California Food Journalism and News 2020 [SF Bay Area, Los Angeles and the rest of California]

John Birdsall in - Where to Eat in 2020: Oakland



Oakland is currently one of America’s most dynamic food cities not because of the polish of its restaurants, the number of their James Beard medals, or any galaxy of Michelin stars, but because of its loyalty to cooks telling complicated stories through food: where they came from, their struggle for equity, or how we, as citizens, believe we ought to treat one another.

Birdsall: 17 Best Restaurants in Oakland


I’ve got to go down there more.

Merrill Schindler has been writing about food in the LA area for decades and decafes.


Carnival Lebanese

4356 Woodman Ave., Sherman Oaks; 818-784-3469,

Little known fact: I spent many years writing “American Top 40” for Casey Kasem. Casey was Lebanese. He was also a vegan. And so, when he took the staff out to a meal, it was to a restaurant where he felt at home. Which was, more often than not, Carnival Lebanese, where they offer an extensive collection of the greatest hits of Lebanese cooking, with many of the dishes collected into convenient combination plates.



With each of Jew’s projects, the chef says he thought about exactly what kind of Chinese restaurant he wanted to evoke or pay homage to. There is, for instance, the picture of a traditional Chinese family restaurant that many Chinese Americans might have in their mind’s eye — the big fish tank, the round tables with lazy Susans. Then there’s the prototypical quick-service dim sum deli, and the old-school Chinese-American takeout joint, with its white takeout cartons, disposable chopsticks, and soy sauce packets.

Mamahuhu aims to strike a happy medium between those two categories of Chinese dining experiences, Jew says. It’s meant, first and foremost, to be a restaurant where customers can sit and enjoy their meal — but with counter service, and a more casual vibe than the kind of place where the waiter ladles your soup out at the table. And unlike at, say, Mister Jiu’s and Moongate Lounge, Jew wants Mamahuhu to be the sort of restaurant where customers can come in just to order takeout.

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The 2020 Isleton Spam Festival was conducted on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020 in Isleton which is between Sacramento and Stockton.

Here is the KCBS Radio report:

Here is video from the 2018 Festival:


SF Chronicle food writer Janelle Bitker, formerly of the East Bay Express and SF, on KCBS News Radio:


Preorder for

The Man Who Ate Too Much

The Life of James Beard

by John Birdsall (Author)

Available October, 2020.

East Bay Express sold and now part of a minichain of 5 alternative weeklies in Bay Area and Santa Cruz.

from the Express:

The East Bay Express has joined colleagues in the region’s alternative weekly press to form a five-newspaper group that will circulate throughout seven counties in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Anchored by the Metro Silicon Valley weekly, the group also includes Santa Cruz’s Good Times , the North Bay Bohemian and the Pacific Sun , the nation’s longest publishing alt weekly.

During Alameda County’s shelter-in-place order, the Express continues to publish on its regular schedule, with content primarily focused on the coronavirus outbreak, including news about the health crisis and coverage of food and entertainment options available during the shelter-in-place order. Buel continues as a contractor and editor during the transition.

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L.A.'s taquerias are in survival mode

from outube:

City Arts & Lectures presents
Dolores Huerta & Alice Waters
in conversation with Davia Nelson
Friday, April 3, 2020
Webcast from San Francisco

Alice Waters is a chef, author, food activist, and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. She has promoted local sustainable agriculture for over four decades, and in 1995 she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project, which promotes free school lunches and sustainable food curriculum in public schools. She is a leader in the slow food movement, and was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama in 2015. Waters is the author of many books, including The Art of Simple Food I & II and The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea, and most recently her memoir, Coming to My Senses.

Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association, Dolores Huerta is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement. She is the founder of the Agricultural Workers Association, and, along with César Chávez, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, the predecessor of the United Farm Workers’ Union, which Huerta served as vice president. Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, Huerta worked as a lobbyist to improve workers’ legislative representation. During the 1990s and 2000s, she worked to elect more Latinos and women to political office and has championed women’s issues. The recipient of many honors, Huerta has received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is the founder and President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, for which she travels across the country engaging in campaigns and influencing legislation that supports equality and defends civil rights.

Davia Nelson is a radio producer, radio host, and one half of The Kitchen Sister. Alongside Nikki Silva, The Kitchen Sisters have produced the award-winning NPR series Hidden Kitchens, Lost & Found Sound, The Sonic Memorial Project, The Hidden World of Girls, and most recently, The Keepers, a series of stories about activists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors and historians.

This event is a benefit for the Dolores Huerta Foundation & The Edible Schoolyard Project.

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From the article -

The area’s oldest Basque restaurant — and, so it is said, the world’s last surviving establishment of its kind — was founded in 1893 by Faustino Noriega, a Basque immigrant who beat the railroad here by six years. The hotel, which Noriega ran with partner Fernando Etcheverry, catered to young Basque men engaged in what was then a common vocation for imported workers from the Pyrenees mountain range of northern Spain and southwestern France: sheepherding.

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I ate there last time I was in Bakersfield. I loved the seating and the sharing of plates. Everyone is friendly and you did a lot of laughing with strangers. Also I love their pickled tongue. It makes me sad that it won’t be there any more.


yeah, I ate there a few times and would take Hwy 99 through Fresno and Bakersfield when I was driving between the Bay Area and Los Angeles even though it was a longer trip than Interstate 5. Also stopped at Woolgrowers nearby and an old time Italian restaurant (Luigi’s?). The area also had terrific thrift shops with good pickings.

Here’s a 26-minute video from the late great Huell Howser on his trip to Noriega’s in East Bakersfield/Kern. The Weedpatch migrant farm workers camp is only about 10 miles away and ts was used as the setting of scenes from John Ford’s film The Grapes of Wrath (1940) with Henry Fonda.

and Jonathan Gold in 1992 in the LA Times:

and Gold in LA Weekly:


I didn’t realize he was “late”! Looks like that’s been for awhile. I used to watch California’s Gold regularly when we first moved here. Time flies.

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:frowning: This is unfortunate. Unfortunately I didn’t swing by Bakersfield last year and didn’t get to eat there for the first and last time…Basque in Bakersfield has been in my bookmark list for a while now.

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