Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Sketch Ice Cream Lovers Rejoice, Maoz Lovers Mourn, and Bagel Lovers...Get Educated?

By Luke Tsai
Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Berkeleyside brings exciting news for fans of Fourth Street's Sketch Ice Cream: After a three-year hiatus (to spend more time with their newborn daughter), owners Eric Shelton and Ruthie Planar-Shelton are reopening the popular ice cream shop just down the street from their original location. As noted in the Berkeleyside report, the new space at 2080 Fourth St. will be quite a bit larger than their former location. The couple is hoping to open in mid-July.

Local 123s new trailer operation.
  • Local 123's new trailer operation.
2) As of this past Sunday, the coffee whizzes at Local 123 have opened a second location: not another brick-and-mortar cafe, but a refurbished 1969 Airstream Princess trailer. The trailer will be parked semipermanently at the Flowerland nursery, at 1330 Solano Ave. in Albany. Garden seating will be available on the nursery grounds. According to owner Frieda Hoffman, the trailer will be open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. The menu will be a streamlined version of the one at the original shop: Four Barrel drip coffee and espresso, a variety of pastries, and, on weekends, a couple of prepared sandwich options. To help beat the heat, coffee- and seasonal fruit-popsicles are coming soon.

3) A Chowhound tipster reports that this Friday will be the last day of business for the Maoz Vegetarian on Telegraph Ave., the lone West Coast franchise of the popular falafel-centric, Amsterdam-based chain. A quick phone call confirmed this — the employee I spoke to told me she'd only been informed of the decision yesterday. It's too bad, though: I was a big fan of Maoz's crunchy falafel and, especially, of the salad bar where you could load up your sandwich with things like roasted beets and fresh cucumber pickles. But apparently business really dropped off after the university let out for the summer, and there's a new ownership team with plans to open something different in that location. Stay tuned for further details.

4) According to Berkeleyside, the Berkeley Tuesday farmers' market on Derby St. (probably my favorite farmers' market, for what it's worth) will be moving on July 10. The new location will be about ten blocks away in a parking lot in front of Sweet Adeline's, at the intersection of Adeline and 63rd. The market will run from 2:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday. The Berkeleyside story cites a couple of reasons for the change: a plan to convert the playing field adjacent to the market's current location into a regulation baseball field, as well as a desire on the part of the non-profit Ecology Center (which operates the market) to bring fresh food options to the Lorin district. More details are available at the Ecology Center website.

5) In other farmers' market news, Phat Beets Produce is launching a new North Oakland Saturday farmers' market and community kitchen at 942 Stanford Ave. (where it intersects with Lowell St.), about two blocks from where the food justice collective currently hosts its Saturday market. According to the organization's press release, the market will provide vouchers and subsidized CSA boxes for low-income families suffering from diet-related diseases, offer educational workshops, and support farmers of color who operate small organic farms. Phat Beets will kick off the market with a community celebration at the new site this Saturday — Juneteenth — from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday also happens to be Tupac's birthday, and his music will be playing all day long, according to event co-sponsor Stop the Injunctions Coalition.

Schmendricks bagels.
  • Schmendricks bagels.
6) Saul's Deli will be hosting an evening with Schmendricks — they of the $3, hand-rolled, Brooklyn-inspired bagels — next Thursday, June 21, at 7 p.m. In a presentation dubbed "New York Bagel Education," the Schmendricks folks will talk about the history of the bagel as an ethnic food, discuss the "anatomical elements" of an authentic NY bagel, and serve up a tasty bagel dinner. Tickets for the event are $25 (plus a service fee).

7) Meanwhile, last week Oliveto hosted the first event of its lecture series entitled "It's Complicated: A Series of Conversations About Eating, Cooking, and the Politics of Food." The first panel discussion, "Our Local Seas: A Comeback Story," centered on the state of fisheries on the northern Pacific coast and served as a preview for Oliveto's seafood-themed Annual Oceanic Dinners (June 12-15) — you can still check those out if you manage to snag a reservation. Next up in the lecture series will be a discussion on "Building a Local Grain Economy" this Sunday, June 17. Tickets are $10.

8) Picán's new executive chef Sophina Uong has unveiled her new menus, which preserve many of the restaurant's staples while incorporating several California-inflected additions: Lake Pontchartrain blue crab profiteroles and a hickory-smoked pork belly “bahn mi,” for instance. Grub Street reports one additional juicy nugget: For the first time, a chef's tasting menu ($55-$70 a person) will be available on a limited basis.

9) Finally, if you're still looking for something to do for Father's Day, here's one idea: This Sunday, Livermore's Wente Vineyards is hosting a "Wine, Beats & Mobile Eats" event from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Entry is free, and there will be several food trucks hawking their wares on site: Southern Sandwich Co., Rice Rockit, le truc, and Kara’s Cupcakes. An optional wine tasting is $15 a person ($10 for members).

Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I'll read ‘em all.

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