Foodie Finds and Fun in the East Bay Area

These are sketches from our Berkeley-Austin studio convergence which Ellen mentioned in this post. While Ellen featured our healthy hike, I’m here to give you some tips for foodie finds and other fun discoveries to enjoy before and after wholesome excursions. Enjoy.

When we arrived in California, Ellen whisked us to a great restaurant in the Rockridge neighborhood of Berkeley/Oakland. A Coté was a cozy little café with cuisine inspired by Provence. The pomme frites were toasty, salty and extra perfect with the aioli sauce for dipping. The wine list was excellent, the cheeses divine, and recently, I have become a mussels searcher-outer, and theirs, perfumed with Pernod, are on the top of my list.
Friday was our day to visit with our friends at Shutterfly. (Watch for our three digital create-your-own books coming out this month!) We were fascinated with the follow-up work that had been added to the final files we had provided. It’s so satisfying to see the magic that occurs when we collaborate with creative designers who know how to use digital wizardry. And, they are friendly wizards, too!
As you know by now, I am a farm-hand-breakfast kind of gal. And, since we were headed off for a hike, morning sustenance was a must. In Albany (near El Cerrito), we discovered an excellent breakfast spot, the Royal Cafe. Surrounded by mid-century toasters and artifacts, we enjoyed a great breakfast with my beloved thick-sliced bacon, eggs, homefries, and since they are known for scones with lemon curd, we ordered that, too! I was fortified for a hike (and maybe a little meeting with my Weight Watchers counselor).
One day, we took a walk around the 4th Street District of Berkeley. It’s full of eclectic shops and favorites like Anthropologie (just had to pop in for a little Anthro-spiration). But we were actually on 4th Street for a reason: succulents. So we headed to the Cactus Jungle (but more on that in another post, because it deserves its very own shout-out!) Then, because we had passed a boat-like restaurant entrance a hundred times and wondered about it (Ellen said it always had a line outside on Sundays after church) we just had to try it…
Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto. The same family has owned it since it opened in 1890. The fish was excellent. The ambience was a mix of old and new and the patrons were a mix of old and young. Our favorite bit of lore was the 34-carat diamond ring, which had been given to Hawaii’s Queen Kapiolani, which was displayed in a free-standing porthole near the entrance. It is quite something to behold and a little bit odd in its presentation, which makes it all the more amusing.

Saturday night we happened to find ourselves having dinner inside a great little theatre, The Rialto, where we were to see The Artist. The Rialto serves real food and it’s very tasty. However, as the opening credits began to roll, I took one small bite of my crunchy pickle. C-r-r-r-unch. Whoa, I can assure you, I did not take another bite of pickle during a movie about silent films!
One morning we grabbed our lattés at Café Fanny, another Alice Waters restaurant. (I just had to try it, because I read Fanny at Chez Panisse a bazillion times to the girls when they were growing up.) There isn’t much room to eat inside, but, oh my gosh, if it’s a pretty day for you, just go with your nose on, and sit outside, because the delightful scent that will waft over you will be from the well-known Acme Bread Company, right   next door. Eau de Warm Bread. Mmm.
While we were in Berkeley, we planned to go by Stonemountain & Daughter. (I love that name) The store was filled with fabrics from floor to ceiling … and notions and books, and all things sewable. Our extra treat was seeing several of our juvenile fabrics mixed into the wonderful selection. Here are some pictures of them waiting on the shelves to become blankies and bags and booties.

So if you are headed to the Berkeley area, you might want to pop into some of these fun finds. And, if you have some favorite Bay Area Best Bets, we would love for you to share them with us and others headed out for some California dreaming.

1 Comment

  1. Ellen Heck March 7, 2012

    Happy memories!!!

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