Back by popular demand, Yelp's Field Trip offers a full schedule of hands-on classes and behind-the-scenes tours with local businesses, all throughout the month of October. The East Bay enjoyed a week of enlightening opportunities, from pasta making to sake tasting to a tour of a presidential yacht! Read along for all the scholarly details...
East Bay Field Trip festivities commenced with a thoughtful study & tasting of fermented rice libations! Established in 1982, Takara Sake USA produces the "Sho Chiku Bai" brand of Sake, "Takara Mirin" and assorted Plum wines at their Berkeley headquarters. They invited Yelpers in to learn more about this locally-produced treat.
Prior to this field trip, Nora S confesses that she “had no idea there was even a sake distillery in the East Bay, let alone one that produced gold medal winning sakes.” Takara Sake aficionado & host, Mika, hosted a gang of Yelpers on a guided tour of their posh digs, first introducing attendees to the particulars of sake making, via an informational video. A great way to get the ball rolling, as Amy J noted, “Most people know their whiskey, bourbon, or vodka but not a lot of people know their sake.”
Yelpers perused the sake distillery’s onsite mini museum, ornamented with traditional Japanese woodwork and décor, before heading into the private Zen tasting room. Eight neatly lined bottles were displayed for tasting, ranging from dry to sweet to flavored sake’s. Vinky I “appreciated the variety of sake’s at hand and that the sakes got sweeter as we progressed,” helping her taste buds gauge the different tastes and textures. She left with the sweet, champagne-like Mio sake and a ginjo draft sake, Rei, in tow.
Next up on the docket was an old favorite -- Oaktown Spice Shop! Across the way from Oakland’s expansive, Lake Merritt, Oaktown Spice Shop houses a smorgasbord of fresh, high-quality culinary spices, herbs and handcrafted blends. Oaktown’s exceedingly knowledgeable owner, John, led the pack on a discussion of the origins and distinct types of varying spices, peppering his lecture with his historical tales and scientific factoids. Laura B enjoyed the trip’s periodical quizzing on spice & herb facts and especially getting to smell and taste tons of the fragrant spice merchandise. She declares that her group’s custom spice blend of Hungarian paprika, cardamom, orange zest, korintje cinnamon, sumac, black pepper, Moroccan thyme, and pacific flake sea salt tasted “smoky, sour, zesty, and full of life.” John concluded the group’s foray into the spice blending world with customized spice labels touting the moniker, “Especia Única de Grito” – The unique spice of Yelp!
Jack London Square’s, Baia Pasta was the next local biz to open its doors for some Field Trip schooling! An educational walk through Italian artisan pasta making kicked off with a behind-the-scenes tour. Attendees viewed the in’s and out’s of Baia Pasta’s manufacturing kitchen, where all the pasta making magic happens. Brain overflowing with “gluten-y knowledge”, Ivy R reports she “learned everything from the flour types to the machinery to the process of becoming a dried starchy little love bite.” Betty S usually doesn’t think twice about texture or flour used in her pasta’s but found a new appreciation for it. Especially the variety of shapes: “Twins! Mohawks! Nutshells! Who needs Barilla?!” she declared. Owners Dario and Renato, waxed poetic on all things pasta while doling out al dente samplings for the group, detailing differences in flavor profiles as Yelpers nibbled on. As if all of this education, gratuitous sampling and pasta pairing suggestions weren’t enough, attendees left with a bag each of dried Baia pasta to test their culinary chops with at home!
Docked a little ways down in Jack London Square marina, the USS Potomac was the site of the next Field Trip excursion. Known as the "Floating White House,” the USS Potomac served as Franklin D Roosevelt’s Presidential Yacht until his death in 1945. Yelper Terry T finally crossed this destination off her to-do list and appreciated this history-rich field trip, citing the tour as “interesting and educational.” Yelper’s enjoyed a private nautical tour of the historic vessel with complimentary post-tour cocktails onboard. Masha O. proclaimed the vessel as the “best kind of museum” – as one explore a setting where history was actually created. She pondered what could be better than “cozying in a comfortable chair with a watermelon Sea Breeze on a presidential yacht.” Nothing comes to mind, Masha! Cheers!
On to Temescal Alley, where Yelpers delved into all sorts of holistic knowledge and home remedy goodness at Homestead Apothecary. Owner Nick and his partners, considerable masters of the natural healing arts, schooled Yelpers on locally made herbal medicine, detailing assorted herbs and their practical uses. Amy J was among the group and took home a perennial medicinal herb, “lemon balm” – with which to plant in her own garden. After a healthy dose of enlightenment on holistic recipes and organic plant material, Amy J proclaims that “class is always more fun with Yelp,” and that she’ll be back to explore more of Homestead’s host of classes and wide range of natural products.
Field Trip merrymaking came to a close in Livermore at family-owned vineyard, Red Feather Winery, where owners Connie and Dan piloted a tour of their winery and tasting of their goods. Emmalouise B divulged her excitement for the tour as she had “been a fan of Red Feather since first trying their Zinfandel at the Sip-Nic back in August.” Barrel tastings ensued, treating Yelper’s to samples of Red Feather’s Constance Sparkling Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Port and more. Complimentary port-infused brownies were also in attendance!
Yelp's Field Trip is a community favorite for good reason. Getting an insider look at how local businesses operate, what makes them unique, and getting to meet the folks behind the brand is always a special experience for Yelpers. The Yelp community in the East Bay will continue to host Field Trip activities throughout the year, so keep an eye on the yelp.com/events page for the latest opportunity to hop on the proverbial bus with us!
Til next time,
Yelp East Bay