Oakland is seeing new pioneer spirit

ImageMONTCLARION: February 22, 2013

It was 1923 when a real estate agent nailed up a sign at the top of a dusty ridgeline road that read “Oakland, the Greatest City on the Pacific Coast — INVEST!”

This iconic photo got me thinking about the history of our town and where we’re headed today. One thing is certain: Oakland is seeing a new kind of pioneer spirit in the surge of young people eager to do business here. Consider the Temescal District, still a little rough around the edges, but changing rapidly. Suddenly, new chefs and artisans are hitching their wagons to the three anchor tenants — Bakesale Betty, Doña Tomás and Pizzaiolo.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I met up with a small group of food writers on a walking tour called Taste of Temescal (www.edibleexcursions.net). We started at the Urban Village Farmers Market in the DMV parking lot, and ate our way through a dozen new enterprises — each one unique and incredibly tasty. And while I’m not a restaurant reviewer, I know what I like. The fish tacos at Cholita Linda had a light crunch and delicate tang, and the pastry at Starter Bakery was sinfully rich. Down the street, steam was rising from homemade samosas — Indian street food hand crafted by chef Preeti Mistry at Juhu Beach Club.

We nibbled and munched our way along Telegraph Avenue to Temescal Alley, where Doughnut Dolly and Cro Café were clearly turning breakfast into an art form. Camerasin hand, the young Yelpers and bloggers took photos at every stop — from the tofu stew at Sura Korean to the gooey grilled cheese at Sacred Wheel. They snapped shots of the bagels coming out of the massive brick oven at Beauty’s Bagel Shop, and they captured the color of yummy sorbet at Scream.

The only place I missed on the tour was Homeroom. The mac and cheese was calling, but I just couldn’t waddle that far. Still, I’d done my part to invest in Oakland’s dining scene. Food is the new frontier.

Mystery solved: Speaking of a Montclair real estate photo — http://californiaimages.blogspot.com/2010/06/real-estate-office-overlooking.html — local historian Bennett Hall thinks he’s figured out where it was shot.

“We believe the Mediterranean house (built 1935) is just north of where the original observatory tower was located, and Aztec, just graded on the right in the photo, is the street that heads down the hill,” Hall said. He is adding this picture to the local history exhibit he manages at the Oakland Federal Building.

Libations with Libby: Our own Councilmember Libby Schaaf hosts a wine tasting Friday night, and all I can think of is alliterations (sipping with citizens, kvetching with constituents …). In any case, come by and rap with your District 4 rep, Libby Schaaf, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Farmstead Cheeses & Wines, 6218 La Salle Ave. It’s a buck a tasting, and the proceeds go to Montera Middle School.


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