March 23, 2011

Star Grocery & The Best Sandwich of Your Life: An Epic.

Here we have a guest post by Simone Rubi who lives in Oakland, CA. Simone is Danielle's twin sister who is a musician, graphic designer and life liver. In between making batches of harissa, pickles, preserved lemons and other kitchen projects, she is either on tour or working on collaborative art/design projects.
 
Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue is in Oakland, California (well, it's on the Berkeley border, but I can't seem to think it's actually there). This store was opened by The Pappas family in 1922. The same family still runs it! The store has weathered the Great Depression, the Oakland Hills fire and the proliferation of chain stores by relying on the same customers whose older relatives may have once relied on the Pappas family. The store embodies everything that I love. Quality stuff and not too much of it. Lots of local products presented in a non-snooty way and different specialty items like hard-to-find spices (like Piment d'Espelette), preserved lemons, and locally made ice creams. They have all of my favorite things (which include the perfect avocado, 'Have'A' corn chips, and homemade sausages). Well thought out choices for wines, beer, root beer, cheese, bread, produce, pasta, olive oil, pickles, preserves, herbs, and a good hardware section as well. They have everything. Well, almost everything. I went in for a roll of film, but alas, nothing (But I guess that's the way these days). It's not excessive, like most commercial stores that have 30 kinds of every-level-of-fat yogurt. It's just a real friendly place. Oh, and cute people work there. I seem to have a thing for dudes that work behind a deli counter (photos upon request).

Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue. 2011. Oakland, California.
In 1950.
Jim and Nick Pappas. 1970s. The Pappas family started and still owns Star Grocery.
I've never even seen these in Norway!
Love the Japanese owl beer. I think we drank that at Sam & Anissa's wedding.
The Bariani olive oil is delicious
 
 
 
Try something different
These are totally a thing in California.
The lower left lettuces are called 'Little Gems' here and I love them.
Normally I'm not a stuff-in-bread kind of person, but this olive bread is really _____ good.
Perfect California avocados. The opposite (a bad one) might be my least favorite think to eat ever.
 
My fave of the non-fancy variety. I ate a lot of these when I was little. Also, 'Scream' sorbet sandwiches at Star are incroyable.

Inside Star Grocery is Star Meats, and what they have to deliver is absolute perfection. I've always loved a good sandwich. I wrote that my favorite food in a 6th grade essay was a club sandwich (in that same essay, I said that I wanted to make a house that was made of aquariums). Ephemeric alchemy. No two are alike. I guess that's the true chase and desire for food, art, and music lovers. Nothing is ever the same. The object, feeling, and taste is always dependent on how we feel that day, what is surrounding us, and how developed and pampered our taste buds are. Taste buddies. That's what these sandwiches are! Taste buds.


Second of all, I don't think it's fair to take insanely scrumptious photos of sandwiches. Upon viewing, it always leaves me feeling a little unrequited and a tiny bit mad. However, all I can do is to take such photos. We want to eat and taste with our eyes, secretly tricking our stomachs that we are actually eating the food in the photos. Seems to work because I get a little full when I look at this blog. IN A GOOD WAY. Every time I want to share the tastiness of my day with my Cali-Parisian family, I let my food get cold while I try and capture the true taste of the meal with a photo from my little camera.

Whenever I see this pink paper, I get really really happy.
The Brian Allen. Something about the cheddar and spicy mayo combo with the Arugula...
The Goodfella. With fresh buffalo mozzarella, hot coppa, genoa salami and a good amount of vinegar.
The Classic.
You are bummed when you see this.

These sandwiches are the ones that I keep going back to. Like you, I've tried so many different sammies. Hi art and lo art. Square cheese to slathered cheese. Foie gras to Bánh mì. Meatball to pickled slaw. Fried chicken to pulled pork. Torta to panini. Cuban to roti. Euro style with butter and cheese as condiments to Italian style with olive oil and vinegar. What Star Meats has to offer, is the sandwich that I long for when I'm a million miles away. It's the sandwich I long for when I'm only 6 blocks away. It is home. They only use a stellar baguette from La Farine, and when they run out (usually around 2), they won't make any more sandwiches. Go there, order the Brian Allen or the Goodfella, pick up some sorbet or an it's it, pick out a old fashioned soda or organic juice, drive up to the Oakland hills with your pals, get some perspective, and have the best day of your life.

Bay bridge on the left and a distant Golden Gate on the right. Oakland Hills.

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