Wednesday, December 26, 2012

(Mini) Midweek Menu: Ramen Shop, Airport Eating, Cruelty-Free Coffee

by Ellen Cushing
Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Luke's on vacation, I'm hungover busy making a newspaper, and apparently nothing newsworthy whatsoever happens the week of Christmas (except Jesus' birth?!?), so this iteration of our food-news roundup will be short and sweet. Here we go:

1. Tablehopper reports that the hotter-than-hotly anticipated Ramen shop will, barring catastrophe, be opening tomorrow, December 27; she's also got some pictures of the space and as-yet-unseen insights into the restaurant's last-minute fine-tuning efforts.

Carrot cake and cappuccino at Timeless Coffee
  • Vegansaurus
  • Carrot cake and cappuccino at Timeless Coffee
2. Vegansaurus brings us news of Timeless Coffee, a new Piedmont Avenue Cafe that is, you guessed it, 100-percent vegan. Blogstress Courtney Flynn went nuts for the shop's Sightglass pour-over and cruelty-free peppermint brownies; see for yourself at 4252 Piedmont Ave.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

For Oakland’s Food Truck Movement, Only Small Successes in 2012

by Luke Tsai
Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 9:34 AM

The year got off to such a promising start for Oakland’s seemingly limitless population of street-food enthusiasts — and for the mobile food vendors who want to feed them. A newly passed interim policy allowed food trucks, for the first time, to operate weekly at approved locations outside of the Fruitvale, as long as they were clustered into permit-carrying “pods” of three or more trucks.

It was easy to imagine that dozens of these so-called “food pods” would spring up all over Oakland — the first shots fired in a bloodless revolution of gourmet cupcakes and Asian-fusion tacos. People would come out in droves, and, buoyed by that success, city officials would quickly move to make mobile food — beyond taco trucks in Fruitvale — a permanent fixture in Oakland’s culinary landscape.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: A Spanish New Year’s Party, a Coffeehouse Class, and Some Cal Food Truck Drama

by Luke Tsai
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 9:15 AM

We’re one day later than usual, but welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Duende (468 19th St., Oakland), Oliveto alum Paul Canales’ arty new project — part Spanish-inspired restaurant, part high-end neighborhood bodega, part art gallery and live performance venue — is in full-on pre-opening mode right now. Grub Street made note of a music event that took place last week. And Duende will also be hosting a New Year’s Eve party ($25) that will feature live music and picoteos (Spanish finger foods). The official opening date for the restaurant still hasn’t been set, but the latest I heard is that it’s going to be in late December or early January.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

North Berkeley Off the Grid Says Goodbye

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 7:10 PM

In what is perhaps a temporary blow to the East Bay’s mobile food revolution, the North Berkeley offshoot of Off the Grid — the series of wildly popular weekly food truck gatherings — says goodbye tonight.

A press release issued today announced that this evening’s Off the Grid event — which was scheduled, as usual, for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the intersection of Rose St. and Shattuck Ave. — will be the last one ever at that location.

The reason for the sudden change in plans? Matt Cohen, Off the Grid’s proprietor, told me the North Shattuck Association has long wanted to reconfigure the space where the North Shattuck Off the Grid market takes place, and it’s been granted a permit to begin that process early next year. The upshot is that the site won’t be accessible for a period of time, and — once the construction is completed — the amount of space that would be available for Off the Grid to use would be reduced by about half.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

After Fire, Neighboring Businesses Raise Funds to Support American Oak

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 10:00 AM

A suspicious fire that took place early on Saturday, December 8, not only shut Alameda’s American Oak (2319 Santa Clara Ave.) down indefinitely, it also put the gastropub and whiskey saloon’s entire staff out of work just two weeks before Christmas — a tough break if there ever was one.

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Ring in the New Year with Peko Peko’s Lavish Bento Box

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 7:00 AM

For the homebody or the agoraphobe or anyone else who, quite sanely, abhors the idea of standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of drunken strangers to watch some ball drop, Peko Peko, an Oakland-based Japanese catering company, offers an elegant alternative: a luxurious Japanese New Year’s bento box you can enjoy in the peace and quiet of your own home, with or without a nice bottle of sake, in the company of a few friends and loved ones.

Priced at $300 for each handmade, three-layer cedar box that holds about fifteen different dishes (enough food to feed four or five people), the bento is, without question, a splurge — but an appealing one for Japanese food aficionados who who want all the joyous extravagance of a fancy New Year’s Eve dinner without any of the hassle.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Food Tours in Temescal, a Suspicious Fire in Alameda, and New York-Style Cheesecake in Berkeley

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 8:01 AM

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

1) A San Francisco-based food tour company is making its first foray into Oakland: According to Diablo Dish, Edible Excursions will be launching a tour of the Temescal neighborhood early next year. The tours will be led by local food writer Sarah Henry, who told me the three-hour Taste of Temescal will cost $75 and will include samples of “signature bites” from eight to ten different purveyors. Potential vendors include Doughnut Dolly, Beauty’s Bagel Shop, The Sacred Wheel Cheese Shop, CRO Cafe, Sura, and the Sunday farmers’ market (including the Cholita Linda and Starter Bakery stands). Henry said the tours will start in March. The news comes on the heels of newcomer Savor Oakland having launched a Jack London Square walking food tour a couple months ago.

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Quick, Before They’re Gone: Sufganiyot

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 7:00 AM

I’ll keep it brief: It’s Hanukkah, and that means it’s time to eat sufganiyot, those jelly- or custard-filled doughnuts that pop up at Jewish bakeries during the holiday season.

Sufganiyot (SOOF-gon-ee-OAT) — which are fried in oil, like a regular doughnut — are traditionally eaten during Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle of the temple oil (when a day’s worth of oil kept the temple menorah lit for eight days).

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tofu that Passes for Cheese: Rau Om’s Amazing Tofu Misozuke

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM

My favorite new cheese discovery is creamier than the softest brie and as funky as a ripe wedge of blue. It’s delicious spread on crackers, and I hear it makes for a mean mac ‘n’ cheese.

Here’s the thing: The tofu misozuke made by Rau Om, a Belmont, California-based company, isn’t really cheese at all. The product is, as its name suggests, made from tofu that has been cured with miso and allowed to age for two months.

For vegans and other people with dairy restrictions, the tofu misozuke is about as close you can come to experiencing the real deal — not just any cheese, but the long-aged, intensely flavorful, and delightfully stinky varieties sold at high-end cheese shops like Oakland’s Sacred Wheel Cheese Shop (4935 Shattuck Ave.), the product’s only East Bay purveyor.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Upscale Mexican for Uptown, Latkes for Hanukkah, and Legit Tacos for the Grand Lake Neighborhood

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) If you missed the big feature in last week’s Express about the “Oakland ’09ers” (the handful of young restaurateurs who boldly staked their fortunes in Oakland that year, recession be damned), you should check it out. Maybe the most exciting part of the story is the sidebar, which outlines a number of exciting new projects that are in the works: Italian food in Jack London Square, a beer garden on the water, a power lunch spot in the Tribune Building, a possible collaboration between the Linden Street Brewery and Commis’ James Syhabout, and more.

Eater adds a few more details about one of the projects, headed by Chop Bar’s Chris Pastena: a high-end Mexican restaurant (with lots of tequilas and mezcals) that will be located Uptown, as part of the next phase of the Broadway Grand Project.

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