Yesterday, I drove two hours south to San Francisco to taste some wines over lunch, and I will be writing about the visit, the restaurant, the food, the wines, all of it, very soon.
Taking things out of chronological order, I have to tell you about what I did in San Francisco following my lunchtime tasting. It helps if you know who Anthony Bourdain is, and how much I revere him.
Anthony Bourdain was the chef at Les Halles in New York City; but became famous after writing the classic, “Kitchen Confidential.” Bourdain is an amazing writer, an experienced cook, knowledgeable, opinionated, passionate, entertaining. With a past that includes being a Culinary Institute of America graduate and a junkie, Bourdain’s prose is infused with a dark undercurrent of cynicism, yet he remains open to the possibility of beauty, happiness, magic, love. After a short lived stint on the Food Network, Bourdain’s television show, “No Reservations,” has become the most watched show on the Travel Channel.
Recently an episode of Bourdain’s “No Reservations” featured his explorations of San Francisco food experiences, focusing on meaty options during what he described as a visit to the land of vegetarians, locavores, and the politically correct. The San Francisco episode featured a visit to the Pirate Cat Radio Cafe for a Bacon Maple Latte. I am not a believer in bucket lists, things to to before you kick the bucket, but after seeing Bourdain’s segment, I have anticipated visiting Pirate Cat Radio Cafe myself for a taste of the house special.
With my iPhone set to GPS direction mode, I was able to travel from North Beach to the Mission/Potrero bordering neighborhoods area in about 15 minutes. The area around the Pirate Cat Radio Cafe, located at 2781 21st Street, is eclectic, funky, energetic, hip. I was drawn to the expressive exterior paint jobs of some of the neighboring buildings.
A combination coffee house and radio station, Pirate Cat Radio Cafe sports an edgy, dangerous vibe, painted red and black like a bleeding wound and necrosis. Inside, I found Phia behind the counter, Shantai reclined on a couch, and Wilson in the radio booth.
Phia, probably short for Sophia but it took me a couple of hours to figure that out, is a young white girl with mad latte skills. She is interested in a possible future in media and that is what brought her to Pirate Cat two months ago.
Shantai is a young black girl who is enjoying some time spent with a hot coffee beverage while listening to cool music. She was surprised when I knew her name, but she had referred to herself in the third person in a conversation with Phia, and I’m a decent listener.
Wilson is the young Disc Jockey, On Air Personality, or whatever they are called these days.
I worked at a nighclub bar restaurant radio station over 20 years ago, and we talked about the changes. Wilson isn’t so young that he doesn’t remember vinyl and how digital music was considered cold while the pop and hiss of LPs was once cherished. Wilson actually heard and remembered my radio show, Dead Air, from all those years ago, although he must have been quite young at the time.
The Bacon Maple Latte is made by cooking down 10 pounds of bacon into 4 ounces of concentrated goodness, bacon essence, refined bacon fat. A heaping serving of bacon and a tablespoon of real maple syrup are melted into espresso and frothed Clover milk foam tops that. Like sprinkles on a Sundae, real bits of bacon are sprinkled on top of the foam.
Straight up, it all works together and is quite good; which really shouldn’t be a surprise as bacon, syrup, and coffee might easily be part of any ordinary breakfast. The bacon makes the drink more round, more fatty, and the maple provides the bridging link between bacon and coffee flavors. Chewing a sipped bacon bit as the bacon and and maple flavored latte slides down your throat, releases more bacon flavor.
Wilson, using a mac instead of turntables, put a song on for me, which I named before the first note was finished, Bob Weir’s Looks Like Rain.
We compared some experiences, and I told old war stories; how Primus played our Cafe because we could simulcast their show and give them a taped copy of it at night’s end, how we had a blender in the booth for Margaritas on some shifts. Where I was paid, Pirate Cat Radio Cafe DJs are unpaid interns, and often actually pay for the experience.
The caffeine rush you feel from a Bacon Maple Latte is enhanced as your blood, pulse quickened, is forced though narrowing vessels, arteries hardened.
The experience has marked me; this morning, I visited Starbucks, and nothing looked quite the same.
I posted briefly on a forum last night about the magically porklicious latte that I had, which started a conversation about bacon and the trend toward using it in everything (thanks to Guy Fieri and every Top Chef contestant ever). With space on my non existent bucket list, with the Pirate Cat Radio Cafe beverage down, a forum friend introduced me to a new vehicle for bacon delivery: the meat baby!
I am so making a meat baby. Soon.