Category Archives: miscellaneous

Icons of Oakland’s Grand Avenue

So yesterday’s test was a little too easy, eh? It seems the Pet Hospital sign was the real giveaway… and if that sign clued you in to this awesome stretch of Oakland, these signs should really ring a bell.

I start with The Alley, because it’s a real gem. A one of a kind. An Oaktown original.

I have to admit I’ve only mustered the courage to sing here a couple of times (with a little help from whiskey-on-the-rocks) because Rod Dibble’s regulars are really really good. These folks take their song stylings very seriously. It’s awesome. If you haven’t been, you simply must go.

More reading: Piano man Rod Dibble’s got ’em feeling all right by Peter Hartlaub (sfgate)
piano bar oakland, rod dibble's alley

Next up is The Grand Bakery. As yelper Russ E. said, “If you are a Jew and you don’t know about this place, shame on you.” Always with the guilt! But seriously, this place has incredible chocolate covered macaroons (my personal favorites), and is known for its other delectable Jewish treats like Challah & rugelach. Keep in mind they’re closed on Saturdays. It seems a source of frustration for many, but duh…

kosher bakery oakland, grand avenue bakery

Next up, Kingman’s Lucky Lounge. I don’t do the bar scene too much anymore, but when I did, I loved this spot.  Great ambiance. Cool clientele. DJ’s spinnin’ fresh tunes. And, of course, tasty drinks.

lucky lounge, grand avenue bars, oakland bars

Now the Coffee Mill I’m not quite as familiar with, but as I was heading across the street to shoot their sign, which I love, the woman next to me was telling her little girl that they have the best Chai Latte in the world. That’s quite a claim. They seem to be known for their delicious breakfasts more than their coffee. Any of you fans? Give me the scoop…
grand avenue cafes, oakland coffee shops, oakland cafes
Ah, Boot & Shoe Service. Can I just say that I have a big crush on Charlie Hallowell and his incredible pizzas? Yes, he’s married with child, and yes, I’m in a relationship too, but those fantastically thin crusts! To die for. Everything is amazing. A much smaller menu than his original Pizzaiolo, but that’s part of the charm.

Charlie Hallowell restaurants
Smitty’s. A dive bar. Pool table. Shuffleboard. Juke Box. Cheap beer. What more do you need to know?

oakland bars, grand avenue bars, dive bars oakland
Walden Pond Books – a great independent bookstore. See my post from last year: Walden Pond Books – Oakland’s Oldest Bookstore including their Declaration of Independents, and my interview with Paul Curatolo, now manager for over 35 years!

independent bookstores, oakland independent bookstores

Bicycle Coffee Co. These guys set up at the Saturday Farmers Market. I haven’t had their coffee yet (organic, fair trade, shade grown, hand-picked, and locally roasted in small batches), but I dig their carts, and was captivated by their groovy logo.

More Reading: Q&A with Bicycle Coffee Co.’s Brad Butler and Brandon McKee by Alex Hochman (sfweekly)

pedal power, coffee cart, oakland coffee carts

And last, but certainly not least, the wonderful Grand Lake Theater. It’s one of my favorite things about our city and I wrote all about it awhile back in Grand Lake Movie Magic… Post includes the top 7 reasons this is, hands down, the best movie theater in the East Bay, the history of the theater, and a cool video about the mechanics behind their amazing lighted sign. Check it out!

independent movie theaters, oakland grand lake, old movie houses

Strawberry “Ice Cream” Pie ~ a taste of summer

sunset magazine ice cream pies

Despite the promise of June’s Summer Solstice, we seem to be firmly entrenched in drab and dreary wintry weather (or at least we were when I started writing this), so I decided to create our own Summer Sunshiny-ness.

And it looks like it’s paid off, because no sooner did I pop this baby in the freezer, than the sun broke free of its cloudy shackles.  Here comes a taste of summer!

gingersnap cookie crust, cookie pie crust, anna's gingersnaps

Normally I would tackle this project with the incredible bounty available from my lovely Meyer lemon tree. All winter long this little orchard-unto-itself cranks out an amazing volume of dense little packets of sunshine… all that sweet/tart lemony goodness that brings to mind relaxing on your swing porch in the late hours of a long summer day, the scent of night-blooming jasmine in the air, a glass of homemade lemonade on ice… cool and refreshing.

But sadly my lemons have worn out their welcome. After a few too many lemon bars, lemon scones, lemon cheesecakes, and yes, pitchers of lemonade, I’ve been told, “NO MORE LEMONS!”

Ok.  I hear you.

Gingersnap cookie crust, cookie pie crust, pie crust recipe
pie crust recipe, gingersnaps

So today we’ll kickstart our summer enthusiasm with organic strawberries (just now coming in at the farmers markets), and a little frozen-treat-magic. Not only will this dessert leave you with a rosy glow of contentment as though you’d just spent an afternoon at the beach with the sun warming your skin and the sand massaging your toes, but it’s literally as easy as pie!

Strawberry “Ice Cream” Pie

Adapted, significantly, from Sunset Magazine

First I should tell you that this treat is actually made with frozen yogurt, but “ice cream pie” sounds so much more delicious than “frozen yogurt pie,” that I’ve taken the liberty of fibbing a bit with my title.  I know you won’t mind.

Second, my adaptations revolve around the crust and the toppings.  The original recipe calls for a buttery pie pastry crust baked into a tart pan, but the first time I made this recipe, my tart pan was unavailable (left at a friend’s house after the last lemon tart!) so I decided to change up the crust a bit.

I’ve always loved the combination of ginger snaps with strawberry ice cream, and I’ve always loved graham cracker crusts, so voila! I decided to create a gingersnap cookie crust. I’m sure I’m not the first to concoct this creation, but at the time it seemed like a real stroke of genius.

cookie pie crust recipe

Gingersnap Cookie Crust

10 oz crunchy/crisp gingersnaps
5 Tbsp melted butter (unsalted)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Crumble cookies into food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Drizzle in melted butter and continue to process until crumbs start to come together. Press crumb mixture into bottom and sides of pie pan and bake in oven until crust is set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

strawberry ice cream pie, recipe, frozen yogurt pie recipe, strawberry pie

Strawberry “Ice Cream” Filling

3 cups vanilla frozen yogurt, softened
3/4 cup best quality strawberry preserves (whole berries if possible)

Stir frozen yogurt until smooth, then stir in preserves. When mixed well, spoon into cooled pie crust and place in freezer.  It’s just that easy. Freeze at least 5 hours.

The only other piece of the pie is the topping, which I also simplified from the original recipe.  Sunset’s version called for a Balsamic syrup, which actually sounds quite fabulous, but I felt it wouldn’t go with my ginger crust, so I scrapped it in favor of plain ol’ strawberries…

Strawberry Ice cream pie, strawberry frozen yogurt pie, recipe

Fresh Strawberry Topping

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
1 tsp sugar

Slice strawberries, sprinkle with sugar, stir gently, and cover. Let stand at room temperature.

When ready to serve, slice pie with a knife warmed in hot water, then wiped dry. Spoon fresh strawberries & syrup over each piece. Enjoy your slice of Summer!

strawberries and sugar, strawberry topping

PS – This is the second assignment from my June blogging e-course… “ Write a guest post for one of your favorite blogs .” I chose

Roll with it…

Happy last day of May everyone!  I’m feeling better this week… how about you?  Did you all have a nice 3 day weekend?  Can you believe it’s still raining?!? It put a bit of a damper on some of my weekend plans, but I decided to roll with it and adjust…

So instead of putting those veggie starters in the ground (yes, I realize this likely should have happened months ago), I spent a very satisfying afternoon snail hunting. The ducks and chickens next door were satisfied as well!

I think adaptability is one of our most amazing traits as humans. Of course it’s not a human trait exclusively, but we’ve seemed to have mastered it to a degree few other creatures have…

We went for a walk in Joaquin Miller Park yesterday during a stint of gorgeous breezy spring sunshine.  This squirrel cracked me up!

joaquin miller park, east bay hiking

I didn’t get to any art this past weekend, but there’s a lot coming up… another Art Murmur, two weekends of East Bay Open Studios including art “hops” and walks, street festivals, and more!

And, I’m taking a month long blogging course starting tomorrow. I’m hoping it will reinvigorate my blogging practice, which has suffered of late due to being squeezed into the tiny sliver of time remaining after all that other stuff that has to get done. Wish me luck!

And lastly, thanks to all who commented or completed my little survey last week. Sorry for whining… I was just having a moment.

And thanks too to my new twitter friend OaktownTuro, who graciously changed his mind and let me have the OaktownArt twitter handle! More on the twitter thing once I get it all figured out…

What’s YOUR interest in Oaktown Art?

Hey Peeps, so I’m a bit stumped this week… feeling lackadaisical… awaiting inspiration (sometimes you just have to wait)… yet nothing is springing forth to grab my attention and say, “Hey! Post about this this week.”

So I thought two things:

  • First, I’d share a list, because everything I’ve read about blogging says you simply must post lists. People eat them up like hot-out-of-the-oven-chocolate-chip-cookies. They may not contain the most nutritious content, but they’re delicious and they go down quick!
  • Second, I’d ask you all what you’re interested in. Because one of my favorite parts of blogging is the feeling I get when I can see, through comments or traffic, that something I’ve posted really resonates. So please, chime in and let me know if you have specific interests about art and/or culture in Oakland…(scroll below question mark for input form)

So here is a list of the Top-30 All-Time Search Engine terms used to hit Oaktown Art:

  1. if you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission
  2. what is art deco
  3. oaktown art
  4. gats graffiti
  5. wheat paste graffiti
  6. california spiders
  7. where is dave chappelle now 2010
  8. dave chappelle 2010
  9. art deco
  10. earth art bumper sticker
  11. ghost town farm
  12. oakland graffiti
  13. new parish oakland
  14. ras terms
  15. guitar art
  16. art in the streets la
  17. modern folk art
  18. dia de los muertos art
  19. vagina
  20. mua oakland
  21. wheat paste art
  22. wheat paste
  23. graffiti stickers
  24. sticker art
  25. temescal creek cohousing
  26. ella baker center
  27. alameda county courthouse
  28. art’s crab shack
  29. someone is spitting on the liars and hypocrites in the name of jesus christ.
  30. the layover oakland

oaktown art feedback, what would you search for?

Feel free to post comments as well if this form is too confining…