Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Archive for the ‘San Francisco’ Category

Fillmore Street Jazz Festival 2009

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Crowd at Lavay Smith Stage Lavay Smith Lavay Smith's Band

What better way to celebrate July 4th than with the most American of art forms – Jazz. And the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival does the celebration with gusto. This year it was spread across eight or so blocks on Fillmore street, four main performance stages, and many smaller performances going on all along the street and in Jazz clubs lining Fillmore.

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Coffee and chocolate at Fog City News

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Fog City News Storefront

Fog City News Storefront

Fog City News is fourth in our chocolate and coffee series. The earlier ones are Recchiuti, Tcho and XoX.

  • Location: Market Street, Financial District
  • Coffee: None! Although you can find imported bottled soda here. And magazines …
  • Chocolate: Tasting bites and bars – Dolfin, Vosges, Scharffen Berger to new a few …

FCN is not your atypical chcocolate store. It is an atypical magazine shop. If you like to lay your hands on hard to find magazines and periodicals, this is your place to be. Ditto for chocolates. The store fits in with busy life of financial district. Grab a chocolate and a magazine and be on the run…or, grab a soda and a magazine and be on the run … May even be a nice spot to spend ten minutes browsing during the dull part of the day. And to pick up gifts as well.

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Written by locomotoring

July 7, 2009 at 12:09 am

Coffee and chocolate at Recchiuti

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Rose caramel

Rose caramel

Recchiuti is third in our chocolate and coffee series. The earlier ones being Tcho and XoX.

  • Location: Ferry Plaza
  • Coffee:  Peets’ or Blue Bottle is available a few doors down.
  • Chocolates: Truffles, caramels, …

Recchiuti’s is what you would expect a fancy chocolate store to look like. All trim, polished and glittery and that is just the staff. No chairs for shoppers to sit around and look flabby, unpolished and drab. No coffee either to ruin any nice perfumes the staff or customers may be wearing. Their price helps to not overindulge.

Are we sounding curmudgeonly?

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Written by locomotoring

July 1, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Coffee and chocolate at Tcho

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tcho-a-day

tcho-a-day

Following up on our coffee and chocolate trail (inspired by David Lebovitz), the second one on our list is Tcho.

  • Location: Pier 17, San Francisco
  • Coffee: Blue Bottle
  • Chocolates: Tasting squares and bars

We had known about Tcho long before we sampled it. They had been getting reviewed on boingboing since their beta days (yes, even chocolates have beta versions in silicon valley).

Our first taste of Tcho’s chocolates was on a walk along Embarcadero. On that occasion, we tasted all four of their varieties and picked up a small pack of 8 tasting squares. On our last visit, we picked up a 30 day package called tcho-a-day.
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Written by locomotoring

June 22, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Coffee and chocolate at XoX

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Store front on Columbus Ave

Store front on Columbus Ave

David Lebovitz says that some of the best artisan chocolatiers these days are from America. So, we decided to bring to you as many of them as we can find in San Francisco.

We start with XoX Truffles – a friendly shop for a cup of coffee and some handmade truffles.

  • Location: North Beach, San Francisco
  • Coffee: Espresso
  • Chocolates: Handmade truffles

The store front is unpretentious, the coffee delightfully strong, and the handmade truffles are small nuggets of perfection. These truffles have won so many awards that the list of awards exceeded our attention span.

They give away a free truffle for every cup of coffee you buy. Our plan is to sample all their truffles for free. OK, we lie. We buy them too. This time we bought a few Earl Grey truffles.

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Written by locomotoring

June 19, 2009 at 10:35 pm

A saloon, a globe and a park – a spot of the old Barbary Coast

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The Saloon

The Saloon

Walking in front of “Old Ship Saloon”, you would have never guessed it. Looks like any other brick building surrounded by many other buildings. But this saloon was originally on a ship. How did the ship get here? How did the saloon get here? Well?

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Written by Som

June 18, 2009 at 11:42 pm

Birds and Bees of Telegraph Hill

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Houses of Telegraph Hill

Houses of Telegraph Hill

Yes, the famous parrots. Not as many bees as there are flowers. And, last but not the least – the stairs – lots of them.

Telegraph Hill is where Coit Tower sits. You can’t miss Coit Tower if you are in San Francisco. You can see it from far and wide, standing out like a light house which it is not. Long time back, and for San Francisco, 150 years is a long time ago, Telegraph Hill used to be a bald hill. Because of the line of visibility, the location was used as a semaphore line. The role of the obervatory was to note the type of shipping vessel crossing Golden Gate Strait and let the town folk know. Even now, in spite of the dense foliage on the hill, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The very edge of San Francisco

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Sutro baths from Cliff House

Sutro baths from Cliff House

What have we got at the edge of San Francisco? Sutro baths of course. Our very own modern ruins. And fog. I doubt a hundred years have changed the course of San Francisco’s weather. So, who built a public bath house on a generally cold and often foggy beach? A rich dude, of course. In 1896, Mr. Sutro, who owned most of San Francisco’s western front, built an indoor swimming pool, in fact a set of seven swimming pools, at a cost of over a million dollars. Why? I guess, because he could.

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Urban hike in San Francisco, from Ferry Plaza to Fort Point

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Kites at Marina Greens

Marina Greens; Click for a photos from this hike ...

Choose a day that isn’t too cold. Start the walk from  Ferry Plaza. If you start on a Saturday, you will be able to pick up your lunch from the Farmer’s market. When you are done exploring Ferry Plaza, start walking westwards and stay as close to the bay as possible. Many of these piers offer pedestrian walkways. The route is unmistakable, so there is little to no chance of getting lost. If you are planning on completing the hike, plan on walking about 10-12 miles and spending anywhere between 3-6 hours.

Here is what you will see on this hike – San Francisco skyline from several vista points, sailboats dotting the sea, yachts moored at the harbors, large container ships crossing underneath the Golden Gate bridge, kites doing acrobatic maneuvers by the marina, kids playing in big or small groups, people of all ages sunbathing or jogging, couples of all genders holding hands or kissing, buildings with military architecture – extensions of Presidio. In spring, you will see Crissy Field in a wildflower bloom.

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Walking tour of San Francisco’s Chinatown

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San Franacisco Chinatown

Click for photos of San Francisco Chinatown

At first glance, San Francisco’s Chinatown appears to be a collection of trinket shops. Only during the Chinese New Year celebration does this place truly come alive and then one has to be prepared to brave the cold winter rains which often afflicts the celebration, and huge crowds.

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Bread, merguez, jam and coffee on a Saturday

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Peach gallery

Peach gallery; Click for Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market photos

My favorite bread is Acme, charcuterie Fatted Calf, jam June Taylor and coffee Blue Bottle. One place where I can find them all is Ferry Plaza farmer’s market on a Saturday.

It is no doubt a bit of drive from Bay Area. But once you manage to get yourself there, you will definitely break your budget. I promise you that.

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A day at North Beach, San Francisco

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Columbus Avenue, San Francisco

Columbus Avenue, San Francisco

North Beach, the Italian sector of San Francisco – great location, great food, and great views. Just don’t come looking for a beach.

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Elephant seals of Ano Nuevo

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Papa and baby elephant seal

Papa and baby elephant seal

December to March – they arrive, they mate, they have babies.

Elephant seals are big, brown, and blubbery. If you come to Ano Nuevo Beach – a small state park on the California coastline  between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz – you will see hundreds of them. Blue sea, choppy waves, rocky waterfront, sandy coastline and what looks like large brown blubbery sacks littered all around. Males weigh 5000 lbs, females 4000 and newborns about 100. Maybe they are called elephant seals because they are elephantine versions of seals, or maybe it is because of the trunk the males have for a nose. Harems of alpha males number in hundreds. Sounds more exciting than seventy two virgins, eh?

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Written by Som

March 2, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Fisherman’s Wharf – to love or to leave

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Touristy wharf

Touristy wharf

Are you a San Franciscan? Do you stay away from the wharf because you consider it to be touristy?

Tell me this – what is not to like at the waterfront – one of the best views as far as eyes can see, and loaded with history too. Yes, the touristy stores. They are there everywhere including Chinatown. They have large banners in front of them screaming “touristy”, so not too hard to avoid, right? And the performance artists, they are amusing if not fascinating.

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Gandhiji at San Francisco’s Ferry Building

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Gandhi statue behind Ferry Plaza building

Gandhi statue behind Ferry Plaza building

We found him last year, on Oct 3, 2007. We were killing some time at the Ferry Building. On a weekday, Ferry building still has a plenty to offer – Sur La Table for kitchen gadget lovers. and outposts of Acme bread and Cowgirl creamery artisan cheese shop, Recchiuti for chocolate lovers, and of course Slanted Door, the most famous Vietnamese restaurant in Bay Area. And, a beautiful view of the Bay – something that you can enjoy every day of the week.

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Three hours at Mission District of San Francisco

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A street in Mission District

A street in Mission District

After doing the touristy spots of the Wharf and North beach, Nob Hill, Chinatown and Union square, what is the next best thing San Francisco city has to offer. Is it the Golden Gate park or Crissy Field? In my mind, it is the Mission District. But it is a bit overwhelming to plan and navigate if you are new to the place. And, yes, it can be a bit scary seeing the run down buses and ghetto neighborhoods if you take a wrong turn. So, let me take you on a short walking tour that will be fun and full of local flavors.

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Why not a chaat truck?

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Everyone knows a taco truck in California – the truck that come rolling around with sounds of simple jingles and sells fresh Mexican staples with their mouthwatering salsas. Fresh, yummy and cheap is what a good taco truck fare is.

My question is this – what not an Indian version of the same serving chaat and tea?

In the afternoon, when my vampire’s nest (I call my windowless, sunless, fluorescent tube lit, office cubicle that) is at its dullest, I often find myself craving for some samosa and chai. On a winter afternoon, when the incessant rain is doing its worst damage to your mood, a plateful of samosa is the only escape. Sex would be better but samosa is safer. Surely.

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Written by Som

November 7, 2008 at 2:56 am

Mural hunting in Mission District

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Mural in SFO

Mural in SFO

I had seen some of the Mission murals when I had been in the neighborhood. But never before had I made any special effort to go see the Murals. So, last weekend I decided to rectify the matter. There are several murals in the Mission District – on 24th street, Mission, Valencia, on the Women’s Building. But there are two main hotspots for murals in Mission District, one is Balmy Alley and the other is Clarion Alley.

Balmy Alley, is right in the middle of the Latin American community on the 24th Street, surrounded by cool cultural icons like the Galleria de La Raza and Precita Eyes.

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Life in a California Mission: on a summer afternoon

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A side street in Mission District

The cemetary at Mission Dolores

Last weekend, I needed to get out of exurbia again. And I really needed to do something different, something other than hiking or shopping. After searching high and low for some days, I found a tour of Mission Dolores, arranged by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. The walk was named “Father Serra, Graves and Vigilantes” and promised to lead us through the Mission, the oldest standing building in San Francisco city, the 20th century parish church next door with its beautiful stained glass windows and the cemetery in the back, the only remaining cemetery in the city with graves of Indians, Spanish, Mexicans, victims of Vigilantes and Gold Rush immigrants.

I am not your typical guided tour enthusiast. It conjures up memory of a bus load of people on a tour where they don’t even step down from the bus. Besides, the memory of my Bangkok tour guide was still raw.

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