Monday, January 14, 2008

bloody buns

What a weekend! What a country. I give "There Will Be Blood" a definite thumbs up. A solid good time. Great performances. No chicks anywhere.

Yesterday I made my second visit to the Alameda marketplace (in Alameda, natch). This place is exactly what sac needs. Good wine shop that has cut and wrap cheese, meat counter, fish counter, bakery, small natural foods grocery, and best of all for me yesterday, and deli that boasts the "ten napkin burger" that you see below.
That's blue cheese, not mayo, and yes, if you look closely you will see that the pink "juices" have soaked into the bun. Those are housemade potato chips, the inclusion of which kinda sold me on this burger that was only 8.50. One of the best burgers I've ever had.

On Mike Dunne's blog, in the midst of a post about what I can only guess is the uber-yuppie, 11 million dollar costing Oxbow market in Napa (from the same guy who developed the ferry building in SF), he buried this little nugget:

Wait, there's more: Carlin is talking with the developers of Sacramento's railyard project to put an even larger version of the public market there. Nothing's been committed to paper, but he's one assured guy who has pulled off a long string of successful projects in unlikely settings. "I'm very confident we'll work it out," he says of his prospects for a similar public market in Sacramento.

Not to be a naysayer, but to me this kind of thinking sums up Sac's image problem in a nutshell. Here you have a city like Alameda, that presumably doesn't suffer from a crippling lack of self-regard due to its close proximity to a real world-class city, that has a one-stop public market that is on a modest scale and serves the community. The Alameda market has upscale and European items, but overall it doesn't feel pretentious or forced, and the building itself is quite modest. Sac has nothing like this, so do we plan to do something along this scale? No, because Sac has this fear of being an eternal cowtown we try to do something grandiose, along the lines of the ferry building, which can only be supported because it is embedded in a dense urban area with a surrounding population of over 7 million people. That would be awesome if we got something that grand, but it will take like 15 years or more to get finished and then due to the large scale would probably limp along subsidized by the city. Maybe not, but I still lament that we couldn't get something like the Alameda marketplace put into the old woolworth's building where the stupid cabaret is going.

Then, later in the day we checked out the Trappist in downtown Oakland. This place rules and it's a real labor of love for the owners. They have weird hours because they are still working their dayjobs. I predict great success, so they can probably quit them soon.


Cody said...

That burger looks amazing. Blood on the bun is always a good sign (as long as it's pink, not red.)

Anonymous said...

I've lived in Alameda for over three years now, and my impression is that far from having a cowtown complex it rather has a pretty well-developed sense of pride. But kind of a casual sense of pride, like people just simply like it here and no one knows why anyone wouldn't. For some reason Sac pride sometimes seems born of insecurity, like it's a response to a perceived (and certainly not entirely fictional) insult against Sac coming from the outer world at large.Like Sac needs sticking up for. I won't claim to begin to understand why this is, but it is something I've noticed. Well, maybe I'll go contemplate it over a 10 napkin burger for lunch. As for me, I like both cities just fine.


Liv Moe said...

i really think another part of the problem is a perceived sense of what equals sophistication as opposed to what actually is sophisticated. i think that recognizing the strengths of one's community and having the guts to embrace it cowtown or no is very sophisticated. on the other hand constantly trying to shake one's "cowtown image" is a good way to make yourself look more cowtown. we can ignore the community we have in an attempt to reach for something greater but then in the end we really won't be left with much.

not to just prattle on and on but we also have a pretty great art and music scene here and historically unknown cities around the nation have made names for themselves by recognizing the talent in their own backyard. sac is still a cheap place to live comparatively and has produced artists from a variety of fields. how do we repay this? with an art museum that is stepping into the 21st century afraid to take risks and piss off donors, mediocre public art, and restrictions on live performance venues that are stifling to say the least. oof!

wburg said...

In defense of the Railyards farmer's market idea, it has been around for a while. Last year there was an event in the Paint Shop (same place where the SOCA Preservation Roundtable was held) which gave a pretty good sense of how a farmer's market in the Shops would look and feel.

It also makes a heck of a lot of sense, economically: we're in close proximity to the folks who grow the food, let's celebrate the fact (rather than try to hide it behind a wall of suburbs) by having a giant farmer's market in the center of the new downtown focus in the Railyards. And because we actually are a breadbasket region, we won't have to do what, say, Pike Place Market in Seattle does (they have to subsidize food prices because farmers can't grow produce for Pike Place at prices people are willing to pay!)

Also, the Ferry Building itself is an example of the same sort of project as the Railyards. Prior to Loma Prieta, the Ferry Building was an ignored backwater, cut off from the rest of the city by a giant freeway. Once the freeway came down, a massive restoration project and a public-transit project (the F-line streetcar) re-made the neighborhood. The fact that they were in close proximity to both downtown and a tourist area helped.

A public market in the Paint Shop would work pretty much the same way: close proximity to public transit (LRV station at Seventh and Unmentionable, train station just across the SP mainline), downtown business, and a tourist district: a pretty good setting for retail, if executed correctly.

And while the Sacramento metro area is only 2.5 million instead of 9 million, it should be kept in mind that while the Ferry Building is around 240,000 square feet, the Paint Shop is 52,000 square feet: in terms of proportion, perhaps a bit undersized.

beckler said...

wburg-i refuse to let your informed opinion change my mind! j.k. but i didn't know that about the size of the ferry building vs. the railyard building. i've never been to the ferry building. i still wish we could have something small now rather than waiting for something huge and fancy in ten years. but i will shop at this future huge and fancy, wearing whatever space-age polymers are in style at that time.

this yelp for inferno pizza is the funniest fake yelp i've seen in a long time:

omg, i was going to print one, and then i read all of them and you really have to read them yourself to appreciate the humor of the juxtaposition of the real ones against the (multiple) fake ones. amazing!

wburg said...

I'm sure San Franciscans had images of space-age polymers dancing in their heads when they started work on the Ferry Building in 1993--it took a decade to complete, opening in 2003.

Personally I'd like to see a short-term Farmer's Market open in the Greyhound station, assuming that the deal to move the station to Richards Boulevard (however ill-considered a move that is) goes through. That would give the developer a decade or so to figure out how to demolish a city landmark to build some big glass and metal shvantz of a building at Seventh and L.

I normally stop in at the Ferry Building when waiting for the Amtrak bus when I go to San Francisco. It's quite the nice building, they have some great interpretive history display panels inside that, personally, I find more interesting than the food stalls, but that's just how I roll.

Anonymous said...

I like that the fake inferno reviewer takes exception to the comments about limited alcohol selections, yet skips right over allegations of severe food poisoning that left a customer hosptialized.

Anonymous said...

For the record, Shoki Ramen didn't close down! I just didn't want readers to think that it did. It closes between lunch and dinner, and it's closed a couple weeknights.


Anonymous said...

Alameda: Yeah, it's a nice Bay Area community and the perception that it doesn't feel the need to pump its fist to declare/defend its coolness makes perfect sense.

Inferno: They're definetly going for the "hot karaoke bar" brass ring. I would certainly recommend it for karaoke, but food truly seems like an after thought there. I've also heard a couple different people say that sometimes the crowds they later, around midnight can be a bit "edgy." That could easily be paronoia, exaggeration, etc....


Dani said...

I'm very torn about the karaoke there. I wish it was as good as Rurulala.

Pro #1: Location.

Con #1: An incomprehensible song selection remote that caused things to quickly segue from drunken hilarity to drunken annoyance, followed by settling on singing "Black Velvet."

Pro #2: Two reasonably priced, big private rooms.

Con #2: Only truly reasonably priced if you have a sober someone to keep track of the number of beers and the amount of time spent in the private room.

And of course, the pizza tastes like kaka.

Anonymous said...

On the farmer's market in Railyards -- If we can get a 52K sq ft building to be as good as the Ferry Building, that would be a great feat. I will be cheerly loudly for it to happen. I'm also hoping that we continue the many great farmer's markets and find even more places for them to happen. As someone pointed out here already, we have much better proximity to great farms than SF does, so we should capitalize on that -- not be greating one gigantic place, but make smaller localized markets too.

That Trappist place in Oakland looks fantastic. Reminds me a lot of Monk Cafe in Philly. Now if someone in Sac would only....


wburg said...

I can't help but giggle at the "Oxbow Public Market" name, though. I can't hear it without imagining Oxbow playing "The Stabbing Hand" in front of a vegetable stand.

Anonymous said...

Hey beckasac,

Can you please tell folks about the Knock Knock CD release show this Saturday at Old I? Also, it will be the T-shirt release show. T-shirts by Cody.

Thanks for the dinner suggestions!


beckler said...

are there lines at shoki usually? i guess i will just visit again soon and find out for myself. pho has edged ramen out lately in winter cravings.

i want to try inferno, but them trying to rip you off on the number of beers you buy is the worst!