Monday, April 6, 2009

Gnoshing All Over Berkeley

Last Saturday we spent the day in Berkeley, one of my old stomping grounds...

Berkeley (otherwise known as Bezerkeley) is home to one of the best universities in the world (according to the London Times) and to the most patchouli smelling-anti-corporate-organic eating-yoga practicing-hemp and birkenstock wearing-policitally correct-yuppified-granola crunching-hippy dippies this side of the planet. Berkeley is also the birthplace of California Cuisine. For the most part, we shopped, walked, and ate...and ate....and ate, and ate, and ate. And then...ate. We figured we might as well take advantage of our situation since we can never get this type of high quality food in Belfast! Sorry Belfast but it's the sad truth, your food scene has yet to be desired! FYI...Chips and curry at "the Chinkers" does not qualify as ethnic cuisine.

4th Street:

Our day started off at 4th Street. A chic shopping strip lined with fine restaurants and speciality stores such as my favorite clothing store, Anthropologie, where it pained me to only look and not buy. And Craig's newly discovered favorite, Restoration Hardware where he completely fell in love with this bed which only costs $2,720 plus tax!

Shopping galore!

People chillaxing al fresco!

Time for brunch at Cafe M. You know you're in Berkeley when you see two young male caucasian hippie dippies were cupping their hands over their eggs benedict and chanting before they dive into their meal. Craig couldn't help but order the same. He said if they had to say a prayer before they stuffed their bakes, then it must be good!

Eggs benedict drowning in Hollandaise sauce

I had the Crab Melt it was "Meh". I still say we should've waited to have brunch at La Note but noooooooo Craig says it was too out of the way since it was way down south of Shattuck Avenue! I would travel the far ends of the earth for their Gingerbread Pancakes slathered in Lavender Honey and their Nicoise Salad with Grilled Tuna. Oh lord! Must. Go Back.

University Avenue:

An international thoroughfare stretching up from the bay and dead ends at the UC Berkeley campus, which reflects the Berkeley's varied international flavors from Thai to Hawaiian to Japanese, to Afghani to West African to Persian to Pakistani to Indian. You will also find that the Indian community is prominent here. You will see blocks and blocks of Indian restaurants, Sari Palaces, Chaat Cafes, and Indian grocery stores. This strip reminds me of London's Brick Lane.

Photo courtesy of Frank A. Duck

Indian sweets at Vik's Chaat Corner

Gourmet Ghetto:

"In Berkeley you have people who are willing to put their money where their mouth is," says Bruce Aidells, cookbook author and founder of a gourmet sausage company bearing his name. "In other places, people spend their disposable income on an RV or motorboat. Here, we don't think twice about spending $4 on an heirloom tomato."

Ground zero for this mind-set is the neighborhood surrounding Chez Panisse. It's known as the Gourmet Ghetto, an apt name for a district that blends the bohemian with the bourgeois. Here you'll find the Cheeseboard Collective, a worker-owned cooperative that sells a staggering variety of cheeses and baked goods at reasonable prices. It's also where you'll come across Epicurious Garden, an upscale culinary mall that features takeout sushi, chocolate truffles, and champagne sorbetto.

I couldn't have said it better myself. This is how serious they are about food here! I'm not kidding!

Epicurious Garden where your fantasy culinary dream come true awaits

If you really want to pretend to be a Berkeley local, grab a slice from Cheeseboard, cross the street and enjoy your slice on the median despite signs that clearly say, "Keep off Median".

They make the best sandwiches at Gregoire and the potato puffs are to die for!

Even though we had brunch a few hours earlier, we couldn't help feel a grumble in our stomachs so we took a snack break at Saul's Delicatessen, the closest thing to a New York style Jewish deli this side of the west coast...

Complaints and Advice on the menu

Craig and I shared latkes w/ applesauce and sour cream and I had a refreshing Kedemski (lemonade and grape juice spritzer)

Then off to Love at First Bite for a cupcake or nine!

Last but not least the culinary Holy Grail! The infamous Alice Waters' Chez Panisse. You're lucky to get a reservation a month in advance. The menu changes frequently depending which ingredients are in season and at their freshest. Full course meals range up to $95 per head. I want to eat here so bad! Craig said I looked like a homeless person outside Burger King.

UC Berkeley Campus:

Strawberry Creek UC Berkeley. To see more famous UC Berkeley icons, click here

Telegraph Avenue (Student Ghetto):

There is something for everyone here from punks to goths to granolas to college co-eds to Vietnam vets. You can get a henna tattoo, a bong, a tongue piercing, a rasta hat, a tye dye shirt, vintage clothing and eat to your heart's content on the cheap. My favorite record store is here. And the best place to get a big ass bowl of salad is at Intermezzo.

Lastly, a pick-me-up at Peet's Coffee and Tea, a longtime Berkeley establishment. Any other coffee is just cigarette butt juice.


Grasshopper said...

dayum...this post is making me hungry!

Joanne said...

Anthologie and Restoration Hardware!!! Damn you guys have got good taste, 2 of my all time fav's as well! Loved this post and all of it's eats, just wonderful, I think you captured California and ethnic cuisine really well. So how did Craig like that eggs benedict? Another fav of mine, made me hungry and want one too.