Book discussion with Maria Speck, author of Simply Ancient Grains

Simply Ancient Grains cover

From black rice to red quinoa to golden Kamut berries, ancient grains are becoming ever more abundant and easy to procure. In Simply Ancient Grains, cooking with these fascinating and nourishing staples is made easy and accessible by veteran food writer and journalist Maria Speck. Maria’s first cookbook, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, won multiple awards, among them the coveted Julia Child Award, and was named a top cookbook by both The New York Times and the Washington Post. Maria has also been featured in the upcoming documentary The Grain Divide, starring Dan Barber, Chad Robertson, and Michael Pollan among others.

Maria will be reading from her book and discussing the varied and intriguing world of ancient grains in the Siena Room. A book signing will follow.

Oliveto Restaurant & Café
Saturday, May 30, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Oakland, CA




By |May 20th, 2015|Commons Past Events|0 Comments

Stephen Yafa, author of Grain of Truth, with Craig Ponsford of Ponsford’s Place

GrainofTruth Final Cover - 200x300



In his latest book, Grain of Truth, investigative journalist and award-winning screenwriter Stephen Yafa gives us back our daily bread. At a time when gluten is being denounced as the new asbestos, he sets out to separate truth from fiction. He discovers scientific evidence that mass-production processing methods and monoculture are the culprit, not the inherent genetic make-up of wheat itself. But there’s much more to the story. Artisan whole wheat impresarios like Craig Ponsford form an expanding national movement made up of young, enthusiastic stone-ground millers, growers and renegade bakers who are re-introducing strains of wheat with distinct flavorful personalities and proven health benefits. Their baked goods are probiotic; they break down bulky gluten molecules, provide vital nutrition and fiber, and above all, they’re delicious. But don’t take our word for it. Craig will provide ample samples of the masterworks that he bakes at Ponsford’s Place in San Rafael and talk about why he converted from white to 100 percent whole wheat flour. In addition, Yafa lets us in on a discovery that may change your life — there is in fact a perfect solution for non-celiac gluten-sensitive bread lovers, after all.

Yafa will be discussing his book together with baker Craig Ponsford. Copies of the book will be available; a book signing and sample tasting will follow.

Oliveto Restaurant & Café
Saturday, June 6, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Oakland, CA




By |May 20th, 2015|Commons Past Events|0 Comments

Real Food Real Stories Picnic with The Local Butcher Shop


We are excited to host Real Food Real Stories and Aaron and Monica Rocchino of The Local Butcher Shop, a high-quality, sustainable whole animal butchery in Berkeley, CA.Aaron and Monica met at Oliveto, and we’re enormously proud of them and consider them part of our family. They will share with you stories of their journey and why they dedicate their lives in this challenging and important work. The Local Butcher Shop sources pasture-raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free meats from local farmers and ranchers located within 150 miles of the Berkeley shop.

Real Food Real Stories creates storytelling gatherings in the Bay Area — the group works to empower the sustainable food movement by facilitating an intimate connection with food changemakers.


A delicious, rustic brunch will be prepared, using meat from The Local Butcher Shop and grains from Community Grains. Come eat,  commune, and hear The Local Butcher Shop’s authentic story.

$30 per person
Saturday, June 20, 2015 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Oliveto Restaurant & Café
Oakland, CA


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Wine Offerings for Provençal Dinners, May 19th and 20th


Our good fortune is your good fortune.

Our most recently acquired stash of French wines from the 80’s and 90’s has revealed a number of delights, and we’re eager to share them with you at our upcoming Provençal Dinners on May 19th and 20th.

We have a handful of wines to offer:

1979 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Mourvèdre, “Speciale La Migoua”
*1987 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre, “Speciale La Louffe”
1988 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Mourvèdre, “Cabassaou”
1989 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Cinsault-Grenache-Mourvèdre, “La Tourtine”
*1989 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Mourvèdre, “Cabassaou”

All bottles are priced at $100, and those labeled with asterisks above are available by the glass ($20) and half glass ($10) as well. It should be an interesting event, as all of these have held up quite well over time, though there may be some uncustomary variation from bottle to bottle.

We hope to share these with you Tuesday and Wednesday for our prix-fixe menu from the classic Richard Olney cookbook, Lulu’s Provencal TableVisit our website for details on this simple, delicious late spring menu.

By |May 18th, 2015|Coming up..., Uncategorized, Wine Events|0 Comments

This Just In: Summer Truffles


Beginning this Friday and through the weekend: antipasto of roasted shaved Porcini with black summer truffles (aestivum). It should be fantastic!

By |May 14th, 2015|Coming up..., This Just In|0 Comments

Opening Our Treasure Trove of Bandols



For many a bébé boomer, Provence’s Domaine Tempier, and Lulu and Lucien Peyraud, opened a door to what food should be: full-flavored, true, beautiful, not fussy, seasonal, and full of life.

We were shown a way. Preparing for next week’s dinners and the release of our little treasure trove of old Tempier red Bandols, we’ve been going through a tasting of bottles from select vintages. It’s been an honor and an adventure.

We’ve tasted many extraordinary bottles and a few “interesting” ones-the lesser ones having aged, alas, for too long, or some in which Brett yeast cells have run amok. Unfortunately, there’s little accurate information on what to expect as each vintage ages-even from the experts at Kermit Lynch. We’re rather enjoying performing the task of looking into each to determine the effects of time. (We must keep in mind that bottles might even vary within each vintage, creating yet another problem in making them available to you.) But we know we will be offering many spectacular aged Tempier Bandols at good prices, along with some merely good ones. Yesterday, we opened a ’79 and last rites were performed; then, an ’87, and it blew us away, and today it is still very much alive, with interesting character.

Here’s what we are working with.

1979 Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1981 Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1982 Bandol Cuvée Speciale, Domaine Tempier
1982 Cinsaut-Grenache-Mourvédre, “La Tourtine,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1985 Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1985 Cinsaut-Grenache-Mourvédre, “La Tourtine,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1987 Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1988 Grenache-Syrah-Mouvédre, “Speciale La Louffe,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1988 Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1989 Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1989 Cinsaut-Grenache-Mourvédre, “La Tourtine,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1989 Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1999 Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée


View our special Provençal menus for May 19th and 20th here.


This Just In: Exceptional House-cured Meats


We’re in salumi production pretty much all year long, gearing up particularly for Whole Hog Dinners in February. But the meats don’t become perfect in a steady stream. Sometimes many are ready in a mild eruption — an embarrassment of riches between dry spells.

Cured meats are the very best way to taste the quality of the pig, and we have salumi from two very fine breeds. From Front Porch Farm, we have their Cinta: culatello, coppa, and pancetta, all from great whole muscles. Culatello is the small muscle at the rear of the leg and is considered the king of cured meats.

And, though Mac Magruder has stopped hog production, we have a variety of salumi from his amazing stock as well. They’ll be on the menu beginning Wednesday, and into the following week.

By |May 11th, 2015|Coming up..., Magruder Ranch, This Just In|0 Comments

This Just In: Local Salmon and White Asparagus



Our salmon crudo this week hits all parts of the palate. Our salmon right now is top notch — luscious with a vivid pink hue from having fed on a healthy fishery of krill. We’re using white asparagus purée to accompany, early peaches, a touch of spice with pimentón, and piccolo fino basil for a sweet, herbaceous note. It’s been absolutely fantastic.

By |May 7th, 2015|Coming up..., This Just In|0 Comments

A Trip to the Cheesemonger



We went to one of our favorite cheesemongers, the Cheeseboard in Berkeley, in anticipation of our upcoming Provencal Dinners on May 19th and 20th. We love the Cheeseboard for its continuing passion, personal attention, and the sheer variety of cheeses it sells.

Erin Fox, our guide – and former Oliveto cook – shared with us a bounty of goat cheese. Nocetto di capra was gooey, with a long finish. The ash-covered Besace du Berger was sterling — soft in the middle and velvety on the tongue. The quadra di capra was something like a goatsmilk Taleggio — pungent, mushroomy, and yeasty.


Erin shows us an example of a mold-ripened cheese, which demonstrates its age through noticing the gradation of texture from its crusty outside to its creamier middle. This one is ready.

We were particularly excited about Pantaleo, a firm goat cheese from Sardinia – it’s mild, nutty, and savory, with plenty of citrus notes, and dissolves into fine crumbles in the mouth.

While we are still deciding what cheeses to use, we’re getting very excited about our Provencal Dinners and the aged French wines we will be sharing alongside. Our menu will come directly from the classic cookbook, Richard Olney’s paean to Lulu Peyraud and Domaine Tempier,Lulu’s Provencal Table. 

By |May 6th, 2015|2015, Happened already...|0 Comments

This Just In: Cherries!



Bing cherries, fresh from the farmers’ market, are here, and they’re scrumptious! Pastry chef Yakira Batres plans to soak them in St. George’s Spirits kirsch and pile them on zabaglione this week.

By |May 5th, 2015|Coming up..., This Just In|0 Comments