Tag Archives: Gourmet Ghetto
Berkeley is an ethnically diverse town. Anyone whose child attends public school here doesn’t need census tract data to know this for a fact. That cultural diversity is also reflected in the range of restaurant choices here. Global grub — from gourmet to grab ‘n’ go — can readily be found in many of our neighborhoods.
But who doesn’t reflexively head to their local curry shop or Thai takeout without giving a moment’s thought to the international offerings all over town?
What follows is the first in an A to Z guide to the many ethnic restaurants in Berkeley, with favorite dish recommendations and tidbits gleaned from local food critics, Berkeleyside interviews, and the restaurant guide by new Berkeleyside partners Lucille and Art Poskanzer.
It’s by no means an exhaustive list. Feel free to add your own global picks in the comments section that follows. Or weigh in with what world cuisine is missing in the mix. Bon Appetit. … Continue reading »
Marilyn Rinzler is that rare bird in the Gourmet Ghetto: a food purveyor who shuns the label foodie and shies away from fancy food. She doesn’t even like to cook much.
Back in 1979, Rinzler got the idea to start a food business when she was a busy graduate student in social work and single mother of two then teenage boys. She was frustrated she couldn’t find a takeaway place in town to pick up a simple, healthy dinner — say, roast chicken and salad — on her way home.
So the unlikely edible entrepreneur set up her own shop, Poulet, on Shattuck Avenue in North Berkeley to provide just such a service. This was well before the term Gourmet Ghetto came into vogue. The deli, now in its 33rd year, is an anchor institution of that iconic food corridor, turning out made-from-scratch meals for those with who crave unfussy comfort food.
Rinzler, who lives near the Rose Garden, was so busy with her budding business that she never did practice as a social worker. But that training, as you might expect, has come in handy in dealing with both staff and customers. … Continue reading »
As mid-life crises go, Marc Kelly’s was a pretty productive one — with a little spice thrown in for good measure.
Seeking change after a 20-year career in the fruit and vegetable export business, Kelly was keen to open a food joint of his own. Something modest and manageable, a takeaway place that satisfied his culinary aspirations and cravings.
Kelly, a self-taught chef, determined that soup was an unexplored market niche in the edible landscape. He sensed an opportunity. Six years into serving up soup every day, Kelly’s enthusiasm for the comfort food he sells is still apparent.
He has a loyal band of regulars — Kelly sees them coming and knows which ladle to reach for. And his years of global travel inform what he sells: every culture has a soup tradition and on the road he learned the universal language of soup. … Continue reading »
Update, 01.26.12: We learn from Café Gratitude co-owner Terces Engelhart that the Berkeley restaurant on Shattuck may not close after all. “Wanting to let you know that we are planning on being able to keep Berkeley Café Gratitude open!,” she writes in a January 24th email. We will keep readers updated.
Original story: Last week’s unexpected announcement that all eight Northern California Café Gratitude restaurants — including the one in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto — will close because of former employee legal action prompted a range of responses from readers and eaters from “I am Sad” to “I am Amused” to “I am Indifferent.”
The raw-and-cooked organic, vegan food chain, where every item on the menu is an affirmation that begins “I am…” prompted one wag on Twitter to comment that the naming convention in itself was actionable.
Citing “aggressive lawsuits,” owners Matthew and Terces Engelhart revealed the pending shuttering on Facebook and, later, on their website, a few days after Thanksgiving. “Although we believe that we have done nothing wrong and our policies are completely legal, it will cost us too much money to defend them in court,” read the Facebook message. The margins in the food business are notoriously slim and, the couple maintain, they simply don’t have the finances to fight a protracted legal battle. … Continue reading »
On Sunday, the Andronico’s on Shattuck was transformed into a mini winter wonderland as kids, unaccustomed to seeing the white stuff in their hometown, donned boots and mittens to throw ice balls and build snowmen.
The free “Snow Day” event, which included holiday crafts, hot cider, cookies and a snow queen, was sponsored by the North Shattuck Association, AT&T and Andronico’s Community Market.
LOCASODA In our recent story about north Berkeley’s new Local Butcher Shop, we made mention of a particular soda the store is selling alongside its cuts of meat and fresh-made sandwiches. Vignette Wine Country Sodas are non-alcoholic, sweetened only with the juice of California varietal wine grapes, and made right here on Alcatraz Avenue in Berkeley. The sodas come in three varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Rosé, and they are all lightly sparkling. They can be bought online, or at the Local Butcher Shop at 1600 Shattuck Ave., Suite 120, in the Gourmet Ghetto. … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s Dìa de los Muertos celebration in the Gourmet Ghetto Wednesday night offered music, dance, an altar to remember absent friends, weird and wonderful costumes, and food — lots of food, in fact, as the event was planned to coincide with street food fest Off The Grid. The photos here provide just a glimpse of how the evening unfolded by candlelight.
Halloween may be behind us, but tomorrow offers the opportunity to continue in a similar vein with the Gourmet Ghetto’s Dia le los Muertos celebration.
The event, which will be happening right next to Off The Grid in north Berkeley, is a way of remembering those who have passed on, and will be a more ambitious endeavor than in previous years.
Look out for “Ghoulish Gastronomique” menus at nearby restaurants, interactive craft stalls, a beer and wine stand, and the Con Permiso Mariachi band. A community altar, or ofrenda, is being created for and by community members who may bring photos or stories of their loved ones, candles, breads, or flowers to add to the altar. … Continue reading »
This year, if there’s one thing Dìa de Los Muertos in the Gourmet Ghetto promises not to be, it’s low-key. “We are going all out,” said organizer Lisa Bullwinkel. The fact that the event will coincide with November 2nd’s Off The Grid, Berkeley’s popular weekly street-food fest — and takes place right next to the food trucks — should ensure a lively and engaged crowd.
Dìa de Los Muertos celebrates those who have passed on, and it has been marked in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto for the past two years. The additions to the festivities this year include interactive craft stalls, a beer and wine stand, and the Con Permiso Mariachi band. A community altar, or ofrenda, is being created for and by community members who may bring photos or stories of their loved ones, candles, breads, or flowers to add to the altar.
Now that the hoopla is over, it’s time to take stock of how the Chez Panisse 40th anniversary celebrations fared as a fundraising effort.
Answer: pretty well. The Chez Panisse Foundation had a goal to raise $500,000 for all its 40th birthday activities combined, which it exceeded by a lot, said event producer Carolyn Federman, who didn’t specify exactly how much the private dinners, restaurant parties, and other activities raised.
The money will go to support the recently launched Edible Schoolyard Project (ESYP) website, which has an estimated annual operating cost of about $1.5 million, according to Federman. This new, national nonprofit, building on the work of the Edible Schoolyard locally, intends to serve as a “best practices” resource for kitchen and garden classes in schools across the country looking for ideas, tools, resources, curriculum and community to support their work. Interviews for candidates for the ESYP director position are currently under way. … Continue reading »
Finally, the local gals get to park their food truck close to home. The duo behind Ebbett’s Good to Go, which currently hawks gourmet sandwiches to the lunchtime office set in Emeryville and San Francisco, will bring their mobile eatery to serve their neighbors at Off The Grid North Berkeley tonight.
Regular readers of this site may recall that these two food-loving moms, who live in Berkeley, set out this time last year to run a lunchtime food … 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 »
Levitt will be using Off The Grid’s own truck which was created expressly to allow chefs and members of the general public to test out the experience of operating a food truck.
Saul’s street-food menu sticks to its Jewish, sustainable roots and will consist of Raspberry Lemonade; Saul’s Pickle Plate; Chicken Matzo Ball Soup; Fired Corn on the Cob with Spiced Gribenes; Potato Latke, Apricot Sauce, Crème Fraiche; Savory Potato Kugel with Crème Fraiche; Corned Beef On Challah Roll, Mustard; Sweet Peach and Brandied Prune Kugel with Whipped cream; and a Choco Halvatashen Cookie. Prices range from $2.00 to $4.00.
Off The Grid, which operates several regular street-food events in San Francisco and is planning further expansion, held a soft launch in Berkeley last Wednesday. Such was its popularity, with estimates of up to 2,000 people turning up, that several of the food trucks ran dry. … Continue reading »