Bites: Oliveto truffle dinners, TCHO factory tours, remembering Biff’s in Oakland

Tajarin with butter and white truffles was served at Oliveto’s Truffle Dinner 2016. Photo: Oliveto

THE TRUFFLE SHUFFLE Things get “wild and crazy” at Oliveto during its annual Truffle Dinners, owner Bob Klein told Nosh. Hearing this, we can’t help but imagine a restaurant packed with mushroom fanatics, all doing an orgiastic ‘shroom-enduced version of Chunk’s truffle shuffle while eating a meal enhanced by heavy-handed additions of truffles and wild mushrooms. Maybe it doesn’t get that crazy, but the Rockridge restaurant’s popular event does elicit some strong feelings — and strong odors. During the dinner series, “the room is reeking white truffles,” Klein said.

As with its prior years, Oliveto will present a shroom-heavy a la carte menu highlighting white and black truffles, as well as other wild mushrooms. Klein, who for many years, has traveled to Italy to collect the truffles for his restaurant’s annual fete, said he puts on these dinners the week before Thanksgiving, because by then truffle prices have dropped, and lately, because global warming has pushed the season back. This year, Klein said Oliveto will have lots of black truffles (which he prefers) as well as good quality white truffles, and other wild mushrooms.

Although the menu has not yet been announced, you’ll want to reserve your seats pronto. And, if you’re a real truffle junkie, you’ll want to know that Oliveto sells truffles individually, priced by the gram, as will Market Hall next door, which has its own Truffle Club. Oliveto Truffle Dinners take place from Nov. 14 through Nov. 18 at Oliveto, 5655 College Ave. (at Keith), Oakland. 

GET WILD ABOUT FOOD Speaking of wild foods… You may not realize it, but we’re surrounded by tons of food and medicinal plants here in the East Bay — much of it growing in your own backyard. Plants you might mistake for weeds, like miner’s lettuce, wild radish, nettles and wood sorrel are so common, you could literally make a salad from a short walk out the door. Once you know what’s edible and safe to eat, you almost can’t unsee the bounty of wild foods around us. If that sounds interesting to you, you’ll want to join forageSF for its Wild Food Walk: East Bay, taking place at 10 a.m. until noon on Nov. 19, where you’ll learn firsthand about the Bay Area’s most common wild foods, medicinal plants, and edible flowers. Tickets are $40 and a location for the walk will be emailed to attendees a week before the event.


La Marcha in Berkeley will be sherry central during International Sherry Week, Nov. 6-12. Photo: La Marcha

TAPAS, SHERRY AND FLAMENCO For the week of Nov. 6 to Nov. 12, Spanish tapas bar La Marcha in Berkeley is celebrating International Sherry Week in full force. La Marcha has one of the most robust selections of fortified wines in the East Bay, and for those seven days, it will offer sherry pairing dinners and sherry flights, as well as one big blow out event called A Night in Jerez. Taking place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Neyborly Poet’s Corner (across the street from La Marcha at 2043 San Pablo Ave.), this event is an action-packed way to learn about, drink and enjoy sherry. There’ll be five “learning booths” to get educated on sherry types and how they’re made, as well as a buffet of tapas and other bites to give you a lesson on what foods go best with which sherry wines. There will also be a feast of meat and vegetarian paellas, followed by flamenco performances. Tickets to A Night in Jerez are $75. La Marcha, 2026 San Pablo Ave. (near University), Berkeley

The TCHO chocolate factory in Berkeley. Photo: TCHO

FO’ TCHO Good news for chocolate fanatics, TCHO‘s Berkeley factory is open for guided tours. TCHO moved from San Francisco to Berkeley back in 2014, and was closed to the public for its first three years. Earlier this month, it announced that once again, it would be allowing guests inside. Tours are 90 minutes, and priced at $10 a person. Guests will get a behind the scenes look at the factory, as well as learn how the company makes its products, from bean to bar. Most importantly, there’ll be tastings of TCHO chocolates. A trip to TCHO won’t be as an eventful as a tour to Willy Wonka’s, but that’s definitely a good thing. Tours are by appointment only. TCHO, 3100 San Pablo Ave. (at Haskell), Berkeley

REMEMBERING BIFF’S Oakland resident, artist Lizz Milota wants to pay homage to a little piece of Oakland history — Biff’s Coffee Shop — on a trashcan. Milota is fundraising to create a glass mosaic that will adorn a trashcan placed across the street from the old Biff’s site. She’s already secured the location through the City of Oakland’s adopt-a-spot program and received a grant from Keep Oakland Beautiful to help pay for the project, but she told Nosh, she’s fundraising because the grant didn’t quite cover the cost for materials, tools and workshop access that she’ll need to complete it.

Biff’s was a 24-hour diner opened in 1963 in a round Googie building on 27th Street and Broadway. It closed in 1996, when it was called JJ’s Diner and the iconic building was demolished in 2016. The site is set to become a seven-story condo. Milota hopes her artwork will keep the memory of Biff’s alive. She’s creating a mosaic of Biff’s sign on one side of the trashcan, and mosaics of other iconic vintage signs from Oakland restaurants, Dave’s Coffee Shop and Giant Burger.

Milota plans to install a nano tile with a QR code, so that passersby can scan the tile with their phones to read more info about Biff’s and the story of the trashcan. As of earlier this week, Milota has raised $850 out of her $1500 goal. Milota told Nosh that she plans to move forward with the project, whether she reaches the monetary goal and hopes the finished piece will be installed by September 2018.