After leaving NYC at 4:30am on a freezing-cold, pitch-black morning, I landed in balmy Oakland, ready to weep at the sight of the flowering cherry trees and Meyer lemon trees and dudes on skateboards drinking lattes. Happily, my friends' house was just down the street from Berkeley Bowl...the citrus aisle was a thing of insane beauty, especially after NYC's two-for-a-dollar dried-out bland oranges. I filled my cart with dozens of tangerines, blood oranges, all kinds of things, and enough avocados to fill a mixing bowl with guac. Bliss! I'd also forgotten how cool it is to be able to buy wine--good wine!--in the supermarket. The next morning, fab scones from Sconehenge and Peet's coffee, mmm.
Old favorites just as good as I'd remembered: Croissants and a croque monsieur (with broc rabe and fromage blanc) from Tartine; veggie taco with avocado at La Taqueria; warm-from-the-oven apple turnovers from the Liberty bakery cottage; calamari with white beans, nettle pasta at Delfina; Bi-Rite; Acme walnut bread; Redwood goat cheese; Caesar and a preserved-tuna pasta at Zuni.
Excellent new things: Excellent dal, califlower, and lamb curry from Spicy Bite, on Mission at Cortland (the owners are Nepalese, so there'ss a different spin to the food than most of the Pakistani-run Indian restaurants in the city; killer, super-rich hot chocolate at Town Hall. What a pretty place. The Calif-styled Southern food seems a little silly (tuna tartare with fried green tomatoes!) but the vibe (and bar) is really nice, and the desserts are great, esp. the pineapple upsidedown cake with pineapple caramel. The hot choc costs 7 bucks like the rest of the desserts, but it's like liquid choc pot de creme. The ice cream at Scoops in Fairfax was really good too--tried the vanilla-honey made with Marshall Farm honey,yum. The Ferry Plaza farmer's market--gorgeous! Inside the FB, I really loved the hog island oyster bar and the wine bar where you can bring in your own cheese and bread for a picnic.
Finally got to Citizen Cake for dinner, and loved the super-succulent short ribs and vegetarian root-veg brandade. Quince was really pretty but not quite as good as I'd hoped it would be. Sent the squid-ink pasta back in exchange for some much-better paparadelle with rabbit--very Tuscan grandma, although there were weird gristly bits and bones in the sauce.
Overall, it was bliss to be back. Be very, very happy about where you live.
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