Thursday, August 7, 2008

Officially leaving the Bay Area.

Ok. We're gonna do it. All in one go.

Let's wrap up the Berkeley foodventures and be done with it already!

Highlights from the rest of our trip, in reverse order of favoritism:

Chowdahs in the chill at Fisherman's Wharf.

Before our hike up the insanely steep and crooked Lombard Street in San Francisco, we needed proper sustenance. Fisherman's Wharf is a very touristy -- therefore, expensive -- spot, so we had to be a little creative:

First, we got an adorable sourdough turtle from Boudin. After promptly devouring its legs, tail and head, we headed over to the cluster of fresh seafood offerings where we purchased a cup each of crab chowder and clam chowder, each costing only a few dollars. Because it was biting cold and we didn't really feel like eating next to the pigeon poo, we headed back over to Boudin's heated outdoor patio to eat. (Wasn't that such a great idea?!)

The crab chowder was my favorite. It was the corn in it that sold me.

3. What is a Gypsy's? It is a delicious.

Spaghetti carbonara at Gypsy's Trattoria Italiano, located at none other than Asian Ghetto.

Man. I wish there were an Italian place like this at home. Gypsy's has a huge selection of pizzas, calzones and pastas (cooked perfectly al dente), which are prepared quickly, come in hefty portions, and cost you no more than a matinee movie. My carbonara was creamy and eggy, generously adorned with crispy pancetta.

As for the garlic bread? Instead of the usual garlic buttered-toast, Gypsy's dishes come with a slab of bread and a generous smear of real roasted garlic so soft and sweet, you'd think it was butter. But better. Better butter. Of garlic.

2. Hot/cold confusion, and the creamiest gelato ever.

The sun didn't peek out once during our trip, so it's a good thing I love eating ice cream in cold weather. Almare served up some of the most decadent gelato I've ever tasted (texture is always key). Pistachio was rich and nutty, kiwi-strawberry was true to its fruity flavors but not overly sweet, and both were perfectly creamy and thick.

Ici, on the other hand, is on a whole 'nother plane of ice cream existence. The flavors here, which change daily, are always unconventional: Earl Grey and cookies, Santa Rosa plum, gingersnap-honey, cardamom-rose... so many chances to try something you've never tasted before.

On this particular day, my cousin and I both opted for peach-habanero. Its searing heat was immediately soothed by sweet tanginess, which quickly turned back into spiciness. While sitting on a bench outdoors, we vocalized this strange, but wonderful sensation:

"I'm cold. But it's hot! But it's cold... I'm so confused!"

Diamond dogs.

From the hole-in-the-wall (literally) Top Dog, my sister got a chicken-lemon dog (left), I got the linguica, my cousin got the original Top Dog. Unfortunately, the one I got was my least favorite -- probably because I unwittingly slathered it with a very spicy horseradish mustard (I didn't know what "Russian mustard" was!). At least now I know that spicy, smoky sausage does NOT go with horseradish. The O.G. "New York-style" hot dog was classic and wonderful, and the chicken-lemon was surprisingly juicy and tender. I really, really wanted to go back to try the smoked chicken apple dog, but didn't get a chance to! Boo. I want to try each of the dozen or so flavors.

Phew! This post was long, but it included only highlights; I took way more food photos:

For my next visit, I've vowed to make it down to Berkeley's famed "Gourmet Ghetto" -- home to the likes of widely-praised Cheeseboard and Chez Panisse.

Let's go! Now?


Lisa said...

Go to Chez Panisse at lunch time, it costs way less.

Val said...

Ooh, I will definitely remember this as I am quite broke. Thanks!