Smokin' It Slow 

Slow food and fast ice cream.

Slow Food was founded in 1987 by journalist Carlo Petrini in response to McDonald's opening an outlet on the Steps of Rome. The organization is dedicated to preserving biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, and traditional ways of cooking and dining. Slow Food hit a fast nerve: its approximately 65,000 members live in 45 countries with 7,000 in the United States.

Along with preserving American culinary traditions such as barbecue, Slow Food USA supports the development of artisan foods (cheeses, sausages, hard ciders) and works to pass its love for good food and the convivial table on to future generations. The East Bay now boasts four independent convivia, or subgroups: East Bay, BACCHUS, Berkeley (led by Slow Food stalwart Alice Waters), and Bella Berkeley. By contrast, San Francisco is home to only one.

Event organizer Lynn Eve Fortin says that the tiny, informal BACCHUS convivium she leads is made up of food lovers who gather every six weeks for potlucks and field trips to such places as Mas Masumoto's organic peach farm near Fresno. To learn about joining Slow Food, visit its Web site at www.slowfood.com.

On Sunday, September 8, smoke will rise over downtown Berkeley as two subgroups of Slow Food USA -- BACCHUS and East Bay -- host an afternoon of barbecue. The fund-raiser begins at 1 p.m. with a screening of Smokestack Lightning, a documentary about the disappearing art of Southern barbecue. Local filmmakers Scott Stohler and David Bransten will be on hand to discuss the film. Afterward, barbecue master Bob Kantor of Memphis Minnie's in San Francisco will dish up slow-smoked pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, and sausages. Hawthorne Lane will supply the sides, Frog Hollow Farms the peach cobbler, and Pyramid the barbecue-friendly beer and soda.

The cost is $35 for Slow Food members, $50 for nonmembers, and there are only two hundred places available. For tickets and details on the Berkeley location, call 1-877-756-9366.

Fenton's owner Scott Whidden recently gave us an update on the century-old Oakland ice parlor, which closed last November after robbers burned it down. The wrangling over insurance and building permits has finally finished, and construction has begun. Whidden hopes to reopen by the end of the year. Meanwhile, folks can buy a few of the flavors three doors down the street at the Rooz Cafe, 4252 Piedmont Ave. If you'd like to keep in touch, join Fenton's e-mail list at www.fentonscreamery.com.

The sluggish downtown Oakland dinner scene has claimed another victim: LMNO, at Washington and 9th, has closed. I was unable to contact owner Jeff Murphy for more details.

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