Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beehive Market Founders Overhaul Swan's Market

by John Birdsall
Tue, May 31, 2011 at 3:25 PM

A decade after it was rehabbed, the historic urban market known as Swan’s is looking sad: vacant stalls, papered-up storefronts, and a conspicuous lack of foot traffic. But with today’s launch of a daily organic produce stall, Swan’s made the first move in an overhaul expected to take several weeks, one that aims to reposition the historic Housewives’ Market as a mini Ferry Building in the heart of Old Oakland.

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Now in Temescal: Takoyaki, Japanese Street Food

by John Birdsall
Tue, May 31, 2011 at 8:13 AM

Japan’s best-known street food: takoyaki, pan-fried batter balls filled with bits of baby octopus. Takoyaki are a product of Osaka in the 1930s, then spread to greater south-central Japan and beyond.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chez Panisse Cook Opening Butcher Shop in North Berkeley

by John Birdsall
Thu, May 26, 2011 at 8:49 AM

Berkeley is slated to get an artisan butcher shop later this year, one that’ll trot out a variety of sustainably raised whole beasts. The Local Butcher Shop hopes to launch in early September, in the old Red Hanger Kleaners at 1600 Shattuck, on the Cedar Street side of the complex, just behind Crepevine, and staring smack into the parking lot of Andronico’s. The proprietors: current Chez Panisse cook and Oliveto alum Aaron Rocchino and his wife, Monica, an account exec at Emeryville’s Paula LeDuc Fine Catering.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Molé Ice Cream Has Deep Roots in Jalisco

by John Birdsall
Tue, May 24, 2011 at 9:44 AM

The East Bay’s most traditional ice cream maker is now churning one of its most untraditional flavors: molé.

Back in 2007, the Express discovered Fruitvale frozen dessert maker Luis Abundis, still the only guy in the Bay Area we know who’s turning out nieves de garrafa, ices made the way they were before the rise of the crank freezer, which is to say completely by hand. Abundis has a smile only slightly less impressive than his upper-body strength. Standing at his garrafa — a metal canister wedged inside a wooden bucket filled with ice and salt — he turns out multiple batches of ices every day, beating house-made mixes with a hand-held paddle till they freeze.

Mole ice cream

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Announcing the Express’ New Food Writer, John Birdsall, and Food Blog, What the Fork

by John Birdsall
Mon, May 23, 2011 at 1:18 PM

It’s official. As of today, I can announce I’m taking over food coverage here at the East Bay Express.

Who am I? Let me introduce myself — er, re-introduce, technically. I was staff food writer at the Express back in 2006, when it was still part of Phoenix-based Village Voice Media, and survived its acquisition by a group of investors including former editor Stephen Buel. Survived for a few months anyway, until — like a blast chiller — the realities of newspaper publishing quickly cooled any euphoria for going indie. My position was axed, and by the end of 2007 I was out on my ass.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Opening Day at Hawker Fare: a First Look

by Luke Tsai
Wed, May 18, 2011 at 8:10 AM

It’s opening day at Hawker Fare, and by a little past noon the place is packed, with a steady stream of eager diners lined up by the door. When a Michelin-starred chef puts together a menu where everything’s under ten bucks, and then the Internet buzz machine does its thing, you know the people will come.

Maybe you’ve heard the story by now, about how Hawker Fare is located in the uptown Oakland ‘hood where Chef James Syhabout grew up (before it became “Uptown”) and in the space formerly occupied by a restaurant his mother ran when he was a kid. And how instead of serving more of the precise tweezer food he’s wowed Bay Area gastronomes with at Commis, Syhabout promised a menu of reinterpreted rice bowls and Asian street foods — the kind of stuff he grew up eating.

"It's totally different from Commis," Syhabout told one arriving couple. "I'm keeping it simple."

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Off the Grid Coming to North Berkeley

Tue, May 17, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Off the Grid, San Francisco’s fiercely popular food-truck events, is jumping the bay. Organizer Matt Cohen is in the final stages of environmental health review from the city of Berkeley to launch a weekly Off the Grid street-food event Wednesday evenings in North Berkeley, on the stretch of North Shattuck at Rose, site of the Thursday farmers’ market. Target launch date: Wed., June 1, though permitting delays might push the launch back to June 8.

Cohen launched the first Off the Grid in June 2010 at Fort Mason Center. There are now weekly (or twice-weekly) Off the Grid food-truck pods in five locations in San Francisco. In the past several months Cohen has hinted that Off the Grid was seeking to expand outside the city, citing the East Bay as a likely target. The North Berkeley event represents OtG’s first foray off San Francisco soil.

No word yet on how many vendors will regularly set up at Off the Grid North Berkeley, or if the roster will also include cart vendors, as at Fort Mason. We’ll let you know more as details emerge.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Kitchen Sink: Mobile Pies, Gourmet Asian Street Grub, and a Friday-Night Food Truck Pod in Temescal

by Ellen Cushing
Fri, May 13, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Here we go: your Friday dose of all the East Bay food and drink news that's fit to print put on the internet:

As Oakland continues to work out its policy toward food trucks, longtime events producer Karen Hester and established food truckster Elizabeth August of Guerilla Grub have set up a weekly "food pod" called Bites on Broadway in the area outside Oakland Tech, at 45th and Broadway. The event, which is set to run every Friday night from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. starting June 10, seeks to expand local food-truck culture and create a neighborhood-y “block party vibe,” according to Hester. “Everywhere in Europe, there’s a town plaza, “ she said, “and we’re trying to recreate that in an urban setting and between three neighborhoods — Temescal, Rockridge, and the Piedmont Avenue area.” Bites on Broadway will feature a rotating group of five or so trucks, including Fist of Flour and Go Streatery, plus live music, lots of grassy space, and bike racks.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

The Kitchen Sink: Burgers in Berkeley and the End of an Era at Chez Panisse

by Ellen Cushing
Fri, May 6, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Happy May, eaters and drinkers. Here's your week in food news and miscellany:

Longtime Chez Panisse chef David Tanis will be leaving the uberfamous restaurant later this summer to write a food column for the New York Times, according to Inside Scoop and literally every other publication in the Bay Area.

on to greener pastures
  • on to greener pastures
Tanis, who's been working at Chez Panisse for about 25 years now, splits his time between Berkeley and Paris, swapping six-month postings as the restaurant's chef with Jean-Pierre Moulle. After his current such stint, he'll leave for good. Queen Alice and the rest of the gang at Chez Panisse have yet to announce a replacement for Tanis.

And while we're on the subject: haven't you always wondered Chez Panisse's meat locker looks like? Of course you have. Behold:

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