Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Thanks, Charlie

My mother once gave me a cookbook for Christmas, and the inscription inside read, "to a lifetime of good food and its community." Working in the food business is hard. You're cooking when most people are eating, spending weekends, nights, holidays on your feet and behind the stove. You miss a lot. It's no wonder they call the meal served to staff before their shift family meal--most cooks see more of their saute pans then they do of their loved ones. So it's only natural, necessary, even, that you build a community into your work. And a community of food loving coworkers cum friends is the best kind. Restaurants are all about hospitality--you're in the business to make folks happy, and your friends are the lucky benefactors of this spirit of generosity.

All of this build-up to say: I had a great dinner last night. I accompanied some good friends to the newly opened restaurant of their good friend, Charlie Hallowell. They're all Chez Panisse alums (a community with a fine pedigree, no less) and Charlie's new spot, Pizzaiolo, on Telegraph in Oakland, California, is just the greatest.

Maybe it's the warm wooden booths and tables, the communal table in the back room, with photos of his two children on the wall, the exposed brick and the buoyant, happy feel that the room has. Well, it's probably the food. Long cooked romano beans with an anchovy vinaigrette, a crisp toast slathered with aioli and topped with little cherry tomatoes, manila clams with chickpeas in a perfect broth--and pizzas, with buffalo mozzarella, broccoli rabe, sausage, and toasted crust, salty enough, with little blackened spots. It's affordable and wonderful, with a nice wine list and good desserts. All of which means that it feels comfortable and good, and I'll have to come back often. Thanks, Charlie.

You can check out pizzaiolo's menu at www.pizzaiolo.us

3 comments:

Selina said...

Interested in Cooking? Need a new recipe for Thanksgiving or an unusual present for Christmas for the cook that has it all? Let me tell you about a cookbook that is older than you and me together, but still has more value that most cookbooks that are out on the marke these days. It is called America Cookery. It is the first cookbook of American authorship to be printed in the United States. Numerous recipes that adapt traditional dishes by substituting native American ingredients such as corn meal and squash are printed here for the first time, including "Indian Slapjack," "Johny Cake," and "Squash Pudding." Simmons's "Pompkin Pudding," baked in a crust, is the basis for the classic American pumpkin pie. It is awesome. I bought it and y family and friends loved and envied the sudden knowledge that I displayed and the tasty treats that I was able to make with this treasure. Thank you to the person who made it available for immediate download. Happy holidays from Selina and family.

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