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Three Hours in the East Bay

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It is one of those propositions delightful to contemplate in the abstract: Given three hours between a wine-soaked Sonoma County party and a redeye back to Sodom, how precisely might a chowhound while away the time?

Ton Kiang, followed by a browse through the cookbook section at Golden Apple? A seat at the Boulevard counter? A quick plate of the best pepper-salt shrimp in the country at Yuet Lee and a leisurely espresso at Tosca?

Barbecue, more likely, first a crisp, lovely slab of pork ribs at the San Pablo branch of Everett & Jones (a side of hot links too!), followed by some distinctly lesser ribs at the San Pablo branch of Flint's--oh, woe--and also at Doug's, although we snagged our ribs at Doug's seconds before it closed, and have to consider the possibility that it was probably not the freshest half-slab they had ever sold.

Winner: E&J, by a mile, although it must be conceded that their thick, fruit-jelly-based sauce may be an acquired taste, even if the medium does permit an awesome concentration of red-pepper flakes that approaches a dwarf star in both density and sheer heat.

Afterwards, a plate of chile verde at Picante just because. I am falling in love with Picante more and more with every visit, and I never order anything but that smoky, spicy emerald-green pork stew. Lord, do I wish there was chile verde this good in the five boroughs.

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    Leslie Brenner

    I love Picante too--never go to Berkeley without making two or three stops there.

    Pepper, I'm beginning to wonder if you're my doppelganger (or if I'm yours...). Are you a food and wine writer who grew up in L.A., went to school in the Bay Area, now lives in New York, is the parent of a small child who's a mini-chowhound, and visits California frequently? The fact that you never include your email address makes me even more intrigued...Of course you don't have to answer any of these questions--the mystery's fun too. I know there are other chowhounds out there wondering about you as well (including my mother...). We can't even figure out whether you're a man or a woman! (Not that it's any of our business....) In any case, I so enjoy your postings and depth and breadth of knowledge. Thank you!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Leslie Brenner

      Pepper is actually my optometrist.

      If you like his food postings, you should see him adjust frames. Just beautiful.

      1. re: Jim Leff

        Optometry, schmoptometry. Bring on the carnitas.

      2. re: Leslie Brenner
        b
        Barry Kaufman

        If you want authentic Comida Mexicana - get out of Berkeley and head for East Oakland ----- TIJUANA RESTAURANT - breakfast, lunch, dinner --- Classic Baja seafood retaurant ---- fantastic beer selection ------ I go for the grilled giant gamabas/camerones (shrimp) --- always crowded - helps to speak Spanish. 1308 International Blvd (old East 14th Street) in the "hood"

        1. re: Leslie Brenner

          Leslie, you've put in some super sleuthing. Surely you've earned your Super Sherlock merit badge! But Jimmy has spoiled our fun by referring to Pepper with the male pronoun. Or maybe he was trying to throw us off track?

        2. My brother is a diehard Everett & Jones guy. This is about the only restaurant where he doesn't automatically order "hot". He has remarked that the different locations are diverging more widely. E.g., the medium at the Hayward location is not as hot as the others.

          Thanks for the pointer to Picante. I'll have to check it out. Maybe I need a Cal refresher course.