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A food lover's tour of East Bay "gourmet gulches"; food shops in Oakland, Berkeley, Albany.

Beachcombers have their beaches, hikers their trails, and food lovers the "gourmet gulches" of the East Bay. In seven enclaves from Oakland to Albany-an area known nationally for its impassioned attention to fresh and locally grown products food shops focus on high-quality ingredients, often with ethnic character.

These neighborhoods are full of discoveries. What can you expect to find? Shops specialize in domestic and international cheeses, earthy to elegant breads, produce in explosive profusion, unusual international cooking ingredients, as well as all the basics meats, fish, poultry, wine, coffee, teas. And staffs are knowledgeable enough to answer just about any question.

For the most part, parking is a challenge; walking is the only way to investigate these areas. Telephone area code is 415.

1. Let's start in Oakland

A shopping hub early this century, Ninth Street near 1-880 and west of Broadway is reclaiming that title today. Within walking distance is Oakland's Chinatown, between Broadway and Harrison, Eighth and Ninth streets.

Housewives Market, Ninth and Clay streets; 444-4396. Founded in 1908, it's

been in its block-square structure since 1953. A dozen vendors sell produce, Asian foods, sausage, cured meats, herbs, spices, legumes, grains, and seafood. Hours are 9 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays.

Ratto's International Grocers, 821 Washington Street at Ninth; 832-6503. Crammed with imported items, it has an extensive deli and sells wine vinegars from casks; grains, flours, pastas from barrels and boxes; and spices from big jars. Hours are 8 to 5 Mondays through Saturdays. Cafeteria lunch is served I I to 2 weekdays.

Friday, Operatic Evening starts with pasta at 6:30, then live opera from 7:30 to 9:30; call for reservations.

La Borinquena, 582 Seventh Street; 444- 9954. Sells Mexican foods, has a cafeteria. Open 8:30 to 5 Mondays through Saturdays.

2. Farther north in Oakland

On College Avenue at Keith Avenue, a contemporary brick building houses shops. All are open daily, most by 10; they close at 8 on weekdays, slightly earlier on weekends. The coffee shop and bakery open at 7 daily except Sundays. Park behind the building, off Shafter Avenue.

Rockridge Market Hall, 5655 College Avenue. Grace Bakery (428-2662) sells fancy pastries, breads, and pizza-like focaccia. J. & L. Peaberry's (653-0450) serves specialty coffees and teas, sells ground coffee or beans, tea, confections. Bloomies (547-0444) has flowers, mostly cut. Pasta Shop and Delicatessen (547- 4005) offers fresh and dry pastas, breads, deli foods. Rockridge Fish Market (654- 3474) provides a good choice of fish and shellfish. Enzo's Meat (547-5839) cuts meat to order. Paul Marcus Wines (420- 1005) emphasizes domestic vintages. Del Tomaso Produce (655-2906) includes organically grown items, unusual imports.

At Oliveto Cafe and Restaurant (547- 5356), you can nibble on small plates of

tapas, have a sandwich, or try calzone or pasta in the downstairs cafe. Hours are 7 A.M. to 11 Pm. Mondays through Thursdays, 7 to midnight Fridays, 8 to midnight Saturdays, and 8 A.M. to 10 P.M. on Sundays. The upstairs restaurant serves imaginative vegetable dishes. It's open for lunch 11:30 to 2 weekdays and for dinner 6 to 10 Mondays through Saturdays.

3. Continue north on College Avenue

A block north of Claremont Avenue-between 63rd Street and Alcatraz-one side of College Avenue is lined with specialty shops. Parking is very difficult. Unless noted, addresses are on College.

Royal Coffee Exchange, 307 63rd Street; 653-5458. Serves coffees, sells beans and pastries. Hours are 7 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays, 8 to 2 on Sundays.

Yasai Produce Market (6301); 655-4880. Small, well-stocked shop is open 10 to 6:30 weekdays, 10 to 6 Saturdays.

EuroMarket (6309); 652-4171. Large selection of cheeses, imported and domestic packaged foods, dried pastas; delicatessen. Hours are 9:30 to 7:30 Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 6 Sundays.

Auntie Pasta (6311); 655-4094. Fresh and dried pastas, sauces, foods to go. Hours are 10 to 8 daily except 10 to 6 Sundays.

Magnani (6317); 428-9496. Fresh and cooked poultry (including fresh ducks), eggs. Open 9:30 to 6:30 weekdays, to 6 Saturdays.

Vino (6319); 652-6317. Domestic and foreign wines. Open 10 to 7:30 Mondays through Saturdays, 11 to 6 Sundays.

Ver Brugge Meats and fresh Seafood (6321); 658-6854. Service-oriented shop open 10 to 6:30 weekdays, 9:30 to 6 Saturdays.

La Farine (6323); 654-0338. French-style breads and pastries. Try its famous morning buns with a cup of coffee. Open 9 to 6 Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9 to 1 Sundays.

4. In the heart of Berkeley

On Shattuck Avenue, close to Chez Panisse-the restaurant often credited with starting the food revolution-is much good shopping. Unless noted, addresses are on Shattuck.

North Berkeley Wine Company (1505); 848-8910. Crammed with well-priced domestic and French wines, sherries, and ports. Open 10 to 8 Mondays through

Saturdays, 10 to 6 Sundays.

Cheese Board (1504); 549-3183. Hectic but friendly and knowledgeable. Nutrition information for many cheeses is posted; check weekly baking list for breads. Hours are 10 to 6 Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 to 5 Saturdays. The Annex (two doors south) serves pizza 11:30 to 1:30 Tuesdays through Thursdays.

Berkeley Fish (1504; same entrance as the Cheese Board); 845-7166. Renowned for freshness. Hours are 10 to 6:30 Mondays through Saturdays. Sushi and fish dishes are sold at Fish Kitchen (540-811 1), open 10 to 6 Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The Produce Center (1500); 848-8100. Small but good variety; refrigerator case for dairy foods, tofu. Store hours are 9 to 6:30 Mondays through Saturdays.

Cocolat (1481); 843-3265. Elegant pastries emphasize chocolate. Open 10 to 6:30 weekdays, 10 to 6 Saturdays, 11 to 5 Sundays.

Saul's (1475); 848-3354. New York-style deli selections and sandwiches. Hours are 10:30 to 9 weekdays, 9 to 9 weekends.

Lenny's Meats and Seafood (1469); 845- 0751. Service oriented. Open 10 to 6:30 weekdays, 9 to 5:30 Saturdays.

Peet's Coffee and Tea Inc., 2124 Vine Street; 841-0564. Beans or ground coffee, coffee bar, coffee and tea tools. Hours are 8 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays, 10 to 6 Sundays.

EuroMarket, Auntie Pasta, 1601 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, two blocks west of Shattuck; 841-7737. This EuroMarket branch is larger than the one in area 3, and has more cheese. Open 9:30 to 7:30 daily; espresso bar opens at 7 A.M.

5. In Berkeley, on Hopkins Street

This neighborhood block, between Monterey and McGee avenues, offers fairly good street parking; produce market lot is typically crowded.

Monterey Foods (1550); 526-6042. Produce piled in bins, boxes, and on counters offers dazzling variety, appealing prices; long queues common. Store is open 9 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays.

Made to Order (1576); 524-7552. Take-out foods for picnics to dinner parties. Some cookies, crackers, mustards, preserves; look for frozen unsalted broths and sauces. Open 9:30 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays.

Coffee Market (1578); 526-1333. Coffee and tea to drink or to buy. Sells assorted cheeses, crackers, olives, seasonings. Hours are 9:30 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays.

Monterey Fish Market (1582); 525-5600. Locally smoked fish, fresh fish, and shellfish emphasize quality. Open 10 to 6 Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Hopkins Street Bakery (1584); 526-8188. European-style breads and pastries; big muffins. Hours are 7 to 6 weekdays, 8 to 6 Saturdays.

Magnani (1586); 528-6370. Fresh and cooked chickens, fresh ducks, eggs. Hours are 10 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays.

6. At the Berkeley-Albany border

Work your way along Solano Avenue near Tacoma Avenue and Ordway Street.

Solano Cellars (1580-A); 525-0379. Wine shop-bistro sells wine by the taste or the glass; list changes to complement menu featuring regional dishes. Open 11:30 to 8 weekdays (till 9 Fridays), 10 to 9 Saturdays, noon to 5 Sundays. Bistro serves 11:30 to 8 Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Say Cheese (1561); 527-2522. Open at 8:30 for coffee, from 10 for sandwiches (and cheese); closes at 6 Mondays through Saturdays; hours are 10 to 4 Sundays. Sandwiches until 5:30, 3:30 Sundays.

Coffee Conscious (1599); 526-2204. Serves coffee and tea to drink and to make at home. Hours are 9 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays, 10 to 5 Sundays.

Pring's Fine Baking (1585); 524-3107. Traditional American baked goods. Shop hours are 7 to 6 weekdays, to 5:30 Saturdays, 8 to 3 Sundays.

7. Loop back to Emeryville Parking is abundant around this warehouse converted into a market.

EmeryBay Public Market, 5800 Shellmound Street; 654-5800. From 1-80, take Powell Street, turn left onto Christie Avenue; take first right onto Shellmound and follow signs. Huge building with about two dozen merchants opens 10 to 7 weekdays (till 9 Fridays), 9 to 9 Saturdays, 10 to 5 Sundays.

Saturday mornings, April to November, a farmer's market sets up in the parking lot.

Shops sell culinary tools to candy; you'll also find restaurants, a jazz club, a brew pub, a bookstore, and a movie complex.
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Date:Sep 1, 1989
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