Happy Fourth of July! If you're looking for a small town celebration, check out the Piedmont parade this morning at 11 a.m. From bagpipes to the balloon platoon, this is my favorite parade. And while I won't be able to join them this weekend, the rag tag Piedmont Community Band will be marching, again, to "On Wisconsin" and other parade favorites.
For no hassle fireworks, you can't beat the Moraga Golf Course. The display is short and sweet (about 20 minutes) and you can get home in time to watch some of "A Capitol Fourth" on PBS.
And this is the last weekend of the Alameda County Fair, where they've resurrected the Fourth of July fireworks show and come up with some memorable munchies.
Winning last week's Fair Snackdown was spaghetti ice cream -- gelato "noodles" topped with strawberry sauce, shaved white chocolate and a mint leaf. The pickle dog won most creative -- a hot dog inside a hollowed-out pickle on a stick, dipped in corn dog batter and deep fried. Now if that's not American, I'll eat Uncle Sam's hat.
Thumbs up: Call it the miracle on Manzanita Drive. After getting a report of a pine branch hanging precariously over the road, Oakland's Public Works sprang into action on a quiet Sunday morning. Within minutes, a crew had chainsawed the errant limb and turned it into mulch, clearing the lane for safe travel. Neighbor Ken Ball says kudos go to Brooke Levin, who moved from interim director to Public Works chief on June 9.
Around town: Montclair shoppers are getting a break in the form of 20 free minutes in the city parking garage at the top of La Salle. This is good news for anyone who just wants a quick cup of coffee. Meanwhile, new solar-powered meters are going up in Oakland and later this month, Montclair begins a pilot program of flex rate street parking. Meter rates will begin to vary from $1.50 per hour to $2.50 per hour with $1 per hour meters and 10-hour limits on lesser used streets.
Good eats: Montclair roommates Michael Chuan Huang and Chris Hong have opened a yummy, New Orleans inspired eatery in Berkeley (2370 Shattuck Ave.) called Amazing Crab. The men first met in China where they lived in the same town. In America, Hong fell in love with Cajun cooking and learned how to make favorites like catfish, crab and gumbo.
The night we donned bibs and chowed down, a pound of Cajun shrimp was just $12.99 and a pound of mussels was just $10. They were served Louisiana style, in plastic bags -- a technique Hong saw on a TV cooking show. And the crab legs, sourced from Cajun country, came with a choice of four sauces. We took the leftovers home and made a delicious paella.
Post-it's: A couple of signs caught my eye this week. The handmade sign announcing that Shepherd Canyon Park is NOT a dog park (an ordinance ignored on a daily basis) and a customer's goodbye on the window of the recently closed Wheels of Justice Cyclery. The writer laments that without the longtime bike shop, Montclair has lost some of its soul.