About Local Lemons
That’s me, Allison Arevalo, writer and creator of Local Lemons, and co-owner of homeroom restaurant in Oakland, CA.
Local Lemons is all about simple, beautiful food. My original recipes use as much local produce as possible, and are free from processed, artificial ingredients. I cook from scratch, and I cook from my heart. My feelings dictate my menus, and while I rely on cookbooks for technique, I rarely follow a recipe. Follow me to farmers’ markets around the East Bay, and see how easy it can be to create natural, healthy meals from your local bounty.
Homeroom will be opening in Oakland sometime in late 2010. As a community restaurant focusing on nostalgic foods, we’ll be serving all different kinds of macaroni and cheese using local California cheeses. When you come by you’ll also find salads made with goods from the farmers’ market, craft beers, local wine and desserts like homemade Oreo cookies and peanut butter pie. We also hope you’ll take a moment to get to know our farmers, who will be featured throughout the restaurant.
I am available for freelance writing gigs, recipe development and catering opportunities in the Bay Area. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about Local Lemons or homeroom.
More about Local Lemons:
When my husband Alejandro and I moved from Brooklyn to Berkeley, we knew we’d find warmer weather, greener pastures and a simpler way of life. We had no idea we’d be in for year-round produce, the likes of which I’ve only seen in Italy.
The decision was not an easy one, with family and friends living in New York – but something about the daily subway ride into Manhattan and the supersonic speed of life told us it was time for a change. So, we quit our jobs, packed our things and set out on a two-week cross-country adventure that brought us to our new home in sunny California.
One of my favorite things about living in Berkeley, besides the food, is the smell. Every time I walk outside I breath in citrus and roses – hence, Local Lemons. It makes sense that you’d eat well in a place with such sweet air.
I take advantage of as much local produce as I can in my recipes. I shop at farmers’ markets in Berkeley and Oakland, while making stops at Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market. Using organic, unprocessed ingredients is as important to me as shopping locally. When I was living in Brooklyn, Whole Foods or Fairway was my supermarket of choice. Now, even though I live a few blocks from one, Whole Foods is usually just an afterthought.
As often as I can I cook from scratch. I make bread, pasta and tortillas by hand. Preparing food like this gives you a greater appreciation for what you’re eating, and is undoubtedly better for you. When time is not on my side, I rely on store-bought whole wheat or grain ingredients, and very rarely use white sugar or flour. While I do include meat and poultry in my cooking, I use organic and local. I am more interested in fish and vegetables anyway.
I love recipes that have me in the kitchen all day, with hours of kneading, stirring, roasting, braising, boiling or baking. I read cookbooks like others read novels, though I rarely stick to a recipe. Technique and ratios, rather than strict measurements. My kitchen skills are mainly self-taught, though my love of fresh foods came from my great-grandmother, who ventured to New York from Grassano, a small town in Puglia, Italy.
I am married to an extremely talented artist, musician, writer and woodworker. Alejandro and I had a classic Brooklyn wedding at Rebar, with incredible cupcakes from Baked. The wedding followed a fairy-tale proposal, where Alejandro sang the words, “Will you marry me?” while we were on top of Mounserrate in Bogota, Colombia, with the sun setting behind us.
Living in Berkeley goes beyond the food. It’s about recycling, reusing, composting, saving energy and supporting local businesses. While I tried to do these things (except composting) in Brooklyn, my efforts fell far short of what I accomplish here. Living for the environment and for your community is more rewarding than I ever imagined. You have to live it to understand.
Unfortunately I cannot consume myself with food all day long, as I work as a communications manager at a credit union in Oakland. I do have the pleasure of riding my bike the 4 miles to work everyday, and strolling around the Old Oakland farmers’ market during my lunch break on Fridays.
Flavors I Love:
Sicilian olive oil, garlic, onions, capers, olives, anchovies, pine nuts, walnuts, dark leafy greens, chickpeas, good vinegar, pecorino, sun-dried tomatoes, chilies. I’m sure there are many more…
Kitchen Equipment I Use Most Often:
Cast-iron pots and pans, clay cookware from Colombia, anything Le Creuset, pestle and mortar, salad-spinner, colanders of all sizes, tongs, fish spatula, grater.
A Few Favorite Chefs:
Alice Waters, Marcella Hazan, Sarah Jenkins, Julia Child
My Favorite Book about Food: Animal. Vegetable. Miracle. by Barbara Kingsolver