The annual TOP TEN LIST from 2018…

Wishing you a very happy Chinese New Year ~ Gong Hei Fat Choy!

Here to provide you with new & enriching experiences intended to delight the mind and feed the soul. Each Chinese New Year in our home, we observe certain rituals to honor the outgoing / incoming Year: we tidy the home, state our intentions to see friends & family, focus fresh eyes on positive changes for the New Year (personal, communal, global), and reflect on the past year – despite the many challenges – to cull the resources that felt most memorable.

The nitty gritty, what it’s ALL about, in a word: COMMUNITY

This list isn’t ‘pro-consumer’, rather it’s meant to connect you to wonderful high quality mostly local (often female-run) resources, you may enjoy experiencing and sharing with friends & family.  

Please FEEL FREE to fwd to anyone you think would appreciate it ~
Caveat emptor.

With that said, let’s begin…

EAT: TACOS OSCAR – inexpensive & casual fab w unexpected culinary artistry; now in its post-pop-up outdoor alley spot, cute & cozy w heatlamps. Don’t forget to say hi to Oscar, he’s Mr. friendly!

BLUE WILLOW ever-so-lovely and rare gem of a spot in West Berkeley w Japanese Tea Ceremony demos available by reservation. Sublime.  

ROTHA the best handmade butter croissants west of Paris. Only open Th-Sun til noon (arrive close to opening or risk waiting another 45 minutes, they run out every day.

SOBA ICHI new dinner-only hours for the sole East Bay purveyor of handmade soba noodles. Slurp.

SOUVENIR COFFEE the original location is a fave Elmwood coffee spot, now also on lower Solano (across fr the theater). Lucky us!

ZAYTOON Happy Hour, sit in bartender Melissa’s section for Mazza platter, Halloumi cheese & Harissa Honey wings (or schnitzel) tipple a (Naughty) Second Date or sip a (Nice) fresh squeezed mint lemonade – pure joy.

HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE if not Ici, then HS! Sooo excited to see flavor Secret Breakfast (hint: bourbon & cornflakes) crossing the Bay…

BAR SARDINE no better spot to be! Fri evenings 5:30-9PM.

MAKE / BEST QUICK DISH : HALLOUMI CHEESE – a deliciously chewy squeaky cow+goat+sheep milk cheese made in Cyprus.

Pour large dollop of olive oil into pan on med-high. Cut slabs ¼” – ½” thick x 1” long. Place slabs flat in pan & grill aprox 3 minutes each side, until lightly browned. Sprinkle w fresh lemon juice & oregano, dash of salt to taste. Serve on a platter of greens dressed in oil & vinegar, with a mix of nice plump olives for garnish. DEVOUR. 

READ: LESS the beginning had me questioning the hype but patience left me in tears by the end.

MISS SUBWAY Sly clever Fox Mulder, er, David Duchovney beguiles us again w this Manhattan/Long Island mythological mashup. Humorous and enchanting.

THE GIFT  deeply thoughtful meditation on the anthropological history and meaning of gift giving cultures. A fascinating read and welcome tonic for hyper-consumer rampant-capitalist society.  

JOIN: do you have lots of clothes you don’t need / don’t wear / don’t want / don’t fit? HELLO STITCH and MARIE KONDO can help! I’m about 22 giant trashbags lighter, plus have 12 newly edited outfits thanks to this dynamic duo. After you finally chuck your old clothes learn to sew/fix/edit your remaining wardrobe on a buffet of awesome machines. Day passes or monthly memberships available.  

FREQUENT: Black Odyssey @ CALSHAKES  not-to-be-missed show if this comes back to town.

SHOH GALLERY beautifully curated art gallery (hiding in plain site on Gilman).

MORNINGTIDE wonderful clean & compact shop bursting w unique and creative gifts.

MOMO’s charming new cut florals, small accessories spot w flair.

WATCH: Along with the well-advertised and excellent Star is Born, The Green Book, Barry Jenkins take on James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, a couple films that might not have made your radar but should:

GIFT Lewis Hyde’s book inspires a film interpretation by Robin McKenna. A must see. I blogged about it last month HERE  

BOMBSHELL  the Hedy Lamarr story, ‘the world’s most beautiful woman’ turns out to also be a brilliant inventor. Shockingly tragic but a revelation.  

LIYANA a near perfect documentary fairytale as told thru the eyes and imaginations of Swaziland’s orphans.   

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? Sensitive, thoughtful, humane, thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly political documentary of the man you thought you knew.    

THE HATE U GIVE in a year of so many strong expressions of black experiences told through films, this one rates.

BLINDSPOTTING beautiful, poetic, heartbreaking, frenetic, hilarious, suspenseful GENIUS.  

SALT, FAT, ACID HEAT and COOKED both truly unique in their approach, as enlightening as they are informative.

THE WORLDS MOST EXTRAORDINATRY HOMES jawdropping designs from around the world (altho you may want to tune out the hosts chatty banter).

LISTEN: Soundtrack of WANDERLUST; Sharon Van Etten’s Omoeba Records: What’s in my bag Youtube: Dave Hartley / Nightlands ; Bill Callahan / Apocalypse; Tindersticks / Tindersticks II; John Fahey Table of the Elements; Micheal Hurley The Unholy Modal Rounders, Jeffrey Fredericks & The Clamtones – Have Moicy!; Catherine Howe / What a Beautiful Place; Damien Jurado Maraqupa; Nitty Gritty Dirt Band / Will the Circle Be Unbroken

VISIT (NEAR & FAR): POINT LOBOS  gorgeous seaside trekking along coastal paths just south of Carmel. Purportedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

I took a leap of faith on my bday last year and signed up for a standup paddle board/chakra yoga retreat (having never done either) and ended up having the time of my life. It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Go ahead and try, you can do it…

510WATERLINEXINALANI remote oceanside resort peeping out of the jungle aprox 10 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, accessible only by boat. Spare and yet luxurious, no room has more than 1 or 2 walls. Walk barefoot all week if you like & truly live in your body, enjoying three healthy totally delicious gourmet meals a day. Lift no finger other than to carry your board, paddle, and sunscreen on your way to the pool or the ocean.

Reciproc​ity welcome​​. Let’s spread some good news, people!

~ wishing you a JOYOUS 2019

(if you’re receiving this but wish not to – just drop me a note to be taken off the list)

You can also find me: debdurant@instagram.com


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