Comin’ back from Cali

First, sorry if you tried to access the blog the last couple of days: the power was down in the building over the weekend for some pretty serious periodic maintenance. Some day soon I plan to bite the bullet and transfer over to an independent host and my own domain.

A few highlights, culinary and otherwise, from the California leg of my current multi-city jaunt:

Arinell Pizza in Berkeley, CA.
Aside from having the best “New York style” pizza in the Bay Area, Arinell’s is also the only pizzeria I’ve ever eaten at playing Syd Barrett and Black Sabbath on the stereo.

Dim Sum at Ton Kiang, tamarind and ginger ribs at Betelnut (both in San Francisco) and sushi at Drunken Fish in Oakland.
The UK is catching up in Asian (Chinese and Japanese) cuisine, but the Bay Area has a true Pacific Rim vibe. Alas, I wasn’t able to get to one of my other favorite restaurants, the Japanese noodle house, O Chamé, on Berkeley’s gentrified 4th Street.

The Adventure Playground at the Berkeley Marina.
Crunchy lefty liberal types (of which Berkeley is famously full) are usually derided as being responsible for the overprotective nanny-state, all in the wake of campaigners (er, no-fun types) like Ralph Nader. Well, the Adventure Playground is an amazing counterexample, a paradise of rescued timber, paint, tools — and a few old pianos. Kids are free to un-build and re-build any of the dozens of “forts” of varying size and stability, slap paint wherever they want, swing from the ropes, or climb on the forts they’ve built. Yes, the parents must sign a waiver, but they can even (gasp) leave their kids for a few hours (at about $6 an hour — cheaper than a babysitter).

Epic Arts in Berkeley.
A grassroots arts project space where I saw some very cool music. “Indie Rock” from Joe Rut this time; on a previous trip I saw the always-awesome Loretta Lynch (full disclosure: one of my hosts is a member of the band!).

And we even got some work done (but, as ever, not enough).

Next week, highlights from … Warwick