East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Tour de Marin

My ex and I were quick to work out we couldn't travel together, since she liked to plan nothing and I liked to plan everything. More than having a plan, it was the act of planning I enjoyed: fitting everything I wanted to do into a limited time period and budget, like a crossword (not a sudoku, that has too few variables). Of course, when I do go out with other people, I'm flexible, so as not to be authoritarian. Anyway, all of this is to say that planning the 2 BART rides and 7 bus trips required to visit all the places in Marin was more fun than the transit (even though I was reading all the way, and though I finally crossed the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time), but less fun than the ice cream.

Sorella Caffe, 107 Bolinas Road, Fairfax

Even though I only had a panini (admittedly a ten dollar one), I still got the full treatment: free bread, olives, parmesan, animal crackers, gummi bears. The grilled chicken panini came with sauteed vegetables, which had a marvelous garlic fragrance. Zucchini was a little bitter. The panini, which also contained arugula, tomatoes and chopped olives, was well-executed. Cooking was good, ingredients could be better.

NB: contrary to their website, their Friday to Sunday lunch hours are 12-3.

Fairfax Scoop, 63 Broadway Blvd, Fairfax

If there weren't a dozen other ice cream joints I want to try, I'd be back here in a jiffy. After some tasting, I bought a cone with a scoop each of the honey lavender vanilla and the strawberry. The HLV (or maybe it was VLH) is one of the finest flavours I've ever had, up with the pumpkin at Marianne's in Santa Cruz. The ice cream was very soft and rich, sweet not cloying, with tiny shreds of lavender embedded. The strawberry was fine but not nearly as flavourful. The housemade cone was cute.

I had to have more of the LVH (or HVL), so I bought a second cone, this time pairing it with the banana-raspberry sorbet. The light, slightly icy sorbet, dominated by the raspberry, was an excellent contrast, not up to Milano's but what is?

I very very slightly prefer the less buttery, more consistently flavoured style of ice cream of Sketch in Berkeley, but no ice cream I've had at Sketch, or anywhere else in the Bay Area, compares to that VHL/LHV. Maybe it'll be even better when lavender season gets going.

Emporio Rulli, 464 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur

Just had an apricot and almond tartlet. Very fresh and with a buttery crust. They were sold out of gelato for the week, which might have been for the best.

Pizzeria Picco, 316 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur

Tiny place, with eight counter seats and four tables outside; still, the one server on duty wasn't enough. But I forgive that, because my Specialized pizza -- pepperoni, house-made sausage, tomato, house-pulled mozzarella and basil -- was wonderful. Similar style to my beloved Pizzaiolo, with a thin, Neapolitan-style crust, quickly singed in a wood oven. Which is better? It's close enough that it's hard to say. I think Pizzaiolo has a tastier crust, but Picco's meats are delectable. Maybe Pizzaiolo has the advantage, but I won't be confident in that judgement until I make a return trip to Picco.

The other renowned dish is the Straus soft serve with olive oil and sea salt. I couldn't taste the salt at all. Thinking about it now, it seems likely the harried server forgot to salt it. Regardless, and though I'm not a soft serve person, it was very good: quite buttery for soft serve, with the oil accentuating the decent vanilla bean flavour.

I won't make the trip here regularly, but I'm sure I'll be back.


RIP Edward Yang.

I have work to do for once, so see you in a couple of days.

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