Bourbon and Beef

Until I saw all the cute boys in the neighborhood, I was seriously pissed that my mom moved me to Rockridge when I was 14 (in 1975). I was a Berkeley kid. Moving to Oakland was uncool. The kids that hung out on the steps of Chabot School (smoking and drinking) were rivals to the kids who hung out at the 7-11 in Elmwood (smoking and drinking). It was a Jets/Sharks kind of situation. Well, without any real threat of violence. Oddly enough, my parents didn’t take my grievances about the situation seriously. With the perspective of an older person and the ...

Rosamunde’s Sausage Grill

Contrary to popular belief, Gertrude Stein did not disdain Oakland. Her so often repeated (and misquoted) line “there is no there there” was not an indictment of our city, but an observation made in painful nostalgia that the Oakland of her childhood (and her childhood home) no longer existed. The rural Oakland (pop 35,000) that she left in 1891 had given way to an urban Oakland (pop 300,000) when she returned in 1935. But her actual meaning doesn’t matter. The saying so perfectly represents the dichotomy between the perception of Oakland and the reality. To outsiders Oakland is either a thug ...

Trueburger

“Have you found my husband’s body yet?” my grandmother practiced saying in Spanish on her third day alone in the desert. She was in a VW bus in Baja. When it broke down my grandfather rode off on the 90cc Honda dirt bike across the sand dunes to look for help. At the time she was practicing her morbid Spanish, he was waiting for auto parts on the laid back schedule of a small Mexican town. The note he’d written and given to a crop duster to drop to her had (predictably) not made it into her hands. They were adventurous people ...

Grand Lake Kitchen

Getting knocked unconscious is (ironically) the most memorable experience I’ve had on Grand avenue. I woke up on the pavement after a car driving next to me honked so loudly that I swerved into a parked car and flew off my bike headlong and headfirst into the street. I was 12. No one stopped. Likely concussed, I rode home anyway. Later that day my mom yelled at me and my dog bit me. That’s the stuff of country songs right there. That was the summer I was taking sailing lessons on Lake Merritt. In those days, in the late summer and fall ...

Desco

The guy next to me flashed a (foamy) smile and said, “We drink our beer at room temperature in England.” “That’s because Lucas Electrics makes your refrigeration.” Ba-Dum-Bump. I got a hearty laugh. Lucas Electrics made the electrical systems for british cars that were notorious for failing. We were holding up the bar at Fauna in the midst of the recent troubles in Oakland. Frosty and I were there to support the restaurant, as were the Brit and his companions. I was feeling magnanimous and benevolent (when will I learn to recognize the hubris that comes before a fall?) so I told ...

Stag’s Lunchette

Saturday, August 10, 2013 0 No tags Permalink 0

It’s not easy to make the perfect sandwich. I’ve given this a lot of thought. I love the sandwich. To make and eat a sandwich, you don’t need a kitchen, utensils, or a table to sit at. I can carry one in my purse. There are endless possibilities. My beloved hamburgers (and even tacos) are variations on the theme. I can trace my epicurean evolution through my personal sandwich history. As a 5 year old I was fascinated with a version I had at Mels Drive In (at this location in Berkeley), a sliced up hot dog served on a hamburger bun. It's ...

Homestead

Thursday, August 8, 2013 1 No tags Permalink 0

Went to the first night of service at Homestead last night. It's a beautiful space and a great addition to the already happening food scene on Piedmont Ave. It's described as a "Farm to Table Bistro" which always means I will be able to get my protein on. And yes, there is meat here! The kitchen is open to the room, which gives it a homey feel. The food was good, some of it was great. These peppers were ridiculously good. Like potato chip good. I could eat two plates of these. ...

Oakland the Heartbreaker

Sunday, July 28, 2013 6 , , , Permalink 0

Being an Oaklander sometimes feels like being in love with a jerk. We’ve all been there, right? You can see nothing but his charms through your lust addled eyes but your friends and family are saying: WTF? In law school in San Francisco in the nineties, I overheard a fellow student say, “I’d never live in a suburb like Oakland.” Ouch. It sucks to hear what people really think of your lover. But in reality, Oakland has never depended on the larger city across the bay for its identity. Only San Franciscans compare Oakland to SF. Oakland’s had an image problem my entire ...

Big Bottom Market

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 0 , , Permalink 0

River communities have a way about them. We took a break from Eating in Oakland this past weekend to take a quick trip to the Russian River. We stayed just outside Guerneville at the very nice and cozy bungalow at Rio Nido. It was walking distance from the Rio Nido Roadhouse, which is a trip and a half as we used to say. The Roadhouse has a bar and grill, an outdoor patio, a pool, lawn seating and a stage for live music. Yup. All that. They made very tasty (and large!) drinks. The crowd was a great mix of locals ...

Bay Wolf

From the window of my school bus, I saw people (grown-ups!) ripping up asphalt from the park with their bare hands. It was 1971 and we were stopped (impeded by protesters) at People’s Park on Dwight Way. In my mind, I stood solidly with the people, hoping they would prevail against The Man. I’d decided a few years before which side I was on, when the National Guard helicopters circled above our house and the Alameda County sheriffs opened fire on Berkeley protesters (killing one and blinding another). I checked to see if my hair had reached my shoulders yet. I ...