Sacramento, California is not a bad place. It just isn’t mine. I lived here for over six years. And it never did feel like home. Santa Cruz wasn’t home, West Los Angeles wasn’t home, the DC Metro Area wasn’t home, Brooklyn wasn’t home. I had different reasons for not being wholly, roundly happy in any of them. But wonderful things and magnificent people abound in all of them.
So I’m in my mom’s house and I need coffee. She’s a tea drinker. (Incidentally, she gets her imported Welsh tea from the Tea Cozy, a little independent, local shop near her house. Strongest bagged tea I’ve had.) I was driving around picking up take out Mexican and I drove past Insight Roasters and stopped.
I usually ask the people who work at a place to recommend to me what I should try first, especially if they aren’t busy at the time. It was evening, and chill. Nice space, airy and light. Sacramento has cheaper rents than the Bay Area, so rooms are bigger here. It feels less claustrophobic than any other place I’ve lived. (I told Shadow Fairy I thought my apartment was 300 square feet and she was appalled. I didn’t tell her she’d be appalled with the rents in Southern California should she get down there.)
I was recommended the Guatemalan by the very nice man pulling shots behind the counter (barista still feels like a stupid thing to call a coffeeshop gentleman or lady), but they were out, so I got twelve ounces of the Brazil. Fifteen dollars, which isn’t cheap, but that’s probably what an independent roaster has to charge to make a profit. Beans aren’t cheap, equipment, et cetera. And it’s not like Peet’s charges that much less. Plus you get a free shot of espresso with every bag of beans. Nice.
The coffee itself was one of the smoothest brews I have tasted in memory. It is chocolaty, sweet and complex–without any sugar or milk in it. These are the beans talking. They aren’t greasy or very dark, which is usually what I reach for, but that’s fine; they’re mellow, full, rich, and deep.
I went back and am on the Guatemalan now. I prefer the Brazil, but the Guatemalan is nice, too. It’s heartier, with more of an acrid finish. My next bag is the Sumantra. Haven’t opened it yet.
I grew up on Peet’s coffee, so I’m used to a really dark cup, and Insight satisfies that. It’s really full coffee–don’t let the sweetness in the description or the review throw you off. I’m sure they have a coffee that hits a more bitter note if that’s how you roll. (I don’t care for Starbucks, myself. Tastes acrid-bitter-burnt and bites on the top of the back of the throat.)
They also sell unroasted beans. I have wanted for years to roast my own coffee beans at home. I haven’t, but I want to. You can do it using a popcorn popper, or a heat gun, or a skillet, or a wok, or a cookie sheet in the oven. Anyways. I don’t need another expensive, time-consuming hobby. I probably won’t make better coffee, and it really isn’t that much cheaper when you consider how much time I’m spending cooking it and storing it and shipping beans to my house. But a girl can dream.
Anyways: this is damn good coffee. Highly recommended. When you’re here and I’m here we’ll go here and get a cup.
Don’t look at the bottom of this post if you don’t want to see it. I’ll try to make it long enough so you can jump out of the RSS reader now if you don’t want to see something kind of ill. I’ll put enough text so it’ll be below the fold on your screen. I’ll put it under a jump now in the regular post, with the story, so you are completely free of gnarls.
So many of my restaurant review posts start the same way. After yoga, Sparrow turns to me and says, “X,” and I say, “Let’s go.” This time, it was just before class, and she said something about pizza. I was down. It was a place called Rotten City, in Emeryville, which used to be called the Rotten City. After class Kea (Sparrow’s dutiful and also hungry husband) called the place and ordered two pies: one for them and one for me. The pie was the Salumi, which is a daily special. It’s a basic pie with a salumi (salami) that changes daily. I can’t remember what this one was, but it was fucking delicious. It also had lumps of Gorgonzola on it–tasty.
I just ate more than I intended to of the B.T. McElrath Chocolatier Salty Dog Chocolate Bar. I only bought it because the store I was at didn’t have my beloved Firecracker bar. So I wanted something special and odd. This seemed classy, in its pretty box, and weird enough. Toffee and salt, in dark chocolate. I was game for it. Plus the name was adorable. Salty Dog! Avast! Pirates from the Land of Chocolate!
5098 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
7:00 AM-3:00 PM
Closed Sun and Mon
Oakland, CA 94612
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Closed Sun and Mon
So the other day, after yoga, Sparrow turns to me and says, “Fried chicken sandwich?” That’s a question that can always be answered yes, in every circumstance. Chicken: the food all major religions agree on. Fried: something everyone can get down with. Sandwiches: something all saved people love. Anyone who doesn’t love sandwiches is a child of the Devil. Steer clear of these people. They are demon-spawn, believe me. If you don’t love sandwiches, you had better develop a taste for them. Might I recommend a fried chicken sammy? Yes indeed, that’s an epic sammy.
Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto
1919 Fourth St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
Sun-Thurs 11:30 am-10 pm
Fri-Sat 11:30 am-11 pm
Moms and I went here a couple of weeks ago. I have to do this review before I forget everything!
So I’d had a craving for fish and chips. It hit me suddenly at work one afternoon and wouldn’t go away. I started bothering Purse Maven and asking if anywhere on the street we work on had fish and chips. She couldn’t name a place. She could name places near, but not walking distance. I was on a mission.
Moms comes to town every month or so and we usually dine together. She decides usually where we go, because she pays. Fine by me. She decided on Spenger’s. Spenger’s used to be a lot different than it is. It was a dark, old school fish house, a Berkeley institution, with really pasty New England chowder and shrimp scatter that I grew up on, and a cork ceiling. Now, the upper-end chain McCormick and Schmick’s has bought it out. It’s light, and airy almost. Weird. The food’s decent, and it tastes like they clean the fryers now and again. The Spenger’s mojo is gone.
Oh, and “Fresh Fish Grotto”? Like anyone’s going to the Stanky Fish Grotto! Fresh is understood!
Me and the crew have a regular standing date for brunch the first Sunday of the month.We missed the first this month, but I can’t stand to see a good thing go to waste, so we met on the second Sunday instead. Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe is on our regular brunch rotation, mainly because of its location–close to a place where both Zorro Smitty and Miss DeLoop work–but the food is pretty good too. The coffee, strongly brewed Peet’s, is even better.