I spent a couple of days out of town this
week, and nearly starved when I saw the slim pickings their local
restaurants - of which there was certainly no shortage - had on
display. From battered-and-fried everything to other nutrient-null,
smothered other things on a bun with fries, my review of menu after
menu left me hungry and, above all, profoundly grateful for the good
eating ease we experience as residents of the East Bay.Â
I try to eat a largely gluten-free diet, once a week or so, I treat
myself. Here are my favorite local vendors for whole, organic and/or
uber-high quality baked goods in the East Bay:
off, it's a worker-owned co--+op. Every employee is an owner. And they act like it -
they rotate jobs constantly, they shut down for democratic, weekly
meetings, and they all act like they care about their food and their
customers, and like they're - dare I say - happy to be there.
the pizza is INSANELY fabulous. And I don't actually like pizza, from
almost anywhere else. This is pizza unlike anything you've ever seen or
tasted before. Thin crust, no tomato sauce, exclusively vegetarian, and
so flipping good that it deserves its own briefing and rite of passage
for the uninitiated. Brushed with an herby olive oil, sprinkled with parsley + parm. Crazy
topping mixes that are so stinking good I can't articulate it fully:
the arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette topping?Â The
artichoke/kalamata/feta? Out of control.
Also, if you're a
wheat-free eater, the tahini cookies rock.Â And if you eat wheat
products as much as possible, you could live in this place: they have
things like a kalamata studded round bread and about 10 different sweet
things that I refuse to taste because I don't even want to like them as
much as I know I would.
a whole lot to say about La Farine except that it's an uber-authentic
French bakery that has multipled its simple pleasures in recent years
threefold, adding Piedmont and Fruitvale Avenue locations to the
original one on College. My friends who have lived in Paris will not
eat croissants from anywhere else.
- the other two are artisinal bakeries that offer some sweets, but
probably more savory, buttery, flaky baked goods.Â Teacake is where
you go for the highest of high-end sweets. This super cute, pink shop
on Bay Street is all about the crazy upscale versions of traditional
cookie varieties, like my personal favorite White Chocolate Pistachio
and Oatmeal Apricot Almond cookies (which, btw, are available only on
Sundays, but I think can arguably be called health food, given the key
ingredients, notwithstanding the sugar and Madagascar vanilla, etc.).
And I'd be remiss not to mention the cupcakes - oh, the cupcakes!Â If
you're a cupcake person, you'll be a Teacake person.Â Please try the
carrot cupcakes with cream cheese buttercream frosting. At least once
in life. I'm just saying.
This is just the tip of the ice - I mean - bread-berg. It doesn't even begin to delve into all the glorious bread bakeries we are so blessed to have in the East Bay, like Grace Baking, Semifreddi's and ACME Bread Company - all in Berkeley. If you want the full experience of them all, I guess you'll just have to go out and try them!Â Then, you'll be carbo-loaded and ready for the Oakland Marathon.