Just north of Oakland in the East Bay is the university town of Oakland. Here I found:
Chez Panisse: This is the iconic California restaurant, started in 1971 by chef Alice Waters and a group of friends. The focus is locally-grown and organic food. The restaurant downstairs features a tasting menu that changes nightly. In 1981, they opened the Chez Panisse Cafe upstairs which offers more moderately priced, al a carte options for lunch and dinner. The menu changes daily also. I enjoyed a lovely chilled pea soup, a salad and decadent dessert. 1517 Shattuck Ave.
The Rare Barrel – A Sour Beer Company: I tried my first sour beer at their brewery and tasting room. My pick was The Forces Unseen, which is a blend of five golden sour beers aged in oak barrels. It was really very good and reminded me of a hard cider in many ways. It is located just south of University at 940 Parker St. in a warehouse building that has a large tasting room.
Fourth Street: Starting in the 1980’s as a design hub for the home, this is a fun street with many design and home furnishing stores. There are also restaurants, coffee shops and much more to explore.
Miki’s Paper: This is a really outstanding store featuring Japanese handmade paper and items made from this paper like, cards, note cards, boxes and frames. 1801 Fourth St.
Builders Booksource. At 1817 Fourth St. is a bookstore that features books on design, architecture, landscaping and more.
IYASARE: This is a really wonderful Japanese restaurant, at 1830 Fourth St. in Berkeley, that in my opinion deserves a Michelin Star or James Beard Foundation Award. Chef Shotaro Kamio cooks the food of his native, Tohoku region of Japan. I had a perfect dining experience, ordering 3 courses plus a dessert. I loved the hamachi crudo with shaved white asparagus, sweet onion, lemon, sansho, yuzu kosho and yuzu dashi or broth. This was followed by glazed baby rainbow carrots with curry carrot puree, a coconut cream, shaved carrots, shisa and lime. I then had pan seared U10 scallops with marble potato, scallions, potato puree, bottarga and a bacon-miso cream. For dessert, I loved the banana ice cream, with a macha foam, chocolate sauce, sesame seeds, banana slices, dark chocolate pieces and a green tea cookie dipped in dark chocolate. All were complex in taste and beautifully prepared and presented.
Artis Coffee: Make sure to stop in at Artis Coffee when shopping on Fourth St. in Berkeley. 1717B Fourth St.
Bette’s Oceanview Diner gets good reviews for its breakfasts. 1804 Fourth St. I can’t wait to try it.
High on my list for my next trip is to visit the newly opened Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) in downtown.