Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: A Plum Gig, Yonsei Ramen, and Gluten-Free Grilled Cheese

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) Another day, another new executive chef at Plum (2214 Broadway): Inside Scoop brings the news that Daniel Patterson has hired Manfred Wrembel, formerly the chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s Incanto, to head the kitchen at both Plum and Plum Bar. Initial reports didn’t mention the plans of outgoing chef Rob Dort (or whether it was an amicable parting), but Patterson did confirm — over Twitter — that Dort is indeed moving on. If you’re keeping score at home, in the little over two years since Plum’s earliest preview dinner days, the restaurant has had, by my count, six different chefs — Jeremy Fox, Lauren Kiino, Ron Boyd (two stints), Charlie Parker, Dort, and now Wrembel. (Did I miss anyone?)

Meanwhile, Inside Scoop notes that the restaurant will take this opportunity to shift to a more traditional menu, with appetizers, entrées, and so forth — no more smallish plates divided by taxonomy (“animal,” “vegetable,” etc.). Other changes afoot: Plum will now open a half hour earlier, at 5 p.m., and Plum Bar will start lunch service in December.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Grocery Store for West Oakland

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Finally, after a ten-year wait, West Oakland is getting a new full-service grocery store: If all goes according to plan, People’s Community Market (PCM) will open by the end of 2013 — a culmination of the decade that its CEO, Brahm Ahmadi, has spent working to get the project off the ground.

Last Thursday, Ahmadi, who founded the affiliated nonprofit People’s Grocery, kicked off an ambitious investment campaign with a “Front Porch” community gathering and pitch session held at the Numi Tea Garden in East Oakland’s warehouse district.

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Where to Get Your Pan de Muerto Fix

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 8:00 AM

By this point I’m sure you’ve got your Halloween plans locked down, but what about the week’s other ghostly holiday, El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), which is coming up on November 1 and 2?

As per usual, here at What the Fork we’re mainly interested in what tasty treats the two-day festival has to offer, and the holiday’s signature food item, pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”), is well worth seeking out — a not-too-sweet respite from your trick-or-treat-fueled sugar rush.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Bartavelle Softly Opens, Off the Grid Gets Spooky, and Two Oakland Community Projects Raise Funds

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) Those of you still waxing nostalgic about the dearly departed Cafe Fanny will be happy to hear that 1603 San Pablo Ave. is once again open for business: Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar started its soft opening yesterday, October 23. Berkeleyside reports that, “soft” or not, lines were already out the door and “folks were nibbling on avocado toasts paired with a glass of white wine.” The cafe’s hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday. Check out these tentative breakfast and lunch menus, posted on Facebook — sounds like it’ll be at least a few days before all those items get rolled out.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oakland-Based Nonprofit Organizes Tour of Oaxacan Food and Agriculture

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM

With new restaurants like Comal shining a light, Bay Area interest in the cuisine of Oaxaca is perhaps higher than ever. But if you want to try the region's seven traditional moles, down shots of mezcal (tequila's smokier, lesser-known sibling), and munch on the fried grasshoppers known as chulapines, why not go to the source?

From December 22 to 30, Food First, an Oakland-based nonprofit food policy think tank, is leading an educational tour of Oaxaca that will allow participants not only to celebrate Christmas in Southern Mexico and eat traditional meals prepared in the homes of local farm families, but also to network with the region's food justice activists — to hear firsthand about the challenges faced by Oaxaca's campesinos and its diverse indigenous peoples.

According to Tanya Kerssen, a researcher with Food First, the trip is tailored to appeal to a wide range of interested parties — academics, activists, and all-around food nerds.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: A16 and A90 on the Way, and Kermit Lynch Turns Forty

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 10:00 AM

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

1) Big news in Rockridge: Inside Scoop reports that San Francisco’s A16 will open a second location early next year in the space currently occupied by Hudson (5356 College Ave.). Rocky Maselli, who’s cooked mostly in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, will be the executive chef. The restaurant’s original Marina location is probably most well known for its Neapolitan pizza; co-owner Shelley Lindgren notes that the Oakland location will have a bit more of a seafood focus because of Maselli’s family ties to Puglia (the heel of Italy’s boot, as they say). Between this news, James Syhabout’s upcoming project at the former Somerset location, and the Chez Panisse-pedigreed Ramen Shop — well, that’s a lot of firepower coming to tony Rockridge.

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Elmwood Shuffle: Holy Land out, Padi In

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 8:01 AM

A longtime favorite in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood has closed suddenly: Holy Land Restaurant (2965 College Ave.) had its final day of service last Tuesday, October 9, according to owner Niso Mizrachi. Taking its place will be a new Indonesian eatery called Padi Restaurant.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Original Kasper’s Hot Dogs’ (Brief) Revival

by Alexia Underwood
Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 2:56 PM

The neon sign is lit and the window frames have received a fresh coat of mustard-yellow paint, but Original Kasper’s Hot Dogs, the iconic Temescal eatery, isn’t quite back in business — yet. The eye-catching, triangular building at the intersection of Telegraph and Shattuck avenues has temporarily reopened its doors, reincarnated as campaign headquarters for Oakland City Council District 1 candidate Len Raphael. Why is this good for foodies? Kasper’s owner, Harry Yaglijian, will be back behind the counter this Sunday, serving up his signature tomato-, cheddar cheese-, and onion-laden dogs for the second time in a decade.

Original Kasper’s Hot Dogs will serve its classic hot dogs this Sunday, for free.
  • Original Kasper’s Hot Dogs

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Savor Oakland to Launch Walking Food Tours

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM

For the past couple of years, we’ve heard murmurs about how Oakland has emerged as America’s next great food city, which isn’t exactly news for those of us who eat here every day. But heck, if New York Times shout-outs aren’t enough to convince you — if it isn’t enough that culinary heavyweights from Syhabout and Patterson on down have anchored their growing restaurant empires here — then how about this: In the not so distant future, tourists from far-flung locales might travel to Oakland for the express purpose of participating in a walking food tour of the city.

At least that’s what Oakland residents Carlo Medina and Geneva Europa envision. Next week, the husband-and-wife tandem will introduce Savor Oakland, a new food tour business designed to celebrate the city’s food, culture, and history — and to help rehabilitate its image.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

What Javi’s Cooking: Argentinian-Style Empanadas

by Luke Tsai
Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 4:48 PM

When What the Fork caught up with Javier Sandes last year, he’d just shut down arguably the most badass mobile food business in the Bay Area: Primo’s Parrilla, a streetside operation wherein Sandes grilled beef tri-tips and whole spitchcocked chickens over an open flame on top of said parrilla (an Argentinian-style grill).

The setup was so badass (or at least hard to pin down, as it was neither truck nor restaurant nor conventional food “cart”) that the city of Emeryville cried foul. So Sandes decided he would instead introduce Argentinian asado — i.e. barbecue — to the East Bay through a brick-and-mortar restaurant of his own.

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