Not so much of a secret: I LOVE San Francisco, and this has been true ever since my first trip to the foggy city when my family of four drove up the coast from Los Angeles and explored SF when I was still a kid. At the time, my only points of reference for San Francisco were "Full House" and Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," and the extent of my family's exploration was riding a trolley, visiting Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf, and going to Alcatraz Island and learning about Al Capone. Still, there was something about the contrast to my Southern California hometown, the brisk air, and the sight of the bridges poking through a blanket of fog that won my heart. I've visited on my own many times since then (though that remains my parents only visit to The Bay Area), and each visit leaves me with a longer list of reasons why I love the city.
Last weekend, I had the privilege of joining my friend Alicia Lund to celebrate the launch of her store, Syllabus, and her San Francisco pop-up hosted by Cointreau. With Alicia as our guide, and a laundry list of locations where we would sip on Cointreau Rickeys, (though no Golden Gate Bridge or Alamo Square's Seven Sisters, this time) we ventured out to the make the most of our two days together.
HEATH CERAMICS | One of the first stops on our tour after checking into Le Meridien, Heath Ceramic's is a bay area ceramics company with local factories and production. The space was beautiful with giant vaulted ceilings and skylights for days, and unsurprisingly, I now have a wish list (or perhaps an imagined wedding registry) filled with ceramic place-settings.
Keith Haring at THE DE YOUNG MUSUEM | Being in town to visit the De Young for the Haring exhibit was absolutely a highlight of my weekend. I've been a fan of Haring's work for years, but his work is always showcased from a jolly pop-art perspective, and while it can certainly look like it's all happy-go-lucky from a glance, it always felt a bit demeaning to not focus on the rather serious and political nature of his work. Though he died very young, he had an incredibly prolific career and alongside his pop-art and commercial commissions, he was an outspoken activist with regards to apartheid, HIV/AIDS, and consumer culture. If you find yourself in the Bay Area from now until February 16, 2015 - it's an absolute must.
SF MUSEUM OF CRAFT & DESIGN | I had never visited this museum before, but was really happy that we found our way there to experience their beautiful exhibits that melded the line between craft and fine art. Two of my favorite bodies of work there were a show of recycled blown glass sculptures by Amber Cowan and Wendy Maruyama's traveling show Executive Order 9066 which consisted of found objects and new carpentry and sculpture to explore the Japanese Internment experience. It was heavy and the magnitude of the sculptures, made up of tags with the names of every prisoner in the camps, were overwhelming.
SYLLABUS | While the actual Syllabus boutique is located in Downtown Chico, Alicia's hometown, the reason for our West Coast Pilgrimage was to visit the pop-up shop hosted by Cointreau, with a selection with the best clothing and accessories that Syllabus has to offer. Syllabus is a true extension of Alicia's style; it's highly curated, focuses on great quality and elevated foundations, with tons of pops of exciting embellishments, details, and colors to keep the entire assortment fun and fashionable. You can count on brands like A.L.C. and Equipment always lining the racks, alongside cozy tees from CHRLDR and Sincerely Jules. To find out more about Syllabus, click here.
RAND & STATLER | At the heart of Hayes Valley, Rand & Statler is a high end, refined sister-shop of Azalea - with everything from Scandinavian baby clothes (that double as pug onesies) to fine jewelry by my faves Jennie Kwon & Catbird and clothing lines like IRO, Alexander Wang, and ACNE. Psst. They're currently hosting an anniversary sale with 25% off when using the code SALE25.
LAVISH | If you can imagine a tiny, glimmering boutique where everyone working there is ridiculously happy to be there and happy that you're there, you can imagine Lavish. It's a store filled to the brim with all kinds of curiosities - chocolate, stationary (from the likes of Rifle Paper Co, Kate Spade, and local wonders) to jewelry, to great candles. It's kind of a one-stop-shop for happy gifting, with the greeting cards and wrapping paper to really drive that point home.
BOULI BAR | Inside San Francisco's Ferry Building (it's historic, and pre-dates NYC's Chelsea Market as far as the concept goes!), lives Bouli Bar, sister restaurant to Boulette's Larder, counting on other Bay Area artisan food favorites like Blue Bottle Coffee and Cowgirl Creamery as neighbors. With a mediterranean flare, the sharing-friendly menu at Bouli Bar made for a mouth-watering meal from start to finish. The salads and mezze (hummus, labne, beets, Tunisian carrots) were among the highlights.
BAR TARTINE | Tartine has been one of my favorite SF restaurants for a while, but every visit offers a totally new experience with their always-evolving farm-to-table menu. Tartine most excels at using ridiculously fresh and peak-season produce, and creating unexpected flavor profiles. We were spoiled with a tasting menu of dishes that ranged from the best (really) beef tartare I've ever had to a modern-take on borscht with smoked trout to a sweet yam cake. To recreate some of Tartine's favorites, you can pick up their brand-new cook book.
DANDELION CHOCOLATE | New Yorkers will, aptly, liken Dandelion Chocolate to Brooklyn's Mast Brothers; they both have a wide selection of hand-crafted chocolate and artisanal baked goods, but Dandelion wins major bonus points for their Insanely-Rich-but-Also-Somehow-Refreshing frozen hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows. I'm one of those people who just can't resist a good marshmallow (GTFO, JetPuff). Dandelion also offers a full coffee and espresso menu and plenty of seating. I hear they also have classes!
BI-RITE CREAMERY | Though half of Dolores Park is currently under construction, I can't visit SF without wandering through The Mission and waiting in the always-long-but-moving line at Bi-Rite Creamery. I was first introduced to Bi-Rite by my friend Morgan about 4-years ago, and I'm totally hooked on their honey-lavender flavor. For the first time, I'm also thinking of investing in an ice-cream maker so that I can replicate some of Bi-Rite's amazing flavors, (their recipe book is here!).
LE MERIDIEN HOTEL | A few things: 1. The SPG world of hotels has the most comfortable beds in the world - I have slept in many of them and can pretty much declare this as a matter of fact. 2. Le Meridien is dog friendly... so, duh. 3. The location and remarkable views make it great for visitors - walking distance to The Embarcadero, The Ferry Building, and San Francisco's Chinatown. It also took a noteworthy 13-minutes-flat to get to The Mission via Lyft, (I don't play with uber). Le Meridien SF is undergoing renovations this winter, and I look forward to visiting in the future to see their post-makeover look!