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Diablo Dish: October

Texas-style barbecue takes over where Bo’s left off in Lafayette; the Tri-Valley gets a cheese truck.


Cheese Therapy

A handful of new restaurants has fired up an East Bay dining scene that keeps getting more and more delicious. For Nantucket-style dining, breeze into Lafayette’s American Kitchen, which officially opened in early September on Lafayette Circle, across from Chow. From the restored farmhouse’s sea-blue clapboard and beachy decor—much of it furnished by Lafayette’s talented Farmyard Darlings—to the exciting comfort food (not an oxymoron), American Kitchen looks to make a tsunami-sized splash in Lafayette. Restaurant veteran and co-owner Victor Ivry and executive chef/co-owner Alan Rivera of The Shack Group are serving up farm– and-sea-to-table items such as gaucho steak salad with pepitas; Fish Ranch tuna on toast with lemon, capers, and fennel slaw; and charred kale and farro superfood salad.

Also in late summer, seasoned Bay Area restaurateurs Rick Hackett and Meredith Melville opened Jack’s Oyster Bar and Fish House barnacle close to their flagship restaurant, Bocanova, in Oakland’s Jack London Square. Executive chef Pedro Villegas is busy churning out amazing seafood, from peel-and-eat shrimp to hot lobster rolls and more. With two long community tables overlooking the waterfront, the restaurant is an ideal spot for outdoor dining.

Additionally, a new barbecue restaurant is slated to open this month in the former Bo’s Barbecue location in Lafayette. Moraga resident Dave Roberson of Bonehead’s Texas BBQ plans to serve Texas-style dry-rub barbecue accom-panied by craft brews and East Bay wines.

In a new twist on the food truck trend, two Livermore residents are taking their love for cheese on the road, with the Cheese Therapy truck. Denise Creek Garcia (longtime Livermore chef, recently of Sanctuary Ultra Lounge) and Teri Tith Concannon (past hospitality coordinator at the Bankhead Theater) are committed fromage-ophiles who will operate Cheese Therapy at park-and-serve locations in Livermore and for private events.  

Why the therapy thing? “Cheese makes people smile, literally,” says Garcia. “Milk proteins have caseins, and these caseins are a natural chemical that has been shown to produce an endorphin like effect when consumed.” Don’t miss a chance to ease your toothpick into some of this.

Speaking of cheese, the people at Berkeley’s Cheese Board Collective recently opened a “parklet” in front of the landmark cheese and pizza shop. A park-what? A parklet is a former parking space fenced off for dining. The space is actually in the street. You can check it out in Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto,” and you don’t even need to bring quarters.

Wine harvest report: Due to hot, dry weather, the early 2014 grape harvest may produce outstanding wines. With reduced precipitation, yields may be lower, but quality is often up.

“There is usually an inverse correlation between quality and yield,” says Dave Parker of Lamorinda Vintners’ Parkmon Vineyards. “When vines struggle to survive, the energy goes into the fruit, and flavors are often improved.” Look for excellent quality (but perhaps increased prices) in the 2014 vintage.

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