Saturday night we went to Women of Taste, a benefit for Girls Inc., a San Leandro based charity that works to strengthen girls’ abilities and confidence. We went for the first time last year, and had a fabulous time. We were both eager to go again.
Just like last year, the way it works is that there are dozens of food and drink stations – you go from one to one picking up a bite of food or dessert, or a tasting of wine. Food is offered by caterers and restaurants (originally it was supposed to be women owned, but I guess that didn’t go too far) and wine is offered by wineries – there is a couple of places giving out heaver things as well.
There are dozens of things to taste, and I only made brief notes of the ones we hit first, most of which were very good.
The food was particularly good this year, though there were too few places serving actual food vis a vis desserts. We all enjoyed a BBQ pork mini sandwich from Brown Sugar Kitchen, a new “down home” restaurant in West Oakland. It’s a lunch spot, and I’d love to go and try their ribs. Zza, a restaurant which I have reviewed before, had a very nice flat bread with mushrooms. Our local Paradiso, which I also have reviewed before, served the most substantial meal of the evening, a piece of chicken in some type of wine sauce with a side of pasta. I didn’t think the two of them went that well together – but the sauce was very good. In any event, I was very happy to see them there.
Some of the best food was provided by caterers. Pacific Fine and Food Catering, based in Alameda Point, had a great flat bread covered with yummy things, the only one I can remember is pear, but there was probably some prosciutto there as well. In any case yummy, I’d use them if I ever had a need to use a caterer. Stella Nonna offers box and buffet lunches throughout the Bay Area. They were serving the most delicious little sandwiches. Sooo yummy. They are in Berkeley, but lord I’d use them in a second if I could. Miraglia Catering caters everything from weddings to business events and is based in San Leandro, which gives it points in my book. They served cheese tortellini in a porcini sauce which was very good, but nothing particularly outstanding. Safe food that everyone would like. I wasn’t as thrilled by the chicken mole presented by Picante Catering. I thought the flavor was too mild and lack complexity. Other people around us named it the best mole they’d ever had – and I will admit that my mole experience is limited.
Probably the real winner of the evening for me, however, was the corn soup served by Oakland’s Savoy Events. It was refreshing but full of flavor, featuring corn, coconut milk, lemongrass and cilantro. I’m not a soup person, but this was yummy.
Desserts were generally good. My favorite was an olive oil cake with a lemon frosting provided by Fifth Floor, it melted in your mouth and had an intense flavor. I’m now determined to make an olive oil cake 🙂 The little cake bites from Eat My Love For You were pretty good as well, specially if they indeed were vegan. They tasted very fresh – the mocha one was particularly flavorful. Bridges, a restaurant in Danville, had a wonderful vanilla/white cake that also melted in your mouth. I can’t see going to Danville for dinner myself, but if you are in the area you may want to give them a try – their pastry chef must be great. The chocolate frosted bite from Indie Cakes was more prosaic, but the cakes they make look beautiful in their website. I was particularly disappointed, however, by a very blah chocolate cookie from Cafe Clem. They also had a frosted cupcake which I managed to drop before I could eat it, however.
Three places were serving ice cream. Fenton’s, of course, was great. We usually have its ice cream at the Ice Creamery in Castro Valley, as Fenton’s is so busy, but I think it’s time we pay it another visit. The berry covered vanilla ice cream from Digs Bistro in Berkeley was also pretty nice, though I was upset that their card is black so I couldn’t write any notes 🙂 It was a very generous portion and I enjoyed it. It’s too bad that Digs Bistro didn’t provide a bit of actual food, however, as I hadn’t heard of the place before. Looking at their website, I see that they offer a Parents Night Out on the first Monday of the Month, which includes supervised activities for children in a separate dining room, so I do think I will give it a try!
Finally we had some Ciao Bella gelato, available at Whole Foodish sort of places. I had the maple gingerbread snaps and it was very refreshing. Mike had something with a milder flavor.
There was a lot of wine to drink that evening, and it’s surprising I didn’t get more drunk. I was first sold by a cabernet from J. Lohr, alas, I don’t know which one it was. Soujourn Cellars had a very cabby cab, with a medium body and nice tannins. I enjoyed it. Mike also liked their pinot noir. I also liked the cabernet sauvignon from Retzlaff, it also had a medium body and light tannins, was nice and easy to drink. I was less impressed by a Pinot Noir from Bink, which tasted empty but had a nice finish. The cabernet franc from Cinnabar in Saratoga was just like other cab francs, light in body. The real winner of the evening, however, was the Orange Muscat from Quady Winery. It had the right amount of sugars, it was almost bubbly and just delicious. And you can get it for just $10 at BevMo! Time to get a bottle.
There was more to eat and drink that evening. I remember a nice goat cheese & fig appetizer, something with salmon and something with shrimp, and several other sweet bites. Mike had some excellent Absinthe from some Vodka company in Sonoma and I liked their pear liqueur. Someone was serving some “grown up” sodas, also available at Whole Foods and the like, which were refreshing and less sweet than the usual stuff. There was some rum, oyster shooters from Fifth Floor and some artichoke thing from another restaurant which we didn’t try (we don’t like either). In all, quite a lot of stuff.
We had a marvelous time, of course, and I look forward to next year’s.
Ravenswood had a nice no-release Chardonnay, which was fruity but not very sweet. I don’t know what the point of serving something you can’t buy is, however 🙂