Lunch Time at Hard Knox Cafe

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Last Sunday before watching the San Francisco 49ers lose the NFC Championship game, I had lunch with my sister and two friends in the City. It was our first time trying Hard Knox Cafe. The restaurant has two locations, one in the Richmond district and one in the Dogpatch. We went to the smaller location in the Dogpatch which felt more like a diner because seating was limited to the counter bar and booths.

We waited less then five minutes which was surprising because the Hard Knox Cafe is a very popular place. Maybe most people were home watching the AFC Championship game. I won’t complain about the short wait time. The menu offers a very good variety of Southern food. After a thorough review, we each decided on having different entrees so we could taste an assortment of items.

Each of us received two corn muffins. They were warm and delicious and tasted even better after spreading some butter on it. I wanted to eat a second one, but I had to control myself to leave room for our main course.
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Each entree comes with a choice of two sides. I ordered the beef shortribs with kernel corn and macaroni and cheese. The ribs were oven baked and drenched with brown gravy. They were very tender and easily fell off the bone.
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My sister ordered fried catfish with mashed potatoes and collard greens. The catfish filets were seasoned perfectly and coated with a cornmeal batter. I really enjoyed this one a lot.
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One friend got the BBQ pork ribs with potato salad and collard greens. This was probably the least memorable of all the entrees.
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My other friend ordered the fried chicken and waffles, but their waffle machine was not working. Instead, she ended up with the 3 piece fried chicken meal with candied yams and red beans and rice. The chicken was juicy and had a nice flavor.
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Everything we had at Hard Knox Cafe was pretty good. For me, the highlights were the corn muffins, the fried catfish, and the candied yams. If you are hungry and want excellent value, Hard Knox Cafe should do the trick.

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Emilia’s Pizzeria: A Well Oiled Machine

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My coworker has been raving about this tiny restaurant called Emilia’s Pizzeria in Berkeley for over six months. I sort of stopped paying attention when she started spurting out some of the rules of the pizzeria. You have to call in your order between 4pm-5pm. The pizza comes in one size. You can get up to four toppings. Cash only. Open four nights a week.

My friend and I were going to do a bike ride on the Bay Bridge trail and thought it would be great to try Emilia’s afterwards. I preplanned my attempt at Emilia’s. When I say preplanned, I read through the rules and the Q&A on the website the night before. On the day of, I set my alarm for 4:00pm so I could call in when their phone line opened.

I dialed Emilia’s at 4:01pm and got a busy signal. I hit redial and the phone started to ring. I couldn’t believe I was getting through so quickly. I was a bit nervous when my call was answered because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I told the guy who answered the phone that I wanted to order a pizza and I wanted to eat it there. He asked how many people and what time. I said two for 6:30pm. He responded that my seating time would be 6:15pm. I told him this sounded great. He asked me what I wanted on the pizza and I named four toppings.

We arrived at the pizzeria at 6:10pm to find two tables, one filled and one empty. We waited to be told the empty table was ours before we sat down. I was surprised to see that this was a one man show. Keith answered the phone, made the pizzas, rang people up, etc. We watched him make a couple of pizzas before ours went into the oven. Our pizza was put together at 6:20pm and came out of the oven and on our table at 6:30pm.

The four toppings on our beautiful 18″ pie was pepperoni, sopressata, mushrooms, and red onion. I would describe the pizza as thin crust that falls somewhere in between the category of Neapolitan style and New York. The bottom was completely crisp, the crust was chewy, the toppings were quality ingredients and wonderfully tasty. I fell in love with this pizza at first bite.
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Some people may call Keith the “Pizza Nazi,” but I call him awesome. I can really appreciate his organizational skills. In order to make things run smoothly and work for him, he has to create these rules. It works for me too because if I’m told I will have a pizza at 6:30pm, I know I’ll get a pizza at 6:30pm. Winner!

DIY: Homemade Granola

I am still getting rave reviews for the homemade granola that I made last month as holiday gifts. I sampled this recipe at a friend’s house and was amazed at the taste. I knew I had to have this recipe and was happy I left with a copy. The recipe is from a granola maker named Nekisia Davis and her recipe has been adapted and published on various websites under olive oil and maple granola.
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The hardest part of making this recipe is purchasing all the ingredients. Fortunately, I was able to get everything at Berkeley Bowl. Here is your shopping list:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 ¼ cup raw pecans, whole
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut chips, pecans, light brown sugar, and salt.
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    Add the olive oil and maple syrup and stir until well combined.
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    Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
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    Bake at 300°F., stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 45 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven. Cool completely on a wire rack.
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    Store in an airtight container.
    The secret to this recipe is the hint of saltiness. It tastes great on its own. I added my olive oil and maple granola to a cup of yogurt and berries and it made the best tasting parfait ever! Enjoy!
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    Victory at Easy Lounge

    Woo! Hoo! The 49ers had a victory today so they will play in the Divisional Playoffs next Sunday which makes the team that much closer to another Super Bowl. The BFF and I went to our neighborhood bar Easy Lounge on Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland to catch all the action. We were the first to arrive and got our pick of seats at the bar between the two screens.
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    Aside from a good football game, Sunday early afternoons call for Bloody Marys in my book. Bloody Marys are typically made with vodka, tomato juice, and lots of spices and added condiments like celery and green olives. I heard good things about the Bloody Mary at Easy Lounge and knew that was what I wanted after seeing the jars of homemade pickled vegetables. They had green beans, cucumbers, carrots, and radishes.
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    Our Bloody Marys came in cute mason jars and topped with the pickled vegetables. The vegetables are very different from the condiments in a traditional Bloody Mary, but it still made me feel like I was having a meal.
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    Interesting fact about Easy Lounge is that their lease does not allow them to sell food until after 4pm because they are located in a building with other restaurants. No one said they couldn’t give it away so they were serving frittatas with a side salad.
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    The bar also allows you to bring in food so I picked up some crispy tacos from Chipotle. Nothing to rave about but it did go well with my next drink called Swamp Thing. This cocktail has tomatillo salsa water, mezcal, tequila, lime, agave, chili verde salt rim, and topped with crumbled tortilla chips. The taste was smokey which I enjoyed.
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    I had a fun time at Easy Lounge and think the bartenders do a great job with cocktails. What started out as an empty bar became standing room only. Cheers!
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