Tuesday, December 21, 2004


On the face of it, just another affluent suburb of Oakland — but a number of reasons to visit:

Mountain View Cemetery: their web page mentions "panoramic views", and it's not wrong. It runs up and over the side of the foothill, and you can drive right in and up to the top for fantastic views over the Bay to San Francisco. It's probably best on a clear day, but even on a hazy day like today we could see to the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond.

Piedmont Grocery: a big, old-fashioned grocery store — lots of fun to walk around in. (No website of their own, but this post gives a feel of the atmosphere.)

Fentons Creamery: an Oakland institution, a traditional ice-cream parlour. The company's 109 years old, although they've only been at the current site on Piedmont Avenue since 1961 — Melinda remembers being taken here for ice-cream as a child. Outstanding ice-cream and sundaes. I had the Fentons Special, which was huge: when they say "slices of sherbet", they mean that it's built up 6 inches over the top of the glass, and a bit of a race against time to work it down before it melted all over the table. Sherbet seems to be an American thing: in Britain it'd usually refer to a fizzy powdery sweet. Here it's a sort of ice-cream, less milky and more fruity than normal, but not as icy as a sorbet, and usually citrus-sharp — my sundae had raspberry, orange, and pineapple sherbet.

Good as it was, the Special was a bit too much in one go: and by the time you've worked your way down into the glass, the contents have got a bit too melted. Melinda had the Black & Tan, her traditional order, which (from the little I tasted) was excellent — toasted almond ice cream.

Do not, as the woman sitting at the table next to us did, attempt a lunch followed by a sundae: she ordered the weekly special and ended up leaving two-thirds of it behind.