You will have to wait on line to snag one of Uji Time's fish cones — pictured here with black sesame soft-serve ice cream.
I’m somewhat late to the game when it comes to the Instagram phenomenon and dessert trend du jour that is the fish-shaped taiyaki ice cream cone. The treat is available at Uji Time Dessert (2575 Telegraph Ave.), a newish Japanese dessert shop in Berkeley that shares a space with the shaved snow shop Vampire Penguin. But if you’ve been thinking about giving it a try, here’s what you need to know:
Japan has mochi ice cream. Taiwan has ice cream “burritos” (crepes topped with cilantro and peanut-candy shavings). And in Thailand, street vendors hawk something called the ice cream “roll” — a thin layer of ice cream that gets scraped up in a way that forms tight coils roughly the size and shape of a Fruit Roll-Up.
Kate McEachern, the cupcake maestro behind the CupKates food truck, said the idea for her newest business venture came about after her brother had a baby and started waxing nostalgic about the desserts of his youth, such as Twinkies and Oreos. Wouldn’t it be great if he could introduce his kids to those sweets — if they weren’t made almost entirely out of garbage ingredients?
For the past several months, young women from East and West Oakland have been hawking coffee and doughnuts on First Fridays and at hip art events around The Town. You might call Mamacitas Cafe the latest trendy Oakland pop-up, but the pop-up cafe also touts itself as a socially conscious business dedicated to employing Oakland’s young women — and, more than that, to training them to become empowered leaders in the city.
Now, founders Renee Geesler and Shana Lancaster are wrapping up a $15,000 Kickstarter campaign that would, among other things, enable them to purchase the equipment they need to take their training program to the next level: everything they need to serve pourover coffee and a portable doughnut fryer that will replace their ad hoc propane stovetop setup, allowing them to ramp up production enough to handle larger events.
So the new Gilman District plaza in West Berkeley, at the intersection of Gilman and 9th streets) is shaping up nicely. First, the new Philz Coffee opened; then, we got a firm date for Whole Foods' impending arrival.
The latest newcomer? The new location for the Temescal Alley filled-doughnut specialist Doughnut Dolly, which just announced that its Berkeley shop will open next Wednesday, August 6, bright and early at 7 a.m.
The long slog of the winter fruit season is finally coming to an end, and as much I love a good apple or orange, enough is enough. Thankfully, May and June are peak strawberry season in the Bay Area, and the ruby-red beauties at the local farmers’ markets have been getting sweeter and sweeter with each passing week. That also means East Bay restaurants and dessert shops are now serving up strawberry-centric items you won’t be able to find during other times of year. Here are five you’ll want to check out:
Gregory’s Gourmet Desserts (285 23rd St.) sits in the basement of a nondescript beige brick building on a side street in Uptown Oakland. The entrance, marked only by a small sign, looks more like the back door to a cut-rate basement apartment or secret weed dispensary, so, inevitably, first-timers do a confused double-take before heading down the short flight of steps and peeking inside.
Gregory’s might, in fact, be Oakland’s tiniest and least conspicuously located retail bakery. But for regular customers, who swear that the shop sells the best cheesecakes and cobblers in the Bay Area, the hidden-away location and odd hours — just Wednesdays and Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — are no deterrent.
Almost every morning, Pizzaiolo (5008 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) opens its doors early, not to sell pizzas or gin-and-tonics or frilly frisée salads, but instead to sling doughnuts, espresso drinks, and — most precious of all — the sweet, sweet nectar of a free wi-fi connection. The Temescal institution is one of a growing number of restaurants that are taking advantage of the morning hours, when their dining rooms would normally sit empty, to dabble in the coffee-shop business.
For the restaurants, it’s a win-win: The cooks are in the kitchen all morning anyway, prepping vegetables or tending to big pots of stock. Why not whip up some pastries, add an extra revenue stream, and generate a bit of goodwill in the community while you’re at it?