Thursday, May 31, 2012

Eating my way through Jack London Square

Oakland has a bad rap, both in California and across the country. And yes, there are certainly some parts that I avoid -- but there are some really nice areas, too, that are completely underrated. The Lake Merritt area, Rockridge, and Jack London Square are all cute, happening areas with a lot of cool shops and restaurants. Because of its convenient location to my apartment, I've been eating at various restaurants in Jack London Square (and no, not just at Ben and Jerry's...). One of the best things about the area -- besides the awesome farmers' market there every Sunday morning -- is that it's on the water, so not only can one eat outside in the gorg California weather and enjoy a view of the bay, but seafood is abundant. And I know that you know how I feel about seafood.

So far I've hit up Scott's, Kincaid's, and Miss Pearl's.

I went to Scott's fairly soon after I moved in, along with my brother and my roommate -- and we all loved it. Sitting outside with a view of the water was a definite plus. We all shared a shrimp cocktail appetizer, made with bay shrimp, which are quite small -- but that worked out because then there were more to go around! My roommate had a warm lobster roll, which i am going to get next time (it looks delicious, and she loved it). Alex had a seafood saute, which he also liked. Finally, I had the seafood cioppino, a classic San Francisco dish. It had tons of fresh seafood in a slightly spicy tomato broth -- yum! And it was served with a slice of sourdough-turned-cheesebread that was to die for!

Alex and I went to Kincaid's (pictured above) pretty recently. The service was okay, but not great (a trend I've found in most of these places), but the food was really good. We both had clam chowder to start, made with bacon and leeks. Seriously some of the best clam chowder I've ever had. Alex had never had it with bacon before -- which makes zero sense to me, consider that clam chowder and bacon are two of his favorite foods of all time -- so he was in heaven. The restaurant serves these really garlicky rolls, which were outstanding...I ate way too many of them, and then barely had room for my entree. I actually had an appetizer -- the hot crab dip -- as my main course. It was okay, although it seemed overly sweet to me. But maybe I was just too stuffed to really tell at that point. Alex had a twist on seafood etouffee, which he enjoyed -- and it was served on cheesy bacon grits instead of rice, which was delicious. And then we had dessert. I know, I just said I was ridiculously full -- but when has that ever stopped me before? Alex had some kind of crazy chocolate cake with homemade hot fudge sauce, and I had a waffle sundae with homemade butterscotch and hot fudge. Both were crazy good, definitely the highlight of the meal. Alex couldn't even finish his -- another first. Of course, I somehow manged to eat all of mine...

And then Alex and I went to Miss Pearl's for lunch just last week. We sat outside in the glorious sunshine, so that was awesome. He had -- wait for it -- clam chowder to start! (Shocking, right?) It was good -- also containing bacon -- and had something else that I can't quite put my finger on that gave it a certain uniqueness -- fennel, maybe? We shared some cornbread, which was good, although a little dry, and then he had a fried chicken sandwich and I had fish and chips with sweet potato fries. We were both happy with the main course. The batter on my fish had some Cajun spice in it, giving the dish a neat spin. Also, I know this is weird, but the iced tea was really good.

So, we still have to hit up Bocanova (small plates), Il Pescatore, and Haven, as well as the chicken and waffles place across the street. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Three weeks in California

So, I’ve been in California for exactly three weeks, and I have so much to ramble on about, I’m going to do it as bullet points (of course, if I’d bothered to update in the past few weeks, I wouldn’t have that problem – but you move across the country and then tell me if you have time to blog right away).

Awesome things I’ve had to eat so far:
-Seafood cioppino with cheesy sourdough at Scott’s Restaurant
-Breakfast at the Oakland Grill twice – and the best chicken apple sausage – a surprisingly popular menu item around here
-Sweet crepes at Crepevine in Berkeley
-Dinner at Liaison in Berkeley – Alex had the trout almandine (a favorite of both of ours) and I had the canard a l’orange…and profiteroles for dessert
-Indian food I actually enjoyed at a little hole in the wall up the street, and pretty decent Chinese – and some Korean BBQ at a random food truck at the Treasure Island Flea Market
-Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee on every corner. You know I’m in heaven.
-Fruit at the farmers’ market. It’s like, oh, so that’s what a strawberry/peach/raspberry/cherry/orange actually tastes like

Awesome things I’ve done so far and that I love about living here:
-Death Cab for Cutie at the Fox Theater last week (they closed with my favorite song, with a freaking orchestra! It was epic)
-Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee on every corner
-Treasure Island Flea Market
-Target right up the road
-Sweet new patio garden going on
-Seeing the ocean every day
-Fresh crab meat for 5.99 at Safeway (the real stuff)
-Having money to spend on coffee and crab and cherries, and not constantly being on the verge of a mental breakdown due to a lack of funds
-Seeing my brother at least once a week
-Direct deposit!
-Weekly farmers’ market right next door

Places in Oakland I must check out – not even getting into the numerous Berkeley and San Francisco destinations (although, I must mention, I have never been to a Sur La Table shop and can’t wait…and Tyler Florence’s shop up in Napa…):

Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day, mom!