When people ask me about Twitter, mostly people that don’t use it, I always tell them how great it is. Here is a story about why.
So I follow a blog called Umami Mart, I found the site when I was looking for a Yarai mixing glass for my bar kit. It’s a wonderful blog often featuring Japanese Culture, Bartending, and Food, some of my favorite things. I’d never been to their store, nor knew much about them other than I got my mixing glass from them and that they did Ramen pop ups.
So Umami Mart tweeted that they were featured in a Refinery 29 article, which isn’t really a site that I read but I thought I would check it out. The article was an interview with a lovely girl and “Culinary Goddess” Ashley Hildreth, who was highlighting some of the places that she loved in Oakland. I was intrigued by all of her selections, but mainly by a place called Beauty’s Bagels. I pulled them up on twitter, and found a Vimeo, incredibly shot, detailing their process. I decided that I should drive up to Oakland and check out these bagels, as well as the rest of her recommendations. ¿Porque no?
First off, Oakland is beautiful. I say that because, well..I suppose I was kind of expecting it not to be? Maybe I didn’t go to the bad parts… It is literally right down the street from Berkeley which can feel a little inauthentic at times.
Beauty’s Bagels is definitely a must visit. A new small business focused on creating authentic Montreal style bagels. Normally, I like my bagels a bit larger with more overall dough – yet these bagels were something special.
The woodfire lends a nice smoke to the bagel. I got the everything bagel, which I watched soar into the air before landing into a nest of seasonings – it was fantastically coated. Thinking back i’m not sure that I picked up on the honey water that the bagels were boiled in, but these bagels did seem to have that mysterious ‘can’t stop eating’ factor. The operation was all around inviting and warm; I was immediately invited back to take a closer look and some closer pictures.
The smoked salmon was also something special, light in texture but intensely flavored and not overpowered by the lightly whipped cream cheese. I could’ve eaten quite a few.
I did get the impression that the city isn’t inundated with bloggers like Los Angeles is – everyone had questions as to who I was taking the pictures for, or who I might be.
We stumbled upon a fantastic discovery. Well, it happened to be part of the journey, but we didn’t know it until after we arrived. I noticed a small chalkboard sign for doughnuts, and being gluten loving I decided to investigate.
Doughnut Dolly was pumping out highly delicious smelling doughnut fumes, leaving me to reach immediately for my wallet despite being full of boiled dough from the previous engagement. The kindest woman (possibly Dolly?) urged us to allow her to ‘double fill’ a doughnut for me, since I could only try one.
Doughnuts filled to order – I haven’t seen anything like it. The pluot had a rich, grapey flavor, and the creme was reminiscent of something I should’ve received a timeout for. My companion said in retrospect that this was the highlight of the trip. Fantastic.
We were told by the Bagel folks that SubRosa was right around the corner. I’m a sucker for any type of coffee shop, and I needed to walk off the oncoming dough asphyxiation.
I could tell that the nice barista’s at Subrosa were a little perturbed by my rapid fire snapshots – they explained that quite a few people have been taking pictures without permission and posting them places after giving me J. Edgar glances.
These ladies weren’t messing around, and fixed me up a mean Mocha.
As the Journey through Oakland was drawing to a close, I noticed a line swelling at a busy corner intersection. I figured I would get in line and ask some questions. The first person, didn’t know the name of the establishment, only that she was waiting for ‘the chicken sandwich.’ Again, I don’t even need to hear anything else, I’m there.
An extensive operation is required to pump out the kind of delicious lemon icy and chicken sandwich business that functions virtually non stop for several hours inside BakeSale Betty. I’ve always thought the best place to find a good bite is to go where the lines are.
With little more than a brown paper sign, a chicken wielding battle tested crew churned out the juicy white breast – coated, crispy, and crunchy. The piquant slaw I was informed had been spiked with jalapeno, which gave me the urge to eat the sandwich faster than normal, and share little. I wasn’t that into the roll, which is probably the L.A in me (or the bagel, the doughnut, and the coffee in rapid succession) but it was chewy and warm.
The staff was extremely nice, asking me what I wanted pictures of, even volunteering to snap a few shots. We ate under the tree lined canopy and watched old cars lazily drive by in the early afternoon heat. The lemon icy was tart, just the right amount of sweet, I was sucking through the straw for quite some time after.
Finally after venturing into Downtown Oakland, I had the luck of stumbling on a nice Farmer’s Market, as well as a few interesting storefronts. I reached UmamiMart which was filled with great goodies and books – I wish I could’ve bought much more. I love their aesthetic and logo, clean and very mise en place. They owners, Yoko and Kayoko seem to be on their way to great success – recently signing a long term lease.
I had to express my regret that I could not return for their ramen pop up happening later that evening – and they urged me to try and bring the Twitter voyage full circle and go meet Ashley in the Mission District at her pop up, KronnerBurger. We did, that’s coming in another post.
After walking a roundabout way back to my car (Parking is GREAT in Oakland.. who knew?) I stumbled on a few other restaurants, but one place stuck out. The Trappist. I recognized them, because I just so happen to follow them on Twitter – not sure how, but i’ve watched their tweets for a while, not knowing where they were located.
You have to love a town where you can stumble into the #1 Beer Bar in California (#17 in the world). I’m a huge fan of Belgian beer, as pretty much everyone is. We stopped in to have a brew, and learned that they are opening a collaboration with Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. Mikkeller – one of my favorite craft breweries out there (love their Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, which i’ve seen several times for sale at Wally’s in Westwood).
Their outdoor patio was filled with people reading books and drinking, having meetings and drinking, or simply drinking. All under the dried hop sconces and world renowned beer bottles.
I can’t wait to return.