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May 8, 2009 02:45 PM


Hey all!

I plan to take full advantage of the gorgeous 70 degree weather we're currently experiencing.

I would love to head to the East Bay tomorrow (Saturday) for a picnic in a beautiful, serene area/park. Unfortunately, I have yet to do much exploring of Berkeley or Oakland and need guidance.

2 Questions:

1 - What is the best place to pick up picnic supplies (we eat and drink everything)?

2 - Where is the best place to sit outside and enjoy a leisurely lunch, glass of wine, and a good book?

Thank you!

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  1. Okay, that question is way too broad, so let's narrow it down a little. You said "head over to the East Bay" -- where are you coming from? Are you driving?

    That said, my first thought was to stop in the Gourmet Ghetto (Cheeseboard, etc.), and go to Live Oak Park. But that might be a little less serene than you're looking for, especially on a sunny Saturday.

    So my second thought was to stop at the Grand Lake farmers' market and pick up some stuff (among other things there's a RoliRoti truck) -- there's also a TJ's a block away. Then head up to Redwood Park -- my favorite "serene" spot would be the "back" side of the park, entering at Redwood Gate. The orchard might even be in bloom.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Gourmet Ghetto is a good idea, but I'd go up to the Rose Garden with the picnic. It's probably lovely now.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        We are coming from SF, but I left it broad b/c we are up for heading long as there is good food and a nice to play to eat!

        Thank you for the recommendations - all sounds amazing.

      2. Acme for bread.

        For wine, Kermit next door (look in the bargain bin) or Spanish Table a few blocks down the street (has chilled whites & roses), they also have great almonds.

        Berkeley farmers market for fruit, Fatted Calf cold cuts, maybe Phoenix olive bread, other goodies.

        Cheese Board for cheese and the best olives around.

        Tilden's the best place for a picnic when the weather's nice. Lots of sites. The Meadow Playfields are nice if there's not an event there.

        Spanish Table
        1814 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

        Acme Bread
        1601 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

        Berkeley Saturday Farmers' Market
        Center St and Milvia St, Berkeley, CA

        Cheese Board Pizza
        1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

        10 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Thank you so much. I just did research on Tilden - sounds fanastic. Also sounds huge.

          I LOVE Fatted Calf and Acme....but get them all of the time. Is there anything amazing that is unique to Berkeley that I can't get in SF? If not, I'm totally game for more pate and levain from the usuals!

          Thanks again!

          1. re: PorktoPurslane

            The Phoenix Pastificio olive bread at the farmers' market is unique but tends to overpower anything you eat with it.

            Most of Spanish Table's sausages are domestic and not great. The imported stuff is great. Excellent white anchovies in the fridge.

            You might check out Indus Foods a block away. Lots of interesting goodies from muslim countries all over the world. Zergut hot ajvar is a good picnic item.

            The Cheese Board is better (and cheaper) than any SF cheese shop and has the best olives I've found in Northern California.

            Country Cheese is cheaper but nothing special, just like the one in SF.

            1. re: PorktoPurslane

              Strawberry Creek Park next to Cafe Zeste and Phoenix Pastifico. If lucky, you can get their olive bread still hot from the oven and Cafe Zeste often has live music outside on Saturdays which you can hear from the park.

              Or go over the the Berkeley Marina and find a spot while watching windsurfers or kiyackers.

              Definately Cheeseboard is a unique stop. Go over to Cafe Rouge for cold cuts. I can verify the ham is excellent. The Pasta Shop next door has lots of salads and other deli items. Go over to Bette's to go and pick up some supplies. There is also a wine shop in that area.

              Here's the route ...

              Exit on Asby Avenue. Go to the Berkeley Saturday Morning Farmers Market for fruit.

              Drive over to Shattuck and get some cheese from Cheeseboard. Get a slice of pizza to keep you going.

              Stop at Gregoire for sandwiches.

              Drive back to University and stop by Ledger's Liquors for some beer. You could always make a pit stop at Chocolatier Blue, but you'd have to eat those immediately if it was hot. The one with the celary and the caramel apple are highly recommended.

              From Ledger's drive down to University to Fourth St. Check out Betty's, Cafe Rouge, the wine shop, the Pasta Shop. Maybe a sip of tea at Teance. Maybe get a scoop of Sketch ice cream to cool off.

              If you want cheapo beer and wine go under the freeway on Fourth and stop by Grocery Outlet.

              Get back on University and continue on to the Marina and pick your spot.

              If you have a dog, then Point Isabel is the place to go. There's even a swell coffee joint there

              Then after a day of relaxing, you might consider dinner at Sea Salt. They have a lovely outdoor patio.

              1. re: rworange

                You are beyond amazing. Perfect. Thank you.

                1. re: rworange

                  Ledger's is one of the best places in the Bay Area for Belgian and Belgian-style beers.

                  Strawberry Creek Park is a bum hangout.

                  Ashby's usually backed up with traffic. Emeryville Powell St. exit > Powell > Stanford > Adeline > MLK is a more pleasant route to the farmers market.

                  Though if you're going to Fourth St. or Spanish Table you want to take the University exit, keep to the right, and take the first right after you go under the overpass.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    A little late for the OP, but every single city park is a bum hangout during the evening. Every time I have been there (and I frequent that area a lot because I like that Phoenix Pastifico bread hot from the oven), it has been a lovely park with children and dogs romping on the grass. There was a wedding once in the park on one Saturday. Personally, I prefer the Marina, but it is a pleasant little park everytime I visited and better than some of the others mentioned in this thread.

                    BTW, if you find yourself on Piedmont on Sunday, there is a Gregoire there as well.

                    Genova Delicatessen & Ravioli
                    5095 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                    1. re: rworange

                      I like Dorothy Bolte Park at Michigan and Spruce. Bring your corrugated cardboard.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Robert left out Spanish Table has a selection of sausages and a choice between Jamon Serrano or Jamon Iberico. Country Cheese on Hopkins has a fine selection of cheeses, usually less costly than Cheese Board and without the cardholding line.

                1. re: wolfe

                  If you do happen to go to Spanish Table, be sure to grab some of the anchovy or lemon stuffed olives. They are very good.

                  1. re: wolfe

                    Great tip. I've had several lunches at Chez Panisse and, upon exiting, couldn't help but notice how absurdly crowded Cheese Board is...its like Tartine on Fridays at 5PM...but all of the time. Sometimes, you just want to get to where you want to go...esp. on a nice day!

                2. All good suggestions already.

                  Another option if coming from SF, take Hwy 24 to 51st St to Bakesale Betty for fried chicken sandwiches (or salad), baked goods and lemonade. if you do it Sunday, could also hit the Claremont DMV farmer's market.

                  Gregoire for sandwiches in Gourmet Ghetto would be nice as well.

                  1. If you want to do Oakland.

                    I would go to Bakesale Betty's,Genova Deli and or Market Hall for your edibles.

                    Then head up to Joaquin Miller Park or Redwood Regional.

                    Just as good as Tilden,if not better...with less people and better views and less chance of a fog rolling in later in the day.

                    Todays weather in Oakland was a perfect!

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Mission

             am I suppose to choose? It looks like Saturday might be for Berkeley, and Sunday for Oakland?...I can't wait.

                      Thank you.

                      1. re: PorktoPurslane

                        If you do Oakland on Sunday, I suggest going to the Temescal neighborhood and hitting up Genova Delicatessen (get the zucchini torta, yes, really), Bakesale Betty's, and the farmer's market just up the street. These places are within a couple of blocks of each other just off the 51st Ave. exit from 980 (from the bridge, follow the signs toward Walnut Creek).

                        The whole East Bay Regional park system is a treasure -- you could spend years exploring the extensive system. Redwood, which I mentioned above, is my favorite for picnics.

                        Genova Delicatessen & Ravioli
                        5095 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                        Temescal Farmers' Market
                        5300 Claremont Avenue, Oakland, CA

                      2. re: Mission

                        Redwood is great. If you're heading that way, stop at Farmstead in Montclair for cheese and wine. Quality is comparable to Cheese Board and better than Pasta Shop.

                        Farmstead Cheeses and Wines
                        6218 La Salle Ave, Oakland, CA

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Plus, the attitude is so much better at Farmstead! There's a Lucca's deli in Montclair, plus there's a farmers market on Sundays, too.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            I tried the Testun al Barola from Farmstead last weekend, and it was incredible.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              The Rogue River Blue was from Farmstead as well. They only make a limited amount, so unless your cheesemonger is an established customer, it's hard to get.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                Yes, we're eating the remains of Rogue River Blue with pears right now! Fantastic as well.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Blue cheese with pears is, of course, a classic combination. The RRB enhances this combination, since the cheese is aged wrapped in grapes leaves macerated in pear brandy.

                        2. If you go to the Grand Lake Farmers' Market in Oakland (just off the 580 and very excellent), you might also stop by Arizmendi, which is similar to the Cheeseboard, and on Lakeshore Ave. You could also check to see if ThreeStoneHearth, a community supported kitchen, is open and pick up a few of their goodies. All of the parks suggested are great for your needs, as might be the Oakland Rose Garden or some of the very small but charming parks in the town of Piedmont - both walkable from the farmers' market. There's also waterfront areas along the estuary or the Berkeley Marina, if you want sea-level. All that said, if I had to pick, I'd say the lawn by Lake Anza in TIlden Park. Just watch out for frisbees and the occassional goose-dropping. Oh, one other lovely option near the farmers' market: rent a canoe or take a gondola ride on Lake Merritt and eat your picnic in floating bliss.