Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cheeseboard Pizza. It's Pizza Right?

I seem to have gotten a free lunch yesterday at the Cheeseboard, which was excellent as always. For me, The Cheeseboard might be an intolerable experience if the food wasn't so damn good. I'm surprised I've never written about this place before. The Cheeseboard is a collective that makes one kind of pizza each day and only one kind. This daily pizza has unorthodox toppings such as caramelized onions, Meyer lemon rind, or even corn, which was on today's fresh corn, chile passilla, onion, feta and mozzarella cheese, garlic olive oil, key lime, and cilantro pizza. Oh and the crust is sourdough too. This just might be the best pizza in the area, but to some, this is a point of contention.

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It is pizza, right? Who cares, and to hell with anyone who says otherwise.

My arm in a sling, loud and annoying music in the background, and an obnoxious crowd could not undo my rather good mood. It was that good. The company helped too.

Thanks Robyn and Dave. I owe you one.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Green Papaya Deli

Now that I have some extra time at home, I have the chance to play catch up on a few posts.

I now have a favorite restaurant in the Bay Area, and so do you! Over a month ago I finally ventured to the Green Papaya Deli, a Lao restaurant in Oakland, and was blown away by their laap pa, or fish salad. It was fresh, spicy, and herby, just like one would expect. Paired with some sticky rice and I was in heaven.

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This was all fine and good, but I would need to come back with reinforcements...

For my next visit I came back with a friend and long term resident of SE Asia whose knowledge of the food far surpasses mine.

Digging into the menu my companion was excited and hopeful about what he saw. For the most part though, we kept it pretty safe and simple. We started with a papaya salad.

It was what we would hope from a papaya salad. It wasn't that it blew us away, it was just a very competent mix of flavors. It was fresh, well balanced and boy was it spicy. We figured if an establishment can't do this right, all else is lost. My companion likes his with the addition of dried shrimp, so I didn't stand in his way.
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We also ordered a laap gai, or chicken "salad". Once again, a very good laap without anything missing. It may sound funny, but whenever I order food like this around here, I've come to expect disappointment. Laap isn't unusual, but unfortunately one that really bursts with flavor and spices like this is.
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And finally, the highlight for the both of us, soup nor mai. A bamboo shoot stew common in Isaan and Laos. How do I explain this one? Well for one, the bamboo shoots were fresh, not canned. It was a seemingly simple and comforting stew that also packed a punch. A bite with sticky rice was just about perfect.
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All of these dishes were fresh, tasty, and spicy. We were both in a bit of delightful pain. One of our servers, the daughter of the woman making our food, told us she was impressed with our ability to eat so much spicy food. We thanked her for the wonderful food a couple of times. Getting people to believe that you do in fact want your food spicy can be a challenge. All through the meal we were making plans for out next visit. My dining companion was there again the very next night. It was that good.


Green Papaya Deli
207 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94606
(510) 836-5337

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Break Time

Less than 24 hours after participating in Critical Mass in San Francisco, where thousands of bicycles took to streets to celebrate this simple, healthy alternative mode of transportation, I met a car door head on in north Oakland. I flew through the air and came in for a landing directly upon my shoulder. Less than a day after showing my support for greater bicycle awareness and safety, I was injured on a major thoroughfare where no bike lane is present. I didn't break any laws, but I did fracture my clavicle.

I don't want to spend a long time talking about this, but while I was sobbing on the sidewalk over my bicycle, broken camera, and unresponsive body, I also had to make sure not to be taken into an ambulance, the price of which was quoted to be at least two grand. I was worried about how I was going to pay for this, not for my own well being.

But I'm okay. I need a little time off work as I can hardly use my left arm, which unfortunately for me, is my dominant one. But it could have been worse. Had a car been behind me after my short, graceless flight, I might have been run over and possibly killed. I don't believe in supernatural deities, karma, or fate, but I walked away from an accident that might have killed me under different circumstances. I certainly do believe in luck

Unfortunately, my camera appears to be toast, so blogging might be slow for the forseeable future. Hope to have some good news for you soon.