Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Pizza Hacker, Alice Waters, and Michael Jackson’s Favorite Cookies

By Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) Earlier this year, What the Fork reported that Mani Niall, a former personal chef of Michael Jackson’s, will be opening a bakery called Sweet Bar Bakery at 2355 Broadway in Oakland. The build-out is moving along (though Eater reports the opening has been pushed back to September/October), and today, from 3 p.m. until he sells out, Niall will commemorate the King of Pop’s birthday with a pop-up cookie sale outside the bakery. He’ll be selling what he says are some of MJ’s favorite cookies — ’ookies, Niall calls them, since they contain no sugar or white flour.

2) Diablo Dish points our attention to a new place opening in Jack London Square: Forge Handcrafted Pizza and Beer. The big news is that the Pizza Hacker (Jeff Krupman), the Mission’s favorite renegade pizza slinger, is involved in some capacity. I haven’t been able to get a hold of Krupman yet to confirm what his role will be or whether the restaurant will be using some gussied-up version of his signature FrankenWeber (or PizzaForge) — the modified Weber grill he created for his mobile operation. A cursory website indicates a winter 2012 target opening. I’ll pass along more details as I get them.

3) This tip from The Express’s omnispective web editor: Jesso’s Grill (308 14th St., at Harrison) appears to be in the process of turning into Mediterranean restaurant that will serve gyros and kebabs:

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The Cajun fried fish specialist only just moved into this location (from its previous spot in Old Oakland) in March. It’s unclear whether there’s new ownership or if this will just be a menu change — online sleuthing only revealed this Facebook post from a month ago, announcing that the restaurant would be closed for renovation.

4) Inside Scoop has a report on the first day of business for Beauty’s Bagel Shop, which was this past Sunday. We heard they were sold out of bagels by around noon — opening day craziness. Anyway, in case you missed it, check out last week’s preview of the shop. Word on the street is that, for now, owners Amy Remsen and Blake Joffe aim to stay open (and to have bagels in stock) until about 3 p.m. each afternoon — a revision of their initial 6 p.m. target.

5) Alice Waters sure is keeping busy. Bay Area Bites offers a detailed look at her collaboration with the Hyatt hotel chain to create a healthy, organic kids’ menu. Meanwhile, an offhand comment Waters made about wanting to do a restaurant in a museum caused some to speculate that she might be involved in SFMOMA’s big upcoming expansion — that doesn’t appear to be the case at this time. Also: Waters expresses her disdain for the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook (in the context of judging a cookbook tournament; h/t to Eater) and shares pictures of food she took on her cell phone with Vanity Fair.

Michael Pollan
  • Michael Pollan
6) In other news about the sustainable food movement’s various luminaries, Berkeleyside has the details about the Edible Education class that Michael Pollan will be teaching at Cal this fall, with an assist from an impressive lineup of guest speakers. The course is underwritten by Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project — a limited number of free seats will be available to the general public each week (via pre-registration only).

7) Kicking off Eater’s series of mini-profiles/testimonials highlighting front of house professionals at Bay Area restaurants, former Express critic (and current Chow.com senior editor) John Birdsall offers a nice tribute to Jen Louise Dunning, the general manager at Pizzaiolo.

8) Finally, if you feel so inclined, take a look at my stories earlier this week on Old Oakland newcomer Umami Mart and the changes that Cal Dining has put in place at the newly reopened Memorial Stadium.

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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