on the gad

berkeley’s under $5 lunches

In before afternoon coffee on November 10, 2015 at 5:12 pm

these days i occasionally play at restaurant reviewer and have to endure lovely solicitous folk taking exceptional good care of me while i dine on mighty fine food. in contrast, in the bright light of day, i can be found bustering around town nosing out very cheap lunches to nosh on. i have accumulated a few scrummy favorites.


Fournée Bakery  • 2912 Domingo Avenue • open daily

Ham & Manchego Croissant

the very best croissants in town with plentiful sweet and savory choices. ham is sourced from niman ranch. i always bring an apple and sometimes some greenery to stuff inside my croissant sandwich. the perfect reward for having climbed to the top of berkeley for a two-mile run around the neighboring track. sun basking also available in their courtyard.



Arizmendi Bakery & Pizzeria • 4301 San Pablo Avenue • open daily

Pizza Slice

toppings vary (goat cheese, spinach, roasted peppers, etc.) but always a tasteful combination and supported by the oh-so satisfying fresh organic sourdough crust. your pizza will comfort and restore while you recover from the long bicycle ride through bleak neighborhoods. or you could choose arizmendi’s sister location in north berkeley’s ‘gourmet ghetto’.



The Cheese Board Collective • 1504 Shattuck Avenue • open monday thru saturday

Seeded Roll with cheese

some of our favorite lunch spots have been around since we were kids. the cheese board has been in business since 1971. even without plans to spend your afternoon frolicking with swiss goats, a fresh baked hearty bread with a slab of (your choice) cheese will fill you up and lift your spirits. perhaps the two small boys milling about your knees discussing fine cheeses experiences and favorites will help you choose between a drunken goat and a soft teleme. did you bring an apple?

price varies


Juice Bar Collective • 2114 Vine Street • open monday thru saturday

Polenta Pizza

around the corner, we have another open since the seventies collective in its same teeny-tiny space emitting big bold aroma. prices have climbed here, like everywhere, but their polenta pizza, with parmesan & garlic mixed into the crust and topped with house-made marinara sauce, cheeses & veggies, is an affordable good choice. just the right amount of whole olives too.



Top Dog • 2534 Durant Avenue • open daily


since 1966, this no-preservatives pork/veal bockwurst has been my go-to comfort food. more recently i have been importing my own raw cultured caraway sauerkraut to crowd dainty dog on toasted bun. durant is the original site, with nearby fountains on campus to sit at while you picnic, but top dog on center street downtown is another option. parklet coming soon.



Koja Kitchen • 2395 Telegraph Avenue • open daily

Chicken Koja

while you are on the avenue, and since you were thrifty and saved your pennies, i recommend this korean & japanese fusion fare. korean barbecued chicken on a crispy garlic rice bun with pineapple, sesame vinaigrette, lettuce, red sauce, and sesame seeds. also fun to follow their food trucks around and in & out of town.



Elmwood Cafe • 2900 College Avenue • open daily

Soup of the Day

not just a lovely coffee served in latte bowls and fresh baked goodies destination. the elmwood cafe has an extensive and wholesome breakfast and/or lunch menu. i found the cup of soup met my budget. mushroom barley soup served with acme baguette. i could have asked for butter but i ate it up too quick.



Sweet Adeline Bakeshop • 3350 Adeline Street • open daily


the second choice of quiche will vary from day to day but ham & swiss spinach is always on the menu. and there is nothing wrong with that.


Both My Grandfathers by kirya traber

In coffee on June 9, 2015 at 5:39 pm

many of us are personally familiar with the sloshing-over fullness and balancing act a mother & daughter relationship is. but it is not everyday we are whisked to the lincoln center in new york city and seated in the front row to experience and absorb daughter’s retelling of the day the bay bridge broke. she plays herself at the age of six; she wrote a story about the importance of stories, the bits & pieces and the intangible star flash passed on through bloodlines, and how we are able to keep going even while losing so much and so many along the way. i was prepared to feel way too much, to not just leak tears but to quietly blubber and i did. it helped that on either side of me her (extremely proud) uncle & aunt succumbed too. i was not prepared for viscerally reacting every time her character called for her mommy. it doesn’t matter how grown your girl is nor that there is an actress playing you, perhaps a little too well, cued to respond. it’s an instinctive call & response: she hollers mommy! and you yell what?



we had just two days to fit in highlights in the big apple, beginning with early morning best neighborhood coffee. we found our way back to our lodging at all hours by recognizing the roses. the sun didn’t always sparkle during our visit but daughter did.





i just read an article today discussing how our brains aren’t really wired well for decision-making. these days we are bombarded with choices all day long yet we lack a capacity to prioritize between big and small decisions. daughter shared her little corner of prospect park where turtles sun on the rocks and she rests her mind. her partner accompanied us to donut plant, where we all feel safe & contented, but because they want to avoid being hurried and pressured while in line, they scroll thru the plentiful choices on their phone during the metro approach. smart cookie.



for our last meal, we put ourselves in the competent hands of our favorite eldest nephew. he is so thoughtful, considerate, funny that he effortlessly matched himself to my splendidino cocktail. we savored assorted charcuterie and fine cheeses paired with fig, honey, and spice. he has acquired a bicycle, sometimes traveling above ground rather than in new york tunnels, perhaps in preparation for returning to the bay area. he & his girl caught daughter’s last performance the next day and he gifted her a little lightning. our giant grand children. my tear-catching hankie is completely soaked.




food review

In after morning coffee on June 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm

i was hesitant, thinking i didn’t qualify as an emergency situation, but she said we are going. we sat in line and made friends. i was reminded that a desperate need for food doesn’t eliminate food intolerances and preferences. “i can’t be eating any white bread” she shared. “it sticks things up and goes right to my thighs.” her smile was much bigger than her thighs. we were being entertained by a young roaming gal from florida who was making sharp observations about berkeley and our other bay area towns. she pegged me as someone who probably owned a yoga mat. she wasn’t wrong. on our second visit, dapper older men were missing their turns because they were too busy socializing in line. not a real problem; everyone had each others backs.


my sister/pal is responsible for the care & upkeep of a church garden. she shares extra lettuces with me (and my tortoise) and look what i did with a beautiful white radish. makes me feel like rapunzel sneaking into her neighbor’s garden; let’s not think about all the trouble and tower imprisonment that led to. luckily i seem to not have inherited my dad’s weird stinky radish burps problem.


one church garden leads to another and at urban adamah we receive charity on all fronts. every wednesday we can have eggs, bread, and fresh farm produce while visiting with intellectuals, activists, new mothers, rainbow children, chickens and goats. when the lay abed berkeley sun is a no-show and one is shivering noticeably, hugs and blankets are provided. much appreciated, but this party-pooper leaves before any music or dancing festivities start up. i overhear friends confessing that although so deeply appreciative of the helping hands they sorta need a little shove in the rear as well to get on board with all the food preparation now required. also, sister/pal wonders why i keep getting low first-called numbers and she doesn’t. we drink replenishing herb & flower infused water, the strongest note being roadside fennel.


a limp beet from the food pantry is salvaged by pickling in raspberry vinegar, pairing with fava greens & cilantro from urban adamah, and serving over food pantry white rice which now becomes pink. a lively salad distracts from the worry of eating expired butternut squash soup. a friend passed on a green bell pepper with the stipulation that i show her what i did with it. a dented can of stewed tomatoes is the base of a whole wheat pasta dish and a wilting carrot is given a second chance in a yogurt cumin salad.


all this food rustling has made us less timid and more outgoing so this time when we get the church flyer we make a point of going to the event. to meet our neighbors and eat a hotdog for dinner. one of them tells us about the river cruise adventure just concluded; from amsterdam to hungary. he urges us to eat lots of salad. his wife is always worried people won’t eat her salad. we were glad to help.