my SF

party on!


The winter months are notoriously slow in the restaurant business. When I was still working the floor we’d go from 3 people at the door to 1. And the wait staff would go from 9 servers to 3. We’d run promotions for the concierges from local hotels, offer space for late holiday parties, provide better bar snacks during happy hour, pretty much pimp it up any way we could.

As a customer, you totally win. Whole cities now get into the spirit of getting you out of your jammies and into their dining and drinking establishments. Many of these events offer special menus, special pricing and even support a worthwhile cause, so you can eat and drink and help out someone else. Here are a few of your choices during these dark months. Get on your wellies, get out the door and party on!

SF Restaurant Week

January 20-31

Put on by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, this year, SF Restaurant Week will feature two-course lunch and three or more course dinner menus at different prices: $15 & $25 for lunch, $40 & $65 for dinner. List of restaurants and menus is here. And the beneficiary of this year’s restaurant week is 50 Fund.

SF Beer Week

January 22-31

I’m guessing it’s no coincidence that SF Beer Week and superbowl are so close together. Drink beer, pick a favorite, then buy a six pack before the big game. Beer Week offers everything from corn hole tournaments (am I just too old to get this?) to home brewing to tasting the latest and the greatest. You can drink for a better world, or just drink cause you like it. This event is seriously all over town, so if you’re into beer this will be hard to miss. Take that Portland!

Eat Like a Chef Drink Like a Somm

January 25, February 29, March 28

Stone’s Throw owner Ryan Cole came up with a creative way to support local organizations, and he’s invited us all to his party. I am in! On the last Monday of our 3 darkest months, he turns his kitchen over to local chef celebs with the goal of donating to the Old Skool Cafe. Over the last two years he locally donated $59,000! At $60 per reservation, that is a pretty remarkable sum.

Next I’m heading over to Old Skool Cafe with my very musical son.
Party on for Old Skool! Click To Tweet

Flavor! Napa Valley

March 16-20

You might want to sleep over for this one. Over the course of 5 days Flavor! Napa Valley has everything from wine dinners to wine classes to golf tournaments to tours of the Napa Valley. Each event has an individual ticket price from $95 on up. Many of the events limit attendees so you get all that attention you so rightly deserve. The beneficiary is Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.

Celebrate these dark days and keep in touch,

food tv


Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, the Galloping Gourmet and Martin Yan, those are the chefs I grew up with, the chefs who taught me what I enjoy in a cooking show. Current food television offers a much wider variety than days past, much of which makes me want to run screaming from the room. Kind of the way you’d run from the kitchen of a crazy chef. I’ve worked with chefs who rip phones off walls and throw pots. I don’t want to hang out with them in person or through the TV screen. So if you do enjoy that style of food drama, you should probably click away right now.

If you do enjoy a good cooking show, or entertaining romps through neighborhood restaurants, or info about where food comes from, then stick around. Now that it’s raining in California, and I’ve binge-watched all my current dramas through, it’s time to catch up on food. Check out my list…and send me yours too. Hopefully it will rain for a very long time and I’ll binge-watch my entire list while the drops are still falling, then move on to yours!

restaurant shows

I’ll Have What Phil’s Having: Phil Rosenthal is funny. He’s a writer, an actor (well, he was), a producer and the creator of the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. And he apparently loves food. So he travels the world with his friends (some of whom you’ll know) and he eats food. He’s done shows in Tokyo, Italy, Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Los Angeles. He will take you to amazing places to eat good food. And you’ll even learn a bit about cooking.

Check, Please! Bay Area: 3 regular joes and a host anonymously visit 3 of their favorite restaurants then discuss their experiences. Very homey and a great way to stay in touch with the Bay Area food scene.

cooking shows

The Mind of a Chef: How do great chefs think? And what do they cook? Crawl right into their creative brains and learn what real chef-ing is about (and no one in this series will refer to themselves as a ‘celebrity chef’, but they are all the best of the best). David Chang, Sean Brock, April Bloomfield, Magnus Nilsson, Ed Lee, Gabrielle Hamilton and David Kinch. Brilliance in the kitchen.

Julia Child: PBS release has released a selection of episodes from various Julia Child’s series. It’s a potpourri of Julia and a lovely way to spend an afternoon! Learn, cook, then see if you can do the voice. ‘Chello….Ihhhhh’m Jhooolia Chaaaiild….’

Good Eats: cooking with Alton Brown, well kind of. Alton Brown isn’t a chef. He’s kind of a geekyscientist who applies his mad science to food. And teaches us how to cook things in a really nerdy but effective way.

more food

Food Forward: Food rebels in the 21st century and beyond. I can’t possibly say it better than they do…‘Food Forward goes way beyond celebrity chefs, cooking competitions, and recipes to reveal the compelling stories and inspired solutions envisioned by food rebels across America who are striving to create a more just, sustainable and delicious alternative to what we eat and how we produce it. Created by a veteran documentary film making team led by Greg Roden, Food Forward explores new ideas of food in America as told by the people who are living them. Each episode will focus on a different theme–school lunch reform, urban agriculture, sustainable fishing, grass-fed beef, soil science–and spotlight the real people who are creating viable alternatives to how we grow food and feed ourselves.’

Enjoy our rainy weather and happy watching…

Keep in touch,


wait….cats and coffee?

I was planning to tell you something about the psychology of color today, then I got another email in my box about yet another cat cafe. So I’m forsaking science for frivolity for the moment.

what it is

Every time I hear the term ‘cat cafe’ I just kind of shake my head and wonder. It’s not that I don’t care for cats. They are lovely and I’ve owned a couple over the years. I definitely prefer my dogs if given a choice, but it’s never occurred to me to combine any pet with a cafe as a thematic element. The craze has been in my peripheral vision for a few months now, so today I did a little research. It’s real and it started in the far east according to my sources (wikipedia). Taiwan was the first location of a cat cafe, followed by about a zillion in Japan where most landlords don’t allow pets and most businesses (apparently) have very stressed out, introverted employees who prefer the company of cats. If you check the crowd funding sites, both IndieGogo and Kickstarter have several cat cafe projects looking for funding all over the world. And the handful of cat cafes that are already up and running in the US are all claiming to be firsts of some sort.

why it is

Whereas in Japan the cats are permanent residents of the cafes, here in the US they seem to be mostly adoptable. And with all of our health department requirements, the cat/human play areas and food service areas must be separated. But once you’ve purchased your food and drink you can take it into the cat play area. Some places charge an hourly fee to spend time with the cats, many require a reservation, and all limit the number of people that can be in the cat area at any one time. Cat Town in Oakland ( which claims to be the first in the US) opened in late 2014 and works with Oakland Animal Services to adopt out shelter cats. Cool coffee mugs are a bonus.  Up in Portland, Purrington’s, the ‘first cat cafe in the northwest’ opened January of 2015 and even serves beer and wine. And sometime this spring, KitTea is scheduled to open in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. They will work with Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue to adopt out their feline friends and their schtick will be tea.

it’s real

So yea, it’s real. Cat’s and coffee (and beer and wine and tea) are a thing that is growing in the US. And now that I’ve done a little research I’ll quit smirking. I’m a huge fan of saving shelter pets rather than buying from a pet store or breeder. So if I can get a great cup of tea and save a furry critter, I’m on board. Guess that’s really not so frivolous. Maybe I’ll be the first to do dogs…..want to partner up?

Keep in touch,

it’s ON….eat out now!

sf restaurant week2

image courtesy golden gate restaurant association facebook page

SF Restaurant Week, Dine Around Town. I know….I was confused at first too. The Golden Gate Restaurant Association has taken over what the SF Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, more recently called San Francisco Travel, began 13 years ago as a way to boost sales in an ever so dismal restaurant month. Not only does the 10 day long event have a new name, SF Restaurant Week, but it also has a benefactor (SF-Marin Food Bank… apropos) and seems to be oh so much better organized. There are more restaurants involved, there are better restaurants involved, there are more menus available and they are posted online. Duh….we need that information to make good decisions! There’s even a contest to win some cash so that you can go back to your favorite restaurant and eat off the regular menu.

Okay, so a few deets:

  • SF Restaurant Week lasts for 10 days….a week is 7 days, but no matter
  • choose lunch ($25), dinner ($40) or discovery ($85, which includes wine pairing for heavens’ sake)
  • check out this eater sf article to see the best deals and worst deals
  • check out this list of participating restaurants
  • review menus, and look at what the restaurant is NOT including (like the 4% for ‘sf employer mandates’ that they might tack on to your bill)
  • make reservations through OpenTable…every reservation nets the SF-Marin Food Bank 25¢…you have ten days to eat out a lot and help out a little, or click here to help out a lot
  • once you arrive take a pic of the menu, your food, and your smiling face and enter to win some ca$h

I’d suggest you get on it now. I just went online to make Saturday night reservations at a couple of little neighborhood places and can’t eat until 9:30. Don’t wait people! You have 10 days to eat your heart out.

Keep in touch,

art and bread


It’s autumn here in Northern California. So I’m desperately trying to get my front hedge trimmed (it’s crazy overgrown) before it gets really chilly out there, soup is on my mind constantly, and everyone is opening a new art show everywhere. As we head into my favorite cocooning season, I’ve got to share something that is completely off topic. But if you know me well, you will understand. Once something gets in my head I have to get it out before I can move on. And what I’ve got to share is this amazing bread recipe. In my house we went (mostly) gluten free a couple of months ago. It all started with a ‘clean food’ eating regimen that we decided to try to see how our bodies reacted to various foods as we added them one at a time back to our diets. One thing we all found was that gluten totally slows the digestion, at least in the massive quantities that we were consuming. And most of the gluten free breads out there are grainy, dry and totally un-palatable. Until I found this one. Here’s a link to the original recipe (thanks to the Gluten-Free Goddess®) and here’s how I made it….super simple. I used a stand mixer and flat beater.

Proof the yeast (that means put the ingredients listed in a small bowl and let them sit until frothy, maybe 5 minutes)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 cup (generous) warm water, about 115 degrees (hot from the tap)
  • drop of honey or pinch of sugar
Blend the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl (put them in your mixer and turn it on the lowest speed)
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons sea salt
Add the wet ingredients to the aforementioned mixing bowl leaving the speed on low
  • proofed yeast
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Continue to mix for a few minutes (I didn’t time, but I’d say maybe 3 or 4 minutes). Turn it out into a pyrex bread pan, oiled, smooth it flat with wet fingers, sprinkle on seeds of your choice (I used sesame and fennel), cover loosely with plastic wrap and set it somewhere warm for about 20 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook for 30-40 minutes. It will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom once out of the pan. If your bread sticks (like mine did), you’ll have to gently push the sides in with a dull knife. (I’m going to try an oiled cast iron bread pan next time.) If it isn’t quite done at first check, put it back in the oven without the pan, drop the temp to about 350, and keep an eye on it. It should be done in a matter of a couple of minutes. Don’t eat it all in one sitting, but do have the butter at the ready. Jam too if you’re in to that.
*update 1/22/15: I’ve now been making this bread for a few months and we still love it. If you’d like, you can replace the buckwheat flour with millet flour for a lighter colored loaf. Also, to avoid the sticking issue, line your pan with a long strip of parchment paper cut the width of the pan. Allow the parchment to extend well beyond the sides of the pan so that you can easily lift the loaf out when done cooking. Let it cool slightly then slice and eat. Yummy with compound butters (my current favorite is brown sugar and toasted pecan).

When you’ve had your fill of bread, check out these art shows in SF. There is no better way to spend a cold and rainy fall day.

Keith Haring at the de Young Museum, opens November 8

one of the world’s favorite populist activists

keith haring

Alien She at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, opened October 24

examines the empowerment of this generation’s women and the impact of Riot Grrrl

riot grrrl

Houghton Hall, Portrait of an English Country House at Legion of Honor, opened October 18

go ahead, get your Downton Abbey on

houghton hall

J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch at the Contemporary Jewish Museum opening November 20

one of our very own famous Bay Area artists


Roads of Arabia, at the Asian Art Museum opened October 24

Art, Ebola, Landscape, Fog, Music, you name it at the Exploratorium every day and Thursday eve

if you haven’t visited the new location at Pier 15, it’s time


Skulls, at the Academy of Science until November 30

and earthquakes and insects and penguins and fish

acad of scienceEnjoy your indoor escapades and make that bread!

Keep in touch,

more found art

It’s summertime…well except for that bit of thunder and lightning earlier this week which made me think I was on the other coast…and even with our requisite fog, it’s a great time to get outside and see some ‘only in SF’ style art. A few months ago I started a list for you. If you haven’t checked out those favorite finds, you have quite a lot to get crackin’ on…go outside and impress your friends.

Soma, Pier 14

Created by Flaming Lotus Girls, this giant interactive LED lit steel sculpture began life on the Playa. Soma represents the communication between neurons and hopes to engage us in thought about our own consciousness and humanity. Pretty lofty goals. The launch party is August 1 and will feature words, music, dancing and light….sounds very playa-esque! But please dress warmly.

Firefly, 525 Golden Gate Avenue

Firefly was created by Ned Kahn in collaboration with KMD Architecture and the SF Arts Commission. By day polycarbonate panels swing with the wind and appear to be rippling waves of glass on this twelve story structure. By night the movement of each panel triggers a tiny flickering LED light fed by on-site wind turbines.

Playland Revisited, Outer Richmond

Ray Beldner’s perforated stainless steel sculptures take us back to life at Playland, the amusement park that lived at the edge of the Pacific in San Francisco from the late 1800’s to 1972. Laughing Sal fascinated and frightened visitors for decades at the entrance to Playland. The cable cars delivered patrons young and old to the park. That giant (kind of scary) clown graced the entrance to the fun house, and the rooster reckons back to Topsy’s Roost, San Franciscan’s favorite dance hall according to some.

Bliss Dance, Treasure Island on the Great Lawn

Another art piece that began life on the playa, Bliss Dance was created by Marco Cochrane. In his own words: ‘what I see missing in the world is an appreciation and respect for feminine energy and power that results when women are free and safe. Bliss Dance is intended to focus attention on this healing power‘. Bliss Dance is a glorious 40 foot tall internally lit metal woman…definitely worth the drive across the bridge!


Erie Alley in the Mission

Remember Clarion Alley? Well check out Erie Alley. In April of 2010 at the request of the people behind Public Works, Banksy painted ‘Bird Singing in a Tree’ on one face of the building, at that time a blank wall. In August of that same year the public was invited to watch 17 more artists paint the remainder of the wall at a public art event that included music, food and drink and benefited Root Division and the SF Parks Trust. Pretty cool when artists and the public all pull together like that.

Language of the Birds, corner of Broadway, Grant and Columbus

Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn teamed up with City Lights Bookstore to give flight to 23 LED illuminated polycarbonate books that fly over the street corner in the first solar powered public art installation in the US (2008). The words of 90 authors are fallen to the sidewalk below to create new patterns and meanings, maybe something like the Language of the Birds.

Enjoy my second little tryst through San Francisco and have a great weekend!

Keep in touch,

get gorgeous

images courtesy

I have a teenage daughter so I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to define beauty appropriately for her. Or rather I’ve spent this time trying to un-define the message that the media sends. But still the story is muddy and I don’t really have a definition that works. I’ve used the platitudes: ‘beauty is only skin deep‘; ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder‘; ‘beauty is as beauty does‘. They leave me with a pithy feeling in my mouth and an empty heart. Beauty is different from one moment to the next, and gorgeous, beauty’s luscious and voluptuous cousin, is just as difficult to define. And often sits just shy of crossing a line into revulsion.

The Asian Art Museum is opening the show Gorgeous tonight with their Grit and Glamour party. The body of work, which runs today through September 14, spans thousands of years and many cultures and includes 72 works from the Asian Art Museum and the SF Museum of Modern Art. The show is curated in groupings based on themes rather than time or place and includes: seduction, dress up, pose, in bounds, danger, beyond imperfection, reiteration, fantasy, evocation and on reflection. According to the curator, “The power lies in its ability to confound boundaries of childhood, femininity, and sexuality.” Sounds like it will take us right to the edge of our comfort zones. I think I’ll take my daughter.

Have a great weekend,

With a special nod to my truly gorgeous mother….happy birthday to you.


food fetes

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

I’ve covered most of the free events that I love in our fair city…now for a few amazing food events in the Bay Area. Some of these are also free….some not so much, but if you love food you may want to splurge.

June 22

CUESAs Summer Celebration at the Ferry Building in SF will showcase food, drink and the farmers who start it all. The event benefits the amazing work that CUESA does to promote healthy food systems. One of the greatest things that CUESA does for us little people is to provide us ongoing education at every Ferry Plaza farmers market by way of free cooking demos by superstar chefs every Saturday morning at 11. I know, run-on sentence, but I had to get it all out it a breath. Summer Celebration is June 22 and is mostly tax deductible.

July 19

AT&T Park is known to have some of the best food in baseball, but I’m afraid it won’t compare to the 7X7 food fest happening next month on the field. 7X7 Big Eat Live features the magazine’s ‘100 things you have to eat before you die’ and will benefit initiatives planned for The Garden at AT&T (opening the end of this month). This event will showcase some of the best food in SF. July 19 at AT&T Park.

August 1-3

One of my never miss favorites (although I’m weeping because I’ll be on the east coast this year for an August 3 wedding) has changed both its name and location: now called eatDrinkSF and located at Fort Mason, in past years this was SFChefs and was located at Union Square. It’s a weekend of food learning, food eating, and what they call an ‘epic foodie festival’. Although I cringe at the mention of that word ‘foodie’. It smacks of the same smugness as the ‘celebrity’ in chef and makes me want to leave the room. In this case, I forgive since I absolutely love this event. Insider tip: keep your eyes peeled for Industry Day. It’s an affordable day of learning and eating with the most knowledgeable chefs in the biz. Officially the weekend of August 1-3, there will be events as early as mid July.

August 16

We’ve already talked about the Street Food Festival, but it’s food so I’m including it here. August 16 and it’s free to enter, although a donation to benefit the organizers, La Cocina, is always welcome.

September 19-21

Oakland’s Eat Real Festival is another tasty food venue showcasing 3 days worth of amazing Bay Area food, drink and fun. It began as a food truck extravaganza but has grown to include brick and mortar restaurant’s  fare as well as education, music and some great people watching. Free to get in and vendors sell bites and quaffs for $5 or less. Not much info on the website yet unless you want to volunteer or vend. September 19-21 at Jack London Square.

Any other great food events you think I should know about?….tell me!

summer in san francisco

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

Mark Twain is credited with never saying ‘the coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco‘. A cute saying that was never said and with good reason. Summers in San Francisco may lean toward the chilly, so do bring a sweater, but there is plenty of sunshine to go around. And plenty to do once you arrive. Summers in San Francisco begin (at least as far as I’m concerned) with the Union Street Festival which occurred last weekend. So now that it is officially summer, here is your to do list. Best part, it’s all free….except for the beer and food you’ll be purchasing. And that cheesy sweatshirt if you forget a sweater.

North Beach Festival, June 14-15
The aforementioned beer and food, plus street painting, music, wine, people watching. This is where I first heard one of my favorite a capella groups so many years ago: The House Jacks. You never know what greatness you might discover.

Alice’s Summerthing, June 22
Radio Alice’s free summer concert in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow featuring live bands, food trucks, good old 97.3 fun.

Stern Grove Music Festival, Sundays June 22-August 24
Music every Sunday at 2pm by some of the greats: Smokey Robinson, Rufus Wainwright and Sergio Mendes are three on the docket this year. Bring your blanket and picnic basket, leave Fido at home, and enjoy some of the best music SF has to offer for free!

Fillmore Street Jazz Festival, July 5-6
Always the weekend nearest July 4, this is where I spent the day before my daughter was born, consuming anything spicy that I could get my hands on. I credit this festival for an early delivery! Great food, the very best jazz you’ll find anywhere, more people watching….

Street Food Festival, August 16
La Cocina’s final (at least for now) Street Food Festival in the Mission District. Amazing food from every corner of the globe served up to benefit one of the greatest service organizations in the City. The best people watching last year included a big strong man riding a Segue holding a tiny dog and blasting music from the 70s. Where else but San Francisco?

Opera in the Park, September 7
Bring a picnic blanket, some food and the family and enjoy opera in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow. One of my very favorite events as I feel like I’m getting a little cul-chah while I party with my pack.

Comedy Day, September 14
Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow hosts 5 hours of comedy, 40 comedians. My stomach already hurts. Bring the kids, a blanket, Fido (unless you take MUNI which you really should do….or walk), buy beer, wine and food on site.

Folsom Street Fair, September 21
Don’t bring the kiddies and come with an open mind checking all judgment at the door…then expect to be surprised.  Fetishists galore will show you things you have never even considered. You’ve gotta go at least once.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, October 3-5
Bring the family, a blanket, get on MUNI and join about a million of your friends at Warren Hellman’s best ever party in Golden Gate Park. No tickets needed, no sponsors present….just great music thanks to Warren.

Castro Street Fair, October 5
Started by Harvey Milk in 1974, the Castro Street Fair raises money via donations for benefiting organizations that contribute to running the fair. Music, food, diversity galore in a family friendly environment.

Fleet Week, October 9-13
The Blue Angels are back! Need I say more?

Anything I missed that you absolutely love? Tell me in comments. Here’s hoping for an awesome summer in the city,

where herb ate

I grew up in a household that took the San Francisco Chronicle even though we lived in Palo Alto. When we went to San Francisco we wore white gloves and dresses, and the first stop was the flower stand at the corner of Geary and Stockton to get gardenia corsages. San Francisco was a magical place when I was a child full of big, beautiful people living big, beautiful lives. My mom read Herb Caen religiously, and when I learned to read so did I. We read about the beautiful people that Herb Caen met in the dining rooms at Ernie’s and Tadich Grill or at the bar at Trader Vic’s. When he died in 1997, we cried at my house as if we’d lost a favorite uncle. A few years ago at one of my children’s school auctions, someone donated an original column that came directly out of  Herb Caen’s old Royal typewriter with his pen mark corrections. I don’t recall what I paid for it, but that column, touched by the very man’s fingers, was definitely coming home with me. Even now when I read about the closing of one of the venerable establishments that Mr. Caen himself visited, another little piece of me cries. This month, as I’m sure you’ve heard, we are losing another of San Francisco’s finest: Fleur de Lys. Their last service will be June 28, 2014. Fleur de Lys isn’t even one of San Francisco’s oldest restaurants, but it is certainly one of the most loved. In honor of Fleur de Lys and its ilk, here is a list of some of yesterday’s remaining best, and those that are gone.

Yesterday’s Remaining Best

Tadich Grill, 240 California Street
Celebrated as the oldest restaurant in California, in 1849 Nikola Burdovich, Frano Kosta and Antonio Gasparich opened The Coffee Stand on fisherman’s wharf serving fresh fish grilled over charcoal. The restaurant moved and changed hands several times as the city grew and became New World Coffee Saloon. In 1876 John Tadich became barkeep and in 1882 the New World Coffee Saloon became The Cold Day Restaurant and moved to 221 Leidesdorff. In 1887 Cold Day was purchased by Tadich (and a partner), then in 1912 Tadich alone opened a new location at 545 Clay and renamed it Tadich Grill, the original Cold Day Restaurant. In 1928 Tadich sold to his employees the Buich brothers. In 1967 the restaurant moved to its current location.

House of Prime Rib, 1906 Van Ness
Opened in 1949 by Lou Balaski, current owner Joe Betz took over in 1985 and now shares the reins with his son.

Fleur de Lys, 777 Sutter Street
First opened in the late 50’s, Fleur de Lys was purchased by Maitre d’ Maurice Rouas in 1970. In 1986 he brought on Hubert Keller as a partner as San Francisco ushered in a more chef focused era. Rouas died in 2012 leaving the restaurant to Keller. June 28, 2014 will be their last day of service.

Sam’s Grill, 374 Bush Street
Michael Molan Moraghan began as a fishmonger at the open air market  in downtown SF in 1867. The original market was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and Moraghan sold fish from several locations in the city before the market was rebuilt allowing his return in 1919. In 1922 his (by then mostly) oyster business was purchased by restaurateur Samuel Zenovitch and renamed the Bay Point Oyster Co. In 1930 with the businesses merged, it was renamed Zembolitch & Zenovitch. Then in 1931 the restaurant moved to 561 California Street as Sam’s Seafood Grotto. In 1937 it was purchased by Frank Seput and formally named Sam’s Grill and Seafood Restaurant. In 1946 the restaurant moved to its current location. The restaurant has been owned since 2005 by Phil Lyons.

Fior d’Italia, 2237 Mason Street
Fior d’Italia was opened in 1886 by Angelo Del Monte and ‘Papa’ Marianetti. When they and their heirs were too old to continue to manage the restaurant, a group headed by two North Beach natives took over and ran the restaurant until 1990. Bob and Jinx Larive and Hamish and Rosi Fordwood took over in 1990 and ran the restaurant until a fire closed it in 2005. In 2012 Executive Chef Gianni Audieri and his wife Trudy took ownership and re-opened the restaurant in its current location. Fior d’Italia moved several times due to fires, the 1906 earthquake and landlord disputes. From 1930-53 it was on Kearny street, from 1953-2005 it was at 601 Union Street, and today Fior d’ Italia is on Mason Street.

John’s Grill, 63 Ellis Street
Opened in 1908 by a man named John who died the same year, John’s Grill has changed owners approximately four times and is the famous location for Dashiell Hammett’s 1927 The Maltese Falcon. In 1970 the restaurant was purchased by its current owners, the Konstin family.

Those That are Gone

The Blue Fox was at 659 Merchant Street. It opened about 1920 as a speakeasy, was purchased by Mario Mondin in 1942. In 1948 Mondin partnered with the Fassio family (Piero then Gina then Gianni) until finally closing in 1993.

Ernies, located at 847 Montgomery Street, was opened by Ernie Carlesso 1931 as a Barbary Coast trattoria. Ambroglio Gotti became a partner in 1934. On Carlesso’s death in 1947, Ambroglio sold the business to his sons who introduced white tablecloths and ‘nouvelle’ french cuisine to the restaurant, elevating it from trattoria to fine dining. Alfred Hitchcock made Ernie’s famous in his movie, Vertigo. The restaurant finally closed in 1995.

Trader Vic’s original SF location was on Cosmo Place but later moved to 555 Golden Gate. The first Trader Vic’s was opened in 1934 in Oakland by Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr, and began first as Hinky Dinks. In 1936 it was renamed Trader Vic’s and was dubbed by Herb Caen as the best SF restaurant in Oakland. In 1940 a franchise opened in Seattle, in 1950 Hawaii then in 1951 at Cosmo Place. The San Francisco location closed in 2008.


San Francisco is an amazing food town and we will (luckily) never be at a loss for wonderful, leading edge food. But there’s something to be said for the curtained booths, red velvet walls, and waiters in tuxedos of yesterday. So I’ll be eating at as many of these as I can, while I still can! Who else would you add to this list?

Have a great weekend and eat some good food!

small is the new big

small is big

Small living has been getting bigger and bigger the last few years. Between slim wallets and the growing interest…and let’s be honest, dire need…to build more sustainably, the mcmansions of the last century seem to be falling out of favor. Can we all say hallelujah? (Any excuse for a little Leonard). When designers and architects are faced with constraints, it allows opportunity for some pretty impressive creativity. Four of this year’s AIA award winners for small projects are featured in FineHomebuilding and include the Fall House, designed by Fougeron Architects, along my very favorite stretch of California coastline. The three bedroom vacation home sits on the land quietly, following the natural curves of the site, and is wrapped in glass to honor the beauty outside. And to add my own bit of love to the story, it is near enough to Esalen to run on over for a quick tub in their natural spring fed hot tubs (that is if you tire of that awesome built-in glass tub).

And for the rest of us, small is growing as well. There are ‘tiny house’ blogs and websites, and it seems that every couple of months there’s another news story about a family downsizing and simplifying. Karen Baumann and her two large dogs live in 460 square feet in Marin County, one of the country’s most expensive areas. She says that living small allows her to spend less time cleaning and organizing and affords her more time and money for the things she loves like entertaining and traveling. Micro-apartments are also becoming quite the rage, especially in the most expensive cities around the globe. Curbed has a column dedicated to micro-dwellings which seem to get smaller and smaller. The smallest they’ve listed so far in San Francisco is a mere 200 square feet (that rents for a whopping $1275 per month). And in Paris these micro-apartments get even smaller. Architect Julie Nabucet’s 129 square foot apartment includes an elevated kitchen above a bed/couch in a drawer, linens that tuck away and a tiny bathroom.

This is a bit too small for anyone with, say, clothes, but somewhere between the 129 square foot apartment and the 2600 square foot average home size, is the right house for most of us who are trying to simplify and live within the means of our limited ecosystem.

I’m off to the Contemporary Jewish Museum for their quarterly night out….have a great night and keep in touch,

the presidio: parking, views and food

When I have a chance to give one of my out of town friends the famous Leslie Driving Tour of San Francisco, we hit all of the downtown highlights and the biggest hills (I love to drive up in my stick shift car just to see them sweat), densely packed Chinatown, the historic and always busy Embarcadero, then I drive them out to the beach and through the Richmond and Sunset districts to see all of the ticky-tacky houses. I always save the Presidio for last. As we drive through the beautiful winding, wooded roads of the Presidio and past the grassy fields I always have to remind them that we are still in San Francisco. These amazing contrasts in our little 49 square miles of the world are one of my very favorite things about San Francisco.

all photos courtesy

From 1886 to 1974 the Presidio was an active army post. In 1972 the area became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and in  1974 it was no longer needed for military purposes and was transferred to the National Park Service. In 1996 Congress created the Presidio Trust, an organization tasked with caring for and developing the park for the use and enjoyment of the public. There are about a million reasons to visit the Presidio. Regardless of your reasons, you’ve gotta eat..and the food options keep getting better (well except for that little Dixie problem). Plus the parking is awesome and the views are amazing.

presidio social club

photo courtesy nevo photographs

Presidio Social Club

563 Ruger Street, 415-885-1888

Liver and onions (which I’ll never eat but am so happy to see on any menu as it takes me right home), macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs and amazing cocktails. Brunch on the weekends includes chilaquiles and you know how I feel about that particular dish. Lunch and dinner served.

photo courtesy Chang

photo courtesy Chang


101 Montgomery, 415-561-3600

Opened this week, the newest addition in the Presidio is brought to us by Traci des Jardins and Bon Appetit Management Company and is located in an 1895 building that housed a mess hall. Much of the furniture and accessories are reclaimed from other locations at the Presidio. Food is Spanish influenced California with an emphasis (of course) on local, seasonal, sustainable and will be open breakfast, lunch and dinner, but call first as the hours are a little wonky until June.

Warming Hut & Beach Hut

Chrissy Field, beachside

The Warming Hut (west beach) and the Beach Hut (about a mile east) are open during the day and serve sandwiches, soups and salads, coffee and smoothies and both have gift and book shops. The Beach Hut is in a LEED platinum building that provides most of it’s own power via solar panels and wind turbines and solar thermal panels provide most of the hot water used. The Warming Hut occupies a 1909 warehouse and was refurbished to preserve its architectural history.

Off the Grid, Picnic on Sunday (11-4) and Twilight on Thursday (5-9)

Main Post Lawn, 415.339.5888

Check out these awesome weekly events on the lawn at the main post. Food trucks, games, cocktails, music….this Sunday there is even yoga at 1! Next to the lawn on (Saturday and) Sunday find the Tree Fall exhibit by Andy Goldsworthy.

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

There are also cafes in the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Film Centre houses Kitchen 39, both near to the Main Post Lawn. The Bowling Center offers burgers, sandwiches and beer and wine. The Thoreau Center houses Cafe RX serving Salvadorean inspired food using local, organic ingredients. And finally the Transit Cafe serves wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, salads, beer, wine and coffee until late afternoon. Last year I worked on a feasibility study for this cafe….once construction on the Doyle Drive tunnel is complete, the potential views from the patio will be spectacular. Awesome potential.

You lucky people can visit the Presidio without suffering my driving tour…get on it!

Keep in touch,


palettes: fine art

The masters definitely knew how to use color. Here’s a sampling from the French masters displayed at the SF Legion of Honor, which not only houses an awesome collection but is an awesome building on a beautiful site. This is where I spent much of my senior year of college….learning from the best. The building was given to the people of San Francisco by Adolph and Alma Spreckels to honor the thousands of Californians who died in World War I.

Pictures courtesy, color palettes created at

art-caillebotte (800x657)

Soleils au Bord de la Seine, Gustave Caillebotte

art-monet (632x800)

Sailboats on the Seine, Claude Monet

art-bouguereau (800x738)

The Broken Pitcher, William Adolph-Bouguereau

art-cezanne (685x800)Forest Interior, Paul Cezanne (afraid this one isn’t on display, but I love the gorgeous colors! You can check it online.)

Happy Friday! Paint yourself a beautiful weekend….


mid-century modern: the jewish connection

Anni Albers

Before I begin, let me first say that I grew up in an Eichler, I love Eichler style homes and the modernism that they represent, and I’m Jewish. So when the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco put on their latest show ‘Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism’, I was in. Steve and I went to the opening last night and the show is truly fabulous. It never occurred to me that mid-century style had a Jewish connection, but of course it does. Jewish designers, architects and patrons such as Anni Albers, Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra helped to create the ‘Mad Men’ style that still infatuates us today.

Here’s a bit of background:  the rise of Nazism in 1930’s Europe sent many Jews fleeing for safer shores. In 1933, when Hitler came to power, Germany’s Bauhaus School closed under Nazi pressure claiming that the school was a center of communist intellectualism and Jewish modernism. With the school’s closure, staff emigrated throughout the world and spread their modern ideals. The influx of modern design and designers from Europe sparked America’s appreciation and embrace of what we have come to call ‘mid-century modern’, a spare style that relates form to function and relies on bold pattern and color for decoration.

Check out the photos that I took last night, and visit the show if you have a chance. It is a must see for lovers of this style (and who isn’t?)

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Enjoy the show!

sf film fest on food and art

The 57th annual SF Film Festival begins tomorrow…enjoy these films that have something to do with art or food. All photos courtesy

Art and Craft


a documentary centering on the life and mental illness of a philanthropic art forger

Cesar’s Last Fast


the story of Cesar Chavez centered around his 1988 fast, the final of many taken to highlight the rights of his fellow farm workers



improvised around a storyline, four couples attend a dinner party when a comet passes by and things get weird

Fed Up


a cautionary documentary that follows the obesity crisis and its connection to federal dietary guidelines

Impossible Light


about our very own Bay Bridge…..counts as art in my book

The Last Season


documentary about the (mostly) southeast Asian immigrants who make up the seasonal collection of mushroom hunters in Chemult, Oregon

Soul Food Stories


a mixed bag of Muslim, Christian, Catholic and atheist communists living together in Satovcha, Bulgaria come together over their shared love of food (reminds me of the boys behind the Jerusalem Cookbook…food brings us together politicians!)

iconThe Trip to Italy


more food porn from director Michael Winterbottom (The Trip) and the duo Brydon and Coogan who hilariously needle each other in the most beautiful places that you wish you were visiting!

Enjoy the festival….

Chefs Catalog