Bites: Black Vines celebrates California’s black vintners; Calabash; Tacos Super Monilla

Catch up on the latest East Bay food news and events.

Black Vines founder Fern Stroud.
Black Vines founder Fern Stroud. Photo: Black Vines

A TOAST TO DIVERSITY Black Vines founder Fern Stroud says her “life work is to bridge the gap between business, art and community,” and she’s been doing that for the last nine years with Black Vines, an annual festival she created to celebrate California’s black winemakers and vintners, artists and musicians. Stroud started the event in 2011 as a way to drive awareness and create publicity and demand for black wine professionals in a field dominated by mostly white and male winemakers, but Black Vines has also proven to be a fun gathering where like-minded individuals can connect over some great bottles of California wine. For the past eight years, Black Vines has taken place at various venues in Oakland; this year, on Sunday, it’ll make its first foray in Berkeley at Ciel Creative Space, where Mayor Jesse Arreguín will present Stroud with an official proclamation stating that Feb. 29, 2020 is Black Vines Day in the city.

Black Vines will feature tastings from Free Range Flower Winery (Oakland), Wachira Wines (Alameda), McBride Sisters (San Luis Obispo), Indigené Cellars (Paso Robles), Theopolis Vineyards (Yorkville), among many others. In addition, there’ll be hors d’oeuvres from L.A.-based Shef’s Catering, winemaker talks, and displays and performances by black artists and musicians. Proceeds from this year’s Black Vines will go to BlackFemaleProject.org, a non-profit that supports and amplifies the work of professional black women. 1-5 p.m. Admission is $70 and includes a keepsake glass; pre-registration is required. Venue information will be shared with registered guests.  

ALL STAR (CALA)BASH A new restaurant and marketplace is coming to Oakland that hopes to bring awareness and representation for three Bay Area chefs of color and the cuisines from their respective cultures. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Nigel Jones, the chef-owner behind Caribbean restaurants Kingston 11 in Oakland and Kaya in San Francisco, will be joined by Malaysian chef Azalina Eusope (of Azalina’s in San Francisco) and Iranian chef Hanif Sadr (of Komaaj, a Berkeley-based catering company that has had a standing pop-up at Cafenated in North Berkeley) to open Calabash.

Calabash will be located on the ground floor of the Alta Waverly housing development on Valdez and 23rd streets in Oakland. Diners at the restaurant will order off a single menu featuring Afro-Caribbean fare from Jones, Malaysian dishes from Eusope and Persian plates from Sadr, while the shoppers at the marketplace will purchase prepared foods from each chef to enjoy at home. An opening date has yet to be announced, but Jones and crew aim for Calabash to go live by September.


Tacos Super Monilla, a taco truck in Alameda.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s a new taco truck in Alameda! Photo: Tacos Super Monilla

MAKE IT SUPER Alameda’s got a new taco truck (with a superhero clutching a burrito emblazoned on it) that’s getting lots of love for its Mexico City-style eats. Eater reports that Tacos Super Monilla is the island’s first regular, non-pop-up taco truck. Run by husband-wife owners Ramon and Silvia Torres, Super Monilla specializes in regional street foods, like campechano (a taco that combines more than one type of meat, in this case, brisket and chorizo) and quesabirria (the au courant cheesy, crunchy dipped shredded beef tacos). Hours are noon to 10:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; 5:30-10:30 p.m., Monday. Tacos Super Monilla, 800 West Tower Ave. (near Ferry Point), Alameda

STILL A FEW SANDWICHES SHORT Fans of Kensington farmers market hawkers Picnic will be glad to hear the rotisserie, charcuterie and sausage business run by Albany locals Susannah Schnick and Leslie Nishiyama is just a few months shy of opening its first brick-and-mortar deli. When it opens, Picnic will offer take-out charcuterie (including their Good Food Award-winning chicken liver mousse), rotisserie chicken, sandwiches, salads and more, but locals will have to wait just a little longer. The space in the former Four Corners Café in Albany required a full build out, a process the two owners say they learned a lot from. Although construction has been going fairly smoothly, they still have a list of items to buy, and last permits and licenses to get squared away. To help them get to the finish line in time, Schnick and Nishiyama are crowdfunding on Kickstarter to raise $25,000 that will be used to buy equipment and supplies, and create an outdoor seating area. Picnic will be at at 862 San Pablo Ave., (at Solano), Albany

The former The Bird restaurant space is still vacant.
The former The Bird restaurant space is still vacant and is once again on the market. Photo: Sarah Han

FAMILY TIES ENDED? In July, Nosh reported that Family Style, Inc. — the L.A.-based company that operates ghost kitchens for delivery-only pizza restaurants like DJ Steve Aoki’s Pizzaioki — would be taking over the corner restaurant at 2400 Telegraph Ave., a space last occupied by The Bird. At the time, Family Style’s regional manager Demetrius Rienzo told Nosh the business was still figuring out what brands they’d be offering from the location, as the company had just started adding new types of cuisines to their pizza-only line-up. More than six months later, the space is still closed and the restaurant is on the market yet again. We reached out to Rienzo for comment on why Family Style decided to pass on the Southside Berkeley space, but have not yet heard a response at time of publication.

MAI BANH MI, INTERRUPTED Reader Sean Rouse sent up a tip that North Oakland Vietnamese sandwich shop, Mai Banh Mi at 6601 Telegraph Ave., is temporarily closed for remodeling. A sign on the door and the business’ voicemail say the restaurant will reopen soon, but a date has yet to be shared.

CHEF STORIES Slow Food East Bay’s Cultural Food Traditions Project, a series celebrating immigrant and POC chefs and their food traditions, is nearing its end. Sunday’s dinner focused on cuisine from Bhutan and Myanmar, will be the last event before a final closing ceremony for the series in March. The event takes place from 5-8 p.m., and will include a dinner beautifully prepared by Burmese chef Pa Wah and Bhutanese chef Som Lacchi Rai featuring mohinga (Burmese fish noodle soup), tea leaf salad, mushroom curry soup, rice, dal and pickles. As with all of Slow Food East Bay’s Cultural Food Traditions dinners, the event also includes a talk by the chefs. In this case, both Wah and Rai were refugees who were forced to leave their home countries; they will share their personal stories about their experiences. Tickets are $45-$85; proceeds will be split with the event’s partner organization, Oakland Bloom. COLORS Restaurant at Restore Oakland, 1419 34th Ave. (at International Boulevard), Oakland


Fieldwork's Koalaty Time Westcoast Double IPA.
Fieldwork’s Koalaty Time Double IPA. Photo: Fieldwork Brewing Co.

HELP FOR FRIENDS DOWN UNDER Berkeley’s Fieldwork Brewing Company recently announced it’s pledged $50,000 to the American Australian Association, a group helping support people and wildlife affected by the fires in Australia. In addition, Fieldwork also released a special beer this month to bring attention to the cause. Koalaty Time Double IPA is brewed with Australian hops Enigma, Galaxy and Vic Secret, and is available on draft and in 16 oz. cans at all Fieldwork Brewing locations. Fieldwork co-founder Barry Braden explains the reason for their involvement in a cause that’s so far from home: “Living in a region that’s also experienced its own devastation due to wildfires, it’s our duty to bring awareness for the need to help our Australian friends who have undergone catastrophic fires in recent months. Our donation is a small part in the efforts to support the communities affected by the Australian wildfires.” Fieldwork Brewing Co., 1160 Sixth St. (at Harrison Street), Berkeley