Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Taste of Berkeley

I went down to Berkeley yesterday with my mom to drop a few things off at my apartment and somehow managed to eat a Souffle Pancake at Bette's Oceanview Diner, a few slices of Cheeseboard pizza, and a cone of ice cream from Ici.  It's not every day that I get to eat that much good food from not one, not two, but three quality sources. I'm still savoring yesterday's meals.  Let me just say, if you're on the fence about attending UC Berkeley let the abundance of fantastic restaurants in the city shove you onto the right side.  
First stop was brunch at Bette's on Fourth Street.  My parents have been many times but yesterday was my first time actually sitting down for a meal there.  One day, after making the mistake of walking from past campus all the way to Fourth Street (note: take a bus unless you have hours to kill and some comfortable shoes), I stopped at Bette's To-Go right next door to the diner.  You can pick up bakery items there, or, in my case, a nice and refreshing organic frozen yogurt.  But never before had I stepped foot into the restaurant, which is a little surprising considering that I'm in love with breakfast/brunch.  
We had about a twenty minute wait before getting a table, but easily filled the time exploring the surrounding shops on Fourth Street.  When we were seated, I already knew what I was going to order from researching the menu, so spent my time taking in the homey, comfortable atmosphere amidst the hustle and bustle of quick but friendly waiters carrying steaming plates of blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs.  I also observed the delicious dishes of the people around and behind me with the help of mirrors that lined the cute diner.  Yes, I was that hungry.  I had ordered a seasonal fruit Souffle Pancake, a favorite at the restaurant and which also appeared on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on Food Network.  When it came it looked a little like the picture below.  Only better.  Ryo wasn't there to snap the photos with his nice Nikon, so I couldn't give the wonderful food I ate as much justice as it all deserved.  Also, you have to be able to smell it and, well, eat it, to get the entire experience. 

Seasonal Fruit Souffle Pancake from Bette's Oceanview Diner
If you're like me you're probably wondering what this Souffle Pancake is.  After finishing it off, I would describe it as a really light and fluffy pancake that tastes a little like a huge popover with tons of fruit.  At the diner they make it in a pan and cook it over the stove and in the oven to get it all puffy, warm, and delicious.  My mom ordered some great lox scrambled eggs but after tasting some of the Souffle Pancake decided she would have to order it next time too.  I have never eaten something for breakfast with such a fluffy texture and am now tempted to find their recipe and try it out myself.   They sell a book containing some of their recipes called The Pancake Handbook at the front of the shop.  Maybe I'll have to acquire one.

The Daily Pizza and Salad at Cheeseboard Pizza Collective

After browsing and shopping a little and stopping by my apartment, it was about dinner time so we headed down to the Cheeseboard Pizza Collective on Shattuck.  Cheeseboard deserves an entire post of its own so one day we'll get some really nice pictures, eat several slices a piece, and write one.  For now, I'll just say the pizza at Cheeseboard is incredible.  It's a favorite of many, raved about constantly, and also very affordable, especially in contrast to its neighbor across the street, the great Chez Panisse.  So, go to Berkeley and eat a few slices!  It's equally owned and operated by the Cheeseboard Collective and they make one kind of vegetarian pizza to serve all day.  My mom and I had the pizza, as described on the chalkboard in the picture above, along with a salad a piece.  I would have never even considered putting corn on pizza, but man, is it a good idea--at least if it's on a Cheeseboard pizza.  I've only been a couple times which is a shame, but I'm already dying to go back.  I just can't stop thinking about it.  I think I'll take Ryo before school starts again. 
Cheeseboard is closed for the next week I believe, but you can check out the week's daily pizzas here.  If you live in the area, you might want to bookmark the link too.
Pizza from Cheeseboard.  Go get some.

Even though eating a couple slices of amazing Cheeseboard pizza is enough to keep you in a really good mood for a long while, we just had to grab some Ici ice cream on College Avenue before we left since my mom had never been.  Usually the line is tremendously long after dinner time, but we had eaten earlier than usual and since the fall semester hasn't started we didn't have to wait long at all.  At Ici, ice cream is handmade every day from organic ingredients.  There are 11 flavors that change daily and range from your generic flavors to the more interesting and exotic.  Pay a visit for yourself to see what cool flavors they have to offer you.  
When we went, I ended up getting the oatmeal-chocolate chip in one of their crunchy and sweet hand-rolled cones with chocolate tips.  My mom got the rose vanilla flavor.  Both were great and made for the perfectly sweet end to a fun summer day trip.
Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Ici

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