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Journal

Talk to Each Other

Talk to Each Other

We loved this The Bold Italic article about East Bay coffee joints that encourage connection!

Once upon a time, coffee shops were simple places. Somewhere you could go to buy a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, or catch up with a friend. Maybe you’d even meet a cutie in line. But in 2020, a coffee shop can now be anything: an office, a trendy backdrop for an Instagram photo shoot, the headquarters of a small startup.

Don’t get me wrong; as a writer, I understand the need for a place to get some work done, and libraries don’t serve you coffee. But sometimes, I want to grab some coffee with a friend and not be glared at because I’m talking too loudly while someone is working on their pitch deck for a new app.

If there’s one place that emphasizes and revels in human interaction, it’s the East Bay. With a surprising number of cafés that flat out don’t have Wi-Fi at all, the options are plentiful for those seeking comfort and conversation in a simple coffee shop. Below are my top picks for cafés in Oakland where people actually talk to each other:

Tertulia Coffee 
Awaken Cafe & Roasting
Timeless Coffee, Piedmont
Equator Coffees, Bay Place 
Farley’s East, Oakland 
Blue Bottle, Broadway 
Julie’s Oakland 

By Emma Webster for The Bold Italic.

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Homemade Limoncello

Homemade Limoncello

Crisp and fragrant, mildly sweet and the color of liquid sunshine, the lemon liqueur known as limoncello is a simple combination of lemons, sugar and alcohol, but its intense citrus flavor makes it so much more than a sum of its parts. Native to Italy’s South, where it is enjoyed as a postprandial digestif, limoncello has been popular in the citrus-growing regions along Italy’s Amalfi coast for more than a century.

Commercial brands are easy to find, but for a fresher-tasting liqueur, a homemade limoncello is well worth the effort. This recipe from Katie Parla’s latest book, Italian South: Recipes for Classic, Disappearing, and Lost Dishes, is inspired by how they made limoncello at a now defunct Brooklyn-based Italian restaurant called Franny’s, where they suspended the lemons in cheesecloth. This allows the alcohol to absorb the citrus aromas by osmosis and makes for a cleaner final product, Parla says in the book, adding that she uses Everclear instead of vodka per the traditional Sorrento style.

Homemade Limoncello

This recipe makes enough for 8 cups and takes about five weeks to prepare.

4 cups (1 liter) Everclear (190 proof)
Zest of 5 untreated organic lemons, removed with a vegetable peeler
5 untreated organic lemons
4 cups water
5 cups sugar

Place the alcohol and lemon zest in a large glass jar. Using cheesecloth, suspend the five whole lemons (not the zested ones) in the jar above the alcohol, taking care not to let them touch the liquid. Seal the jar and let rest in a cool, dark place for 30 days. Agitate the jar every few days.

On the last day, combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, strain the infused alcohol into a clean jar, discarding the zest and lemons. When the sugar has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, about 20 minutes.

Add three-quarters of the syrup to the jar with the alcohol. Taste and adjust the sweetness, adding more syrup as needed. Seal the jar and allow the liquid to rest in a dark place at room temperature for 1 week.

Serve very cold or over ice. The limoncello will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for at least 6 months and in the freezer for well over a year. (Due to the high alcohol content, the liquid will not freeze.)

Note: Since the lemon zest is the main flavoring ingredient here, only use untreated organic lemons. You can substitute mandarins, bitter oranges, or any other citrus for the lemons—just be sure they’re organic and untreated, too.

Copy courtesy of Imbibe Magazine.

Recipe: Copyright © 2019 by Katie Parla; Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random Home, LLC.

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Head West Marketplace

Head West Marketplace

Delicious adult beverages, shopping and epic views of San Francisco - what could be more fun on a Saturday!

We'll be popping up with a fantastic array of artisans and makers on October 19th for the Head West Marketplace at Hangar 1 Vodka Distillery in Alameda.

We'll be offering a festive array of our products for 25% off! Other vendors include Common Shade, EIGHT + SAND, Tumbleweed Tienda, Revive Kombucha and Dirty Mermaid Beauty. 

Now is the time to get a jump on holiday shopping, plus this neighborhood has a lot to offer...

Hangar 1 Vodka
As its name suggests, this Alameda native pays homage to the city's history as a naval hub with aviation-themed details, a model propeller plane, and light streaming through the OG hangar windows. The distillery has grabbed headlines recently with its limited-edition Fog Point vodka made with Karl the Fog himself, but its recently revamped tasting room and visitors' center is the real draw. Discover all that goes into distilling your favorite spirits during a guided tour of the 60,000-square-foot facility, then head to the vintage-inspired, foliage-filled tasting room to sample six vodkas, including the popular Buddha's Hand Citron. // 2505 Monarch St.

Rock Wall Wine Company
Father-daughter duo Kent and Shauna Rosenblum are heavy hitters in the Bay Area winemaking scene, with Shauna having grown up at Rosenblum Cellars, the winery Kent ran until 2008. Today, the two operate Rock Wall in a converted hangar with Shauna as head winemaker. Stop in for samples in the tasting room or a glass on the back deck where views stretch across the Bay to SF. // 2301 Monarch St.

Scolari's at the Point
Adjacent to Rock Wall Winery at the Alameda Naval Air Station—and a roving Airstream food truck. Order fried chicken (choose white or dark meat) with Nashville hot sauce, pork belly collard greens, and biscuits. // 2301 Monarch St.

Faction Brewing
"Come for the beer, stay for the view." This repurposed airplane hangar's slogan rings true, with 20-plus original brews and a spacious front patio where crowds often spill out for the stellar vista of San Francisco's skyline. Wacky murals dominate the interior, and the tasting room stays busy serving pints and flights—locals love the island-exclusive A-Town pale ale. // 2501 Monarch St.

St. George Spirits
Long before Monarch Street was christened Spirits Alley, St. George stood alone as the sole liquor producer at Alameda Point—the distillery has been crafting whiskey, gin, brandy, and the like in Alameda since 2004. Tour the sprawling industrial space to get a behind-the-scenes look at the old-timey copper pot stills, or book time at the tasting room to sample six St. George classics, such as the California citrus vodka and absinthe verde. // 2601 Monarch St.

Building 43 Winery
Husband-and-wife team Tod Hickman and Meredith Coghlan craft their wine varietals using California-grown grapes. Go for $10 tastings, karaoke nights, and live music at the dog-friendly urban winery. // 2440 Monarch St.

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4th Brumaire

4th Brumaire

A woman walks into a bar…

Yes, it’s me and I’d waited a year to do so! What gives? I’d read a boisterous SF Chronicle article last March about the natural wine smackdown, Brumaire, a raucous, sold out fest that spotlights some of the best and brightest natural winemakers from around the globe...and with no knowledge of natural wine at all, this feature made me feel bad that I’d missed out. I knew wine that’s farmed organically or biodynamically and made without adding or removing anything in the ‘cellar’ sounded like my kind of thing. So I made a calendar note and bought tickets before they sold out for the 4th annual event this past weekend in Oakland...

I boned up a little over 2018, following along with Marissa Ross and buying some bottles from Ordinaire, a pretty place with French cafe vibes and the most comprehensive offerings bar none in the Bay Area for au natural wine (and the team behind Brumaire). Mind you, I still have no clue what’s truly going on, so when I showed up at the Starline Social Club I felt pretty intimidated and bewildered because my expertise was rock bottom and the atmosphere was akin to a mosh pit.

It’s a very free flowing event, but I think brouhaha might be a better term, what I envision Burning Man was like in 1993, a bunch of cool people doing their thing...there are two rooms, vendors scattered about and throngs of people holding out their glasses for a pour, and if they're lucky a little chit chat with the maker. Once I started organically jamming myself into tables for tasting after tasting, it all was super chill and fun. While every wine wasn’t for me and some were murkier than others, quite a few really popped and I savored speaking to the purveyors; they all loved what they were doing and there was a deep sense of community. I heard many stories like “friends gave me their excess grapes so we made this” and “a property near me had too many apples so we got a big haul and made cider.” This was a refreshing break from preciousness, legacy and mass market appeal, a few of the traditional hallmarks of the wine trade. You know how I love my let’s not be perfect and make good with what we have soap box, so I was really in my element…

There was a bit of a celebrity appeal for me too, I spotted Marissa Ross, happily meandering about, basking in the glow and glad handing her crew. Actually everyone was, just us tasters and makers enjoying the good life. In the end I couldn’t get to everyone, partly because it was getting more packed by the minute, partly because I was getting buzzed and partly because there was some fried chicken with my name on it at Hopscotch down the street. All in all, it was definitely worth the wait and I know I'll be drinking a lot less sulfites this year...

Some of my faves included:

 Photo credit - Bon Appétit

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