Tag Archives: North Beach

German Grub and McDo’s or “My Weekend of Bachelor Eating”

It’s Sunday night (obv). Hook is scanning his CD collection, looking for absences to be included as wishes on his Xmas list. I’m straight bummin’, sipping some Two-Buck Chuck, halfheartedly watching an ueberrerun of “Forensic Files.” (Note: You Know You Watch Too Much Forensic Files When…) Indeed, it was an utterly satisfying weekend, one containing the perfect balance of activity and inactivity, barhopping and philanthropic goings-on. This week/weekend, Hook’s friend Carlos was visiting from St. Louis and we showed him a rollickingly good time (I hope! Carlos, if you’re reading this, I hope you had a kick-ass visit!).

A main facet of hosting is taking one’s guest to the best eateries one can think of*, and Hook’s Friday night plan was outstanding. H brought our merry group to Schroeder’s in the Financial District, one of the oldest beer halls on the West Coast. (Note: I’m not sure how many West Coast beer halls are currently in existence, and consequently I’m not able to validate the “impressiveness” of this claim.) H. and I visited Schroeder’s our first (and only) time before seeing a movie at Embarcadero Center; the restaurant’s proximity to the theater and my strong, nostalgia-driven preference for German food made Schroeder’s an obvious choice.

Yes, that's my beer -- all 38 ounces of it. I wanted to order the "small" boot, but Hook got the last boot!

I’m sad to say that Schroeder’s food wasn’t as good as my memory led me to believe it would be. I ordered Kaesespaetzle, which came with a side of green salad (Grunensalat) and a small order of German potato salad and coleslaw. The potato salad, though lacking in acidity, hit the spot (the carb spot, that is); the coleslaw was bland but mercifully underdressed. Green salad was basic: crisp, garnished with a few out-of-season tomatoes, and lightly dressed with a pleasantly tangy vinaigrette. What of the spaetzle, you ask? Ehhhhhhh. The spaetzle proper — house made — would have been tasty, had it not been slathered in freaking American cheese food product. Seriously? Oh, seriously. Here’s an overexposed pic of the spaetzle, lest you doubt my recounting of the meal:

Yes, yes: I know. This photo is terrible -- but I wanted to provide visual evidence of the horrible "cheese" topping my spaetzle.

That said, others enjoyed their meals. Hook got the Kielbasa with Rotkohl and potatoes; the Kielbasa was juicy and flavorful (and awesome with horseradish). Tarak enjoyed his Currywurst, and Carlos expressed neither delight for nor disdain toward his meal. Bottom line: Schroeder’s is excellent for imported beers, less-than-excellent for spaetzle, and flat-out awful for anyone on Atkins/counting calories/avoiding animal products.

Hook had the only boot at our table.

After a late night in North Beach, waking at 11:00 the next morning to an empty fridge, Hook and I were hungry and virtually optionless! OK, I’m exaggerating — we weren’t totally without options, but our 1) extreme hunger; 2) lack of a car; and 3) pressing afternoon obligations (I was volunteering for the Bike Coalition, H. had some Bubble Bobble to play) required that we get food — and fast. Enter McDonald’s. I’m not a fan and Hook has a guilty, semi-secret love for the Chicken Selects. I’m sad to say that on Saturday, December 5th, I ate McDonald’s for the first time in approximately one year, three months. (Note: I last ate McDonald’s on August 24, 2009, upon leaving Winnemucca, NV. It was the last day of my x-country drive to California and McDonald’s was the only restaurant I encountered in 50 miles of driving. So.)

Ba-da-ba-ba-bah: this guy's lovin' it.

What to order? At BK, at Taco Bell, at Waffle House, I have a go-to dish. At McDonald’s? No such luck. I so rarely visit Mickey D’s (and hold the restaurant in such low esteem compared to other fast food joints) that I don’t have a regular order. Saturday, I got the Quarter Pounder Meal (or “QPC” with fries). The fries were surprisingly tasty — uniformly golden, crisp, and ultra salty! The burger, I think, had spent a little too long in the warming tray. It had the texture of heat-fused industrial carpet.

Golden fries from the land of Golden Arches. Also, this ketchup was the sweetest ketchup I've ever tasted.

On the whole, my McDo’s meal rated 2.1 out of 5.0 stars. The Diet Coke was fizzy and cold, the fries were pretty damn good (I admit with reluctance), and the burger was edible in that I ate it and didn’t get sick. Like Morgan Spurlock in his documentary that propelled him to quasi-stardom, I felt nauseated after consuming my Super Value Meal; unlike Spurlock, I did not crave more McDo’s after initial consumption.

Sunday brought a far classier dining experience in the form of Burma Superstar, where we had a late dinner after spending two hours at House of Air. Our trampolining left us exuberant, sweaty, and famished; I readily shared a pitcher of Burma Coolers with Hook and Drew. Hook got his all-time favorite dish (chili lamb) with a side of cardamom rice. Feeling adventurous — especially after all those mid-air almost-splits! — I tried something new: the fiery tofu with lamb. Holy god, was it good. Atop a flattened bed of cardamom-infused rice, the lamb and tofu left a slow burn at the back of my mouth. The string beans and red peppers sautéed with the proteins had just enough crunch left to make their inclusion pleasant.

Still a bit hongry after our chowdown, H and I split a slice of flourless chocolate cake topped with candied ginger. My thoughts? Meh — and that’s a fighting word coming from a self-admitted chocolate lover. The cake’s flavor was pale — hardly chocolately — and its crumb was dry! Hook and I agreed that our slice would have benefited from a scoop of ginger ice cream. (Note: Our mild disappointment with said cake didn’t prevent us from eating it all. Hey! We’d just done an hour and a half of moderate-to-difficult cardio: what can I say?)

Were I to classify the narrative arc of this weekend’s meals, I’d classify it as “bachelor eating.” The prominence of alcohol, highly processed meats [er, meat products], salt, and other, um, macronutrients seems fitting for a group who perhaps doesn’t cook often, who craves a “stable base” for long nights at the bar, and so on. But you know what? I enjoy a weekend of bachelor eating once in a while — it reminds me of my own bachelor days.

***

*Well, mostly. Hook tried to provide ‘Los a diverse and tasty cross-section of SF’s dining scene, but certain eateries were rendered “out of the picture” due to time and geographic constraints, as is typically the case.

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North Beach Saturday with Beers, Burgers, and Bodacious Produce

This week has simply flown by. In saying this, I’m not affecting a quaint old-ladyism (well, I am, but that wasn’t my primary intent) — I feel like I went to sleep on Sunday night and woke up like,  now. I’m not complaining: more than usual, I’m all about the weekends, and this weekend in particular should be nothing short of stellar. H. and I have a brunch date, a rooftop BBQ, and [possibly] some QT at Zeitgeist on the schedule. Who can say what other diversions, boozy and decadent or totes straightlaced, might present themselves? Not I.

Sadly, this week’s inexplicable Time Mayhem caused me to get a bit behind on blogging. I woke this morning* at 5:04 — not intentionally! I was woken by a hobo singing beneath my open window — and finished a post about Molly Wizenberg’s book (a post that’s been lingering in my Drafts folder for the better part of the week). Later, I added a few last links to my Weekly News Roundup. BUT, I haven’t yet written about last Saturday’s adventures, which were sunny, beery, and set against the whining backdrop of the Blue Angels’ routine.

I woke early for an appointment with Betsy, my jawesome stylist at the Chop Shop. (Note: Those of you looking for a new salon, look no further. The Chop Shop is friendly, cute, and whimsical-without-being-annoying. Betsy has mad skills, and also, the services are very reasonably-priced.) Betsty was going to work her magic on my tired tresses, covering my nastily grown-out highlights with a warm wash of chestnut. B. and I talked books. She updated me on the weekend sailing course she just completed. Then, we really got down to business and we talked food. I told her about the scones I’d made the night prior; she shared the review of artisinal ciders her sister had just written for Sunset magazine. (“Poor us,” B. wailed. “We had to have so many dinner parties and drink so much cider.” Boo hoo, indeed!) She also shared a recipe for minestrone soup, similar to this one, that she planned to make soon. Parmesan rinds are all the rage these days; I’ll have to get my hands on one so that I can make my own minestrone. Hook met me at the salon so we could mosey directly to the Ferry Building to catch the tail end of the Farmers Market. Oh, Saturday market, how I’ve missed thee! It had been a month at least since I’d gone and I was reminded immediately that I should take precautions against such lapses in time mis-allocation. I sampled dark chocolate almond brittle, rainbow beets, and fresh walnuts. I weaved through the stalls, stopping to snuff a lush bunch of fresh basil, to photograph the gleaming pyramid of eggplants (featured above). I sampled a wedge of Early Girl tomato; the vendor told me she loved my glasses — that, in fact, she’d like to need to wear glasses so that she could have a pair like mine. Blushing, I thanked her and bought three tomatoes — the juiciest, sweetest tomatoes I’ve had all season. Just after leaving the tomato stand, Hook abruptly pulled me aside.

“Kate,” he said. “Look over there.”

“Where?” I hissed. I had no idea what was going on.

There.” He nodded toward a man in a black t-shirt with a black tattoo on the underside of his left forearm.

“Yesssssssss?” I said.

“That’s Kevin Rose,” H. said.

“Yesssssssss?” I furthered.

“Founder of Digg.”

Oh. Right. Right! I wouldn’t have recognized Mr. Rose by sight (in fact, I did not know that he was the founder of Digg until Hook told me), but I love me some celebrity sightings, and this one enlivened our already lively market day.

 

Hook, readying to eat an oyster (a Ferry Building tradition).

 

At length, we did our shopping. I bought three tomatoes, three apples (tiny, tart, and crisp), an $8.00 bag of English peas, a jar of pepper jelly (inspired by recent Comstock trips), fresh lemon thyme fettucine, and a jar of cmb sweets’ strawberry confiture. Hook considered potential new additions to his plant table, but declined to purchase any — after all, we had plans to get lunch in North Beach.

It’s sad to say, but neither Hook nor I has a favorite Italian place in North Beach. (Blashphemy!) I’ve been to several: some are good, some are pretty good, and some are below average. When my dad and Donna were visiting, we had excellent housemade gnocci at Volare. When my mom was in town, I suffered through a rubbery, greasy plate of lasagna (with a side of stale bread) at Caffe Puccini. I still hope that we’ll find our go-to North Beach place, but this hasn’t happened yet, and Hook and I found ourselves walking up and down Columbus, looking in the plate glass windows and telling each other, “No, really, you should choose where we eat.” An hour and several blocks later, we decided that La Trappe, a Belgian restaurant with an enviable selection of Trappist beers, would suit our needs just fine. The only problem we faced was that La Trappe wouldn’t open until three. But that wasn’t a problem at all. We stepped into the near-deserted front room of Sweeties, ordered beers, and claimed two tatty wingback chairs beside an open window, where we sat, sipped, and listened to the whine and drone of the Blue Angels’ routine. Our bartender, serving herself tuna salad spread generously on a romaine leaf, raved to a regular about the imported sardines she’d just bought. “Fry them in oil and put ’em on toast, and they’re to die for,” she enthused. A group of men in baseball caps took over the pool table and we watched their game for a bit, counting down the minutes until three. When the hour struck, we ambled to La Trappe.

As it would happen, La Trappe doesn’t serve food (on Saturdays) until six: only the bar opens at three. Really? I wondered. Not even frites? I had my heart set on Belgian beer, but this minor dream would go unrealized — for the moment, at least. Hook and I hit the streets once again in search of our long-belated lunch, settling for burgers and fries. Despite our setback, the day was a success; we had the sun, fresh produce, and the still-lingering memory of our Kevin Rose sighting to tide us over until the next weekend, when perhaps our beer dreams would reach fruition.

 

One beautiful Early Girl tomato, bruised during our North Beach jaunt.

*Friday morning, but I’ve once again gotten behind on me blogging: d’oh!