I think about where my food comes from quite a bit. But after taking the food tour of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto by Edible Excursions, I realised that maybe I hadn’t done so as much as I should.
After all, just the other day I had a bowl of Goldfish for breakfast. (Then again, thinking and actually doing something about are two different things).
I came upon Edible Excursions as I was looking for a walking tour in San Francisco. I had never given much thought to what’s on the other side of the Bay. But reading the description of the excursion to Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto, “The birthplace of California cuisine” – I was intrigued. What is California cuisine?
Gourmet Ghetto is an area north of downtown Berkeley where there’s a concentration of well-known restaurants, cafes, and other food related businesses. So many restaurants are located here such that for 3 hours, as we sampled one delicious morsel of food after another, we only walked the equivalent of 4 square blocks.
Some of the highlights were the rotisserie chicken from Poulet, the Mediterranean plate from Saul’s Jewish Deli (pictured above), the smell and sight of cheese from The Cheese Board, the potato puffs from Gregoire.
We stopped by the original Peet’s store and learned more about coffee than anyone thought possible. Things like:
1. The best way to keep coffee is to keep it in an airtight, opaque container on the kitchen counter.
2. Slurping is the way to go when tasting coffee. It also lessens the chance of your tounge getting burned. Did you know that?
What I love most about this excursion is that I got to meet people are passionate food. I got to meet restaurant owners and chefs and see how passionate they were about food they made and where it all came from.
Meet Monica, one of the owners of The Local Butcher Shop, who visited every farm they work with to make sure the animals are raised in a way that’s up to their high standard.
And the thing about being around people who are passionate about what they do, whether it’s eating, traveling, or growing mushroom out of coffee ground – is that it’s infectious.
I had never been so excited about going grocery shopping and making dinner that night.
Being Berkeley, the words “sustainable”, “organic”, “grass fed”, “locally sourced” were bandied about. I believed that these people meant it. Not only because they believed it was right, but because they knew that food tastes better when it’s fresh and meat tastes better when the animals eat what they naturally eat and are raised properly.
At the end of tour of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, I realised that’s what California cuisine is all about. Fresh, organic, locally grown and sustainable – made possible by produce growers and chefs who believe that eating should be more than just a way to stay alive.
Eating should be a adventure.
And it all started in Berkeley.
As a side note: I do tend to burn my mouth when drinking coffee. This morning, I slurped it. It worked!
Cost of Gourmet Ghetto Food Excursion is $75/person from Edible Excursions