Dinner at Calavera 2.0

by foodhoe on July 11, 2016

2337 Broadway, Oakland | 510.338.3273 | website

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I am lucky to have friends with connections because I got to tag along when Brenda who writes Bites & Bourbon was invited to dine as a guest of the house at Calavera in Oakland last month.  We went to check out the changes in the menu since Chef Sophina Uong (@girlslantee) took over the kitchen last March, just 6 months after the restaurant opened.  They aim to provide the very best Mexican region-inspired cuisine combined with the rebel spirit of Oakland and we were so excited to sample Chef Sophina’s unique spin on this.  The restaurant is very festive and upbeat, airy because of the high ceilings and is full of  brightly colored Oaxacan folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures (alebrijes) collected from the team’s travels, as well as many skulls or calavera, the restaurant’s namesake and a photo montage of Oaxacan agave fields behind the bar.

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Chef Sophina Uong grew up in Long Beach, CA and has worked in many notable Bay Area restaurants in the last 25 years, both in the front of the house and in the kitchen at Lulu’s, Zare, Citizen Cake, Absinthe Brasserie in SF.  She was the opening chef-partner at 900 Grayson, worked at Maritime East in Berkeley, Waterbar in San Francisco then was executive chef at Oakland’s Picán where she attracted a following for her eclectic cooking style and dedication to supporting small, organic, local farms; and most recently at Revival Kitchen + Bar in Berkeley.  She frequently participates in competitions like the Lamb Jam and Cochon 555 Heritage Fire, and is actually going to be on tomorrow night’s episode of Chopped (that’s Tuesday July 12)!  The restaurant is proudly going to host a viewing party too btw…

Our server came by with menus but told us that Chef Sophina had already planned a tasting menu for us, so we just sat back and enjoyed our cocktails, a margarita that is called the Salt Air ($13) because it is topped with a frothy Oaxacan salt foam, a molecular gastronomy feat that the team learned while working with José Andrés.  A very modern drink made with Milagro blanco, luxardo triplum and lime served in an old fashioned coupe glass that is the perfect vehicle as it holds a thick layer of that lip smacking foamy salt air.

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We went completely gaga over the Shrimp Coctel, tender shrimp all creamy and cool mixed with corn, pineapple, gypsy peppers, coconut milk, a little habanero kick and then it was topped with crisp shrimp shell chicharrones.  What?!  We swooned over the delicious decadence…

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Pizza at Slice House in Walnut Creek

by foodhoe on June 14, 2016

1500 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Walnut Creek | 925.448.8077 | website

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Last week my friend Christina who writes the delightful East Bay Dish, invited me to come along for a media preview of Slice House, which opened up earlier this month.  Occupying the ground floor, it joins Teleferic Barcelona and Rooftop Restaurant & Bar in the exciting new building at the corner of Mt. Diablo and Main in downtown Walnut Creek.  Owner and chef Tony Gemignani (in the photo below) has about 15 other pizza concepts including four other Slice Houses, an International Pizza School, and Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and Capo’s Restaurant in North Beach.  He is the pizza renaissance man and was recently profiled in Diablomag here.  I’m very excited that he opened Slice House in the Creek so I can include this pizza in my lunchtime rotation!   (pssst, I was so obsessed that I went 3 times last week…)

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The pizzas are baked in triple-stack brick ovens that are used to produce several types of pizza — New York, Sicilian, Grandma and California style which are available by the slice. There are a lot of items on the menu besides pizza, there’s housemade pasta and Italian sausage, hand-pulled mozzarella, panini, soup, gelato and tiramisu.  This is the only location serving stuffed breakfast sandwiches and fresh pressed juices, and they even bring in a bit of North Beach to Coco county by serving Caffé Roma & Trieste coffee throughout the day.

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A slice of Cheese ($5) is simplicity itself, the thin crust is blistered and charred and topped with just the right amount of sauce and cheese and can be eaten in the traditional New York folding style.

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My favorite is Pepperoni ($5.25), they are quite generous with the thin slices of cured meat, which renders a layer of spicy rich and orange sheen to the cheese and you can pretty much expect a savory piece in each bite…  this just makes me drool!  I brought this slice home for Mr. K and we marveled that the crust still maintained a variety of delicious textures even hours after coming out of the oven and sitting in a box!

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Christina went with the Purple Potato ($5.75) a slice of the day, so it’s not always on the menu.  It was so pretty, the purple potato was sliced paper thin and became crisp as a chip in the oven and looked so brilliant in contrast to the vivid green of the pesto.  A fashion statement.  I loved it, it was surprisingly fresh and tasty, be sure to look for it on the menu!

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On another visit I enjoyed the Tomato Pie with Cheese and Basil ($5.50), which is made with tomato sauce, and cheese and yet is very different from the regular slice of cheese (see above).

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I also had to try the pan pizza, which is made with a thick focaccia like crust.  The Sicilian ($6) begins with a thin layer of savory tomato sauce, then cheese which is topped  with both sausage and pepperoni.  It’s airy and breadlike with a bottom crust that is crisp and brown, a very satisfying piece.

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This is another pan style pizza called the Grandma ($6) which had a sweetness to the sauce that I didn’t care for.  Kids would probably love this.  That’s it for the pizzas so far.

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A Spring dinner at Lungomare

June 9, 2016
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1 Broadway, Oakland | 510.444.7171 | website Last month I tagged along with my friend Brenda (of the sassy Bites & Bourbon blog) who was invited to dine as a guest of the house at Lungomare in Oakland.  The restaurant is named after a magnificent seafront promenade in Naples, Italy which is famous for having some of the most panoramic views […]

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The blingiest mac and cheese at Mac Daddy

June 2, 2016
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1453 18th Street, SF  94107 | 415.872.6670 | website Well, hello there!  First I took you to grilled cheese heaven, and now it’s time for mac and cheese heaven, which can be found at Mac Daddy, a cool new spot that opened recently in Potrero Hill by restaurateur Jocelyn Bulow (Chez Maman, Papito) .  It’s a tiny cafe with only 14 seats, […]

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Oakland’s Cat Town Cafe is featured on PBS: Shelter Me

May 24, 2016
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You may know that I am pretty much a crazy cat lady…  I live with four inside kitties, have a garden cat and yes, I even feed some strays.  So when I heard that Oakland was going to have the first cat cafe in the States I had to go check it out!  I took this photo […]

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American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

May 15, 2016
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2400 Harrison St, SF | 415.926.5076 | website ** this location is now closed but there are 2 other locations in the city I recently found myself in grilled cheese heaven, which is also known as the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco, a cozy neighborhood gathering place where you can enjoy the exceptionally well crafted sandwiches of national grilled cheese champion Heidi Gibson, […]

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Taiwan bento in Oakland

May 3, 2016
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412 22nd Street, Oakland, CA 94612 | 510.250.9858 | website Last month I went to Taiwan Bento with the East Bay Dishing meet-up group and our goal was to order lots of dishes, eat family-style and share everything.  The above photo is what our table looked like for six people!  They opened in the Fall of 2014 serving […]

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