Incentive programs that double the value of food stamp dollars spent at farmers markets have been hailed as one of the most effective ways to encourage healthful eating and support local farmers. The flaw: Most people don’t shop at farmers markets. So a new program will soon pilot the concept at three grocery stores in Detroit.
The food swap is the latest D.I.Y. culinary trend cooking (from scratch) in kitchens around the country. Find out why trading radish onion relish for ginger pear butter in the East Bay and beyond is the newest food phenomenon favored by urban homesteaders.
Tanya Holland is the Chef/Owner of Southern cooking hotspot Brown Sugar Kitchen (BSK) in West Oakland, where cornmeal waffles and fried chicken are among the menu highlights. BSK reflects her interpretation of soul food, with influences from her African-American heritage, formal French cooking training, and “a general appreciation of a wide variety of cuisines.” She shared her favorite spots to eat, drink and shop for food in the Bay Area.
Vanessa Barrington is a food writer and cookbook author based in the Temescal District in Oakland. She is the author of the recently published D.I.Y. Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food From Scratch and co-authored Heirloom Beans with Steve Sando. Vanessa shared her local food secrets with BAB as well as a couple of recipes from her book.
Daniel Patterson is a self-taught chef well known to eaters and readers for his food, expanding Bay Area restaurant group, and writing. His fine dining Coi Restaurant opened in 2006 in San Francisco, and won two Michelin stars in 2008. Frank Bruni of the New York Times named Coi as a top ten new restaurant outside of New York, and the San Francisco Chronicle awarded Coi four stars. Patterson opened a more casual concept called Il Cane Rosso in the Ferry Building in 2009. Plum opened in Oakland last year. On December 1st, Patterson reported on his Twitter feed that he was the soup cook “at least for a little while” for the Plum lunch debut. Bay Area Bites caught up with Patterson soon after that via phone interview.
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.
Trueburger, the new hamburger restaurant in downtown Oakland, is, well… true. Genuine meat patties made from meat that is ground on the premises, shakes made with real ice cream (along with other stuff like actual bananas and peanut butter), all-beef kosher dogs that you can get with a side of homemade chili, and truly nice people running the joint. What more could you ask for?
I first became really curious about Lao food nearly two years ago, after a tasty meal at Champa Garden, the somewhat venerable Lao restaurant on 8th Avenue east of Lake Merritt in San Antonio–one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the Bay Area, home to close-knit populations of African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians in almost equal proportions. I tried to draw distinctions between its dominant flavors and those most prevalent in the more familiar cuisines of its Southeast Asian neighbors. Like Thai, Lao thrives on interplay between sour and spicy, crunchy and soft, and both cooked and raw ingredients. The effect however is different.
The trick, I realized, was to pick one long line–like the one for Seoul Food’s Korean tacos– and then send your friends out on recon missions to the shorter lines, so you’d have something to eat while you waited in line for something to eat.
Where the recent SF Street Food Festival skipped actual street food for slimmed-down restaurant eats, Eat Real did keep it real, with taco trucks, soul food ribs and the Sexy Soup Lady in a pink apron straddling her three-wheeled soup cart. And the prices were right, too, with nothing over $5.
Novella Carpenter took over an empty lot next to her apartment in Oakland’s gritty Ghost Town neighborhood, and over the years turned it into a lush garden and farm complete with bees, chickens, rabbits and even pigs. Urban farms are popping up in even the most cramped corners of densely populated cities, fueled by a desire for good food and a closer relationship with what we eat. Carpenter joins Forum to talk about her new book, “Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.”
For the last two months, I’ve been part of this dinner troupe, as a stagehand — a chef apprentice. Starting in April, I took a leave from my job as an editorial writer and columnist for The Sacramento Bee to intern at Oliveto, an Italian restaurant in Rockridge.