Restaurants help Katrina victims.
The East Bay's restaurant community is responding to Hurricane Katrina by sponsoring benefits and fund-raisers, including the national "Restaurants for Relief" day. If you dine out at participating restaurants on Tuesday, a portion of your bill will be donated to Share Our Strength's Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. Visit OpenTable.com for the complete list of participating Bay Area restaurants. At press time, Bistro Liaison, Il Fornaio Walnut Creek, Montclair Bistro, Left Bank Pleasant Hill, and Mangia Mangia had signed up.
If you're in the industry, though, you can help out even more directly. The Council of Independent Restaurants (CIRA) estimates that 200,000 hospitality workers in New Orleans were affected by the hurricane. If you know a restaurateur looking for staff -- or restaurant folks from the Gulf Coast searching for work -- send them to CIRAJobs.com, where CIRA, the James Beard Foundation, and the Southern Foodways Alliance have set up an online job bank for displaced workers. Restaurants around the country that are willing to help move and temporarily house people from the Gulf Coast can post job openings on the site and review résumés submitted by workers.
Cookbook addicts, your time has come.
On Saturday, the Rockridge neighborhood hosts its annual Out & About Explore Rockridge street fair. As part of the festivities, from noon until 5:00 p.m., all the vendors at the Market Hall food court will hit the streets. Paul Bertolli, co-owner of Oliveto, plans to roasts a whole hog for porchetta sandwiches -- no word on whether the roasted entrails will make it onto your buns -- and other vendors will offer tastings.
Market Hall has gathered a number of A-list food writers to be on hand to sign their cookbooks and answer questions. Authors include Janet Fletcher (The Cheese Course), Fran Gage and Michael Recchiuti (Chocolate Obsession), Joyce Goldstein (Italy Slow and Savory, Saffron Shores), and Judy Rodgers (Zuni Cafe Cookbook).
But the best part of the event is the cookbook exchange, where you can drop off an unused cookbook in exchange for someone else's castoff. If you forgo bartering to donate books or simply purchase them, the proceeds will go to the Rockridge Public Library. So don't bring your scuffed make-your-own-tofu manuals. I've got a stack of books to drop off, and I'm looking for Spanish, rustic French, and Middle Eastern recipes. That's a distinct hint, people.
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