middle of fucking AUGUST. And since Jon had jury duty in the morning and a fun work event in the city in the afternoon yesterday (I know, I know, he's spoiled as hell), we had an opportunity to grab a quick lunch together. I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to try out Desiree Cafe.

Desiree Cafe is only open during the week, and they only serve lunch (Monday - Thursday) and brunch (Friday). So our opportunities to try it have been limited. After eating there yesterday, I think we both may have to start cutting work so we can keep going back. Seriously.

Anne Gingrass decided that after years of kicking ass and taking names at spaces such as Spago (Hollywood), Postrio and Hawthorne Lane (where she was chef and owner), she wanted to settle down and start making the kind of simple lunches that your mom might make you. If your mom was a celebrated chef and not the skanky ho that raised you in a trailer park, that is. Thus, Desiree Cafe, in the SF Film Center in the Presidio was born.

We looked at the menu and just started a Tourette's like stream of ordering. Jon got the chicken club and I got the ham and cheese. Oh, and we'd like the soup. And a strawberry lemonade and an iced tea. I know you already rang us up, but can we get a peanut butter cookie? And some orange poppyseed cookies? Thanks.

You can also sit down, but we didn't have time for that. Plus it was gorgeous outside so even if time had been plentiful, we wouldn't have been seduced by the adorable dining room. As Anne herself packed our bag ("Going on a picnic?," she asked), we giggled with anticipation over the goodies that awaited us.

We took a seat on the steps outside, and dug into our paper bag. Both sandwiches were wrapped in paper, sliced in half, and then wrapped again. Jon's was a sexy tower of pain de mie, homemade mayo, chicken breast, avocado, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce. This was maybe the most beautiful sandwich I'd ever seen. Jon took one bite, his whole face lit up and he exclaimed "it's like the PERFECT homemade sandwich!" And it really was. The ingredients were all the most high quality you could find, and the whole thing just felt so right. I've got some drool dripping down my chin right now just remembering the whole thing.

My sandwich was equally incredible. Composed of St. George cheese (let's all take a moment to lick our lips at that one), honey roasted ham, a kick ass Dijon mustard and all on perfectly grilled bread, it was a complete and total foodgasm all the way. The crunchy bread mixed with the soft, melty cheese provided a textural orgy. That coupled with ham that rivals that of Jon's pig farming uncle and we had ourselves a party.

The tomato and parmesan soup with garlic croutons defied expectations. Instead of being the creamy concoction that one expects when they see "tomato soup," it was a thinner soup. This made it no less delicious. It actually was very pleasing to me, as overly creamy soups do not do it for me. On top of that, we were given a slice of cornbread to compliment the soup. I'm picky about my cornbread, because I really love cornbread. This cornbread was delightful. The perfect balance of sugar and salt with the nice fluffy texture without being too cake-y. Too bad you can't order it on it's own, because I'd be buying truckloads of it.

I then reached in the bag to deposit one of the paper wrappers when I discovered a surprise. With our sammiches, we'd been given little bags of homemade seasoned popcorn. Hooray! I felt like a child reaching into their lunchbox and discovering that Mommy had included a surprise (again, we're talking about "good mommy" and not "crack ho mommy"). This popcorn was air popped and had a tasty combo of (I think) celery salt, paprika and perhaps nutritional yeast. Dude, I totally love surprises.

The peanut butter cookie (eaten today, as I had no more room left from yesterday; seriously, the meal lasted me all day) was, again, like a great home baked cookie. I have not yet busted into the orange poppyseed cookies, but I can't imagine that they'll disappoint.

Jon was thrilled with his iced tea. My strawberry lemonade was the only misstep. It didn't seem to have much lemon and tasted more like a watered down strawberry agua fresca. Oh well, we can't all be perfect like me. I'll wait for you to stop choking on your beverage with that one.

Desiree is known for their egg salad, but since Jon whines like a baby if he even has to smell a hard boiled egg, and I throw a giant tantrum when confronted with large quantities of mayo, that one was out of the question for us. I trust it is excellent, but I think it will be awhile before we give into the egg salad siren.

What did I like best about the whole experience? This simple but exquisite food was quite clearly prepared with a whole lot of love. And when I can get me some lovin' with my food, I'm one happy whore.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Oakes Town

Nancy Oakes came to sign her pretty new cookbook at Jon's work today. Lucky bastard that husband of mine. I couldn't skip out and go, but he said she was extremely lovely. And she didn't even flinch when he complimented her husband's sausages.

Really, they could bring in rockstars for events and I don't think we'd be nearly as stoked as we get for these chefs that come in. Except when Bobby Flay came. I hate Bobby Flay.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Technology is a Nasty Bitch

Sorry the site was down for the past 18 or so hours. I'm glad to be back. I was right ready to kick some serious ass.

I think it was punishment for me as I didn't eat at ANY restaurants yesterday. At all. The apocalypse is nigh, my loves.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Mission Impossible

Somebody, please, for the love of God -- HELP ME!!!

My mission, which I've already chosen to accept, is to host a baby shower for our friends. I threw Jon under the bus, too, as he is the co-host.

Easy, right?

Not so much.

See, this is a co-ed shower. So no dainty tea type bullshit will work here. And it's for around 30 people who will be at our house from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., also known as lunch time. And we don't really know about half of these people. And pregnant people can't eat, like, ANYTHING THAT TASTES GOOD. I really need some help.

I've scoured recipes sites for a workable menu to no avail. So far, the front runner is varied paninis with some salads and such. I'm a cake baking champ so I've got that covered. Despite our ongoing affair with restaurants, which was born out of lack of time rather than talent, Jon and I can kick the ass out of any recipe we come into contact with. That said, I'm not making foie gras canapes for 30 people that really won't give a shit. I'd like a menu that is really damn tasty without requiring us to be in the kitchen for the three days leading up to the party (or during the party for that matter).

Normally I can plan a party at the drop of a hat but with this one, my dearests, I am at a complete and total fucking loss. Please send help. I've got about three weeks to figure this shit out.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Saturday, October 08, 2005

We Now Bring You Episode 4 of the Slanted Door Saga (Slanted Door -- San Francisco, CA)

Just when I think I'm out, I get pulled right back in...

So the food is as great as it ever was at my good old SD. When the Ferry Building location first opened, I found it to have slipped a bit, but now the rolls and soups and claypots and fishes and delishes are all back to their previously hailed glory.

But I'm still stuck in my limbo of VIP and commoner. I never really know what I'm going to get when I go in now. Depends on who's working and if they know us. Or it depends on me using the direct lines I have and calling in favors. To date, I've done this four times. In seven years. I really, really loathe pulling out that card (despite their protestations that I *should* do it) because I don't want to abuse the relationship. It would be nice, however, to count on my girl being there for me when I need her.

Jon worked from home yesterday and I finished teaching early, so we decided to lunch at Slanted Door. We walked in, saw it was packed, waved to the bartenders we knew and approached the hostess. She was new, she didn't know us, we didn't tell her and she couldn't seat us. We just left and went to Out the Door for some painless take-out.

While the cashier was ringing up our order, Jon was muttering his battle cry under his breath ("If I had a nickel for every time someone told us we would always get in..."). It was then that I got touched on the arm and we turned and were greeted with a "Hey guys!"

It was Charles.

As in Charles Phan.

As in Chef/owner Charles Phan.

He said "Long time no see!," and asked what we were doing. We said grabbing lunch since SD seems too busy for us to get in anymore. His response? "Oh, that's not good!" We know, Charles, we know.

We stepped out of the long ass line to wait for our order and he came to chat with us. We grabbed our order, and Charles grabbed two desserts and gave them to us. We had already purchased two desserts (You know how I love Mutsumi and her magic), which he got a kick out of. We just said we'd have more for later. Charles said "Let's go outside, there are tables out there." And he came outside and sat with us while we ate our lunch.

We talked about Thailand (his wife, Angkana, is Thai and gave us advice for our trip), his kids (who have grown so much since we first met them, and have gone up in numbers in that time as well), his moving plans, the new deli he's going to open in the Fillmore, what's happening with Valencia Street (the plans are outrageously expensive and finding the time and money to get it done is difficult; he swears it's coming, but it's a matter of time; plus, the new Fillmore thing has now put a wrench in the works), and our favorite items on the Out the Door menu.

And it was lovely. And he is lovely. He seemed happy and grateful but also weary. And I realized that while we may have suffered through the restaurant's growing pains, so has he. Here is a man whose family went to hell and back to get where they are and now he has an immensely successful, popular and celebrated business. Wonderful, yes, but that also comes with a great deal of responsibility to a fuckload of people -- his family, his staff, his colleagues, his customers. Not a job I'd want, I can tell you that much. And no matter how bi-polar our relationship with the restaurant has been, the man who runs the whole shebang still takes time out of his crazy ass schedule to sit down with a few regulars and spend some time with them.

It made me realize why I fell in love with Slanted Door in the first place.

When I looked at the restaurant as we left, I realized a few things. We may not know the entire staff anymore, but that's mostly because we've been around longer than they have. We may not get seated on the spur of the moment anymore but that's because they have the immense success that we always wished for them. So while, at times, my ego gets in my way when it comes to eating there, I know that I need to stop being such a fucking princess. I'm workin' on it.

When Charles said goodbye to us and walked away, I turned to Jon and asked him how to get off this roller coaster. Sometimes I think Charles is wondering the same thing.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Friday, October 07, 2005

Doctor's Orders (Medicine Eatstation -- San Francisco, CA)

When I received an invitation to a press dinner at Medicine, I just couldn't wait to go. After hearing what NS had to say, and looking at the website, the whole thing just seemed so out there that I needed to know what sort of drugs were behind the whole operation. I invited Brian, my editor, to join me because I knew that if it wasn't any good, he'd be able to laugh about it. Dependable guy that Brian is.

Medicine is in the Crocker Galleria, a strange place, in my opinion for a hipster culinary revolution. In any case, it's also located on the upper level, which makes it more inaccessible. Walking in is also really fucking confusing as the host stand is located behind the elevator. This is great if you take the elevator but not so great if you enter through the actual door located on the floor of the restaurant since you weren't too lazy to walk up the goddamn stairs.

The best way to describe the interior of the restaurant is sterile and clean. There are large LCD panels in the back of the room. These display the Medicine logo (a lowercase "m"), their favorite symbol (the Sanskrit character for Maitri, or loving kindness) and various calming landscapes. The room has long wooden tables as well as long wooden bars against the windows and at the chef's counter. It is appropriate that this place is called Medicine, as the whole thing feels like you are in a futuristic hospital cafeteria rather than a restaurant. Still, I was game to see what this funkytown could offer me.

Now Medicine was the perfect spot for Brian and I to chow down at on this particular evening. He had been having stomach issues and I had woken that morning to crippling stomach pains that lasted about an hour. I was also getting on a plane early the next morning so I couldn't afford to eat anything too crazy, especially considering that I have airplanebathroomophobia. Since Medicine is billed as all vegetarian (and from what I can tell, vegan), I figured it would all be pretty safe.

First off were some sakes. So much for worrying about my gastrointestinal health. I'm not a huge sake fan, but I found Medicine's selection to be really excellent. Very smooth and very tasty.

In between sips of sake, I noticed the lovely Amy, who joined Brian and I for the rest of the evening. You can read her review of our experience here.

Before we were seated, we were allowed to graze on dried tofu chips (surprisingly good) and the medicine roll -- a sushi roll comprised of rice, avocado, sour plum, nori, carrot, shiso leaf, spicy sprouts and flax seed. This sounds great, but was really nothing to write home about. Underwhelming and not particularly special.

What was special, though, was the yuzu lemonade. I loved this. It was too sweet, sure, but the citrus flavor was really nice and the sweetness issue seemed to have worked itself out with my second glass. There was also a soymilk/spirulina drink that just looked like vomit. No thanks. Amy stated that it was "not that bad." Again, no thanks.

Once seated for the meal, Will Petty, one of the owners, got up to speak about the restaurant's concept. He proclaimed Shojin cuisine to be his favorite in the world. After tasting this cuisine, I've decided that Will must be very bad in bed, because anyone who chooses this type of food above any other because they enjoy it and not for religious reasons has got some serious risk taking issues. He was obviously very excited about the cuisine and the restaurant and both he and his business partner, Skye Thompson, seemed very sweet and a little on the naive side. Will also mentioned that in shojin cuisine no spicy food, garlic or onions are used for fear that they might overstimulate the ingestor. What the fuck is up with that? I'm sorry, I cannot get on board with that shit. You were already pushing it with the no meat thing. And how are garlic and onions more stimulating than ginger? We learned that shojin cuisine is designed to promote optimum health. It is not meant for enjoyment, but rather to cure your ills. Blasphemy! Will spoke at length and then we were brought the following food:

Japanese pickles, which were comprised of Japanese cucumber, watermelon daikon and lotus root. Simple but good. Along with this came my green tea. Good but no different from other green teas I've had.

Jade nuggets. These were tempura fried shiso leaves filled with natto (fermented soybean stuff). I adore shiso. But here's what happened at our table:
  • Amy takes a bite of one, puts it down and says "I don't really care for that."
  • I finish her piece, almost spit it out and say "Oh dear Christ! What the fuck was that?"
  • We peer pressure Brian into trying it. Brian makes a face and says ""
This was just foul. I did not like the natto at all. Really just an unnecessary thing to ever place in your mouth. Just vile, vile shit. It tasted like evil.

Sesame tofu. This was a sesame custard. I loved the texture (like a jell-o almost) but the flavor wasn't at all exciting (but it's not supposed to be so mission accomplished). This began a trend. A lot of what we got wasn't bad per se, but it wasn't interesting in the least.

Artisan tofu. Very lovely, great texture, but not enhanced in any way. Do you like plain tofu? Didn't think so. I was now pretty vocal about my boredom. Amy thought it would all be a whole lot better with some bacon. I agree.

Green beans with sesame dressing. Good, but again, nothing special. I can make it at home in about four seconds. Yawn.

Mushroom tempura using maitake mushrooms. Best dish of the evening. A nice light tempura around a flavorful mushroom, with lemon for a little contrast. Yum. Amy and I had to force Brian to try this, but he came through like a champ.

A mountain monk salad make with greens, grapes, tomatoes, nuts and a sake-kasu dressing. Again, nothing to write home about. Not bad, but not worth eight bucks either. It is now that I must mention the gorgeous chopsticks on the table for serving the communal dishes. For individual eating, however, we were given cheapy, environment destroying wood ones that you get with your sushi take-out. Lame.

White miso soup with tofu and seaweed. I love miso. I did not love this. A bit too sweet. I like my miso all salty and crap.

The last thing we were given was a 9-grain soboro. This had organic amaranth, cous cous, spelt, forbidden black rice, himalayan red rice, wheat berry, quinoa, teff and flax seeds with ginger tofu and green beans. In a word, excellent. Maybe I was used to the boring flavors by this point, but something about this grain bowl was really comforting. Like warm, dry cereal or something. All three of us enjoyed this dish a lot, and if I ever went back, I would order it again.

Lastly we were given a cold coconut milk soup with kanten and silver ear mushroom. I'd like it less cold, but it wasn't bad. Despite my love of coconut and weird Asian desserts, I wasn't wowed by this at all.

Side note: Medicine adds a 17% service charge to the bill and they do not accept additional tips. Great if the service is amazing (we had a pre-set meal and it still wasn't super for us), but not so great if the service sucks or if it's oustanding and you want to tip more. In our case, plates piled up, drink orders came slowly and just felt a bit haphazard in general.

When it was all over, I was more than ready to go home. But as we left, Brian and I both agreed that despite the boring factor, we both felt a hell of a lot better than we did going into it. So in that respect, Medicine served it's purpose and healed our ills. So they get a big fat pat on the back for that one.

Would I go back? Maybe. It was great because I was sick, but I don't think I'd go if I were in perfect health unless I was trying to do some severe detox or something. It's just not my thing. As Amy said "I'm just not enlightened enough to get this." Everything was prepared well, but baby, you know how I need my stimulation and that's something that Medicine just can't give me.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Can I Get a "Hell, yeah!"?

I'm finally catching up from my trip and I just got to look at the food section from last week's Chronicle. Not only does the notorious M.B. trash Andalu, which I've been throwing tantrums over for years (I just about slit my wrists when I saw they made the 100 best restaurants list -- that place sucks), but Gracie also reports that a second Dotties is opening just spitting distance from my house.

Hot Damn! It's going to be a good Friday, I can tell already. I may even get my lunchies at Bocadillos today.

I'll be back later with a post about Medicine Eatstation (and Amy will, too). I also got some more travel posts for you coming up including more Thailand posts that are gathering dust, more from Kaua'i, the island of delight, and a little something from Ashland, Oregon, where I was earlier in September.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hubba Bubba (Bubba's Burgers -- Kapa'a and Hanalei, Kaua'i, HI)

I'm back from Hawaii, Kaua'i to be exact. It was beautiful, as was the wedding I was there to attend. Between the sun, the sand, the rainbows and the jungles, I'm as relaxed as can be. The one thing, however, that sucks about Kaua'i is the food. I was last there in the spring of 2003, so I had hopes that the situation would have improved. It has not. Fortunately, though, I knew about the few places that are worth eating at. One of those places is Bubba's Burgers.

I learned about Bubba's when researching my first trip to Kaua'i. It was on a list of the best restaurants in Hawaii that epicurious had compiled. That was enough for me to give it a shot. And having eaten there last time, I was happy to repeat the experience this time around. Epicurious has sinced revamped their restaurant content, but I didn't forget my Bubba's.

The motto at Bubba's is "We cheat tourists, drunks and attorneys." They have lots of other cheeky sayings on the wall such as one that demonstrates their disgust with cheap, low quality meat. My kind of place.

Once our plane had landed and we dealt with the completely inept car rental facility, we started driving toward our hotel. The airport is on the east side, the hotel on the north side. We were facing a 40 minute drive after five and a half hours on a plane and I was ready to get my grub on. Jon was so hungry that he even suggested paying a visit to my arch enemy. Meaning instant gratification for him, and some more waiting for me as you would have to throw me under a train to get me to eat there. Since he probably wants to keep his balls, it was lucky for him and our potential future children that I saw Bubba's as we drove through Kapa'a.

Bubba's is a no nonsense kind of joint, serving burgers, chicken, fish, chili rice, fries, onion rings and a combination of those last two, called "frings." Jon got a Double Bubba with grilled onions, which involves two hamburger patties. These are pretty small, like fast food size. I went for the chicken, as they were out of fish. We also got the frings and two Thomas Kemper root beers. The woman who waited on us was sweet and really fucking good at her job. When "Blue," the man ahead of us, ordered as if he was actively trying to be as difficult as possible, she just smiled and took his order. I almost kissed her after that.

As we waited for our food, I paid a trip to the loo. Once in this bathroom, I noticed an old cosmetics add on the wall, from around the 30's. And the name of the cosmetics company, was...wait for it..."JON-JOY COSMETICS." I SHIT YOU NOT. Can you fucking believe that? I certainly couldn't. Fortunately I had my cell phone so I could take a picture for Jon. I didn't think they'd take too kindly to me bringing him into the ladies room with me.

Our order came and we started in with the scarfing. The burger and chicken are both very good. Now in SF, they'd be nothing special, but on the island, they hit the spot. The fries are very good, but the onion rings are nothing short of great, by any standard. They must use those sweet Maui onions, and then they coat them in panko. And I swear, these are the best onion rings that either one of us has experienced on this earth.

We again thanked the sweet Lord above for Bubba's when we had finished an amazing day of hiking the Kalalau trail and then snorkeling at Ke'e beach. This beat the crap out of us, and we just wanted some food before taking our crippled asses back to our hotel for some poolside drinkies.

Again, they were out of the fish. This was OK, because the fish they use is Icelandic cod. Hold are in HAWAII and you use ICELANDIC COD. Riiiiight... At any rate, we repeated our order except this time we got full on orders of both the fries and the onion rings (we were really hungry) and they didn't have the Thomas Kemper.

All in all, Bubba's is good enough that we went there twice. It's worth a visit just for the onion rings, but the rest of the food ain't half bad, either. And besides, you can't beat a burger and fries under a palm tree.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld