Tag Archives: Summer Kitchen & Bake Shop

Bites: What’s new in East Bay food, XXIV

Biergarten
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Openings…

GILMAN BIERGARTEN Remember we told you about the proposal to create a dining and beer garden at Gilman and Curtis in West Berkeley? It had many readers salivating. The good news is the plans have been approved. Owners Linda and Carl Lasagna, whose family founded Westbrae Nursery next door to the lot, are finalizing negotiations with a stationary anchor tenant and are on the lookout for candidates for two or three food truck spots (Roti Roti is a strong favorite, and when the garden recently rolled in the Brazil Café truck for a test run, passersby erupted in cheers.). DSA Architects have started mocking up placements on the site. The plan is for 3,400 square feet of outdoor dining space with picnic-style seating  — not unlike the Hayes Valley Biergarten on Octavia Street in San Francisco (View the application to Berkeley’s planning department.) The hope is that the biergarten will open in late July.

BROTZEIT LOKAL Speaking of beer, and German beer at that, Brotzeit Lokal on the Oakland waterfront looks set to open on June 13, according to East Bay Express. The  German sausage-and-beer restaurant is the brainchild of Chop Bar chef Lev Delany and you can check out the initial menu here. Brotzeit Lokal is at 1000 Embarcadero. Follow them on Facebook as they count down to the opening. … Continue reading »

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In Oakland, two Italians craft pasta with a U.S. twist

samples of shapes, wheats and colors available at Baia Pasta
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Almost a year ago this week, Renato Sardo and Dario Barbone, compatriots from northwestern Italy, set up shop in Oakland’s burgeoning Jack London Square to make pasta. Not just any old pasta. Each of the twelve shapes produced by Baia Pasta — from the charming conchiglioni (“spinners”) to the traditional maccheroni — are made from organic American flours.

“The idea for the business started when I learned that many high quality dried pastas in Italy are made from American wheat,”said Renato Sardo as he stood in the Baia Pasta retail space that doubles as the production facility.

Hard durum wheat (as opposed to soft wheat, which has a lower protein content and is used for pie crusts and cakes) contributes that desirable toothiness in dried pasta cooked to al dente. Ground hard durum, also called semolina, remains their best seller. But Sardo and Barbone also experiment with other flours, such as spelt and kamut, grown organically in the areas surrounding the Rocky Mountain Range. They even make a rice-based noodle that appeals to the gluten-free crowd. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

New neighborhood eatery Divino
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NEW GRILL Bye bye Ironwood BBQ, hello Suya African-Caribbean Grill at 2130 Oxford Street opposite the campus. Think skewers of meat, fish and vegetables made with a savory custom spice rub called suya pepper ($4.95 to $8.95), served with flatbread. Also: jerk chicken, roasted plantain, roasted corn on the cob, sweet potato fries, French fries, and salad. Mainly take-out with a few seating options. Opening any day now. Phone 510 981 8028. [Hat-tip: Ruth Gebreyesus]

FULL ON Summer Kitchen Bake Shop, at 2944 College Avenue, will be getting more seats (up to 33), serve beer and wine, and build a restroom after the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board gave it the go-ahead last Thursday to change from a carry-out food service store to a quick-service restaurant. The popular eatery collected more than 1,500 signatures on a petition campaigning for the change. … Continue reading »

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Elmwood business quotas may change to help startups

City Council District 8 includes the Elmwood shopping district
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The decades-old retail and food quotas in Berkeley’s Elmwood commercial district face a potentially dramatic overhaul with Councilmember Gordon Wozniak set to propose a review of the quotas to the Planning Commission at tonight’s City Council meeting. If it’s adopted, Wozniak’s scheme would eliminate retail quotas and collapse the current three-tier food quota into a single quota.

“I want to make it easier for startups, but still maintain the special character of the Elmwood,” Wozniak, who represents most of the Elmwood business district, said. The area is centered on the intersection of Ashby and College Avenues in south Berkeley. “There’s a need to keep the balance between food and retail, but having three distinct categories for food is very destructive and consumes an inordinate amount of staff time.”

Under the current quotas (see table below), there are six distinct retail categories and three food categories — carry out, quick service and full service. Wozniak said that the system can be a “real disincentive for a new business”, because of the cost and time needed for permitting.

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Hungry for better food at Berkeley’s Echo Lake Camp

The panoramic alpine views draw outdoor lovers to Echo Lakes.
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As we head into the final long weekend of the season, the proverbial last hurrah of summer, it’s time for reflection on summer vacation (mis)adventures before fall sets in and school gets going in earnest.

Which brings to mind bad camp food. Specifically, the truly awful eats served at the Berkeley-run Echo Lake Camp. It’s shocking, really, that a city known for fine food and charming cheap chow can’t seem to dish up anything vaguely edible not-so-far from home.

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Local restaurants raise money for edible education

Samin Nosrat
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Potentially lost in the tsunami of stories of all things Chez Panisse this week  — see yesterday’s Berkeleyside Wire and this post today for a fraction of the coverage circulating in anticipation of the 40th anniversary celebrations that start in earnest tonight — is the fact that the weekend long festivities are, at their heart, a series of fundraisers for the newly launched Edible Schoolyard Project, a national hub designed to broaden the reach … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside

Were you a winner in our Caltopia raffle?

Baskets filled to the brim with gift certificates and pizza for a year from LaVal's
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The two days of Caltopia were quite a whirl for students, faculty and staff, as well as for exhibitors like Berkeleyside. From the tens of thousands who passed through the self-proclaimed “greatest days on planet Earth”, we were able to have conversations about local news with hundreds of people, we launched OneNews/Berkeleyside, our exciting new citizen journalism app, and we even found some potential new journalists.

But what about the Berkeleyside raffle? We partnered with a host of wonderful Berkeley businesses … Continue reading »

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News

Thousands of Cal students, staff flock to Caltopia

Students new and old come out in droves for the community-boosting swag-fest that is Caltopia
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UC Berkeley freshmen, some looking dazed, others excited, as well as more blasé seniors, turned out in their thousands on Sunday for Day One of Caltopia, the self-described “two greatest days on the planet”.

The event, held at the UC Berkeley Recreational Sports Facility at 2301 Bancroft Way, sees more than 100 exhibitors showcasing their wares and services to the Cal community, including the university’s staff and faculty.

It’s a combination of freebie-fest — with giveaways galore, be it bites of Clif Bars, T-shirts, pens and mouse pads and the chance to win covetable prizes like Kindles from big brand names like Pepsi  — and social mixer.

Berkeleyside made its debut at Calopia yesterday and we will be there again today. Find us at booth E104.

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UC Berkeley’s Caltopia: The ultimate Town & Gown affair

Caltopia2
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This weekend, when around 30,000 students and faculty stroll through Caltopia, browsing the booths of more than 100 exhibitors, Berkeley’s two driving forces, the city and its university, will be pitched in perfect harmony. And Berkeleyside will be there to sing along too.

Caltopia was launched nine years ago as a way for Berkeley businesses to welcome Cal students, both current and new, back to school. The event runs on Sunday and Monday this year, and classes start up … Continue reading »

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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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Josh Thomsen gathers talent for Claremont wine fest

Josh Thomsen
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Josh Thomsen knew from a young age that he wanted to be a chef and credits his late father, Jerry, for sparking his culinary interest. His dad would put in a long day as a stockbroker, come home, go to the market, and then cook up a storm — making a mess, using every pot in the house, and turning out a delicious dinner.

The Culinary Institute of America grad has done his dad proud. Thomsen’s resumé includes stints at the French Laundry in Yountville, Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, and The Lodge at Pebble Beach. He’s also worked in kitchens in big-buck Las Vegas venues like Tao Restaurant at the Venetian Resort, the Mansion at the MGM Grand Hotel, and the Michael Mina-owned Nobhill Tavern.

These days Thomsen, 40, is the executive chef at local landmark The Claremont Hotel, Club, and Spa, known for its regal white facade and killer views. Until recently, though, the hotel wasn’t exactly known as a destination dining experience. … Continue reading »

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Jam maker turns hobby into thriving local business

Dafna Kory at Local 123 Cafe./Photo: Sarah Henry
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Dafna Kory discovered the delights of jalapeňo jam during pre-dinner nibbles at a Thanksgiving gathering. She went out to buy a jar, couldn’t find the mighty spicy condiment anywhere, so she began experimenting with making her own. It became an instant hit among her posse.

At first, the self-taught preserver thought her D.I.Y. hobby would just make nice gifts for friends and family. The she moved from San Francisco to South Berkeley, saw the abundance of plums, apples, and lemons growing in her new backyard, and a jamming business was born.

Kory foraged fruit in a hyper-local fashion. She made batches of jam in her home kitchen. She personally delivered by bike. Demand for her jams grew by word-of-mouth.

Friends who had friends who owned stores began encouraging her to branch out beyond her inner circle. So she started shopping INNA jam (the name is, indeed, a playful pun) to places like Local 123, Summer Kitchen, Rick and Ann’s Restaurant and The Gardener.

About a year ago, with orders coming in a steady stream, it became clear that Kory, now 28, needed to either gear up and focus on turning her after-hours pastime into a fully fledged business or scale back and remain a hobbyist. She decided to take the plunge.

A freelance commercial video editor, Kory hasn’t looked back. She began working in a commercial kitchen in North Berkeley, selling her pickles and preserves at events like ForageSF’s Underground Market and the Eat Real Festival, and offering workshops for other D.I.Y.ers.

The UC Berkeley graduate now spends nine months of the year working full-time on her budding food business, and supplements her income in the winter months with editing gigs.

In a year, she hopes to devote 100% of her work day to INNA jam. Kory also pickles though that product line is on hiatus while she ratchets up production to meet demand for her increasingly popular jams. She delivers locally by bike, ships interstate, and offers an annual, seasonal subscription (a 10-ounce jar retails for $12). … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Alice Waters

alice.waters.inthegreenkitchen
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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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