Thursday, November 11, 2010

San Francisco/Napa Valley

The Trip:
San Francisco is always a great city to visit as it houses great museums, restaurants and unique neighborhoods for wandering. I stayed at a great hotel called Crescent ( – centrally located and very reasonable.

Museums: The Asian Art Museum ( has a wonderful exhibit on Shanghai and their museum shop is always eclectic.  The De Young Museum ( is open late on Friday nights so, after a nice wander in golden gate park, I saw the birth of impressionism exhibit which is on loan from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.  The exhibit contrasts realism and impressionism in a very interesting way.

The Comtemporary Jewish Museum ( has an ongoing “exhibit”.  A trained female scribe is writing the entire text of the torah by hand and periodically is available to answer questions.  There are many rules regarding the quill, ink, paper, etc. which must be adhered to as well as the fact that each word must be spoken out loud before written.  Quite incredible!!!

Restaurants.I had lunch at A16 ( where I sat at the counter watching food being prepared and had a delicious thin crusted mushroom pizza. Sunday brunch was at their sister restaurant SPQR ( where I had a unique little burrata and pepperonata “salad”.  Dinners were at Nopa ( which included a delicious roast broccoli “salad” with fingerling potatoes, bacon and poached egg and Baker and Banker ( where the quail stuffed with quinoa and bacon was only exceeded by the XXX chocolate cake!!!

Yountsville.  I have always wanted to eat at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc Restaurant ( in Yountsville so I rented a car on Saturday and was on my way but not before visiting the Farmer’s Market at the ferry building in San Francisco.  On Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. vendors from all over the bay area come with fruits, vegetables, pastries, cheese, etc. to the ferry building to sell their wares.  Restaurants such as Rosa Pistola set up stands to serve pulled pork sandwiches, fried eggs and potatoes, espresso, pastries and breads of all kinds.  It is a wonderful place to have breakfast and browse with the view of the bay bridge always in sight.

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen ( in St. Helena was my lunch stop and the rare tuna salad with nori and udon noodles was beautifully prepared and flavorful.  I wandered around St. Helena a bit and then drove into Yountsville where I stayed in a cute little room at the Bordeaux House (, walking distance from Ad Hoc.  Yountsville is filled with little shops and great restaurants such as Redd, Bouchon, Hurley’s, etc. so it was fun to just meander before dinner.  Dinner at Ad Hoc is prix fixe so there are no decisions to make.  However, if meat is on the menu as it was the night I dined there, a fish option is offered.   The menu was:  haricots verts salad with mini potato wedges, olives, prosciutto; halibut (or steak) with corn, peas, mushrooms and pea shoots; cheese course with pine nuts and honey and a little mini paris brest filled with praline cream – absolutely superb and the cost - $49 + tax and beverage – not bad for a Thomas Keller experience!!

When I return to San Francisco on my next trip I think I will take the ferry to Sausalito and eat at Avatar, an Indian Restaurant I have heard is quite wonderful.

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