- 08/28/2013 - Free Outdoor Screening in the BAM/PFA Sculpture Garden
- 08/27/2013 - MARK EPSTEIN / The Trauma of Everyday Life
- 08/24/2013 - The goat Rodeo Sessions
- 08/20/2013 - Yang Fudong and Philippe Pirotte in Conversation
- 08/03/2013 - Book Signing and Discussion with Dave Kehr, followed by The Lawless Breed
Author Archives: Risa Nye
Are you confident about choosing a cantaloupe? Do you have an appreciation for apricots? Need a refresher on freshness?
If you’ve ever wondered what a professional chef looks for when choosing produce, come along with local caterer, teacher and cookbook author Linda Carucci as she cruises the aisles of Berkeley Bowl West in search of ingredients for her roasted chicken salad with raspberry vinaigrette.
To save time in the store, Carucci keeps her shopping list organized by area: Perishables are always on the sides of the store and non-perishables in the middle. (Tip: Any time you walk into an unfamiliar store looking for milk, you can figure that it will be on one side or the other, where the power sources are.) … Continue reading »
When we entered Build on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Bancroft Way in Berkeley, we decided to bypass the pizzeria side and make a beeline for the bar. We had heard great things about Build’s bar program, and wanted to see for ourselves where the magic happens.
The bar menu has a decidedly Italian flair. We had a hard time choosing, but ultimately we were swayed by the allure of the Autunno a Costiera Amalfitana (Autumn on the Amalfi Coast), made with vodka, Buddha’s hand citron, Campari, lemon, grapefruit, basil and prosecco.
Actually, the entire cocktail menu makes for an entertaining read. While we typically choose our drinks based on the components, we are sometimes tempted to try something with a clever name. (Unlike betting on a horse using this same logic, we are more likely to pick a winner at the bar. It should be noted, however, that our companion for the evening chose to order a Bitter Old Man, made with bourbon, rye, bitters and a blend of vermouths.) … Continue reading »
Like many Bay Area locals, we seldom make the time to play tourist in our own town. So we decided it was high time to enjoy a cocktail and a sunset at the Paragon Restaurant & Bar, located at one of the most recognized landmarks in Berkeley: the Claremont Hotel & Spa. The view may be better from the Campanile, but Paragon’s setting and its service are hard to top.
We only hesitated a moment before deciding to forgo our typical barstool perch inside the spacious restaurant for the luxury of sitting outside on the deck near the swaying palms. The long bar and comfortable seating indoors didn’t deter us from our mission to soak up a few rays.
And the view was irresistible on this windswept afternoon: the bay sparkled and the Golden Gate Bridge glowed orange in the reflected light. We watched as fog rolled under the bridge and the sun arced toward Mt. Tamalpais. We commented on the beauty of where we live, and then turned our attention to the drink menu. … Continue reading »
A friend who had joined us for a Ms. Barstool adventure several months ago recommended the cocktails at Boot & Shoe Service on Grand Avenue in Oakland. We welcome such suggestions, and decided to see for ourselves what the bar had to offer. While we have been to known to order and appreciate the pizza and other dining options at Boot & Shoe, we had somehow missed the fact that there is a bar in the back. Such oversights must be remedied, and so one recent evening, we walked down the high-ceilinged brick-walled corridor on the left and made a beeline for the bar.
Like the weather in the East Bay these days, the cocktail menu at Boot & Shoe changes weekly. We like this idea, since we can anticipate new choices on subsequent visits. On the evening we visited, the featured cocktails were the Monk’s Garden (gin, lime, grapefruit, St. Germain, yellow chartreuse, and Peychaud’s bitters) and the Diablo Cocktail (tequila, ginger, lime and crème de cassis). We were tempted by the Deadly Sin (bourbon, carpano antica, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters) and braced ourselves for the possibility of a Gunpowder Punch (Navy strength rum, lime, cane syrup and Angostura bitters). … Continue reading »
We recently joined the ranks of those felled by the flu-like cold that’s been going viral throughout the East Bay. Finally on the mend, we couldn’t think of a better way to lift our spirits than to get back on the barstool in search of a cure for what ailed us. The cure turned out to be cocktails at Picán.
The menu offerings at Picán are described as “Southern Infused California Cuisine,” and that Southern influence is present behind the bar as well. We decided to forego the bourbon flights on this visit — next time perhaps? — and perused the list of cocktails instead.
But which drink to try? The obvious choice would be the Mint Julep, made with bourbon, rock candy syrup, fresh mint and bitters. But that would mean passing up the Southern Peach Squeeze and the Devil Went Down to Georgia, both of which include a teasing taste of summer with peach purée or peach whiskey. We were intrigued by the mysterious Black Hand (Wild Turkey, basil, balsamic syrup and ginger beer) and startled by Rosemary’s Baby (gin, fresh rosemary, agave nectar, lime juice). When in Uptown, we mused, shouldn’t we try the Uptown Manhattan? Our thoughts were muddled. … Continue reading »
Scott Cameron says the idea of transforming a Rockridge property into an opportunity for local chefs came to him as a “shower epiphany.”
Cameron, who launched Guest Chef in November 2011 at 5337 College Avenue, has created the opposite of a pop-up, which tends to be something that moves from place to place. Guest Chef stays put, with its fully equipped kitchen and two-person staff, while the chefs rotate in for two week stints at the stove.
And for many of the guest chefs, it’s the realization of a dream: if they’ve ever fantasized about running their own restaurant, says Cameron, two weeks at Guest Chef will “give them a taste.” … Continue reading »
Seeking shelter from recent storms, we bustled into the cozy comfort of Hopscotch Restaurant and Bar in Oakland’s Uptown. Hopscotch has the familiar feel of a re-imagined diner, with its traditional chrome accents; light fixtures with a vintage look; checkerboard floor; and L-shaped counter lined with red barstools. A relative newcomer to Uptown, Hopscotch seems as though it’s always been here.
Some may say that chocolate has no place in a cocktail. We beg to differ. Particularly at this time of year, a little extra sweetness helps reduce pre-holiday stress, and increases the ability to enjoy the spirit of the season.
We gave ourselves an early present by sampling from the Twelve Cocktails of Christmas featured during December at FIVE Bistro & Bar. Listed between the Eight Maids a Milking (chili vodka, chocolate liqueur, sugar and cayenne rim) and Ten Ginger Lords (vodka, ginger liqueur, apple cider, gingerbread cookie rim), the Nine Ladies Dancing leapt into a clear lead in a very competitive field.
Since it’s early in the month, bartender Victoriano had yet to tackle the Nine Ladies. This proved not to be a problem for the chemist-by-day, bartender-by-night, however. “Bartending is just like chemistry,” he assures us, as he reviews the ingredients and mixes the requested drink, which he then served in a glass with a cocoa-coated rim. … Continue reading »
Flora Restaurant and Bar, located in the 1930s Oakland Floral Depot building on Telegraph Avenue, combines Art Deco ambiance with Uptown panache. While a likeness of stage magician Carter the Great dominates the dining room, behind the bar the magic begins with Liam, bartender and teacher.
A barstool is the perfect place to observe some bartender sleight-of-hand and pick up a few tricks of the trade. So, notebook out, pen at the ready. Better still, Liam had an apprentice on a recent evening, so two bartenders fielded a series of questions about cocktails and techniques.
The house favorite is a concoction called Carter Beats the Devil which Liam describes as a smoky, spicy Margarita. But we opted to go top of the menu: the Airmail. … Continue reading »
The weekend before Halloween — when vampires, zombies, and happy Giants fans wandered the city streets after dark — presented the perfect opportunity to hop on a bar stool at Revival Bar & Kitchen on Shattuck Avenue and delve into the renaissance of the Corpse Reviver.
The evening didn’t start off with the intention to dig up old recipes. The Silk Road Sour was a more appealing choice on the cocktail menu, promising a silky, fragrant, citrusy libation. Its complex flavors—mandarin silk tea infused bourbon, with citrus and cane sugar—included a hint of vanilla. A pleasant nightcap to end an evening of jazz and dinner with a friend in downtown Berkeley.
Revival was busy on that Saturday night. Patrons lined both bars plus the smaller kitchen bar at the end of the room. Those looking for more than a nightcap were seated at tables in the well of the restaurant. High ceilings, slowly rotating fans, draped fabric and a necklace of lights makes the room feel both spacious and intimate. Behind the bar, tall shelves display bottles of all sizes and shapes; and, chalked on a blackboard, the words, “Thoughtful, modern artisan cocktails and food.”
What does this actually mean? We ask Justin the bartender for illumination. And Justin introduces us to the Corpse Reviver, Revival style. … Continue reading »