Jane and I caught the train to berkley with a guy who was returning to his hometown and university after 50 years, with his original berkley university jacket. It is a beautiful university, there was groups of new students taking orientation tours and graduating students taking photos.
The area around the uni is filled with star bucks coffee shops, grunge shops and dorm accomodation. Jane and I were in berkley for lunch at chez panisse which turned out to be a bit of a walk away, and in a gentrified French influenced neighbourhood. We found an amazing cheese shop that gave us tastings of local and French cheese. Chez panisse is Alice waters restaurant, going strong for 25 years now and still doing amazing local grown super seasonal mod Californian food. The restaurant is in a wooden frank Lloyd influenced building with two exposed brick and copper kitchens with all the ingredients in baskets. I had seasoned duck breast with white polenta and olive crust and rhubarb tart with vanilla icecream for dessert - simple but amazing. The chefs noticed our enthusiasm and offered us a tour of the kitchen - amazing, there is a huge fire pit where they roast whole animals, pastry room, butcher room, icecream room, pasta room and the walk in cold room and that was just the downstairs kitchen. I felt very priviledged.
We chose to explore the mission district, famous for painted murals around the neighbourhood. They were actually really good, sometimes politcal sometimes snapshots of the neighbourhood sometimes art for arts sake. Some of the alleys did double duty as urinals though, all adds to the ambiance. The area is Mexican / Spanish influenced so there were brightly coloured houses, lots of churches and burritos, even the odd mariachi band. We went to a rooftop tapas bar for middle eastern tapas and chatted to some of the many locals who had come out due to the unseasonably hot day. We had great views over the city, and watched the unfolding drama of a fire that made 80 people homeless after some idiot cooked chicken on an indoor BBQ then added whisky to mariate the chicken. Due to the closeness of the buildings, 4 caught alight almost immediately. Fire will always be a real hazard in San Francisco.