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Friday, March 20, 2009

Show & Tell: Berkeley Bowl Marketplace

Last Friday my friend Melissa and I took a field trip to Berkeley Bowl Marketplace in Berkeley.  If you haven’t heard of the Berkeley Bowl, it is an independent supermarket known for its amazing produce section (some say the best in the country).

To really give you the flavor of the place, PLEASE go read this article in the LA Times.  It’s great.  I promise you will be entertained.  And check out this follow-up blog post by the author of the article. Awesome.

Of course, after reading THAT I had to go.  Plus my friend from Berkeley said the place rocks.  Melissa and I took our girls and had a blast browsing for well over an hour…and we didn’t even make it down the aisles.  The perimeter of the store kept us plenty busy!  I came home with many delectable treats.  A Friday morning well spent, to be sure!

And now, for the barrage of pictures!  One of the first things we saw was this olive bar, which was about twice as the big as the picture indicates.

The whole store was great, but seriously, the produce section was OFF. THE. HOOK.

I didn’t even know what half the stuff was.  Like this Mexican chayote.  Anyone?  I didn’t buy one, and not just because I didn’t know what to do with it.  Yeah, touching a chayote is what I imagine being attacked by a few dozen porcupines must feel like.

The best part was the amazing variety.  So many different kinds of every fruit and veggie.

Of course they had my favorite young Thai coconuts, refrigerated as they should be (Safeway, take note).  (Seriously, people, don’t ever buy those brown, hairy coconuts.  These puppies kick butt. But I digress…back to the Bowl.)

These grapes were TINY. And so sweet. I bought them simply because they were cute, and thankfully they tasted good too.

Everywhere I turned I saw beautiful produce.  A feast for the eyes as well as the belly!

On the way out we grabbed some ‘morning rolls,’ which looked like they might be a bit dry. Au contraire. They were moist, buttery, little bits of heaven. As we ate them, the bakery truck that brought them to the Bowl drove by.

I was a little sad there were no petitioners outside the store yelling at me for ignoring them.  And, while the store was very busy, people were friendly and even liked my kids!  Just when I thought we had navigated the Berkeley Bowl safely…

We were leaving the store and the bagger was showing me where a picnic table was located nearby.  Apparently I was blocking the way because I heard, in a very irritated tone, “EXCUSE ME!  EXCUSE ME!  EXCUSE ME!”  I turned and a woman said (okay, yelled), “Excuse me, MA’AM! You are blocking everyone’s way!”  To which I replied, “I know!”

Take that!  I came to the Berkeley Bowl ready to fight, lady. 😉


  1. Ha ha ha. The produce looks amazing. mouthwatering, divine. Love the blocking the door comment. Puhleaze.

  2. That was SO fun! I’m still wishing I had gone back in to pick up 2 dozen more of those morning rolls. One was NOT enough.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the kumquats, apples and broccoli. The mint that I bought there was particularly flavorful, too.

  3. So good to hear you didn’t know what half the produce was- that inspires me to try out new grocery aisles/food too and step beyond my feelings of ignorance. Kumquats here i come!

  4. 4

    The Berkeley Bowl is sounding a little like the Superbowl- and you were the blocker – (I think there used to be a Tangerine Bowl before everything started to be named after a financial institution- that would fit better…). Glad you came out victorious- take THAT crabby lady!

  5. 5

    We used to live a block from the Semifreddi’s bakery in Emeryville. Good bread.

  6. Look at all that gorgeous produce! I’m jealous!

  7. mmm…Semifreddi’s is delicious.

  8. 8

    Wow…that looks so amazing. You Californians must love eating your produce.

    That market is amazing and I must say, I was also taken by the Milk Pail Market while we were in Palo Alto. Cheap and great variety! Do you go there much? Kind of reminds me of a mini version of Berkeley Bowl.

    And, we are staying here in New Haven for yet another four-year stint, so should you Maynards FINALLY decide to come east, we may actually be neighbors someday. I gotta say, PA has its charms, but the east really knows how to make you appreciate every warm day there is. The low yesterday: 25. We must be gluttons for punishment.

  9. 9
    Sara Denoncourt

    JANE! In the picture of the girls grabbing the fruit I thought, “Well this is a cute picture but its a little creepy Jane was taking pictures of other people’s children” It was then I realized that girl was Anna. An anna banana who is so grown up that I didn’t even recognized her. The cape better come quickly or I’m going to start not recognizing Cate! -SB

  10. 10
    Katelyn Farrar

    Wow!!! I am soooo envious that we don’t live near that! I would not know what to do with myself! The produce looks like nothing we have here in NC- and before these pictures, I thought ours was ok. Man…

  11. 11

    Thanks for making me miss my old neighborhood. I was so spoiled in Berkeley, nothing ever compares now! Glad you enjoyed yourself.

  12. 12

    Holy WOW, I want to go there! I adore trying crazy things, and finding uses for the unknown. And millions of types of bananas? time for taste testing I tell you. I adore this kind of thing. Wish I lived closer!

  13. 13

    Chayote (at least the spiny version) does look scary, but it can be used in a delicious and simple Mexican soup with carrots and chicken. If you could make a pear into a vegetable, that’s what chayote tastes like. Same texture, just more of a vegetable-y taste instead of sweetness.

  14. 14
    Jane Maynard

    I love that you found this post and knew all about chayote – thanks, sarah! 🙂

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