Alameda Theatre: Watch the Warriors Play

Tonight’s Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder NBA Playoff Game 7 is going to be an epic battle. Tickets for this basketball game are going for at least $400 at “Roaracle Arena.” If you are looking for a seat to watch the game with hundreds of other excited Warriors fans, I have got an almost free alternative.  

Starting at 10:30am, you can pick up two entry tickets for the Warriors watch party at the Alameda Theatre and Cineplex. Not only do you get to watch the game on a large movie theater screen, you can eat and be merry. Tickets are technically free, but they ask for a $1 donation to benefit the Warriors Community Foundation. If you are learning about this from me, please consider donating $2!  
I have attended two watch parties and they have been really fun. There is a lot of excitement, but it is still laid back. They have an MC that goes around and asks trivia questions after the first and third quarters. My eight year old niece won a rally towel!  
They also sell raffle tickets to benefit the Warriors Community Foundation and during half time, they raffle off prizes that have included bobble heads, coolers, movie tickets, etc. At one party, they had a DJ that would play music during commercials which makes the viewing party seamless. 

So there are a few important things you want to know about eating and drinking at the watch party. You can certainly get snacks at the concession stand. Whenever I go to the movies, I look for the kids pack which includes a small amount of popcorn, a soft drink, and candy. At the Alameda Theater, the kids pack is $5.
One of the best features about watching the game here is that you can purchase food and drinks from the attached Cinema Grill, get a reserved ticket and your food will be delivered to you at your seat. On one occasion, my friend and I had eaten at the Cinema Grill before the game started and were given reserved tickets.  
We shared two types of chicken wings – spicy and sweet and sour. The chicken wings were organic and both flavors were excellent.
We also had the Godfather Pizza which had toppings of pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, fennel, and arugula. The thin crust pizza was almost cracker like and the multiple toppings offered great flavor and texture.  
They also offer a full service bar, so you can also have beer, wine, cider, or cocktails. For a movie theater, this is as gourmet as you can get. Between the entertainment, the food and drink, and all the excitement, Alameda Theatre and Cineplex offers an awesome venue to watch the Golden State Warriors play ball!

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Soul Food in Vallejo

My best friend planned a fun day yesterday. She took a group of four of us to eat at a soul food restaurant she recently discovered in the City of Vallejo called House of Soul. Read more on her blog. We went for lunch after hiking nearby.   
In anticipation for this lunch, I had read through Yelp reviews and looked at pictures for the past week. My BFF claimed that House of Soul serves the best fried chicken. I wouldn’t doubt her because it’s one of her favorite foods as well as mine. One year for her birthday, she had a fried chicken cook off where I came in second place.
Although we were there for lunch, we ordered off the dinner menu. This gave us the opportunity to have a main course plus two sides and cornbread. We each ordered our own dish and for the most part it was a good variety, so we could taste from each other’s plates. 
It has probably been thirty years plus since I last drank Kool Aid. For nostalgia, I ordered it and it was so damn good that I have no regrets over digesting however many tablespoons of sugar I did.
For my lunch, I ended up with the smothered pork chop. After the pork is breaded and deep fried, a generous amount of brown gravy is poured over it. I chose rice and gravy and collard greens as my sides. I loved my plate. I actually thought it was a well balanced plate. I had my protein, starch, and vegetables! It felt very comforting to eat, perfect for the rainy day we had.  
So we were there for fried chicken right? Two of my friends ordered the fried chicken dinner. In addition to my plate, I asked for a piece of fried chicken on the side, specifically a leg. Our waitress came back with a leg and a wing because she said it was small. I was excited because those are my favorite pieces of a chicken to eat. This fried chicken is very traditional and incorporates the perfect coating that leaves you with a crispy crunchy batter that is flawless. I think it’s one of the best of its kind. I might say I enjoy the flavor of the fried chicken more at Ad Hoc or at Miss Ollie’s where the herbs are injected in the center of the chicken meat.  
Another friend ordered the beef short ribs in gravy and added rice and chose macaroni and cheese and collard greens as her sides. I am quite sure the short ribs were cooked for a long time as the beef easily fell off the bone. I enjoyed it from the small taste I had. It was well flavored and moist like a long cooked stew. The macaroni and cheese was also delicious and one of my favorites of all the sides. Having licked her plate clean, I have no doubt my friend was very happy with her choices.
Another side I had the pleasure of tasting were the green beans. They were cooked with ham hocks which enhanced the taste. The homemade corn bread came out piping hot. I added butter and it was all smiles.
Eating at House of Soul gives you the sense of being in the South, where the cooks prepare your food with love. One thing I want to point out is that service is extremely slow. You will be disappointed if you go in not knowing that. We were there for two hours and it was worth it.

Mashup: Burmese and BBQ

Less than two weeks old, Burma Bear is the latest takeout lunch spot to open in Uptown Oakland. Across the street from my work, my arms are wide open to welcome Burma Bear to the neighborhood. The Chef and Grillmaster is Hubert Lim, aka Burma Bear, who brings a mix of Burmese food and BBQ to our palettes.  

It’s a pretty simple menu. You choose a meat (protein) and a side. I chose baby back ribs and biryani rice. The saucy ribs had been rubbed with loads of aromatic spices and had a spicy kick to it. They were tender and delicious. The rice complemented the ribs very well.  

My colleague chose the kalua pulled pork and the garlic noodles. The shredded pork was moist, but cooked with BBQ sauce it leaves some crispy bits which is nice. 

I really enjoyed the garlic noodles as well. The taste of garlic and butter in the thin noodles are well balanced and light.

Tea leaf salad is a very popular Burmese dish. The one from Burma Bear doesn’t have the same effect I get when I eat it at other Burmese restaurants. All the ingredients are already mixed together and this version comes with iceberg lettuce, rather than cabbage. You can choose a tea leaf salad made with kale if that is your thing. Overall, the tea leaf salad was disappointing compared to others I have eaten.  

I am ecstatic to have Burma Bear around to bring diversity to the Uptown area and a fun mashup of Burmese and BBQ. The small storefront offers a few spots to eat, but I prefer takeout anyways. On a nice day, you can order Burma Bear and eat at Snow Park. Another shop is located in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco.

DIY: Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Chocolate covered strawberries are a beautiful thing. They are elegant looking, taste really good, and so easy to make. You don’t even need any fancy equipment. I taught my niece how to make them a few years ago and she elevated them by adding detail. This recipe and instructions to make two dozen chocolate covered strawberries is from @ilikeashley.

Ingredients

  • 2 dozen strawberries
  • 12 oz. bag of semi sweet chocolate chip morsels
  • 4 oz. white chocolate chip morsels
  • 1 tbsp & 2 tsp of vegetable shortening

Instructions

Rinse and pat dry each strawberry and line them up about one to two inches apart on a parchment or wax lined tray.

Find a bowl that fits on top of a pot about halfway deep. Fill about one third of the pot with water and heat on medium high. Add the 12 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate with 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. of vegetable shortening into the bowl. The shortening thins out the chocolate and gives the chocolate a nice shine. 

Using a wooden spoon, stir the chocolate as it melts. You are looking for the right balance of chocolate to shortening. Too much shortening could alter the taste of the chocolate and too little shortening will make it result in overly thick chocolate and more difficult to cover the strawberries. Once you are happy with the consistency, turn off the heat.  
Take one strawberry by the stem, dipping it into the melted chocolate and turning it around to ensure coverage. Let any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Lay the dipped strawberry back in its original space. 

Repeat until all 24 strawberries are covered with semi sweet chocolate. Place the tray of strawberries in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so the chocolate can harden.

You can either save the leftover chocolate or discard it. Either way, wash and dry the bowl and wooden spoon. Place the bowl back onto the pot and melt 4 oz of white chocolate with 1 tsp. of vegetable shortening. 

Using the wooden spoon, stir the chocolate as it melts. The white chocolate should be a little thinner than the previous chocolate as it is used to finely decorate the chocolate. 
Transfer the melted white chocolate into a ziplock sandwich bag. Zip the bag close, but make sure to remove as much air as possible. Using a pair of scissors, cut a tiny tip off one of the bottom corners.  
Remove the tray of strawberries from the refrigerator. Taking the melted white chocolate, squeeze it through the small hole. With one hand, draw lines across the strawberries back and forth until you’ve decorated all 24 strawberries. It gets easier with practice and a lot of fun.
Place the tray back in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. Once hardened and chilled, they are ready to eat. For both practical reasons and for a nice presentation, I recommend placing each strawberry in its own cupcake liner.  
That’s it! Easy, peasy!  

 

Exploring Fournée Bakery in Berkeley

Located on Domingo Avenue in Berkeley across from the historical Claremont Hotel, is a small business community of food and shops. Tucked in this neighborhood is a French bakery serving some of the best croissants. It was about a year ago when my friend introduced me to Fournée Bakery when she brought me two croissants – the ham and egg croissant and a traditional croissant.

A true test of a good French bakery is to examine the traditional croissant. The croissant at Fournée was perfect – light, flakey, and buttery. It transported me back to Paris. The ham and egg croissant is a best seller that I enjoyed. The ham is cut thick and cooked to a crisp giving you the impression that you’re eating bacon. With the egg in the center, you have a full breakfast in your hand. A medium cooked egg would be my preference.  


Since the introduction, I have been back to Fournée a few times. I normally enjoy savory items, but I have a weakness for chocolate croissants. The pain au chocolat at Fournée are to die for. It has the right amount of chocolate in the center of the flakey, buttery exterior.  


Fournée also serves two kinds of pizza – one vegetarian option and a Pepperoni. I had a slice of the pepperoni pizza. Although I had to pat down the pizza with a napkin to remove some of the excess oil, I still enjoyed it. A good bakery can definitely make a good crust.


Aside from traditional items, I appreciate the fact that Fournée also makes seasonal items. Recently, I had a delicious pastry filled with asparagus and scallions. I did not leave a crumb as I took delight in cleaning up the bottom of my bag which was filled with sunflower seeds and crispy pastry flakes.


There is so much more to explore at Fournée that I feel like I have just begun. My tip is to go early because they do run out of items. At the same time, don’t fret as whatever you are left with is another chance to explore something you may not have tried.