So many wonderful things! I couldn't decide whether to write about sailing, Wildcat Peak, or maybe the East Bay Vivarium. Then it occurred to me that I do have one area of expertise:

Steve's Field Guide to Berkeley Burritos

Steve Sutter

As a Pennsylvania Dutch lad, I was raised on pickled eggs and chicken pot pie and the only form of a burrito known to me was the slender tube of grease sold at Taco Bell. Unlike the insipid, glop-infested East Coast burrito, the California Burrito is a glorious tortilla-wrapped meal. It starts with an extra large whole wheat, sun dried tomato or spinach tortilla which must be either steamed or grilled, preferably with a whole slice of cheese. Next, a combination of seasoned rice draped in savory pinto or preferably black beans is covered by a handful of chopped vegetables such as purple cabbage, lettuce and carrot. Crowning this should be a scoop of hot but soupy salsa and enough guacamole and sour cream to suit one's waistline. This burrito is now perfect, but some insist on adding various meat adjuncts although I find them to be superfluous and distracting.

In some dingy corner of the burrito shop you may see some utensils -- AVOID THIS AREA! You must eat the entire burrito by slowly peeling back the layers of tin foil and revealing the sumptuous gustatorial paradise within. Extra salsa is traditionally added as each layer is consumed. In an emergency, tortilla chips may be used to re-engineer the stack.

Let us now have a moment of silence for the perfect burrito. The devastating closure of "Dos Burros" on 9th Street may have ended the possibility of pure burrito grace in this world, but you can still get a glimmer of that glory at some remaining legendary Burrito Palaces. There are over 30 purveyors burrito in the greater Berkeley area, but the following are certified by experienced gourmands:

Picante Cocina Mexicana 1328 6th St Berkeley, CA (510) 525-3121 - Arguably the best in the area: also serves a complete line of other fantastic Mexican fare. If it's nice, sit outside on the patio! You can also check out the North Face outlet across the street. Not particularly cheap, but hey -- you're there! Don't forget to meet everyone later at Triple Rock wearing your cool new jacket! Could get chilly up on the roof.

El Sombrero Taqueria 2101 University Ave Berkeley, CA (510) 843-1311 - An authentic original and never a disappointment if you find yourself near campus. Free chips! Excellent when combined with a trip across the street to the Rock unless you already had the nachos. Wouldn't stop me though!

La Burrita 1832 Euclid Ave Berkeley, CA (510) 845-9090 - The other great campus gathering place; especially if your friends frequent Tolman. [Ed: Tolman Hall houses the School of Education on the Berkeley campus.] Sit in the courtyard and soak up that Berkeley feeling man! Best when followed by a pilgrimage to the roof of Triple Rock

Burrito Shop 5359 College Ave # B Oakland, CA (510) 658-7646 - A bit of a trek out to the Claremont, but delish! An excellent destination for a bike trip. And there's still time to make it back to the Rock!

- Steve