Friday, April 17, 2020

Señor Sisig Now Has an Oakland Location

The popular Filipino-fusion food truck has a long-term Dimond District spot.

by S. Rufus
Fri, Apr 17, 2020 at 4:00 AM

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SEÑOR SISIG
  • Photograph courtesy of Señor Sisig

Just in time to celebrate its ten-year anniversary, popular Filipino-fusion food truck Señor Sisig has established a long-term location in Oakland.

The brand-new spot is at 3331 Fruitvale Ave. in the Dimond District.

Trucks from its fleet have served in Oakland before, but until now only at one-time-only events and at Off The Grid — never from a permanent space.

Served chiefly inside soft tacos and burritos, the company's signature dish is sisig: pork shoulder, marinated in rich seasonings for 24 hours before being chopped. Chicken and tofu versions are also available, as are sisig-festooned fries, salads, nachos, and more.

Cofounder and CEO Evan Kidera had been seeking an Oakland location for quite some time before the Dimond District spot emerged amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, as shelter-in-place rules shuttered brick-and-mortar restaurants on both sides of the bay.

The company is celebrating its anniversary by giving back to the community — collaborating with longtime partner The City Eats to feed seniors, low-income families, and others who are struggling financially right now.

A new initiative, #Sisig4ThePeople, aims to raise $100,000 to help fund preparation and delivery of meals. Anyone who donates over $100 to #Sisig4ThePeople will receive an early release of the official Señor Sisig commemorative T-shirt.

The food truck has also just established a new location in Daly City. Current schedules for all locations can be found here. Those who wish to avoid waiting on line can order in advance.

Mr. Espresso Donates Thousands of Pounds of Coffee During Covid-19 Crisis

The Oakland roaster has given 2,500 pounds of coffee to food banks, clinics, and shelters.

by S. Rufus
Fri, Apr 17, 2020 at 4:00 AM

PHOTO BY KRISTAN LAWSON
  • Photo by Kristan Lawson

This month alone, Oakland-based, family-owned Mr. Espresso has already donated over 2,500 pounds of coffee to COVID-19 relief efforts all over the Bay Area.

During the first two weeks of April, the 42-year-old company — founded in Alameda by enterprising Italian-born Carlo Di Ruocco and now renowned as the first and currently only outfit in the nation that uses oak wood to roast its beans — has given coffee to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, Frontline Foods, East Bay FeedER, Clinica de La Raza, St. Anthony’s Dining Room, Loaves and Fishes Family Kitchen, and other food-, health-, homeless-, youth-, and family-assistance programs.

Mr. Espresso coffee has been donated to workers at eight different Bay Area hospitals.

The company is also donating supplies for displaced industry workers through the LEE Initiative, operating locally through alaMar Kitchen & Bar.

In addition, a portion of all retail purchases (now available online and by phone) go toward Mr. Espresso’s In Our Hearts Fund for COVID-19 relief. Follow Mr. Espresso on Instagram for updates. 

"We’ve been inspired by the ingenuity and tenacity those in our industry have shown ― refusing to give up if there’s a fighting chance, literally reinventing their entire business models overnight in order to survive," Mr. Espresso's vice president and co-owner Luigi Di Ruocco wrote at the company's website.

"It’s incredible. It’s that fighting spirit that has always made us so proud to be part of such a remarkable industry and to be able to call many of these folks our wholesale partners and friends," Di Ruocco wrote.

"That same spirit assures us, it guarantees us that everyone and everything is going to be okay. ...

"‪We continue to be driven by the words of our Italian brothers and sisters: Siamo tutti uniti — We are all united."‬


Click the following text to download a letter-sized version of our poster.

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Local Food Adventures Introduces New Gift Boxes

With walking tours now forbidden, the company still wants to support East Bay makers.

by S. Rufus
Thu, Apr 16, 2020 at 4:00 AM

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Shelter-in-place rules prevent Local Food Adventures founder Lauren McCabe Herpich from leading groups on East Bay culinary walking tours, as is her usual stock-in-trade.

But she has come up with another project to further tempt food fans while supporting local makers and proprietors.

Priced at $99 (shipping included) and packaged with festive paper and a handwritten message of your choosing, the Local Love Gift Box is a curated collection of items normally featured on Local Food Adventures tours.

In non-pandemic times, the six-year-old company offers food-focused tours of Jack London Square, Rockridge, Lafayette, and elsewhere, along with specialized local tours focusing on ice cream, pizza, and more.

"They say the best way to someone's heart is through their stomach, right?" asks Herpich, whose tours have been hailed in National Geographic magazine and were named the 2018 and 2019 "Best Tour in the East Bay" by Diablo Magazine.

Each Local Love Gift Box includes a 6.78 oz. bottle of Tuscan Herb infused olive oil from Amphora Nueva; a 1/2-cup jar of Poivre a la Mode Citrus Pepper from Oaktown Spice Shop; a 17.6 oz. bag of Rustichella d’Abruzzo pasta from Market Hall Foods; a 18 oz jar of Super Q Mild Barbeque Sauce from Everett & Jones Barbeque; two 1 oz. bars of Barlovento dark chocolate from Diablo Foods; a 4 oz. satchel of Vanilla Creme black tea from Papillon Coffee; online access to Cooking at Home with Local Food Adventures: Recipes from Top Chefs as Seen on Our Tours Digital Cookbook; a $15 gift certificate for any Local Food Adventures food tour; and a Local Food Adventures reusable shopping bag.

The first 25 orders to be shipped within a 25-mile radius of Oakland will also receive two tickets to the Grand Lake Theater.

As a Mother's Day gift, Father's Day gift, graduation gift or just a reminder of all things delicious, the box "is a perfect way to send your love anywhere in the world while also supporting our local small-business community," Herpich said.

As is also the case with food-tour admission fees, $1 from every Local Love Gift Box purchased goes to support the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Another $1 goes to support East Bay FeedER.

Sophie's Kitchen Donates Vegan Seafood to Local Food Banks

The outfit's East Bayite CEO, Miles Woodruff, hand-delivered 35,000 cans of Toona.

by S. Rufus
Thu, Apr 16, 2020 at 4:00 AM

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SOPHIE'S KITCHEN
  • Photograph courtesy of Sophie's Kitchen

East Bay resident Miles Woodruff, CEO of the pioneering vegan-seafood brand Sophie's Kitchen, has just donated 3,000 cases of plant-based Toona to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County as well as several other Bay Area food shelters.

Amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, the company's brand-new Lemon Grass Toona flavor has not yet arrived in grocery stores — but 100 percent of it is now being provided to people in need.

“The best way to get through hardship is to be of service to others. I was feeling overwhelmed by the impact the pandemic was having and wanted to help where I could," explained Woodruff, whose strong commitment to animal welfare has included working with the Jane Goodall Institute and as a field research assistant in the Republic of Congo.

"I specifically wanted to donate to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano because I live in Benicia and work out of Pleasant Hill," said Woodruff, who attended Acalanes High School in Lafayette.

"Alameda County Community Food Bank had all of the donations they could handle when I reached out to them, so I spread our donation of 35,000 cans of plant-based Toona to The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, and Second Harvest of Silicon Valley."

Founded in 2011, Sebastopol-based Sophie's Kitchen produces plant-based alternatives to crabmeat, shrimp, tuna, and salmon.

Woodruff's Oakland connections run deep. At age nineteen, he worked for a startup located off Hegenberger Road. In 2000, he trained at the East Oakland Boxing Association and was an ESL volunteer tutor in its after-school reading program. In 2002, before attending culinary school, he volunteered as a cook for the free hot-lunch program at the St. Mary's Center.

"I still regularly meet with my friends on Friday evenings off of Lake Merritt," Woodruff said. 

"The East Bay is my home and the Bay Area is my community, so I wanted to leverage the resources I had available to help where I could.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Homestead Debuts a Sandwich Venture

Plus, Purity Organic sells direct to consumers, and Reem's California closes.

by S. Rufus
Wed, Apr 15, 2020 at 8:57 AM

The owners of Oakland's Homestead Restaurant have debuted a new concept meant to outlast the COVID-19 crisis.

Currently operating at the restaurant's 4029 Piedmont Ave. space Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. via curbside pickup and Caviar or Doordash delivery, The Humble Sandwich comprises a selection of classic deli sandos made with the same high-quality ingredients for which the seven-year-old restaurant is revered.

The Humble Sandwich "is not a replacement for Homestead but a new venture that we are planning on continuing after the shelter-in-place is lifted," said co-owner Fred Sassen, who opened Homestead in 2013 with his wife and fellow chef Elizabeth Sassen. He had previously cooked at Farallon in San Francisco and Camino in Oakland; she had cooked at San Francisco's Waterbar and also at Farallon.

"We are not changing Homestead at all; it will reopen when appropriate and continue serving dinner as always," Sassen said.

Priced between $10 and $16, The Humble Sandwich's options include grilled ham and cheese with Black Forest ham, gruyere, and aioli; a grilled Cuban with smoked ham, chile-roasted pork shoulder, gruyere, mustard, aioli, and pickles; grilled herb-rubbed steak with horseradish crème fraîche and arugula; Italian cold cuts with coppa, salami, soppressata, lettuce, pickled chile, and provolone; roast turkey with avocado, sprouts, chile aioli, and aged cheddar; a vegetarian option with goat cheese, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, sprouts, and roasted pepper; and a kids' combo featuring cheddar and provolone grilled cheese with chips. The menu also includes salads, kettle chips, and chocolate-chip cookies.

Purity Organic Retails drinks

Oakland's Purity Organic is launching a limited new line of Sweet Leaf beverages that consumers can buy directly online.

"We can't wait to get Sweet Leaf back into the hands of our customers online," said Purity Organic vice president of marketing Bill Porter. "We are continuing to work with regional distributors to get products back on shelves, but given the current global crisis we are hoping some organic tea and juice delivered to your door will bring a bit of joy," Porter wrote.

The Sweet Leaf drinks newly available online in sixteen-ounce bottles include Texas Honey Tea; Mint & Honey Green Tea; Half & Half Lemonade Tea; Original Iced Tea; Peach Iced Tea; Raspberry Tea; Semi-Sweet Lemon Tea; Unsweet Lemon Tea; Classic Lemonade; Pomegranate Blueberry Lemonade; and Orange Mango Lemonade.

Reem's California Closes

Noted restaurateur Reem Assil has closed her Fruitvale restaurant, Reem's California.

"From the bottom of our hearts, we'd like to thank everyone who has supported us in keeping our humble oakland restaurant operation a force in our community. Today will be our Fruitvale location's last day open to the public for the foreseeable future," Assil announced on Istagram.

"After much reflection and conversation, we have decided that it is no longer viable or desirable to try to sustain our current model in an economic system that will never allow us to live out our values," lamented Assil, a former labor organizer who was named a Rising Star last year by the Star Chefs organization, and who attracted controversy because one wall of Reem's California featured a large painting of Palestinian activist Rasmeah Odeh, who was convicted of being linked with a 1969 grocery-store bombing in Jerusalem that killed two students.

"The scrambling for dollars just to keep us 'in the game' is a distraction from the more important work we must do. That is to take care of our own in the absence of government and confront power to demand change." She reassured fans that, over the next few months, "we will turn our space into a commissary kitchen providing hundreds of meals a day to those most vulnerable in this pandemic."

Nybll Launches New Grocery Concept

It's a timely new service from the Oakland-based meal-delivery outfit whose clients include the Golden State Warriors

by S. Rufus
Wed, Apr 15, 2020 at 4:00 AM

nybll_home_lovebox-scaled.jpg

Oakland-based Nybll, a health-focused food service whose clients include high-profile companies and world-championship sports teams, has just introduced a new option beyond plant-based meal delivery and catering.

Last week, just in time to meet new needs spurred by shelter-in-place restrictions, chef/owner Kristen Thibeault launched Nybll Grocery.

Customers can choose from among several varieties of curated grocery combinations — which are delivered every Tuesday between 12 noon and 5 p.m. (after having been ordered by the previous Sunday).

A stage-3 cancer survivor, Le Cordon Bleu alumna, and certified sports nutritionist, Thibeault was inspired by farm-to-fork and macrobiotic meals with celebrities such as Richard Gere and Sting — and by that Berkeley icon she dubs "the divine Alice Waters" — to create her own vegan-fusion style of cooking that she likes to call "stealth health."

While serving as executive chef at the Four Seasons San Francisco, Thibeault opened the first plant-focused restaurant in a Four Seasons hotel.

Launched in 2015, Nybll has amassed a prestigious client list that includes the Golden State Warriors, Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, Astros, Amazon, BuzzFeed, Apple, and Lyft.

Nybll Grocery options include the Produce Box ($42: carrots, cherry tomatoes, Tuscan kale, mixed greens, bagged spinach, English cucumber, broccoli, onion, lemons, avocados, garlic; the Fruit & Vegetable Box ($49: apples, oranges, bananas, romaine lettuce, mixed greens, red onion, roma tomatoes, English cucumber, baby potatoes, celery, red pepper, zucchini, kale, carrots, lemons; and the Ultimate Pantry Box ($79: extra-virgin olive oil, eggs, butter, milk, half-and-half, Parmesan cheese, aged cheddar, penne pasta, marinara sauce, rice, quinoa, ground coffee, sugar, sea salt, peanut butter, whole-grain bread loaf, soup stock, granola, dried fruits and nuts).

Another option is the Love Box, which consumers can buy not for themselves but for families in need. Each $30 donation is matched by Nybll, Inc. and results in three healthy chilled family meals comprising soup, salad, apples, oranges, milk, bread, butter, pasta rice, beans, carrots, onion, greens, and a personal message.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Oakland-based Purity Organic Launches New Drinks Line

Southern-style Sweet Leaf tea and other beverages can be ordered online.

Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 4:00 AM

PHOTO COURTESY OF PURITY ORGANIC
  • Photo courtesy of Purity Organic

Oakland-based food-and-drinks company Purity Organic announced today that it is launching a limited new line of Sweet Leaf beverages that consumers can buy directly online.

"We can't wait to get Sweet Leaf back into the hands of our customers online," said Purity Organic vice president of marketing Bill Porter.

"We are continuing to work with regional distributors to get products back on shelves, but given the current global crisis we are hoping some organic tea and juice delivered to your door will bring a bit of joy," Porter said in a press release.

The Sweet Leaf drinks newly available online in sixteen-ounce bottles include Texas Honey Tea; Mint & Honey Green Tea; Half & Half Lemonade Tea; Original Iced Tea; Peach Iced Tea; Raspberry Tea; Semi-Sweet Lemon Tea; Unsweet Lemon Tea; Classic Lemonade; Pomegranate Blueberry Lemonade; and Orange Mango Lemonade.

Having released its initial product — apple juice — in 2003, Purity Organic then introduced a variety of juices, teas, coconut water, and blended "superjuices" made from fruits, roots, vegetables, and spices. Last December, Purity Organics purchased the Sweet Leaf iced-tea brand, which Nestlé had previously sold to Dunn's River Brands and private-equity firm Fireman Capital Partners in 2017.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Homestead Restaurant Debuts a New Sandwich Venture

The Humble Sandwich, now offering upgraded deli classics, will outlast the shelter-in-place.

by S. Rufus
Thu, Apr 9, 2020 at 4:00 AM

PHOTO COURTESY OF HOMESTEAD RESTAURANT
  • Photo courtesy of Homestead Restaurant

The owners of Oakland's Homestead Restaurant have just debuted a new business concept that is meant to outlast the Covid-19 crisis.

Currently operating at the restaurant's 4029 Piedmont Ave. space Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. via curbside pickup and Caviar or Doordash delivery, The Humble Sandwich comprises a selection of classic deli sandos made with the same high-quality ingredients for which the seven-year-old restaurant is revered.

The Humble Sandwich "is not a replacement for Homestead but a new venture that we are planning on continuing after the shelter-in-place is lifted," said co-owner Fred Sassen, who opened Homestead in 2013 with his wife and fellow chef Elizabeth Sassen. He had previously cooked at Farallon in San Francisco and Camino in Oakland; she had cooked at San Francisco's Waterbar and also at Farallon.

"We are not changing Homestead at all; it will reopen when appropriate and continue serving dinner as always," Sassen said.

Priced between $10 and $16, The Humble Sandwich's options include grilled ham and cheese with Black Forest ham, gruyere, and aioli; a grilled Cuban with smoked ham, chile-roasted pork shoulder, gruyere, mustard, aioli, and pickles; grilled herb-rubbed steak with horseradish crème fraîche and arugula; Italian cold cuts with coppa, salami, soppressata, lettuce, pickled chile, and provolone; roast turkey with avocado, sprouts, chile aioli, and aged cheddar; a vegetarian option with goat cheese, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, sprouts, and roasted pepper; and a kids' combo featuring cheddar and provolone grilled cheese with chips.

The Humble Sandwich's menu also includes mixed green salads, kettle chips, and chocolate-chip cookies.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Off The Grid Gives Free Meals to Grocery-Store Workers

Two East Bay giveaways are scheduled for today: April 8, in Alameda and Emeryville.

by S. Rufus
Wed, Apr 8, 2020 at 4:00 AM

IMAGE COURTESY OF OFF THE GRID
  • Image courtesy of Off the Grid

Off the Grid will stage a two-part free-meal giveaway today, April 8, from 12 noon to 1 p.m. at Nob Hill Foods Alameda and from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Pak 'N Save Emeryville.

It's part of the Grocery Employees Meal Fund, which OTG recently launched to help creators feed grocery-store employees and their family members throughout the Covd-19 crisis.

Grocery-store workers are on the front lines during these strange, scary days.

A full 100 percent of proceeds raised will support creators as they curate the free meals, and OTG will match the first $5,000 contributed to the fund.

Food-truck operators and chefs belonging to the OTG mobile-food-movement organization are making not just single-meal giveaways but multi-day assemblages containing five reheatable meals each. Today's East Bay giveaways include tasty elements from Bombzies BBQ and 333 Truck.

“Off the Grid is proud to continue supporting our Grocery workers on the frontlines,” said Off the Grid founder and CEO Matt Cohen.

“The ability to coordinate local food businesses with help from our community is really the essence of what OTG wants to be," Cohen said.

Bombzies specializes in Asian barbecue dishes, while 333 Truck brings together three disparate cusines — Mexican, Korean, and Indian fusion — under one mobile roof, by offering protein choices from each cuisine in taco, burrito, and rice-bowl styles.

Anyone can contribute to the fund, which can be accessed here. A "Meal Plan" represents a $50 donation providing five meals to a grocery-store employee. Other-sized donations are also possible.

For today's giveaways, the truck will be parked in designated areas of the parking lots at Nob Hill Foods (2531 Blanding Ave.), then at Pak 'N Save (3889 San Pablo Ave.).

"We look forward to trying to make as large of an impact as we can through more of these types of campaigns in the future," Cohen said.

"We are very grateful for all of the donations, which allowed us to help provide meals to these workers."

Monday, April 6, 2020

alaMar Will Serve Free Meals to Restaurant Workers

The Grand Avenue seafood restaurant is partnering with The Lee Initiative to help restaurant workers.

by S. Rufus
Mon, Apr 6, 2020 at 4:00 AM

PHOTO BY KRISTAN LAWSON
  • Photo by Kristan Lawson

Oakland's alaMar Kitchen & Bar is about to start serving 1,500 free meals per week to restaurant workers who have been displaced and derailed by the coronavirus outbreak.

Located at 100 Grand Ave., chef Nelson German's popular seafood restaurant has just issued this announcement:

"We are here for you, Oakland! ... Due to the closure of restaurants in California, we have an urgent need for assistance for the thousands of restaurant workers who find themselves suddenly without work, without a paycheck, and without a support system.

"Independent restaurants are at the center of the vibrant growth in America. For the past decade, we have relied on the stellar hospitality and positive PR of the independent restaurant scene to make this a city we are incredibly proud of. But now restaurant workers need your help more than ever. If we don’t take a stand and do something now, there will not be an independent restaurant industry to speak of when the coronavirus crisis is over."

Starting this Wednesday, April 8, "in partnership with @makersmark and @leeinitiative @chefedwardlee, @chefnel4 and @dcpatterson, we will turn @alamaroakland into a relief center for restaurant workers who have been laid off or have had a significant reduction in hours and/or pay," the announcement reads.

Those who can "show some identifying paperwork to prove recent employment at a restaurant — a paystub will suffice in most cases" — are invited to collect meals between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday through Sunday evenings at the restaurant, where staff will provide free meals via contactless curbisde pickup. Hundreds of meals will be offered per night, as funding and supplies permit.

No disposable cutlery will be included.

The restaurant is also seeking donations of produce, meat, to-go containers, gloves, and other supplies (email the restaurant at alamaroak@gmail.com) as well as monetary contributions via The Lee Initiative.

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