Four Star Coffee (Blue Bottle Cafe, San Francisco)

I'm on my week off right now...having wrapped things up at PAV on Sunday. There was a lot of goodbyes, and hugs, and booze. I'll be following up on all this madness tomorrow, but today is all about Blue Bottle Cafe, which today turned one week old.

I love Blue Bottle. I'm addicted to Blue Bottle. I drink a full press pot, to the head, every morning. My days off are planned around trips to either their Linden kiosk or the farmers market. A restaurant having Blue Bottle on the menu will become a reason in it's own for a visit. I've been known to drink a small press pot at 1:30 am with dessert at Nopa. The farmers market(s) and kiosk are great. They bring with them a certain indie cool opting out special trip kinda vibe. Linden especially has a cool feeling, with bike messengers, tech folks, and restaurant industry all mingling over lattes and drip coffees.

The cafe does not feel like this at all. Don't get me wrong--there are plenty of young, hip, in the know people hanging out. Alot of familiar Blue Bottle folks man the counter, and the $20,000 Japanese siphon bar. They menu looks the same, although yesterday there was a guy in chef coat making sandwiches, which sit pretty in a case next to the register.

The whole operation, with everyone in black dress shirts and aprons, and the immaculate shelves and counters, looks like a fine dining (drinking?) spot. There are newspapers to read, and no one is in the corner chair using their laptop. Yet. Still, simply said, it's a stunner.

There has already been plenty of coverage and buzz....here, here, and here. You need to go...if only for the theatre of that crazy machine.

They give you candy with your coffee. What more could you want?

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After certain Tuesday nights dinners, there is a huge mess in the kitchen. By the time we eat im usually three beers and a shot in, so doing the dishes and sweeping is rarely a priority. The morning encounter with the kitchen, when im desperately in need of coffee, is never pleasant. I spent this morning doing dishes, wiping down table tops, and mopping. Laundry is next, so im stalling by writing here. Trouble is, there isn't a whole lot of good material to write about, what with tiger maulings and 70 mile an hour winds and Britney. So here are lists.

Stuff Other People Wrote.
  • Harold McGee wrote an essay for the New York Times on heat and how it affects food. It's a pretty cool read, and it spawned really cool posts from Tasting Menu and Ideas In Food.
  • SFGate had an article about Michael Pollan today...discussing the Omnivore Effect. The writer wanted to take Pollan to Applebees.
  • Sean Brock gives a tip for better veg purees.

Top 5.

5. The Pika Pika DVD. Japanese people with LED lights + Long exposure photography = total awesomeness. This is not a DVD full of corny shit like you see on the Sprint/Nextel billboards around SF.
4. Winter Beer.
3. Coacim Bourbon coffee beans from Blue Bottle.
2. The Playstation 3. The real reason I haven't been blogging lately.
1. The Wire back on HBO. Tim Goodman always has a good breakdown on his blog.

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Originally uploaded by linecook
There was some strange fog at the ferry plaza this week...between the bitter cold, old ladies shopping for produce, and the lighting, it all felt very Moscow-ish. Scribefire and Blogger still aren't working on my home computer, so for now all I can do is flickr blogging. My last day at the PAV is the 27th...then a short vacation...then off to Nopa land.

Again, everything is about to change. And as Sky said before....Good.


Orange N Mochi

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Originally uploaded by linecook
My computer at home has been driving me nuts. Ever since Sky's friend spilled champagne on it, the ol PC has been suffering, and dying a very slow death. I have two new blogs written and ready to post, but alas, it just won't connect to Blogger. So here, in the interim, is a picture of a Japanese New Years tradition my Dad turned me onto. I'm going to take a break from Orange Box this weekend to really try to figure out what's going on.


Back to basics.

I reek of onions and beef right now. A stew is braising away in the oven, giving me just enough time to update here...a place that has been sadly ignored for a couple of weeks now.

December was a crazy month. It saw all four sous chefs on six day work weeks, cranking out big covers and a lot of holiday parties. My one day off a week was spent shopping for gifts...and trying to rest. We got a short reprieve Christmas week...then into New Years. Now, things are calm.

Having been a cook these past five years, many things have changed about me. (and many things have stayed the same.) My thought process is completely different; every thought is geared towards forward progress....toward efficiency. When things are hectic, I tend to do my best thinking.

So in all this chaos and deep thought, I've noticed I feel apart from my cooking self lately. Months of learning and progress has seemingly halted. More and more I feel simplicity tugging on my sleeve. Joey and Ginger both cook gorgeous, tasty food....that couldn't be more simple. Having spent months now cooking weekly with Joey, I realized how little 'cooking' I have actually been doing over the past year at work. Sous vide, while calling for precision and great care, barely feels like cooking. Gums and food additives are fun, but making a fluid gel for a dinner party feels a bit silly. I felt a great desire to get back to basics....back to ingredient.

So when the good people over at Nopa asked me to call their Chef about joining their kitchen, it felt right. Nopa does simple, wholesome food...and uses almost exclusively organic, local ingredients. They use a wood burning grill and oven. What you read on the menu is what you get; three or four ingredients, lovingly cooked and simply presented. The Chef and I had a great talk, and he laid it out for me. His goals had nothing to do with fame, or press. He wasn't interested in being rich. He just wants to 'take care of his people.' After a meeting with his GM and partner, he invited me in to work a night. A sous position was offered, and I accepted.

I have been with my current company for almost four years now. I love both restaurants with all my heart....sometimes too much. I've made friends that I will know for the rest of my life, and I got molded into what seems like a dying breed: the dedicated line cook. I owe a lot to Va De Vi and Pres a Vi. I owe a lot to Chef Kelly and Bob, the GM at VDV. And I owe a lot to all the people, good and bad that I worked with.

But now it's time to move on.

More tomorrow. I have to check on my stew.

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