| ||Healthy eating never tasted so good|
| ||making bread at The Cheese Board Collective|
| ||the many cheeses on the cheese board|
| ||zucchini flowers among the fresh produce at Berkeley’s farmers’ markets|
Just a short ride by car or public transport across San Francisco Bay, the city of Berkeley is an often overlooked destination for visitors to the Bay Area. Located as they are in the shadow of the city of San Francisco, one of the America’s most popular travel destinations, Berkeley’s attractions are appealing enough to fill a week’s itinerary on their own. These days, though, the factor that gets San Francisco visitors and residents alike to cross the bay is food; despite the city’s famous university and the raffish charms of a boho-hippie spirit that still lives on as a vestige of the social upheavals of the 1960s, Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto revels in its status as the place where various important food movements have begun over the decades. From locavorism to paleo cuisine, Berkeley sits at the forefront of food trends to this day. Awareness of food is not limited to trendy restaurants, either; even the supermarket is an adventure into tastes unknown, with such products as kale-jalapeño chips and lavender soft drinks found on the shelves of Andronico’s. And how many cities have a butcher shop whose refrigerator has a viewing window to marvel at fresh sides of beef?
It all started with two Berkeley institutions still doing a roaring trade to this day. The Cheese Board Collective opened in 1968 and still follows its original format of having owner-workers performing all the tasks necessary for a successful business. The local and imported cheeses are now supplemented by the freshest of breads as well as the wildly popular pizza collective where only one type of (excellent) pizza is served each day.
More formal informal dining is enjoyed at the celebrated Chez Panisse, which still reigns over the food scene with the most coveted reservations in town. A slew of other establishments have their own appeal: Saul’s Deli is as genuine a New York delicatessen as can be found off the island of Manhattan; gelato at Lush offers such sublime flavours as caramel balsamic, brown sugar, star anise, and tequila; Alegio Chocolate purveys the purest of chocolate imported directly from the tiny African country of São Tomé e Príncipe. True to the Berkeley spirit, Café Gratitude presents a menu of healthy foods with feel-good names like I Am Grace and I Am Fulfilled.
All these places are located along Berkeley’s North Shattuck Avenue in an area known as the Gourmet Ghetto. For visitors looking to sample the fare at several places in a short period of time, the very commendable Edible Excursions offers gourmet tours of Berkeley, some led by Berkeley-based Australian food maven Sarah Henry. Edible Excursions escorts tour participants in sampling a variety of Berkeley tastes at a number of establishments. Far from being a superficial tourist experience, Edible Excursions sees 90% of its clientele consisting of locals from the Bay Area wanting to know more about the great food in their midst. Why not be among them?
More information about Berkeley’s culinary offerings, along with information about the city’s other attractions, is online on the website of Visit Berkeley.
Cheese Board Collective photos courtesy of Lisa Zander, Edible Excursions
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Source = e-Travel Blackboard: R.L.B