Just now back from a short visit to MSRI, where I spent four invigorating days collaring participants in this semester’s special program and asking them various algebro-geometric questions I’ve been storing up for just such an occasion.
Also, I ate a lot. Wednesday went something like this. I was meeting Akshay Venkatesh in the Mission to talk about Galois groups; I set off the wrong way from the 24th and Mission BART, which had the good effect of bringing me past Dianda’s Italian-American Pastry, where I got a good and toothsome cannoli (but with a maraschino cherry lodged in the filling at each end — why?) I met Akshay at the agreeably full-of-itself Ritual Roasters, where I had a fine, but not outstanding, swiss-dill-scallion scone. I wanted a torta for lunch — Mission burritos are fine, but it’s a real Cal-Mex torta that I miss here in Madison. But on the way I was distracted by something I’ve always wanted to see — a Filipino restaurant! This one was called Kababayan and most of the offerings were big, gristly-looking pieces of meat swimming in various chafing trays. I dodged those and got some pansit and an ukoy — the former a slightly sour dish of short glassy noodles, the latter a kind of shrimp latke — and ate them on the way. Greasy, satisfying, but mostly of ethnographic interest. The torta de pierna at La Torta Sabrosa, was tasty, but a little subdued, not offering the glorious sloppy excess I get from torta at its best.
That was all for the Mission. On the way back to Berkeley I got off at the Embarcadero and wandered through the Ferry Building, which turns out to be 10% about getting on a boat to Sausalito and 90% about ultra-chichi food vendors. My kind of place. At the Cowgirl Creamery store I got a little crottin-sized cheese called Inverness, which, like everything else from CC, was terrific; pungent and direct but not a bit unfresh. I chased that with a “salumi cone” from Boccalone, whose motto, “Tasty Salted Pig Parts,” is an accurate and essentially exhaustive description of the merchandise. The cone was mortadella, sopressata, and of course a healthy slice of cooked pig’s head to provide some gelatinous crunch.
Then it was back to Berkeley and old favorites. I met some friends for dinner at Gregoire’s, where I had a simple and delicious dish of fried, battered scallops. I realized, just after we ordered, that Cheeseboard, the nation’s best pizzeria, was still open for fifteen more minutes; so I hustled across the street and brought back a slice with roasted tomato and gremolata in place of my usual appetizer of Gregoire’s magnificent frites.
We sat at dinner for long enough that, when we passed good old Crepes-A-Go-Go on the way home, I couldn’t resist stopping in. It’s actually now called “Crepes Ooh La La” and apparently isn’t affiliated with the other store on Telegraph. Anyway, their banana and Nutella crepe always ends a day right. As it did this day.