Thursday, September 28, 2017

Local Baker Says Walmart Stole Her Work

by Janelle Bitker
Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 10:14 AM

The original photo in question. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANGELICA RUBALCABA
  • Photo courtesy of Angelica Rubalcaba
  • The original photo in question.

A local baker says Walmart used her work without permission.

Angelica Rubalcaba runs AngelicaMadeMe, a blog and custom-decorated cookie business in Oakland. A few days ago, a photo of a pair of leggings from Walmart’s No Boundaries brand started circulating on social media. The leggings are printed with Halloween-themed cookies, most of which other bakers across the country say have been used without their permission.

The baker behind LilaLoa is the first who found her cookie on a pair of Walmart leggings. - PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGANNE BELL
  • Photo courtesy of Georganne Bell
  • The baker behind LilaLoa is the first who found her cookie on a pair of Walmart leggings.

If the leggings merely portrayed identical cookie designs to the ones on the various baking blogs, copyright infringement would be difficult to prove. However, Rubalcaba said she believes that Walmart took the bakers’ actual photos, which would be protected under copyright law.

“They should have systems and teams in place to address copyright before it gets to this point,” Rubalcaba said. “Maybe because we’re not a big band or company, they thought no one would notice.”

Rubalcaba contacted Walmart, which has since told Rubalcaba that an internal investigation is taking place. Walmart sent a brief statement to the Express: “We take claims like this seriously and appreciate it being brought to our attention. We’ve reached out to the supplier and they are looking into it.”

What now? Probably nothing, Rubalcaba admitted.

“I talked to the other bakers, and we all agree this sucks but we also can’t afford a lawyer,” she said. “I hope they’ll find some way to make it right.”

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Clove & Hoof to Expand with Old-School Soda Fountain

by Janelle Bitker
Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 8:28 AM

John Blevins and Ana Gosnell at Clove & Hoof. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TERRENCE MCCARTHY
  • Photo courtesy of Terrence McCarthy
  • John Blevins and Ana Gosnell at Clove & Hoof.

The team behind Clove & Hoof is working on an old-fashioned soda fountain set to open in December.

Co-owners John Blevins and Ana Gosnell will launch The Fountain (4001 Broadway) right next to their popular butcher shop in North Oakland. They plan to deck it out in retro nostalgia, from the design to the menu. Details are a little vague right now but expect milkshakes, sundaes, malts, egg creams, and sodas, with an interesting lean toward savory flavors.

Sodas are currently the main focus for Blevins, who will make all the tinctures and bitters. He’s collaborating with Oakland's Five Flavors Herbs in the hopes of unveiling some hand-foraged root beer, for example. Other flavors he’s contemplating: lavender honey cream, Douglas Fir maple, and celery.

The Fountain might make its own ice cream down the line, but for now, it’ll scoop Strauss. The fixins are likely where Blevins will get creative. “I like spins on classics, but you’re not gonna see a banana split,” he said.

It’s a small, 700-square-foot space, which means there won’t be any seating. Instead, Blevins will perform his “alchemy” from behind a big, wraparound bar, where customers are meant to stand. The idea is that it’s relaxed and social — you can chat with Blevins like you would with a bartender mixing your craft cocktails.

“It’s gonna be a super fun space — more of the same that we do at Clove & Hoof but applied to liquids,” he said.

The Fountain at Clove & Hoof will be open Wed.-Mon. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Tue. 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 4001 Broadway,

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Former Corso Chef Readies Juanita & Maude in Albany

by Janelle Bitker
Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 1:02 PM

The exterior of Albany's upcoming neighborhood restaurant. - COURTESY OF JUANITA & MAUDE
  • Courtesy of Juanita & Maude
  • The exterior of Albany's upcoming neighborhood restaurant.

After nine years of executing handmade pastas and other Northern Italian fare at Berkeley’s Corso, Scott Eastman is ready to do his own thing.

Eastman was one of the opening chefs with Corso and spent six years as its chef de cuisine. He left in April to work on his first restaurant with his wife, Ariane Owens, who also designed the space. The result is Juanita & Maude (825 San Pablo Ave.), which is scheduled to debut Oct. 17 in Albany.

At Juanita & Maude, Eastman will prepare New American dishes informed by his background in Italian cuisine. But he also plans to incorporate German influences and perhaps venture into other European regions.

“It’s a little vague by design. ... It’s going to be American because it’s really for our tastes. Authenticity — we didn’t want to be held to that,” he said. "We're hoping to take the neighborhood for a little ride."

For example, there will always be a stuffed pasta of sorts, but it might be Italian ravioli one week and Polish pierogi another. A commitment to whole animal butchery will also influence the menu, which will be divided into three sections: shareable small plates, lighter dishes, and more conventional mains. Expect to spend about $55 per person.

Owens said they were drawn to the space, which used to be occupied by Nizza La Bella, for its excellent enclosed kitchen and beautiful bar. Owens recruited local makers to craft tables and ceramics for the restaurant. Otherwise, there weren’t any dramatic changes.

“We just want to bring it back to life,” Owens said.

Eastman and Owens are joined by general manager Nicholas Danielson, who will also handle the craft cocktail program. His resume includes Corso, Eccolo, Fonda, and Rivoli.

Juanita & Maude will open Oct. 17 at 825 San Pablo Ave., Albany. Hours will be Tues.-Sat. 5-10 p.m.

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Smokin’ Woods BBQ and Ducks & Dragons Bakery Start Residencies at Forage Kitchen

by Janelle Bitker
Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 10:03 AM

Has gluten-free bread ever looked this good? - PHOTO COURTESY OF MINA MAKRAM
  • Photo courtesy of Mina Makram
  • Has gluten-free bread ever looked this good?
It’s a new season over at Forage Kitchen. Since cult sandwich purveyor Pal’s Take Away stayed almost a year at the Uptown Oakland food incubator, it’s easy to forget that Forage’s cafe was always meant to rotate concepts.

Earlier this month, Pal’s exited to make way for two new businesses: Smokin’ Woods BBQ and Ducks & Dragons Bakery. Yes, the lack of Pal’s is depressing, but there are some pop-ups already planned while owner Jeff Mason looks for a new home. The next one takes place on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Oakland’s Cole Coffee (6255 College Ave.).

At Forage (478 25th St.), you’ll now find Smokin’ Woods on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays and Ducks & Dragons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

In a town short on barbecue, Smokin’ Woods is a welcomed addition to the neighborhood. Pitmaster and owner James Woodard started catering back in 2013, succumbing to requests from friends and family who praised his home cooking. Last month, he finally quit his day job to focus on turning Smokin’ Woods into a full-blown, brick-and-mortar restaurant in Oakland. This test run at Forage is the next big step.

He describes his style as “Bay Area barbecue,” a sort of no-rules cross between Texas and Kansas City ’cue.

“It’s our own style,” he said. “We’re trying to be a little different.”

One of the biggest distinctions is Woodard’s emphasis on vegetarian options. He’s been experimenting with smoked jackfruit to throw in a pulled pork-esque sandwich, for example. He also smokes cauliflower and grills asparagus with mushrooms.

At Forage, he’ll always have ribs, chicken, and tri-tip available, plus sides and daily specials. If you’re craving brisket, head over on a Thursday. Sandwiches start at $10.75 and the most expensive item is a three-meat combo for $19.95.

Ducks & Dragons, meanwhile, was launched by Mina Makram and Kim Sullivan in 2015. But really, their story starts about three years earlier, when Makram started dieting and ultimately lost 200 pounds.

“Growing up, having bread was such an integral thing,” he said, recalling one of his happiest memories: a tradition of eating a fresh baguette in the car after a family grocery outing.

But he couldn’t go back to his normal bread intake, so he started trying all the gluten-free and so-called healthier breads he could find. “They straight-up tasted like cardboard, and none of them were available fresh,” he said.

He started experimenting in the kitchen — remarkable, considering he never knew how to bake or even cook before — and eventually launched Ducks & Dragons, the first paleo bakery in the Bay Area. His breads, bagels, and other treats are baked in a gluten-free facility in San Carlos. Prior to Forage, he only sold his goods at farmers’ markets and wholesale. East Bay residents can also find Ducks & Dragons at Rockridge Market Hall.

According to Makram, what sets his gluten-free, almond flour-based breads apart is that they actually taste like bread and that they’re full of nutrition. They’re also free of oil, dairy, and soy.

In addition to picking up baked goods, folks can choose from toasted bagels, bone broth via Broth Baby served with bread, or a series of toasts. Think toast topped with almond butter and fruit or avocado toast made with caramelized onion bread.

As with Smokin’ Woods, Makram eventually wants to launch a brick-and-mortar bakery, though it will mostly likely be on the Peninsula, where it all began.

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Say Goodbye to Pacific Coast Brewing, One of Oakland's Oldest Breweries

by Janelle Bitker
Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Pacific Coast will soon vacate its historic building. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RICKY W. VIA YELP
  • Photo courtesy of Ricky W. via Yelp
  • Pacific Coast will soon vacate its historic building.

After 29 years in business, Oakland’s Pacific Coast Brewing (906 Washington St.) will close up shop in November.

Pacific Coast was a craft beer pioneer in the East Bay, opening long before the nationwide explosion of interest in malt and hops.

In a statement, co-founder Steve Wolff and his wife Laura blamed the decision on “the rapid changes coursing through the Bay Area’s restaurant industry” and, in particular, the uncertainty of Pacific Coast’s lease in Old Oakland.

General manager Alan Fullerton explained that the brewery's existing long-term lease expired earlier this year. After negotiations and a short-term extension, the landlords offered Pacific Coast a two-year lease — but both parties would have the ability to terminate it with just two months notice.

“Normally we would have been thrilled by a two year extension, but unfortunately with the two month caveat and the fact that we would regularly have prospective new tenants tour the property over the last couple of months, it left the owners with little faith that we would have a long term spot in our same location,” he wrote to the Express.

In their statement, the Wolffs emphasized their excitement for Oakland’s future even though Pacific Coast will no longer be part of it.

For the brewpub’s final two months, it will bring back some popular dishes from decades past. A four-day Last Anniversary Celebration will take place Oct. 19-22.

Pacific Coast Brewing, 906 Washington St.,

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Coloso Coffee to Make Way for New Development

by Janelle Bitker
Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 3:50 PM

This particular storefront will be no more. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLOSO COFFEE
  • Photo courtesy of Coloso Coffee
  • This particular storefront will be no more.

Oakland’s Coloso Coffee (1715 Webster St.) is throwing a goodbye party this weekend, but there’s no need to totally freak out. The indie cafe is moving to Swan’s Market in Old Oakland.

Co-owner Jose Posadas said Coloso got lucky. Unlike some other small businesses located downtown, Posadas learned about the fate of his building months ago — granted, from a newspaper and not the building owner, he said. Much has been reported about the 25-story residential tower that will be erected on the 1700 block of Webster Street, where Coloso currently sits.

“We suspected this would happen given the state of the neighborhood,” Posadas said.

Fortunately for Posadas, End Game Cafe (917 Washington St.) recently closed nearby, so Coloso will take over the location. After swapping the furniture, Posadas expects to open by mid- to late-October.

Until then, folks can say goodbye to the current Coloso (1715 Webster St.) on Saturday, Sept. 23, starting at 6 p.m. There will be drinks, food, and music. For more info, visit

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Preeti Mistry to Close Juhu Beach Club

by Janelle Bitker
Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 11:20 AM

Get your pavs for what might be the last time in Oakland. - ANDRIA LO
  • Andria Lo
  • Get your pavs for what might be the last time in Oakland.

Juhu Beach Club, one of Oakland’s most beloved and critically acclaimed restaurants, will close in the coming months.

Chef-owner Preeti Mistry announced the news yesterday via Eater, explaining that she will sell her restaurant space in Temescal in order to dive into new projects. She’s on a roll right now after shout-outs from Anthony Bourdain and national food magazines, not to mention Navi Kitchen and her first cookbook coming out next month.

“There will be a 3.0, we can’t totally talk about it yet but it’s not going away,” Mistry told Eater. “I’m not going away.”

By “3.0,” she means Juhu will live on in another iteration. It started out as a pop-up, then moved to its current home in Temescal, and the next might be in another city.

So, this is a sad day for the neighborhood but not in the same way as, say, Hawker Fare's closure. Mistry isn't closing because she can't afford to stay in Oakland anymore. It's that her fresh take on Indian cuisine proved so popular, she needs space to grow.

To be clear, the sale hasn’t happened yet, and it will likely take some time. That said, if you’ve been craving some of Mistry’s crispy, sticky-sweet Manchurian cauliflower, you might want to head over soon.

Juhu Beach Club, 5179 Telegraph Ave., Oakland,

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks to Open in Berkeley with Giant Slabs of Fried Chicken

by Janelle Bitker
Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 12:41 PM

Fried chicken, spotted at the Shihlin Night Market in Taipei. A new Berkeley restaurant will serve its own version. - COURTESY OF SOON KOON VIA FLICKR
  • Courtesy of Soon Koon via Flickr
  • Fried chicken, spotted at the Shihlin Night Market in Taipei. A new Berkeley restaurant will serve its own version.

One of the most famous food destinations in Taiwan, Shihlin Night Market is a sprawling mass of street vendors selling the likes of stinky tofu, oyster omelettes, and bubble tea. The narrow alleys go on forever, and even over the course of several hours, it’s impossible to taste even half of the offerings.

This weekend, an international chain will softly open its first East Bay shop that pays homage to that very night market: Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks (2521 Durant Ave., Ste. E, Berkeley).

Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks already has locations in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The Berkeley restaurant joins Milpitas as the second branch in the United States.

The menu is pretty short but the main attraction is, indeed, something that draws long lines at the Shihlin Night Market in Taipei: da ji pai, a whole, deep-fried chicken cutlet. On the menu, it’s called XXL Crispy Chicken ($7.99) due to its giant size. Usually, it’s prepared with pounded chicken breast, but Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks also has a leg and thigh option. Ultimately, this dish is all about the satisfying, carnal crunch and salty/spicy balance. For more on Taiwanese fried chicken, check out this good explainer from former Express food editor Luke Tsai. Unfortunately, the only other spot to offer da ji pai, Oakland’s Chick & Tea, has closed.

Other menu highlights include oyster mee sua (noodle soup with oysters), braised meat rice (otherwise known as lou ru fan, served with an egg and pickled vegetables), and sweet potato fries dusted with plum powder.

During the shop’s soft opening on Saturday, Sept. 23, and Sunday, Sept. 24, folks will get a free drink — think winter melon tea or smoked plum juice — with the purchase of one XXL Crispy Chicken.

Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks, 2521 Durant Ave., Ste. E, Berkeley,

(510) 529-4166,

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Vegan Donut Gelato Delivers Plant-Based Comforts

by Janelle Bitker
Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 8:00 AM

These doughnuts look suspiciously normal. - JANELLE BITKER
  • Janelle Bitker
  • These doughnuts look suspiciously normal.
In the hopes of encouraging more folks to go vegan, Sam Kang turned to doughnuts.

He ran a plant-based Vietnamese restaurant in Sunnyvale for eight years before getting burnt out. After a short break, he figured vegan-izing one of the most common American comfort foods would do wonders for converting the masses.

Enter Vegan Donut Gelato (411 E 18th St.), which softly opened earlier this month just east of Lake Merritt. It’s Kang’s second location — his first vegan doughnut shop launched in Modesto last December. Rapid expansion wasn’t and still isn’t his primary goal, though.

“When we opened in Modesto, a lot of people came from Oakland and asked us to open,” Kang said.

He thinks Oakland’s central location will help him reach the vegan community across the Bay Area. But vegans aren’t actually his prime demographic — he’s hoping to feed the masses.

“I want it to feel just like a normal doughnut shop,” he said. “I don’t want to be fancy. I want people to feel comfortable. I want it to feel familiar.”

The place does feel like your standard, no-frills doughnut shop. The display cases are stocked with all the usual suspects: raised, cake, holes, twists, fritters, and more, with a healthy dose of chocolate glaze and rainbow sprinkles.

It’s stands in stark contrast to Pepples Donut Farm, Oakland’s only other all-vegan doughnut purveyor, which focuses primarily on cake doughnuts in unusual flavors like green tea or kaffir lime. The price point at Vegan Donut Gelato is also slightly lower: raised and cake doughnuts go for $2, and maple bars hit $2.50, for example.

Kang wouldn’t reveal the secret to his doughnuts, only vetoing my guesses at alt-milks, flax seeds, garbanzo beans, and egg replacers. I sampled a single raised doughnut hole and found it not quite as airy and soft as non-vegan recipes but pretty darn close.

The gelato will be made in-house with an almond milk base, but the machine hasn’t arrived yet. It’s coming from Florida, and with Hurricane Irma, Kang isn’t sure when it’ll make its way here.

Plant-based living wasn’t always so important to Kang, but he’s from Indonesia, where folks tend to eat vegetable-focused meals with small amounts of meat and lots of tempeh — quite different from the typical American diet. He’s been vegan for the last 25 years and hopes to convince more people to join him.

“Our main goal is to spread this lifestyle,” he said. “I don’t
want to do protests. I just want to give people doughnuts.”

Vegan Donut Gelato, 411 E 18th St., Oakland,

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Itani Ramen Goes Izakaya

by Janelle Bitker
Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 10:45 AM

  • Photo courtesy of Itani Ramen
  • Feast.

Uptown’s Itani Ramen (1736 Telegraph Ave.) recently overhauled its dinner service, abandoning the counter for a full-service, izakaya experience. That comes with a slightly redesigned space and new menu, focusing on Japanese small plates in addition to its usual ramen fleet.

New items include an excellent giant squid, which is flown in from Japan, bathed in ginger, and grilled whole; a charming arrangement of tangy cucumbers and funky kimchi; and wrap-your-own spicy tuna hand rolls, jazzed up with wakame. There are also a few new rice bowls (chicken katsu with cabbage, spicy mustard, and half an egg, for example) for those looking for a bulkier option that’s not ramen. Don't worry: you can still order gyoza loaded with bonito flakes and those addictively crispy pig ears, too.

Owner Kyle Itani said he wanted to make dinner feel more relaxed and social — a full liquor license, which Itani just applied for, should help with that. Up next is a plan to turn the private dining room in the back into a swanky lounge.

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