I found myself in the company of an old friend this past Sunday. After he transferred from my high school during his first year, I’d really only seen him grow up via Instagram, and now, here we were: two fully formed handsome humans armed with the recollections of 15-year-olds. This felt like it should’ve been stranger than it actually was. Once we stopped trying to map out every year since then, all that was left was now and next.
We decided to leave the car behind and walk to Davis for some tea. It’s always especially fun to walk someone through an unfamiliar area. The route had become so second nature to me that I’d forgotten the way fresh eyes dart around new ground. We reached the little tea shop across from Dakzen, MEM Tea Imports, before realizing it was certainly not a sit-down cafe. Still, with tea on the mind, I ended up getting a sample size of Moroccan green mint and ginger peach tea for about three dollars each. We exited our first stop excited about our newly acquired leaves.
Next, we hopped over to Revival Cafe + Kitchen, where the outdoor window was open for online orders. I ordered a cinnamon and honey latte to wrap my hands around. It was a sweet, comforting choice, and I relaxed into the gentle buzz of the double espresso. I can’t really speak to my friend’s black coffee, but I’m sure it tasted like black coffee.
After a conversation about ramen styles and fleeting warmth, we agreed to track down a bowl of soup for a quirky 4 p.m. dinner. Tsurumen was unfortunately closed, so I happily led my companion to Yoshi’s. It’s not necessarily a “hidden gem,” but somehow, the Powder House institution just always seems to be there in times of need. I ordered some accessible sushi rolls, like spicy tuna and cucumber avocado, and was as happy as I ever am at Yoshi’s, which is very happy. My friend turned out to have done quite a bit of growing up, and coming on hour three, it was all starting to seem like a very successful date.
With this in mind, I agreed to a spur-of-the-moment invitation to a concert at The Rockwell in Davis, and we headed for some beers at Elm Street Taproom to bide some time before the show. The sun was set by then, but a certain fall warmth lingering in the air made the circle back surprisingly pleasant.
The bar was warmly lit and inviting, with pints lined up in a sort of glass bookshelf with a rolling ladder. I characteristically ordered the Madonna double IPA from Zero Gravity Brewery, followed by the Jigsaw Jazz Imperial from Fort Hill;I preferred the former. It was hazy and juicy, and light enough for the hops to come through. And, I got to pay for the beers with JumboCash, so thanks, Mom.
Our final destination arrived. The Rockwell is a small underground venue with no service and an embanked stage that places you right there with the artist. The concert was headlined by Olivia Sisay, a Boston-based queer Asian American singer-songwriter with an immense talent for prompting simultaneous tears and fancy footwork. We celebrated her newly released album “Atlantic Salt” (2021), which is a heart-wrenching collection of delicate lyrics and dreamy guitar tones. It was truly an incredible set with the most supportive crowd, and the venue allowed for a degree of intimacy that Olivia can make you experience even via tangled headphones. If you get the chance, definitely flick through her Spotify page and new album.
And with that is the end to both a spectacular night of food, drink, music and good company and the Spoonfuls column itself. Thank you again for reading and eating along with me. And keep finding those hidden gems — they need you now more than ever.