Mac and I shared a small platter of three antipasti--sliced orange-red tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil, roasted baby beets and cipollino onions dressed in balsamic vinaigrette, and a salad of fava beans, fennel, parsley and Sicilian Sardo cheese. My main course--a whole red snapper roasted in the oven with fennel and yellow Finn potatoes--was done to a turn, but halfway through I became more interested in Mac's paella, with its prawns, mussels, chicken and sausage artfully arranged on a bed of saffron rice the color of a sunset.
We finished off Saturday night listening to Brazilian singer Flora Purim and percussionist Airto Moreira at Yoshi's, one of the West Coast's premier jazz clubs.
Although Mac and I were moving slow on Sunday morning, we did make it to Rick & Ann's Restaurant--officially in Berkeley, just across the street from the Claremont--in time for 9 a.m. breakfast with a friend and his two kids. The food was good. I especially liked the French toast of challah dipped in orange-cardamom batter.
For a final dip into old Oakland, we accompanied Dan and the kids on a quick olive-oil run to Ratto's (G. B. Ratto & Co. International Grocers), an Italian deli housed in a Victorian building in the oldest part of downtown. We eyed the deli counter with its 14 kinds of olives and wandered among burlap bags and wooden bins filled with dried beans and spices, much the same as Oaklanders probably did 100 years ago, when Ratto's opened.