Weekday Breakfast at 900 Grayson, Berkeley

This month has been full of birthday meals for me. 900 Grayson is the address and name of a popular spot for weekend brunch in Berkeley. It has been a few years since the last time I attempted to eat there. I recall that the wait time was very long for Saturday brunch so my party dined elsewhere. My birthday landed on a weekday so it was a good time to finally try 900 Grayson for a birthday breakfast as my friend and I didn’t have to wait for a table.
I like how 900 Grayson names all their plates. I have heard so much about the fried chicken and waffles that I had already planned on ordering this. The description of the Demon Lover is spicy buttermilk fried all natural chicken paillard, buttermilk waffle & old-fashioned cream gravy or Vermont maple syrup. I actually ordered both the gravy and the syrup as I didn’t want to miss out on one or the other. Two huge pieces of fried boneless chicken breast fillet arrived on top of a buttermilk waffle. The chicken had a crispy outer batter and was moist on the inside. I cut bite sized pieces of the chicken and waffle and dipped them into gravy, syrup, and hot sauce. This gave me a well rounded flavor burst of savory, sweet, and spice.  

 My friend who lives in Berkeley frequents 900 Grayson regularly and ordered her personal favorite, the Tom Boy. The Tom Boy is poached eggs, potato, Fuji apple & parsnip corned beef hash, and Acme bread. I am a big fan of corned beef hash as well so I was a bit jealous as her plate arrived. I had a sample of her dish. The chunks of beef were hearty and delicious and I enjoyed the unique addition of using apple and parsnips. I can see why this is her favorite. 

900 Grayson is run by two brothers, Chris and Anthony. This family owned neighborhood restaurant maintains it’s popularity by continually putting out great food and providing great service. Breakfast at 900 Grayson was a perfect beginning to a happy birthday.

Playing with Persimmons

It’s persimmon season and you are lucky if you know someone with a persimmon tree that will give you some of its fruit. There are two types of persimmon, Hachiya and Fuyu. The Hachiya persimmon is cone shaped on the bottom and has to be completely ripened to a soft mushy point before it is edible. Because if it’s moist texture, they are good for baking. 

 The Fuyu persimmon has a flat bottom with a crunchy texture. 

 I love this time of year when restaurants will add Fuyu persimmon as a seasonal ingredient to salads. Here’s a photo of a delicious salad that I recently had from Cosecha in Old Oakland. 

 Last month I picked up a few Hachiya persimmons that a coworker left in our break room. It took a couple of weeks to ripen. As soon as it did, I was in search for a recipe for persimmon cake. I stopped when I found the recipe for boozy persimmon pudding on Chowhound 
This very moist cake was full of flavor, spice, and brandy. It tasted even better the next day when the flavors enhanced even more. I warmed it up and topped it off with some fresh whipped cream.  
I recently was given one beautiful organic Hachiya persimmon. After some thought about what to do with it, I decided to look for a recipe for a cookie. Today I used the one persimmon and basic ingredients I already had in my kitchen to make persimmon chocolate chip cookies. The recipe is from the website momtastic.com.    
These cookies didn’t spread and came out like scones, which isn’t a bad thing. I think it makes for a good breakfast. I liked the balance that the chocolate chips gave to the fragrant spices.    
Now what will I do with the Fuyu persimmons I have?

Clove & Hoof: Hog Heaven

I finally made my way to Clove & Hoof for dinner last month with two friends. Located on Broadway street in North Oakland, Clove & Hoof is a butchery and restaurant. While we had to wait about ten minutes to be seated, we spent that time wisely touring the business. I was in what you might call “hog heaven,” as I gazed down at their meat case. My eyes widened as I examined the shelf full of homemade jars of pickled vegetables.  

The three of us were hungry and excited. We ordered several things to share. We started with a chicken liver mousse from the butcher’s fresh charcuterie board. It came well complimented with pickled vegetables, jam, and crostini. I really do enjoy a good chicken liver mousse and this one was smooth and decadent.   
 We shared a side of beef tallow fries with pickle mayo. These french fries are cooked in beef fat giving off a bonus flavor. The texture reminded me of the fries from In & Out Burger except much thicker which I liked. I thought the mayo was unique and creative. 
 I am a huge fan of deviled eggs, so when I saw chicharonne deviled eggs with anchovy salsa verde on the menu, I knew I had to order it. The chicharonne sprinkled on the egg was genius, but the anchovy was a bit too powerful for me. 
 We also ordered the chorizo and mussels which came with duck fat fingerling potatoes and crostini. This dish had amazing flavor and I continued to dip my tallow fries in the liquid until the plate was dry. 
 We shared a salad of Blue lake and yellow wax beans, fried bread, radishes, and assorted lettuces. It was dressed with a fish sauce chili vinaigrette and hoisin aioli. This salad was fresh, crisp, and well balanced.  
 One of my friends ordered the 16 oz grilled rib eye steak with summer corn chow chow, Swiss chard, duck fat potatoes, and fig Demi glaze. I was in complete awe when it came out. I had a bite of this tender, perfectly cooked, well seasoned, piece of beef. I really had to stop eating now. I was in seventh heaven. 
 The cheesesteak sandwich that my friend and I were splitting was also served. The hero roll was filled with thinly sliced sirloin, onion confit, grilled and marinated mushrooms, matchstick turnips and warm beer cheese fondue. I took a bite and was pretty disappointed after having just eaten a bite of the steak. I decided to pack it up. I heated it up the next day in my toaster oven and it was actually pretty good.   
 We ordered two desserts. One was the butterscotch pudding with vanilla wafers, bruleed bananas, and peanuts. Every item in this dessert was yummy, but it seemed to be a bit of a hodgepodge.   
 I wanted to try the Cheerwine float which is a cherry soda poured over vanilla ice cream, port cherries, and cocoa nibs. This was a fun dessert to end the evening and the blend of cherry, vanilla, and chocolate worked well together. 
 Clove & Hoof is full of awesomeness and I look forward to many return visits. 

Nopi: The Food Tour Stops in Oakland

Last week I was in a room with Yottam Ottolenghi and I was giddy like a school girl. He was at Camino, Oakland with his coauthor Chef Ramael Scully promoting his new cookbook Nopi. I have only known about Ottolenghi for two years, but in the short time have become a big fan. I’ve eaten at his restaurant Nopi in London and cooked amazing food from his cookbooks. This guy makes vegetables sexy.

Upon arrival at Camino, we were treated to drinks and snacks with the opportunity to get our cookbooks signed by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. With a glass of rose wine in hand, I waited my turn to meet. I thought it was ironic because I read Ottolenghi’s recent blog post that he isn’t a fan of rose wine. I didn’t want to try to maneuver my book and my wine so I finished it up before I reached him. Part of me also didn’t want him seeing me drinking the rose wine. With a few words shared, I got my cookbook signed and a photo taken.
 The lunch we would be eating today were items carefully prepared by the Camino kitchen using recipes from the Nopi cookbook. Before the official sit down lunch, we had three passed appetizers that came around multiple times.

Fried baby artichokes and parsley with pink peppercorn aioli.   
 Halibut and bulgar tartare with preserved lemon salsa and Jerusalem artichoke chip on endive. 
 Burnt green onion dip on flatbread. 
 The popular bar at Camino was open and they were shaking up two specialty cocktails while we were snacking.
Sparkling wine cocktail with Cocchi Americano and homemade vin d’orange 
 Nopi Coriander Martini with vodka, lime, coriander, and cilantro.   
 After some time eating, drinking, and being merry with friends, I had the courage to go back to the chefs to talk to them some more since it seemed they finished all the autographing. I went to recommend a place for Ottolenghi to grab tacos in Oakland since he mentioned he really wanted one at a talk he gave the night before. I talked to Scully about his Malaysian heritage and where he likes to eat. He like me is a big fan of Momofuku. One of my friends was also having a special moment with Ottolenghi. I give him a lot of credit because in the past two weeks, he’s eaten at Ottolenghi restaurants in London three times. We took another photo.  
We returned to our assigned seating with table cards before the first dish was served.

We had baby carrots and mung beans with smoked labneh and crispy flatbread. 

Our entree was smoked lamb loin and leg with eggplant purée, jalapeño sauce and daikon pickle. Earlier I watched the lamb being cooked in the Camino fireplace. 

We were served a side of mixed cauliflower with golden raisins, capers, and almonds to share. This was the one dish I requested seconds for.   


Our meal was accompanied with white and red wine to pair accordingly 

Allison, host and co-owner of Camino brought out the chefs to say a few words. 

Coffee service came out with dessert which was popcorn ice cream with caramelized popcorn and black pepper.   

I had an amazing meal and overall experience at the Nopi luncheon. Chef Scully fuses a slight touch of Asia to the Mediterranean cuisine of Ottolenghi that inspires me to cook from the Nopi cookbook. Russ, chef and co-owner of Camino did an excellent job interpreting the food of the Nopi cookbook. 

 It was an absolute privilege to be there and document the day. Thank you Allison and Russ and everyone at Camino for hosting this event!

DIY: Vegetarian Risotto with Brussels Sprouts and Browned Butter 

 I bookmarked a recipe for Risotto with Brussels Sprouts and Browned Butter that the Pioneer Woman originally posted about a month ago. It was a vibrant dish that looked and sounded so good. I decided to make it for our monthly cooking party which was themed vegetarian. Funny thing is that I go buy all the ingredients for the dish and bring it to the house and then realize it is not a vegetarian dish. I was emptying out my grocery bag onto the kitchen counter and pulled out chicken broth. I had failed. The hostess luckily saved me because she had vegetable broth. So this version of the Pioneer Woman’s dish is indeed vegetarian.

  • 4 oz of unsalted European butter
  • Half a stalk of Brussels sprouts or about 40 sprouts cut in half
  • 1 finely diced onion
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh thyme
  • Shaved parmesan cheese


Melt the butter in a skillet over medium low heat. Once melted, it will begin to gently foam. Keep your eye and nose on it as you are looking for the butter to turn a golden brown and give off a nutty aroma. Remove the skillet from the heat and scoop out about half the liquid to be used later.

Increase the skillet to medium heat and add the Brussels sprouts. Sauté the vegetables until tender and golden brown, about eight minutes. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the skillet and set aside. 

Now add the onions, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the browned butter to the skillet and sauté until tender.    

Add the arborio rice and combine it well with the onions and garlic.    
Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth and continue to stir until the broth becomes absorbed. Repeat this process until you’ve used up the broth.  
The cooking of the rice should take about 25 minutes and result in an al dente rice. This is where you should taste for texture to know when the rice is ready.   

Add the Brussels sprouts, thyme, salt, pepper, and the remaining browned butter and mix well.  
Plate the risotto and add shaved parmesan cheese.  
This was scrumptious as a vegetarian dish, but I think it would have tasted a notch better with chicken broth!


Drake’s Dealership: Oakland’s Hip New Place to Be

Drake’s Dealership is a brand new restaurant in an old historic building located on Broadway Auto Row in Uptown Oakland. This is just one of many businesses that have begun development over the space of old car dealerships and a repair shop that together now call themselves “Hive Oakland”.  

Drake’s Dealership is actually part of a larger local business that has been around since 1989, Drake’s Brewery in the industrial part of San Leandro. They are one of the early makers of craft beers in Northern California.I have been to the Dealership three times and have enjoyed myself in the beautiful and spacious open air beer garden.  
  My favorite thing about Drake’s Dealership is that you can order 4 oz. tasters of their beers on tap. While most people might order a taster to sample before they order a larger glass, I am ordering multiple tasters as mini sized drinks. This makes it fun for me. I do end up going back for the Oaklander Weisse, a Hefeweizen with a subtle hint of lemon.  
  The food at Drake’s Dealership is quite good. Their specialty is wood fired pizza in the form of New haven style, having a thin oblong shape, slightly charred, and a chewy crust.  
 I would highly recommend ordering a basket of French fries while there. You can get regular, garlic, or spicy. I ordered the spicy fries which are sprinkled with spicy seasoning and comes with a Sriracha mayonnaise.  They stayed crispy until the last fry.
 A friend of mine ordered the fish and chips which I got to taste. The inside of the fish was really moist, fresh, and delicious, but the outer batter was overcooked and overwhelming. A lighter batter would really help this menu item.
  Chicharrones are on their menu and is a perfect snack to have with beer. They have great flavor and crunch.  
 If you want dessert, it appears that you need to ask the waiter, as I haven’t seen it on a printed menu. On one occasion, I had a beer infused mousse and biscotti. I matched it with a 4 oz. taster of Nitro Stout which shows off some chocolate and coffee flavors. This was a great combination.
 Drake’s Dealership has only been open for about two months and has already become a hip, relevant place to be. I imagine that Drake’s Dealership will become an Oakland institution in no time.

Ba Bite: Delicious Middle Eastern Bites

Last Friday afternoon, my coworker pings me and tells me I should try Ba Bite on Piedmont Avenue. Whenever anyone gives me a recommendation, I start doing some research. I googled Ba Bite, found their website, and was immediately impressed. Yes, I was impressed by their website. The design is modern and clean with a pretty logo of a pomegranate. The web pages are well organized and included welcoming photos. I was intrigued.

A few moments later one of my friends sent me a text to ask if I wanted to go out for dinner tonight. I sent her the link to Ba Bite and she agreed to go. I quickly made a reservation for two.

When you enter Ba Bite, you walk into a casual environment where you order your food at the counter, get a number, and find a seat in the other room. The restaurant was almost full, but there were a few tables with reserved signs on it, one of which was ours.
  We spent a few minutes reviewing the menu board and strategizing what we would order. It was nice to easily agree on our food choices.
We went with the classic hummus plate. Ba Bite makes homemade hummus with California organic garbanzo beans; and the classic version is prepared with olive oil and pine nuts. It comes with pita bread and a lovely edition of pickled vegetables and olives. The hummus was very smooth and delicious. My favorite hummus comes from Oren’s in Palo Alto, but this one definitely comes in at a very close second.  
 The salad we chose was the full squash salad which was like a fun playground with the variety of ingredients. It came with arugula, butternut squash, cranberry, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, scallion, shaved Manchego cheese, and pomegranate vinaigrette. This flavorful and healthy dish also offered many wonderful textures.

Majadera is a Middle Eastern dish containing rice, lentils, and meat and dates back centuries to the Medieval Arab World. At Ba Bite, the dish is topped with fried onion, yogurt sauce, and pine nuts. You can either have it as a vegetarian dish or with your choice of meat. We chose to have it with eggplant and I was so happy we did. The strips of eggplant had the best cook on them; they were tender and had an awesome char.    
 In the past several years, I have become very fond of lamb. We ordered the lamb kefta kebob which is made with ground lamb, herbs, spices, pine nuts, and yogurt sauce. The kebob had a nice crust on it and offered a wonderful symphony of exotic flavors.    
 Ba Bite is a great addition to Piedmont Avenue as well as the City of Oakland. I definitely see this as my new “go to” restaurant for Middle Eastern cuisine.