Pilgramege to Berkeley, part 1 

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Very few things match our passion for epic food. Whether its growing the fruits, shopping for inspiring items, preparation of meals or sharing great wine, food and stimulating conversation with our friends, it all rocks our world.   In fact we think nothing is more important. Cooking and all that it encompasses is one of our great joys and inspirations.

The center of our food world is the City of Berkeley. There are so many exceptional food stores that we can’t possible mention them all (but we will try over time).   Our trips to Berkeley rarely start with a specific recipe or dish in mind. We let what we find on the treasure hunt influence what will be created.

Our first stop is often Acme Bread http://www.acmebread.com/locations. Many Bay area locals are familiar with Acme, as many grocers carry a selection of their breads. What’s different about visiting the original bakery is the smell of the ovens and the scene of active bakers working to make some of the best bread around. They also have an incredibly large selection of breads and pastries that you will not find anywhere else. Look for the Pizza Bianca, the Edible Schoolyard Bread and the apple turnovers. The croutons are also epic.

The next and most important stop is Monterey Market http://www.montereymarket.com. Its hard to explain in a few words just how incredibly wonderful this produce market is. In any given season the bins overflow with a variety that simply takes our breadth away. In late winter, dozens of varieties of citrus are on display. In early summer it is stone fruits and berries, later brings the bounty of summer with melons and tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! Much of what is displayed is direct from producers. As farmers we especially like that most labels include not just the variety but where it is grown, how it was grown and who grew it, really delivering a sense of place. As we stroll through the isles, so many cooking options spring to mind that it is hard to contain our excitement thinking about what will follow in the kitchen and on the table.

Our last stop is the Cheese Board http://www.cheeseboardcollective.coop.  A worker collective since the 1970’s, we come for the cheese although there is always a line for the exceptional pizza and bread. The selection is remarkable, but what sets the Cheese Board aside is the people (the same way we feel about wineries). When your number is called, a delightful someone who knows more about cheese than you can possibly imagine guides you to cheese nirvana asking just a few questions before producing samples of cheeses from the original wheels (not small plastic wrapped packages). Like the rest of Berkeley , The Cheese Board is a true treasure hunt and we always feel that we walk out with special treasures we can’t what to share with others.

Go and visit Berkeley. We are certain you too will be inspired!