Posts Tagged With: organic

Tara’s: The Best Weird Ice Cream in Town

I have seen a lot of interesting ice cream flavors over the years but never as many in one place as at Tara’s Organic Ice Cream.  Sesame, avocado, pepper, chai, garam masala…one has to wonder where they come up with these.  But I must say that while Ici is my favorite ice cream shop in Berkeley, no one does interesting flavors better than Tara’s.

Let’s take garam masala.  Never would I have guessed that this Indian spice would work as an ice cream flavor, but it does.  And it’s good.  The creamy texture compliments the spice to bring out both the flavor and the creaminess in the ice cream.  However, lemon blueberry absolutely stole the show for us.  Light yet creamy, the flavors complimented each other perfectly.

I cannot seem to think about ice cream in Berkeley without comparing it to Ici, especially since Tara’s is just down the street.  Ici offers deliciously light ice cream, but Tara’s provides a richness  that leaves you heartily satisfied.  While both shops offer unusual flavors, Ici’s are pretty hit or miss.  When successful, they are fantastic, but I feel the need to try everything before ordering it.  Not doing so has lead to disastrous results (don’t try the tiramisu.  Just don’t).  In contrast, even though Tara’s has even weirder flavors than Ici, they are much more successful in bringing out the best each flavor has to offer and pairing it well with ice cream.

So next time you don’t want to wait in line at Ici, crave something a bit heartier, or really want to try avocado ice cream, head down College Ave. to Tara’s.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Categories: Bay Area, Berkeley, Dessert, Food, Northern California | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Campbell Farmer’s Market of the Gods

Farmer’s markets are one of the greatest of Northern California institutions.  Ever-present, they bring quality fresh, local produce right to the consumer, and it tastes so good!  Though not always cheaper than grocery stores, it is almost always tastier.

The King of Farmer’s Markets in the South Bay has got to be the Campbell Farmer’s Market.  Every Sunday, Downtown Campbell gives it’s main street over to tents, produce, and vendors from 9am to 1pm(ish).  And never have you seen its equal.

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Four long blocks of goodness, the Campbell Farmer’s Market is so big it has to be broken up into sections.  On the west side, you’ll find prepared food vendors.  The east side sports artsy goods, and in between you’ll find mountains of produce.  I could never begin to tell you which produce vendors are the best, cheapest, or best value; there are too many.  But I can tell you about a few gems.

My favorite stop is always the Milk Guy.  His business is not actually so named, but he will always be the Milk Guy to me.  One might think that milk is not a product to get excited about.  One has clearly never met the Milk Guy.

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He sells raw milk, straight from the cow, no preservatives, no pasteurization, just pure milk.  It is beyond compare.  Richer than milk, more refreshing than cream, you can drink this milk in place of a meal and feel completely satisfied.  It’s deliciousness is beyond compare.  Get the true raw milk–that is, the whole milk–and I swear you will be amazed and astounded unless perchance you have had milk straight from the cow.

There is an abundance of scrumptious prepared food as well.  Should you be willing to brave the lines, the Oaxacan Kitchen is amazing AND reasonably priced.  Everything is hand-made in front of you, including the tortillas, and this is one of those rare instances in Northern California where the Mexican food lives up to–or perhaps even eclipses–its southern counterparts.  I always stop by the Indian food booth for a $1 samosa, and Daniel rarely visits the market without buying a Flying Falafel sandwich (even rarer are the times I don’t steal at least one of his falafels).

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Yummy $1 Samosas

 

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Flying Falafel

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Oaxacan Kitchen

Some of the booths straddle the line between prepared food and…not, and they are generally worth a visit if nothing else for the free samples.  The Hummus Guy (and that is actually what he calls himself) is awesome.  All of his hummus is delicious as are the flavored pita chips.  The bolani people are really good too, giving you the perfect combination of sauces and flavored bolanis though alas we cannot afford them.

And indeed that is the most difficult thing for me about the farmer’s market:  not dropping all of the cash in my wallet on their wares.  We pretty much do it every time we go, so we’ve had to keep our visits to a minimum.  Everything tastes so good, it’s hard not to buy the whole market.  And frankly, most of its offerings are a bit pricey anyway.

But totally worth it.  The quality is impossible to find in a grocery store.

Making up for the price is the ease of finding samples at the farmer’s market.  Almost all of the vendors have samples of their wares, and I usually fill up on samples before deciding what to buy.  And it absolutely works in their favor because we have bought way, way more than we ever would have without a taste first.

If you haven’t been to the Campbell Farmer’s Market, you are seriously missing out.  Go now!  Eat and be happy.

Categories: Bay Area, Food, Local Travel, Northern California, San Jose | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cafe Gratitude: Berkeley’s Most Stereotypical Restaurant

Despite having lived in Berkeley for four years and near it for another three, yesterday was my first visit to the iconic Cafe Gratitude, and it was even more of a Berkeley stereotype than I had expected.

It had it all:  organic, locally grown fresh vegan food with every effort made toward sustainability and raw options, food with titles that made you think about yourself (and your meal) in a positive light while also prompting you to reflect on the deeper questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything (comment if you know the answer), and in true Bay Area tradition absolutely everything was grossly overpriced.

That may not be exactly true.  With the growing practices they require for their food, they would have to pay much more than the average restaurant, even the average healthy restaurant, for their products, and when you consider their claim about caring deeply about their employees, it may actually not be overpriced.  Nonetheless, I could never afford to go there and feel satisfied.

That said, the food is really good.  Daniel and I were both very impressed with the quality of our meals.

I had “I Am Humble” which was an Indian inspired dish sporting a lentil curry and a coconut mint chutney served over quinoa with vegetables.  It was really good and clearly very good for you.  I’ve had more enjoyable curries but never one that made me feel so healthy.  The quinoa paired spectacularly with the curry too which was surprising but awesome.

Daniel had “Yo Soy Bueno,” essentially tacos covered in black beans, salsa, avocado, greens, and a rather amazing sauce.  He took one bite and responded with, “Wow, this is good!”

We were both stuffed long before we finished our meals, but I wish we had saved room for desserts because they looked so intriguing.  I mean, how often do you have good vegan cheesecake or chocolate balls?  Next time perhaps.

After reading the menu, hearing the quote of the day, finding “What are you grateful for?” at the bottom of my bowl, and talking to our uber calm waiter who may or may not have been on drugs, one could only expect the atmosphere at Cafe Gratitude to involve giant hippy dioramas awash with colors that haven’t been seen since the 1960s (and then only when on acid).  Surprisingly, the atmosphere was the one part of this restaurant that wasn’t over-the-top.  The brick walls were sparsely furnished with large paintings that in no way made my eyes burn.  However, I must warn you that instead of having normal tables, we were seated at long benches shared with other customers.  It was kind of awkward.  Not terribly awkward–there was at least space between us–but still kind of awkward.  I don’t love my fellow man that much.

At the end of the day, this was an experience.  I feel I cannot say whether it was a good or bad experience, that is too much left up to what you’re looking for, but it was definitely a very Berkeley experience.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you want to squeeze the essence of living in Berkeley into one dinner, Cafe Gratitude can help you out with that.  But only if you’re grateful afterward.

Categories: Bay Area, Berkeley, Food, Northern California, Restaurants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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