Thursday, November 20, 2008

Only in Berkeley? - 18th & 19th November

18th November: Today was a day dedicated to shopping (which I have decided is relaxing in its own way). Back to a couple of bookshops to pick up books I had seen earlier, gifts etc.

I have to tell you about The Wok Shop on Grant St in Chinatown. In amongst the restaurants and myriad gift shops lining the streets, this tiny little place is absolutely jam-packed to the rafters not just with woks (although plenty of those) but cooking implements of every type: I cam here to pick up my microplane grater and also came away with a couple of timber moulds for making buddha cookies (I had never heard about them before, but couldn't resist them). The lovely lady owner of the shop also provided me with a recipe for the cookies and her card- a wooden spoon with the shop details on it - brilliant!

Wandering around town, preparations for the holiday season are well-advanced, with the famous Union Square christmas tree slowly taking shape. Out the front of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, their tree had just arrived and in these incredibly narrow and steep streets a crane was slowly lowering it into position:

19th November:

Today a last minute decision to rent a car a day earlier than planned meant I was able to whip over to Berkeley in the afternoon to see my boy one last time. He had told me about his favourite pizza place called the Cheese Board across the road from Chez Panisse. I have been reading Alice Waters biography while over here, in which the Cheese Board features, so I just had to visit. The back story is that the Cheese Board is a cooperative (only in Berkeley) established in 1967. Based upon the principles of a kibbutz, the business is owned by collective members who are all paid the same. Check out their story at http://http//

Yes folks, everything in that cabinet is a cheese. They also sell their own bread. Below is the blackboard showing the varieties on sale - this is serious cheese heaven.

The Cheese Board Pizza Collective was started in 1990. The business model is simple - they serve only one flavour of pizza every day, slices are $2.50 each. They also have drinks and a salad available. Today's pizza was four cheese and three onions and can I say it's the best pizza I have ever tasted. The base was perfect: thin, crispy on the bottom chewy on the edge, and the topping of Four Cheeses (Mozzarella, Asiago, Gorgonzola & Parmesan Cheese), Three Onions (Yellow, Red and Green Onion), Garlic Olive Oil, Fresh Herbs was superb. I have bought the Cheese Board's book for myself, and will share the recipe for this pizza when I return.

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