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Restaurants & Bars 21

Epoisses and the rest of my afternoon's chowhounding

Ruth Lafler | Aug 14, 200108:24 PM

You all are a bad influence on me! Instead of considering it a self-indulgent pig-out to spend a free afternoon eating and food shopping, I now justify it as "research" for the benefit of chowhound!

First stop: Another visit to East Ocean for dim sum. First time there during a lunch rush, and found it impressively full for mid-week. Remembering how good the eggplant clay pot looked at dinner, I ordered the stuffed eggplant with chilli sauce. When it came, I was disappointed -- the sauce looked rather heavy -- but one bite and I was a happy chowhound. I ended up wishing I had some rice to finish the sauce, or could take the puddle of sauce home. I did order my favorite desserts: sesame balls and steamed custard buns to take home. Yum.

Then I headed into Berkeley to run errands. On the way out Shattuck to the Cheese Board I stopped at Berkeley Bowl to stock up on Gravensteins, Van cherries, blue lake green beans, etc. I found some Food Mill Super Ginger cookies, which are the best chewy ginger cookies in the world.

I also browsed the wine section, and noted some interesting roses. But when I saw a Sancerre rose, I simply had to try it (since Melanie is going to ask, the lable says "Grande Reserve 2000" and "mis en bouteille par Henri Bourgeois" -- is that a negociant?

I couple of blocks from the Bowl, I passed a sandwich board pointing to the nearby Berkeley farmers' market. A lightbulb went off: that's one of the places the red corn people sell their corn. So I made a U-turn and went on a mission to find red corn. Eureka! So fresh the worms were still wiggling. The kernels aren't completely red, though. They're white with ruby red "shoulders." At three for a dollar, a real chowhound bargain!

Then finally, the Cheese Board. I don't think the guy who was helping me was one of the regulars; when I asked for an epoisses, he asked around, and finally turned one up. He claimed it's unpasteurized, but I'm not sure he's reliable. Anyway, it is in one of those light wooden round boxes, and says "Epoisses -- appellation d'origine Berthaut." It also has a sticker on it that says "Ministere de l'Agriculture et de la Peche -- Councours General Agricole -- Medaille d'or Paris 2001". Even through the plastic shrink wrap over the inner box, it smells pretty strong! I tasted it there (he insisted on opening one up for me, and then selling me an unopened one) -- I think it might be an acquired taste. I also bought a new-to-me sheep's milk cheese (petit Agour), as I've gotten very fond of what I perceive to be the unique texture of sheep's milk cheeses.

Of course I needed something to put cheese on, so I checked out the bread selection and fell victim to English muffins that not only smelled heavenly but were still warm. Add a couple of pieces each of hazelnut and ginger shortbread, and my afternoon's chowhounding was done.

Now to make a meal out of corn, Engish muffins with cheese, and leftover dim sum.

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