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Thursday, September 08, 2011


I used to be in a book club. And when I was recently let go (it was for the best, no hard feelings), I joked that I was going to start my own club, a magazine club. But this is way better.

Because I'm also part of a "foodie" club with a few friends who enjoy trying new restaurants. Like a book club we have a few rounds of nominations and voting before deciding on a spot. Our selections have varied from the city to the peninsula to Napa. Dinner at
Camino in Oakland to celebrate a birthday was our last club outing.

If I had a bucket list of restaurants, Chez Panisse would definitely be on it. According to multiple reports, Camino shares CP's spirit and sensibility, as well as some of its alumni (the co-owner worked in its kitchen for 21 years). Featuring a sustainable, seasonal menu and an airy dining room with long communal tables, Camino feels rustic and homey. A crackling fireplace (what "Camino" translates to in Italian) sits front and center, grilling and roasting many of its delicious dishes.

Another great thing about being in a foodie club is being able share/sample a wider variety of menu items. Camino's menu, which changes daily, is sparse and simple - offering 3-4 (each) of appetizers, salads and entrees. We tried the pork appetizer which had juicy, flavorful fried nuggets of pork as well as equally juicy and tender roasted pork with fennel and wood-roasted cauliflower. And a simple plate of wood-roasted trumpet mushrooms and corn was full of rich, earthy flavor.

The entrees we tried included roasted cod with vegetables that was light, tender and flavorful and roasted chicken with yogurt and cucumber that hinted at the Mediterranean. I'm not sure if farro (what it was served with) is Mediterranean, or since it was my first time having it, what it's even supposed to taste like. But I became a fan of its roasted, nutty flavor thanks to Camino's tasty preparation.

Not that I had any more room (especially since it was hard to resist the bread itself, which is from Acme Bread) but the desserts - a warm, rustic nectarine cobbler and a rich, creamy chocolate pudding were also quite good. The cocktail menu, which includes the Mezcal Drink (shown above) also entices with intriguing ingredients like gum syrup, orgeat and artichoke bitters.

But the best thing about a foodie club is simply, the foodie friends. The right group of people at your table can make any meal seem a little more fun, and a little more special. So here's to my foodie friends E. and T., who are about to begin their happily ever after together. Life is so much better and tastier (!) with friends like you in it.



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