Tag Archives: Cheese Board Collective

Where do you get the best pizza in Berkeley? You tell us

Cheeseboard Pizza straight from the oven. All photos: Christina Diaz
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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.)

We know that for every die-hard devotee of Cheese Board pizza there’s an equally loyal Gioia fan to be found.

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 »

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Arts

Out in Berkeley: Delectable blues with Cheese Board pizza

Nancy Wright
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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 »

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Alice Medrich’s sweet life

143_Bittersweet Decadence. deborah.jones
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Alice Medrich, the author, is best known for her high-end sweets cookbooks devoted to serious bakers and dessert makers, including the bestsellers Pure Dessert and Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate. Alice Medrich, the dessert chef and chocolatier, is best known for her influential and ahead-of-its time shop Cocolat. Medrich ran the store, opened on Shattuck Avenue in 1976, for 14 years.

In both careers Medrich earned a reputation for meticulous recipe testing, a commitment to quality ingredients, and originality in her elaborate baked goods.

So some may be surprised to learn that her eighth cookbook is about, well, the humble cookie. Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Cookies (Artisan Books, hardcover, $25.95) in fact. And, as is today’s norm for authors of new books, Medrich, 60, is even blogging about her latest work.

Medrich’s foray into food started in her early 20s with a hand-written recipe for the tiny cocoa-dusted chocolate truffles given to her by her Paris landlady in 1973. Truffles were virtually unheard of in America at the time.

She sold the pure bittersweet confections at the Pig-by-the-Tail Charcuterie (since replaced by The Cheese Board Collective, which has a memento to the shop’s past on display in the store). She also carried a sign and took orders for elaborate cakes and desserts that people could pick up at the end of the week. Sometimes, she says now, she needed all week to perfect the recipe. … Continue reading »

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John Scharffenberger: From chocolate and wine to tofu

John Scharffenberger/Photo: Anne Hamersky
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Long known for the success of his premium wine and chocolate companies, John Scharffenberger is making a name for himself these days as a tofu hawker.

In June, Scharffenberger, 59, who divides his time between a home in North Berkeley and a place in the country, signed on as the CEO of the Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland, an artisan food factory that makes products from organic, non-GMO soybeans.

The company, whose founder Minh Tsai was previously profiled here, makes fresh tofu, yuba (tofu skins), and soymilk, as well as prepared dishes such as spicy braised tofu salad, poached yuba loaf, and soy omelette. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Alice Waters

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Do Berkeleyside readers even need an introduction to the mother of the American fresh, local, sustainable, organic food movement?

Alice Waters is a living legend. For four decades, the California cuisine innovator, Chez Panisse chef, Edible Schoolyard founder, school food reformer, and Slow Food advocate, has influenced how people in this country buy, cook, eat, talk, and think about food.

As with any icon, Waters has her fans and foes. Some see her as … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Berkeley Student Food Collective

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It seems unthinkable that the People’s Republic of Berkeley has existed without a food co-operative for more than two decades. Well, try not to choke on your non-GMO, organic, fair trade, soymilk chai latte, but the co-op is coming back to Berkeley.

The Consumer’s Cooperative of Berkeley was the place to shop for the politically correct for 51 years. It opened in the heart of the Depression, when families came together to form buying clubs so they could afford to put … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Aaron Betesh, Blue Heron Farms

Cooking up kale.
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For 10 years, Blue Heron Farms vendor Aaron Betesh has been selling organic vegetables to customers at all three Berkeley Farmers’ Markets.

Betesh is part of the Blue Heron crew which, for much of the year, hawks salad greens, Asian greens, herbs and flower — along with carrots, kale, and broccoli.

The produce comes from a small family farm in Corralitos, near Watsonville, run by Lori Perry and Dennis Tamura.

Farmers’ Market customers don’t always realize that not … Continue reading »

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Food takes to the streets, literally, on PARKing Day

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Today, some choice parking spots around Berkeley were commandeered and given over to less auto-oriented pursuits: sitting, eating, lounging and drinking being the main ones.

At the Cheese Board Pizza Collective in the Gourmet Ghetto two parking spaces sported several chairs, an umbrella and a few large yucca plants on a bed of bright green astro-turf. And downtown, outside Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food restaurant, people were enjoying lunch and afternoon drinks on Shattuck Avenue — literally — although … Continue reading »

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Nosh

The Boston Globe loves Berkeley, or at least its food

The Epicurious Garden: one of the many culinary treats enjoyed by a Boston Globe writer.
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I don’t think most Berkeleyans take our wondrous food choices for granted, but if you’ve become blasé, take a gander at how a Boston writer reacts to the Gourmet Ghetto. That and some choice Oakland spots represent an “omnivore’s dreamworld” for writer Patricia Borns.

“Food for pleasure, food for thought” she muses while sampling delicious treats at Chez Panisse, the Cheeseboard Collective, Ici Ice Cream, Adesso and the Brown Sugar Kitchen among many others.

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Dense, airy, crusty or soft: Berkeley’s best baguettes

Baguette ranking
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As a child growing up in Berkeley, I’ve only tasted pre-sliced bread twice. When I was younger, my family traveled to Europe and I got to eat real French baguettes. Today, we live a few blocks from a bakery and get fresh bread every morning, like many Berkeley residents.

Our city is filled with world-class bakeries ranging from La Farine in north Berkeley to the Bread Garden near the Claremont hotel — and everything in between.

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Berkeley Bites: Lisa Rogovin, Epicurean Concierge

The CheeseBoard: a Berkeley tour stop.
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A former ad sales rep for Gourmet magazine (R.I.P.), Lisa Rogovin had what she calls her Eat, Pray, Love moment in 2005, meaning she left an unhappy marriage, sold the house, and embarked on a food-fueled journey around the world, visiting 14 countries (yes, India was in the mix) in seven months.

Before she left on her edible adventure, though, the food enthusiast sowed the seeds for her future happiness, both personally and professionally. She met the man who … Continue reading »

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News

A mother’s day, the Berkeley way

Jane Stillwater with her daughter Ruby in the 1970s.
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Jane Stillwater is the quintessential Berkeley mom. After reading our recent coverage of the “Your Mom is So Berkeley” website, she wrote this delightful account of her quintessential Berkeley Mothers’ Day. Stillwater, a grandmother as well as a mom, has four children and lives in Berkeley.

Did you know that there’s a website out now that is completely devoted to jokes about Berkeley moms? Blond jokes and Polish jokes are out now. Berkeley Mom jokes are in. “My mom is so Berkeley that….”

Hey, I’m a Berkeley mom. So when my daughter Ashley and son Joe asked me what I wanted to do for Mothers’ Day this year, I got to thinking about Berkeley. “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s drive around Berkeley to all the places we used to hang out at when you guys were kids.” Tot lots? Soccer fields? Elementary schools? No way! My kids had different kinds of memories about their pasts.

First we went to the Caffe Mediterraneum up on Telegraph Avenue, where I used to sit and gossip in the 1970s and drink caffe lattes while my kids played under the table. Other kids may have gone to Blue Fairyland for daycare but not mine!

“My mom was so Berkeley that she raised me at the Med.”

Then we drove by People’s Park. “I was there when we first started to plant its gardens back in 1969,” I told the kids. “I was there for the riots and the tear gas. And I got my picture on the front page of the Berkeley Barb during our victory parade.”

That’s just great. “My mom is so Berkeley that she was a cover girl for the Berkeley Barb….”

Then we drove by the University of California. I always measure my life by this benchmark: “Am I having as much fun now as I did while going to Cal back in the 1960s?” And the answer is still always no.

“My mom is so Berkeley that she used to take us to hunger strikes up on Sproul Plaza.” And I still do.

Next we drove down past the old Mandrake’s nightclub, where I first met one of the backup guitarists for a band called Joy of Cooking. Two months later I was pregnant. “That’s not my child and goodbye,” said the lead singer for a band named Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen.

“My mom is so Berkeley that she spends our entire Mothers Day making us listen to stories about when she was a Flower Child.” Damn straight. And before that I was a Beatnik. And don’t you forget it. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Kyle Cornforth

kyle.cornforth
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Each Friday in this space food writer Sarah Henry asks a well-known, up-and-coming, or under-the-radar food aficionado about their favorite tastes in town, preferred food purveyors and other local culinary gems worth sharing.

Kyle Cornforth packed up her family last summer and headed to the outskirts of Chiang Mai to spend a year as the director of The Prem Organic Cooking Academy and Farm, which teaches traditional Thai cooking and farming techniques to kids from international schools around the globe, as well as adult travelers.

She wanted to share what she learned about local, sustainable, organic cooking working as the program coordinator for the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. (Kyle, 30, will return to that position this summer. She met her husband Jay Cohen, a teacher at the school, in the Edible garden. Cue a chorus of awws now.)

She has spent the past year documenting her cross-cultural experiences in often amusing entries that can be found on her blog Cornhens in Thailand. The family, including daughter Zorah, will return to their South Berkeley home in a few months. (Full disclosure: I met Kyle at Edible while lending a hand as a kitchen volunteer.)

1. Can you name some favorite family-friendly eateries in town?

For breakfast we regularly go to The Homemade Cafe. We have been taking Zorah there on the weekends since she was an infant. It isn’t so much that the space is set up for kids, but the staff there has always made us feel welcome and been especially warm to Zorah.

Right around the corner there is a wonderful place for dinner, Digs Bistro, that has a parents night out the first Monday of every month. They have supervised activities for kids two and over — art, dinner, ice cream and a movie — and you can sit in the next room and have a delicious meal in a romantic environment.

2. Do you have a local food hero?

Amy Murray of Venus Restaurant is doing good work with quiet passion. I worked for Amy at Venus for five years. A lot of what I know about food and cooking I learned from her. She has been deeply committed to local food for a long time. I also run into her at the farmers’ market all the time, and I think it is important to see chefs out selecting the produce and ingredients themselves.

I often crave her food; anyone who comes up with the veggie nest is a hero in my book! It’s on the breakfast/brunch menu: Two poached eggs atop a salad of arugula, frisee, wild mushrooms, goat cheese, tomato, and bacon. It’s served with tapenade toast but I always substitute the biscuit. It’s the perfect way to start a weekend day. … Continue reading »

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