December 20 – January 7
The next day, Saturday, Joanna and Mary went into San Francisco for the last day of an exhibit at the de Yong Museum on Contemporary Muslim Fashions, and I bade farewell to Norm to head back to Oakland. By early afternoon Jessica, Kris and I were ready for some refreshments and drove over to the area near Jack London Square, home to numerous brew pubs, winery tasting rooms, and food options.
Our first stop was to be Tiger’s Tap Room, but they were closed for another hour, so we diverted to Federation Brewing a couple of blocks away in the same direction as Beer Revolution. This is a small storefront with Star Trek themed décor which thankfully didn’t get in the way of enjoying one of their brews.
From there we walked back to Tiger’s only to find it still closed after what should have been its opening time. A few minutes later one of the owners, Danny Gutierrez, unlocked the doors and apologized for the delay. It seems that the bar’s namesake, Tiger has passed away that day at the age of sixteen. Offering our condolences, we approached the bar to scope out the offerings and were pleasantly surprised to see an assortment of types and styles from Bay Area breweries.
As much as I like visiting breweries and their taprooms, I equally enjoy this concept, that is an establishment offering a wide selection of beers from different providers (e.g.; Beer Revolution, The Flying Saucer and Duckworth’s here in Charlotte, the Daily Pint in Santa Monica, etc.) as you likely will recognize the source of the beer itself, assured of a good quality product. The downside of some breweries is that you may not like their overall style of brewing, or the product may not be outstanding.
A taproom like Tiger’s pretty much guarantees that you’re going to find a selection, or two, that will please your palette. And sure enough, we did. I started with a Faction Brewing Belgian Tripel and while working my way through it stepped outside to get the three of us an order of Carnitas Nachos from the La Santa Torta food truck parked there.
We’d pretty much demolished the entire plate just as Joanna arrived, having taken BART over from San Francisco. I fetched her a Modern Times Black House Stout with Coconut and Cocoa while I chose the New Glory Danktronics Double IPA.
We finished up and returned to the apartment and then, later that day as hunger set in, walked over to Xolo, a tacqeuria on Telegraph that Jessica wanted to make sure I tried out given my love of crispy tacos.
Just a storefront wide, the restaurant stretches deep into the site with a second story balcony for additional seating. We stepped up to the counter and placed our orders, for me two tacos and some combination of the same and burritos for the others. Although focused on my obsession, I did notice that they have a Machaca burrito which I will have to try when we return.
Machaca is simply shredded beef cooked with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, most often found scrambled with eggs, a breakfast fit for a king when combined with refried beans and fresh tortillas. Sans eggs in a burrito, it is just as good.
I had my first introduction to it in that form back in the 1970’s when I lived in Culver City. I would frequent the Burrito King (in a former Taco Bell) on Sepulveda Blvd. before going to work on the swing shift at Wilshire Insurance, a year or so into my first real full-time job after graduating from college.
A quiet evening ensued as we spent the night watching the first couple of episodes of Game of Thrones; I can see where folks would get caught up in this series and perhaps we will at some point in the future, but for now it doesn’t seem worth subscribing to HBO just so we can watch it. Hopefully it will stream through some other source in the future.
It rained most of the day on Sunday, our last in Oakland, so much reading got accomplished. As a final treat, we’d made reservations for a nice dinner at a new spot for all of us, Shakewell on Lakeshore, about two miles away on the other side of Lake Merritt. As it was raining and a four mile round trip was a bit too far for us to walk, we drove over and luckily found a place to park right in front of the restaurant.
By now readers of the blog will guess we started with a round of cocktails, a Café y Cigarro (Rittenhouse rye, Montenegro amaro, St. George coffee liqueur, and tobacco bitters) for Kris and I, a Fairlane (habanero infused tequila, lime, coconut crème, and cucumber) for Jessica, and an East of West (uncle Val’s botanical gin, kumquat, thyme, lemon, gran classico, and aquavit) for Joanna.
Featuring cuisine from Spain and the Mediterranean, this is the type of place where you want to sample many of the small plates that are offered. We thoroughly enjoyed the Falafel with Spanish Chorizo, Mushroom toast with shallots and Ashbrook cheese), Jamón croquetas in a poblano sauce, and Roasted Cauliflower Tempura with romesco sauce that kept us occupied for the first hour or so.
We then split one of the wood oven paellas with Shrimp, Moroccan spiced braised chicken, Bomba rice, carrot, jalapeño sofrito, saffron, English peas, roasted peppers, picholine olives, bomba stock, fino sherry, and aioli. It was just the right amount of food after having worked our way through the small plates and completely delicious, reminding us of the one we made during our cooking class in Barcelona in 2017 (https://wordpress.com/post/3jmann.com/9340).
We finished with an order of Churros and one Panna Cotta, heading home with the pleasant buzz derived from good food, drinks, and company one loves. Our trip nearly done, we’d head home the next day, completing another one of the west coast jaunts that mainly includes friends, lots of food and very little sightseeing. But, with an upcoming month planned in Florida in February, we could look forward to exploring lots of new destinations. We’ll begin covering that in the next post.
Federation Brewing: https://www.federationbrewing.com/
Tiger’s Tap Room: https://www.tigerstaproom.com/
La Santa Torta: https://www.yelp.com/biz/la-santa-torta-oakland