The East Bay Elite Squad has been blossoming with fresh badges this year, so we got to thinking…how could we give our brand new 2012 Elites a proper yelpy welcome, and introduce them to the wonderful world of Eliteness? Their very own soiree with scrumptious small bites, local wine tastings, craft cocktails, and live music? Yeah, that sounds about right.
Berkeley's new farm-to-fork restaurant, Origen, was wall-to-wall Elites on Monday night, with newbies wearing red, and veteran Elites in white and gold. This color-coated scenario made for easy mingling, and by the end of the night the crowd was united as a red, white, and gold posse of new and old friends alike. "Everywhere you looked, you would meet a new person, from first timers to old farts, as well as all the +1s," reports Jeffrey S. "I met more people at this event that at the last few YEE's combined." What a pro!
Any first-timer shyness was expertly abated by the "gloriously bubbly and citrus-y sweet" Hendrick's Gin and Solerno Blood Orange cocktails, which also "helped keep the sexy in the room," confirms Savier M. The gentle sour, and sweet harshness played games with me but I never learned and went back for part deux." We don't blame you! Also enhancing the mingly mood were local Alameda wineries Carica (pouring a Sauv Blanc and Rhone Blend called The Siren) and R&B Cellars with a line-up of robust reds and a chilled white blend. "The R&B pourers were exceptional, they knew their varietals and were so kind to let me and my friend purchase a bottle on the spot," raves Stephanie M. "And Carica had this bomb-a$$ blend as well–SIREN. Man, I cannot wait to go to their spot and sip on that!" Save us a seat, girl.
Between sips and chatter, Elites indulged in Origen's special menu of locally-sourced bites, finalized just hours before the event, to ensure every recipe incorporated the freshest farmer's market finds. A parade of platters emerged from the kitchen, boasting crispy roasted Fulton Valley chicken & Devoto Gardens apple fritters with peppered hoisin, Happy Boy farms rapini & feta cheese pastries, and Far West mushroom & Capay Valley green garlic dumplings with caper brown butter, which Diana V dubbed "rich, creamy, and heavenly." The melt-in-your-mouth Peruvian Lantern Scallop and Churchill Orchard avocado and coconut ceviche was another win, and no one could forget the "ludicrously delicious" spicy, garlicky, langoustine paella cake with padron pepper allioli. Despite the inevitably garlic breath, Anne M says she's "definitely coming back here for date night!" and Anne N praised Origen's service as "super accommodating, very friendly, and memorable."
The Cello Street Quartet stunned the audience with their dramatic pop covers like Poker Face, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Sweet Dreams, proving to Anne M that "Lady Gaga sounds best when played on a cello." Amy J was similarly smitten, and "hopes a music scout is reading this because they are going to blow up and we'll say, 'remember them, way back when?'" Indeed, we will.
Read all the stories of strangers turned yelpmigos, taste buds delighted, and inhibitions deliciously lost on the review page, scope the photos by Basil Glew-Galloway on our Flickr page, and tag yourselves on Facebook.
Elite Class of 2012, here's to the start of a beautiful thing…
East Bay Community Manager