Tag Archives: Cheese Board Collective
If it’s true that “Garlic is as good as ten mothers,” the title of Les Blank’s 1980 film, my question is: why anyone would want ten mothers? For most people I know, and speaking for myself, one good mother was plenty. Evidently this is not the case with garlic, about which, for its fanatical fans, there is no such thing as too much.
So when Blank’s cinematic homage to never-enough-garlic was screened on a recent Sunday at the Pacific Film Archive as part of a Les Blank retrospective, aging but loyal garlic-heads, including yours truly, showed up to marinate, yet again, in the stinking rose’s aromatic magic.
When my Book of Garlic was published in 1974 under the nom de plume Lloyd J. Harris, it luckily caught Les Blank’s eye (and nostrils). The book, which had been inspired by my brief stint as a waiter at Chez Panisse during its first hectic days in 1971, proclaimed a garlic revolution in America and popularized the ancient Roman word for garlic, “stinking rose.” … Continue reading »
Businesses in the Gourmet Ghetto are keen to jump on the parklet bandwagon — bringing outdoor seating to the streets for espresso sippers, pizza eaters, and world watchers in lieu of parking spots — but must first wait for the city to come up with a process for making the spaces available.
So-called parklets — slivers of open space sprouting in cities around the globe — are a big trend in urban design, with San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks leading the way locally, and Oakland following suit (a pilot program is under review there.) Berkeley is a little late to the take-back-the-public-space movement but eager to come up with its own ideas to beautify public areas where community members can congregate. Leading the charge is the North Shattuck Association, which is helping businesses in its café- and restaurant-heavy district organize around the concept.
“The parklets pilot project was conceived by the association based on our experience with hosting temporary parklets during past years on Park(ing) Day and the Spice of Life Festival,” said Heather Hensley, executive director of the association.
Park(ing) Day is an international movement conceived to help city residents around the world reimagine the humble parking space. One day each fall, D.I.Y., creative urbanistas are encouraged to transform parking spots into parks, playgrounds, pop-up cafés — anything other than a lowly (though coveted) place for cars. Park(ing) Day parklets have sprouted in Berkeley in past years in front of the Cheese Board Collective and the late Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food. … Continue reading »
Berkeley is famous for its gourmet food, and sometimes the easiest way to track it down is to follow the crowds.
You only have to see the lines that form almost as soon as food truck fest Off the Grid opens at 5:00 pm on Wednesdays in north Berkeley to understand that some of us are prepared to be patient to secure a favorite snack. (And Telegraph Avenue’s new Off the Grid market will likely prove as popular.)
But there are three brick-and-mortar eateries in Berkeley – Ici Ice Cream, Wat Mongkolratanaram (also known as the Thai Temple), and The Cheese Board Collective – that have attracted long lines of customers, sometimes snaking down half a block or more, for as long as we can remember. Berkeleyside decided to ask some of the people who take their places in those lines just why they are prepared to wait so long. … Continue reading »
At the Cheese Board on Saturday night, the bar for both chocolate and cheese was raised to new heights. Pairings of high-end dark chocolate with carefully selected foreign and domestic cheeses had local taste buds all atwitter.
The unusual tasting was the brainchild of Leonard Pitt, founder and president of the exclusive Berkeley Chocolate Club (BCC), and Laura McNall, a veteran Cheese Boarder and recent inductee into the BCC. Pitt is well known in the Bay Area for his work as a mime (trained in Paris in the 1960s by the teacher of Marcel Marceau), and his books, including Walks Through Lost Paris (Shoemaker & Hoard), about Parisian architectural history. His latest venture into chocolate is just another of his many autodidact passions.
For April’s BCC meeting, McNall wowed members with a carefully designed cheese and chocolate tasting. The idea was then hatched for a public tasting of her revelatory combinations in conjunction with the Gourmet Ghetto’s annual Chocolate & Chalk Art Festival. … Continue reading »
It’s one thing to run a successful food business. But to have two edible start-ups do well, even in a food-friendly town, is quite an accomplishment in an industry known for slim profits and fickle customers.
That’s the case for couple Eric and Carole Sartenaer, who started off with a little bakery in Kensington called Semifreddi’s — ring any bells? — sold that for a tidy sum three years later, then departed to Oregon for seven years to run their own bakery before returning to the Bay Area in 1993.
Eric worked for Fat Apple’s in El Cerrito for two years, but he was eager to start another food business. So, in 1995, he set up shop, and later a restaurant, on Shattuck Avenue turning out fresh pasta at The Phoenix Pastifico. The company also makes a line of baked goods — cookies, macaroons, and biscotti — as well as its signature olive bread and pasta sauces. … Continue reading »
The organizers, the Center for Science in the Public Interest in D.C., certainly hope so. A national, grassroots campaign, Food Day is designed to celebrate what we eat while drawing our attention to the need to overhaul this country’s food system from farm to fork. In this way it is similar to Earth Day which sparked widespread interest in the fragile nature of our planet.
Events planned for Monday, including in Berkeley and around the Bay Area, will highlight the good, bad, and ugly of the way we consume food in this country.
Simply put, how we grow, transport, process, market, and eat is not sustainable for the environment or our health, said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI and the creator of Food Day in a recent piece for The Atlantic. Dietary diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart attacks are rising at alarming rates. Industrially raised meat sucks up energy, pollutes the land and water, and is cruel to beast and worker alike.
Even in places like Berkeley where local, seasonal, organic, sustainable, and fresh food is available in abundance, too many people lack access to good grub and/or go hungry or malnourished. … Continue reading »
Listen to Kickin’ The Mule while you read our review:
With its expanse of east-facing windows thrown open to Shattuck Avenue, dearth of cigarette smoke and ample selection of healthy beverages, no one is likely to mistake the Cheese Board Collective for a down home juke joint. But over the past 18 months or so, the soul-powered band Kickin’ The Mule regularly transforms the Gourmet Ghetto eatery into a groove-laden crossroads where slinky T-Bone Walker-esque West Coast shuffles, Stax soul scorchers and raucous Chicago blues all converge.
“I sing songs from every different genre,” says the Mule’s drummer and vocalist Kelvin Dixon, who returns to the Cheese Board with the quartet on Friday (and again on October 14). “The people at the Cheese Board have been great. They say: do whatever you want, though they really like novelty numbers like Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry’s ‘Ain’t Got No Home.’ They’re back there dancing, making pizzas.”
For much of the group’s seven-year run, it served as a forum for Freddie Hughes, the venerable Berkeley-raised soul crooner who scored a major R&B hit in 1968 with “Send My Baby Back” (he’s a story for another day). … Continue reading »
The Cheese Board Collective marked Gourmet Ghetto neighbor Chez Panisse’s 40th birthday by serving free slices of its legendary pizza to customers on Saturday night. The celebrations were curtailed at around 10:30pm, however, after the police, acting on a call from the public, asked that crowds disperse and the party be wound down.
According to Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt Mary Kusmiss, at around 10:00 p.m. a community member called to report a noise complaint consisting of a “loud … Continue reading »
Exploring alternative ways to work in the food industry is a hot topic. Last week in San Francisco a sold out Kitchen Table Talks, a monthly panel showcasing local food folk, featured a discussion about successful edible enterprises that haven’t started the conventional route.
Two of the four panelists hailed from Berkeley. Three Stone Hearth‘s Jessica Prentice, previously profiled on Berkeleyside, talked about her cooperative kitchen model. Cathy Goldsmith represented The Cheese Board Collective.
Beyond the obvious culinary connection, each business is unique. What they have in common? A desire to build community — of workers, artisans, and customers — around their real food ventures.
Case in point: The Cheese Board Collective, which has served as a beloved anchor institution in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto for more than 40 years.
Goldsmith, who has a restaurant background, has been a worker-owner at The Cheese Board for 16 years. She likes to say that the collective got going “back in the day” and people who work there do everything “from soup to nuts.” What that means is the 52-year-old finds herself serving cheese one day, rolling out dough the next, dealing with health insurance and other human resource issues on another, along with stocking bread bags, sweeping floors, and scrubbing toilets.
Goldsmith also tends to do the collective’s media outreach, though she declined to be photographed for this story because, perhaps fittingly for a collective owner-worker, she wanted the spotlight to be on the group — which numbers more than 45 — not on any one individual. … Continue reading »
Wow. Who knew Berkeley residents were so passionate about pizza? It’s right up there with free speech, free love, and free-range eggs — or so it seemed based on readers’ record responses to our request last week for their choice of the best pizza places in town.
Before we announce the winners of our, let’s face it, less-than scientific survey, a few caveats up front. Stunned by the sheer number of votes (over 220 comments including input on Facebook) we realized, after the fact, that we should have employed a poll counter. Next time. And, we’ll be sure to include a category for “other,” so you can weigh in with a pick not mentioned in the post.
Because it turned out, that despite writing in the story and later in the comment thread (several times) that the dozen pizza purveyors listed represented a sample of savory pies on offer here, many of our readers — including one rather irate pizzeria owner — read it as this site’s “best of” picks.
Privately, folks pointed out, too, that businesses left off that list may have been unfairly handicapped, a not unreasonable assumption, and it is duly noted.
So, we didn’t make it easy on you. And you didn’t make it easy on us. Some voted for more than one place. Some voted on Facebook or Twitter but not here. The crack accounting team at Berkeleyside opted to err on the side of generosity in tabulating results, including all favorable mentions in the count.
Many mentioned that a top pizza pick might vary depending on factors such as deep dish versus thin crust, East vs. West style, delivery, location, and omnivore/vegetarian/vegan options. Some argued that the pie produced at Cheese Board isn’t even pizza. (Where is the sauce? Potatoes and kale topping?) As one self-described pizza snob wrote: “While Cheeseboard is undeniably delicious, it’s not pizza.” … Continue reading »
Today this space is all about cheese. And crust. And toppings.
Got opinions about who turns out the best pizza in town? We know you do. So here’s your chance to share your pie picks with fellow readers.
That’s right folks, today, the Friday food column takes a break from regularly scheduled programming to poll readers about their pizza preferences. (The first in an occasional series where residents weigh in on their favorite foods found close to home.)
There’s pizza for all palates and pocketbooks here, whether you favor California-style, wood-fired pies pioneered by the Chez Panisse crew (foraged greens and artisan goat cheese, anyone?), Brooklyn-inspired bites with trademark thin crusts and judicious use of ingredients, or the sloppy cheese slices popular among the campus crowd. … Continue reading »
By Andrew Gilbert
Would you like a little grease with your pizza? When the swaggering tenor saxophonist Nancy Wright is slinging the funk, of course you do.
A Cheese Board regular, Wright performs at the Gourmet Ghetto institution on Friday 11:45 am to 2:45 pm with her organ trio, blowing delectable blues, ballads and soul jazz standards. Featuring Hammond B3 veteran Wayne De La Cruz and supple drummer Kent Bryson (regularly heard with vocalist Kim Nalley), the trio … Continue reading »