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Eating in the East Bay

Friday February 28, 2014
I'm in Berlin at the moment, and missing a lot of things about the Bay Area. As you may have guessed, if you read this blog regularly, food is right up there on the list.

Don't get me wrong! A lot of the food here is amazing, particularly some of the desserts. As much as I love the bakeries in Oakland and Berkeley, they just don't quite measure up. My favorite so far has been an amazing cake that basically consisted of raspberries suspended in gelatin.

Another interesting aspect has been the pizza. Tuna pizza seems to be really popular here, which, after trying it, I still don't understand. It makes me really miss the great pizza places in the East Bay.

Another interesting aspect is trying to be vegetarian or vegan. While I'm not strict about it, I do try to be at least vegetarian a lot of the time. While that is certainly possible here, it's a lot harder than it is at home. Being vegan is even harder, of course, and makes me miss all the options back home:

Vegetarian Restaurants in Oakland
Vegan Restaurants in Oakland
Vegetarian Restaurants in Berkeley
Vegan Restaurants in Berkeley

Don't get me wrong -- Berlin is absolutely amazing, a lot of the food is fantastic, and I am so thrilled to be here. But there is also a certain pleasure in learning to better appreciate the unique and wonderful parts of the Bay Area.

The Perfect East Bay Day

Friday January 31, 2014
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the East Bay and how much it has to offer. So, for fun, I've been thinking about what my perfect day in the East Bay would be.

It would start with brunch at one of the fabulous restaurants in the area. From there, I might go to a museum or take a walk around Lake Merritt... or both! Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without at least stopping by a farmer's market to buy some fresh produce to take home for dinner. In the evening, I might go to one of the bookstores in the area, or maybe a movie at one of the great independent theaters.

What about you? If you had one completely free day to spend doing your favorite East Bay activities, how would you spend it?

Don't Miss the Award-Winning Film "At Berkeley"!

Sunday January 12, 2014
Frederick Wiseman's award-winning film "At Berkeley" will air on PBS tomorrow, Monday January 13th, at 10 PM. It was filmed in 2010 on the UC Berkeley campus and offers an inside look at what goes on there.

It will be fascinating to see another angle of university life from the inside. While many reviews of the film say that it's great, others are more mixed. At four hours long, though, it's hard to imagine it would manage to captivate quite all of its viewers! If you're wondering whether you will find it interesting, check out the official trailer for some idea of the film's content and style.

Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday December 31, 2013
Happy New Year, Oaklanders and other East Bay folks! What did you do for the big moment?

I always have fun making my New Year's resolutions. While I don't always keep them, they're great motivation and inspiration for trying new things. This year, my resolutions include a lot of East Bay-related activities. After all, this is a rich and extraordinary area that deserves more attention than it sometimes gets.

My resolutions include going to museums, volunteering, exploring the parks, and other similar activities that involve getting to know the area even better.

What about you? Do you have any resolutions?

Books About Berkeley!

Saturday November 30, 2013
This semester at UC Berkeley, I've taken a class about "Berkeley in the Sixties." It's been fascinating to learn more about Berkeley (and the rest of the East Bay). All of the books have been interesting, but some have stood out as exceptional.

If you're interested in learning more about the area's history, check out my reviews of these books -- along with the star rating I gave each one!

Berkeley: A City in History (4.5 stars)
Berkeley At War: The 1960s (2.5 stars)
Black Against Empire (4 stars)
The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s (4 stars)
Berkeley in the Sixties (documentary; 4 stars)

It's amazing how much I didn't know about the area's history, despite having lived here my whole life! If you're in a similar position, I suggest any of these books. Of course, you could also take classes at a local community college (check out the list here) or visit one of the great nearby museums as part of your East Bay education.

What is your favorite book about the East Bay? Know any great Oakland or Berkeley trivia tidbits? Leave a comment!

New Savers Location in Berkeley!

Monday November 18, 2013
It's always fascinating to watch when one business moves into another's unspoken territory. Remember when Little Star moved to Albany, just down the street from East Bay staple Zachary's?

In a similar move, though with thrift stores instead of restaurants, Savers seems to be trying to sneak into the gaps Thrift Town has left.

Just last week, Savers opened a Berkeley location. The grand opening was Thursday, 11/14/13. It's in the building that used to be Andronico's on University Avenue (1414 University Avenue, to be precise). I haven't been able to check it out yet... have you? What's it like? Does it deserve a place on the list of the best thrift stores in the East Bay?

Happy Halloween!!

Thursday October 31, 2013
It's been a blast handing out candy to kids all evening (even if they don't recognize or appreciate the creepy Tom Waits music that's been playing!). Some of the costumes are so imaginative and well-done.

After a while, though, I find that being around so many kids makes me want to do something thoroughly grown-up. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for adult fun tomorrow:

Check out a local winery. Yes, Oakland has quite a few wineries of its own! Many of the tasting rooms are open on Fridays, or throughout the weekend.

Go to a farmers' market, buy some veggies, and cook a healthful meal. Because let's face it: the kids aren't the only ones who can't resist candy.

Stop by one of the late night restaurants in the East Bay. If you've been too busy handing out candy to find time to eat tonight, this could be a great solution.

Check out one of the two Irish pubs in the East Bay: the Starry Plough or Bill McNally's. Even though Saint Patrick's Day is still months off, it's hard to beat the warm, welcoming atmosphere at either of these places.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun -- and remember not to eat TOO much of that leftover candy!

The Best Restaurants in Berkeley?

Monday September 30, 2013
What's the Best Pizza in the East Bay?

If you read this blog with any regularity, you've probably figured out by now that I'm a bit of a foodie. As a result, I really enjoy the amazing variety of restaurants the East Bay has to offer. When there are so many choices, though, it can be hard to know where to go. With that in mind, I've compiled lists of my favorite restaurants in the following categories:

Brunch
Pizza
Ethnic/International
Overall

Of course, no one can try all the restaurants in the area (at least, not without a few years to spare and being willing to gain a few hundred pounds). So let's hear it: what are your favorites in each of these categories? Have I missed a place that deserves to be listed?

Image courtesy of Dasroofless on Flickr

The Bay Bridge Troll

Saturday August 31, 2013
The Bay Bridge Troll

Never mind earthquake safety, bolt failures, and other such issues -- of real concern in the Bay Bridge renovation is the fate of the charming bridge troll!

Installed after the Loma Prieta quake of 1989, the troll has stood guard over (or, more literally, alongside) the eastern span of the Bay Bridge ever since. You may have seen him where he stands tightening a bolt. And, when you learned that this span of the bridge was being replaced, surely your first thoughts were of concern for the little fellow.

Put your mind at ease: he won't be trashed. Plans are not yet firm, but he will be kept safe in one way or another.

What hasn't been decided yet is whether the new span will have a troll, and -- if so -- whether it will be the familiar old troll or a brand new one. What are your thoughts? Should our faithful bridge guardian be given a new task, or is it time for him to retire and let a new troll take over?

Image courtesy of the California Department of Transportation

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Closed All Weekend

Friday August 30, 2013
In case you haven't heard, the Bay Bridge is closed until 5 AM Tuesday, September 3rd, so they can (finally!) open the lovely new eastern span. Until then, check out San Francisco Guide Barbara's fantastic information about alternative transportation options here.

If you aren't clear on which part of the bridge is being replaced, check out this fun Buzzfeed article that's been floating around Facebook all day: People That Said Goodbye To Wrong Side Of The Bay Bridge. In short, the iconic side connecting Treasure Island to San Francisco is safe. The more industrial-looking side, between Oakland and Treasure Island, is what's being replaced.

Until the new bridge opens, your safest bet may be to stay in Oakland rather than trying to battle traffic and crowds to get to the City. Looking for something fun to do here? Here are some ideas:

How are you going to stay busy until the bridge reopens? Will you miss the old eastern span, or are you looking forward to the new one?

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