Three new books on cooking, building, and growing up.
Young Asian chefs and restaurateurs in Oakland love the food of their home countries and their youth, like the salty-sweet street fare from Mumbai’s beaches or the spicy roasted Siamese peanuts sold on Thailand streets. Oakland-based cooks like to do their own thing, often outpacing their counterparts elsewhere. They herald the rise of inventive, new dishes with fresh takes on traditional cuisine. Here are six spots raising the bar, and changing expectations, for what Asian food can be.
Our favorite comfort foods are often those that we ate as kids. So perhaps it’s no surprise that in the case of pasta—one of the all-time top comfort foods—many of Oakland’s favorite versions can be traced back to an old family recipe. We touched base with a few of the city’s Italian restaurants for the story behind their signature pasta dishes (hint: there are a lot of Italian mothers and grandmothers involved).
You can and should eat the flowers making their way onto your dinner plate and into your highball glass.
Tah-chin is an elegant, irresistible Iranian treat.
Kristy looked radiant in her satin gown when I picked her up in my dad’s leased, lemon-chiffon Lincoln Continental. The luxury ride was less to impress—Kristy wasn’t my girlfriend; I was standing in for her boyfriend in the service—than to smooth out the long and winding ride to Port Costa for our pre-senior ball dinner at the Bull Valley Inn. This was back in the culinary dark ages, before the advent of California cuisine, when we called restaurants “fancy” not “upscale,” and a fancy restaurant served French or, more likely in the suburbs, “continental” cuisine.
Though Singing Pizza Elmo still greets you when you walk into Emeryville’s Rotten City Pizza, neither he—nor his anthropomorphic animatronic pizza—no longer dances while singing, “Yum-my, yum-my, that’s a pizza pie.” His fading, sun-bleached fur gives him a ghostly pink pallor, no longer the bright red of ripe tomatoes—a color now reserved for the roasted tomato sauce Rotten City uses on the meatball subs.
Three-year-old Amber doesn’t like seafood. Six-year-old Tyler can’t cut steak. Ten-year-old Casey adores passatelli alla salsiccia but couldn’t possibly polish off a full $22 plate of it.
Here’s a pop quiz. First question: What’s a synonym for comfort food?
When in Elmwood, drop in here for a bite.