Ahn’s Burger: Back in Business

After being closed for about eight months, Ahn’s Quarter Pound Burger on Grand Avenue in Oakland recently reopened for business. I used to frequent this greasy burger joint for many years. I missed the smell of french fries being cooked at Ahn’s during my walks around Lake Merritt. I remember when the scent would hypnotize me, and force me to stop for a snack. I remember when I didn’t feel like cooking, how a burger and fries from Ahn’s would offer me complete satisfaction.  

Eating at Ahn’s Burger has always been a guilty pleasure. After running five miles today, I figured I earned it. Although there is seating available inside Ahn’s, I have always preferred to order from the walk up counter that faces the street and take my food to go. I ordered a cheeseburger, french fries, and a pineapple milkshake. The prices have gone up (about 25%), but so has minimum wage and likely their rent.
This was actually the first time I ordered a pineapple milkshake from Ahn’s. The flavor seemed more like a mix of pineapple and vanilla. It had a nice consistency and even included tiny pieces of pineapple.  
 The fries are crinkle cut, crispy, well seasoned, and always comes out piping hot. I usually enjoy a few right out of the bag on the road home when they are very hot. Ahn’s offers a generous portion of french fries as they typically overflow out of the bag it comes in. I shared some with my BFF who tasted a nutty flavor, which leads me to think their french fries are cooked in peanut oil. Peanut oil has a high smoke point and good for frying.   
 My quarter pound cheeseburger was dressed with chopped lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise. It has a soft bun that holds everything in place. Super fresh, super simple, and super delicious.     

 I’m glad to see Ahn’s Quarter Pound Burger back up and running. It was truly missed.


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!