East Bay Appetizer December 4, 2013

Here are some places to find gifts and holiday entertainment of the most delicious home-grown sorts. Our local artisans, crafters, and performers help make the Bay Area an exciting place to live, so be sure to support them with your holiday shopping dollars!

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revels

A Seasonal Feast
At the 28th Annual Christmas Revels:
The Spirits of Haddon Hall

December 13-15 & 20-22
Scottish Rite Theater 1547 Lakeside Dr, Oakland

For Oakland-based theater company the California Revels, the holiday season is a time filled with legend, folklore, and a rich and wonderful food tradition. This year, the production is set in the early 1920s at the English country estate of Haddon Hall. As the Duke arrives to oversee the demolition of the ancient property for a highway, the ghosts of past generations appear to celebrate the Winter Solstice one more time.

While on stage, Revels celebrates the winter solstice through music, storytelling, and dance; once offstage, the celebration is continued with warming and delicious food. As the cast and crew spend many hours in the theater in December, their feasting is done over a 30 foot-long table piled end to end with delectable dishes. Roasted turkeys, hams, pumpkin soup served in a huge hollowed out pumpkin, glazed vegetables, simmering pots of stew, fresh baked bread, delicious desserts… whatever the heart and stomach could imagine. Most remarkable about this feasting table is that it happens as a potluck. At full strength, the Revels’ mostly volunteer cast, crew, and orchestra number around 100 people, and everyone brings something to share. Thus happily nourished, these folks share the warmth and celebration of the season with Oakland audiences, and a merry time is had by all!

Tickets are $20-$55, and if you order online with discount code EDIBLE, you will get 10{94d79dd6af1e87a94e700e4c297236468333f22e27ed5757b44711974a9a4b91} off! californiarevels.org
(No ticket sales at the theater except on performance dates.)

 

 

Dona Nobis Pacem Cocktail

cocktail2For a taste of Revels merriment before the show, try this cocktail created for the Revels community. This smooth sipper takes its inspiration from old world traditions as the French liqueurs meld with a grape-based vodka to offer complex fruit and herbal notes. The drink is named after a well-known hymn, a paean for peace, joy, and unity, sung with the audience at every production of the California Christmas Revels.

2 ounces Ciroc Vodka
1 ounce Maurin Quina
0.5 ounce Benedictine
1 dropperful Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir with cubed ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with Luxardo Maraschino cherries.

 

 

fibershed

 

Fibershed Fashion Gala 2013

Garments designed by Marlie de Swart of Black Mountain Artisans in Point Reyes Station. Bangles by Jacalyn Post of Vacaville. (Photo by Paige Green)

Garments designed by
Marlie de Swart of Black Mountain Artisans in Point Reyes Station. Bangles by Jacalyn Post of Vacaville.
(Photo by Paige Green)

Saturday December 14, 3-7pm
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma

You like your food local and natural, so why not your clothes! This casual gala is a 1930s themed “slow-fashion” runway show that celebrates the ecological and social benefits of using local natural resources to create clothing for local populations. The event showcases local designers who have teamed up with local farmers to produce garments made of natural fibers such as wool and organic cotton, and dyes such as from indigo, pomegranates, and mushrooms. Attendees can bid on garments at a live auction and shop for gifts at the marketplace.

East Bay Designers
A number of the participating designers have businesses located in the East Bay:

Myrrhia Resneck – myrrhia
Hiroko Kurihara – 25thstreetcollective
Elwyn Crawford – O’LoverHats
Bree Hylkema – vermeulenandco
Holly Embree – moxieshoes
soilCory Gunter Brown – themoonoakland.tumblr
Sabrina Fair – sabrinafair
Kacy Dapp – scales-SA

The event is raising funds for Fibershed’s 2014 Soil to Soil Projects including life cycle assessment of fibershed versus conventional fabrics; grazing research for land management and carbon sequestration; open source patterns designed to produce zero waste; Colorado-hemp-fiber and natural-dye feasibility studies; and school educational programs and workshops for adults.

ranchArtisanal Refreshments and Live Music
Cheeses served at this event are from a West Marin farm run by a Basque-origin family that has been sheep ranching for more than a century. Their Baringa Ranch (barinagaranch.com) cheeses are sold in Oakland and Berkeley at The Pasta Shop. Local produce and distilled drinks will also be featured.

Performing live is vocalist Kally Price, whose songs are rooted
in old blues, jazz, and gospel from the late 1920s, ‘30s,
and ‘40s.

For more information see Fibershed.com. Early bird tickets start at $75 and are available here.

 

 

crafts

Edible Tastings at the
43rd Annual KPFA Crafts Fair

Saturday & Sunday December 14 & 15, 10am–6pm
Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 8th St, San Francisco

This annual benefit for KPFA community sponsored radio, 94.1 FM, is the top place to shop for inspired, creative gifts. This year, the Fair will offer Edible Tastings where our passionate local food artisans will serve complimentary samples and sell products that make great holiday gifts. You’ll also enjoy lots of good food to eat on site and live acoustic music from noon to 6pm each day.

Cost: $10 for adults (Buy one ticket and your guest gets in for free). Disabled, over 65, or under 17 years of age get in for free.
Info: 510.848.6767 ext. 646 or email fairinfo@kpfa.org, kpfa.org/craftsfair.

 

 

 

The Berkeley Farmers’ Market
22nd Annual Holiday Crafts Fair

December 7, 14, and 21, 10am to 4pm
Civic Center Park, 2151 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley

ecologyThis benefit for the Ecology Center features local craftspeople and artisans selling a wonderful variety of beautiful and useful handcrafted gifts (ceramics, fine art, jewelry, cards, clothes, tote bags, body products, toys, and more) and continuous live music. See here for more info.

 

 

 

 

 

Best bets for holiday gifting from our book reviewer,
Kristina Sepetys

First, the much-anticipated Manresa: An Edible Reflection, by David Kinch and Christine Muhlke. Kinch, the creative, inventive chef-owner of the two-star Michelin rated restaurant Manresa in Los Gatos, celebrates hyper-local produce (especially tomatoes) and the terroir of Northern California in recipes like Fig and Wild Fennel Confit; Ridgeback Shrimp, Salted Butter and Apple Brandy; and Foie Gras and Cumin Caramel. Kinch tells the story of his relationship with attorney-turned-farmer Cynthia Sandberg and her biodynamic and organic Love Apple Farms, which supplies Manresa with produce, much of it grown from rare seed. The book is enjoyable as much for the careful, artful dishes (many of which are presented in a deconstructed style and involve whey foam and other elaborate finishes) as reading about Kinch’s approach to his craft and his deep connection to the land and especially the sea.

 

The third in a series of cookbooks from Chad Robertson, owner of San Francisco’s well-loved Tartine Bakery & Café and Bar Tartine, Tartine Book No. 3: Modern Ancient Classic Whole (Chronicle Books, 2013) explores baking with whole grains. This latest volume offers step-by-step instruction for baking heirloom whole- and fermented-grain versions of Tartine favorites. More than 85 recipes for flavored breads, including Sunflower Flax and Spelt Wheat Barberi Style with Nigella and Za’atar, sprouted-grain hearth loaves, including Emmer with Maple and Quinoa White Wheat, crispbreads such as Spelt with Sunflower Seeds, Crème Fraiche, and Comté; and Swedish-Style Knackebrod, and sweets like Chocolate Whole-Grain Croissants and Fruit Tarts with Spelt or Kamut Dough.

 

December holidays are rich with sweet treats, particularly those of the chocolate variety. Who better to look to for inspiration than First Lady of things chocolate, Alice Medrich. Berkeley resident Medrich introduced the chocolate truffle to the U.S., founded Cocolat, a retail chocolate shop which operated on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley for 14 years, and penned many critically  acclaimed cookbooks. She published Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate in 2003, which was named the 2004 IACP Cookbook of the Year. Seriously Bitter Sweet (Artisan, 2013) is a reissue of her 2003 book, revised and updated to explain what different percentage labels mean with regard to chocolate. The book includes more than 150 recipes interwoven with memories and reflections on her early years and a wealth of detail about chocolate. Must tries: Bittersweet Decadence Cookies, the Best Chocolate Brownies, or Budini, a baked chocolate pudding.

 

mocha tartWarm Mocha Tart
Excerpted from Seriously Bitter Sweet by Alice Medrich
(Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Deborah Jones.

Serves 8 to 10

Alice Medrich (Photograph by Deborah Jones)

Alice Medrich
(Photograph by Deborah Jones)

Two weeks of nonstop shortbread testing produced an unorthodox surprise: perfect shortbread made with melted butter. That shortbread became an exquisitely crunchy and flavorful base for lemon bars, a crust for cheesecake, and, ultimately, my favorite sweet tart crust. I even bake brownie batter on top of it. This remarkable crust barely shrinks in the pan, so there is no need to weight or even prick it before baking. To ensure that the bottom remains crunchy, bake the crust fully, to a deep golden brown, before pouring in the filling.

At the same time I was playing with the new tart crust, I was experimenting with different cocoas, tasting and comparing natural and Dutch-process in all kinds of recipes. Voilà, rich warm cocoa custard in the simplest crust.
—Alice Medrich

Special Equipment
9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom

For the Crust
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup premium unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process) (see Chocolate Note)
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (such as Medaglia d’Oro), or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder or crystals
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

To make the tart crust: Mix the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the flour and mix just until well blended. Don’t worry if the dough seems too soft. Press all of the dough very thinly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and cream in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is blended and smooth and begins to simmer around the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the espresso powder and vanilla.

Just before the crust is ready, whisk the egg thoroughly into the hot chocolate mixture.
Pour the filling into the hot crust and turn off the oven. Leave the tart in the oven until it quivers like tender Jell-O in the center when the pan is nudged, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.

Variation:
Espresso Walnut Tart: The same tart in a walnut cookie crust produces a subtler but still delicious effect. You could also make it with toasted skinned hazelnuts—then I would omit the espresso powder.

Reduce the butter to 6 tablespoons and add 2 teaspoons brandy and 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or a heaping teaspoon instant coffee powder or crystals) with the sugar, salt, and vanilla. In a food processor, pulverize 1/3 cup walnut pieces with 3/4 cup flour until fine. Substitute this mixture for the flour. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Note: Either natural or Dutch-process cocoa works well here. The former has a livelier, more complex, fruity flavor, while the latter has a cozy old-fashioned flavor reminiscent of chocolate pudding. You choose.