A Slice of My Life – Week 49

December 10, 2012

Lots of food photos this week.  Tuesday, I got to eat lunch at Chez Panisse and Thursday I got to take a food tour of the Gourmet Ghetto, a small area in Berkeley where there is lots of terrific food.

Mecca.  I met Tracy and Allison there.  We had a lovely lunch, the space is so pretty and we had terrific service.  I have to say, I was underwhelmed by the food.  I know it is simple, I was ready for simple.  I like simple.  Nothing was bad, just not what I imaged Chez Panisse would be.

Pizza with wild mushrooms and gremolata.  The mushrooms were stellar, the rest was, um, underwhelming.

The best part about lunch, aside from the lovely company, was a jar of these of these candied citrus peels.  I don’t think I would ever had had the patience to make them myself, so I am grateful to have them!

A soup of my own creation – so good I made it twice.  I know I owe you LOADS of recipes but this one will be first up.

I also sautéed up a big batch of tofu.  Tip – use extra firm, marinate in tamari (or other soy sauce) for about an hour.  Dry fry in a non-stick pan, taking care to keep turning the tofu so it browns on (almost) all sides.  If you think tofu is mushy or flavorless, try it this way.

I went on a Gourmet Ghetto tour with Edible Excursions and the amazing Sarah was my leader.  The Gourmet Ghetto is a small few blocks radius area in North Berkeley around Chez Panisse.  Many restaurants and food shops have sprung up around there in the years that Alice Waters has been changing America’s ideas about food.  The tour was a really nice mix of old traditional places and new start ups and we had many many good bites.  I was incredibly full by the end and had learned a lot.  The above photo is of an amazing chocolate tasting at Alegio Chocolate.  We had lots of samples but I was blown away by their simple 70% chocolate which only contains cacao and sugar.  We tasted it alongside another “premium” chocolate that has vanilla extract in their chocolate and, after Alegio’s, the competitor tasted like perfume.

I like ice cream as much as the next person but it surprised me that the best thing I ate all day was the gelato at Lush Gelato.  We got to taste as many flavors as we wanted and then got a cup to take outside with us.  I tasted every chocolate flavor (because tastes don’t count, right?), then settled on the chocolate orange sorbet and the apple sorbet.  I was totally blown away by the chocolate sorbet – incredibly creamy and very subtle orange flavor.

Potato Puffs.  Think fried mashed potato balls with a tartar sauce like dip.  Crazy good and addictive.

This is the sign at the Cheeseboard Collective.  Those are all cheese that are available on a given day.  That place is amazing and inspiring.  It features a pizza everyday (one that people wait in line for), as well as terrific baked goods.  We got to taste their sourdough and it was super sour and crisp.  I bought English muffins to take home and some of their pizza dough because, as easy as it is to  make your own dough, it’s even easier to buy it.  My boys Freaked Out about the muffins.  They are amazing.

The pizza that day.  Mushrooms, ricotta salata, scallions, sesame oil.  Doesn’t sound like it should work but it did beautifully.  Much better than the pizza I had at Chez Panisse.

One of our favorite holiday traditions when we lived in Seattle, was to go to our friends Jenn and Jos’s house.  The decorated their beautiful house with incredible gusto and good taste.  They always strung these little mittens across their fireplace and I was enchanted by them.  Each year, I would ask where they got them and each year I would forget to buy them.  Jenn and Jos came to visit us about a month ago and they brought us our very own mittens.  I was so touched.  Each one is filled with a little gift and the boys have LOVED opening them.  See San Francisco in the background?

I knew I was missing Cheryl’s cookbook on my bookshelf.  I didn’t know that I was also missing all of these other ones.  Turns out they were all partying together in a forgotten box but are now in their rightful place.


  1. The Cheeseboard makes a special gingerbread once a year. It’s amazing. They sell out immediately. If you like gingerbread you might want to call and find out when it will be available. It’s worth the effort.

    Comment by Robbie — December 10, 2012 @ 9:16 pm

  2. It all looks fabulous to me! even the “underwhelming” Chez Panisse.

    So nice that you made friends in the food playground already in San Fran. It all like mecca to me.


    Comment by stacey snacks — December 11, 2012 @ 1:46 am

  3. I flipped through Cheryl’s cookbook just this past weekend and was reminded of how much fun we had that day!

    I’m so glad to hear you’re having fun eating your way through SF. It’s the only way to do it.

    Comment by Joanne — December 11, 2012 @ 4:24 am

  4. I am so glad you moved to Oakland. Loving the food tips. Where are the potato puffs from?

    Chez Panisse isn’t the best place for a vegetarian. You should try Greens restaurant in SF at Fort Mason. Founded by a Panisse alumni.
    And lastly, I love tofu prepared that way. It’s a standard in my house. Definitely not flavorless. Adding a little really good smoked paprika (my local co-op carries a fabulous organic one, much better than any imported spanish one I’ve had) is great too. And sometimes garlic and sweet onion powder. Just my two cents…

    Comment by Renee — December 11, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

  5. Renee, the puffs are from Gregoire. They were crazy good. Thanks for the Greens suggestion – I have actually been there many times and have always enjoyed the food and the beautiful setting. Love smoked paprika!

    Comment by dana — December 11, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

  6. Thanks for a great ride :-)

    Comment by Idit — December 12, 2012 @ 5:18 am

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