Rotary Club’s rooftop feast raises money for books
on September 20, 2010
The gloomy weather and a short-lived drizzle couldn’t deter the eaters and drinkers on Sunday afternoon as they sampled gourmet delicacies, fine wines and desserts on the rooftop of the Kaiser Center in Downtown Oakland for the 28th annual “A Taste of California—Up on the Roof.”
“Everything is my favorite,” said Markos Lagios of Oakland, as he took a break from the feasting and sat with friends. “After tasting the wine and different dishes, I’m very impressed.”
More than 50 vendors stationed themselves underneath blue tents, all surrounding the flower beds and trees at the Kaiser Rooftop Garden. The event, presented by and benefiting The Rotary Club of Oakland, is the club’s largest fundraiser of the year.
“The money that is raised from this event, it has a direct advantage for the community and the world,” said Iris Brody Lopez, The Rotary Club’s event chair.
Executive Chef Brandon Peacock, of the Lake Merritt Hotel’s Terrace Room, served up his special cherry-cola-BBQ-pulled-pork sliders. Peacock had cooked 120 pounds of pork, which amounted to about four days worth of cooking—his typical 50-pound batches take about a day and half. The recipe includes making his own cherry cola and then marinating the pork in it. Then the pork smokes for about ten hours and cooks for about another 12 hours, he said.
The idea for the recipe came to him when he was a contestant on the reality cooking show “America’s Next Great Restaurant,” slated to air on NBC early next year. Proud of his sought-after sliders, Peacock offers them year-round—even if they’re not listed on the menu for the season.
“It’s always there,” Peacock said of his secret batch he makes each day. “If someone says they want it, then I’ll make it.”
On the other side of the garden, Kincaid’s served two of its most popular items from a new menu focusing on ingredients provided by local suppliers and local farmers. Slices of the Santa Fe cornbread—made fresh daily at the restaurant—were topped with succulent Chili Smoked Tiger Prawns.
Carolyn Golphin, the marketing manager of Kincaid’s, said Sous Chef Delia Salcedo “decided to marry the two together” for the event, creating a palate-pleasing twist of flavors of butter and sweetness with a little kick from the chili.
Focusing on the health-conscious foodies in the area, San Franola Granola offered its newly-launched granola. Co-owner Matt Teichmann said the recipe was 12 years in the making and kept to “the old metric of ‘Keep it simple, stupid’” by offering only one roast, with or without raisins. Despite its lack of options, Teichmann believes his product can be served in a number of ways. That afternoon he offered it with plain or vanilla yogurt and also fresh raspberries.
“It’s so ambidextrous,” Teichmann said. “There’s so much potential in something that seems so simple.”
Outnumbering the restaurant vendors were the wineries and beverage vendors, pouring samples of their best chardonnays and zinfandels.
California’s longest standing family-owned and operated winery, Wente Vineyards, served its 2008 Riva Ranch Chardonnay and 2006 Small Lot Ganache. For the non-wine drinkers, Stella Artois was on tap and Weibel Champagne Vineyards had an array of champagne, including ones infused with fruits and berries.
Lopez said proceeds will be invested into numerous educational and humanitarian efforts. The Rotary Club has a goal of delivering three books to every third-grader in Oakland, as a means of promoting literacy and the importance of an education. Underprivileged students in the Oakland Unified School District will also have the opportunity to receive scholarships. The club’s humanitarian efforts include providing water to families in Rwanda and supplying food and clothes to the men, women and children of Oakland.
“It benefits children, seniors,” Lopez said. “It benefits everyone in the community.”
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