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mini berkeley crawl report (& bodega bistro)

brian j | May 29, 200606:24 PM

got up late morning on saturday and ventured over the bay bridge to berkeley. found a great parking spot near gregoire and decided we pretty much had to stop in for a quick bite to start the day. opted for the beef patty with gorgonzola and pecans. I could see as the chef applied the gorgonzola that it was quite runny and easily smeared on the lightly toasted golden-domed egg roll. The beef patty was quite slim, but the overall concoction of beef, creamy blue cheese and pecans, was delicious and certainly a unique take on a burger. It came with a small side of what looked like large cous cous, but tasted more like potatoe/macaroni salad. Strangely refreshing and a nice accompaniment.

popped into the epicurious garden for a quick look, but ended up not getting anything. i should have gotten a socca, but didn't. there also was some nice looking unagi over rice in the display case at kirala.

next up we went looking for the farmer's market. unfortunately i had mistakenly recorded the location for the thursday market. decided to hit up cheeseboard for some cheese since we were right there. grabbed three great raw milk cheeses, none of which i had ever had before. the first I noted listed as a special from Portugal, Queijo de Azeitao (DOP). It comes in a small round, and vaguely resembles Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk in texture , although it's flavor is somewhat more piquant.

Abbaye de Belloch (sheep) and Bethmalle (goat), both from French Pyrenees, were a bit firmer than the Azeitao but also quite rich in flavor. finished off my cheese purchases with some spanish cabrales for good measure. also picked up some mighty fine english muffins and onion bialies from cheeseboard.

from cheeseboard we then proceeded to cheeseboard pizza. the pie of the day included mozarella, feta, roma tomato, cilantro, garlic, & lemon zest. this is the first time we've had cheeseboard and we both enjoyed. the flavor combinations for this pizza were very bright and interesting. the crust was a bit on the doughy side, definitely could a bit more crispness, but enjoyable overall.

our next stop was ledger's liquors. the belgian beer selection was as nice as i've heard. they had two of my favorite beers. the first begin Dupont's Foret Organic Saison. the second being anything by Fantome.

afterwards we finally made it to the farmer's market. luckily it was still going on and we were able to procure some pistachios, organic cherries from frog hollow, eggs, chocolate chip cookie, and a nice 3lb chunk of pork shoulder from highland hills. also snagged a wonderful lassi from the dosa lady.

we ventured over to monterey fish next, but being a holiday weekend they were already out of anything i might have been interested in (i.e. spot prawns, kampachi).

checked out gioia pizza, but opted not for a slice as nothing really seemed to grab me. i was hoping to find a slice with something fatted calf on it, but didn't recognize anything.

capped off the entire day with our first visit to Bodega Bistro in the tenderloin for an early dinner. the papaya salad with beef jerky was awesome. the homemade pot stickers were good, not great. and the squab was a real treat. sorta like a mini duck. some delicious cripsy skin (though i thought there would be a bit more), and some nice meaty parts.

next time i do a crawl i definitely need to have more potential spots lined up. we might have stayed out in berkeley/east bay longer if I had known the location of a few more delicious destinations. almost went out to bo's bbq for dinner, but thought twice because of the holiday traffic.

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