Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bowling in Berkeley

Anywhere else in the country, Super Bowl Sunday after kickoff is a great time to go shopping.
In Berkeley, no. But I'd been told I shouldn't miss the food mecca that is the Berkeley Bowl, and a native kindly provided me with a tour.

Wow, look at all that produce! Actually, it wasn't too horribly crowded, though still busier than you'd expect. I'm told it's also known as the "Berkeley Brawl"and can get pretty crazy on a normal weekend.

Nice to see such a huge assortment of fruits and vegetables in one place, including a lot of stuff you only find in Asian markets elsewhere.

Many of the oranges are sold with the leaves still on, and you can open one up and taste it if you're so inclined (we were).
You can buy edible orchids, too. Pricey!
The citrus is not confined to oranges, lemons and grapefruit of an astonishing variety.
Kumquats, buddha's hand, and weird horny bat things are also available.
The buddha's hand smells lovely.
It can be nearly impossible to get around the aisles at the front of the store because of the checkout lines. Back by the meat counter it's equally packed.
I got a few things: some baby artichokes, a green papaya, and a bunch of specialty sugars.

But that was all for my suitcase. I'd already made my Super Bowl offering. The edamole was tasty and well-received.


  1. Wow what a place. Loads of stuff I've never seen before

  2. Where is this place?! Gimme those luscious bitter melons! I want! And those horny bat things are water chestnuts, I think. Oh gosh! Where is this dream place?! Don't tell me California. Tell me Denver, please! If not Ikea, then fresh produce!

  3. What an incredible array of exotic goodies, we don't get anything like that here, those bat things are weird though! LOL. Your edimole looks sooo yum! Gina :O)

  4. Reminds me a bit of Fairway, crowdwise, although we have no buddha's hands or horny bat things (damn). I also thought it would be easier to shop during the Super Bowl last weekend, but instead ended up trying to get it out of the way early and running into every person in the greater NY Metro Area who was shopping last-minute for their Super Bowl parties. Feh.

  5. Sorry again, Manisha! It's in Berkeley, Calif. For good Asian produce in Denver, I like Pacific Ocean in the Alameda Square shopping center. Though their produce section is about a tenth this size.

    The weird horny bat thing is not a water chestnut. I saw the name and promptly forgot it, alas.

    The bac ha is interesting. It may or not be related to taro (sources differ on this), but is apparently quite nice sliced in soups, because it soaks up the broth but stays crunchy. I'll have to look for it here and try it.

  6. That's an amazing market, even by So Cal standards , where there are Asians aplenty. We haven't been there yet, but certainly will stop by when we head up there in a few months. Thanks!

  7. Hi, It's us again. Forgot to comment on the Bac Ha. It's the stem of a commonly grown garden plant known as "Elephant Ear". It grows wild in Viet-Nam and it's tuber root is known as Taro. So this very versatile plant is a beautiful garden specimen, has edible stems for "sour fish soup" and a taro root. If you can't find it we'll send you some.

  8. what a gorgeous and colorful place!! and the edamole looks yummy.

  9. Hi pinknest! Thanks! It's such an easy recipe. Try it!

  10. Thanks for the added info on bac ha, Diane! I will look to see if we have it here.

  11. Spiny chayote, I mean, Mirliton! I need to stuff me some of those. I am completely intrigued.