Photos: Molly DeCoudreaux
Last night at Oakland's hallowed Bay Wolf, co-owners Michael Wild and Larry Goldman celebrated 36 years in business, presiding over a tight-knit group of industry vets and friends. It was night two of three in their "Double Duck Dinner" anniversary celebration, wherein artists, winemakers, chefs, and gourmet purveyors—all regulars—gathered for a meal paying tribute to the restaurant's godfathers. At least last night, no requests for revenge were sought, but gifts were offered, tales of past glories were shared, and of course, the feasting.
1) Paul Johnson passed on the duck appetizer options and went for the calamari from his own Monterey Fish Market. It's his 32nd year attending a double duck dinner. He said Bay Wolf's seared cephalopod, this year stuffed with crispy polenta and smoked pepper sauce, "gets better every time."
2) Rich Wood owner of Rockridge's Wood Tavern came to the owners' table bearing gifts of bottled El Charapo hot sauce. Naturally, a discussion on hot sauce with possibly TMI digestive details followed.
3) Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat Winery reminisced about his time with Wild, including their many trips, naming him as his favorite client among Emeril, Daniel Boulud, and Alain Ducasse. Then, he toasts him with a 2000 vintage magnum of Chardonnay.
4) A kitchen tour with long-time Bay Wolf chef Louis Le Gassic reveals that 200 ducks from Liberty Farms were cooked for this menu. As for the leftover duck fat, Le Gassic shrugs it off. "We go through five gallons a week."
5) The meal included three courses, with lots of choices for each. Most of them included duck in some way, like dessert: a mocha pot de creme made using duck egg. Other notables were the S.O.B., a South-of-the-border duck with mole and a charcuterie plate including duck liver flan—yes, that's foie—and duck neck sausage.
6) Oakland painter and Mills art professor, Hung Liu—whose art adorns the walls in the restaurant—was deep in conversation with Liu Xiaodong and Hou Hanru, friends she's had since art school in Beijing.
7) Assembly member Nancy Skinner even came to pay homage. Her daughter Sirona, who now works at Danny Meyer's Maialino got "her big break" at Bay Wolf.
8) Briar Brown, personal chef to Steve Jobs, made a late 8:45 res with his sister Nova Brown. Briar demurred when asked about Jobs' diet: "he likes a lot of things, including Japanese."
9) The party continues (and ends) tonight. Manager David Johnson says there are still early and late reservations available. Here's the Bay Wolf website with further information.
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