Tag Archive | "San Francisco"

Places To Go On Rainy Days in San Francisco for Toddlers and Kids


Do you have a toddler and are looking for some rainy day fun in San Francisco? Are you a tourist in San Francisco with toddlers or kids? A Bay Area local looking for fun activities for your toddler and kids in San Francisco? Don’t let the rain get to you because you can still have fun with kids on rainy days in SF. As a local San Francisco mommy of a toddler I know firsthand how much getting out of the house and doing fun stuff means. It’s imperative that we get out everyday even on rainy days in San Francisco to get all of that toddler 2 year old energy out! So here is my list of places to go with toddlers and kids in San Francisco. Check this list out and remember to bring some wipes or sanitizer switch many runny noses during the rainy days.

1. Randall Museum

The Randall Museum offers youth and adults opportunities for
active involvement and recreation in an integrated program of arts
and sciences. Focusing on the cultures and environment of the
San Francisco Bay Area. The Museum strives to inspire creativity,
curiosity, and appreciation of the world around us.

The Randall Museum houses changing science, art, and interactive
exhibits. Permanent areas of the Museum include a live animal
exhibit, a woodshop, art and ceramics studios, a lapidary workshop,
a 188-seat theater, a greenhouse, and gardens.

The museum’s main floor, including the grounds, lobby, deck, animal
exhibit, restrooms, theater, and art and ceramics studios, is
wheelchair accessible. Call (415) 554-9600 or email
info@randallmuseum.org for accessibility information about specific
facilities or programs.

The Randall Museum is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, Tuesday
through Saturday. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

The Golden Gate Model Railroad Club’s train layout is open
Saturdays only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The building is also open selected Sundays, Mondays, and evenings
for scheduled classes, clubs, performances, and events. Please
consult the individual program listings for times and locations.

The Randall Museum is closed on the following legal holidays:

January 1, New Year’s Day
July 4, Independence Day
November 11, Veterans Day
Thanksgiving and the Friday after Thanksgiving
December 25, Christmas Day

Admission to the museum is FREE!
Donations are always appreciated.

In order to allow persons with asthma and multiple chemical
sensitivities to attend, they request that guests refrain from wearing perfumes and
other scented products when visiting the Randall Museum. Pets are
not permitted on museum grounds.

2. Academy of Sciences

Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is a great place to take kids and toddlers on rainy days.

Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is a great place to take kids and toddlers on rainy days.

Just one ticket allows you to explore an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, rainforest, 40,000 live animals, and more—all under one living roof.

General Admission Pricing:

$34.95 – Adult
$29.95 – Senior (ages 65+)
$29.95 – Student
$29.95 – Youth (ages 12–17)
$24.95 – Child (ages 4–11)
Children ages 3 and under are free

General admission tickets include access to all museum and aquarium exhibits (including the rainforest, planetarium, and living roof) plus a wide range of daily programs and activities such as dive shows, penguin feedings, and more.

Please note that Behind-the-Scenes Tours and NightLife are priced separately.

Children make their way to California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.

Regular Hours
Daily: 9:30 am – 5 pm
Sundays: 11 am – 5 pm
Last entry at 4 pm

Academy members can visit the museum one hour earlier during members’ hours on Tuesdays and Sundays—at 8:30 am and 10 am, respectively.

3. Recess

470 Carolina Street, San Francisco, CA

Their spacious indoor playspace is designed especially to support your child’s development every step of the way.

While Recess is kid-centric in its design, it holds an equal focus on providing space for parents and caregivers to connect, share experiences and build friendships of their own.

Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 9:30am – 6pm
** members only 9:30am – 1pm
Sat & Sun: 9:00am – 1pm
**limited non-member spots available
Closed on Wednesdays
and select holidays

4. Peekaboo Factory

Located at 2 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco, California.

Peekaboo Factory is a indoor play area with a baby/kid area for 0 to 3 years old and junior area for 3 to 10 year olds.

5. Bay Area Discovery Museum

The Museum is the leading children’s museum dedicated to nurturing childhood creativity, fostering future generations of creative thinkers and innovators.

The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a children’s museum located in Sausalito, California inside the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is right at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Address: 557 McReynolds Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965

6. Gymboree

Address: 1503A Sloat Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94132
Phone:(415) 242-5637

7. Exploratorium

A hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception in San Francisco. Site provides interactive online exhibits and exhibitions, activities, science news.
Located at Pier 15 in San Francisco

8. Noe Valley Recreation a Center – indoor play area open gym times and drop in class subject to availability

This lively Noe Valley hub boasts a newly renovated Recreation Center and sand-floor playground, perfect for small tots. Let your pooch frolic safely in the fenced dog run, bring your tennis racket for a serious workout, or join a pickup game on the popular basketball courts. There’s also an indoor gym, a baseball diamond, picnic area and multipurpose field.

Noe Valley Upper Rec Center is located at Day and Sanchez Streets in San Francisco.

9.  Westfield Mall San Francisco Shopping Centre

Nutcracker Under the Dome runs nightly from November 20 through December 31, every half hour from 5:00pm until the Centre’s closing. As holiday hours vary, please click here for extended holiday hours. The free 6-minute light spectacular will take place on Level 4/Dome Level and is open to the public.

10. San Francisco library free story time hours

11. Eureka Recreation Center with indoor playtime

12. Creativity Museum in downtown San Francisco

13. Jewish Community Center

14. Indoor swimming pools – North Beach Pool, Sava Pool, Rossi, Garfield Pools in San Francisco

5 Things To Do Around Valencia Street In The San Francisco Mission


Being a local San Franciscan I have seen so many shops and stores change hands in the last several years that it seems like there is a new restaurant or store that pops up every month. Rising rents have led to many of the original businesses leaving and the area becoming the most gentrified that it has ever been before. The fact that the people are non-flashy, friendly, and the real deal is what makes the people in this place unique. It is okay to be different and everyone is different in their own special way here on Valencia Street. We have the hipsters, techies, families and strollers, tourists, as well as the vibrant latino community. Here is a list of my 5 favorite things to do on Valencia Street.


1. Eat at one of the amazing restaurant and eateries

There are many types of cuisines on and around Valencia Street including Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, El Salvadorean, American, Indian, and Japanese. Grab a pupusa at Pachitas Mexican El Savadorian Restaurant No. 2 on 16th, burrito or tacos at Pancho Villa Taqueria, indian at Pakwan Restaurant, Chinese at Big Lantern, Vietnamese at Thanh Tam or Mau. Limon Rotisserie for their amazing roasted chicken. Puerte Allegre for their great chicken fajitas. Curry Up Now for fusion Indian. Dandelion Chocolate for desserts. Serrano’s Pizza for their tasty huge slices of pizza. Jay’s cheesesteaks for their cheesesteaks and cheese fries. Sidewalk Juice for their freshly made to order juices.

Honorable mentions: Rhea’s Market and Deli for their sandwiches. La Rondalla Restaurant and Cantina for Mexican fare. Udupi Palace for vegetarian indian dosas. Aslam’s Rasoi for indian food with meat. Range Restaurant and Delfina for fancier fare. Arizmendi Bakery for pizza and baked goods. Tartine Bakery for their tarts and Bar Tartine. Bi Rite Creamery ice cream of course. Papalote Mexican for healthy Mexican.

pancho-villa-taqueria-shrimp-tacos  apple-crisp-tartine-bakery

2. Browse through the creative one of a kind trendy shops

There are no cookie cutter big box stores here. Each shop is bay area local and has unique eclectic products which are interesting to browse through. The plentora of these unique shops line the Valencia Street Coridor. Some honorable mentions worth checking out include the Pirate Supply Store, Cary Lane, Serendipity, Therapy, Western Wear, Shoebiz, Paxton Gate, Borderland Books, Dogeared Books, Currents, Chrome, Aldea Ninos, Luca Ravioli, Cut Loose, Anthony’s Cookies, Buffalo Exchange, Painted Bird, Natural Resources (baby, nursing, children goods).

3. Visit the graffiti murals

4. Have a drink at a bar

Whether or not your drink of choice is a tasty blended margarita at Puerte Allegra, a beer at Monk’s Kettle (around the corner on 16th St and Valencia), or something stronger at Blondie’s grab a drink and people watch. Bar hopping is easy here.

Try Delerium for a drink with some non-flashy dancing in the backroom, Double Dutch Bar with their cool collection of 80s boom boxes, Elbow Room for dancing upstairs and pin ball machines. Berretta for fancier drinks.

Honorable mentions: Gesalt, Dalva, Skylark, Killowat, Phoenix Bar, Amnesia, Velvet Cantina (very strong drinks), Latin American Club, Clooneys.

5. Check out a Cafe

Dandelion Chocolate for chocolate infused coffees or hot chocolate, desserts, and frozen hot chocolate. Ritual Coffee roasters for drip coffee. Muddy Waters for a low key coffee spot.

Honorable mentions: Javalencia, Mission Creek Cafe, Muddy’s.

Sidenote: Other things to do around Valencia Street in the Mission include hanging out at Mission Playground Pool and Park where there is a playground for kids, water squirting area for kids, soccer field, tennis courts, community center, and outdoor swimming pool. The Marsh has unique shows and events. Live music and concerts and Citadel. Live music some nights at Elbow Room. Walk to Dolores Park. Do yoga at Yogatree or Integral Yoga.

InterContinental – San Francisco


Exterior-entranceThe drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco always seems a little shorter and a little easier. When I finally arrived there I was a little frazzled from the traffic and having anticipated a few less hours at the wheel. Making matters even more challenging was navigating downtown on a busy Saturday night before I could finally get to the hotel.

I’ve come to expect good things from the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts over the years and tonight I was going to need those expectations to be met.

When I walked into the lobby and saw a long concourse to a lounge awaiting me. The first shade of road stress easily peeled away. The check in was quick, courteous and welcoming, another layer gone.

As the elevator dropped me off at the 19th floor I looked down at my key to see that I was in a corner suite, how exciting. The door opened to a warm, colorful expanse of striped drapes that covered the floor to ceiling windows on two of the walls. I jettisoned my bags to be hands free on the grand tour.

The bathroom was the size of your average hotel room with a separate bathtub and shower, which tempted me to take both. The mirror was situated in a bank of glass tile squares that made the man in the mirror appear all the more…presidential.

I peeked through the curtains to see the pulse of downtown San Francisco and had to immediately rip open all the drapes. I was surrounded by the electric glow of the city and I felt like I was connected to the current.

My night on the town put me in a conversation with some locals who all voiced the same gripe about how small their apartments were and how that’s just the way it is in San Francisco. All the while I just laughed on the inside as I thought about how enormous my suite was.

Once I got back to my room I sunk into a very comfortable bed and let the city skyline lull me to sleep.

While the gym impressed me, so did being very close to the bay bridge so I went for a run outside. However, I did follow up my run with a swim in the heated lap pool. The pool area had a restricted view from the rest of the gym, which gave me a feeling of privacy and comfort. I wound down in the sauna, which offered a number of smaller areas to sit alone and decompress.

In a city with so much history and fantastic amenities, InterContinental San Francisco made me feel like never stepping outside the building. My time spent there was a treat that I look forward to having again soon.

InterContinental San Francisco
888 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Boutikia Holiday – San Francisco


When you travel, nothing can compete with the comfort and cosiness of staying in an apartment instead of a hotel. A few weeks ago, I spent two days in San Francisco. I had the chance to stay in a four bedrooms apartment in a Victorian Painted Lady located in NOPA, a quiet area close to downtown, filled with lovely cafes within walking distance. The apartment is spread over two floors, it’s big enough to play hide-and-seek with your children or partners. On level 1 you have a spacious and modernly equipped kitchen with a little terrace, a dining room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a gigantic living room. Upstairs, there are two bedrooms, one bathroom, a laundry machine, a dryer and a curious little rounded room where the skyline of the city is painted. The WIFI is powerful enough that you can use your laptop in every part of the apartment. The decoration style varies from room to room, but the general vibe is English Rococo meets Neoclassical. This apartment is ridiculously cheap for the level of comfort you get. Family trip or adventure with your friends, this is the place you should rent to feel good in San Francisco.

-Yvan Rodic

Visit Boutikia at: http://www.boutikia.com/home/Welcome.html

Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival 2010- San Francisco, CA


While crossing John F. Kennedy Drive, I could already feel the bass from the Outside Lands Main Stages. The excitement gave me chills as we entered the venue. After walking down the rocky path through the park, we joined an eclectic crowd of hipsters all anticipating their favorite artist to take the stage. The three main stages, Lands End, Sutro, and Twin Peaks, were all nestled in separate ends of the grassy polo fields of Golden Gate Park. We hustled, after a quick beer run, to hear the soul jams of Janelle Monae on the Sutro Stage. This Brooklyn, NY native kept the crowd grooving with her hit song “Cold War.” Next, we met friends at Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, whom was playing in Speedway Meadows at the Twin Peaks Stage. Edward Sharpe transported a crowd of high energy free birds ready to let loose. The band transpired an overwhelming energy onto the crowd. After Edward Sharpe finished his set, we decided to check out the Chase Freedom Lounge.

Chase Freedom Lounge hosted private concerts, wine tasting, and amazing local food. We enjoyed a few refreshing Heinekens and an incredible brick oven pizza and creamy mac and cheese. After relaxing for a while in the lounge, we rushed to see Damian Marley at Twin Peaks Stage. Marley took the stage while waving an enormous Jamaican flag. He performed his new sets “Patience” and “As We Enter” with NAS. The crowd’s sprits were as high as the individuals themselves. It was incredible to see everyone become united over music. After this classic reggae performance, we had some free time to meet up with friends and wine taste. Wine tasting is always a favorite among my group, so we met at the Wine Lands tent. This exclusive tent housed wines from vineyards all across Northern California ranging from San Francisco to Napa Valley. We sipped on great wine and relaxed while enjoying the soothing sexual sounds of Al Green. We quickly transitioned into party mode again when we stopped by the Heineken tent. I could feel the energy radiating from this tent like a Vegas nightclub. Everyone was raging to the European techno sounds by Tiesto and Benny Benassi. After partying in the Heineken tent, we headed back to the Freedom Lounge for Janelle Monae’s private show. Janelle Monae’s intimate performance rocked the lounge while fans went wild. We grabbed a juicy and delicious grilled chicken and vegetable kabob on our way to see Phoenix at the Lands End Stage. Thomas Mars, lead singer of Phoenix, is a great performer to see in a music festival scene. He rocked out to his ending song “1901.” The crowd knew every word screaming “It’s twenty seconds till the last call, calling, hey, hey, hey.” Following Phoenix, everyone came together for this year’s closing act, Kings of Leon. The sound was perfect and such a surreal experience. Kings of Leon didn’t disappoint as they brought down the house of Outside Lands 2010.

Outside Lands is definitely a refreshing music festival to attend because of the great energy. Everything from the delicious food to the talented performers makes this summer festival among the best. Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, which originated in 2008, has a reputation of having hot lineups and amazing wine selections. The eclectic festival-goers were united with the mindset to enjoy the music. Nestled in beautiful Golden Gate Park, Outside Lands overlooks San Francisco Bay and the world famous Golden Gate Bridge.

Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, California

The Ritz Carlton – San Francisco


After crossing the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, I glimpsed a momentous structure on a peak overlooking the city. The Ritz-Carlton, resting at the end of a cobblestone driveway, was quietly nestled at the top of historic Nob Hill. The nine-story hotel was breath-taking with its enormous white stone columns, which resembled such architecture as the White House. However, the grandeur and powerful historic vibe could only be compared to a landmark in Rome. While the valet, dressed in a stylish black tux with tails and a top hat, whisked our car away; we gazed at the splendor of the lobby before checking into our ninth floor suite.

The Club Executive Suite, known for its classy ambiance and tasteful décor, was nothing less than spectacular. The spacious, 1000 square foot suite, was elegantly furnished with golden tones throughout and massive French doors connecting the living room and master bedroom. Our room overlooked the city with an amazing view of the financial district, Chinatown, and Union Square. While appreciating the overwhelming view of the skyscrapers, I heard a knock at the door. The charismatic and professional guest relations team sent up fruit and chocolate to welcome us to the Ritz-Carlton. The hospitality and friendly disposition at this hotel was impeccable. Every member of the staff was well-trained and enthusiastic, which made me feel right at home. The bellhop assured us the award-winning Club Level Lounge was our next “must-see.”

Located on the 8th floor, the Club Level is an elegantly chic yet comfortable lounge providing everything from complimentary champagne to Alexander’s poised concierge services including garment pressing and dining room reservations. The Club Level Lounge was a great place to have a healthy breakfast ranging from fresh juices and fruit to an immaculate mushroom, egg, and cheese quiche. After an amazing lunch, complimentary champagne and made-to-order cocktails were available to help relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, good company, and the wood-burning fireplace. To top it all off, my personal favorites, the Crème Brule and the chocolate mousse were served every evening. With all of this extravagance and perfection, no wonder the Club Level was named “Best Club Floor in America.” During my two-night stay, I could most likely be found in this private Club Lounge snacking on hors d’oeuvres and sipping on champagne (unless I was roaming the streets of Union Square.)

After returning from an eventful day at Outside Lands Music Festival, located in beautiful Golden Gate Park, I was ready for a peaceful night’s rest. The lavish King bed was like sleeping on a cloud, thanks to the overstuffed down comforter and the 600- thread count Italian cotton linens. This flawless King sized bed surpassed all expectations and will surely impress anyone who has the opportunity to stay at San Francisco’s most luxurious hotel, The Ritz-Carlton.

Everything from the classy décor, the indoor swimming pool, the perfectly convenient Club and Business Lounges, to the friendly service; The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco is guaranteed to make you feel among royalty. San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton is nestled on the peak of the scenic Nob Hill sharing borders with Union Square and the famed Fisherman’s Wharf, and is California’s only Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond hotel and Dining Room. The Ritz-Carlton is essential when planning your next trip to San Francisco.

-Jonathan Stinson

Ritz-Carlton San Francisco
600 Stockton at California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

Hotel Adagio – San Francisco


From scoping out the most authentic tacos in the Mission district to inhaling the flower power of Haight + Ashbury, we were too busy for the check-in at the Adagio Hotel to be anything other than quick, hasty even, in order to get back out to the exciting streets of San Francisco. Walking through those big brown doors and into the glowing, grand reception, it was clear, however, that my love affair with S.F. was to take a backseat to my latest crush on this elegant Union Square hotel.

The check-in experience was so friendly. The small talk seemed, gulp, genuine even, as did the care taken by the doorman to help us with the luggage and “assist in any way possible so that we may enjoy our stay.” He said this so formally I felt an impulse to bow, and also to check the prices on the hotel again as this level of formality is usually reserved for hotels of the five-star variety.

Adagio’s 171 recently-refurbished Spanish colonial style rooms are located just 2 blocks from Union Square, the heart of the shopping and theater district in San Francisco. Geary Street is lined with restaurants, cafes, two diners for breakfast to soak up late-night San Fran shenanigans. The only gripe about the rooms is lack of built-in air-conditioning. Most rooms have a stand-alone unit in the corner of the room. This wasn’t a problem on the rainy spring night of my visit, but in hotter months this could be an issue.

Up to the 16th floor, the hotel’s Caruso suite was exquisite, separated into a bedroom and a living room with two couches with a table in between, a desk, television, free wi-fi, and a table for two by the window for a romantic dinner with a view, which you can time with the gorgeous volcanic sand hourglass placed on the table. This sort of attention to detail was clear in every thing from the hour glass to the two separate bins – one for trash, one for recycling, and the thoughtful umbrella to borrow. The décor was not the sleek, contemporary look most urban hotels go for, but rather a calming ‘au-natural’ mocha palatte, wood furnishings recalling the redwood forests beyond the boundaries of the city.

A walk-in shower, bathtub fit for two and enough fluffy towels for a lot more than two greeted us in the bathroom, and the fully-stocked mini-bar on whichthe Nespresso coffeemaker sat was complete with everything from top-shelf drink and the good brand of nuts to an ‘intimacy kit’. The Adagio has got your back. They are going to make the entire stay a pleasure for you and anyone else you might bring back with you.

The far-reaching views from the suite’s four windows provided clear perspective on the greatness of this city by the bay. Executive rooms start from the 7th floor, and from there upwards the city views increasingly improve. Hotel Adagio is liberal with their upgrades, so if in town on a special occasion, there might be a chance of moving up to one of the Executive rooms if you mention it at check-in. We did hear whispers of noisy nights and neighbors from some in rooms below the 8th floor, due in part to the location of the hotel. The higher up the room, the further from the noise of rowdy downtown San Francisco below.

Speaking of rowdy nightlife, you won’t find that the hotel bar, Bar Adagio. What you will find are some great Happy Hour deals at the laid-back bar which pull in fun new friends off the street: $4 wine, sparkling wine and beer, $1 cayenne popcorn, $3 olives and skinny cut fries.

Not so happy is the parking situation at Hotel Adagio, though this is not the hotel’s fault. Between astronomical hourly rates and street parking on all those steep hills, parking in San Francisco is a nightmare. Hotel Adagio’s sky-high rate of $40 to valet the car is the same as several other hotels in the area. Don’t fret. An underground garage located directly next door to the hotel offers $20 overnight parking with in and out privileges, so just make sure to add that to the cost of the room for a true nightly rate of staying at Hotel Adagio or any central San Francisco hotel.


Hotel Adagio
550 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

SF Chefs.Food.Wine – San Francisco


By Bob Schriner

After 20 hours on my feet in some very poorly chosen shoes my night should have been over. Yet feeling like there were as many blisters on my feet as toes would not keep me away from Chocolate Enchantment at the Westin St. Francis. Despite the sensory overload of BBQ night, I knew I could still be delighted on a higher level.
I was so taken in by the grand entrance of the hotel. Upon walking through the lobby I was reminded of Fritz Lange’s Metropolis…from the perspective of a man who would not be taking the escalator down below. On the contrary, I took the elevator to the top floor in a glass elevator that exposed a fantastic view of the city. I walked into the front entrance of the meeting room I was charmed by the tall windows throughout the room. I took in a strong cup of coffee that was just few degrees warmer than the glow of the city below. As I walked around the corner I was stunned to see the display of chocolates. Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Houdre created a dazzling array of confections. I was so torn on what to pick out of the massive assortment, I felt like a 30 year old version of Charlie and the Chocolate factory. The chocolate parfaits were fantastic, as was the sculpted mousse and chocolate macrons. This was a perfect ending to a day of truly decadent eating. I think I was asleep before I got back to my hotel.

After eight hours of dreaming merged with digestion, it was time to rise and repeat the cycle. Walking around the Tenderloin at 8:00 AM it dawned on me that some of the patrons were still working off last night’s cocktails. This was a morning where I was going to have to pass on asking the locals about a good spot for coffee and a bagel. Noon rolled around and I made my way to the final grand tasting of the weekend. The first stop I made under the big tent was the We Be Sushi table. While I find intentionally poor grammar appalling, I find unagi as a good reason to forgive. These guys delivered a variety of rolls and sashimi that drew a crowd for good reason.
RN47 was serving a cold sweet corn soup with tarragon. I was excited to try the soup, but after one bite I was looking for a place to politely dispose of it. I felt like I was eating a cold can of cream corn, not good. My next disappointment would come from the Ritz Carlton’s lobster melon mint gazpacho. This salad has wonderful fresh and sweet crab that looked amazing. Yet the melon was overwhelming and too sweet to compliment the crab. Such a sad end result for the delicious crab.
As was starting to think Sunday was going to be a bust, but my faith was restored by a robust tomato soup from Delfina. The soup was thin with fresh tomato pieces cooked almost into liquid and an abundance of garlic and basil. Finally, something I could believe in. I spotted ceviche, which had been done well by a handful of people this weekend. Zinnia did their peers proud with a halibut and heirloom tomato ceviche that had me feeling truly fortunate.
The Aqua table was serving lobster bisque that looked compelling, but failed to deliver. Not only was the bisque served cold, the corn was too prevalent. Why can’t these folks let the best thing about this dish do its thing?
Scoma’s offered a wealth of redemption with one of the best crab cakes I’ve ever tasted. The thick crab cake used ample amounts of fresh crab meat and let that do most of the work. Breading was on the light side and seasonings were sparse, just enough to be present. This was demanding of a second helping.
The last table I encountered was from Mezzetta, a specialty company that bottles olives and peppers. They served Spanish Style Grilled Cheese sandwiches that were hands down, one of the best tasting things of the weekend. They combined Serrano ham and manchego cheese with roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. What a brilliant way to sell one’s product.
All in all the weekend featured some inspired food from some known and new restaurants and some surprising offerings from some outsiders who I hope to encounter again. San Francisco, you were a wonderful host, see you next year.

SF Chefs. Food. Wine – Part II


By Bob Schriner

After some much needed downtime, I was eager to head back to the Saturday night grand tasting. After what I had seen in the earlier tasting, I doubted I could sufficiently build enough of an appetite to take on a night of BBQ.

When I walked back into the big tent I was happily reunited with my wine glass, but attacked in the ears by some less than welcome music. Apparently, a band of chefs thought it would be a hoot to do a cover band for the night’s festivities. Now, I will be the first to admit that I am highly critical of music, but I was hard pressed to understand how people with such a sense for food were the same people subjecting me to Mustang Sally covers. I tried to just think of how others enjoyed it and tune out the sound as much as possible.

My first table stop was Le Colonial, a name you might not expect when handed a plate of succulent baby back ribs. These ribs had obviously been cooking since the early morning and were so tender that the bone separated from the meat upon biting into the glazed goodness. The ribs had a sticky, sweet coating with touch of ginger and teriyaki added to a more traditional molasses sauce.

I saw 1300 on Fillmore across the room and immediately made my way back to see what they had to offer. I was happy to see that there were more grits to be had from the first tasting. I was even happier to see that they were also offering andoulie sausage on a homemade brioche bun with Creole mustard and a spicy BBQ sauce. The symmetry of the brioche with the fiery sauce on an already spicy sausage was truly noteworthy.
I kept hearing people rave about the soup from the San Francisco Soup Company. I knew there must be something to this claim as it takes a confident and well armed man to bring tomato soup to a BBQ event. Kent Kobelin was indeed well-armed with his tomato bisque. This soup was thick and rich and paid a true compliment to the tomato. I also sampled a vegetable soup that made me hope this company elects to open a Los Angeles location.

Of all the wines I had sampled, the most brilliant and memorable of the night were the pinots from Nautilus Estate of Marlborough. The presence and purity of the fruits in these wines was remarkable. The pinot gris blended pear and to a lesser degree melon with light spices that had such pleasant sustain. The pinot noir brought rich taste of plum and cherry that one would expect to be much sweeter considering the strong presence. This wine also had a long lasting finish. I cannot believe how cheaply these wines go for, I must stock up when I get home.

As I happened upon the next table I was invited by a man with a physical presence, to rub the pig. The man was Big Jim, who runs a competition BBQ team. The pig was their mascot, whom I did for good luck. Jim was a happy man with a hearty laugh and an even heartier sandwich. Big Jim’s pulled pork was hands down the best meat and sauce I had of the evening and I knew that was the case with other tables to visit. The pulled pork had been an all day cooker with a nice touch of smoke. Jim’s sauce was a Southwestern take on Carolina style sauce that had a nice mellow burn to it. This is the kind of sauce that you would lick off your arm if it dripped…and not eve care who saw you.

At this point I must convey my gratitude to Fuji water for being a marketing partner in this event. This was a warm day and one of much eating and drinking too. With all that, it was so nice to have ice cold bottles of Fuji at arm’s reach all weekend.

Friends had told me I had to survey the chowder from the Blue Mermaid. When I approached their table I was immediately aware of the bold, confident feeling the team exuded. General manager Chris Strawbridge told me how the chowder had won the Rhode Island chowder contest. When I tasted it, there was no surprise. The sweet corn and crab chowder was perfect, absolutely perfect. Pushing the chowder over the top was the dash cilantro oil in the soup, that slight touch of heat was proof that these men had indeed earned the right to the title. I had to go back for seconds on this stuff.

With so many heavy dishes to weigh at my guilty sense of avoiding dessert, I could not resist Silver Moon when I happened upon them. President Sheri Tate was on hand to serve up mojito sorbet that hinted at rum and screamed mint in a way that was light, yet completely decadent. There is talk of this product going retail, I pray that it will.


SF CHEFS. FOOD. WINE Festival Day 1


By Bob Schriner

There’s nothing like starting your day off with a walk around San Francisco. As I strolled the streets with a hot cup of coffee in my hand I witnessed the logistical hustle needed to get the city stocked to host away the weekend, there was such promise in the air.

After an extensive walking tour of the town, I made my way over to E&O Trading Co for the Delectable Dumplings class. The session was hosted by authors Sara Deseran and Andrea Nguyen, as well as George Chen of Shanghai 1930 and Shirley Fong Torres. The panel provided an insightful history lesson of how dumplings originated across Asia through the years. George Chen spoke of a man he worked with who was made to sleep in the kitchen for months in China as he was a new chef so he could watch the dough through the night. We were then treated to a series of dumplings that were made in front of the on looking audience. The chicken curry dumpling was steamed which gave it more the look of Mexican pastry than what you would expect in an Asian inspired dumpling. The bread was sweet and soft allowing easy access to the well seasoned chicken inside. I have a pretty low threshold for curries in the sense that a little is good, but a little too much ruins the dish. This dumpling was just right, not just on the curry. Next we were treated to a sticky rice spinach dumpling with an unexpected filling. I could see the color of the spinach and didn’t anticipate any other filing. Yet when I got to the center I bit into a wonderful combination of pork, dried mung bean and spices that could have been stood well on its own.

With a little time to mix with fellow food enthusiasts, I slowly made my way over to the Grand Tasting in Union Square. As I approached the entrance of giant tent over the square I was taken aback by the size of the event. We were greeted inside with a smile and a wine glass, certainly not your average day in the park!
1300 on Fillmore grabbed my eye as I’d had a good experience there on another SF visit. They had prepared fried green tomato salad that paired lightly battered, thinly sliced tomato with mixed greens. As if that weren’t enough, wonderful blue cheese grits with tomato marmalade was served on the side.

Gerald Hirigoyen’s Piperade brought forth the pride of the Basque country as much as the spirit of summer with an amazing seafood salad. The salad served up calamari and octopus with cilantro and watermelon. I was jealous of such simplicity could be so good. To cope with my envy, I went back for seconds…thirds.
Staying with simple, Bar Bambino offered a wheel of parmesan cheese, most of which was broken off in thousands of pieces. I grabbed a toothpick’s worth and was so pleased with the taste of the fresh cheese. Then the man next to me left the table exposing a platter of cured Capicola. I tried it alone and then with the parmesan, the goodness of life had been affirmed.

Getting to meet and spend a little time talking to Perbacco’s Umberto Gibin was a treat. He was warm, gracious and so happy to talk to people. He had every reason to be proud of the dish he was offering. He had made a delightful cured sardine half with a touch of salsa verde. This dish was special and I got a thrill from seeing people walk away from that table with a stunned look on their faces.
The Cliff House has a long history in the bay area. Having been in operation since 1863, they would not seem like the most likely place to serve up a truly remarkable spicy crab and unagi roll with wasabi caviar. The flare of the wasabi caviar was offset with the cool taste of cucumber, which made an impact, while leaving the seafood in the spotlight.

I had to start walking off all this food in order to have room for the next grand tasting, I’ve been hearing little things about great BBQ to come….


Scenes from the event:

Morgan’s Hotel Group Asks: Who Do You Want to Be?

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Morgans Hotel Group Co., the original boutique hotel company and originator of hotel lobby socializing is introducing a new “Who do you want to be?” campaign, with exclusive offers designed for sophisticated travelers: “The Escapist”, “The Hedonist”, “The Romantic”, “The Socialite” and “The Road Warrior”. In keeping with Morgans’ tradition of celebrating the individual and inspiring dynamic experiences, these offers cater to personal preferences and are committed to enhancing value and creating the opportunity to experience more for less.

The Escapist
Designed for the escapist, the package may include breakfast in bed, late checkout, one complimentary movie per night, a 25% discount on mini-bar products, a bottle of champagne or wine, $100 food and beverage credit and 25% discount at Agua Spa. Rates and privileges vary by location.

The Hedonist
Designed for the Hedonist, the package may include 4pm checkout, a box of Asia de Cuba cupcakes, a daily poolside pitcher of caipirinha, overnight parking, continental breakfast, one complimentary movie per night, complimentary mini spa treatments and reserved seating at exclusive nightlife venues like Hudson’s Sky Terrace. Rates and privileges vary by location.

The Romantic
Designed for the Romantic, the package may include breakfast in bed, 4pm checkout, champagne and strawberries, dining discounts and a complimentary room upgrade. Rates and privileges vary by location.

The Socialite
Designed for the Socialite, the package may include two complimentary cocktails, guaranteed access to our exclusive nightlife venues including, Skybar at Mondrian in LA, The Florida Room at Delano, Redwood Room at Clift, Bar 44 at Royalton, Private Park at Hudson, and Light Bar at St Martins Lane, and priority reservations at our restaurants including Brasserie 44 at Royalton and Asia de Cuba at Morgans. Rates and privileges vary by location.

The Road Warrior
Designed with the business traveler in mind, packages may include complimentary business center access and wireless internet, unlimited local calls, parking, continental breakfast, newspaper and in-room coffee service throughout the day, complimentary gym access, a room upgrade and even a concierge to unpack your bags. Rates and privileges vary by location.

For reservations visit Morgans website: www.morganshotelgroup.com or in the US call 1.800.606.6090 or internationally 00.800.4969.1170. Offers may vary by property and are not applicable to group

SF. CHEFS. FOOD. WINE – San Francisco


SF Chefs. Food. Wine. announces an extraordinary Culinary Dream Weekend in San Francisco during the not-to-be-missed food and wine festival debuting on August 6-9, 2009. Thousands of food and wine lovers will converge on San Francisco’s historic Union Square and The Westin St. Francis hotel over the weekend, where a who’s who of star chefs will be featured in classes and events held at The Westin St. Francis Hotel, Restaurant Michael Mina and other surrounding venues.

Food and wine lovers can book their own Culinary Dream Package for two including a one night hotel stay at host hotel The Westin St. Francis for $129 (double occupancy, plus tax), plus two one-day VIP Day Passes* to SF Chefs for $270 (includes rate of 10% off ticket price). Link to reservations and ticket package here or copy and paste http://www.westin.com/sffoodwine. Details: After guests book their hotel room on the site, they will be given a code to book the SF Chefs Day Passes per couple. Guests can also plus up the package for additional nights and classes or events. * Note: Each one day pass includes one morning class, the Grand Tasting from noon to 3:30, and an afternoon class.

Entice your palate at SF Chefs. Food. Wine. – the ultimate experience to showcase San Francisco’s one-of-a-kind culinary scene, including the history, talents and successes garnered by sourcing the bounty of Northern California. “The Bay Area chef and wine community came together to create a program which reflects our creative spirit,” said award-winning pastry chef Emily Luchetti of Farallon and Waterbar and a chef-advisor for the event. For four days acclaimed experts including chefs, winemakers, mixologists, farmers, artisans, and visionaries will join forces to educate and entertain guests through classes, tastings and evening galas.

Evolving and current program and details can be found at http://www.sfchefsfoodwine.com/Schedule.aspx

Herbivore – San Francisco


By Ashley Miller

In a time when tastes are divided, carnivore vs. herbivore , can a foodies’ needs be met by green, vegan cuisine? Adham Nasser owner of Herbivore believes that fresh, well made complex food can satisfy every appetite. There are three locations to choose from, so I joined Adham at the location on Divisadero in the new hot neighborhood for young artists and students. Walking down the street I immediately feel like I’m in a John Hughes film, and I’m looking around for Molly Ringwald and Ducky. There is vibrant graffiti on the old brick walls of buildings and college kids littering cafes and record shops. Here is the neighborhood in which the Herbivore resides. There is nothing un-urban about the place. The walls of Herbivore are lined with pictures of fruits and veggies, painted in still life style. The café/bar/kitchen is open and cluttered with vegan pastries and teas. Behind the counter is a large red wooden panel displaying alternating lemons and limes for colorful, visual pizzazz. The menu is tempting and eclectic, with food ranging from burritos or sharwma to lasagna and hot and sour soup. I tell Adham I am in the Asian persuasion that day and he highly recommends the Lemongrass noodles with tofu, his personal favorite. As I dig in to a very hearty helping of rice noodles, veggies and tofu tossed in a house made lemon grass sauce I’m thinking at $8.95 a plate I will be back here for gnocchi tomorrow. The mixture of oyster mushrooms, bell peppers and other veggies tingle in my mouth with the lemon citrus, Korean chilies and cilantro. I wash down the crisp light dish with a glass of creamy iced chai tea, one of many different healthy and absolutely delicious drink choices the restaurant has to offer. I’m eyeing the fresh fruit smoothies next but can’t help but be intrigued by the bio-dynamic wines and organic beers Herbivore has to offer. I’m torn to drink in the afternoon or not to drink in the afternoon, that is the question. Hmmm…better not, should probably save myself for one of the many delicious vegan pastries that Adham brings in from Maggie Mudd’s and Black China bakery. I’m suddenly caught by an action out of the corner of my eye. The young beautiful server in knee high biker boots who is waiting on me gets caught up in the ecstasy of Fame by David Bowie playing over head and begins to twirl in her floral blue and green dress. This is no joke I am definitely caught up in an 80′s coming of age movie and I like it. The food, music and staff contribute to the allure of the space and make me feel instantly hip and sophisticated. I immediately want to call up all my friends and sit around swirling wine while debating if Kurt Vonnegut’s, “A Man Without a Country”, is truly a memoir. This place is too hip to be square. I have found my local place to grab a carrot juice and munch on tempeh BLT’s.
Life has taught us it’s a jungle out there and that it is survival of the fittest. Well Adham is trying to make the world the fittest it can be. With his restaurant contributing to the rapidly growing green trend by providing mostly organic, green, vegan food Adham is hoping to recruit people to the cleaner way of eating. With hearty affordable portions that are complex and full of flavor I can see this urban hotspot being packed wall to wall with the carnivores boys soccer team and the vegan, SUV hating hippie.

Herbivore Restaurant
San Francisco Location:

531 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 885-7133

First Crush Wine Bar, Restaurant & Lounge – San Francisco


By Carey Steinberg

In the heart of the San Francisco theatre district, experience a romantic evening with posh decor and sexy cocktails at First Crush Wine Bar, Restaurant & Lounge. This hidden gem, tucked away in the grooviest part of town is the perfect lounge to take a first date and/or first crush.  After sipping on a dry & sexy crush cosmo we ate Truffle Fries, Dungeness Crab Cakes, and an amazing organic Toybox Tomato Salad, we were ready to sample the large menu of Wine Flights. It was a difficult decision, however the 2006 Peter Michael (Belle Cote Vineyards) Chardonnay flight offered an amiable lift to my palette.  The wine list is extensive yet offers limited availability.  We finished off the evening with an amazing Parmesan Risotto (infused with summer squash, squash blossom and basil olive oil) great for vegetarians like myself who crave a juicy taste of continental European cuisine (sans the meat!) at a reasonable value. For all you non-veggies you can find Cheeseburgers, Halibut, Scallops and New York Steak on the menu.  First Crush is the best place to chill with a first date, hang out with friends after work or swoon over and stare deep into the eyes of an old-school sweetheart. My date wanted to keep the evening going and so we traipsed downstairs into the private dining area which includes one of the largest wine selections in the city.  First Crush is formidable!
101 Cyril Magnin
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 982-7874


San Francisco – Love Fest 2008


By Carey Steinberg

On October 4th, 2008, the city of San Francisco, California was once again fortunate enough to have one of the best outdoor electronic music festivals in the world. The only other outdoor electronic music festival, which compares to Lovefest is the Love Parade in Berlin, Germany. The “Internationally, spin-off Love Parades” have occurred in Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Acapulco, Vienna, Cape Town, Leeds, Sydney, Santiago, Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Budapest. However, here in the liberal city of San Francisco, Lovefest is one of the most hip, freedom festivals out there.  Only one month after Burning Man, thousands of adults, kids and adults behaving like children flock to San Francisco’s Civi Center for the ultimate all day electronic parade.  In the beginning of the festival, each DJ stage actually floats around the Civic Center in a similiar fashion to New Orleans Mardi Gras Festival. The DJ floats park and bang out beats on over twenty different stationary floats. A few of the big name SF party floats were the Auralism/[KONTROL] float, Bay Area Drum n’ Bass (BADNB) float, Flavor Group’s Solid Gold Jacuzzi float and the PepsiStuff.com, The MML & OM Records float. 

Festie kids were able to walk around, costumed or naked and chose which genre of electronic music they wanted to hear.  You can see local/touring electro, break beat, house, trance, dubstep, drum ‘n bass djs and more.  Most people carry around beer(s), pacifiers, spliffs, falafels and sodas until they become so dizzy from constant walking around the Civic Center.  Maybe they were dizzy from all the ganja brownies floating around at the festival? There were so many people this year that everyone’s cellular phones would not go thru, since everyone was trying to dial at once trying to find lost friends.  This was the biggest dilemma; finding your friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, sons daughters and even grandparents.  On the lighter side, this turned out to be a very peacful, beautiful festival where most kids/adults were given the option for a suggested donation.  Most people strolled into LoveFest 2008 for free, however many diehard electronic fans were more than happy to make a donation to support the local San Francisco electronic music scene.  After the parade ended at 8pm sharp, crowds gathered and disperesed to numerous afterparties throughout San Francisco. The major after party was at the Bill Graham Civic Auditoriaum with huge DJ names attaches such as Armin van Buuren from Holland, ATB from Germany and Above & Beyond from the UK.  I just cannot wait a whole year until the next LoveFest 2009!