If you like to read, Nibblers Eatery & Wine Bar is for you. If you don't, just squint your way through the 50-plus dish menu. It's definitely worth it.
This 5 year old Pleasant Hill eatery is centered on small plates, which means that the meal you may get at a sushi or Thai place in the same leafy shopping area may be one to three plates at Nibblers.
But, that's also where the fun comes in.
Go with friends. Everybody orders something different, and you have a smorgasbord of small delights to get easily stuffed on. It also helps that the staff is upfront about how to make your visit enjoyable and educational.
Oh no, there's reading and education again. And you just want to eat?
If you don't know your cardoon. a stalky, asparagus like vegetable, served deep fried with aioli sauce ($6) from your langoustine, a type of lobster served in a ceviche with avocado and house made tortilla chips ($8), the staff of Nibblers will tell you.
The eatery doesn't want to be pretentious with big words. It just prides itself on the relationships it has with farms and food artisans within driving distance of the East Bay that sell vegetables, poultry and cheese unavailable in your local grocery store.
The menu changes weekly, depending on what's available from these places.
On a recent visit, I started with the Spring Corn Flatbread with baby favas, sheep's milk feta an green garlic in the shape of a light pizza ($11) and that whet my appetite for the next plates.
The Maple Leaf Duck a L'orange ($12) was next, siting atop skinny roasted baby parsnips that had a sweet, almost marshmallowy taste to them. When I told Trace Leighton, chef patissier and our server, that I had never seen parsnips so skinny before, she said she had the pleasure of bundling them in the bushels full at Heirloom Organic Gardens in Santa Cruz herself.
Another dish that I'd wish was endless was the Panko Fried Monterey Bay Calamari in a buttermilk shallot marinade and Indonesian tropical fruit sambal ($8). A sambal is a dipping sauce made with boiled down seasonal fruit mixed with three different types of chiles. It was thick, sweet and savory and gave the calamari a kick. "We thought it was better than tartar sauce," said Leighton.
When the Four Mile River Pork Slider with chipotle barbaque sauce and house made pickles ($10) were sold out, we ordered the Grilled Meyer Natural Hangar Steak ($11), a tougher cut of meat. But the mustard sauce tenderized it and made the meat succulent to sink our teeth into.
Nibblers also prides itself on wines, of which there is an exhausting selection.
Once again, not to fear.
Nibblers makes things easy by suggesting food and wine pairings. The couple next to us ordered Muscat, a type of sweet wine. Upon getting their food order, Chef de Cuisine Daniel Clayton later sent Leighton out to see if they wanted their salad dressing made with a Muscat to complement their wine selection. Now that's paying attention.
Desserts include their signature Cheesecake Fritters ($8), a lovely puffy fried dough with a cinnamon mouse oozing out. There's also a selection of chocolates and sorbets ($8 to $12) to sample.
The outside patio is dog friendly, every Sunday there's music and if you arrive before 6 pm weekdays, and just want a place to take the edge off before heading home to that big meal, take advantage of Nibblers Sunset Special bar menu.
For late night eaters, Nibblers has a special summer menu from 9:30 to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
For more info visit: www.nibblerseatery.com
(925) 944 0402, 1922 Oak Park Blvd. Pleasant Hill, CA in the Oak Park Center.
Nibblers Eatery & Wine Bar is open every day of the week for dinner 5 to 9:30 pm.
Leslie Mladinich is an East Bay freelance journalist. With a 5-year daily newspaper reporting background and a love of writing about everything from health care to fashion, her freelance writing has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle's Pink Section, Diablo, Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine, EcoHome Magazine, and Bay Area Parent. She is combining her love of food and writing by completing Media Bistro's Food Writing Boot Camp, which is teaching her the art of writing about food with attitude. Find her clips soon at www.lesliemladinich.com.
I was on BART late Sunday afternoon coming home from San Francisco. Too tired to read, I decided to observe the shoes people were wearing.
Of the approximately 80 people in my car, roughly seventy percent wore flip flops, and maybe forty percent of flip flop wearers had the cheap rubber ones. I know it's hot, I know they are comfortable and everybody can afford a pair. But what does this say about us?
America is already known as a dressed down, jeans and tee shirt society, so adding rubber flip flops just finishes the ensemble and confirms the stereotype.
In most developing countries, rubber flip flops are the cheapest footwear available, often costing less than one dollar. Because of their low cost they are very widely used in these countries as typical footwear and not as a fashion statement. Despite their disposable design, street vendors will repair worn sandals for a small fee.
However in many developed countries, such as The United States, flip flops are typically treated as seasonal, short lasting footwear, with a life expectancy of a year or less. Most people in developed countries do not bother to repair flip flops and just throw them away and buy new ones. We like disposable and yet we like to talk green, too.
What's with that?
If we treat flip flops as a shoe, what about the praise women chant of their love of shoes? "They make me feel beautiful and confident." "I like shoes because they complete my created image from morning to late night." " I don't know why, but shoes just make me happy!" "Shoes help me carry my mood through the whole day."
Now, try to replace the words "shoes" or "they" with "flip flop" and read the above sentences again. How does it sound to you?
Pretty silly, right?
Complaining doesn't accomplish much, though, and I can't go out on a minor note without offering a solution. I understand comfort and I love simple, but I'm itching to add a little bit of style.
What about considering very simple but fun leather thong sandals that are an upscale and more fashionable version of the flip flop?
Or, if you are OK with a more enclosed type of shoe, explore the wide range of wedges for women, or fashion sneakers and leather sandals for men.
Let's flap in flip flops to the beach and the pool, but let's also support designer creativity and good craftsmanship, as well as our tired dirty feet, so the shoe industry will thrive for good.
Happy feet and a stylish summer! - DP
As a freelance wardrobe consultant, Diana Placiakiene, AICI, MBA, works with men and women who are looking to advance their professional and personal image. Most of her clients are professionals who want to take their business to the next level. In her practice, Diana combines her business skiills, understanding of human psychology, natural visual talents and passion for fashion to help people have more ease, fun and success.
To contact Diana, e-mail
. You can also find her through www.linkedin.com/in/dianaplaciakiene, www.facebook.com/pages/ispeakstyle/17026118958 or twitter.com/dianaPlaciak.
I recently read a blog on Parentdish.com that said today's fathers are more involved in the day to day care of their children, and not solely taking the role of breadwinner. It went on to say that today's generation of fathers equate being a good father with "being there and being accessible" to their kids.
I've been racking my brain for weeks about what to write for a Father's Day story. I have searched for an interesting story about my own dad, a funny situation, a remembrance of a childhood happening. Should I write a loving tribute to my Dad or should I write of his influence in my life and what I have become?
After reading the Parentdish story, I was struck with the differences in how today's fathers must differ from what my own father's role and responsibilities were.
My parents had me before they were 20 years old. I think I came along a bit too early, and although, like any parent, they were thrilled, they must have been scared and uncertain of what to do in this new situation. It was the late 50's and the roles of parents were very much set in stone. The father was the breadwinner and the mother was caregiver. No options.
My dad worked hard to support our growing family. He made sure we had a comfortable home and as the old saying goes "food on the table". He often worked long hours, and I know that in my formative years, he was gone before I woke up in the morning and home long after I was in bed.
My own father was not a kissy/huggy/feeling kind of man. He was very much a traditional father. Although I have seen pictures of my brothers and I on his lap, I don't have much recall of being held and kissed by him. By the time I was 12 or so, the affection we received was usually a handshake and a pat on the back. He was a task master, we had to do our chores and we got hell if we talked back to our mother. We played catch in the backyard and we had to sit up straight at the dinner table.
Needless to say, as a teenage and young man, I was distant from my father and didn't understand or appreciate his place in our family. I thought him old fashioned, out of touch and hard to talk to.
It's only now, as I am older, that I truly get it. His role in that era was not to spend so called "quality time" with us, but to support us and raise us as only he knew how. He was a product of his own generation, just like today's fathers are a product of theirs.
He may not have made it to every school function, or talked to us about our day or shared his feelings, but we did get our father/son time in. He may have never talked to me about my needs, but he taught me what it takes to be a good man.
With all the attention and equal parenting they will be getting, will today's kids grow up with a different feeling and understanding of their fathers? Will children feel a better connection or will they still grow up not getting their old man?
Only time will tell.
But, as a child raised in the traditional home of the 60's and 70's, I do know that my brothers and I turned out just fine and it is comforting to know that old time concept of dad still got the job done and we appreciate him for that.
We may not have known it at the time, but he did what the dad did and he did it well.
Happy Father's Day to all dads, the traditional and the modern. - SEW
This week I lost 3.8 pounds for a total of 45.4 in 33 weeks. I received my 45 pound star and congratulations from all my Weight Watcher pals.
Again, let me say that I'm really thrilled with my progress and feeling confident that I'm going to reach lifetime status in 2010.
Since I started WW in October, I have recruited three new people into the program. So far, the first person I recruited has stopped going to meetings and I think she will probably end up quitting. The second person is my sister who joined about a month ago. My only sibling, A. has always been the athletic one and always way skinnier than me. She has never been on a diet before. But, she put on some pounds in the past couple of years and wants to lose 25. She is well on her way, having lost 7 or more pounds in the few weeks she's been on the program. It's fun. These past weeks she has really inspired me to follow the program to a "T". The thought of her reaching lifetime status before me is just unacceptable. Of course, I would be happy for either of us to reach that goal, but I really hope its both of us and at the same time.
The third person I've recruited is another kindergarten mom friend of mine. She always tells me how fabulous I look and often compliments my hair and outfits. She is really funny and sweet to build my confidence.
On the last day of school (also weigh in day), she and I were talking about our plans for the day and she invited me to Subway with the kids for lunch. I was planning to go weigh in so told her I couldn't go. She asked about WW and how much weight I've lost. She is also thinner than me, but wants to go back to WW. She told me that I've inspired her to rejoin and she will be at the next meeting. Isn't that cool?
I also met with her at a kids birthday party and she asked me about running. I told her my route and schedule. She wants to run with me.
So, I've lost over 45 lbs and gained a running buddy!
I'm off next week. See you later this month.