After visiting a warehouse sale and the local 24 Hour Fitness down in San Carlos, I headed downtown for lunch intending to try my first venture into South Indian cuisine (inspired by Melanie's travels, of course) at a place called Bombay Palace. Alas, they were closed when I arrived, so I went to downtown San Carlos looking for other options.
I thought I could get my feijoada curiosity out of the way when I found Nino's Brazilian Restaurant & Pizzeria (don't know if it's related to the one in Berkeley) but another "just-missed" moment - I caught them just as they were closing their doors, and they wouldn't be open until dinner.
So off to wandering again...but only a few doors down, I saw a sign that intrigued me - "Freshly Made Boiled New York Bagels." I'm no bagel expert, but with the quest for a great bagel in the Bay Area an ever present quest, I decided to stop in and found a lot more.
Chocolate Mousse was the original and is the current name for this cafe/patisserie (it had been Vivaldi's in-between.) Besides bagels, sandwiches (European and New York selections) with many freshly cooked deli meats, fruit smoothies, and coffee are available. I had a sandwich (the Staten Island Screamer), but the sandwich didn't equal the sum of its parts, though. Good dutch crunch roll, tender marbled corned beef and tasty pastrami (not homemade; the counterperson said they get theirs from Prima's(?) Meats in SF) were plusses. But the potatoes, though herby, were stale, and the tomatoes and onions didn't add anything.
Judging by the customers that came in, it's not the sandwiches but the multitude of desserts displayed that are the real stars here. All of them looked decidedly scrumptious (the blueberry turnover they had for sampling was nicely flaky and buttery.) Had I not promised myself to visit Sketch Ice Cream at the end of my trip, I would've definitely indulged.
As it was, I ended up buying a bag of their day-old bagels (a bargain at four for $1). I sampled a bagel (the plain; I ended up with two asiagos and one sesame seed as well) after I got home. I'm no bagel expert, but I definitely noticed a texture difference; this bagel was much less bready than any store-bought or Noah's-type bagels that I've had. If you do buy a bagel there, they do have various varieties of cream cheese available.
Before leaving San Carlos, I noticed another sign nearby offering free tastings of pumpkin pie fudge above Anita's Gifts and Candies. Yummm - I hadn't had any fudge since my visit to Mackinac Island in Michigan with my ex-girlfriend several years ago. And pumpkin to boot...I had to try it out.
Alas, my third "just-missed" for the day - they had just sold out of their latest pumpkin pie fudge batch. They had just started preparation of a new batch in the machine behind the counter, but it wouldn't be ready for another two hours. Darn, I thought, but while I'm here, why not try the others? The apple pie and caramel fudge was richly creamy and divine, the key lime was lighter but with good lime flavor, and the piña colada fudge was okay. I took home chunks of apple pie & key lime and headed off before the 138 varieties of candy and assortment of chocolates and truffles could tempt me any further.
I did end up fulfilling my pumpkin fix at Sketch a couple hours later after some more early Christmas shopping. Eric and Ruthie were very friendly (in fact, everyone I encountered today were quite friendly), and I tried out the Kabocha(?) Pumpkin and Burnt Caramel together.
After dropping a tip in their honeymoon jar (Eric & Ruthie were just married and are going to Thailand next February), I went to the benches outside and indulged. Indeed, this is definitely the smoothest ice cream I've ever had. The tastes were subtle but clean and I appreciated that. Growing up with Mitchell's Ice Cream, I still find that number one in my heart, but if I was forced to have Sketch's the rest of my life, I wouldn't mind at all.
617 Laurel Street
San Carlos, CA 94070
Anita's Gifts & Candies
676 Laurel Street
San Carlos, CA 94070
Sketch Ice Cream
1809-B 4th St
Berkeley, CA 94710