A popular topic at Bay Area Bites, East Oakland’s Lao cuisine has been featured in previous coverage. This roundup focuses on other fine Lao restaurants located throughout Oakland, San Pablo, El Sobrante and Albany.
Andrew is from Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in San Francisco, plays music, works with kids, and writes for a variety of magazines and newspapers, including The Oakland Tribune, The Contra Costa County Times, Wine Enthusiast, The Onion, and Thrasher. Pro: hush puppies, green garlic, caramel ice cream, Japanese sweet potatoes, smelts, Larb Ped, beer, wine, cocktails, and assorted dumplings; con: milk, chips, and candy.
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At that moment, I felt blessed by San Francisco, its ridiculous micro-climates. It was the edge of the city, it was the edge of August, the time when tomatoes just a few miles inland start to pucker and weigh down their vines, and I was going to eat a “warm pot” — not because someone on Yelp recommended I do so, but because it just felt right.
As a general rule, I prefer going in when most people are going out, and for that, there’s no place like Chinatown after 9 p.m. I’ll never head across town for a burrito, even if it’s amazing, because I live in the Mission, but I will take two forms of public transportation in order to drink a Budweiser — the most ubiquitous of mediocre bar beers — in the right place. That place’s proximity to salt-and-pepper squid ensures subsequent visits will end the same way — with too many drinks and a few plates at 3 a.m.
The problem gets especially thorny when the offended parties — the light sleepers, neat freaks, and territorial denizens of the block — feel as if they’re a more intrinsic part of the city than the offender, particularly when the offender is a trendy, much-blogged, money-making food-service operation with a clientele neither reflective of nor rooted in the neighborhood — and the offended happen to be long-time residents.
Whether I’m in Louisville or San Francisco, forays to the market are about people as much as produce, an opportunity to take stock of the swirling community. In this way, they’re all the same — regardless of what’s in season.
The vendors and their loyal customers will have one major concern for sure — that the efforts required to Whole Foods-ify the products will strip away flavor and authenticity. Crafted on a larger scale, sold from case, not cart, might some of the City’s better-known traveling eateries end up, in Whole Foods’ hands, becoming the edible equivalent of elevator music — familiar, well-loved melodies with their songs’ souls sucked out?
There’s nothing like leaving a place to make you want to make sure you know it before you go. For some people, that means tearing through favorite shops, haunting beloved beaches, and catching up with old friends. For me, that means eating. To that end, I’ve made a list of a few things I need to eat between now and September, dishes I associate with the eight years I’ve spent here.
By calling their enterprise a “general store” though, founders Christopher Lee and Samin Nosrit (well-known East Bay chefs I first encountered reading through Novella Carpenter’s Farm City) are actively trying to evoke the sort of life-sustaining community-generating apparatus that came to my mind the moment I saw Ness’s headline — while selling boudin blanc for $14 a pound. While such a project might draw attention to certain sections of the community — producers, chefs, growers — and bring together others — hungry food writers, people with money — the vibe — however delicious — doesn’t quite jive with the handle.
For me — again, the non-expert — Grahm repeatedly uncorks sweet, thoughtful conceits about wine that make me eager to improve my grasp — not on know-how and scoring systems, but the mystery and magic of wine, to see it as a lovely, boundless parcel to discover and unravel in the same way I’ve devoured popular music and steeped myself in its history, absorbing its movements and collections of characters, coming to understand first-hand how certain changes and instrumental colors render certain effects on a listener.
Current wisdom, however, holds that cookbooks are becoming obsolete. While food blogs and recipe-rich websites like Epicurious have been around, relatively speaking, for ages, most web-savvy cooks — skittish about the potential havoc erupting pots and mishandled cutlery are capable of causing — balk at positioning their precious laptops too close to a rowdy kitchen fray. Enter the iPad.
Simply put, this book — a featherweight at 144 pages — has forced me to re-contemplate the advantages of vegetarianism in the face of a corporation-clogged taxpayer-funded mainstream meat industry dedicated to processing artificially cheap, unhealthy, and potentially dangerous animal protein products for mass consumption, with a startling disregard for its underpaid workers and the environment.