Farmstead Cheeses Now Open

For a long while, Montclarions have watched the transformation of an old cigar store into a new cheese and wine shop. We knew this was coming because of the permit on the door.

Last weekend, the cheeses were getting placed in the cases. Now the doors are open, and I can tell you this is a big boost for us. It’s about time for a first-class, specialty shop around here.

Farmstead Cheeses and Wines is a throw-back, where you can wander around the world. They will cater to your whims. There are all kinds of clubs and gatherings planned too.

While this is a foodie heaven, it’s okay to ask for a cheese sliver. With some 150 cheeses available, sampling is almost a requirement! The wines complete the picture, and there are 500 offerings on hand.

Why did this Alameda shop decide to expand here? Owner Jeff Diamond lives in the Village, which explains a lot. According to The Montclarion, “Diamond’s wife, Carol Huntington, heard about a space while getting her hair cut.”

Farmstead is open daily, from 10am-8pm Mon-Sat, and 10am-7pm Sun. The shop is located on the steep part of LaSalle, across from the parking garage (map here).

SalmonAid Festival, This Weekend

Who needs LiveAid or FarmAid? Oakland is hosting SalmonAid instead, down at Jack London Square. The festival takes place this Saturday and Sunday, from 12 noon – 7pm.

Music’s the main thing, with 20 bands scheduled on two stages. Of course, there’s food and drink too. Wild salmon is on the menu but it’s legally imported from Alaska.

SalmonAid is organized by West Coast salmon fishermen and conservation groups, working together to reverse major depletions in salmon stocks. From the news, you’re probably aware of the Chinook declines up the Sacramento River.

How to help: Make a donation online or at the event. Also reach your U.S. senator or rep, and lobby for legislation that protects and restores salmon populations.

Yes, save the fish.

Montclair’s Big Band At Kennedy Center

Since its founding in 1998, the Montclair Women’s Big Band has played great swing music throughout California. This month, they finally hit the road and performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The Band, which is directed by trumpeter Ellen Seeling, attracts stellar musicians. Naturally they practice at the Women’s Cultural Arts Club, where else?

Check out how these women swing, on classics like Fly Me To The Moon and String of Pearls. (Note that Quicktime is required.)

Or listen to some band members play with doyenne Marian McPartland, on her NPR Piano Jazz program: Part 1 and Part 2 are here.  What a kick.

Peru in the Redwoods

Join a llama-supported hike this weekend, up in Redwood Regional Park. Here’s what the llama line-up looks like, as snapped by a hiker this March:

Llama packers will guide the 4-6 mile hikes, held from 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. According to the packers, “you will have the opportunity to lead a llama while learning about handling, caring for, and packing with llamas.”

Please call ahead for more info and to register at 888-EBPARKS (888-327-2757). Beyond this weekend, there will be one more opportunity in June as well.

This looks like fun. Though I have been told that llamas are spitters – and the trek isn’t quite as benign as you think!

March 2010 Update:  The llamas are returning for treks again soon!  The scheduled days are March 27th and 28th, and April 24th and 25th.  The hours have changed, from 11:00am – 2:30pm.  It now costs $70/resident or $78/non-resident.  Call ahead and sign up.

Montclair Sidewalks Get Fixed

This week, Oakland Public Works has been diligently fixing the Montclair sidewalks. Many dilapidated areas are getting new concrete poured, and it’s going to make a big difference.

Why now? Chalk one up for CBS 5, which aired a news story about our buckled sidewalks (click here). Montclair’s problems were clearly illustrated by people falling flat on their faces!

In the story, an Oakland official bemoaned his paltry $1 million budget and $20 million backlog. Yet he and other city officials were spurred by CBS 5, and dispatched workers out of sheer embarrassment.

The outcome is pretty sweet – bless the power of the press.