I love bread. I love cookies. I love to bake. I admire anyone who has taken these same loves and kneaded them into a career that combines their own passion for flour and sugar with a business that brings fulfillment to not only themselves, but to the community around them. Matt Kreutz and Colleen Orlando have created this version of the American dream with Firebrand Artisan Breads. A wholesale brick oven bread bakery that has grown at an alarming rate in seven years, now encompassing a retail location in The Hive Complex on Broadway’s Auto Row in the Uptown neighborhood of Oakland.
When I was a little girl, I begged my mom to take me to the restaurant in the bright pink house covered with whimsical hearts and smiling gingerbread men. Little did I know that menu items such as squab cassoulet, jambalaya, and sautéed quail were what awaited me at T.J.’s Gingerbread House. I made do with endless refills of lemonade; simply happy to be inside the pink oasis, self-described as “a fairytale come true”. While the pink exterior is long gone, this well known corner on the edge of West Oakland is bringing the fairytale back in the sweet form of cupcakes, Angel Cakes to be exact.
There is something nostalgic about a cafe tucked into the back corner of a local market. It feels reminiscent of times when the local general store offered a lunch counter to stop and enjoy a quick bite, or a fountain shop to grab a scoop or two. Grocery shopping used to be less of a chore, but part of a daily routine; taking time to grab ingredients for the evening meal, saying hello to neighbors, stopping for a cup of coffee. So many cultures around the world still treat shopping this way. I think of grocery shopping as a tedious task I try to get through as fast as I can. As our culture sees a shift towards local, sustainable, organic, and small producers, a secondary movement is taking hold, reviving the corner market in an refreshing way. Just across the historic Leimert Bridge in the Oakmore Neighborhood of Oakland, Rocky’s Market is a great example of this shift; and just past the produce aisle, Two Local Girls is a wonderful and inviting addition.
Classic & Kitsch. A dichotomy of words that I think defines the wonderful nature of this a once-a-year event that draws crowds in search of treasures to fill their homes and make their hearts smile. The White Elephant Sale Preview was held this past weekend on the chilly final day of January. A friend and I joined the long, winding line outside the warehouse in the Jingletown District of Oakland; huddled against the wind, drinking coffee, sharing a bagel, and taking advantage of the time to catch up sans kids. As the doors were opened we marched forward, flashed our wristbands, and parted ways; each in search of items needed, items wanted, and items to take home “just because”.
El Nino is here. Our days are filled with clouds, rain, and an occasional punctuation of sun. We can’t complain, it’s what we need. So lets focus on ways to enjoy these dreary days. A bookstore and a warm, indulgent sandwich were the ways my sister and I chose to spend a recent cold & cloudy Friday. I was in need of a new book to read, so a trip downtown provided the opportunity to pop into Laurel Bookstore’s new home in the historical Lionel J. Wilson Building. A stroll through the neighborhood then took us to Stags Lunchette; a cozy little spot serving up oozy deliciousness in sandwich form.
I am wrapping up my “shop local” series with a toast to the wonderful & welcoming wine and bottle shops Oakland has to offer. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I am ready to cross the last name off my list and shift my focus to the celebrating side of things. From the library warmth of Ordinaire to the sleek warehouse space of Oakland Crush, there is no shortage of inviting shops to pop into to pick up a great bottle of wine, beer or spirits to add to your holiday and New Years celebrations. These are a few of my top picks.
I had hoped to get this wrapped up sooner, but my own holiday craziness got the better of me. So, here it is…a nice long list of great shops, ideas and more to help you cap off your 2015 holiday shopping season in local style. Get out there and enjoy the fun nooks and crannies of our great city! The below is segmented by neighborhood, I am sure I am missing some so if a favorite store of yours isn’t on the list, shoot me a note and I will add it on! Check links below for exact locations and hours.
I’m back with another addition to my shop local series with a great spot I heard about from a few different artisans when I attended the Renegade Craft Fair last month. Collector Art Shop in Jack London Square is the 2nd storefront of this unique and innovative retail approach conceptualized by Christina Begley & Skye Sullivan. With a focus on bringing original art to people of all tastes and budgets, Collector Art Shop is filled to the brim with lovely creations in many forms.