How was all of your July Fourths? This was the first July Fourth I spent in Oakland, as last year, I was down in SoCal visiting my parents. It was truly a blast and great to have a longish, lazyish weekend. Because J and I are who we are and we live in what I consider the food capitol of the United States (there’s a throwdown for you!), our weekend revolved around food.
On Friday, West Coast Rebecca and Bellisima came over to see the new place and to eat at B. While it’s still on the menu, get the chicken roulade. It’s thoroughly flavorful and moist and tender. Just a perfect dish. We also got the sweetbreads with a mushroom and fennel hash. As I am totally not squeamish, I ate my own sweetbreads and West Coast Rebecca’s. I made a deal with J that I would never tell him what sweetbreads are.
For the Fourth, we had Rebecca over for a foodie evening. West Coast Rebecca is a blast to cook with. She really exults in fresh produce and brought a salad with green goddess dressing that came straight from her backyard garden. I made ravioli with won ton skins filled with paneer from Cowgirl Creamery, argula, parmigiano, and a touch of nutmeg. The Cowgirl Creamery paneer was actually better than the traditional ricotta. It stayed solid and held its shape when boiled. This was definitely a winner. All the ravioli needed was a nice fruity olive oil as a sauce.
Sunday was a day for us to do some more exploring of our neighborhood. We found a great furniture importer, a Polynesian dance center (while looking for a nursery), and a Berkeley Bowl with aisle that are bigger than three feet wide. Even more than that, we found another go-to place for food. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s hard for me to find a go-to place. A place with quality food, relatively decent prices (entrees below $20), and friendly service. B has been that for us and we go time and time again. We definitely want to branch out a bit. Luckily we decided to hit Aunt Mary’s Café on Telegraph Ave. It’s an organic Southern restaurant that leans towards the New Orleans style of cooking. Fried oysters, both on top of a frittata and in a po’boy are featured. For brunch we had the aforementioned oysters on top of a frittata and a chicken fried steak with a roasted tomato and green bean salad. I have never been so enthusiastic about salad in my life. The tomato flavor just permeated the whole thing with a sweet, tart, tanginess. And yes the chicken fried steak was excellent, served with a savory beer gravy.
For dinner, we went to our new favorite Korean place call Sahn Maru (a few doors down from Aunt Mary’s). Featured on Check Please Bay Area, it’s your basic Korean place but everything is well done and they don’t serve potato salad with the panchan. If you go, please or the #1 combination. It gives you the kitchen sink of Korean food – chicken AND beef BBQ, the tofu stew, and the jap chae noodles. That’s a lot of food for $20 per person.
This whole buying thing has been a great experience. My biggest concern was the commute. I’ve been REALLY lucky to have a bus line a block away from the house that drops me off a block away from work in fifteen minutes. Our block reminds me of the area of Capitol Hill near the old baseball stadium. Upper-middle class white families moving into neighborhoods with black families who have been there for generations. What’s different about Oakland than DC is that the white and black kids play together in the street and apparently go to the same schools. It’s so weird having bought a hosue and completed a life goal. It is opening us up to think about THE FUTURE. Getting pets and (gasp!) children.