Monday, October 27, 2014

Red Sauce Meatballs

I finally caught up with Red Sauce Meatballs, at the Streat Food Park. The menu is short, but it covers everything that can be done with meatballs. I chose a one-of-each meatball sandwich, with cheese. Unfortunately, they were out of parmigiano, but the proprietor suggested a substitution of ricotta. It was messy, but tasty. The arugula on top is a nice touch, too. He also gave me a veggie ball to try. It, too, was excellent—a real veggie ball, not fake meat.

If you're not into meatball sandwiches, you can have them on pasta. And there is a bowl of meatballs for the low-carb crowd.

Oakland Chocolate Company

Nancy Nadel is not hiding Umpa Lumpas like Willy Wonka, but her Oakland Chocolate Company factory in Emeryville is a wonderland all the same. Our group (SF Bay Area Chocolate Meetup) booked a tour online and got to enjoy both a tasting and tour of her mini-masterpiece factory. The tasting takes place in her front room, furnished with a lovely wooden table and chairs and decorated with photos of Jamaica where Nancy sources all the cacao beans and some other ingredients that she uses in her chocolates.

Ready to taste!
and take notes/order chocolate
Oakland Chocolate Company is a bean to bar company. Nancy orders her big bags of beans and after delivery, she tests them for consistency and purity using a fancy slicing tool.

After the beans are sorted, they have the husks winnowed from the beans in this custom machine. One reoccurring theme in small chocolate factories is the lack of small batch equipment! So if you're a fabricator, get out there and fill the niche.

There is a myriad of other little machines in the kitchen and Nancy explains them all! Since we had a few knowledgeable people in our group the discussion was quite informative and there were a lot of questions.

tools of the trade

staying to the city code!

tempering Jamaican chocolate
Our tour included take home chocolate. Our choice of two bon bons/truffles and two bars. We also got to peruse her table of wares—usually you'll only find her set up at the Montclair Farmer's Market or at the Oakland Art Murmur/First Friday. Nancy also has a list of retail stores that carry specific products (but not the Oakland Chocolate Company's full line).
J.K.'s pick—rosebud bonbon (l) and rum raisin barrel (r)
J.K. goes for the classic bars
Angela's pick—cocoa tea (l)  and caramel (r)
Angela's pick—Same bars front

and back—Jamacian almond and black salt bars

JK and I both got some goodies from the product table as well!
There is a lot of local chocolate making that goes on in the Bay Area! From Dandelion and Charles Chocolates in the City, it's just a hop skip and jump over the bridge to Emeryville to find the Oakland Chocolate Company!

Do you want to book a tour? Here is Nancy's blurb about booking a tour (taken from the website)
"Our tasting room at the Beach Street location is ready for Small Group Tours and Tasting. Please call 510 545-2462 to make a reservation.  We suggest a month in advance of the desired date. The tasting room seats 12 comfortably. The Tasting and Tour Program includes tasting our Jamaican chocolates of different cacao concentrations and compare to another origin sample. Guests also receive 2 1-oz. bars of their choice and 2 truffles or bonbons. The tour of the facility includes a demonstration of fermented bean testing, a talk about how chocolate grows and how the export system works in Jamaica."

sorry this photo is so blurry!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Afternoon Tea at Pardee Home Museum in Oakland

Tea Time Adventures has stumbled across a Facebook group, Second Sunday Tea at Three (SST@3). We signed up immediately once we learned they planned to take tea at the Pardee Home and Museum in Oakland, because while we had been there several years ago, we hadn't gotten any pictures—and therefore no blog post! This is another volunteer led Afternoon Tea, so guests must make reservations through the Pardee Home to book a tea event  All proceeds from tea ticket sales and the gift shop benefit the nonprofit that cares for the Pardee Family Historical Home. 

Our visit begins with a greeting from one of the volunteers and once our all of our party arrived (shamefully J.K. and I were running a bit late due to reading on BART and missed our transfer stop) they led us into the lovely dining room which was set with sandwiches and savories to begin our Afternoon Tea.

The savory course was served family style so each person took one of what they liked and passed on the plate.  These delightful bites and garnishes are all made by volunteers in-house and served on beautiful plates with thoughtful attention to detail. Garnishes included edible flowers from the Pardee Garden, which were in great demand by some of the guests. (Your menu will depend on who's in the kitchen and what is seasonal.)

7 savory delights from traditional to the unexpected
Our tea cups were kept topped off by volunteer waitresses who buzzed to and from the kitchen (since the kitchen is used to serve afternoon tea, it is the only part of the house not shown during the tour). After a lot of conversation, tea and sandwiches, we were served the scone course which included local jam and yummy curd  on the side. Our group spent a lot of time admiring the decor in the Pardee dining room where we took tea as well.

There were plenty of conversation starters hanging around...
Dessert was the last course (as if we could eat more...good thing we had to walk around during the tour) and featured more good cooking by the volunteers.

There was definitely a dessert flavor for every sweet tooth.

After our group was full and content we met in the front hall with a smaller party who were only participating in the tour. There are lots of photos, so we'll let them speak for themselves. If you're curious you can ask for more details in the comments or simply take the Pardee Home tour yourself!

A room with a view

The dining room with the original Pardee home cutlery and dishes.

Close up of painting-see the deer?

Thanks to the ladies of SST@3 for organizing this event. Tea Time is happy to have made it back and checked this Afternoon Tea Adventure off our list! If you're interested in learning more about the Pardee home, taking Afternoon Tea or Volunteering, reach out and contact them! They love to entertain.

P. S.
We made it home on BART just fine. No side trips since we were vigilant after the mishap on the way to the event... and on the way home, J.K. stopped at Ben & Jerry's for her birthday dish of Chocolate Therapy. Well, it was almost time for dinner, but J.K.'s motto is "Life is uncertain—eat dessert first."
Angela says, "Sometimes ice cream is dinner." Not sure if that's a motto or just a fact.