.Taste Test: Our Food & Drink Issue!

During periods when I spend a lot of time online, my world becomes smaller. Meals are sometimes the best chance for me to be present with real life, to be a human with human needs. Beyond necessary nourishment, those workday lunches become opportunities to savor—not just flavors, textures and aromas, but also, time itself. 

I’ve found myself savoring moments in a few local bars and restaurants lately, most of which are included in this issue’s highlighted spring cocktails. There’s something wholly decadent and time-stoppingly satisfying about enjoying a martini in the late afternoon at a classic spot like Townhouse in Emeryville, or delighting in a refreshing mezcal cocktail during a bustling Friday happy hour at Oakland’s Parche.

Speaking of bustling, natural wines and wine shops are becoming quite fruitful in the East Bay. Berkeley is home to one of its most notable purveyors: Broc Cellars, whose chic tasting room has inserted itself into the long-established punk-rock ethos of the Gilman District, starting with pioneering natural winemakers Donkey & Goat. Other wineries followed, and nowadays the area regularly erupts in joyous multi-popup block parties. 

Food and drink can also be a bridge between cultures, a way to “travel” and get a sense of place, without the jet lag and airport hassle. Our region is positively rife with restaurants honoring the cuisines of various locales. We venture through the street foods and pantry goods of India in an article about Viks Chaat, its next-door market and the wholesale business driving it all. We also feature a story on Middle Eastern cuisine and honoring Palestinian excellence in Zaytoon Mediterranean Restaurant & Bar in Albany. 

As many of us become more interested in plant-based diets and where our foods come from, a story on foraging and cooking with mushrooms offers cautionary info and inspiration. Yet another piece introduces us to the thrill of oysters at new seafood spots, The Salty Pearl and Small Change Oyster Bar, tapping into the nostalgia and romance of food and drink as well.We hope this special issue inspires your own IRL experiences and sensory delights. Cheers and bon appetit!

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