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Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Cure For My Island Fever...


It has been two weeks since I got off the Island, the Big Island, that is. I have definitely been up to my old ways. Like a Sunday brunch at Boulettes Larder or Bar Tartine. Daily visits to Sight Glass, Cento, Four Barrel, Blue Bottle and Ritual. Well, not all of them in the same day, of course. And for some reason, with all this rainy weather, I have this daily craving for beer. So, it is not surprising to find me at 21st Amendment for Happy Hour or Pi having a slice and a draft. But enough about places you have heard me rave about over and over...Oh, but I do have to admit, I have visited my lil' hood of great sandos, coffee and ice cream at least four times since Hawaii. And of course, I am talking about my Pal's at Pal's Take-Away, my baristas at Dynamo Donuts and my buddy Jake at Humphrey Slocombe. But my latest find, and believe me, I have been waiting a year for this, is Hibiscus in Oakland. My good friend and head chef Sarah Kirnon landed here shortly after departing The Front Porch last February. Located inches from 19th BART Station, Hibiscus is on San Pablo Ave at 17th. From the moment I walked into the place, I felt the groove. This decor is comfortable but stunning. The bar looks great and the dining room just seduces you to sit and enjoy the Bajan flavors coming outta the kitchen. And so the kitchen brought out Black Eye Pea Fritters with house made Tamarind Sauce. Sarah is the absolute best fritter fryer around. I say this because, I think I still am working off her legendary Salt Cod Fritters she used to make at da' Porch. And these fritters that came out upon our arrival were not even listed on the evening's menu. They were quite special and very yummy. I also got to nosh on some Pickled Okra as I ordered a cocktail. Paul joined me that night, so it made it easy to try a few things. We shared the Oakland Bistro Salad, which is, Star Route frisee, deep fried oysters, house-cured bacon (OMG), hen egg and pickled okra. Yeah, that about, says it all...I was in love again, with Sarah, of course. The salad also came out with these absolutely fabulous, garlic oil dripping, Twice-Fried Plantains. And I was crippled. I mean, I sunk into my seat and just moaned for a minute. It was a necessity to try 2010's updated version of Miss Ollies Fried Chicken, now made in the City of Oakland. Sarah, like Apple, upgraded and enhanced an already flawless product. I know Miss Ollie is proud of her gran daughter. Her hot sauce recipe has been bottled up and comes along the side of the table as well. And, if you get to know Sarah, she may even let you buy some of her sauce for private home use. Let's just say, "a little, goes a long way." Back to the chicken...I was floored with the mash and couldn't figure out the veg until I looked back at the menu. Boniato sweet potato mash, giblet gravy, market vegetables...Whoa, me! And this was Paul's dish, by the way. I ordered the molasses & Creole mustard brined Berkshire Pork Chop with chocolate red beans, sauteed kale and romanesco. It was the biggest and baddest chop I think I have ever ordered. And by baddest, I mean, the best. Cooked to perfection, full of meat, need I say more? Of course, another gift from the kitchen accompanied our MAINS. The greens were rabe and beet tops and they were buttery goodness. After a couple whiskeys, we needed to trek to the Warrior/Nugget game down the block. But you know I couldn't leave without a little dessert. Me and Paul settled on Buttermilk Panna Cotta with pickled pineapple guava and I had a Roast Coffee Co. Mocha to pep things up. The Cotta was soft and luscious and the pickled pineapple guava was pure amazement. I'm jus' sayin! We ended the experience with a tour of the New Parrish which is the connecting nightclub. I got to meet the owner Michael. He was a gracious tour guide and I was pretty psyched to see another venue that I am sure I will be visiting for many upcoming bookings. It has been renovated, but only slightly. You still get that ole skool feel. It looks pretty awesome!!

So, it was 53-53, and the beginning of the 3rd period, by the time we arrived in our seats at Oracle Arena. But the game went into overtime and we were beaming from our delightful eatz and treatz from Hibiscus, a very chic new Oaktown Spot.

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