It’s coming on Thanksgiving as I’m writing this, so it seems appropriate to take the occasion to reflect on things I’m thankful for. The list is long, and at the top, of course, are all the beautiful and loving people (and dogs) in my life, past and present. Then there’s good health, the astounding beauty of the Bay Area, the closeness of nature, and all the good food that I get to enjoy here each day.
Right at the moment, I’m especially grateful for the mushroom aisle at Berkeley’s Monterey Market. It’s literally an entire aisle, and if I’m forgetting where in the building it’s located, I have only to let my nose guide me down the back of the store and notice at which point I’m compelled to turn right. Before I went through all the pleasures and challenges of editing Jillian Steinberger’s massive mushroom opus for this issue, I had not taken enough time to determine which mushrooms were the most aromatic, which were grown by our local cultivators, and which were foraged. The aisle is a whole new place for me now, and my cooking has benefited from the knowledge. I was disappointed that there was not enough room in the magazine to include all the many recipes Jillian collected from local chefs, foragers, and growers, so if after reading the article you become as mushroom obsessed as I am now, you might want to go to the fourth link under “The Hidden Kingdom of the Blobs” in the contents and try additional recipes.
Another thing pertaining to this issue that I’m quite thankful for is that Oakland, my home for almost 30 years, has become such a great place to eat out. When I came from the East Coast and settled in the Grand Lake district in 1984, the nearby downtown and uptown areas had little to offer beyond a few gems/curiosities like Ratto’s, the Housewives Market, and a little (and now-gone) dive named Nayarit that I loved for its huevos rancheros. Media all over the country have started noting the phenomenal proliferation of inspired culinary enterprise going on these days in Oakland. Since this is Edible East Bay, we don’t have to make that kind of special mention, and instead, we just cover the whys and hows of it. This issue has more than the usual amount of coverage on our fantastic Oakland chefs and their businesses. I hope everyone reading it becomes motivated to get out and enjoy the abundance!
P.S. I’m so pleased to welcome back Gary Handman, the artist whose drawings of Richmond eateries illuminated our Fall 2013 issue. He says that Kip Mesirow was his former neighbor and is now leading a good life in Vermont, which you can read about by going to thecitizenvt.com and typing “Mesirow” into the search box.