Savor the day in Berkeley – art, food, chocolate

In case you may want to do an afternoon in Berkeley and are not quite sure where to go, let me tell you about our lovely day filled with – art, incredible food, and finishing with a chocolate delight!

Charlene and I drove from Half Moon Bay to Berkeley via Devil’s Slide which is always a beautiful way to start the journey. We took in the view and the progress on the tunnel. Along the way, my dear friend, an octogenarian, told me stories. She recounted when her father took her upstairs to their neighbor’s flat. It was in the 1920’s. There (2 years old) she sat on Gershwin’s piano and took in all the beautiful women in their evening gowns and adults drinking their cocktails. She said at this time Gershwin was composing “You Go to My Head”. I tried to imagine that magical moment while still dealing with 101 traffic.

We finally made it to Berkeley after talking so much that we did not even remember crossing the Bay Bridge. Lunch was the first on the agenda. We went to the 4th Street neighborhood which is near the University Avenue exit off of Highway 80. I wanted to try Cafe Rouge again. I had been there years ago and remembered it was nice. Cafe Rouge is an interesting combo of a restaurant and a meat market. One of the things I really like about the restaurant is the decor. The interior has a nice palette of gold and red and orange. Beautiful hanging lights and mirrors hung throughout the place gives it an elegant feel, without being stuffy.

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They describe themselves as:

…offering rustic Mediterranean fare as well as American dishes. The restaurant’s emphasis is on fresh meats and house-made charcuterie. All steaks for sale in the meat market and on the daily menu have been dry-aged on the premises. Café Rouge features a full bar, meat market and oyster bar. Heated outdoor seating on the plaza is available.

Café Rouge is known for its organic beef, pork, lamb and poultry. All meats are raised hormone free and purchased from the growers. All of these items appear on the menu and can be purchased in the meat market. All produce is also organically grown and is featured prominently on the menu.

Interestingly enough Charlene and I selected vegetarian dishes for our lunch. I got a lovely thing called early spring pistou with poached egg and garlic crouton”. I would may not have ordered this had it not been for the young woman seated next to me, who had this lovely sort of clear soup thing with fresh greens in it. I had to have what she was eating because it just looked so fresh and light and inviting! It lived up to it’s appearance and more, with fresh pea greens and pea pods, dinosaur kale, a crunchy sour dough crouton with a pinkish poached egg. It all swam in a heavenly green tinged clear broth with dashes of green algae looking tiny bits. These little floaty green things were packed with flavor. I was not exactly sure what they were, but definitely had tons of tasty garlic! (I actually looked up “pistou’ today and found out what it was – a blog entry soon on this. Warning though, my partner complained all night when I got home that I had a garlic odor!)

Charlene had the “Nettle spaetzle, Cabralinda cheese, broccoli di Cicco and pine nuts”. She took one bite and sank back in her seat. She said now I know what the critic means when they write ‘..savored every bite’. I got a taste and I agreed with her that it was indeed incredible. She said it took her back to Vienna where she first had spaetzle.

After we finished our glasses of wine and our terrific lunch, I thought about dessert and then decided to save that for later. I had a destination in mind for that…

So I whisked us off to see my art piece at JFKU Art and Consciousness Gallery, in the old Heinz Building. This is a very nice gallery which is kinda hidden away and is well worth the effort to seek out and spend some time in.

Gallery director, Doreen Coyne, was in the process of taking down the Alumni Show which just ended this week. As promised she left up my piece Elderly in America” so I could show it to Charlene and also take some photos. elderly-in-america.jpg
I’ve been able to show this piece in numerous places: The Intersection for the Arts in SF, Enso Art Gallery, in Half Moon Bay, and now here in Berkeley. Since it is very modular, it has been a little different in each locale. I have changed the number of wheel chairs or using projection depending on the gallery. The piece is my response to visiting rehab and full service care facilities when I was interviewing places for my mother.

Charlene helped me deinstall and load the piece into my truck. I kidded with her that she got to witness the unglamourous side of being an artist. The materials for the chairs were all had from Chip Roma, my incredible art material supplier. Click here if you want to see how I store this installation at home.

As a last treat after all that labor, we went to Cafe Cacao. The cafe is connected to Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker where they have a store and the factory tours.

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We had a wonderful server who correctly steered us towards the Chocolate pots de crème. Another moment to “savor”! There was a bit of spiciness, hmmm, maybe cinnamon or perhaps cayenne?

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I could not put my finger on it, but whatever it was added a special zing to the richness of the smooth chocolate pudding and the whipping creme. It also came with a flaky cookie and a small bowl of toasted cocao nibs to crunch on. That with a cup of coffee, a perfect decadent ending to our Berkeley odyssey.

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4 thoughts on “Savor the day in Berkeley – art, food, chocolate

  1. Judy this was so interesting and so wonderfully and intriguingly written. it was so much fun to live our day again. who is that darling little BO? muddy I would say! the piece on our day made me want that spaetzle again. WHEN did you take the pictures???? I never saw that–I am some ‘observer!’. the thngsI saw on your blog were different from yesterday and equally interesting. where have I been judy!? Ilove the quote qbout the fish and the slightly impure water that they need!!!! great!!! you are a treasure judy!

  2. I have done the Sharffenberger tour which is quite good and am also intrigued with Pistou!
    I want to go next time! Sounds like a lovely day with a good friend.

  3. Judy, It makes me want to be in Berkley. Next time, maybe? The wheelchairs are beautiful and so evocative. I’ve been using a wheelchair some of the time this past month after foot surgery. This will pass for me but I think a lot about the people who are confined to one for the rest of their lives. Keep up the wonderful work you do.

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