Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Berkeley Foodie Trip!

So, I'm now house-sitting for one of my mom's best-friends. This last sunday, I decided that I really wanted to go on a trip to Berkeley to go visit Ici. More on Ici later... Anywho, I figured that getting there around 10am would probably be about right to hit up the shops around opening time. Ici is located near the intersection of Ashby and College Ave. or just south of the UC Berkeley campus. Well, I was way off the mark with 10am opening guess. Everything seemed to open at noon. Well, I ended up getting coffee and a lemon-blueberry scone at Beanery Coffee, which is across the street from my ultimate destination. I have to say that the taste of the scone was really good but the texture was different. I have heard of people using corn meal in scones but have never eaten one. Well, I think it is a good thought but in this case was poorly executed. The scone ended up being grainy. On the up side, I enjoyed their coffee, which I think was French Roast. Well after that, I headed down to A.G. Ferrari Foods. It's a pretty cool Italian food store that has mainly imports straight from Italy. Well, I got a bottle of Presecco, a loaf of sourdough bread, and bottled tomatoes. The tomatoesdecision was based solely on the recommendation of the cute girl who worked there. After leaving there, I realized it was only 10:45 (Ici doesn't open until noon on Sundays), and I decided to walk around the corner to Nabolom Bakery. After some research, I found out that it is a worker-owned collective. I'm not sure if it was because I was there too early or too late but their selection was lacking. The only things on most of the shelves was the labels indicating the past or future existence of baked goodness. Being a lover of Challah, I was delighted to see that they had two loaves left. I had it this morning as toast and made some of it into a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich for lunch. It was one of the best loaves, I have ever had. The only one that compares is the plain Challah available from ACME Bread in San Francisco. I decided that I couldn't wait around for another hour, so I decided to take a drive over to the Scharffen-Berger chocolate factory on 6th St. I was able to fenagle my way into the 11:30 tour. It was a pretty boring tour with the highlight being you got three pieces of chocolate. If anyone hasn't heard of them, make sure you get your hands on some of their chocolatey delights. Make sure to try the 62% and 70% bars. Being so close to Pyramid Brewery, I decided to go grab lunch before returning to Ici. After reading all about Ici on other foodie blogs, I definitely believe that all the hype was warranted. This place was amazing. The interior was really plain and stark, but the flavors available seemed to make up for that small fact.

Well, I decided on the Stout and Creme-fraiche Hazelnut Praline ice creams. I can't tell you how awesome each flavor was. The Stout has hints of a malty chocolateyness. I didn't exact feel like I was drinking a double-chocolate stout but it was a really nice a mellow flavor that did indeed remind of a stout. The Creme-fraiche hazelnut praline was even more amazing, if that was possible. The creme-fraiche base was definitely tangy which contrasted the sweet praline and strong hazelnut flavor. The consistency of both ice creams was smooth and creamy. It was pleasant end to a great day!

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