Category Archives: San Francisco

Berkeley, California – Hotel Shattuck Plaza

I had such an enjoyable stay here that I had to share this sumptuous getaway with Saucy readers.
The Hotel Shattuck Plaza was built just after San Francisco’s devastating earthquake and fire of 1906. It was constructed of re-inforced concrete and was immediately lauded as one of the city’s finest hotels. 

It had several owners during the 1900s and then in 2007 it was bought by BPR properties and completely renovated.
The lobby, bar and restaurant atrium is quite breath-taking.. look at this chandelier!
…beautiful moulded ceilings, potted ferns in the lounge area …
… and a glorious marble-topped bar which wraps around several pillars.

This is how to have an evening cocktail in style.
I chose a mojito served in an icy cold copper mug

The rooms are spacious with super comfortable beds and stylish furnishings.
The was no fridge in my double room which was a minus – just an ice-bucket.

 But the pluses were many…. free WiFi, large wall-mounted flat-screen TV, iPod docking clock radio and an eco-friendly automatic lighting system in the bathroom. And the large shower…. as relaxing as a bath if that is possible.

The hotel is right next to the BART (subway) and opposite a nest of bars and restaurants.
Hotel Shattuck is your San Franciscan home away from home.

St Regis Hotel, San Francisco

We decide to splash out a little on our last two nights in San Francisco and book in to the St Regis Hotel on 3rd St. The St Regis is renowned for its excellent service and mod cons which incude a Michelin-star restaurant ‘Ame’, a Remede Spa complex, the latest touch button room controls (including motorised curtains!)  – and a personal butler for all guests. After our ‘butler’ shows us to our room he wants to unpack our clothes for us but that feels a little ‘too much’ service when you’re a rough and tumble Aussie traveller. We do, however, know a Hoover Cam who would be most appreciative of this service.
The views of the city centre are breathtaking
It feels as though we’re suspended in mid-air
blogging station
another great bed
bedside touch-screen control panel that requires a tech-nerd to operate
The downstairs bar area is a popular meeting space…

And has these amazing pieces of artwork by A Morrow.. ‘LOVE
….and WAR’.
But its the bar food prepared by the Michelin-starred Ame restaurant that is worth making a pit-stop here
these are the real works of art
Tempura ‘Poke’ with Ogo seaweed, Hawaiian sea salt and green onion
‘Kaisen’ Sashimi salad with Japanese Cucumber, Hijiki, Tobiko caviar and Yuzu vinaigrette
The sashimi was melt-in-your-mouth
the caviar were little mouth explosions of sea and salt
Sounds macabre I know but I think I’ve found my Death Row meal.

The best news is that we’re sitting in the Qantas Club at San Francisco International Airport about to board our on-time flight back home to sweltering Sydney and my edible balcony. What awaits me I wonder? Lush and thriving or wilted and singed?

I’ll let you know…..

El Dorado Kitchen, Sonoma, California

Last Sunday morning was an opportunity to explore the wider San Franciscan Bay area incuding Sonoma wine country. On the way an obligatory stop at the Golden Gate Bridge to take some ‘I was here’ snaps. Like all great iconic structures I wasn’t prepared for the sheer scale and size of it – almost double the height of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. And the colour of the bridge was quite an unexpected vibrant burnt orange red.
San Francisco is a geographically beautiful city although it is often obscured by dense fogs
The pretty wine town of Sonoma is about one hour’s drive from San Francisco. On the main town square is the El Dorado – a boutique restaurant, bar, cafe and hotel that combines East Hamptom style with Santa Monica laidbackness. We kicked back here for a few hours when the weather started to turn.
local valley hand-churned butter
I’ve become a huge fan of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley wines
Burgers usually don’t hold any attraction for me but this one – made from local beef – was juicy and chargrilled on apple chips
My husband Mark took this delicious burger shot that would make even a vegan salivate
Organic egg omlette filled with goats cheese and spinach
time to head back….
…as the rain starts to pelt down…
an evening rugged up in bed watching cable sounds good!

Foreign Cinema (restaurant) San Francisco, California

My step daughter Alice, now a San Franciscan local, took us to Foreign Cinema, in the Mission district, for dinner last Saturday night. Half the restaurant is indoors with an open fireplace and glassed walls. The other half is in a huge outdoor heated courtyard under a black canopy with fairy lights with an exposed white brick wall at one end which is used to project …you guessed it….classic foreign films!!! It was the most magical setting for a meal I think I have ever experienced.
Sadly my little lumix camera couldn’t cope with the low light levels so no great food snaps for you. I can tell you that we shared a baked fromager d’affinois with grilled witlof and black olive tapenade for appetisers, delicious steamed fish in green curry coconut broth, and grilled organic pork chop with mash and fennel.

Ferry Plaza Markets, San Francisco

The Ferry Plaza Markets on the Embarcadero in San Francisco are some of the most famous markets in the world – and one of the many reasons I was looking forward to exploring this foodie paradise. Saturday morning is the place to be seen with your shopping trolley, organic hemp, child labour-free string bag and obligatory rainbow pants.OK, so I didn’t blend in. Everything was so farm-fresh I almost felt as though I was wading through a paddock if the stalls hadn’t been so immaculately presented.San Franciscans demand fresh local produce from all their food outlets whether it be their fast food joints or their school canteens. San Fran and its bay are surrounded by some of the world’s most fertile farmland and its seafood alone – especially its local oysters and Dungeness crabs – are worth a pilgrimmage to experience.
The Ferry Plaza Markets are housed in the original ferry building 
winter in San Francisco is the season for mushroom lovers
this stall had large 1kg fresh porchinis – my favourite mushroom
oh the pain to see but not to eat
these really had a violet colour and fruity aroma
these would be perfect in a mixed mushroom sauce with fettuccine
Not sure why these were called candy caps. Maybe because their stalks were long and straight like lollipops.
Now…. I think these are called sea asparagus back home. Simply tossed with some butter and garlic and maybe a little parmesan?
These were real beauties with an uncooked texture similar to an old lady’s latex swimming cap
those crabs I was telling you about
mean-looking but tasty
Didn’t get to try these oysters but the customers were lining up for a trays of them freshly shucked to order
pink oyster meat pretty enough to wear
amazing array of regional olive oils
more like an apothecary shop than a deli
now we’re talking!
three happy campers chow down…
one of the bay districts most famous cheesemakers
the real cowgirls…..
knuckle-rapping hard crusty loaves of sourdough
wonderfully eclectic array of organic and biodynamic wines
one of the markets most famous grocers
still has the freshest produce….
winter squash….
rare heirloom varieties….
persimmons- which I am sadly yet to cook in a dish
the heady aniseed notes in this basil were swoonable
I’ll have what she’s having

Lunch at Chez Panisse, Berkeley, California

the Chez Panisse kitchen
How often do you get a chance to dine at a legendary restaurant.. at a restaurant that changed the way we eat? On Friday we were fortunate enough to eat at Chez Panisse, the restaurant Alice Waters turned into a food Mecca for organic, biodynamic dining in 1971. It did not disappoint. Set in the hippie, laid-back autumnal San Franciscan suburb of Berkeley, Chez Panisse delivers dishes packed with heavenly produce and mature restraint from its chefs. The ingredients are definitely the stars. I wish you could have all been there with me!
organic lamb racks trimmed and ready to go into the oven
the meal begins with a selection of house-marinated olives
Chez Panisse filters and carbonates its own tap water
water bottles are etched with the Chez Panisse logo
First to the entrees or appetisers as they call them in the States.
Bellweather Farm ricotta with salsa rosa and greens toast with egg
Sonoma Farm chicories salad with creamy lemon dressing and Dungeness crab toast
smoked Liberty Farm duck breast, with peppercress, fennel and fig relish
The Cafe dining room was buzzing with businessmen, foodies, tourists and girls lunching
River steelhead fish with escarole, rosemary, Meyer lemon and breadcrumbs
Red Wolfe Ranch quail with polenta, peppers, shell beans and chanterelle mushrooms 
Bucatini alla palina with saffron, cauliflower, pine nuts, currants, marjoram and pecorino
a bowl of Lagier ranches new season almonds, Barhi dates and a Frog Hollow Farm Warren pear
Didn’t think almonds could be this sweet and creamy
Sadly no room for dessert but we managed to squeeze in some pistachio-almond chocolates and Satsuma mandarin peel

Hotel Chancellor, San Francisco

Wow! This is a knockout hotel in terms of quality accommodation and location smack bang in the middle of Union Square on the cable car route. And best of all for a blogger it has free Wi-Fi.Across the street is a terrific classy diner called Scalas which does traditional American Italian. And two streets down is Kluleto’s Bar – fresh plates of cured meats and an amazing array of Californian and international wines. The Hotel Chancellor may turn into our holiday find.I snapped up a great internet rate though Easy Click Travel averaging about $90 a night. Rooms are warmly styled with a big spacious closet and probably the best hotel bed I’ve ever slept in. Make sure you get a room facing the back. You will miss out on a view but your nights won’t be interrupted by fire sirens and party revellers.