This is Oakland: A Meeting and an Adventure

This past Thursday, our correspondents at BookVibe were lucky enough to catch an event at Book Passage—a charming book shop in the San Francisco Ferry Building—featuring Melissa Davis and Kristen Loken, the masterminds behind This is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places.

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This photo-driven travel guide and book delves into the city’s most fascinating places to visit—ranging from boutiques and markets to cafes and restaurants—dispelling the myth that Oakland is crime-riddled and not worth visiting.

As we sat waiting for the authors to arrive, thumbing excitedly through our copy of This is Oakland (which, on top of being an excellent source of great fun, makes for a beautiful coffee table book), we were informed that the “reading” would be more of an intimate chat with the authors without the usual rigid seating and lengthy reading followed by Q&A – a decision we applauded heartily!

Both ladies turned out to be extremely lovely. Davis, a former editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle magazines and owner of a PR firm and Loken, a renowned photographer, were charismatic and open to any and all questions.

You could tell that they are passionate about the city by the way they talked, their words loaded with enthusiasm, eyes sparkling and hands gesticulating like fireworks. And that’s what’s so great about them—their passion and commitment to get the word out that Oakland is one of the most unique places in the world (Oakland, CA ranked #5 on The New York Times “The 45 Places to Go in 2012,” beating out New York City and Los Angeles), despite their busy schedules.

In fact, to get a full idea of just how much these ladies juggled, the process of creating This is Oakland took precisely a year—loaded with excursions to 90+ businesses, scheduled interviews and photo shoots, etc.—and was self-published to boot.

If that’s not love, then we don’t know what is. And It is precisely this love that inspired us to go on a little adventure.

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The next day, with the book firmly tucked under our arms, we set off to one of Oakland’s hottest destinations, Temescal. Although the book features different sections of Oakland including Downtown and Jack London Square, we were curious to explore Temescal Alley, where a row of the city’s most innovative and talked-about shops took the place of former horse stables.

Our first stop? Doughnut Dolly, because hello—doughnuts! A delightful little shop decked out with striped walls and strung up lights, Doughnut Dolly offers hand rolled doughnuts with a choice of the day’s four fillings (Naughty Cream, Strawberry Jam, Peanut Butter Cream, and Dark Chocolate).

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We chose to try the Naughty Cream (because let’s face it, it’s the most interesting-sounding one) and our taste buds floated up to heaven. The crème-fraiche vanilla bean pastry cream made the entire trip worth it—and we had only just started!

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Next, we traveled a few steps to Esqueleto, a dreamy, rustic space that features large assortments of one-of-a-kind jewelry and local art.

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Of course, we had to visit Book / Shop, where literary rarities ranging from $10 – $500 were on sale.

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As we rounded the corner, the full row comes into view, and it’s small and incredibly charming—we could picture the municipal stables that used to make up the alleyway, loaded with horses that pulled the streetcars down Telegraph Avenue.

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At Crimson Horticultural Rarities, we had a ball selecting the most beautiful pieces of floral and garden décor.

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Temescal Alley Barbershop, where we’d get our beards trimmed—if we had them.

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At Walrus, where ridiculously nifty home décor items are sold—including this awesome, confidence-inducing print.

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And last but not least—Homeroom. What can we possibly say about Homeroom? Their deliciously cheesy, impossibly creamy and perfectly cooked mac n cheese dishes are simply a must-try.

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We ordered the Garlic Gilroy mac n cheese. Best decision ever.

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We had so much fun throughout our outing and would have never discovered Temescal if it weren’t for This is Oakland. On a parting note, we’re very much looking forward to discovering the rest of what Oakland has to offer!

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