Town Crier: Good food brings people together, politics aside


Award-winning Gather restaurant in Berkeley specializes in Northern California food, innovative craft cocktails and West Coast wines. Gather is headed by Executive Chef Charis Wahl. (Courtesy of Gather restaurant)

MONTCLARION: November 18, 2016

They call this place Gather, and gather we did on a mild moonlit night four days after Trump won the presidency. The Berkeley restaurant at 2200 Oxford St. was buzzing and the foursome next to us was digesting the results of the vote as they supped on small plates of steamed mussels and white sea bass.

Good food and drink have a way of bringing people together — no matter the political persuasion. We saw this at Gather, as the mood seemed almost celebratory, despite the certain displeasure by some at the outcome of Tuesday night’s election.

The wide-paned windows let in the changing light at sunset. Mild euphoria spread as patrons sipped cocktail creations like Harborside — with Humboldt hemp-infused vodka, Dolin Blanc and fresh fennel. And Executive Chef Charis Wahl’s cooking filled the room with the heady aroma of dishes like chicken with grits and red mole.

The evening reminded me of a quote by famed food author James Beard. He said, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” Now, more than ever, these words hit home.

Case cracked: Reader Valerie Peck has solved the mystery of the black high heels, picture frame and marketing material found on the Montclair Railroad Trail on Nov. 1. Seems a winery owner left her trunk open during the Montclair Halloween festival and someone grabbed an exposed bag and ran. They must have been disappointed in the bag’s contents and dumped it on the path behind Montclair Village. After I reported it in last week’s column, Peck emailed to say she’d discovered the stuff and returned it to its rightful owner. Peck is not only a trail guardian, she’s a super sleuth.

Email bag: Thanks to all the readers who sent tips after last week’s column item on package theft. It seems FedEx and UPS both have apps that allow you to track your packages and assure that you’re home during delivery. You can even direct the drivers to drop your goods off at their nearest shipping and packaging store. I also heard from a reader in Chicago who sells a home delivery dropbox. He said there are lots of products on the market that can keep your packages secure. Just get on Google.

Around town: The Book Tree in Montclair Village hosted a stimulating conversation on food the other night. Owner David Hartsough brought in acclaimed author and chef Linda Carucci to share secrets from her new book’s second edition, “Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks.” Listening to Linda, I realized just how lucky we are to have two independent bookstores in Montclair Village — with, of course, A Great Good Place for Books. In the case of The Book Tree — its doors have been open for 32 years and the Sullivans still own the building.

Up in smoke: The election is over and we can all take a deep breath. Or can we? I got a good whiff of results from the new marijuana law when someone walked through Montclair Village blowing a doobie the other evening. There’s a reason they call this drug “skunk weed.” “Get used to it,” said the guy next to me. Now that it’s legal, we’ll be smelling more than just pine and eucalyptus in the hills.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at http://www.


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