Oakland Adventures: Temescal Alley

We first discovered Temescal Alley while wandering the neighborhood as we waited for a table down at Burma Superstar, some number of years ago. It is a magical place.

First, because there’s ice cream (Curbside Creamery – try their strawberry, tastes like real fresh strawberries) right at the entrance, and because of Crimson, one of my favorite boutique nurseries. And that’s before you even really go into the alley. Deeper within, you’ll find some great boutiques for artisan goods and craft jewelry, an art gallery, a coffee shop, and a bookstore – everything you’d ever need in life!

So we grabbed some friends and made a day of it, starting with brunch nearby in Rockridge at Duchess, a cozy casual spot with beautiful food and cocktails, surrounded by the warmth of walnut and sunshine. Here you’ll find some traditions deliciously refreshed with Japanese touches, making evident Chef Andrew’s experience from the famous Uchi in Austin.

So you know, the brunch menu may appear more like a lunch menu with all the sandwiches, but are still those couple must have items for my fellow breakfast aficionados. In other words, this is actually a great spot to take your boyfriend (or other friend who requires protein and doesn’t share your love of carbs).

Here’s what we had:

  • Beignets – comes with 3 pieces, definitely something to order for the table in addition to your main. Eat them as soon as they hit the table: cold beignets are not as fun. Note that the cinnamon butter was quite subtle, I would have liked a more cinnamon and maybe a touch of salt.
  • Chicken Karaage Sandwich – super savory and filling sandwich, also a little spicy, so ask for the peppers on the side if you’re not of the fiery nature (thanks to our helpful waitress for that tip).
  • Duck-In-A-Hole – a variation to your typical Eggs Benedict, rich and satisfying.
  • Duck Confit Sandwich – my favorite of the bunch, a bold sandwich with a great balance of sweet and savory, this plate will feel like a complete meal.

Stay hydrated with:

  • Rosé all day
  • Summer is Ending
  • Golden State dry cider

After brunch, depending on what you need – grab a coffee or a cone and stroll through Temescal Alley at that leisurely, I-just-ate-so-much-my-body-is-shutting-down speed. Definitely check out the striking leather and metal works of Marisa Mason, then take a moment to smell a couple things over at Homestead Apothecary, and finally make your way to Crimson, which must be saved for last because carrying around plants makes for really awkward shopping elsewhere. Once inside, take your time, breathe in that lush verdant air, and let loose your dreams of redecorating. Oh, and don’t hesitate to talk to the ladies at Crimson, they are extremely helpful and willing to talk you through any plant care.

So maybe you’ll leave with one or four succulents, and also a medium sized peacock plant, and you’ll just have to have a terrarium potting party. We piled into the car and brought our new babies home, where a little wine and the sweetest dog awaited us.

Just a few notes on terrariums, as they are already so many resources out there, make sure you know what plant you’re buying and what it needs. While obvious, people will sometimes pick up a pot and if it doesn’t have a label, you’re probably not going to be able to look up care directions after you forget what you were told in the store. This will also save you from trying to mix drastically different plants into the same pot. Finally, like a puppy, your plant will not stay this way forever. Eventually, the plants will outgrow your pot and require propagating or repotting, this is a good thing. Then you can get together and throw another potting party.

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