Monthly Archives: August 2011

I’ll Be Back

On this auspicious occasion of my father’s birthday, I finally acted on his months-old suggestion to visit the House of Shields.  The website states upfront:  “In keeping with tradition, there is no clock on premises, nor is there a T.V.”  I must add:  There is no designated happy hour– as in no drink specials– and also, perhaps contrary to my father’s half-century-old recollection, no food.  In 103 years of history, solid nourishment was served once upon a time, I’m told.  Alas, no longer is this the case.  So do not show up hungry!

What does exist is a convenient if not surprisingly small spot to get a decent drink in San Francisco’s financial district, anytime throughout the afternoon long into the evening.  On the city’s sizable list of historical watering holes, the House of Shields has clearly earned its place, obviously having served countless thirsty patrons throughout the decades.  From the intricate woodwork, to the detailed tile, and even to the seemingly original bathroom, you can tell this special place has been around a while and deserves respect.  I only wish the overall tone were a bit warmer.  Fortunately my acceptably sized Hendricks martini upped the temperature a bit.  All in all, I’ll be back!

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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Current Events, Drink, Restaurants, Reviews


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6 Generations of 5


5 Series, 6 Generations

As I researched photos of various car models at work today, this one quickly grabbed and held my attention.  It remains by far my favorite of the day, while speaking powerfully to the passage of time without saying a word.  Here’s to the evolution of the BMW 5 Series through the years, represented by all six generations in one striking eyeshot.  Remarkable, I say.

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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in BMW, Cars


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Double Take?

It’s sure to be a winner, or at least that’s my overall feeling at this early point.  I already praised it months ago.  At the same time, I feel compelled to suggest that if you cut off the front end from your line of sight and gaze at the car’s side profile, you might do a double take and wonder for a moment whether or not you’re looking at a BMW 3-Series Coupe.  Not to knock MBZ styling, of course, at least not until absolutely necessary.

No doubt the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe will introduce some serious competition to its supposed lookalike.  I’m looking forward to it.

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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Cars, Mercedes-Benz


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“Intellectually Powerful” Indeed.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned her in writing.  Still, she’s never far from my mind, as her music dominates my iTunes playlist.  She is– and has been for years– my single favorite songwriter and musical performer of all time.  As I’ve often said and still believe, she’s wonderful therapy– much less expensive that you’ll pay by the hour no doubt!

As such, I’m always delighted to read about Mary Chapin Carpenter in the news.  Such coverage assures me she’s active, performing, and hopefully hard at work on her next album.  I simply wish the East Coast “Hometown Girl” would pay a visit to California once in a while.  In the meantime, her “intellectually powerful” music lives on!

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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Current Events, Music



At 65…

Thinking of former President Bill Clinton on his 65th birthday today, I would have imagined he’d enjoy one of those chicken fried steak dinners I discussed earlier this week, if not a nice big filet or rib eye.  But no!  Nothing of the sort is in store for the now-health-conscious former burger lover on this occasion, or any occasion for that matter.  Bill has apparently, to my and perhaps your surprise, gone vegan!

I certainly recognize the need to adjust and monitor one’s diet in the wake of clogged arteries and bypass surgery.  At the same time, I must wonder if doing so really requires foregoing all items derived from animals.  Is this not taking healthy eating to the unnecessary and unenjoyable extreme?  There’s plenty of “good” meat in a healthy diet, no?  Even though he’s in far better health today than a decade ago,  Bill is now looking TOO thin, and dare I say older than his age.  At 65, he appears he could use a little…er… meat, on his bones.

But that’s just my carnivorous opinion.  Happy Birthday Mr. President, cigar or no cigar!


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Strike Out Ahead?

“The cuts of steak used for chicken fried steak are usually the less expensive, less desirable ones, such as chuck, round steak, and occasionally flank steak. The method is also sometimes used for chopped, ground, or especially cube steak.  Chicken fried steak is usually served for lunch or dinner topped with cream gravy, and with mashed potatoes and vegetables, and biscuits served on the side.”  (Wikipedia)

This one actually looks good!

I’m not sure exactly how they’re doing it here in San Francisco, and perhaps I don’t want to know.  Suffice to say, two recent chicken fried steak meals at two different neighborhood establishments have yielded two strikes.  Less-desirable meat indeed it was, so overcooked and gravy-soaked so as to satisfactorily disguise the possible dog or cat I was actually consuming.

This is par for the course, of course.  Expectations for any such preparation should understandably remain low.  After all, chicken fried steak is one of those typically greasy, calorie-ridden, artery-clogging forms of “comfort food” meant to be enjoyed as an occasional indulgence– one you know is bad for you but you’re going to treat yourself nonetheless.

So comes my point.  My two recent attempts at “comfort food indulgence” were not all that comfortable.  At the somewhat trendy Blue, the chicken fried steak was rather soggy, detached and bland.  Strike One.  At greasy spoon Orphan Andy’s, what emerged as a chewy, dried-out hockey puck fortunately did not leave any lasting effects.  Strike Two.

I know there has to be a decent “CFS” here in the City; it simply remains to be discovered.  Will the third time be a charm or a strike out?

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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Food, Restaurants


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One of a Kind

Disagree as you might, this one is growing on me.  While the Porsche Panamera has been on my radar for well over a year now, throughout this time my admiration has not faded.  In fact, every time we cross paths on the road, which is not all that often, I have to say I appreciate this four-door novelty just a little more.

The fact of the matter is, there’s nothing else quite like it.  This uniqueness in itself is reason for praise, or at least some constructive consideration.  While some critics have already pooh-pooed the Panamera, it stands out to me as one of a kind.

Of course, I’ll take mine in red.

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Posted by on August 10, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Cars


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My Car of Cars

Apparently someone out there is doing my thinking– and my writing– for me, at least on one very specific and much beloved work of automotive machinery.  Imagine, a website– and domain name even– dedicated to my car of cars.  Better yet, don’t just imagine it.  See it here!

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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Cars, Mercedes-Benz


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The Winning Tangerine

If you’ve ever wondered what lamb lollipops and pea mash have in common, here’s your answer:

They both appear on the same menu of one very inviting and satisfying San Francisco dining establishment.  After numerous occasions of walking past the Castro-adjacent corner of 16th and Sanchez, examining the window-posted menu, and telling myself I need to give this place a go, last night it finally happened.  Excellent company in tow for an early (17:30) sitdown, Tangerine deliciously delighted our evening.

As you’ve certainly heard me say before, I always love a restaurant that instantly earns a return visit.  Unfortunately this is all too often not the case.  As such, after a couple rather forgettable meals in the same neighborhood over the past week alone, last night’s last-minute selection proved all the more refreshing.

Lamb lollipops, intriguing by name alone, come through as a creatively substantial though thankfully not-too-filling starter.  Butternut squash soup, rich in both flavor and portion, in itself might satiate a light consumer.  Tangerine’s fried calamari is nothing unusual, rather bland in fact, while their standard yet still-zesty whole romaine caesar salad lacks whole anchovies.  Both have their places on the table nonetheless.  My spicy seafood gumbo emerged a clear winner, striking a pleasing balance of salmon, shrimp, calamari and diced vegetables.  The most visually stimulating presentation of our meal was the large salmon fillet, nestled into a bed of richly seasoned pea mash that looks just like, well, pea green mashed potatoes!  So full were the three of us, that we regretfully passed on the coconut sorbet, this time.

Tangerine wins, and your dissatisfaction would come as a shock.  No doubt the pleasant staff will be seeing me again before too long.  Quite likely it will be on another Wednesday for that complementary glass of wine!

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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Food, Restaurants, Reviews


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No Substitute…

Insightful and thorough as the article happens to be, still I’m left asking myself, “Why bother?”

Granted, perhaps out on a picnic in a non-glass-friendly location, a slight though unconvincing advantage could take hold.  Such a purchase even recently appeared on a weekend country retreat at which I was in attendance, though no requirement steered this decision.  Expansion of variety and possible enhancement of quality notwithstanding, the bottom line remains:  There is no substitute for the bottle, a corked one that is.

The opening words of the NYT piece say it best:  IT’S the epitome of déclassé, the vinous equivalent of trailer trash, the wine snob’s worst nightmare. No, I don’t mean the screw cap. I’m talking about boxed wine.

The choices are increasing, but why?

In times when quantity trumps quality, most likely in quickly serving a large group of undiscerning palates en masse in the middle of nowhere, perhaps– perhaps– the boxes could be argued as the way to go.  But sitting one on your own kitchen counter for weeks on end?  Again, why?  “The craziest thing” indeed.  As far as I’m concerned you’re still better off with “Two Buck Chuck” and a corkscrew, especially where cost is a factor.

And that’s my out-of-the-box opinion!

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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Drink


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