Great news for fans of flaky, all-butter pie crusts: After an extended hiatus, PieTisserie, the pie shop of self-taught baking savant Jaynelle St. Jean, will return to business at a new brick-and-mortar location in Oakland. The new PieTisserie will open — hopefully later this summer — at 1605 2nd Avenue, just a few doors down from the beer garden Portal.
St. Jean said she has been looking for a new location ever since she closed her pie shop inside the Jack London district Mexican restaurant Nido last August, ending the long-term pop-up arrangement. St. Jean was about to sign a lease on a space in Berkeley when the Eastlake location — which is right around the corner from her house — fell into her lap.
"This place has been underneath my nose for so long, it felt like it was meant to be," St. Jean said.
The shop is small — roughly 400 square feet — and doesn't have room for much more than a display counter. Fortunately, St. Jean has an off-site kitchen where can she prep and bake, and she'll at least have enough space for a refrigerator (which she plans to stock with ice cream) and a small convection oven, which she'll use for warming up the pies. "There's nothing like warm pie, especially with ice cream," she said.
St. Jean plans to offer a selection of about eight pies — a mix of popular standards and seasonal options that will be available whole, by the slice, and as individual-portion mini-pies. Since she closed her Nido location she has experimented with new recipes, including a version of sugar cream pie (what the French call tarte au sucre) and a kettle-corn pie, which features corn-infused cream and salted caramel.
The new PieTisserie will be open Wednesday through Friday, from 4 p.m. to 9 or 10 p.m., and all day on weekends, which is when St. Jean will offer her savory breakfast mini-pies. Customers who order whole pies will be able to arrange pickup times outside of business hours.
Assuming all goes according to plan, PieTisserie will soon start taking online orders for weekend pickup. St. Jean hopes to officially open the brick-and-mortar shop in August — just in time for the end of the stone-fruit season.
The Oral History of Cocktails
We are living in a golden age for the cocktail, especially here in the Bay Area, where it seems like a new craft distillery opens every few weeks, and the best mixologists get treated like rock stars. And yet, according to oral historian Shanna Farrell, the story of the modern cocktail movement remains largely untold. That's a task that oral historians are uniquely suited to take on, Farrell said. So she and other researchers at UC Berkeley's Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) have launched an ambitious new project that will attempt to document the history of the West Coast cocktail. They'll conduct longform interviews — as many as 25 hours with each subject — with bartenders, bar owners, distillers, and historians.
"A lot of cocktail books don't cover life histories of people helping to shape things," Farrell explained. "A lot gets left out, and a lot gets lost."
Particular attention will be paid to the evolution of bartending into a respected profession and to the West Coast's role in popularizing the use of fresh juices and other high-quality ingredients in cocktails. Interviewees will include at least two East Bay representatives: Jorg Rupf, the craft-distilling pioneer who founded Alameda's St. George Spirits, and Berkeley resident Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods, a supplier of cocktail ingredients.
ROHO recently launched a $37,500 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that ends on July 3. Contributors can snag a range of nifty perks, including an "Interviewing 101" class taught by Farrell, a tour of the St. George Spirits distillery, and a cocktail recipe book that will feature stories and recipes compiled from the various interview subjects.
New B-Dama Nears Completion
The long-awaited second location of the popular Japanese izakaya B-Dama (4301 Piedmont Ave., Oakland), inside Swan's Marketplace in Old Oakland, should be ready to open sometime in July, according to owner Chikara Ono. Ono said construction on the space is complete, and he's just waiting for the fire and health department inspections and beer/wine license to come through.
As the Express has previously reported, the new restaurant will focus on Japanese street food and rice bowls — rice topped with ginger pork, Japanese curry, or gravy-soaked hamburger steak, for instance. Other likely menu items include ramen, kushikatsu (fried-meat skewers), and huge sushi hand rolls.
Two of B-Dama's lead cooks, Shin Okamoto and Asuka Nadeshiko, will helm the Old Oakland location. As a result, Ono said he might temporarily close the original B-Dama when the new one opens while he searches for a new chef, or possibly even sell the Piedmont Avenue business.