OPENwater: A reason to go to Alameda

Yeah, this event isn’t in Oakland. But it is very close by, and I think it looks really interesting. Water is such an important issue in California, and one that does not receive anywhere near enough coverage.

I think that part of that is because water issues are so complicated. It’s really a lot to get your head around. For a primer on California water issues, I highly recommend these three posts from Transbay Blog, and also every post on Bay Delta Blog, also written by Eric from Transbay.

Open Water logo

Anyway, I wanted to call your attention to what looks to be a very interesting event focused on water this weekend at St. George Spirits from the folks at OPENrestaurant. It seems like a great way to get people who aren’t super geeks thinking about water issues. Here’s the details:

On November 13 & 14, OPENwater, SFMOMA’s latest collaboration with the artists, chefs, and educators who make up OPENrestaurant, settles down at St George Spirits, a large distillery on the Alameda Naval base, for two days of culinary exploration. Focusing on the Bay-Delta watershed , OPENwater will propose an immersive experience at the confluence of food, water, politics, ecology and art. Through video, a 3D sound environment, panel discussions and more informal encounters with artists, fishermen, biologists and preservationists OPENwater will examine some of the issues at the heart of the California water system.


Click here for a schedule of events
Click here for directions

There will be bar food and drinks $5/10 and plenty of extra seating.

Dinners $65 — lunch $30 by reservation (includes a drink and printed menu)

All food is made on site from local organic ingredients and is subject to change depending on availability. Vegetarian alternatives will be available for all meals.

We recommend that you keep an eye on the weather and dress appropriately since the event takes place in the warehouse next to the stills.

Buy tickets for dinners here

Buy tickets for lunch here

Not sold yet? Okay. Here’s more details about what to expect, once again, via OPENrestaurant:


The Hydrological Cycle

The first day is an exploration of the Bay-Delta watershed hydrological cycle, the afternoon starts with a class/presentation on water and its cycle, followed by events centered on preservation and salt, the harvest of which necessitates sea water evaporation, a major source of rain precipitation in California. The dinner will follow the winter storm pattern, taking us from the ocean, across the Central Valley, to the Sierras and back through the river and delta system.

Cured, Curated, Preserved

From pickles to paintings, what is the relationship between preservation and cultural change? In this round table discussion, experts in the fields of culinary history, art conservation, and marine health will discuss the value of preservation. Within the ecology of each of these fields, we will examine how and why we protect against some change in order to encourage other transformations.


Dena Beard, MATRIX Curatorial Assistant, Berkeley Art Museum — Christopher Richard, Associate Curator of Aquatic Biology, Oakland Museum of California — Jennifer Frazier, Cell Biologist and Project Director, Exploratorium — Peter Vorster, Hydrogeographer, The Bay Institute


Briny consommé of Pacific seafood and seaweed
Risotto of rice from the Central Valley with duck raised on the rice fields and Sierra wild mushrooms
Warm Buckwheat crepes with pears from the Delta


Water Footprint

Centered on grassfed beef the lunch will point to the water footprint of food, highlighting the relationship between water and what it takes to grow our food by sourcing most produce from a single local watershed: the Lower Sacramento watershed. Produce from Agricola: flora and fauna, Soul Food Farm and Eatwell Farm.


Herb and endive salad with Soul Food Farm egg
Braised grass-fed beef crepinette with Tartine bakery bun, onion rings and dried farmed tomato ketchup
Almond tart

During the afternoon there will be a boat gathering organized by David Wilson in the Seaplane Lagoon just a short walk from St George Spirits.

San Francisco Delta Chinook Salmon Run

The second afternoon focuses on the plight of the SF Bay Chinook salmon. The dinner will be a Chinook salmon dinner without any salmon, pointing to the dramatic transformation of the Bay-Delta watershed and the issues around the collapse of the local salmon population. It will map the Chinook salmon run form the Golden Gate to the foothill spawning grounds by sourcing produce from farms distributed throughout the SF delta watershed, showing how agriculture and the Chinook share the same territory and resources. It will be preceded by a roundtable discussing the Chinook’s habitat and migration showing how it competes with the urban and agricultural water demands.

How water flows in California and the plight of the Bay/Delta Chinook salmon


Ed Ueber, Former ocean superintendent for the national park service — Tom Worthington, Partner, Monterey Fish — Lloyd G. Carter, Journalist — Marc Alley, Fisherman — Cynthia Hooper, Artist — Jon Rosenfield, President, SalmonAID Foundation


Grilled sadines with Nasturtium pods, Meyer lemon and pickled cucumbers
Cioppino, the traditional San Francisco fish stew, with local fish and shellfish
Sierra persimmon pudding


Resource room, library, lounge – detour into TheTank and encounter artists, experts, activists, educators in residency in this restaurant lounge designed for conversation and exploration. Permanent resident Jacques Cousteau will be joined by a rotation of visiting guides to include artists, curators, water experts, panelists from both evenings’ discussions, and fisherman telling tall tales of the sea.


Artworks/Installations by Denise King, Travis McFlynn, David Wilson, Lauren Marsden, Sita Bhaumik, Jessica Niello, Autochlor, Concrete Works.

Video works by Chris Sollars, Kim Anno, Cynthia Hooper, Marty Machado, Christina McPhee

Sound works by James Goode, Jen Boyd, Mark Dolomont, Becky White

Food by Cal Peternell/Chez Panisse, Chris Lee/Eccolo, Chris Kronner/Bar Tartine plus PEKO PEKO, HOG ISLAND, MAGNOLIA BREWERY, BEAUNES IMPORT, FOUR BARRELS and ST GEORGE SPIRITS

Menus, printed at the St George letterpress shop, Sasha Wizansky

Click here for a complete schedule of events.

2 thoughts on “OPENwater: A reason to go to Alameda

  1. Daniel Schulman

    Wow wee this looks like a great event.

    Pretty much anything to do with St George Spirits is a good enough reason to go to Alameda.