Fresh tortillas and local salsa to buy in Berkeley
I'm visiting Berkeley this spring and heading back to Europe in a month.
My friend asked me to bring her fresh tortillas and local salsa from Berkeley/Bay area.
So what and where?
re: Robert Lauriston
The Primavera choice would be an interesting one. As much as I love Primavera tortillas, they are not the traditional thin type that many of us are used to. So it would depend on said friend's taste whether they would be the right ones to bring. If I were in Europe for an extended period of time, Primavera-style tortillas are not the ones I'd be craving.
Maybe those *and* some traditional ones? I like the La Finca brand that's available around town (there's a Mexican store on San Pablo near University where I've bought them).
We have great local fresh salsas (Primavera among them), but you might also want to consider some canned ones -- they'll keep longer for your trip. I'm a big fan of El Pato salsa.
re: Fig Newton
I'll go farther than saying Primavera is an interesting choice ... IMO it is a bad one. Those are some of the worst tortillas I've had in my life ... way-overpriced and underflavored. They are NOT Mexican ... they are a California take on Mexican. That's not to say you might not pick up a package of one of the flavored versions as a supplement. But as Fig Newton said, if someone brought me these when I was tortilla-deprived ... it wouldn't satisfy the craving.
The best place and worth the drive from Berkeley is La Borinquena in Oakland. Here are the directions in this link
I've tried quite a few tortillas and no one even comes close to these. Classic Mexican, no junk in the like some of the store brands that you find even in Mexican markets ... and so deeply flavored with corn that your freind might just decide to move HERE. They also keep well too. While you are at La Borinquena, pick up a bag of their chips for your friend. I guarantee she will thank you.
Another good brand is Taqueria de Margurey. These are in a bag with a gold label and you would need to go to a real Mexican market to find them.The Mexican market on San Pablo just two blocks from University has them. I'm blanking on the name. but two blocks from university heading toward Oakland,.
Taqueria de Margurey has a little place in Oakland where they make their own masa starting from ears of corn in big pots. The quality shows.
Salsa is more difficult. Because I'm local I buy fresh. That is harder to transport. I can't remember the last time I bought a shelf-stable jar of salsa. I do like Primavera's salas but they need to be refridgerated.
If you head over the the Berkeley Bowl there are a number of local bottled salsas near the fresh, but I just don't know which is good so hopefully someone can help with that.
Has anyone tried the Frontera bottled salsas? Raley;s is selling them and I've considered buying some. The ingrediant list doesn't have the usual junk in it ... I don't recall seeing any preservatives.
The market (I think) you're thinking of is Mi Tierra.
I have tried 2 or 3 of the Frontera jarred salsas, but the only one I've bought more than once is the Chipotle Salsa, which IMO is misnamed, as the tartness of tomatillo base is at least as prominent as the somewhat subdued chipotle kick.
For jarred salsa, it's not bad. In the past I resorted to using it for spicing up mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving when I felt overwhelmed by all the other cooking tasks facing me. Nowadays, however, I generally make such things from scratch.
And as a side note...La Boriquena is also a good place to look for cooking ingredients that the average Mexitessan might not carry.
2096 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA
Yes, they are usually not in the regular taco section because they are fresher. Often kept at or near the register. They seem to go quickly in stores that carry them. All I can say is look for the shiny gold label. I haven't bought tortillas in a while, so hope they are still in business.
There are many options - one is Primavera at the Saturday farmer's market on MLK, with really great products, though you'd want to get them delivered quick as they are not made for extended shelf life. Their chips are lauded as special by Ch'ers, too.