Testimony, the memoir by The Band's guitarist and principal songwriter Robbie Robertson, ends with The Last Waltz, the group's final concert in 1976 and often called "the end of an era" for the melange of rock, blues and folk that fueled the '60s and '70s. Forever etched in memory as the pulsating, doe-eyed virtuoso guitarist in the magenta scarf that iconic evening, which was captured on film by Martin Scorsese, Robbie Robertson drew several hundred aging rockers and younger people to Dominican University just 25 miles north of San Francisco's Winterland, where the The Last Waltz was performed.
Hog Island has always delivered some of the most delicious West Coast oysters but with climate change's colossal effect on Pacific Ocean seafood its farmed oyster beds not far from San Francisco are ever-more vital.
Channeling MFK Fisher, the remarkable sage of food writing and gastronomic pleasure, I took off for Glen Ellen in Sonoma County about 40 north of San Francisco, California, knowing the limitations of my adventure even before I started. First of all, Fisher died in 1992, and second of all, her cottage retreat, “Last House,” is now part of the Audubon Canyon Ranch’s 535-acre Bouverie Preserve and is not open to the public - yet.
My Womantraveler pal and I have a routine before and after the San Francisco Ballet matinees on Saturday - food, like dance, is at the center. For brunch we arrive by 12 noon (no later than 12:30 pm) at Monsieur Benjamin (451 Gough Street, 415.403.2233), a bustling French bistro in Hayes Valley, a few blocks from the War Memorial where the ballet begins promptly at 2 pm. It's really smart to book a reservation at this neighborhood spot, although if you're lucky you can squeeze in at the counter. The scene is entertaining like any other French bistro - and especially one in San Francisco. The food is dreamy. At the bar, we observe the care with which a simple cafe latte is designed. At the table, the frisee salade with a delicate poached egg and lardons jumps with subtle color. It's tempting to forget about the ballet and keep...
Parnassus Books, co-owned by writer Ann Patchett and one of the nation's premier independent bookstores, sits in the most unamazing location in a strip mall, tucked in among Chipotle, The Vitamin Shoppe, Ten Thousand Villages and other small businesses whose exteriors are dull caramel trimmed in dark chocolate. Like other independent bookstores, which represent the souls of local communities, you might pass it a couple of times before you actually find it. But persevere on as a reader and you will be home again.
If you travel to cities with great museums, enjoying them like a local refines the experience. On a tip from another Womantraveler, I joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a reasonably priced "National Associate" membership. Then, after more research, I discovered that certain museums closer to home provide reciprocal memberships with those across the country, so, for example, my membership to San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art admits me to the new Whitney in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, the Guggenheim and more than 30 others in the US and Canada.
San Francisco's Nico restaurant in Presidio Heights is a kitchen performance designed to create a work of art in every plate served, yet produced with a modest spirit encourages appreciation of sincere creativity and invention, wherever it appears - and thus its first Michelin Star for 2016.
West Marin, California, about 25 north of San Francisco, is home to ranches, oceanside villages and artisan cheese. A drive through the region presents wild Pacific Beaches, funky villages and a culinary sampler of Northern California.
Keeping up with the abundance of San Francisco restaurants, from tried-and-true to start-ups, is a fulltime job, but every few months I'm motivated to share a list of finds for visitors and locals alike. This latest round of suggestions was inspired by the "fooding" trip of my brother/chef Steve Johnson of Rendezvous Central Square in Cambridge, who is a true "food creative" and Bay Area food fan.
Sunday May 15 is the last day for the stunning Picasso exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts(VFMA) in Richmond, before it closes and re-opens in the de Young Museum in San Francisco on June 11. The VFMA will be open until midnight Friday May 13 and Saturday May 14.