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Archive for August, 2009

DSCN4106aSucculents are the Ugg boots of botany. For whatever reason (ask Malcolm Gladwell), they are ubiquitous in the design world these days — see Flora Grubb’s vertical succulent wall — but they are the lazy man’s trend. The water-retaining plants are for the black thumbed decorators; to kill your hen and chicks is a feat. Furry, flat-footed Uggs are for the sluggish in a literal sense. But they’re also lazy in that they’re an easy fashion: they say nothing of personal style and there’s nothing complex about them. That said, a potted succulent won’t give your Russian Hill apartment much depth or je ne sais quoi. But if you buy yours from FLIPP: Fashionable Living in Petite Places (1400 Green at Polk) in a glossy orange cachepot, at least it will have flash.

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DSCN4093Last week, the SF Chronicle got down to the meat of tapas, bringing to light how the small plates have deviated from their original Mediterranean routes. In Spain, tapas are essentially just tiny appetizers, a precursor to dinner, and more about “strolling and snacking,” than filling your belly sharing a lot of little plates with pals, as Americans do.

In some towns, bars become known for their expert preparation of a particular tapa, so friends might meet at the venue famous for its sauteed mushrooms then walk to the place with the best ham and finally on to an establishment that does superb fried squid.

The article includes a “San Francisco tapas walk,” a list of five places to visit consecutively in one evening. Russian Hill’s Zarzuela (2000 Hyde at Union) didn’t make that list, but was recommended as another place to check out. I pass the restau on my weekday route, and have been meaning to check it out for the last two years. So with tapas on the brain this week, I finally made a visit . . . (more…)

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wikiWikiMapia is a tool which overlays Google Maps satellite/aerial photos with user-generated editorial, allowing anyone to contribute comments and descriptions about locations/neighborhoods on a map and link back to any related Wikipedia pages. This is a screen shot of the content that materialized when I chose Russian Hill on the map. Yikes.

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There are no amusement parks in San Francisco. There is no Times Square. No Bourbon Street. The Strip? Forget it. But there is a quiet destination that entertains for hours, leaving your laundry undone, and sending you giggly and starry-eyed to your eight o’clock dinner date. It’s called bottomless mimosas. You’ll find them few and far between, but when you do, you’ll never leave. The Castro’s Lime, is one big never-ending birthday party, with table dancing, groovy tunes, and cheeky waiters serving your vitamin C bubbly. The cobwebbed Marina kids head to Circa for a side of scenery with their spiked morning jus d’orange.2980740678_91b0f119d0The $10 bottomless mimosas at Polk Street’s Bar Johnny (2209 Polk at Vallejo), though, are like the friend your mother warned you about, or the extra brownie that spawns a visible weight gain — a gateway drug. (more…)

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wineToday concludes San Francisco’s first Natural Wine Week, a city-wide fest that included stops at local wine-ing holes Biondivino and The Jug Shop. From the sound of it, it was a success and winos are ripe for its return next year. But what the heck, might you ask, is natural wine? The pure stuff gets “as close as possible to putting in the bottle exactly what the vineyard gave – a goal that potentially takes the line ‘great wine is made in the vineyard’ and shunts it back to pre-cliche significance.” The SF Chronicle gets to the bottom of it — the lees, if you will.

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tracksI stumbled upon SF-based photographer Steven Hight on Flickr, and I’m loving how he plays with perspective. In this cable car tracks photograph, shot somewhere in Russian Hill, he’s made the cars look like Matchbox toys. He also uses an antique camera which gives his shots a heavy ’60s/’70s vibe — an unusual way to look at everyday city sights. You can purchase his work as archival prints or mounted photographs at Molte Cose (2044 Polk at Broadway), ranging from 5 to 30 inches square. If local landmarks are your thing, check out his set of photographs of the Alhambra Theater.

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