Grocery store workers in Berkeley, like Kristen and Dee at Franklin Brothers Market, are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Food and agriculture workers in Alameda County are also eligible. Photo: Pete Rosos

Alameda County food workers now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines

Berkeley grocery store and convenience store workers are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. On Monday, the city of Berkeley announced it was expanding eligibility for these workers, along with in-person educators and childcare workers, to make appointments at the Curative vaccination site in Albany. By Tuesday, all available appointment slots had been filled, but the city said more appointments could become available due to cancellations or added supplies.

Meanwhile, food and agriculture workers (including restaurant workers) in Alameda County are eligible to schedule vaccine appointments at the newly opened Oakland Coliseum vaccination site through the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 vaccination website.

Cheese Board is now open on Sundays

The wooden hanging sign at the Cheese Board in Berkeley.
The Cheese Board recently expanded its hours at its bakery and cheese shop. Photo: rocor/Flickr

Earlier this month, North Berkeley’s Cheese Board expanded hours at its bakery and cheese store, which is now open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Along with a usual bounty of baked goods, Sunday Cheese Board shoppers will find bakery exclusives, like fruit turnovers, blueberry streusel coffee cake and plain whole wheat bread loaves. Note that the new Sunday hours are for the bakery and cheese store only; the pizzeria’s current hours are 5-8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The pizzeria is still only serving hot whole and half pies (no slices yet — they’ll return “when this is all over”) and salad, but the bakery does offer parbaked pizzas every day that it’s open. The collective told Nosh it added the Sunday hours “to help ease the traffic from other days,” which would minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The expansion into the former Produce Center is also currently on hiatus, due to limited staffing.

While we’re talking Cheese Board, we wanted to give a shoutout to Cathy Goldsmith, who was a Cheese Board member for the past 26 years and the collective’s community liaison. Goldsmith retired on Dec. 31, and she told Nosh that it has been a bittersweet departure. “The hardest thing about the pandemic and about leaving the Cheese Board is the loss of community. I miss my co-workers, friends and customers,” Goldsmith shared in an email. “I took for granted the carefree nature of a Cheese Board social life. When the pandemic is over I am confident that the Cheese Board will resume its role as a place for people to meet, laugh and enjoy good food. Meanwhile, I am reading, swimming and baking bread at home.” We always appreciated being able to reach out to Goldsmith whenever we had a Cheese Board question. Thanks for your years of service, Cathy; we wish you a happy retirement! Collective member Ambri Pukhraj is the Cheese Board’s new community liaison. The Cheese Board, 1504 and 1512 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine), Berkeley

Kinja opens spin-off across the street from its fire-damaged restaurant

Los Kinjas Fusion Eatery in Oakland. Photo: Jeff Hester
Los Kinjas Fusion Eatery in Oakland. Photo: Jeff Hester

Last April, a fire broke out at Kinja, closing the Japanese restaurant in Oakland’s Adams Point neighborhood. The location at 357 Grand Ave. still remains shuttered, but Nosh reader Jeff Hester alerted us that the folks at Kinja have opened a spin-off takeout restaurant across the street. Called Los Kinjas Fusion Eatery, it opened on Feb. 12 in the space formerly occupied by Korean quick-service restaurant, Dosirak Shop.

Kinja, which also has a location in Concord, announced its new restaurant on Instagram, explaining: “We couldn’t get our previous location rebuilt fast enough so we took over another location so we can get back to serving our beloved community.” While the eatery’s name suggests its menu might offer more culinary mash-ups — perhaps more specialty sushi rolls that cross cultural boundaries, like Kinja’s Los Cantaros roll, named after its neighboring taqueria, featuring mango, lime juice, tomatoes and cilantro along with shrimp tempura, crab and avocado — for now, Los Kinjas is serving a pared-down version of Kinja’s regular menu. The restaurant told Nosh that Los Kinjas will introduce its fusion menu once the original location reopens. Los Kinjas Fusion Eatery is open for takeout from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., daily, with plans to offer third-party delivery in the near future. Call 510-350-8085 or order online for pickup. Los Kinjas Fusion Eatery, 366 A Grand Ave., Oakland

Gather’s greenhouse is now open for outdoor dining

The greenhouse at Gather in Berkeley. Photo: Gather
Gather’s greenhouse space is an open-walled dining area. Photo: Gather

In October, Nosh contributor Alix Wall wrote about Gather’s relaunch. In the midst of the pandemic, after 10 years of being a “special occasion” destination, the downtown Berkeley farm-to-table restaurant pivoted with the aim to be more inclusive. It changed its menu, lowered its prices and now offers pantry staples. But one of Gather’s changes was not yet completed at the time we published our story — its greenhouse patio space was still in the works. Owner Eric Fenster told Nosh he hoped to eventually host community events, when allowed and safe, in the greenhouse, but in the meantime, it would be the restaurant’s cozy, COVID-safe outdoor dining area.

On Feb. 10, Gather debuted the greenhouse. The open-walled structure can safely seat up to 34 guests at several tables spaced 6-feet apart. Guests can choose to order via QR code with their smartphones, but roving team members are around to help with orders and run food. Radiant heaters, artwork, a pond with a waterfall and plenty of plants give the space an indoor-outdoor look and feel. According to Fenster, diners are digging the Greenhouse, especially during the recent chilly and wet weather. Gather Kitchen, Bar & Market, 2200 Oxford St. (at Allston Way), Berkeley

Ok’s Deli pop-up at Fish & Bird

Ok's Deli's Spam Mi sandwich. Photo: Sarah Han
Ok’s Deli’s Spam Mi sandwich features housemade Spam, marinated carrot and daikon, cucumbers, cilantro and mayo on a baguette. Photo: Sarah Han

Ok’s Deli, a sandwich pop-up from Oakland-based chef Albert Ok is offering three Asian-inspired sandwiches at Fish & Bird this month. There’s the Spam Mi ($12), Ok’s take on a Vietnamese sandwich, featuring thick-cut housemade Spam with all the regular banh mi fixings on a crusty baguette; the Kalbi Ssam-wich ($16), a Korean-ish marinated braised and smashed short rib “patty” with cucumber kimchi on a steamed-then-seared brioche bun; and the Konbini Egg and Potato Salad ($8), a Japanese-style egg-potato salad on pan de mie. While the Kalbi Ssam-wich sells out quickly, we can attest that Ok’s Spam Mi was worth trying — even if you don’t have a soft spot for the porky canned meat product like we do, you might like Ok’s version, which is more like sausage, with a similar texture and less processed flavor. New this week, Ok’s is offering a dessert — green tea tiramisu parfait ($7). Order online for pickup from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday and Friday. If you miss this week’s pop-up, check Instagram for next week’s schedule and future appearances. Ok’s Deli at Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya, 2451 Shattuck Ave. (at Haste Street), Berkeley

Chef Tu David Phu honors his ‘Bloodline’

Chef Tu David Phu. Film still from "Bloodline." Photo: First Kitchen Media
Chef Tu David Phu explores how his family’s heritage and refugee experience shaped him as a chef in the short documentary film “Bloodline.” Photo: First Kitchen Media

While local food fans know Oakland chef Tu David Phu for his Vietnamese pop-ups and his appearance as a competitor on season 15 of “Top Chef,” some might not know much more about him and how he got into cooking. For those who love a good backstory, you’ll want to check out “Bloodline,” a short documentary film about Phu directed by James Q. Chan and Santhosh Daniel for PBS. The film poignantly reflects Phu’s strong connection to his family, Vietnamese refugees from Phú Quốc, a fishing community, who eventually landed in Oakland, where Phu grew up. His culture, and especially his family’s war and relocation experience, have been formative in shaping the young chef — from his understanding of flavors and ingredients he learned from his mother, to his appreciation of making something delicious from the “scraps” that other chefs were taught to throw away. Watch the film online at KQED.

Limewood’s cannabis pairing dinners

Lamb Loin with endive, citrus, smoked belly ragout and sorrel is one of the four courses Limewood chef Joseph Paire offers for the first Enlightened Dinner Series on March 5, 2021. Photo: Limewood Bar and Restaurant
Lamb loin with endive, citrus, smoked belly ragout and sorrel, one of the four courses that Limewood chef Joseph Paire will prepare for the first Enlightened Dinner Series on March 5. Photo: Limewood Bar and Restaurant

Limewood Bar and Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa is partnering with Berkeley’s Apothecarium dispensary and Cultivating Spirits, a culinary cannabis events producer, for its Enlightened Dinner Series, a four-course food-and-weed pairing experience that participants enjoy at home. The first event takes place March 5, with a menu from Limewood’s chef Joseph Paire featuring hemp honey gougeres, a salad with herb goddess dressing, lamb loin with smoked belly ragout, and a chocolate bar with fermented banana, salted caramel and ganache. The prepared meal serves two ($150); participants will pick it up at the Carriage Entrance of the Claremont hotel and purchase cannabis selections (sold separately, $34-$36 for two grams or $110-$116 for two eighths) at the Apothecarium on the day of the meal. At 6 p.m., diners will join a Zoom call with chef Paire and Cultivating Spirits founder Philip Wolf. Paire will give guests the rundown on the meal, including heating and plating instructions, while Wolf will discuss “smoking notes” of the two chosen strains. It promises to be a whole new high-end dining experience. Limewood Bar & Restaurant at The Claremont Club & Spa, 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley; The Apothecarium, 2312 Telegraph Ave. (between Durant Avenue and Bancroft Way), Berkeley   

East Brother Beer Company turns 4

East Brother taproom
East Brother celebrates its fourth anniversary on Feb. 21. Photo: East Brother

Richmond’s East Brother Beer Company turns four this month, and on Feb. 21, it’ll get some help from Grammy-nominated Zydeco artist Andre Thierry to celebrate the milestone. The Richmond-born accordionist will perform live outdoors, where East Brother guests can enjoy beers on tap and taqueria eats from La Santa Torta from noon to 7 p.m. Reservations for patio dining are required; tables are reserved for a block of two hours.  If you’d rather celebrate from home, order beer and food for curbside pickup, but sadly, Andre Thierry cannot be taken to-go. East Brother Beer Company, 1001 Canal Blvd. (near Wharf Street), Richmond

Madam Vice President coffee

Hive the Place to Bee, the women-owned Oakland coffee roastery and cafe, has a new blend it’s calling Madam Vice President in honor of Oakland-born, Berkeley-raised Vice President Kamala Harris. The blend combines India Arabidecool Estate beans, shade-grown in the Ghats mountains, and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans, which according to Hive is “one of the best and rarest coffee beans in the world.” Madam Vice President is a medium roast and Hive the Place to Bee sells it online for $21 a bag.

This isn’t the first local food producer to name a product in honor of VP Harris. San Leandro’s Koolfi makes a Kamala Blossom lotus seed, rose water and pistachio ice cream flavor, and Smitten Ice Cream’s MVP is a frozen delight made with malted salted vanilla ice cream and pralines.

Sarah Han is Senior Editor, Food for Oaklandside and Berkeleyside. She has worked as an editor at The Bold Italic, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Read more stories by Sarah Han on Berkeleyside.