Spring Medley

From sampling ice cream to mixing cocktails, we’ve got events to suit every palate.


Gelato-tasting stop at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe.
Photo courtesy of Rockridge Food Tour.


In this newsletter:

●  Scrumptious samples at Mark Bittman’s book signing – May 30
●  Help your garden thrive with less water – May 30
●  Book extravaganza in Oakland – May 31
●  New Rockridge ice cream tour starts up May 31
●  A food tour review
●  Cocktails get wild with foraged plants – May 31 or June 14
●  Book reviews: Mark Bittman’s latest hits!
    A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News About Food and How to Cook Everything Fast



Books and Bites with Mark Bittman

Meet Mark Bittman at this Market Hall book-signing event.
Photo by Fred Conrad/The New York Times

Don’t miss New York Times columnist and author Mark Bittman as he signs books and offers cookbook-recipe tastes at Rockridge Market Hall in Oakland. Tastings from A Bone to Pick feature Roasted Nuts with Ginger, Soy Sauce, and Honey. Info: here or 510.250.6001. Read more about Bittman’s books in Kristina Sepetys’s reviews below.

Saturday May 30, 2–3pm
Mark Bittman: Book Signings & Tastings
A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News About Food
How to Cook Everything Fast
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Rockridge Market Hall
5655 College Ave, Oakland



Happy Gardens with Less Water

Jeremy Watts of Food Forest Design Works joins Ploughshare Nursery’s staff for a discussion about how to reduce water use in the garden. Topics include drought-tolerant plant selection, dry farming, drip irrigation, and other water management techniques. Free. Info: here

Optimizing Water Use in the Garden
Saturday May 30, 2pm
Ploughshares Nursery
2701 Main St, Alameda



Book-Lovers Paradise

The Oakland Book Festival serves up 40 free events including discussions with food writers Novella Carpenter, Anna Lappe, Kim O’Donnell, Kiera Butler, and Julie Guthman. Ninety writers take part in lively panels, interviews, and readings during this one-day event. Performances, food trucks, booksellers, and a children’s area round out the festivities. Free. Info: here or 510.480.0294

For more about Kiera Butler, Novella Carpenter, and other food writers, see Kristina Sepetys’s reviews in our Winter Holidays 2014 issue.

Oakland Book Festival
Sunday May 31, 11am–6pm
Oakland City Hall
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland



Enjoy some of the fabulous flavors at Dreyer’s on this new Sunday tour. Photo courtesy of Rockridge Food Tour.

One Scoop or Two?

Attention kids of all ages! Rockridge Food Tour now offers a one-hour ice cream tour. Learn about this much-loved dessert and sample the ice cream sandwiches at Cream, some gelato at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, and favorite flavors at Oakland-born Dreyers. Cost: Adults $15; Kids 12 and younger $7.50. Private group tours and children’s birthday parties available. Info and reservations: here

Rockridge Summer Ice Cream Tours
Alternate Sundays beginning May 31, 3pm
Meeting point: Safeway outdoor public seating area
6310 College Ave, Oakland

This new ice-cream tour celebrates the first anniversary of the Rockridge Neighborhood Heritage and Walking Food Tour, created by Rockridge foodie Lauren Herpich. Edible East Bay’s intern Amanda Polick ventured out for the food tour, and shares her delicious experience.

Touring Rockridge, Bite by Bite


At Amphora Nueva, walkers enjoy a variety of premium olive oils.
Photo by Amanda Polick.

by Amanda Polick

A slight drizzle was just starting as I met up with Lauren Herpich one Saturday in winter for her Rockridge Food Tour. As the people arrived (locals and tourists alike), Lauren handed out food tour maps and water bottles along with morning buns from La Farine French Bakery. As soon as the soft dough and sugar hit my lips, I suspected that the rain would not dampen my spirit or appetite on this three-hour, three-mile tour.

A love for history, food, and leading walking tours in Chicago led Herpich to start Rockridge Food Tours shortly after she moved here in June 2014. Interest has built so strongly and steadily since that time that her tour is already listed on TripAdvisor.com as one of the top things to do near Berkeley. Herpich offers tours twice a week (Thursdays at 2pm and Saturdays at 11am) and charges $49 per person, with a dollar from every ticket donated to the Alameda County Food Bank.

I was surprised at the amount of history packed into three miles. Herpich hand-picked six stops: At family-owned Amphora Nueva, we sampled a variety of olive oils including a fusion with North African green chili. The company is over 90 years old and still operated by the family: They mill and infuse their own oils so they can oversee the process every step of the way. At The Pasta Shop in Market Hall, cheesemonger Jason Plunkett gave tour members tasty bites of Cowgirl Creamery’s Wagon Wheel and a Challerhocker from Switzerland. As we rounded out the tour at Zachary’s Pizza, La Farine, Ver Brugge Meats & Seafood, and Dreyer’s Ice Cream Parlor & Café, we learned that all are places where Herpich regularly fills her own shopping bags.

As we strolled from one designated food stop to the next tempting location, Herpich pointed out additional local landmarks, such as Star Grocery, which was founded in 1922. On a detour through residential streets, Herpich noted home designs by (or influenced by) the Bay Area’s own Julia Morgan.

Three hours were barely enough to take it all in. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and the treats along the way, and was surprised by the richness of history and culture in Rockridge.

Tour leader and founder Lauren Herpich leads guests to some of her favorite neighborhood shops. Photo by Amanda Polick.



Add a new twist to your cocktails by incorporating foraged plants.
Photo by Andria Lo.

Jazz Up Your Cocktails with Foraged Plants

Learn to prepare and use foraged plant–infused cocktail products such as bitters and syrups. Mix and enjoy your own cocktails using wildcrafted bitters, syrups, glycerites, and more. Cost: $75. Age 21 and older. Info and registration: here

Sunday May 31 or June 14, 3–5:30pm
Foraged Cocktails Workshop
Five Flavors Herbs
344 40th St, Oakland


 Mark Bittman on Eating Well and Building a Better Food System

Reviews by Kristina Sepetys

Mark Bittman, the opinionated New York Times food journalist/columnist, and prolific cookbook writer, has been living in the East Bay as a Visiting Scholar at the Berkeley Food Institute for the past several months. By all reports, he’s enjoying the experience here immensely. If you’re not familiar with his work, Bittman writes about cooking, eating, farming, food politics, and a myriad of related topics. He’s a contributing writer at other publications, like Runner’s World, where he’s written dozens of articles about his lifelong running habit and how he fuels it. Bittman is remarkable for his ability to speak to big-picture concerns, like creating a more sustainable and equitable food system, while also writing practical, instructional guides to help people do the one thing that he believes has the most potential to help the food system evolve: cook.

In his latest book, A Bone to Pick: the good and bad news about food, with wisdom and advice on diets, food safety, GMOs, farming, and more (Pam Krauss Books, 2015), Bittman has assembled some of his most talked-about, and in some cases, controversial New York Times columns, in order to more widely share his opinions about what’s wrong with the American food system and how to fix it (or, in his words, to “un-invent” it). It’s an engaging, easy-to-read book comprised of short chapters no more than a couple of pages long, yet Bittman manages to explore a vast array of critical issues like agricultural practices, national food policy (or lack thereof), labor and wages, social justice, fad diets, and a host of other topics, many of which revolve around the notion that the poor health of many American citizens points up significant deficiencies in the American food system and the forces that regulate it. Beyond discussion of the broader issues and the many ills the broken food system creates, his pieces return to a few simple bits of advice for the reader: stop eating junk and hyper-processed food, eat more plants, and cook.

When it comes to cooking, Bittman has no shortage of how-to tips. The self-taught home cook has authored 14 award-winning books, most of which are cookbooks and include the enormously popularHow to Cook Everything series. His latest volume, How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) is a 1056-page (yes, it’s big!) reference volume with literally thousands of recipes and ideas for healthy, mostly whole-food meals that are quick and easy to prepare (within 15 to 45 minutes) like Cheddar Waffles with Bacon Maple Syrup; Skillet Spanakopita; Charred Brussels Sprout Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola; Apple Crumble Under the Broiler, and many more dishes that should inspire you to take control of your eating.