Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hello, Goodbye

It's been over a month since Mike moved into his new condo, but we finally introduced ourselves to his hood by having a food crawl down Piedmont Ave. We started at Adesso, Dopo's semi-new sister bar with quite a selection of salumi and other small plates. Very well aware that they have happy hour with free food from 5-7pm, we clocked in just before it ended but I guess they stop serving food around 6:30pm. My wallet was sad, but that didn't stop us from ordering.

One of the absolute best things about Adesso is the integrity of their menu. In both the drinks and food we tried, you could taste how each individual flavor component contributed to the dish/drink as a whole. It was straight and simple - transparent and exactly what you expected.

Salumi was essentially a similar experience to Dopo, rabbit pate was a bit dry, sardines w/ mozzarella were refreshing and not fishy at all, and the risotto balls w/ pork ragu in the middle were AMAZING. Good thing they only gave us 5 because I could eat them endlessly.

The drinks were also really tasty. They have a large selection of wine and beer in addition to their cocktail and aperitif menu. From the five we tasted, they were all deceptively strong and incredibly delicious. The pisco sour left a lasting impression on Mike - he was still talking about it the day after. The pisco sours I've had in the past usually have more of a frothy egg white on top, but this one was so thick that it almost seemed like they were whipped with some sugar. It was also topped with a sprinkling of spices that made me think of vanilla chai. The strawberry-cucumber-mint cocktail was my favorite. It was just a perfect summer drink, as girly as it may be.

Despite our hefty bill (about $100 for 2 ppl, inc. tax and tip), I would definitely return. The quality of the food is very high, and the atmosphere is still down to earth and chill. Too bad it's so far for me, because I would otherwise try to get there at 5!

After our delicious experience at Adesso, we somehow thought it would be a good idea to ruin it by going to Cesar. I'd been once before to the Berkeley location years ago (my 21st birthday, when my palate newly discovered a taste for "fine" food) and it was a terrible experience, but Mike had never been so we figured we'd stop in for some more tapas. The food was warm and comforting, with a lot of spreads, stews, and essentially anything you can dip your bread into. While satsfying, it was still another case of a menu far exceeding the actual execution of the dishes. Mike likened the atmosphere to Cheesecake Factory, but I wouldn't go that far. It was indeed much larger than its intimate Berkeley counterpart and the techno music didn't really help, but hey it's Piedmont. You can't be that picky. =)

We ended the gluttonous evening with, of course, Fenton's. I'm actually not a huge fan of their ice cream, but its popularity really stems from being a long-established institution of the community. Oh yeah, and I guess Up. Regardless, I enjoyed my second ice cream of the evening, coffee + cookies!

The next day, we also stopped into the new Berkeley Bowl (West) and its adjoining cafe. My first time was actually last week when I was picking up some fruit for a wedding, but this was my first time actually exploring it in its spacious glory. Selection is comparable, but it just feels like more because the warehouse is so Costco-like. The cafe is still working out many kinks in efficiency and menu (mostly sandwiches and salads), but the old burrito and Panda-Express-quality "Chinese" food is still available in the market-side.

So while we said many hellos this weekend, there were also many goodbyes. My absolute favorite shop and ice cream store closed its doors this weekend. The normally friendly chef-owners of Sketch were visibly stressed and not in the mood to chat, so it was a sad goodbye. I did leave with sweet memories and some nectarine sorbet swirled with vanilla bean ice cream, before the onset of our Piedmont run.

One of Mike's childhood friends is also leaving SF, so we said goodbye to him with lots of food including Little Star, fried chicken, lots of sangria, and much much more. I made some leche flan for a tasting earlier that day, and brought the leftovers with me. The ultimate compliment: tastes like a Filipino person made it. Success!

It was a bittersweet weekend, full of happy and sad moments, but great food wherever we went. RIP Michelle.

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