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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gfree in the City: Berkeley Adventures Day 2!

Hello everyone!
I hope that all of you were able to read up on what the three of us did on Day 1 and more importantly, what yummy gfree food we ate! Needless to say, at the end of Friday, we were exhausted from all the walking around, but we were certainly happy and very full. :) 

Now onto Day 2! 

Waking up and seeing sunshine on Saturday morning already put us in a cheerful mood to explore more of what Berkeley had to offer! 

On Saturday, we had an additional friend come along to visit (actually, my sister's boyfriend) and so we decided to take a drive down to the 4th street shopping district. The shopping district was simply charming with all its small boutique shops and eateries! Here, the streets are crowded with more dogs than people and the air was less polluted than in the city. We stopped by a couple shops that piqued our interest, including the one that is shown below of us holding some cool mini succulent plants! 

After perusing through the shops and snapping some pics, we were all feeling like it was time to grab lunch! Now here's where the food adventure begins!
Berkeley has many unique ethnic restaurants that are an absolute must to try if in the area. One such restaurant is, without a doubt, Brasil Cafe. 

Brasil Cafe is a small space (and by small, I mean you walk in and it's literally a square!) Despite the small space, the flavor is certainly not small in size! When you first walk in, the atmosphere makes you feel as if you have been transported out of the city and into a colorful, vibrant Latino world. Paintings of parrots and rainbow tablecloths adorn the room making you feel as if you really are in some part of Brazil! 
Since I've been here before, I already knew their signature dishes, in particular, their tri-tip. Per my suggestion, our table ordered the tri-tip rice bowl, a chicken rice bowl, and a pork carnitas rice bowl. (So much rice!! haha). We also ordered something extra special called, pao de queijo, which are these deliciously crispy but soft cheese puffs made of tapioca flour, that are, you guessed it, absolutely gluten free! 
Pao de queijo- cheese puffs!
Brasil cafe, besides being well known for its delicious tri-tip, is also known for its creamy cilantro dipping sauce which is in virtually every dish. To me, it really helps to accentuate the flavors in the already very flavorful food and adds that extra kick, if you know what I mean! 
T's chicken rice bowl with grilled onions, creamy cilantro sauce, and ricotta cheese  sitting on a bed of  rice. 

My very flavorful pork carnitas rice bowl! 
If you are interested in trying this place, I would double check with the chef or waiter about the sauces if you are very sensitive. T and I didn't seem to have any major problems after eating it, but you should always exercise caution, like I always say!
We are happy campers! :)
Lunch was super filling and rich and so we were definitely up for some exercise to burn off some of that food!
Our next destination was to get dessert! I had heard of a gourmet bakery in the Gourmet Ghetto area called, Masse's Pastries. (For those of you confused as to why we have a district called Gourmet Ghetto... it's basically an area that is filled with gourmet shops and eateries of all kinds. As to why they call it a ghetto is beyond me, especially since it is quite the opposite!) Of course, when we got there, the bakery was so full that the line was practically out the door! (If this isn't an indicator as to how good these desserts are, then I don't know what is!) 

If there was any downside to this bakery, I would say that it's a bummer that not all of its baked creations are gfree. However, there are still options that us gfreer's can enjoy and hopefully if more and more people request for gfree items, they may start making more! 

Out of all the baked items that they had, the only gluten free desserts were the pistachio sandwich cake with wild strawberries and pistachio flavored cream, a flourless chocolate cake, and the macaroons (made with almond flour). The macaroon flavors included cool flavors like salted caramel, pistachio, raspberry, and violet! We ended up ordering everything except the chocolate cake since we had tried something similar to it before.
For more reviews check out:
They had ribbons!! 

Here are pics of what we ordered! Oh it looks so good even now as I'm typing this!
MACAROONS! taste the rainbow :)

Pistachio cake with wild strawberries and pistachio cream!
Aerial shot of desserts

In terms of price, Masse's can get expensive especially if you're on a budget. I was overzealous and was won over by all the pretty colors that I had to just try one of each macaroon and the pistachio cake. The macaroons were $1.25 each and the pistachio cake was $5.50. Pricey, definitely; but the taste was worth it and that's what counts!

After Masse's, we decided to head back to the apartment but we were stopped by the urge to drink bubble tea. Darn, these food cravings! We decided to go to this great bubble tea place I know called, Tea Fever, to get some refreshing cold drinks for the walk back. As you all know, bubble tea or boba, is a very popular drink among Asians and if you're in Berkeley, chances are you'll probably see lots of people carrying this drink. Boba, if you don't already know, are basically tapioca balls that are seriously addicting. It's both chewy and sweet if you go to a good quality place and it of course accompanies whatever flavored tea you get. Of course, most boba is naturally gfree; just stay away from any barley milk teas and what not! 
T's Lychee green tea w/ tapicoa! That white thing is a whole lychee! YUM! 

I seriously have tea fever when I walk by this store. Thus, I presume it is appropriately named.

We bought drinks and of course, instead of walking straight back to the apartment as planned, we ended up taking a tangent to the weekly Farmer's market where they sell all sorts of fresh produce and also, if you look around, lots of gluten free items. I highly encourage everyone to check out the Farmer's Market here for gfree items as well as cool little trinkets they have on sale!

And that pretty much concluded our weekend gfree adventure! It was so much fun and I hope that T can come down again and we can try even more gfree places. We would love to hear from people who know of any gfree places in Berkeley or the Bay that we can try out or if you've tried any places and would like to share your experience, we welcome your comments!

Until next post,