Last night was such an adventure! We only saw the flyer a few days beforehand, but Gabriel was keen on taking on the task: 27 stops, 3 hours, 6 blocks, and dumping bucketsof rain. We first stopped at Vine Street at the North Berkeley Associations pop-up tent to get our ticket books. These books not only had our golden tickets for each of our 27 stops, but also a map to tell us where every participant and tasty treat was located. Number 27 was not participating due to a family emergency—best wishes, dear friends. So, then, let us pick our route.
The first stop was kind of a default. It was this cute little shop across the street from where we parked. We had passed this shop a number of times on the way to dinner or gelato, but we had not yet been by this shop during its regular business hours. They’re open?!? I’m going in before they close; I only missed them by 2 minutes last time! Oh, and you’re also participating in the ToNB? Excellent! A Priori is the epitome of beautiful and/or interesting upcycled and recycled goods, with a definite flare for chichi items. Truly a delight. Each of us armed with a Vignette soda sample and some very tasty chocolate-almond clusters, we set out to make our wish lists for the store. Bamboo, portable 1/8″ input speaker?!? Yes, Please! Soda pop top clutches and jewelry……maybe.
Excitement (and perhaps a little alcohol) guided and chased us through the first few stops, so I can’t really be sure what happened next. I do remember deciding we’d save our Peet’s sample for last; a small coffee to warm us up and give us a little top-off at the end of the evening. Since we were already at the end of the “route”, we decided to work our way backward to number 1. The Epicurious Garden is always one of my favorite places to go, so I was extremely happy that most everyone there was participating. Soop never disappoints, Lush Gelato is phenomenal, but the big surprise was Picoso Taqueria—amazing, let me repeat that, AMAZING little tasty food bombs. Half a belly-full later, plus one burned roof-of-mouth, and off we walked back into the deluge. Down to number 15.
A few odd stops, some good thai samplers, a butcher (no baker—not yet), a burger place, then off to the first round of coffee! Me a little woozy from the whirlwind, worldwide, food sampling was extremely happy for the warm, dry, spacious, loungy Philz Coffee. To make a long story short(er), we will be frequenting this establishment again. A little relaxation at hand and some warmth in our bellies (and hands, and feet, but slightly still damp selves) with plenty of time in our schedule to hit every location, off we set again in search of adventure!
Only a few stops more to go. We looked more carefully through the book at these last few stops and what they had to offer us. Did we really want every sampler? That was our goal in the beginning. But, full stomachs and sleepy limbs were starting to protest (though politely). We were still having fun, so why not try to get to all of them? Some quick strategizing and next we were off for a chili-lime chicken wing at Poulet. The French Chicken behind us, it was a little more southeast Asian food, a skip over the bakery for now, and on to press our luck at finding the boundaries of our bellies with the last entree style foods. Let me just say, everyone should try Bistro Liaison. Chef is a funny guy, and definitely a smart one when it comes to hungry droves wandering the streets of Berkeley in the rain on a quest for food. A little mushroom velouté with black truffle and cognac? Mmmmmm. I could have fallen asleep then and there. But there was still dessert and coffee!
Back we went for the art house—who gave us very large “tastes” of wine—the hippy deli for a bag of tea to go, an intentional skip on a sushi place with no patrons, a wonderful last bite of tiramisu, and a quick haul back to Peet’s……and they were CLOSED! Those bastards. Well, our bellies probably couldn’t have taken it anyway.