Thursday, March 31, 2011
Peter's and my recent trip to the West Coast to visit Rachel and the Divine Miss M was filled with wonderful moments galore: Maxine's giggles, a visit to Tilden Park's Little Farm (one of the few rainless moments), family dinners, Bananagrams — the list goes on.
But one of the highlights for sure was Berkeley Bowl, which we visited multiple times and felt like oohing tourists every time. For an East Coast resident, this supermarket is a fresh produce Mecca requiring multiple visits for us to pray before the fresh food gods. I remember being awestruck the last time we visited, but this time was — hard to imagine — more special. Maybe it had to do with having left behind the worst winter in recent memory — we did not see one inch of our yard from early December until early March — but I could not get enough of this place. I felt rejuvenated by the absolute possibility of all this wonderful, fresh — much of it local — food. It was breathtaking.
Peter, always positive, proclaimed Berkeley Bowl the FAO Schwartz of Supermarkets. I, clearly a glass half-empty kind of gal, noted that it made me feel as if every other supermarket I regularly shopped in seem — and I will include a fav of mine, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods — like a corner convenience store (and we all know what the fresh options are there!).
I took a few notes. (East Coast reader warning: This is going to depress you.)
* 18 kinds of apples ... IN MARCH!
* carrots: sure, the obvious long orange ones you can get just about anywhere, but also round carrots, white carrots, maroon carrots, mini carrots, yellow carrots and red carrots. Who knew?
* obvious yellow bananas AND burro bananas, red bananas, plantains and nino bananas.
* regular old cucumbers AND English cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, Japanese cucumbers, and pickling cucumbers
* REAL tomatoes, i.e. not the plastic things passing for tomatoes 9 months of the year everywhere else in America, as well as orange tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, and some kind of brown tomato I had never seen before
And this was NOT even the organic section, which is almost bigger than the produce section I regularly shop in weekly.
If you still have a stomach for this, here are some photos to further prove the point. While we desperately hope Rachel, John and Miss M move East this summer, I now know I'm up against more than just a California is Cool mindset. Berkeley Bowl is a formidable opponent.