My Tuesday night sketch buddies and I met at the old Berkeley Bowl (named for its former location in a converted bowling alley). We didn’t realize when we made our plans that they closed at 8:00 so we only had a little over an hour to sketch (and shop). It was cold inside the store so the soup counter seemed like it would be a warm spot to sketch (it wasn’t, being right between the front door and an open refrigeration area).
I was amused by the juxtaposition of Christmas wreaths with bagged and loose potatoes piled high in ex-banana boxes but I didn’t enjoy the spot where I was drawing. The florescent light overhead kept flickering and a small, yappy dog just outside the door barked furiously non-stop.
Although there were at least 40 kinds of citrus fruit and nearly as many varieties and sizes of apples on display, this visit made me feel better about shopping at the stores in my neighborhood. Since I don’t like shopping to begin with, I would rather have fewer, higher quality choices in a more peaceful setting. (I’ve heard tales of grocery-cart road rage at Berkeley Bowl on Saturdays but everyone seemed reasonable tonight).
At my favorite produce market, Colusa Foods in Kensington, there is enough variety and everything is hand selected by the Japanese family that owns the store, and the prices are great. At El Cerrito Natural Grocery, everything is organic, it’s very clean, they play classical music, and the staff and shoppers are all super-nice and polite.