Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bette's Harira

I was astonished to read that Bette Kroening, owner of the beloved Bette's Oceanview Diner in Berkeley, had died in February. She was only 71. I got to know Bette when I worked at Sur La Table on Fourth Street, across the street from her diner and Bette's To Go. I was a good customer and we would chat there and at Sur La table when she came in for supplies. We were the same age and had followed similar paths into the California food scene. We both arrived in Berkeley in 1971. She first worked in social services in Contra Costa County, while I found a job in rare books at John Howell-Books in San Francisco. She opened Bette's Oceanview Diner in 1982 while I had opened Cookbook Corner in '77. I started frequenting Fourth street when Mark Miller, an avid cookbook collector, restaurateur and anthropologist, opened Fourth Street Grill, the first business on the now thriving street. Bette was working there as the lunchtime kitchen manager. We didn't meet until 1996 when I helped open Sur La Table on Fourth Street and Bette's Oceanview Diner was a breakfast destination and her take out lunch spot was famous for pizza by the slice, sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries.  Bette and her husband Manford were frequently manning the cafe, so when I wanted the recipe for harira, her version of the the  extraordinary Moroccan soup I ordered one April day in January 2001, she promptly xeroxed it for me. I left Sur La Table years ago so I saw Bette less frequently, but  I miss her nonetheless. I can't believe that she won't be welcoming me with a smile and a bowl of her delicious soup when I walk down Fourth Street.

                     Here's the recipe that Bette copied for me in April 2001. It seems like yesterday.

And here is my offering to Bette. I make this soup a lot and I think of her every time I get out the recipe.

Harira from the recipe above