In the style of United Hemispheres’ “Three Perfect Days” series, I’d like to present “Three Perfect Hours,” because sometimes that is all we have. Yesterday, my husband and I spent the afternoon in Berkeley and had a different kind of experience there, one you probably wouldn’t expect, and one that turned out to be quite perfect. Here’s the plan if you’d like to follow it yourself.
We started at Artís Coffee, the newest store in the Fourth Street shopping district, an area that is a mixture of hip (with a hint of hippie), upscale, and familiar influences. Artís is a few things in one: It’s a café where you can enjoy a carefully made beverage in an open, airy space. The latte I ordered was that day’s first taste of perfection. Artís is also a retail store with brewing equipment from the far reaches of the world. One of the founders, Elvis Lieban, was on the floor answering questions and doing a fine job of it.
Lastly, Artís is a coffee roaster. To purchase beans for home brewing, you can choose from a selection of seeds and determine exactly how you want them roasted. Then you sit back and relax for five minutes as the JavaMaster, which looks like a futuristic popcorn popper, works its magic. I opted not to take home a bag of beans myself. I’m afraid I will grow too fond of the freshness and become more picky about my coffee than I already am. But I’ll probably succumb next visit.
For our second hour in Berkeley, we walked a block South, stopping at a few stores (Books Inc and Restoration Hardware), until we came to Chocolatier BLUE Parlor, where I was handed a free, beautifully shaped “Mimosa,” described as “an invigorating white chocolate with fresh orange juice and champagne.” I didn’t think I liked white chocolate, but now I know better. After studying the variety of options, I bought one dark red, heart-shaped chocolate to take home to my daughter, because, even more than its taste, its beauty is perfection.
At this point, most people would probably want some real food. Bette’s Diner is right next door and highly praised by all, but we decided to keep walking and came to Teance, where we tasted two wonderful teas with the jovial man pictured here. He was hosting a table of samples in front of the elegant tearoom. He explained to me that tea does not actually contain caffeine, but something similar—I think he said “teaine.” His accent was lovely, but I didn’t quite understand the difference. So I thanked him for the tea and asked if I could take his photo, which seemed to enliven him further.
Happy myself and quite caffeinated (or whatever), we got in our car and drove half a mile (or less) to our next destination.
At 805 Camilia Way, we found an old building covered with wines where eno Wines and Lusu Cellars share a tasting bar. It’s unpretentious, unfinished, and all the more inviting. Our host, David Teixeira, told us that he was “Lusu wines” himself. Upon questioning, he shared a little about his background in philosophy and science, his Portuguese roots, and the story of Lusus, a companion of the Roman god of wine. We discussed his wine label design and sampled some cheese from a private tasting. Oh, and we also enjoyed tasting six different wines, three from eno and three from Lusu. Which one was perfect? For me, it was Lusu Cellars’ Sangiovese, so I bought a bottle to take home.
With a little time left, we walked outside and around the corner to the tasting room of Donkey & Goat, a winery owned by Tracey and Jared Brandt, mavericks in the natural wine movement. The ambiance was great, we loved it, but planned to come back at a future date, when we wouldn’t be rushed. Maybe next visit we’ll bring friends along, or maybe we’ll find you there, wrapping up a perfect afternoon in Berkeley.