on the gad

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

good neighbors

In coffee on January 30, 2011 at 11:22 pm

this is my mother’s old neighborhood. i moved into her old place. she wrote me lists; drew me cute sketches of the house. i was able to move in from afar, mentally arranging my furniture, acquiring just the right window treatments, figuring out where to park my tortoise and her big box. mima helpfully mentioned the corner store where one could pick up milk or toilet paper when a full shop wasn’t required. i silently scoffed. corner stores are for people who eat fast food, buy lottery tickets, and consider fluorescent colors a good dietary choice.

our corner store is called lee’s. mima says mr. lee recently retired when he realized he had been standing in the same spot for forty years. he is still a greeter though. i am positive the elderly asian gentleman who welcomed me to the neighborhood from his stairwell was mr. lee. pleasant dark skinned men from a different continent run the store now. i went in for the first time after foraging at the tuesday farmer’s market across the street. i bought gorgeous bouquets of chard and bok choy and a leek in the happy sun-drenched outdoors but then, because i’m still without a fridge, i needed to find my daily small container of milk for morning cereal and coffee. not only did lee’s have what i was looking for, but i was delighted to discover they sell real food as well! they almost have my cereal . . . not the raspberry ginger crisp i’ve been eating every morning for more years than i should mention here in case you think less of me . . . but another flavor of the same brand, and newman’s cookies, and some quick soups and dinners that i wouldn’t turn my nose up at.

so now i too would like to recommend lee’s corner store. especially if you need to pick up a little sumthin sumthin everyday. or if you’re recovering from a high fever and it’s cold outside and you probably couldn’t make it out of your neighborhood on foot.

local colour

In coffee on January 24, 2011 at 2:12 am

we almost always have a choice of direction but my compass needle is only pointed towards the sun. there are a few coffee shops in my neighborhood and i find i am most often pulled towards mojoe. mojoe is on the corner of two busy streets but for some reason is very quiet. no matter how many people have gathered inside, there is an air of happy calm. and there is plenty of seating outdoors in the sunshine. you might have to trip over kids’ bicycles and squeeze past bulky wheelchairs to order your cappuccino but it doesn’t feel like a struggle and everybody is easygoing. not a great selection of goodies, mostly imported, but quite often comfortable wins over thrilling. and there is nutmeg for schprinkles. my first time there, a small boy encouraged me to sit at their table. he and his mother were just waiting for food to-go, he assured me. moments later he was telling his mom we should let the nice lady enjoy her coffee and i should have a nice afternoon. i think he was seven.

and whether we are merely going out for coffee or going to the art museum it’s really all about people watching, isn’t it? at moma in sf i was very distracted by people’s color choices. who wears pink pants with a blue top and adds a yellow sweater? but there he was . . . and walking the other way was a palette of amber, bright red and royal blue. out on the street there was a fluff ball of a doggy wearing hot pink. and feeling pretty! years ago i used to work with a girl named amber who only wore varying shades of orangey-browns. they complemented her reddish hair and pale skin.

there seems to be a lot of talk these days of getting out of our comfort zone but i must admit i’m always actively looking for comfort: from the ritual of high-tea coffee and the warming rays of sunshine to reconnecting with old friends and family. to come from having worked six days a week for a very long time to the daunting task of looking for work anew, i feel very lucky to find balmy weather in january and friends who are happy to meet me for coffee . . .

private party

In coffee on January 19, 2011 at 12:39 am

i’ve been keeping mum about my love life. i have had a single encounter each with three different neighbors. sweet adeline was the first. her reputation had preceded her all the way to the north coast before i moved down so i already knew this would be a successful blind date. i wasn’t prepared for her red velvet cupcakes though. i was thinking about ordering a healthy sized lemon snap when the plate of cupcakes in the back winked at me. oh, i had to have one. as i escorted my cupcake & cappuccino to a table, the other seated ladies yelped, “cute!” that’s just how cupcakes are. all dressed up and ready to party. she was devine: chocolate, ganache, and a sparkly sugar berry on top.

crixa cakes and i met in the rain. i was eager to check out her wares even though i had been warned she was a little snooty. you know . . . european. the cappuccino was bitter but what a selection of wonderful fine cakes! and how tremendous to finally find myself in a room filled with other like-minded people seeking coffee & cake in the middle of the afternoon. i wish everyone knew, as we do, that high tea time is the civilized time of day to indulge your sweet tooth. a grown-up after school snack, if you will. i was a little shy and ordered springerle instead of cake. made with wooden cookie molds and tasting of orange and anise: perfection! i can’t wait for our second date. i think i will have the tiramisu.

nabalom bakery and i are old friends but i haven’t spent any quality time with her in over twenty years. i have fond memories of her and the friends that both worked there or would accompany me on the search for yummy wares. i particularly remember her hamantaschen: poppy-seed filled tricorner cookies. this time around i fell for the espresso bean croissant. too lovely. and the cappuccinos are served in friendly pottery cup/bowls. she is still a cozy, friendly bakery with youthful energy. i have added her number in my little black (hot pink) book. and i will call again.

and because i have been flying solo for so long, i am happy to report that my new little cappuccino maker and i are becoming acquainted and there are plans afoot for baking bundt cakes and cupcakes right here in my new home. and you will all be invited.


In coffee on January 15, 2011 at 2:53 am

these days ping pong back and forth from dreary & wet to sun-blessed. i lucked out on job fair day and broke out buster for my first berkeley bike ride. managed to give the impression i knew what i was doing, although laughing ravens seemed to follow me as i wound my way on side streets to emeryville. got a little lost and considered not going after all. found peet’s and a very long, long line forming just outside. folks with clipboards seemed to be in charge. went in and ordered cappuccino and cookie for lunch then reluctantly got in line. at least it was in the sun. thought about fleeing. curious passersby asked me what was going on and i didn’t feel so invisible . . . a cheerful couple told me how their daughter had gotten employed at a job fair. she was applying for a secretarial job but was directed towards teaching. been teaching ever since, has a masters . . . what a great success story. i was wished well and continued to make friends. the suave, well-dressed fellow with the fancy car was pretty sure he was too cool to talk to me but he liked my vintage pinback advertising coffee. a young bushy haired fellow had just recently moved here too and we talked about north coast pot and politics. both young girls and older women, all waiting in line, were friendly.

we lost the sun. hours passed. felt like ditching but we had all turned to blocks of ice and surely the next name called would be our own? eventually i got a sit down. don’t think i made a very good impression. pretty sure i wasn’t his type. but he did perk up when i included my graphically superb resume/card with my application . . . so we’ll see. did you know shifts start at 5am? but i could be eaten by a mountain lion if i was traversing berkeley on buster that early in the morning! and only $8.50 an hour? friend cassia would hoot and mock . . . wonder how the elder black man and the woman with the head wrap fared. at the fair.


In coffee on January 13, 2011 at 2:20 am

so if you give a mouse a cookie, then she will want some peet’s coffee with that. and if you go to the peet’s on telegraph you will have to go in to buffalo exchange. and try on six outfits. and purchase one must-have: a sheer sleeveless top with ribbons on it. and while you’re there you apply for a job. and talk up your people skills. out on the avenue, you make quick but deep connections with all the other misfits. we recognize each other, i guess. and there is the bubbles lady! she hasn’t changed a bit in twenty years although she is not waving a bubbles wand at the moment but waving down a bus. and i have to go into shakespeare & co. books which also hasn’t changed and accidentally find fine books to buy. books are fun even before you read them because they look good on your coffee table. they suggest to others that you are a reader, a busy bee, and lead a well-rounded life. there should be a lot more reading going on around here now that i have accepted that i am an old broad and old broads have reading glasses.

it’s another sunless, chilly day so i park myself inside at the counter with my peet’s cappuccino. more waving and  smiling at strangers passing by. and then it happens. i hear that word again. it’s not just all the people on tv using it every time they open their mouths  these days. it’s everyone! and the word is “literally“. as in, “it was literally this or that” or “i literally did this or that” . . . and i wonder . . . so the use of literally distinguishes the action from . . . what? usually i am lying? sigh. bet the used books seller would have enjoyed discussing the subject of popular usage of words. some people like to conversate, you know.

bakery & pizza

In coffee on January 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm

so dear cousin needed coffee but was willing to go for second best in order to introduce me to arizmendi pizza. oh my. i tasted a sample and even though it was an arugula & walnut special and i’m allergic to nuts the helpful counter dude and i agreed that i could probably successfully pick off/out the walnuts. so worth it! such delicious pizza crust. cousin and i both had a slice and i bought a great ready-to-go salad too. he had his favorite blueberry corn muffin with his coffee. i will have to return at a proper high tea time to sample their baked goodies and coffee. they just recently added an espresso machine and offer lots of coffee drinks choices. they serve fair trade coffee and encourage recycling.

wanted to take pictures but i was too messy from my lunch choices. families, couples, singles wandered through. an older woman was on her phone for awhile right next to us but she was european and i enjoyed the sound of her voice. outdoor seating available but this january sun isn’t quite warm enough is it. we ended up at peet’s in emeryville at cappuccino time. whenever i encounter that just-right peet’s coffee smell, i feel immediately at home. like so many of the shops in emeryville, peet’s was really spacious with an expectation or eager hope for the room to fill with customers. going back on wednesday for their job fair. maybe i will get lucky and peet’s will adopt me.

pizza & salad $8.50

coffee shop

In coffee on January 8, 2011 at 3:59 am

first spotted cafe trieste when big brother drove past in the budget rental truck stuffed full of my schtuff. so good to be back in berkeley after almost twenty years up on the north coast. after a two-day housewarming party with oldest friends and family, and a two-parter tattoo date, i grabbed my best girl friend and headed for the cafe. it was a sunny afternoon and we were on foot. i thought i had remembered it being at dwight & sacramento but we had to hoof it all the way to san pablo. we counted that against the cafe. in its favor, the customers were a nice assortment of ages, colors, and groupings. i counted more newspapers than laptops. some asshole had to be all busy with their cell phone . . . oh wait, that was us.

the baked goodies were imported; my madelines were a little stale. my cappuccino was pretty and served in a china cup. and they had nutmeg available for schprinkles! best bud wasn’t in high tea mode and inquired about the country french lentil soup. the fellows behind the counter just shrugged. why struggle with vocabulary when there just isn’t that much to say about lentils. lentils were a bit crunchy but no uncomfortable consequences. fellows came out from behind counter to wipe surfaces and tidy. after five years working at my little sister’s toy store, i know the importance of mingling with the savages. i mean, the public.

one cappuccino and three madelines cost $6.09

first love

In coffee on January 6, 2011 at 3:39 am

so i’m going to spend time at every single peet’s coffee within walking or biking distance. why do you think i moved back to berkeley anyhow? die hard peet’s sumatra girl right here. first peet’s: shattuck & kittredge. nice ambiance; think i was expecting more elitism but the crew was young, casual and friendly. the barista was tall and maybe a little shy. he called out my name when my cappuccino was ready. i like it when fellows use my name. no fancy flourish in the foam and even though my coffee was for here, all drinks are served in disposable paper. just cocoa and cinnamon for schprinkles.

great corner for people watching. my favorite was the little girl who settled in at her table, spread out her things and gave her mother a cheerful book report. she must be a regular. a young street fellow liked my dreads. and my tims (timberland boots). saxophone player made pretty music a block away. i texted my baby daddy that i had forgotten to use the peet’s card he had given me years ago and i have carried in my purse ever since. we agreed i was a bit of a dumbass. next time.

no one ventured out from behind the counter to wipe tables. and they needed it. and seriously when was the last time anyone cleaned all those fingerprints off the glass door? the last ginger spice cookie was just the right size (big) and delicious!

cappuccino and cookie cost $4.28