What a beautiful place, Berkeley. I didn’t really enjoy the place until late in my college career–perhaps starting my fourth year, definitely my fifth year. I have been back up numerous times, but through a number of reasons was unable to do so for nearly the past year and a half–far too long in my book. Thus, I planned to visit the Bay Area for a spell of a few days after my exciting and rainy adventure in New York the previous week.
The concrete reason for my trip was to visit two of my former residents (and current friends), Semra and Kana, and their awesome apartment up in the hills on North Side. There was a sentimental reason, too–namely, that all of my residents and thus the vast majority of the people I knew in Berkeley would be graduating and leaving for the big vast world after college.
There was a oenological reason, too: I wanted to drink a lot of great wine!
Again, as in my New York post, I’m going to just write down phrases that will hopefully serve to jog my memory when I’m looking back after a few decades. =)
Wednesday, May 13
Flight in to Oakland. BART to Downtown Berkeley and up Euclid, right on Virginia. Up up up Virginia. Apartment. Met up with Kana, went down to get lunch at Poulet. Realized they had only $5.00 corkage. Went to Andronico’s and got two bottles–a bottle of the Domaine E.C. (Emile Cheysson) “Clos les Farges” Chiroubles Beaujolais cru for lunch with our poultry, and a bottle of the 2000 Senorio de P. Pecina Rioja crianza for later. A huge amount of delicious food at Poulet with a lightly-chilled bottle of the Chirouble (perfect!). Some of the Rioja later with Kana and Semra at home. Wandering around seeing the sights. An iced Americano at the Free Speech Movement Cafe. Met up with Stephanie with two of her friends outside the newly-created East Asian American Library on campus. Fat Slice and La Burrito. Home, more drinking of the Rioja.
Thursday, May 14
Unsuccessful run at both Gregoire and Vintage Berkeley (they both open at 11 am). Hung out with Aileen. A wonderful subsidized lunch of a pork tenderloin sandwich, fries, glass of Ampelos Rosé of Syrah, and citrus-infused panna cotta at Adagia. An iced Americano at Strada. Shopping with Semra and her awesome roommate Hilary at Andronico’s (for late-night snacks) and Kermit Lynch (for late-night drinking). Some more of the Rioja, which had developed into a very different wine–away from earth but more towards a mushroomy, old-wine sort of taste; not unpleasant but wholly unexpected.
Out to SF. A cappuccino at the SFMOMA cafe. Dinner with Dre at Osha Thai. Back to Berkeley. Back to Andronico’s for more ingredients. Cooked a series of three snacks. First, shrimp ceviche (cooked Bay shrimp with a salsa of tomato, avocado, cilantro, onion, serrano and jalepeno pepper, garlic, salt, and lime juice) and tortilla chips served with the 2008 Denis Jamain Reuilly pinot gris rosé–clean, crisp, and very very light, with just the hint of berries and minerals. Second, garlic shrimp (shrimp cooked in the shell with olive oil, garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper) served with the remainder of the rosé and some of the absolutely gorgeous 2007 Domaine A. Et. P. De Villaine “La Fortune” Cote Chalonnaise Bourgogne. Third, filet mignon rolls (filet mignon sliced thin, half a fingerling potato, a circle of leek, and goat cheese) served with the remainder of the Bourgogne and with some of the brooding, restrained, iron-fist-in-a-silk-glove that is the 2007 Clos la Coutales malbec from Cahors (I had been disappointed with this wine in DC, but I am happy to report that that bottle was a clear aberration). Drunk, drunk, drunk.
Friday, May 15
Hung out for a while at the apartment, then went to Nefeli Caffe for cappuccinos and a pizette with Semra and Hilary. My first time at North Berkeley Wine Imports. Browsing wines to the tune of the great Dark Was The Night album. Picked out some more bottles. Dropped off at Strada. More iced Americano. Dropped off my bags at my new place with Stephanie on Durant. Met with Kana at Strada again for another iced Americano, met a new Phi Delt (my old fraternity) who had been initiated long after I had graduated, found out from him that some Phis were at the Bear’s Lair. Went to Bear’s Lair. Met up with Patrick, Matt, Evan, and some new Phis and Jess B.; ran into my old residents Danny, Alicia, Jessica, and Catherine. Dinner at the I-House with Dana. Wine with Michael, Emma, Jed, Jose (the old Adagia crew) and Atsuko (who was hired long after me). First the 2007 Domaine Diochon Moulin-a-Vent “Vieilles Vignes” cuvee–nice fruit, impressive structure. A unique Ballantine petit verdot that opened up beautifully in the glass courtesy of Jed. Last, the 2005 Bodegas Monte De Reina Tinta de Toro Edicion Limitada from North Berkeley Wine Imports: lush, dark, with full body and nice tannins. Then Brian Martinelli, Teeny, and Chuck showed up; I hitched a ride in Brian’s Le Sabre to the Smokehouse, where I conquered the near-mythical double chili-cheese dog with a side of fries and a Coke (double as in two hot dogs in one bun).
Saturday, May 16
MacArthur BART station to meet up with Ratha. Lake Merritt. A cappuccino and eggs scrambled with lox, cream cheese, and chives at the Lakeshore Cafe. Through the Farmer’s Market. A walk around part of Lake Merritt. Visit to Ratha’s place. BART back to Berkeley. Picked up a whole bunch of books at Pegasus and Pendragon (including first editions of Near the Ocean by Robert Lowell and Praise by Robert Hass). An iced tea (for once) at the Free Speech Movement Cafe with Lauren. Dinner at Angeline’s with Jeff, who is going to the Philippines for his internship. A brief detour on Addison to see Semra one last time at her British friend Ben’s apartment. Some Becks on the roof. No wine all day. Home, and sleep.
Sunday, May 17
Packing for LA. Iced coffee at Peet’s with Stephanie. Brunch at La Note, consisting of a cup of coffee and the omelette de pommes de terre (open-faced potato and caramelized onion omelet) for me and the cote nord (eggs soft-scrambled with goat cheese over French bread) for Steph. Airport. LA.
This trip was bittersweet, as always, but not for the usual reasons. This trip was bittersweet more for the fact that an era had passed, and that I’d have to stay in SF or Oakland the next time I went up to Berkeley. I certainly had more money during this last trip than I ever had while in college, and I had a great time, but some things can’t be bought and certainly cannot be reproduced: scraping together change for an Americano, grilling cheap frozen hamburger patties on a rickety old deck, holding hands while watching the sun set over the Bay.