Tag Archives: restaurants

On My Calendar

Exciting things coming up in August both in and around Rockridge and further afield:

  • Subculture the East Bay Express’s Best of the East Bay Party:  With something for everyone (and I mean everyone), the East Bay Express will be celebrating everything wonderful about the East Bay at the Oakland Museum this Friday, August 7 from 5pm to midnight.  The party itself is so massive and diverse that it makes summary a futile endeavor.  Download a large copy of the invitation by clicking here (invite) or check the blog the EBE has set up for more information.  (Best of the East Bay 2009 Party Blog)
  • FLUX Super 8 Showcase: Sets from the short film Synesthesia by directors Corey Creasey and Ian Kibbey of Terri Timely will be part of this exhibition curated by RESFEST founder Jonathan Wells.  This is the first annual showcase by FLUX, organized to celebrate eight of the most exciting and emerging young artists working in film, video, music and design.  Watch Terri Timely’s film here (Synesthesia via Terri Timely).  Opening: August 15, 7pm  Scion Installation L.A. 3521 Helms Ave (at National) Culver City, CA. 90232 (310) 815-8840.  Through September 8.

synesthesiafrom Terri Timely’s Synesthesia

  • Oliveto Tomato Dinners: Oliveto’s annual Tomato dinners are the perfect capstone to tomato season, but this year in particular.  Oliveto’s new Community Journal has been tracking the cultivation of this years crop from the time the Early Girls were planted as seeds back in February via Tomato Watch (check out their brilliant Tomato Watch timeline by clicking here).  For those of us who have been watching all along, the Journal has taken the experience of anticipation of eating this prized fruit to new levels.  Whether you’re a regular or an Oliveto virgin, the Tomato Dinners are sure to delight.  Wednesday through Saturday, August 26 through 29, 2009.  (Oliveto Restaurant, Oliveto Community Journal)
  • Chalk Hill Clematis’s Mary Toomey Garden Open House:  The eminent clematis cultivators Chalk Hill will open their doors to the public later this month for a tour of the Mary Toomey Garden.  From the Chalk Hill website: The Mary Toomey Garden is adjacent to the nursery and consists of a large pergola planted with roses and clematis and five individual gardens each with a different theme including an eighty foot long perennial bed featuring many herbaceous varieties. Chalk Hill also produces their own Olive Oil and Vinegar, available for sale at the farm.  In addition, cultivator Kaye Heafey’s book A Celebration of Clematis will be available for purchase  Open House Friday August 28th from 9am-4pm.  Chalk Hill Clematis PO Box 1847, Healdsburg, CA 95448 (707) 433-8416 farmmgr@chalkhillclematis.com


MTGsiteplan_smallArtwork by Martha Kemp

  • Os Mutantes LIVE: One of my favorite musical acts of all time will be performing live at the Independent in San Francisco as part of the second annual Outside Lands festival.  Their blend of Tropicalia, Psychedelia, and progressive rock have made them a unique (and we all shudder to use that word, but in this case it’s appropriate) force in 20th century popular music consciousness since their debut in the mid-1960s.  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see them in action.  Sunday, August 30, 9PM (Os Mutantes Myspace) (Tickets via the Independent) (About Os Mutantes via Wikipedia)

os-mutantes1

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A Different Alameda

For our last night in Spain we went to a restaurant in the old quarter of town called Alameda (not to be confused with the small island city off the East Bay of San Francisco, nor the county in which I reside), which boasts one Michelin star.  On a previous evening we had returned to Sebastian, also in the old quarter of Hondarribia and had the chef’s tasting menu.  I thought to myself, “this is as good a meal as I’ve ever had.  If I lived here I would eat at here all the time.”  While the second sentence holds true, Alameda blew the former sentiment for lovely little Sebastian.

While I managed to take a few pictures, they relate nothing of the scale of this meal.  Alameda is run by two brothers, Gorka and Kepa Txapartegui.  The cuisine has Basque roots, but is classified by Michelin as “Inventive.”  We had two lovely, attentive, and friendly servers, but it was one of the matriarchs of the Txapartegui family who came to ensure our meal met our expectations after our entrees arrived.  Although I consider description of this meal to be a futile pursuit, I will attempt to depict some of it here.

alameda table cloth better

Often, when my dad comes to visit and I am trying to convince him of the legitimacy of my choice of restaurant on any given evening, he’ll say quite seriously, “does it have a tablecloth?  I need a white tablecloth.”  In honor of dad we’ve taken to documenting the tablecloths at various restaurants.  Alameda’s are high-quality starched linen.

amuse bouche

The amuse-bouche was a delicate, super-fine gazpacho, topped with cheese foam, parsley-infused oil, and a parmasan crisp.

spider crab

I began with the spider crab salad arranged atop a tomato reduction and topped with green apples and micro greens.  The crab was absolutely beautiful in texture.

tuna

My entree–the tuna.  This picture hardly does it justice, but eating last night was much more important to me than picture-taking, which I take as a good sign.  It’s funny I just realized that from the blog it appears that I’ve been eating a lot of tuna.  I have I suppose.  The seafood is really what to eat in the Basque country.  I have no words to describe the preparation of this dish; I can’t even remember how it was described on the menu.  All I know is what appears to be a simple tuna fillet transformed into the most unbelievable tasting thing in my mouth.  The flavors of the tomatoes, salt, fish, oil, and potato were beyond this world.  Each bite I took made me crave one more.  I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that way before.  It was if nothing would be enough, and each time I took a bite I wished I could continue tasting what I was tasting forever.  Quite an experience.  Sort of Veruca Salt-esque I guess.

mint and melon

Dessert was fruit and cheese.  The fruit is above–a medley of melons and apples in a mint-melon sauce.  Amazing.

new cheese

Finally, the cheese plate.  From top right: a semi-soft cows milk, Roquefort topped with a dried apple slice, brie, quince paste, and the last two are two different dry manchego.  The Roquefort was especially beautiful.  There is no better way to end a meal than with Roquefort I believe.

Well, like I said, a futile pursuit.  But, perhaps if you’re ever in the area you’ll have a chance to experience it all for yourself.

At the Biarritz airport, embarking on many hours on various planes.  Ciao!

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Lunch at Le Madrid, Guéthary

You might start to notice that I’m working backwards now, which is slightly awkward, but I’ll make do.  I’m finding it less awkward than starting from the day I stopped blogging and working forward.  I hope you’ll stick with me on this strange anti-chronological journey.

Le Madrid was the unofficial (official?) hang of our stay in Guéthary.  Our first two days in Guéthary it was closed for two days before officially opening for the summer season, but Le Madrid was all I heard about for those two days from our Parisian friends and hosts.  It was so inflated as a “spot” that it hardly occured to me that the food would be any good.  When I ate dinner there for the first time on the night of the 8th I was absolutely blown away (some of you might remember a tweet of mine about the Cote de Beouf melting in my mouth).  Those kind of dinners aren’t for stopping every few minutes to photograph.  We were among friends, telling love stories, and sharing wine and Cote de Beouf (with Bearnaise of course), and since the best parts of the ephemeral meal were only captured in memory, I pledged to return in a more alert state so that I might record some of my meal for ARL.

Of course, the real way to do Le Madrid is this: aperitifs at home (our aperitifs of choice on this trip were foie gras (forgive me), radishes, and wine).  Savor all this from approximately 7pm-9pm, then make your way to Le Madrid for the real meal.  Oh, and having Manzana Verde post-Cote is the digestif de riguer.  The few images I have from Le Madrid at night:

le madrid 9

Customers entering Le Madrid behind lovely Martine at approximately 9pm

sunset

The view from outside Le Madrid at approximately 9pm

So, that said, on to lunch.

le madrid day

The view from the terrace

le madrid menu

The menus

It is worth explaining that I. and I fell in love with the menus as pieces of art in and of themselves.  We loved the fonts, the illustrations, and the color.  When we mentioned this to our friends they explained that the menus are designed by Martine, one of the owners, who was a graphic designer before she was a restaurateur.

lunch menu

The lunch menu

rose

The essential rosé

le madrid signage

Looking back towards the restaurant from the terrace

club

My companion’s club sandwich (I had a bite–absolutely delectable)

maigre

Maigre a la Plancha, pate fraiche & herbes

The perfect lunch.  The oil for drizzling has parsley and tarragon, the cherry tomatoes are roasted, and the pasta has a crisp piece of bacon artfully arranged at an angle atop.  And, how is it that the French know how to salt meat so perfectly?  You can see the small crystals of sel de mer on the maigre here.  Delicious.

Now that we’re in Spain it seems impossible, but I am actually missing Le Madrid.  If you are in the area go, sit for a few hours.  People watch, imbibe, and go back a few times to sample a variety of what’s on the menu.  You won’t be disappointed.

If you are as in love with Le Madrid as I am, you can click here to see the dinner menu: Continue reading

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Korean Barbeque Lovers

I grew up eating meals in the kitchens of my Korean friends and frequenting Woo Lae Oak for birthday parties and Father’s Day (that would be the original Woo Lae Oak on Western and Wilshire thank you very much–none of this BH/Soho b.s.).  

When I moved to Oakland in 2006 I was happy to find an abundance of Korean barbeque in the city.  The first one I ever visited (and a favorite to this day) was Sahn Maru.  It’s kind of like eating at your Korean grandmother’s house.  Great seafood pancake, amazing spicy pork bulgogi (perhaps my favorite ever), and kind service.  No barbeque-ing at the tables there though, and frankly, I don’t miss it.  Who needs to get all smoky and pay to cook their own dinner?  Not I.

sahn-maruThe humble decor isn’t the draw here, but it’s comfy.  And anyway, the price of upscale decor in Korean restaurants often amounts to being forced to listen to house music or mid-90’s “down-tempo” grooves for your entire meal. 

Another favorite is Ohgane.  Newer, sleeker, and larger than Sahn Maru, I find Ohgane to be a nice place to go just to mix things up a little.  It’s also a bit livelier than Sahn Maru if you’re looking for more of a night-out-on-the-town type place.  I love the thinly sliced radish they bring with the lettuce leaves here. 

Finally there is Jong Ga House.  Before it was A Rockridge Life, it was a Grand Lake Life, and Jong Ga was right around the corner.  This place has funky decor and a bar, which up the kitsch factor.  My favorite part of Jong Ga is the cold and spicy noodle soup offered gratis while you wait for your order.  

I’m trying to get up the nerve to bring the bulgogi home tonight and make my own.  I’ve looked at a few recipes, and it doesn’t look too hard, though I don’t know how close I’ll get in terms of authenticity.  Here are three recipes I’m considering. 

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YUME! *SAIKO!

About six months ago two of my nearest and dearest (and biggest food and sushi appreciating) friends, Boris and KRB, took me to 15 East in New York. We sat at the bar while Master Chef Masato Shimizu served us piece after piece of delicately cut fish atop warm, fleshy grains of rice.  I’d never had anything like it in my life.  Not even on my trip to Tokyo did I eat sushi like this (for some reason on my short stint in Tokyo I didn’t have good luck with sushi, maybe it was the jet lag?  But became ADDICTED to Okinawan cuisine at this one little spot–if memory serves it’s Ryutan?).  In any case, 15 East blew my mind.  Just the experience of two temperatures in my mouth; the subtle warmth of the rice with the coolness of the fish, was a total revelation.

The months since have been practically torture; not just due to a desire for the flavor and feel of 15 East, but by the odious experience of eating any other sushi, which now tastes bland at best.  The offenses that are committed all around us against fish and rice, a noble creature and sustaining staple, are just despicable.

Two months ago, I discovered the existence of Yume Sushi on Alameda through intense combing of yelp.com.  Something in my gut told me there had to be better sushi in the Bay Area than anything I’d tried in my searching over the past 3+ years–and Yume could be it.   Continue reading

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