Tag Archives: Monterey Market

Top food stories from Berkeley in 2011

Andre Green from the Berkeley Food & Housing Project cooks for the neediest in the community. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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As the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back to see what food stories created a buzz around town and on Berkeleyside in 2011.

Granted, there’s an arbitrary nature to such end-of-year lists. But it’s an opportunity to take stock of the city’s culinary culture.

For the purposes of this post we’ve focused on food news stories, which doesn’t take into account the dozens of interviews with foragers, farmers, artisans, advocates, chefs, cooking teachers, preservers, pasta makers, cheese purveyors, pop-up restaurateurs, and farmers’ market vendors we’ve published during 2011.

This year also saw controversial coverage of corner stores, reporting on detractors of school food, an insider’s take on speed dating with a veg-friendly focus, and a widely criticized first-person piece on disappointing camp chow.

Readers may differ on what food stories caught their attention. Feel free to add your own highlights (or low points) in the comments section.

In alphabetical order: … Continue reading »

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Arts

Berkeley street style: Gray days indeed

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The first (and only) time I visited Ireland, I was 21 and in the middle of my art history studies. Upon stepping off the ferry from France I exclaimed, “I love the juxtaposition of green against the gray sky!” Spoken like a true art history major.

As we head into the gray season (who said we don’t have seasons?), it is as true today in Berkeley as it was on that Irish hillside: A gray sky is the ultimate backdrop for making a bold color statement. And aren’t we lucky to have so many gray-sky days to make the most of our yellows, turquoises, and, my personal favorite these days, royal blues? Could anything be more cheerful than a shock of color revealing itself through the mist?

I know how tempting it is, as the air reaches maximum saturation levels, to reach for our tried and true Gore-Tex gear in all its variations of drab (mine is a thoroughly uninspired forest green.) But I’m going to resist the urge to blend in this year and get more wear out of my turquoise Adidas logo trench. Or maybe troll eBay for one of the 1970’s foul weather jackets I used to wear on my family’s sailboat as a kid.

Let these pictures be your inspiration as the days turn dark and damp, knowing you’ll only look brighter the grayer it gets.

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Gourds galore at Berkeley’s Monterey Market

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By Linda Hemmila

It must be fall because there are gourds galore at Monterey Market. For more than 10 years, the fresh produce store on Hopkins Street has offered an astonishing supply of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes stacked for climbing much to the delight of their youngest customers. Henry Schuin, a long-time Monterey Market employee, says it’s a tradition they have upheld it for as long as he can remember.

In front of the store is also a mammoth gourd awaiting your guess at its girth. Yesterday was the … Continue reading »

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Northbrae named one of nation’s Top 10 neighborhoods

Leafy streets, courtesy of mature trees such as these, are one of the attractions of Berkeley's Northbrae neighborhood. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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This week, the American Planning Association named Berkeley’s Northbrae neighborhood a Top 10 Great Neighborhood for 2011. In making its selection, the organization took into consideration views, unique features, engaged residents — and good planning, of course.

The ten winners — which included Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood and Birmingham, Alabama — exemplify, according to the APA, “exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value”:

Northbrae was singled out for its abundance of preserved views of the San Francisco Bay; garden suburb design with streets and footpaths that follow the contour of the hills and gracefully skirt outcroppings of magnificent volcanic rock; impressive public spaces and amenities; and engaged residents who have done much to restore and maintain the neighborhood.”

Developer Duncan McDuffie was the brains behind Northbrae. A conservationist who favored single-family houses on tree-lined streets in a park-like setting, his initial plans for the area were influenced by the local Chamber of Commerce’s proposal to move the state capitol to Berkeley. Stone pillars, streets named for California counties, and a majestic public circle with classical balustrade and fountain were all part of the package. Magnificent rocks and boulders were also part of the landscape’s attraction.

Speaking about the area, Berkeley’s District 5 councilmember Laurie Capitelli said: “The Northbrae neighborhood is an amazing place to live. The vision developed in the early 20th century has transitioned beautifully into the 21st: small-scale shopping districts, restored creeks, walkable amenities – schools, library, parks – and a street plan that augments and preserves the natural beauty of the Berkeley Hills and views of the San Francisco Bay.” … Continue reading »

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Bill Fujimoto reports from the Berkeley Farmers’ Market

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Bill Fujimoto, the former manager of Berkeley’s Monterey Market, recently took a stroll through the Derby Street Berkeley Farmers Market with Bob Klein, owner of Oliveto restaurant. Klein had his video camera in hand to shoot some footage for the Oliveto Community Journal.

Fujimoto, a produce expert who left Monterey Market in 2009 and is now at Diablo Foods in Lafayette, chatted to farmers about the fruit and vegetables coming to market. He spoke with farmers from Full Belly Farm, Riverdog and Lucero. The report is one in an ocasional series created by Klein where he talks to the producers and farmers supplying his restaurant, often with his friend Fujimoto in tow. … Continue reading »

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In Berkeley, a venerable grocery market comes under fire

Shirley Ng, owner of Country Cheese Coffee Market, says
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By Niclas Ericsson

Emotions are running high in the Northbrae area of Berkeley, and the friendly spirit of the neighborhood is at stake, according to a number of small merchants who are afraid they will not survive in the wake of what is being perceived as aggressive marketing strategies at Monterey Market.

Several small businesses say the owners of Monterey Market have begun to deliberately stock items that they specialize in — including certain cheeses, wine and flowers — and they are selling them at predatory prices, which threatens the local merchants’ livelihoods.

A group of Northbrae neighbors has distributed a hand-out in support of the small local merchants in which it criticizes Monterey’s approach. “We are making a moral and ethical appeal,” said Tom Meyer, speaking for the group. Signatories on the hand-out include Monterey Fish, Gioa Pizzeria, Hopkins Launderette, and Storey Framing. (See the hand-out here.)

A manager at Monterey Market said he had no comment to make last week when asked by Berkeleyside for his side of the story. Follow-up phone calls requesting an interview were not returned.

“This used to be the happiest neighborhood I have ever worked in,” said Shirley Ng, owner and manager of Country Cheese Coffee Market at 1578 Hopkins Street. Ng said that things started to change in June 2009 when Monterey Market’s former manager, Bill Fujimoto, left his position due to disagreements within his family, the owners of the business. … Continue reading »

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Slow restaurant finds fast following

Kyle Anderson, executive chef/owner and Rose Grabow, general manager of Slow./Photos: Sarah Henry.
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Kyle Anderson opened his first restaurant, Slow, nine months ago. The skinny slip of an eatery resides in an emerging food corridor on University Avenue, home to Chocolatier Blue, eVe Restaurant, OctoberFeast Bakery and New Amsterdam Coffeeshop. (Anderson is an alum of acclaimed eatery Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, as are the owners of eVe, and Christopher Blue, who owns the gourmet chocolate shop next door.)

While Anderson comes from a fine-dining culinary background, the food he serves at Slow is simple, rustic comfort fare, albeit with high-quality, mostly organic, ingredients and thoughtful taste pairings like free-range chicken salad with golden raisin, toasted almond, and sorrel, or potato salad with radish, apple, caraway seed and whole grain mustard vinaigrette. All made from scratch and dished up fast at affordable prices. … 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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Doctor’s orders: Eat your greens says Preston Maring

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Here’s a notion that hardly seems radical: longtime Berkeley resident Dr. Preston Maring thinks physicians should prescribe healthy eating along with dispensing drugs to their patients.

Maring, Associate Physician-in-Chief at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, believes doctors should also walk the walk about the preventive health benefits of sound nutrition.

He’s so committed to the good food cause he’s willing to show other medical professionals how to mince garlic and whip up vinaigrette from scratch for … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Minh Tsai, Hodo Soy Beanery

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Minh Tsai is on a mission to make tofu the next hip artisanal food. He knows he has a ways to go to get many Americans to even taste tofu, but if anyone can make it cool to eat bean curd, this enthusiastic self-described tofu master is the man for the job.

Tsai grew up eating fresh tofu from street vendors in his native Vietnam. He arrived in the U.S. via Malaysia, part of the so-called boat people exodus. Both … Continue reading »

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Essence of Berkeley: Food shopping as worship

Berkeley's Farmers' Markets: outdoor tent revivalists?
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In case you missed it, a post on this site last week elicited an entertaining rumination by Berkeleysider EBGuy on Berkeley’s food stores and their role as our new cathedrals — or temples, or synagogues. More Berkeleysiders weighed in with their analogies. Here’s the full list (so far):

Farmers’ Markets: outdoor tent revivalists. This is where the Food Fundamentalists go. Berkeley Bowl: non-denominational mega church. Draws from the surrounding region. You go there, right? Berkeley Natural Grocery: storefront religion at … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s food meccas: The new religion

Berkeley Bowl shopper
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We couldn’t resist hoisting from the comments this reflection by EBGuy on food shopping as religion (prompted by today’s opening of Berkeley’s Trader Joe’s) :

I have a theory about Berkeley.* With organized religion on the decline, we look to food to provide a shared communal experience. Grocery stores are our cathedrals. Feel free to make your own list mapped to a different faith tradition:

Farmers’ Markets: outdoor tent revivalists. This is where the Food Fundamentalists go. Berkeley Bowl: non-denominational … Continue reading »

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News

A Berkeley blogger, a cocktail (or 2) and a wee-hours email exchange with Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Ryan Tate
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Ryan Tate (left) may be feeling a little bashful about aspects of the “feisty” email exchange he had with Steve Jobs on Friday night and Saturday morning. But it’s unlikely he regrets it.

For Tate, a Berkeley-based writer for tech gossip site Valleywag (part of the Gawker blogging empire) the cocktail-fueled online conversation constitutes a real coup. The Apple CEO is not known for his willingness to divulge much, let alone chat after hours to tech bloggers. (He … Continue reading »

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