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Sunday, January 29, 2012

last night's catering!

Last night was one of the most fun catering gigs in a while. For one, it was a surprise 50th birthday party for someone i have known for many years, a brilliant environmental lawyer who works hard to keep California's water's safe(r). Roger's wife, Paula, asked me to prepare finger foods and small plates for 50 of Roger's friends and co-workers in their beautiful home in Oakland.
Great kitchen to work in! Lots of space, beautiful wood, nice old stove. We had a fairly easy and comfortable menu and did almost all the preparations before arriving.
I know Roger and Paula through my great friend Matthew Sperry! (
For obvious reasons, Matthew left a HUGE impact on a great number of people in his brief period on the planet. Always a joy to be around others who understand the loss i feel, 8 years later. Stacia, Matt's wife and my old friend was of course in attendance as was Scott Hacker and other's who i would not know if not for my connection via Matt.

One of Roger's colleague's kept him at a conference in Sacamento and around 7:30 Roger came home and looked rather overwhelmed. From that point on, a large grin on his face was apparent all evening. His second surprise, however was that i and my team were about to lay out a spread of beautiful Spanish and Latin inspired cuisine. Roger has often tasted my food and talked about having me come and use his kitchen so i was rather pleased to be part of his birthday celebration. It was an incredibly festive evening, with non stop raves about the food. Of the 50 people, only 2 were vegetarian or vegan, yet everyone left full, satisfied and content. Many were commenting and asking questions about ingredients that were new to them such as lotus root or tempeh.

At the same time as the festivities, the fact we now live in a police state was evident. When i would go on the balcony to get fresh air, i heard the choppers overhead. We knew something was going on and at least 1000 people were marching to go try to take over a large, abandoned building. Word was not out which building it would be but all along i suspected the Kaiser auditorium, by the end of the Lake. It is huge, unused and a great location and can house a 1000 people and be used for an incredible amount of good. I have very mixed feelings about this idea of occupying "private" space. There are a great deal of complications involved, obviously. At the same time, unused space and homeless people and need for space for so many needs is something that needs to be addressed.  Imagine the kitchens and serving spaces that can be done in some of the empty spaces in Oakland.
Overhearing many conversations at the party about what some people saw on the way over or heard from people there spoke of lot of police action but no specifics.
On the way home, we headed to the Trappist to get a beer,  a small token to Cori and Sincere for their great work, there was tremendous police presence all over downtown Oakland. Alameda sherriff, oakland PD, Berekeley PD, San Franciso PD, were in full sight, most with batons out, ready to rock. Windows were down so i did not smell the lingering tear gas of what went down earlier. City Hall was surrounded by cops and this is midnight! What went down or was going down? But noone to be seen except a few homeless and a ton of cops. Get to the Trappist and it is surprisingly quiet, get a table and order a round of Leifmans Oud Brun, a delightful slightly tart Flemish brown ale. Head home and turn on the live feeds. All is quiet at 1:30 on the live feeds. Look at replays from throughout the day, oh my.
Once again, the city of Oakland is the center of whatever this is, that is brewing in the USA, these days. And once again, many arrests were made in a mostly peaceful protest. 1000 or so marchers went to try to take over the kaiser building, of course were not allowed to do so and were gassed in the process. and that was only the beginning. Look at the live feeds for yourself, do not read what i or anyone else has to say. Look at the kettling with no escape route given and then see the crowd gassed and then see a door at the Y opened to help people escape!

these are crazy times! i want to cook the finest ingredients grown by the finest of our area's farmers. Unfortunately, what the occupation represents and what may emerge from it, may be the last chance to fight against the total corporate control of our world, and that includes the complete takeover of our food system by Monsanto, ADM, Conagra, Dupont, etc.   As i type this at noon, helicopters are now overhead my neighborhood. Oakland is a war zone. Hopping on the bike to head out and see today's action for myself.

Thank you Paula for last night! Thank you Roger's office for funding the joyous occasion and also for the great environmental law work you do. Cooking for you was a true delight!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

surprise party for 50, tonight

Last night was somewhat surreal. Evidence we are now in a police state was most evident as cops, uniformed and plain clothes were all over the building and each elevator had a police escort.  City of Berkeley, UC campus police and i imagine FBI and/or homeland security were out in full force.  They were asking ID of anyone heading to the meeting where me and my 2 assistants were going to cater the party afterwards. Mayors from several east bay cities were in attendance as were CEO's of solar companies and other "green" businesses.
Was unable to listen in to hear what the meeting was about.
Mayor Jean Quan looks awful, as if she has not slept in eons. A troubled soul, perhaps? She left the meeting early, bee lined to the bathroom and then left, not tasting a thing. We did receive, as usual, some great feedback for what we presented.  By the time, the party aspect of the event started, most of the cops were gone so we did not have a chance to feed them and hear what they had to say.

I was glad to have my old friend Gino Bartalotti come and pour some of his amazing cabernet from his family winery, Bartalotti wines. He produces some very high end cabernets with his brother and they are getting some exceptional reviews and high sales even though they are only in their 3d year of releases.

Now here is the irony of the so called security. When getting in the elevator, i was asked who i was and what i was doing. Well, i was carrying a cart full of food and supplies and pointed to that and said i and my 2 team members were here to cater the event at the penthouse. He looked at me and said, "ok, you look like you have food to me". Did not ask for my id. So all this facade of security was just that, a facade. Had i been one of the so called terrorists they always warn us about, i would have walked right up there and done something stupid, of course, something i would never persoanlly be interested in doing! But, when you think about it, we have a totally inept police force supposedly protecting us and i think i completely proved that, last night. In the elevator i could not help but mutter out loud, "this is what a police state looks like", as the cop who hosted the elevator ride asked for id of everyone going up but me and my 2 helpers.
It is offensive to see american citizens being asked for id to go to work!! When i grew up, they used to tell us about East Germany and other communist countries and how you had to always show ID and always were being watched. hmmmmm

Was really glad to get the last minute call for this gig from the East Bay Sustainable Corridor. Being one of the only caterers that truly presents sustainable cuisine, it was nice to be recognized by this organization. Thank you Carla Din, for this!!! Hope we get to work together more, but with less eyes all over us :)

anyways, tonight we are back out with more great food and this time for a very typical event.
Someone i know is about to get  major surprise for his 50th birthday party and my food will be part of this surprise! 50 guests will be at his house in Oakland tonight and we will be laying out spreads of finger foods for them.

potato chips with rosemary salt
lotus chips with sichuan salt

sopes (homemade tortilla bowls filled with black bean puree and pear salsa)

buckwheat knishes

asparagus roasted with pine nuts, garlic and lime

mushrooms ajillo style

tempeh in mole sauce

There will not be any security at tonight's event. Just a lot of friends and co workers of the birthday boy. Choppers will most likely be overhead though as Occupy Oakland has a major event planned today, marching from the plaza to a large vacant building they plan to take over. These are truly interesting times we live in.....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

finger foods for a party on Friday in Berkeley

 We will be preparing some finger foods for a party in Berkeley for the East Bay Green Corridor, first of 2 large parties we are catering in the east bay, this weekend.  The year is off to a good start with several parties in the first month calling upon us and, as usual they are  responding with incredibly positive feedback.

Many local mayors will be in attendance at this event, including Oakland's Jean Quan. Should be a very interesting event!

Here is the menu we are presenting:

potato chips w/ rosemary salt
lotus chips with chili salt

samosa w/ tamarind sauce

mushrooms ajillo style, served on skewers

tempeh cooked in mole sauce served on skewers

roasted asparagus with lime, herbs and pine nuts

Friday, January 20, 2012

March 4, Mexican cooking class

Part of our ongoing classes, exploring the worlds finest cuisines. These classes are hands on, giving each participant the full experience of creating incredible vegan cuisine from scratch. We supply the finest ingredients, always seasonal and mostly local, as well as recipes, exceptional kitchen supplies, directions and instructions. Share your love with other foodie enthusiasts, learning new ingredients, techniques and dishes along the way.

Sunday, March 4, 2012
limited space for 8
for more information or to register vegshaku8 at gmail

This class is exploring a small aspect of the rich variety that comes out of the vast culinary traditions of Mexico.

we will be making:
homemade tortillas
black bean puree
mexican rice
lime cilantro salad dressing
pear salsa
sopes (tortilla bowls stuffed with beans and salsa)
mole sauce
tempeh mole

and more

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Maurinho loses to Barcelona yet again

Once again, there will be more than the usual 2 el classicos, this season between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid and once again Barcelona is kicking the representatives of facscism's butt.
Today they met in the first of 2 game for the quarter finals of the Spanish cup. Started off as a great game and it appeared that Maurinho was going to actually play futbol. And Madrid scored early on a counter attack as Ronaldo raced up the left side and slammed one past Pinto. Other than that it was once again, mainly Barcelona in control of the ball and the game and they came from behind to win 1-2, the second time in 2 months beating los fascisimos in the Madrid stadium.  First half, for the most part was good football by both teams with Madrid defending well and trying to counter but not getting much against the solid midfield and defense of the Catalans.
The game took an ugly turn as soon as Puyol nailed a header to tie the game. Then came the usual aggression and really ugly, cynical moves. Pepe stomped on Messi's hand, literally! and got away with it as it would have been his second yellow and thus a red. And Carvalho and Ramos also got away with incredibly hard tackles and off the ball hits and stomps of barca players. 4 yellows to Madrid and 3 to Barca by the end of the game but it should have been 2 reds for madrid and only 2 yellows for barca as Pique's yellow seemed a little out of nowhere. Several bad calls in the game, mostly in Madrid's favor.
Towards the end of the game, the ref was having some harsh words with the idiot coach Maurinho. Very curious what he was saying, probably something along the lines of, "please take your tactics and your thug Pepe and leave Spain and let Spanish football get more respectable again."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tim Berne solo dinner/concert Sunday, February 26

Tim Berne, a great alto saxophone players and a fascinating composer is coming to the bay area. Thanks to a suggestion of my friend Seth, i contacted him, mentioning the 6 year dinner/concert series and not only was he intrigued but he was coming out here, next month! So for the first time in many years Tim Berne is giving a solo concert and a rare appearance in the bay area.

Sunday, February 26
7 pm
limited seating for 20
$55/person, byob
for more information or to make reservations, vegshaku8 at gmail

5 course menu to be anounced soon

asparagus chowder

wild arugula, roasted rainbow carrots, sliced pears, parsnip chips

small plate
homemade tempeh smoked with applewood
brocolli with cashew "cream" sauce
homemade oat rolls

bean and mushroom stew (4 kinds of heirloom beans from rancho gordo farms with chanterelles, wood ears, hedgehog and black trumpet mushrooms)
cauliflour kugel
roasted kale

chocolate cake with truffle frosting
chocolate rum ice "cream"

Sunday, January 8, 2012

eclectic menu for tonight's party in Alameda

Preparing a rather eclectic menu for a party this evening in Alameda.

pumpkin fritters with sesame sauce
green papaya salad

hot and sour mushroom soup

canneloni (homemade dough stuffed with homemade almond "ricotta" and red sauce from dried tomatos)
rappini sauteed with olives and marsala wine
butternut squash puree
beet puree

pecan pie
cranberry sorbet

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

comfort foods class, vegan style

Comfort foods gone vegan. Learn to produce some amazing, familiar tastes and textures using the finest available ingredients.

Saturday, February 25, 2012
limited space for 8
for more information vegshaku8 at gmail

Hands on class and we will be preparing:

potato chips with sage salt
burgers (from rancho gordo yellow mountain beans)
macaronis and "cheese" (cashew based sauce)
chocolate chip cookies

and more

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

valentines cooking class

celebrate love with food! Celebrate love by cooking and sharing together. Come and learn to cook with a couple who cook together both professionally and in their daily lives.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
7 pm
limited space for 4 couples

a hands on class, getting your hands right into the beautiful ingredients, tasting and sharing along the way.

We will prepare:

lotus root chips with chili salt

blood orange salad
wild mushroom risotto with roasted butternut squash

collard greens stuffed with pear-pomegranate roasted tempeh with roasted garlic tahini sauce (we will be using some of my renowned homemade tempeh!)

chocolate truffle filled donuts

and more...

Japanese cooking class February 5

Japanese cooking class

Sunday, February 5, 2012
iimited space for 8
for more information or to register, vegshaku8 at gmail

tofu-hijiki burgers with ginger miso sauce

yama-imo with umeboshi
burdock pickled with white miso
daikon pickled with shoyu
turnips pickled with lemon
cabbage pickled with sichuan peppercorns and sake

sweet potato rice

and more