Corn Half Wheels Parmesan, white truffle oil, fine herbs

Corn Half Wheels
Parmesan, white truffle oil, fine herbs

There is nothing quite like marking an anniversary with a special occasion… something festive, an opportunity to both celebrate the successes of the past and refresh the spirit in preparation for what the future may hold. alaMar’s first anniversary party was a delightful opportunity to do both. Chef Nelson German took stock of his first year at alaMar with a celebratory fête last Tuesday, treating his guests to the sounds of Latin music and enticing samplings of some of his most inventive dishes.

When Chef Nelson German opened alaMar last year, he had come to the end of a lengthy thirteen year journey. Pulling up his New York City roots after years of success as a sought after chef in the Big Apple, he headed West in search of a dream — that of opening his own restaurant. It opened to great expectations, and given the blossoming food scene in Oakland, a heavy burden of anticipation. No doubt there was pressure to stand up to Oakland’s competitive and flourishing landscape of dining options. In the past year, Chef German has risen to the challenge, playing out some beautiful music on his culinary piano.

Flap Jack Tacos macerated strawberry, mint, bourbon vanilla crema

Flap Jack Tacos
macerated strawberry, mint, bourbon vanilla crema

Billing his food as New American, it is indeed that, melding a hybrid of vibrant cultures to create new flavor profiles all his own. Since the opening, he has honed his point of view, disporting his symphony of culinary ingredients on the plate like a maestro, pushing himself to incorporate the subtleties of flavors from multiple cultures into his cuisine. The techniques of the Bayou cavort to meld with the spices of Asia. The hearty Latin richness of his mother’s Dominican Republic’s spices are blended seamlessly against the delicate flavors and techniques of “haute” French cooking. When tasting his food, one muses that this is indeed, a Chef who needs to challenge himself in order to maintain his sense of equilibrium, and in doing so, has made every bite he serves his own.

This constant challenge has resulted in the recent addition of Dominican rice bowls to the lunch menu, another nod to the vibrant peasant food of his childhood. He is a man who lights up at the mention of the simple dishes of his mother’s native homeland, but he hasn’t stopped there. His passion has increased with the passing of time, and now, alongside his mother’s bone marrow, new dishes arrive to balance his multitude of offerings, keeping the chef grounded to the familiar notes of childhood, while retaining the skills acquired in his training at the best of New York’s finest white table cloth restaurants.

Whether it is the creative plantain preparations, the hearty and flavorful bone marrow meant to echo his

Sourdough Crostini  Camembert cheese, serrano orange marmalade

Sourdough Crostini
Camembert cheese, serrano orange marmalade

mother’s table, the New Orleans seafood boils served on family-style trays and meant to be eaten with the hands and savored with messy abandon by the whole family, or the delicate oysters topped with “caviar” concoctions and deftly laced with champagne, Chef German never leans on any single recipe of his past. He is as at home with the flavors of a hearty peasant dish as he is with the most refined of techniques from the culinary world of fine-dining. His specialty is combining the two for a result that is both comforting and complex, as he melds the flavors of the Mediterranean, with Asian-Cajun treatments for a result that is uniquely his own. Throughout his journey, it is the diner that benefits.

At the recent party, we were treated to some lovely bites along the way, as we helped alaMar celebrate it’s first birthday. Among my favorites were the Corn Half Wheels sprinkled with Parmesan, herbs and white truffle oil were delightful, and the Gulf Shrimp Lollipops. Chef German treats the latter with a beautifully delicate lemongrass gastrique, and a coconut & Thai basil cocktail sauce. Keeping the flavors subtly Asian in this dish, his shrimp meat always moist and succulent. We also enjoyed the Sourdough Crostini with Camembert, and orange marmalade; the hint of serrano peppers gave the cheese and the sweetness of the jam a nice spicy balance. The skewers of Organic Chicken Confit with Bacon honey glaze, were both festive and tasty. The food was plentiful and guests were never without a cocktail. Latin music and great food ushered in the next era of alaMar beautifully.

So if you are in the mood to make a memory of your own, check it out, while the music from his little party still lingers in the space, and let Chef German make memories tailored just for you.
100 Grand Avenue, Suite
between Valdez & Webster
Oakland, CA 94612
[currently serving both lunch & dinner]

About The Author

Angela F. Lazear is an Oakland native and the author of EAST BAY FOOD SCENE: Essays on the Ritual of Dining ( Launched in 2007, East Bay Food Scene was established to pay homage to Oakland’s fascinating history, while chronicling the city’s rebirth through a vibrant, ever-changing landscape of food offerings. Many of Angela’s fondest childhood memories involve accompanying her grandparents to Oakland’s finest restaurants and sitting with them at the “grownup” table. Twice a month her grandparents would take her out for shrimp cocktail and filet of sole, at what was then The Sea Wolf, on Jack London Square. It was on these occasions that Angela discovered that collective dining brought with it the opportunity to make lasting memories. To this day, a perfect “old school” shrimp cocktail will bring to mind one of her grandfather’s fascinating and colorful stories of Prohibition, bootleggers, and run-ins with “wise-guys” seeking to get alcohol to the masses. These colorful stories were a kind of live theater. When Oakland began its dining renaissance, Angela saw an opportunity to honor both her family’s legacy and the city of her birth. Contrasting Oakland’s past to its present, her essays focus on how sharing great food experiences with loved ones can enrich one’s life immeasurably. Food is more than sustenance, it serves as a landmark for recalled experiences with loved ones and family. It is this connection between food and family that drives Angela to experience and chronicle the current generation of chefs and restaurateurs, as they re-invent cuisine and elevate it to an art form. Her mission is to share with her readers the stories of an Oakland that was, and to connect them to the Oakland that is becoming, that its inhabitants might remain in touch with the City’s past, as they inevitably meet with its promising future. The ritual of dining is an experience so entrenched in our collective personal history that we run the risk of missing the point if we fail to savor the experience as much as we do the myriad of flavors. Each morsel has the ability, at a later date, to recall moments from our past as vividly to the senses as if actually captured on film. A self-titled “Philosophoodie,” she would encourage her readers to savor every bite as it comes, take the time to engage with one another over every meal, and “make a lasting memory of your own.” Twitter: @foodaprecianado; Instagram: Foodapprecianado Facebook: EastBayFoodScene

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