January 16-18, 2015
Given the whirlwind of activity we engaged in during our prior stay in Oakland, we decided to keep this visit a bit lower key. That meant a relaxing morning in the apartment, catching up on reading and other small chores and then a short trek up to Berkeley in the afternoon to spend a couple of hours at another favorite hangout, Jupiter. Home to their own brews as well as nearly 20 rotating guest beers, it is a fine place to spend a few hours on a sunny afternoon.
Upon entering we made our way to the back patio, grabbing a table in the upper deck with a good view of the current beers menu and the courtyard below. We’d spend a couple of hours there, enjoying a couple of rounds and sharing a Spinach and Artichoke Dip Appetizer and a pizza of the day. We whiled away the hours playing Snatch-It, a Scrabble like game which Jessica’s degree of mastery completely overwhelmed the Two other J’s efforts; Kris held is own though and came in a close second in both the games we completed.
A brief stop at Berkeley Bowl market south on the way back to the apartment netted us a few necessary ingredients to complement the BBQ we’d undertake later that day. The apartment is a seven-story building, with Jessica’s unit on the sixth floor; the seventh floor is the roof, which includes a few penthouse suites but also houses some nice lounging furniture and resident’s grills. And that is where we spent a bit of time in the early evening, waiting while the meat cooked, the skyline of downtown Oakland spread out before us as a colorful mural.
Our biggest challenge for the evening was not staying warm. It was keeping Dinky out of the apartments up on the roof. Every time a door would open she would wander in that direction and the next thing we knew we had to rescue the apartment’s owner from the intrusion. This is an even more compelling task given the little dog is fourteen years old, can’t hear well (well to be honest, she is deaf), and has pretty much forgotten that she is housetrained.
We finished up the cooking part of dinner, cleaned up after the dog (who did manage to leave a memento on the roof’s floor), and retired to the apartment to enjoy our food and another quiet evening of movies and reading. The next day, Sunday brought more superb weather as we ventured north to Berkeley for breakfast at what is commonly known as the Thai Temple (wat-mongkolratanaram), a visit we’ve made on other Sunday’s in the past.
This is a very popular gathering spot as the food is reasonably priced and quite good. We split an order of the green curry, fried chicken, a mango and rice desert like salad, and a Thai Iced Tea. Suitably fortified we took off for Washingtown Laundry, as it was washing day for Jessica and Kris. While they waited for the process to complete Joanna and I made our way up Adeline Street to MLK Jr. Way for a quick stop at the Ashby Bart Station for the weekly Berkeley Flea Market.
Not particularly large, there was still enough booths and activity to keep us occupied for an easy hour or so of browsing. Having just eaten, we weren’t tempted by the numerous food vendors so we just enjoyed the sights and smells. We left the station and continued up Adeline heading north for a few blocks, keeping an eye on the time so that we could turn back when needed to return to Washingtown.
We walked past the original Berkeley Bowl Market and turned onto Ward Street the short block to Shattuck where we began to make our way south. We have many fond memories of this neighborhood from the two years when Jessica and Kris lived just off Ashby. We passed by one of their favorite breakfast haunts, Sconehenge, where we’ve had a number of memorable meals, then stopped in at Any Mountain, a local outdoor products retail store we’d passed by many times.
Mostly specializing in clothing and equipment rentals, they did have a small selection of necessary camping equipment, always nice to browse through to get ideas about making life a little easier when spending time in the out of doors. We rendezvoused with Jessica and Kris at Washingtown just as they were finishing up and to complete our afternoon, drove back to downtown Oakland for a beer at Lost and Found, one of their new discoveries.
Being Sunday we easily found street parking a block away and entered the well lit and appealing main bar area to order a round of brews. Our destination though was the even more inviting outdoor beer garden where we grabbed a table and proceeded to enjoy our drinks while engaging in a rousing game of Cornhole, a very popular game back in our neck of the woods. It wasn’t going to be our weekend for game play as Jessica and Kris again thumped us, but there will be more games in the future when we can reclaim our dignity.
Lost and Found also has a pretty interesting looking menu but we were still comfortable after our Thai Temple visit leaving us time to regain our appetites for the evenings real treat, a visit to Corso, sister restaurant to Rivoli. Jessica and Kris visit here pretty regularly and as the staff tends to work at both restaurants, have come to know a few of them. We’ve been a couple of times and were looking forward to a return visit.
We arrived at the restaurant and were seated without a wait for our 7:00pm reservation and started off with a round of drinks, among them Kris’ Kentucky Ridge (Kentucky Ridge bourbon, cranberry-Douglas fir Shrub, Meyer lemon, and prosecco) and I asked for a white wine that resembled one of my favorites from our stay near Siena, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Our waiter recommended the Pecorino Cataldi Madonna Marche 2013 and although I can’t say it was exactly as remembered, it was a fine way to start the evening’s meal.
The menu here changes regularly, so a glimpse at the today’s offerings won’t inform tomorrow’s decisions. One dish that is almost always on is the Pollo al Burro, a Hoffman Farms butter-roasted chicken breast with lemon. While sounding simple in preparation, their use of a full pound of unsalted Plugra butter and cooking for 15 minutes in the cast iron skillet with a quarter of the butter, then 10 in an oven, then back on the burner to complete with the remainder of the butter makes for a rich nutty flavor that makes you forget just how unhealthy the dish is at 80 grams of fat per serving.
We finished with dessert, a Panna Cotta and at the table’s insistence, my favorite from Rivoli now found on this menu, the house-made Biscotti with Vin Santo. A sweet sherry style dessert wine, each dipped and Vin Santo soaked bite of the biscotti delivers a burst of the sweet grape, the individual characteristics of the vintage lingering on the tongue as you try to slowly consume this treat. I usually fail, finishing quickly and wanting more.
We returned to the apartment for an early evening, Jessica and Kris both needing to go to work the next day and our anticipating the drive down the I-5 to Los Angeles. It would be tough taking our leave, knowing that it would be quite a few months until we’d get to see them again, the hardest part of living across the continent from each other. Maybe the future will bring us a day when we can see them more than they’d like, good for us and not so good for them. That’s a risk I’d be willing to take.
Washingtown Laundry: http://www.yelp.com/biz/washingtown-berkeley
Berkeley Flea Market: http://www.berkeleyfleamarket.com/
Any Mountain: http://anymountain.net/about-us/
Lost and Found: http://www.lostandfound510.com/
Plugra Butter: http://plugra.com/