Recent Event Highlights: Chef Jonah At One Year, New Yearâ€™s Eve at Oliveto, This Just In: Dungeness Crab Season (FINALLY!) Begins, 2011 Truffle Report #3, 2010 Balsamic Vinegar Dinners, New Year's Eve 2009, and 44 more...
Created by Oliveto on Feb 12, 2009
Last updated: 01/17/12 at 12:59 PM
DINNER FOR NEW TUSCAN OLIVE OILâ€“â€“OLIO NUOVOâ€“â€“AND PANEL DISCUSSION ON OLIVE OIL WITH OLIVE OIL PRODUCER ROBERTO STUCCHI, AUTHOR TOM MUELLER, AND HOST MAGGIE BLYTH KLEIN
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Discussion: 4:30 Dinner: 5:30 throughout evening
Athena smiled on us when the schedules of two internationally known olive oil experts enabled us to invite them to participate in a special afternoon and evening steeped, so to speak, in olive oil.
One is our old friend, Roberto Stucchi, of Badia a Coltibuono in Tuscany, who celebrates the semicentenary of Badia a Coltibuono Extra Virgin Olive Oilâ€™s first bottling. Before 1962, there was quality oil available locally in Italy but no one was distributing it. Badia a Coltibuono, then headed by Robertâ€™s father, Piero Stucchi-Prinetti, modeled the extra virgin olive oil business after what he and others were doing with Italian winesâ€“â€“ introducing traditionally made, world-class products to consumers in the US and Europe. Piero was an innovator, one innovation being the selection of the distinctive 1-liter square bottle (called a â€śmarascaâ€ť because it was originally used for maraschino liqueur).
The other is a new friend, Tom Mueller, whose Extra Virginityâ€“The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil has just been published by Norton. His book has received acclaim for its fascinating, scholarly, and â€śridiculously overdueâ€ť exploration of current olive oil production, marketing, labeling, chemistry, and consumption (as well as its important history and culinary attributes). And Tom is a passionate advocate for true extra virgin olive oils.
Olivetoâ€™s founder and co-owner Maggie Blyth Klein, author of The Feast of the Olive (written in 1983 after her visit to the Badia), will host the two experts in a discussion ranging from the history of olive oil in Italy and America, to the state of government controls, to discerning a good olive oil, to the quandary of the conscientious producer whose beautiful olive juice must of necessity be expensive, and to the nutritional and flavor characteristics of olive oil and different olive varietals.
A dinner featuring new oil straight from the Badia a Coltibuono in Tuscany will comprise the eveningâ€™s menu, paired with a selection of the Badiaâ€™s wines, including a â€™99 Chianti Classico Riserva, half bottles of Robertoâ€™s specially blended Chianti Classico â€śRS,â€ť and a â€™99 San Gioveto.
Every year, Oliveto celebrates the arrival of olio nuovo, the first oil of the season, made from just-pressed, partially ripe olives, whose peppery, vegetal qualities last only a few weeks. California oils usually arrive in November; the Italian oils follow a few weeks later. Their production continues through the first month or two of the season. This year, alas, much of the California olive crop was wiped out in unseasonable spring storms.
But for the special dinner following our Saturday afternoon discussion, Chef Jonah Rhodehamel will have at his disposal several liters of Badia a Coltibuono olio nuovo, which Roberto will have brought directly from his frantoio. Jonah will have limitless dishes from the olive oil regions of Tuscany and, indeed, most of Italy, from which to devise a menu. (For millennia those whoâ€™ve lived close to olive orchards and presses have celebrated the arrival of the vibrant new oil by pouring it over suitable cold weather dishes, some as simple as a crust of bread toasted over a fire, others as complex as a hearty spezzatino.)
For more information and reservations call 510-547-5356
After a particularly beautiful batch of Brookside Farmâ€™s Meyer lemons arrived last week, we followed up with Welling Tom to find out what else is going on at their Brentwood, CA farm. Hereâ€™s what he had to tell us:
Our Meyer lemons are some of the few things we currently have available. We also have a few Oroblanco pomelos already picked, and available as long as supplies last. Growing in the field, we have fava beans, green garlic (now available), broccoli, and Lacinato kale. Fava beans are a slow-growing crop, and will not mature until April or May. The cole crops (broccoli and kale) have been producing since October, but not quite as much as we had hoped. A major problem has been the Bagrada bug, an invasive species of beetle that was not found in the western United States until 2008. So far, Brookside Farm has not taken any measures to combat this pest. Aside from that, there all the usual pests like gophers and cabbage moths.
We were hoping to have other crops available this season. Most cold season crops should be planted by October, but we failed to get that done merely because of some breakdowns on our tractor. These have been mostly remedied, but doing so took away the time that should have been spent in actually preparing the land for planting. So that opportunity was lost. But we still have a chance to plant new crops for the late winter. Our neighbor, Peter Wolfe, whose family has farmed here for over 70 years, has kindly lent me his disc harrow, which has allowed me to till a large area more quickly and effectively than I could with our rototiller. The current weather has been fairly dry, and at least partly sunny, so we should be able to get some arugula, turnips, spinach, and sugar snap peas planted soon, and we should be able to prune our fruit trees without too many delays.
Although we have had our share of setbacks, we are grateful for what we do have, for what we are still able to do, and for the support of our community of friends (including our customers at the farmersâ€™ markets and restaurants such as Oliveto) and neighbors. We look forward to a brighter New Year.
Last night this happened in the Oliveto kitchen:
Vocal Rush, from the Oakland School for the Arts stopped by. Theyâ€™re raising money to get to the International High School A Cappella Championship competition in Portland, later in January. Find them at facebook.com/osa-vocal-rush
Add to that the fact that we are roasting chestnuts & serving mulled cider on the sidewalk (3:ish-6:30ish every afternoon except Thursdays through Dec. 31), the appearance of eggnog ice cream on the dessert menu, and having sufficiently decked the hallsâ€¦itâ€™s beginning to look (and sound & smell & taste!) a lot like Christmas.
This Friday, December 16th will mark the 25th anniversary of Oliveto Cafe and Restaurant. More personally, we are celebrating Chef Jonahâ€™s first year as Oliveto Executive Chef. We thought weâ€™d take a moment to give you our impression on this past year.
What Chef Jonah Rhodehamel has accomplished in one year here at Oliveto doesnâ€™t seem possible. Unless you consider: Jonah is the hardest working chef weâ€™ve ever seen. Up until a few months ago (when he began taking a day off here and there), he worked seven days a week, many of them 16-hour days. And that work has been so well directed that every minute seemed productive. The focus and energy, complemented by Jonahâ€™s skill, experience, curiosity, and innate creativity, brought a clarity of purpose and direction which transformed the kitchen and menu, as well as enlivening the Oliveto CafĂ© downstairs. And those characteristics have brought a quality that is utterly essential: consistency.
Chef Jonah has the ability to be creative and fresh while meeting (or exceeding) the expectations of guests (many of whom are returning after a several-year-long absence), and at the same time keeping within the general, albeit grandiose, Oliveto philosophy of food â€śbased on the best seasonal local ingredients, cooked within the Italian idiom and Italian principles of cooking.â€ť Even for Jonah, with his considerable internal drive, and whose experience is consistent with Olivetoâ€™s demands, the job was a big one. But the results after one year have been quite remarkable. Some customers describe his cooking as â€śmore delicate.â€ť Others say the dishes sparkle with their pristine ingredients, while others feel that his cooking really gets at the essence of traditional Italian dishes such as agnolotti dal plin or walnut sformatino or vitello tonnato.
We are often perplexed and find ourselves wondering, â€śhow did he do that? How could he know that? Heâ€™s only 28 years oldâ€ť.
He continues to enlarge the Oliveto whole-animal project, maintaining and deepening relationships with sustainable ranchers, in particular with Mac Magruder of Mendocino County, who provides cattle from 26 to 30 months of age, boar, boar-domestic pig crosses, sheep, and lamb. Jonah has studiously observed what practices affect marbling, age-ability, texture, and flavor and has created a meat system around that knowledge. His unconventional approach to different cuts of meat appears frequently on the menu, as, for example, a choice among three cuts and ages of steak. He rethought the salumi-making process, improving mold casings, introducing a new proofing box for exact temperature control, making each salame type distinct and unique, and taking particular interest in cured whole cuts. (Lately heâ€™s liked his bresaola and coppa.)
He took on the job of perfecting our pastas, introducing more Community Grains whole wheat varieties and blending them for flavor and texture with conventional flours, becoming adept at making them all himselfâ€“â€“extruded and laminated, with and without egg (and with yolks only).
By phone, Jonah stays in touch with many of our farmers several times a week to discuss whatâ€™s growing best, and what the farmer anticipates peaking within the next few days or weeks. During problematic growing periods, he goes to the farmersâ€™ market himself to make selections. He introduced us to Fred Hempel of Baia Nicchia Farm in Sunol, and with two assistants fed 140 persons at Fredâ€™s Outstanding In the Field event.
Just five months after Chef Jonah began creating his kitchen and a menu that reflected his vision at Oliveto, Michael Bauer wrote a review in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled â€śOliveto: Oakland Restaurant Bounces Back.â€ť It was the first of a number of laudatory articles. Jonahâ€™s most recent review, a feature article by Stephen Buel in the latest (December 2011) Oakland Magazine, was titled â€śIn Good Hands: Get to Know Olivetoâ€™s New Chef.â€ť
Preceding that article were Diablo Magazineâ€™s Best Restaurant in the East Bay award for 2011, and an accompanying article by Susan Dowdney Safipour and Ethan Fletcher in the September 2011 edition which stated that Jonah Rhodehamel has taken Olivetoâ€™s passions and turned them into â€ścreative, cutting-edge food.â€ť
Patricia Unterman, whoâ€™s seen and experienced the whole of Olivetoâ€™s 25-year existence, titled her October 2011 piece in the San Francisco Examiner, â€śOld-World Values Cultivate Exquisite Dining at Oliveto,â€ť and returned not long after the article ran to enjoy Jonahâ€™s spit-roasted sheep, one of her husbandâ€™s favorite dishes.
Three cheers for Chef Jonah! Toot toot. Pat pat.
The panini tartufati of Procacci in Florence
Most nights at Oliveto, we offer large menus with many choices. New Yearâ€™s Eve being a rare opportunity for the Chef to put together a prix fixe menu which combines earthiness and elegance, celebration and deliciousness, and a logic to bind the meal together (perhaps evocative of a place or time). We asked Chef Jonah Rhodehamel what we should do for New Yearâ€™s Eve.
On this yearâ€™s trip to Italy, we brought back a good quantity of truly exceptional white truffles for our November truffle dinners. They were so fresh that the one or two weâ€™d saved for friends who were out of town, are still fairly pungent and healthy. Impressed by the quality of this yearâ€™s truffles, Chef Jonah decided to save some of them for our New Yearâ€™s Eve dinner by employing the best way to preserve their initial potency: he mortared them, combined them with sweet creamery butter, then froze them.
The panini tartufati of Procacci, Florenceâ€™s beautiful old food shop, are little brioche sandwiches filled with truffle butter. This became the starting point from which Chef Jonah began to devise a menu. To the panini he added risotto alla Milanese, and, of course, if youâ€™re going to serve risotto alla milanese, then youâ€™ve got to also serveÂ osso buco.
5:00 to 6:30
Panini tartufati and three courses:
$85.with wine pairings $130.
7:30 to 10:00
Panini tartufati and four courses (scallops course added)
$100.with wine pairings $155.
Phone reservations ONLY
â€¦and Chef Jonah wasted no time concocting a menu item that exemplifies everything that is fleeting (as in, we sold out with a quickness last night) & wonderful about it:
Dungeness crab salad with persimmon and chervil
Mac Magruder's sheep getting their graze on
Whole-animal-wise weâ€™re currently in transition â€“ the grass is gone, meaning beef is just about over for the season.
But starting this week, weâ€™ve got some delicious sheep on the menu from Mac Magruder. Mac got his stock from â€śan old guy across the valley. They are a Suffolk cross-breed. He didnâ€™t do anything for them, theyâ€™re organic by neglect.â€ť He lucked out though, because they turn out to be of a hardy and delicious stock.
This is the same sheep Patricia Unterman described as â€śparticularly succulent, whispering of pasture, and worth getting messy forâ€ť in her most recent San Francisco Examiner review.Â Macâ€™s sheep herd is rather small, so we were stoked to score three whole animals. This weekend the loins will be on the menuâ€¦if you need a break from turkey sandwiches.
And of course, come February, weâ€™ll be getting into pork, in a big way.
Caterina, 2011 Truffle Cleaning Crew
We arrived at Giorgioâ€™s on Saturday and got our first look at what heâ€™s recently been digging up: some beautiful specimens with nice fragrance and good weight. No ginormous ones like last year, but many in the 25 gram to 60 gram range. As always with Giorgio itâ€™s a family affair and his niece, Caterina, was on hand to help with truffle scrubbing.
Tomorrow we head to Umbria, to see & smell whatâ€™s being dug up around there.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
World-famous cookbook author and expert on French cooking Patricia Wells will be dining at Oliveto at 6:30 on Saturday, November 12, 2011, as she celebrates her latest book, Simply Truffles. A precursor to our own white truffle dinners, which will commence on November 16th and continue through the 19th, the dinner will feature several dishes inspired-by recipes from Patriciaâ€™s book. As you can see from the items listed below, the Â dishes will overlap nicely with Olivetoâ€™s Italian cooking.
Customers who wish to make an all-Wells dinner for themselves will be able do so with ease. And it will be fascinating to compare the French black truffles we will be sourcing for this event with the Italian white truffles co-owner Bob Klein will be bringing back from Italy the following week for our Truffle Dinner blowout.
We will have a supply of her book on hand should you wish to buy one and have her sign it.
Chef Jonah Rhodehamel will intersperse a number of dishes inspired-by Wellsâ€™ recipes on that nightâ€™s Ă la carte menu.
Salad of oil-poached potatoes, frisĂ©e, and black truffles
Poached truffled farm egg with Chanterelle mushrooms and black truffle zabaglione
Tajarin with black French truffles
Cannelloni of leeks, house-made ricotta, and French black truffles
Truffle-studded breast of hen with potato gratinata and Parmesan cheese
Alaskan halibut with truffled brandade and wild nettle risotto alla pilota
Please join us for a wonderful evening of fine Piemontese wines when Cristiano Garella of the historic Tenuta Sella joins us on Thursday, May 27th. Lovers of Barbaresco, Barolo, and all things Nebbiolo will not want to miss this chance to taste the fascinating expressions of the grape produced in the northern Piedmont zones of Lessona and Bramaterra. The cooler climate, higher altitude, and unique soils of these two areas all combine to create elegant, pure expressions of Nebbiolo.
Olivetoâ€™s interest with Balsamico began with Paul Bertolli in 1995. Bertolli had become skilled at starting and managing sets of barrels and was making exceptional Balsamic vinegar. After we split with Paul, the small set of barrels we owned (now 14 years old) were stored with some excellent balsamic in them, but they were not being added to or managed. Just recently, our friends at St. George/Hangar One Distillery in Alameda have offered to take them in. They have even been given their own room. Lance Winters has taken on the job and is bringing our balsamic barrels back to life. So we thought it was also a good time to bring the popular balsamic vinegar dinners back to life at Oliveto.
"The Granddaddy of Pig Feasts"
Featuring guest speakers Blaine Bookey, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) Legal Fellow and Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) Development Director and Walter Riley, prominent Civil Rights Attorney in Oakland and Chair of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund in Berkeley
New Yearâ€™s Eve is a favorite time at Oliveto. The menu is spectacular, the atmosphere is festive, lively music is played, and when the mood strikesâ€¦there is dancing. This year will be no exception. In fact, the menu is shaping up to be even more tricked out than usual, now that Chef Canales has set his sights on a meal celebrating the wintry, soul satisfying cuisine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
11/17/09 - 11/21/09
Oliveto co-owner Bob Klein travels to Italy each year to hunt for truffles with his friend Giorgio. If everything works out according to plans, he returns with beautiful, fragrant, black and white truffles and we serve up some incredible food.
At the very peak of tomato season, we celebrate some of our favorite farmers and the myriad varieties of this incredible fruit.
Though not widely reported, proposed is a policy that would dramatically change Pacific coast fishing, and could come about in a way that wipes out the fishermen we rely on and trust for their stewardship and the quality of fish they provide. In the worst case scenario, an entirely industrial model for our local seas would cost us our small boat fishermen - an unintended and avoidable consequence. This is a very important public policy question.
The small boat fishermen have been fighting this plan to exhaustion, while environmental groups are hopeful that a plan to reverse the degradation of the oceanâ€™s fisheries is near. The forum will focus on a possibly positive outcome for both parties, that takes advantage of a provision in the law for the development of something called a â€śCommunity Fishing Associationâ€ť. We hope to begin to describe what this might look like here in the Bay Area. Port Orford provides us with an idea of what a Community Fishing Association can accomplish. Weâ€™ll be looking for an outcome where fisher-men and -women can prosper and fisheries will be well managed for our future.
Essential to the Oliveto Wine in Time project is Aldo Vacca, Director of Produttori del Barbaresco. Beginning in 1998, he has helped shape our ideas about wine, introduced us to many other fine producers, found old wine for our list, been a great host and friend, and helped us acquire hours of video tape about the region. On June 25th and 26th, Chef Canales will offer a Piedmontese menu for Produttori del Barbaresco wines. Available are twelve vintages and single vineyards including a very elegant 1979 Ovello. Weâ€™ll be serving many of these wines by the glass, half-glass and taste.
And over the years, on our annual (truffle) trips to the Piedmont, we dine at Osteria Lalibera in Alba. Osteria Lalibera and Chef Marco Fornerisâ€™ food are stylish, genuine, and delicious. Marco will be giving a master class for our kitchen staff this next week, the results of which will be reflected on the menu. Weâ€™ll report to you on the details by email before the dinners.
June 10 marks the beginning of our eighth annual Oceanic Dinner event, which our trusted co-conspirator Tom Worthington of Monterey Fish Company says is looking very good for all our fishery sources (except local salmon). Our Oceanic Dinners are the most spectacular of our special events. We will serve some sixty species of sea beings and plants, all absolutely fresh, harvested sustainably, and prepared deliciously, skillfully, imaginatively, and respectfully. [Weâ€™ve been taping â€śfootageâ€ť about fisheries and fishermen, the dinners, and the fish themselves for years, and, with our new website, finally have a venue for showing that compelling material.
Of special note: Chef Paul Canales just returned from a trip to Japan, where he traveled with Japanese chefs. He got to experience Japanâ€™s two great fish markets and participate in discussions on Japanese principles and concepts of cookery. â€śThe similarities between Italian and Japanese cooking are remarkable,â€ť he says. The foods are â€śright of this moment, without scores of ingredients.â€ť It is no surprise that after Japanese food, Italian is the favorite in Japan.
Some dishes at this yearâ€™s Oceanic Dinners will incorporate those values (and Japanese fish butchery techniques), making them Italianateâ€“like black cod poached in, instead of miso broth, vinsanto sauce. â€śNot fusion, but inspiration.â€ť
De Re Coquinaria (On Cookery) is a compilation of recipes recorded by several epicureans (some named Apicius, a name associated with extreme love of food) who lived between 44 BC and 117 AD. The recipes were transcribed anonymously in the 4th century, and an "excerpt" was transcribed by Vinidarius in the 5th century. They are from the wealthy classes and create a window into the foods, cooking methods, and ingredients of Rome during the reigns of the Caesars.
Because trade was flourishing during that period, and the Roman Empire extended so far, the Romans had access to India, China, Arabia, and the West for ingredients and cooking methods. Some of the recipes can be traced to ancient Greece, Egypt, and the Orient.
Chef Paul Canales' fascination with Apicius and Roman cookery began 14 years ago when he first immersed himself in Italian food, including its history. "It was here that I first learned of lovage, garum/liquimen, verjus, and the Romans' extensive use of Eastern spices. I was struck by the importance not only of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves, but also of black pepper! It seems that black pepper was the most important and most prized of all the spices, something we take completely for granted."
For his dinners, Chef Canales will use the 1984 translation of Apicius by John Edwards, and has consulted with Sally Grainger, who co-wrote a critical edition of Apicius and has done extensive research on garum/liquimen and reproduced the sauces from historical documents.
The newly remodeled Cafe downstairs offers a large, complete menu of "la cucina povera" of Italy throughout the day and evening, with simple, savory foods inspired by regional farm and town kitchens, cafes, and bakeries, flawless espresso drinks, and a wine and liquor bar. A wood-fired oven produces pizzas all day, including breakfast pizzas. At the beginning of the day, our pastry chef offers a selection of homemade Italian sweet and savory baked items. The Cafe offers at least two breakfast panini made on our new Italian cast iron press; the full panini menu begins at 11:30 a.m. with delicious hot sandwiches of cheese, vegetables, meats, and condiments in various combinations. We offer a wide choice of our house-made salumi; our antipasti/contorni list allows the customer to assemble his/her own combination of rustic items. At dinner time, the menu expands even more with a menu of hot main course itemsâ€“beautiful fish from Monterey Fish, pasta, stews, and a vegetarian entree. And desserts and baked goods are available throughout the day. During the day and evening, we have a fine selection of wines, beers, and liquors, traditional cocktails, and digestivi and aperitifs, chosen especially to complement the food and atmosphere of the Cafe. Espresso drinks are made on our "new" 1961 Faema E61 espresso machine-the gold standard in espresso machines for quality (and beauty).
This is a simple, traditional feast. Wood boards placed in the center of each table with hot rounds of your choice of polenta: a wonderful Red Flint Corn variety from Trento, that was no longer in production in Italy, but now grown in small quantities by Anson Mill in South Carolina, and Midwestern Dent Corn milled by Giusto's of San Francisco. These are fresh, whole grain, full-flavored polentas.
La Polenta is served with simple to exalted ingredients:
Charcoal-grilled spiedino of Paine Farm pigeon and Jones Farm rabbit braised with cippolini onions and vin santo
Coda alla vaccinara: Roman-style oxtails braised with pine nuts, celery, and chocolate
Tofeja Canavese: traditional Piemontese stew of pork and fresh shelling beans
Charcoal-grilled duck and pistachio cotechino sausage with salsa di cippola
Scallopine of Sika venison with Tip Top Farm French prune plum mostarda
Served on polenta boards in the middle of each table are 'Trentino Red Flint' corn (an heirloom variety brought from Trento to the US by food historian Willilam Rubel), whole grist integrale, and a corn/farro/buckwheat mixture. The dishes were amply-sauced braises, grills, sautes, and roasts chosen to go well over the grains.
Since 1999, many staff of Oliveto, and farmers who supply us, have visited Puglia and our friends the Balestrazzis at their farm and inn. Chef Canales' menu includes some of the dishes he experienced there and in his travels around "the heel of the boot."
Risotto made perfectly, where the sauce is inseparable from the rice but not over-reduced, where the center of the rice kernel is substantial and chewy but not hard, where there is just enough butter and oil and where all the flavors meld together into one delectable unified whole, can only be achieved when the risotto is made to order from start to finish. That is the reason behind this event, where risotto is not partially cooked then held until a diner orders it (in the way restaurants must normally serve it).
The farms where Oliveto obtains its fowl were begun by Philip Paine (pigeon) and Bud Hoffman (chicken, Guinea hen, pheasant, quail, and wild turkey). (Sadly, Bud died a few years ago, but his wife Ruth and family carry on the business in the same painstaking way Bud did.) The pigeons are prized for their depth of flavor and fine texture, and considered by many to be the premier farm-raised fowl; the Hoffman chickens are plump, juicy, carefully raised. Chef Canales says that besides working with those exceptional farmers, what's really exciting about the fowl dinners is the birds' adaptability to any cooking method and to different styles of dishesâ€“from austere to baroque flavors, supporting ingredients, garnishes, sauces, and condiments.
Chef de Cuisine Paul Canales, who has been Chef de Cuisine at Oliveto for close to five years, takes over officially from Chef Paul Bertolli, who leaves to start Fra' Mani, his own artisinal salumi factory in Berkeley.
Canales is looking forward to promoting a learning environment in which cooks will meet with farmers, go on training trips to Italy, and work with one another to bring more creative ideas into the kitchen.
"Canales has a deep understanding of this," says Klein. "The restaurant is not built on one person, but on a collection of hardworking, skilled, deeply knowledgeable people who are turned on to learning every day."
As for Bertolli, Klein and Canales both recognize what an amazing teacher he's been, especially when it comes to the salumi. Oliveto will use some of Bertolli's salumi when the company gets started. Bertolli says he supports Canales as the new chef, a role he confirms Canales has already had for about five years.
Oliveto's Executive Chef Paul Bertolli publishes his second book, Cooking by Handâ€“an anthology of essays with recipes, about cooking that is real, pure, painstaking, authentic, and interwoven with the fullness of life. Recipes include Oliveto salumi, pastas, sugo, ragus, desserts, antipasti, and so on.
In a very real sense, Chef Canales says, the dinners began in conversations with the restaurant's seafood supplier, Tom Worthington of Monterey Fish Market, a wholesale outfit in San Francisco.
Worthington played an additional role at the dinner -- seafood sommelier. In many parts of Europe and around the world, a waiter escorts diners to an iced display case where they choose the exact fish they want for dinner. Bertolli not only instituted the same policy for Oliveto's Oceanic Dinners, but upped the ante by having Worthington present at the display to educate diners about the fish, also going table to table, when requested, to talk about the various fish served whole.
This year's yield of quality local olive oil and the number of very good producers have really blossomed. We've offered new-pressed olive oil on our menus in past Decembers, but we wanted to focus it a bit because of this very nice circumstance. At the same time, we thought we'd try out our e-mail list, and invite all of you who are a part of it to attend. So, Tuesday, December 11th through Saturday, December 15th, Chef Paul Bertolli will present a menu featuring the oils that he thinks are particularly fine. The dinners will feature new extra virgin olive oils just pressed from four outstanding California estates. The oils are clear examples of the differences that can manifest in blends of olive varieties from diverse soils. Oliveto will offer a tasting of all of the oils and a menu matched to their unique qualities.
Oliveto Restaurant and its Chef, Paul Bertolli, wine Best Restaurant and Chef, California, at the James Beard Awards in New York.
Chef Bertolli discusses this fascinating and complex topic in two discussions for the public: with Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, winemaker at Badia a Coltibuono in Chianti, Feb 3; and on Feb. 8 with Cesare Giaccone, chef and owner of world famous Da Cesare, and Piedmont winemakers Aldo Vacca, Renato Ratti, and Paolo Saracco. Both discussions followed by regional dinners.
An obvious solution to the burgeoning problem of bottled water, as part of our remodel we install a filtration system to provide lovely, East Bay Municipal Utilities District water free to our guests. No more water shipped long distances, recycling bottles, inflating the cost of a meal.
New wood-fired rotisserie (large enough to cook whole animals) and live-fire grill added upstairs; new wood-burning oven for pizza, wood-roasted meats, pasta al forno, added downstairs in Cafe; expanded kitchen for contorni section, greater variety of pastas, more work area; addition of spirits to alcoholic beverages; aesthetic changes include striking iron spiral railing, iron chandelier and sconces, olive wood accents, cleaner more modern and finished look; improved lighting, ventilation, and acoustics.
First of aceto balsamico dinners over several years. Chef Bertolli leads discussion with F. Renzi, cooper of balsamic vinegar barrels, Modena; and R. Bergonzini, gastronome and culinary historian. Free to public.
Drawn by the opportunity to learn under Chef Bertolli, Paul Canales, student at the Culinary Inst. of America in Hyde Park, applies to Oliveto for his externship, and is accepted. (BTW, Canales was no. 1 in his class.)
Consulting Chef Paul Bertolli moderates discussion about biodiversity, with specialists in geopolitics and sustainable farming (Martin Teitel, author of Rainforest in Your Kitchen and exec. dir. of CS Fund, and farmers Jeff Dawson, Kevin Loth, and Michael Presley). Free to public. Dinner features late-spring-harvest heirloom and open-pollinated produce.
After having presided as guest chef for several culinary events at Oliveto, and serving as consulting Chef, Paul Bertolli joins Oliveto as Executive Chef/co-owner. Paul was Executive Chef for 10 years at Chez Panisse and gained experience in Italian cooking from living and cooking in Italy. He is the author of Chez Panisse Cooking.
Oliveto's first winter seafood menus comprised five prix fixe dinners, with salads of "sea lettuce," sustainably caught fish from the Pacific and Atlantic, abalone, sea urchin, crab, lobster. Chef Bertolli was guest chef.
Hosted by science journalist Richard Hart, sustainable agricuture advocates and a UC Davis representative discuss bioengineering and the new Calgene tomato (appearing publicly for the first time).
Lecture by Maurizio Castelli, Chianti agronomist, winemaker, and consultant in northern California for Italian-variety olive oil producers; tasting of new oils. (Maurizio also presents his "SuperTuscan" wines at Oliveto Tuscan dinner.)