By Chef Russ Moore
PLAYING WITH FIRE
Chef Russ Moore and his wife Allison Hopelain are the owners of Camino Restaurant in Oakland, California. The hearth is the heart of the restaurant where Russ cooks over open flames melding Californian, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. "We decided to build a giant fireplace to cook out of and we also only purchase ingredients for the restaurant that we would buy at our own home. These self-imposed limitations force me to be creative--to write menus that take into consideration the ingredients that we have and the way that we cook. We tend to be relentlessly idealistic so we stuck to that idea."
The restaurant is homey with long, wooden communal tables and Russ at center stage in his open kitchen. "We ask a lot of our customers--we have a small menu; we don’t make pizza or pasta; you have to sit at a really long table; the fish has bones in it; we don’t have any brands of spirits that anyone has ever heard of; we don’t have soda; and on and on. But we try to reward them with a refreshing experience that is delicious."
The Essence of Camino
"I think it's about the luxury of everyday, humble ingredients and using every part of each ingredient. We have strict purchasing practices that we adhere to -- only whole animals, only organic produce from local farms, only local fish, only wines made from organic or biodynamically grown grapes -- that sometimes makes for more expensive ingredients. It's in our best interest not to waste any part of the ingredient, whether it is a lamb or a lemon. These same buying practices help to narrow the focus of the menu. The food definitely has a sense of place."
This is Camino
Russ and Allison have just launched their first cookbook called This is Camino. "The book shows how these self imposed limitations make for a creative take on food." You'll find over 100 recipes in the book with many geared towards fire-based cooking. "Cooking with fire is a purely intuitive endeavor. A lot of these recipes can be made in a regular oven, stove top or Weber grill. What I'd like people to takeaway from this book is how to be more intuitive in their cooking. Fire sort of forces that on you because it is going to be different every time. The book shows how these self imposed limitations make for a creative take on food."
Recipes to Try
"The whole duck chapter, the herb jam, the Camino egg, and Tunisian orange cake."
3917 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610
T: 510.547.50 | www.caminorestaurant.com
CHEF RUSS MOORE'S OAKLAND GUIDE
"What people don't know about Oakland is that there is lots of outdoor space -- Lake Merritt, Oakland Hills, Joaquin Miller Park. It is bike-friendly. Oakland residents care about social justice, equality and diversity. And they care about where their food comes from."
BAKERY | Beauty's Bagels
"They have Montreal-style bagels and great smoked trout salad. I really like their salt and pepper bagels."
3838 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
T: 510.788.6098 | www.beautysbagelshop.com
COCKTAIL | Umami Mart
"They sell a cool combination of Japanese barware, kitchen equipment, and beautiful teaware. Also for gumi-monthly sake selections delivered to your home (or pick up in the shop) and lots of fun Japanese treats."
815 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607
T: 510.575.9152 | umamimart.com
WINE | Ordinaire
"A wine shop and wine bar selling all natural wine."
3354 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610
T: 510.629.3944 | ordinairewine.com
CHINESE | Shanghai Restaurant
"This is in Oakland Chinatown. Come here for malantou (not on menu), carp & radish soup, cold noodle with spicy pork."
930 Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94607
KOREAN | Pyeong Chang Tofu House
"Come here for kimchi soon tofu stew."
4701 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
T: 510.658.9040 | pyeongchangtofu.com
MEXICAN | El Paisa
"Come here to Fruitvale for suadero and chorizo tacos. They have a really big vat of bubbling fatty liquid that they pull homemade chorizo, tripe and suadero out of for perfect little tacos. The salsas can be over-the-top spicy in a crying and gasping kinda way, but they are really good."
4610 International Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94601
CARIBBEAN | Miss Ollie's
"This is a real community eatery in old Oakland. For salt fish & ackee, peas & rice."
901 Washington Street, Oakland, CA 94607
T: 510.285.6188 | www.realmissolliesoakland.com
MIDDLE EASTERN | Ba-Bite Restaurant
"For hummus, falafel and especially their majadera."
3905 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611
T: 510.250.9526 | www.babiteoakland.com
Grand Lake Theater
"This a beautiful old movie house with $5 Tuesday's and free popcorn Wednesday's.""
3200 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610
T: 510.452.3556 | www.renaissancerialto.com
"We make and bottle it in-house from leftover red wine."
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