Bites: Truffle season is here, homebrew competition at Old Kan, Crave BBQ

White truffles shaved over mushroom carpaccio with bresaola. Photo: Market Hall

FUNGUS AMONG US Juliana Uruburu, the truffle buyer at Market Hall has some good news, this year’s haul is going to be a good one. Truffle hunters consider the night of the first full moon in October as the start of the season, and according to Uruburu, her contacts in Italy have reported that there are fragrant fungi aplenty. Market Hall has already gotten in its first shipment of truffles and are taking orders for those who want to partake in the bounty. Truffle lovers should email the shop to call dibs on Italian white truffles ($225 per oz) and fall black truffles ($25 per oz) for pick up at the Oakland or Berkeley markets. Orders made on Wednesdays can be picked up the following Monday. Market Hall Foods, 5655 College Ave. (at Keith), Oakland; 1786 Fourth St. (at Delaware), Berkeley

And, next door to Market Hall in Rockridge, Oliveto is taking reservations for its annual Truffle Dinners. The menu is a la carte, offering a wide range of dishes, from appetizers to main entrees, featuring wild mushrooms and black and white truffles. A sample of this year’s menu includes a parfait of Hudson Valley duck liver, pistachios, black truffles and huckleberries; potato gnocchi with wild mushroom ragù; and pan-roasted black cod with black trumpet mushrooms, lacinato kale celeriac crema and truffle salsa. By request, any of the special truffle dishes can be made even more decadent with fresh shavings of white truffles. Oliveto Truffle Dinners take place from Nov. 13 through Nov. 17 at Oliveto, 5655 College Ave. (at Keith), Oakland

Kids at the first annual Oakland United School District Homebrew Tasting & Competition at Old Kan Beer and Co. Photo:Kelli B. Fiore

OAKLAND BREWS FOR KIDS The second annual Oakland United School District Homebrew Tasting & Competition takes place Sunday, Nov. 11, at Old Kan Beer & Co., where Oakland amateur beer makers will offer their latest brews for judgment. Ticketholders will get a free tasting glass and have access to the homebrewers’ tent to sample all the beers and cast their votes for best pours. There’ll also be food and other beverages for sale, along with kids’ activities, a raffle and live music by the Brothers Lekas. Proceeds benefit the Oakland Public Education Fund‘s A to Z Fund, which provides field trips, art, music, sports and other underfunded activities to Oakland’s high-need public schools. Tickets are $35 advance, $40 at the door (admission for kids is free). Old Kan Beer & Co., 95 Linden St. (near Third), Oakland

Tacos and a rice bowl from Mixiote. Photo: Mixiote

IN THE MIX(IOTE) This summer, Oakland’s Plum Bar began hosting guest chefs for short-term residencies in its kitchen, and this week it announced its newest guest: chef Alma Rodriguez of Mixiote. Rodriguez, a La Cocina alumna, will offer Mexican dishes, from botanas (snacks) and entradas (small bites and dips) to larger entrees of slow-cooked meats and vegetables served with tortillas, rice, beans and other sides. Mixiote’s residency starts on Nov. 12 and continues through February. Also new at Plum Bar this month: cocktails inspired by every teen’s favorite poet and eschewer of capital letters, E.E. Cummings. The bar menu will feature quaffables like flotsam and jetsam (rye, amaro, Dolin Blanc vermouth),  fabricate unknownness (Rutte Old Simon Genever, Bonal Gentiane-Quina, pear liqueur, orange bitters, cardamom) and etcetera (Laird’s apple brandy, Liquore Strega, Amaro CioCiaro). Plum Cocktail Bar, 2216 Broadway (at West Grand), Oakland


BURGER DOWN Less than a year after it opened in the Elmwood, the Burger Joint at 2985 College Ave. has closed. Nosh reader Dan Schiff brought the news to our attention; he said the restaurant has not been open since late October. The Burger Joint opened in January, bringing affordable burgers, fries and shakes to the spot once occupied by local Greek chain restaurant Troy. Both Troy and The Burger Joint were owned by the same family. Nosh reached out to the owners for comment but had not heard a response at time of publication. In the meantime, Schiff sent us a photo of the application for ownership notice hanging in the window. Looks like a new Thai spot called Gai Barn Thai Soul Food is heading to the space. The applicant is listed as Bil Sitinatsakul, who is associated with two other Berkeley Thai restaurants: Gecko Gecko Thai restaurant and Giin Thai Canteen. We’ll have more details as we get them.

BAKER & COMMONS UPDATE Elmwood diners may have noticed a big yellow “change of ownership” sign up in the window at Baker & Commons, formerly known as the Elmwood Café. As loyal Berkeleyside readers will remember, the café changed hands this May from original owner Michael Pearce to Kara Hammond (who was the Elmwood’s manager for the last eight years) and Eric Wright. The Elmwood Café abruptly shuttered in April, following racism accusations that reemerged in the headlines when comedian and television host W. Kamau Bell recounted an incident that occurred at the café in 2015. But before you think, “Here we go again!,” hear this out: Baker & Commons is not closing nor changing owners again. We emailed Hammond who told Nosh the notice “means that our ABC license is changing hands. We are finally able to sell beer and wine! And that means our dinner menu will be changing soon as well.” Baker & Commons, 2900 College Ave. (at Russell), Berkeley

Chef Rashad Armstead will bring his Crave BBQ to the California Hotel in West Oakland. Photo: Crave BBQ/Instagram

BBQ IS INN A historic hotel in West Oakland will soon become a new spot for blues and BBQ. The California Hotel once hosted blues and jazz greats back in the day, but it fell under hard times and disrepair over the decades. Since 2011, it has been under the management of the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), a nonprofit community development organization which has been working to bring the building, now a low-income housing and social services space, back to its former glory as a visual and performing arts hub. Late last month, EBALDC announced that it will be opening a new food incubator program at the California Hotel through a partnership with local chef Rashad Armstead, who previously ran Berkeley-based catering business called Artistic Taste 7 and Crave BBQ, a now-closed pop-up at a former gas station in West Oakland. Armstead will re-open Crave BBQ as a permanent spot in the hotel. He told Eater that the new menu will have similar offerings to what he served at the pop-up, including ribs, chicken, brisket and hot links, and sides like mac n cheese, collard greens and cornbread. Armstead will also host pop-ups at Crave BBQ, serving as a training ground for young up-and-coming restaurant entrepreneurs, and work with Oakland Public Conservatory of Music to open a blues café at the hotel. Crave BBQ will open in early 2019, possibly as soon as February. Crave BBQ will be at The California Hotel, 3443 San Pablo Ave. (near 35th), Oakland

EAT LIKE DORIE What does a five-time James Beard-award winning cookbook author eat at home? Head to Market Hall in Rockridge on Friday to find out, when Dorie Greenspan will appear for a book signing and tasting event for her 13th and upcoming release (on shelves Oct. 23), Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook. Greenspan is best known for her dessert recipes (she writes the On Dessert column for the New York Times), but her new cookbook features more than 125 recipes of her favorite things to eat, what she calls “everyday food with verve.” That means comforting dishes made with a little something extra, like a Bourbon Roasted Pork Loin, Maple-Syrup-And-Mustard Brussels Sprouts and Parsnip Cranberry Cake. Get a taste of these three recipes at Greenspan’s Market Hall appearance (which will also be featured on the prepared foods menus in both Market Hall stores from Nov. 8-12). Market Hall Foods in Rockridge, 5655 College Ave., Oakland.

STOMP THE YARD Temescal wine shop Oakland Yard is celebrating its second year in business with a party. Happening Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the fete will feature lots of wine (duh), along with oysters from Petaluma’s traveling oyster bar The Oysters Girls; beer from Roses’ Taproom to enjoy in an outdoor beer and wine garden; bites from Tacos Oscar and okonomiyaki pop-up Okkon Japanese Street Food; as well as music and an artisan flea market featuring wares from local artists and vendors. Oakland Yard, 420 40th St. (at Webster), Oakland