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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bad Ass Coffee (The Blue Danube San Francisco)

San Francisco:

Easily my favourite city in the world. I've been visiting there since the age of 3, and every time I go I seem to discover some new aspect to it, some new cool area or food outlet. In much the same way I feel you can 'stumble upon' the weird and wonderful in the big smoke of London, SF itself is a city of cool colourful places.

One of the best of these is the Blue Danube, located on the lively Clement Street:

Located just a stones throw from the truly awesome Green Apple bookstore, this is the perfect place to stop and put you feet up with hot cup of coffee before embarking on a day of shopping (something my bro and I do on almost each visit). Inside you'll find a warm inviting atmosphere, decor adorned with renaissance art, and - MOST IMPORTANLY, an incredible sandwich menu!

When I mean sandwiches I mean proper sandwiches. Not a pathetic triangular, white bread sans crusts - cut with cucumber and maybe some ham. I mean proper, home made subs. Bread so fresh it feels it was just baked, filled with cooked to perfection turkey breast and topped with avacado.

Upon my last visit there I more or less headed straight to the Danube, and was still tuned into 'UK mode'. After ordering the fear of not being satisfied by a mere sandwich gripped me, but when this truly heroic sub was put on my table I knew there was zip to worry about (put it this way - it doubled as dinner!).

Lastly - and by no means least the coffee. What coffee it is - my bro and I ordered Mocha's. These things had a smooth, creamy taste, and managed that fine balance of not being too strong a taste but being sweet enough so that no sugar was required. Truly the best 'pick me up' to have before an afternoon of shopping until dropping.

Be warned - do not add sugar. The coffee here is pretty powerful, below is a pretty good reconstruction of what we were experiencing on the bus after:

The Blue Danube can be found at:

06 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, United States

Opening hours: 

Monday7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Tuesday7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Wednesday7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Thursday7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday7:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday7:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sunday7:00 am – 10:00 pm

Telephone: +1 415-221-9041

The Sky Canteen Playlist

These are the songs I hear in my head upon entering my work canteen....

Monday, September 23, 2013

Legend of comedy, not of lunchtime...

They say you should never meet your heroes. I'd go one further and say you should never find out their culinary tastes. It can lead to crushing disappointment.

Rik Mayall is my hero (OK I've got a lot of heroes, but there's articles reserved for Bowie, former BBC controller Alan Yentob and Zippy from Rainbow for later on).

I grew up on repeats of the 'Young Ones', his 'Jackanory' recounting of 'George's Marvellous Medicine' (so good he filmed it twice!), watched 'Bottom' on repeat and even quite enjoyed his Nintendo adverts.

Much of my working (hence adult life) has been spent in Soho, where the only thing you're more likely to see than overweight pigeons trying to rip off tourist's food is actors from stage and screen. I was lucky enough to pass by Mr Mayall twice.

The second occasion he was having lunch with a colleague (maybe his agent?) in a pigeon-infested Soho square, and whilst animatedly chatting to said colleague was chowing down on some form of sandwich.

Spying this sandwich, my heart sank.

This thin, lifeless foodstuff looked like something he had just grabbed from the nearby Tescos express (re-heated mystery meat drowned in sauce with about as much taste as Peter Stringfellow at a Bingo night).

What about the nearby wonderous focaccias and ciabatta's of the near legendary Make Mine deli? The much missed veggie burgers of Red Veg, or the delicious falafel's of Maoz?

Nope - Rik plumped for something along these lines:

Surely a comedian of such legendary status would be a bit more adventurous than this? At least it wasn't one of those ones that proudly boasts 'no mayo' (again another article to follow on that later). I probably would have burnt my copy of 'Drop Dead Fred' right there and then.

There are many great places to eat in Soho. Just don't consult any 80s comedy legends before trying one out.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mama (Stands for Comfort Food!)

Dalston's 'Street Feast' has become quite the weekend hot spot for East London's resident foodies (such as yours truly!). Hoping to make the most of what has easily been the most glorious summers in the UK for years, GLAC swung along to the feast last weekend, to it's location neslted in Dalston Yard.

This is behind the building now most recognised from the 'Rudimental' album:

The scene depicted here is very akin to a night at the Feast ending at the Dolphin pub. Not sure where I maybe I'm the guy in the scary skull mask!

Making it's debut at SF was 'Burrito Mama'. Adding to what has become something of a burrito chain explosion in London over the past seven or so years, they will soon be opening up a store proper in the One New Change shopping centre near St Pauls.

I was immediately stuck by the incredible smell wafting across from this place. Ordering a pork burrito, I was struck by the speed with which it was expertly prepared - wrapped perfectly and with a minimum of fuss. Standing in the sun and sipping on an american beer from the nearby craft beer stall, felt like I could be standing in a Mission street Taqueria.

The pork burrito was of the Californian style that is the most commonly known here but with something of a twist. In addition to the usual filling of meat, rice, beans and salsa Burrito Mama subsitute lettuce for coleslaw. The affect of this susbsitution is quite something! The crunch and coolness of the coleslaw perfectly offsets the (still delicious) strong, spicy flavour of the pork. With the best burritos you taste something new with each bite. Given the fact that coleslaw beats lettuce hands down in the flavour department means that a whole new dimension has been added to this eating experience. They also toast the tortilla, bringing out all the potential flavour in every element of the wrap. It also took the ultimate burrito wrap test - it could be stood upright perfectly!

On occasion I have encountered those unfortunate enough to have not yet experienced the sheer meaty wonder that is the burrito, and sometimes have heard some excuses as to why they have avoided them so far. 

Two choice quotes are 'they've got too much food in them' and 'I don't like rice'.
(the former quote's source shall remain nameless as they would never live down the shame were I to reveal their identity here).

Well for those who go along with the latter quote you can now join in the fun with the rest of us! If you were to try an authentic, mexican style burrito these are usually meat, guacamole, salsa and cilantro. The rice, beans, cheese etc combo is a US invention, and both types are avaialble at Burrito Mama. I was lucky enough to be given a 'Mama Burrito' style steak burrito sans rice, with more slaw, salsa and beans. The steak was succulent and tender, falling apart with every bite.There was no sense of this as lacking anything, it was simply a different experience to the usual rice version.

These are quality burritos - clearly fresh ingredients and wrapped perfectly (I managed to make both stand upright perfectly). These guys and girls know their stuff  - the upper tier 1 burrito chains 'Benito's Hat' and 'Daddy Donkey' can now add 'Burrito Mama' to their ranks.

I'm going to be going to One New Change a lot!