Grand Lake Farmers Market

I think one of my favorite Farmers Markets (and voted Best by East Bay residents) is the one at Grand Lake in Oakland. Nestled right against the 580 overpass, it is between Grand Avenue and Lakeshore Avenue near Lake Merritt.



Not only is there a huge selection, year round, but the vendors very helpful and willing to talk about preparation ideas for their produce. The colors are marvelous as are the rich smells of fruits and veggies that smell like they should–no gassed tomatoes here, instead find heirloom varieties that look almost tie dyed!

I took a few pictures of the vegetables and fruits as I shopped around. I was after fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes, artichokes and salad greens (I found a bag that included edible flowers) for the lamb dinner we were going to grill for dinner. I also added a couple of avocados, a pint of blackberries and some of the best balsamic vinegars on the planet (mission fig, pomegranite and a blackberry/vanilla) produced by Big Paw.







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Fenton’s Creamery

I’m an ice cream fan, especially when the ice cream is house churned like at Fenton’s Creamery in Piedmont, CA. While the place is usually packed and raucous with kids of all ages, all of the noise seems to fade away when you’ve got a delicious sundae in front of you.

We started with lunch and I had the BLT with avocado. It had very thick bacon but as it is done club sandwich style, there is a lot of bread in proportion to other ingredients. My dining companion had the crab sandwich. Not much to this sandwich but it had a very good crab flavor. We split a basket of half onion rings and fries and were a little underwhelmed with the onion rings. They tasted like that came from a freezer bag.

But we were there for dessert, so the rest of the meal was more to help us feel not too guilty when we overindulged. I made my dining companion get the black and tan while I got the Fudgeianna (hot fudge with a banana).



Heaven–the caramel and chocolate sauce on the black and tan was so plentiful it spilled over the edges of the dish. I love banana’s and chocolate and the combination on mine was absolutely fabulous.

While I might skip the meal, I will never skip or skimp on Fenton’s sundaes!

Little Griddle – San Francisco

Who knew? A donut bar (with square donuts!), hotspot for bagels and one of the best burger joints I’ve been in can now be found on Market Street in San Francisco near the Civic Center BART/MUNI station. Little Griddle serves Neiman Ranch beef on the burgers and the choice of premier cheeses. I didn’t get the Lucifer which combines two of their donuts to make the bun for their burger this time and just went for the traditional burger. Well cooked and with a nice sauce to perk it up. As there is only seating for a few folks, plan on going early and you might catch a table when one of the breakfast patrons are done. Oh, and the lemonade is made fresh with lots of pulp!

They have on their menu fried pickles but the guy at the counter said they they couldn’t get the batter right and would be taking it off the menu. I’ve offered them my recipe:

Fried Dill Pickles

8 dill pickles
1/2 cup flour
1/4-1/3 cup beer
1 1/4 T paprika
1 1/4 T cayenne pepper
1 1/4 T black pepper
1/2 t salt
2 t garlic salt
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
Oil for deep frying

Cut the dill pickles in slices as thick as a silver dollar or into four spears. Mix together the remaining ingredients to form the batter. Dip the pickles in the batter and quickly fry in the hot oil (375F/190C) until pickles float to the top, about 4 minutes.

Depending on how you measure out the flour you may need more than 1/4 cup. You want the batter fairly thick!

Columns Hotel

I got together with a few friends for drinks last night and we decided to visit the Columns Hotel. Sitting right on St. Charles Avenue between Napoleon and Louisiana, it is fun going to enjoy the stately ambiance, sit on the porch or go inside to the Victoria Lounge to watch the streetcars rumble past. I went to their Sunday Jazz Brunch a couple of years ago and I understand that it is still outstanding. They are known for their sazarac but their bartenders will pretty much work their magic on any alcohol. I left it up to the bartender and he served up a refreshing rum drink with limoncello. Very worth it for an intimate, romantic meet up or for our fiery political discussions as the tables are widely spaced and the waitstaff discreet.

Capdeville

I had a lovely lunch at Capdeville today. Located near Lafayette Square, it was convenient for the protest against ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) that was held in front of the Hale Boggs Federal Building.



As today was hot and humid, it was nice to start with a Pimm’s Cup. I ended up getting the Mayor Burger (gouda, carmelized onions and chili ketchup) with Poutine fries (Mozzarella Cheese Curd & Au Poivre sauce). My lunch partner had the duck confit club sandwich (with duck cracklings). Very large portions, well flavored, and quick service from the staff. Definitely a go to place for lunch!