San Francisco the foodie's dream Lifestyle Travel

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  32                                                                                                                                                                                               CITYA.M. 28 NOVEMBER 2011

   San Francisco: the foodie’s dream
   The area around
   the famous city is
   full of natural
   wonders – many of
   them edible, says
   Lucie Green

       HOSE lucky San Franciscans. One              There is more to San                                                             anniversary this year and is still as cool     full pelt (reservations are essential). We
       hour north and there’s Napa Valley.          Francisco than the                                                              as ever when we arrive. Stepping in here        feast on Arugula, medjool dates and
       A hop skip and a jump (or 30 min-            Golden Gate                                                                     is like entering a surreal nightclub. The       pecorino salad, finishing with the restau-
       utes) east of Napa and you’re in the         Bridge – it’s also a                                                            lights are dim and atmospheric with             rant’s signature: Chocolate budino tart
stunning Sonoma wine region. Natural                food and wine hub                                                               sculptural furniture dotted everywhere.         and sea salt, topped with extra virgin olive
wonders including Lake Tahoe, Yosemite                                                                                             The rooms, by contrast, are light, sleek         oil (Sounds dubious but trust me, it works.)
and the Big Sur are all on your doorstep.                                                                                          and larger than you’d expect, with Malin         Next it’s Bin 38, a cult wine bar on Scott
Top that with the fabulous food and drink                                                                                          & Goetz toiletries and luxurious high            Street, known for its extensive California
and it’s enough to make you want to move                                                                                           thread count sheets.                             wine list. We sip Californian Brown Estate,
there.                                                                                                                                The cornerstone of the Clift is its brood-    Napa Valley Zinfandel in the bar’s fairy-lit
   The mood before our flight home to                                                                                             ing double-height Redwood Room on the             garden, warming ourselves in front of a
London – needless to say – is sombre. We’re                                                                                       ground floor, a highly atmospheric bar,           roaring fire pit, before heading back to the
sipping our last glass of California                                                                                              and hub for the city’s nightlife at week-         hotel bar (3am. Oof).
chardonnay in Zuni, a small restaurant in                                                                                         ends. It divides reviewers (Tripadvisor              The following day is spent at the usual
a groovy corner of the Castro neighbour-                                                                                          describes it as a “nightclub” hotel, the          tourist spots; Alcatraz, Haight-Ashbury –
hood, indulging in one last delight, the                                                                                         derogatory term used for hotels that pri-          the famed Janis Joplin haunt and hub of
restaurant’s signature wood-fired oven-                                                                                          oritise being a night time hotspot over            the 1960s hippy movement – before its
roast chicken served over Tuscan bread                                                                                           serving guests), but I loved it. The atmos-        time to go again.
salad.                                                                                                                           phere is upbeat, young and – well, quite              This time The Mission is our target. The
   Only a week has past and it’s been a                                                                                          sexy – and the best bit is you can enjoy           mission in San Francisco started out as a
whirlwind of Californian bliss. Our holiday                                                                                      cocktail upon killer cocktail safe in the          poor Mexican immigrant neighbourhood
concept was simple: San Francisco and the                                                                                        knowledge that your bed is just floors             but today is one of the hippest areas of the
Napa Valley, for an unbridled culinary fes-                                                                                      away.                                              city. It boasts a fabulous array of Mexican
tival, followed by a brief whistle-stop at                                                                                           But first, food. We start with A16, a culi-    restaurants and we head to family eatery
Yosemite before flying home.                                                                                                     nary hotspot in the hip Marina District.           Puerto Alegre, a small cheap-as-chips joint
   The Clift was our San Francisco abode.                                                                                        The restaurant is famed for rustic                 on Valencia Street with authentic food
The iconic hotel, one of the earlier Philippe                                                                                    Southern Italian cuisine and as we step            (you can’t make reservations here. You
Starck boutique hotels, marks its tenth                                                                                          inside, the wood-fired oven is burning at          come, you wait. That’s it.) We pig out on


Australia to set up marine park bigger than Germany                          Flights to Russia just got cheaper                                            St Anton ready to open two new hotels
Australia has agreed to set up the world's biggest marine park to protect    The EU and Russia have agreed to phase out the fees paid by EU air carri-     New mountain design hotel The Mooser will open this week in St Anton,
vast areas of the Coral Sea off the country's northeast coast and the site   ers in order to fly trans-Siberian routes, which should mean a reduction in   one of Austria’s top ski resorts. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, this
of fierce naval battles during World War Two. The park will cover almost     the cost of flying from Europe to East Asia. Any charges now paid by EU       stylish and contemporary hotel has eight double rooms, seven suites and
1m square km – an area the size of France and Germany combined – and         airlines to the Russian authorities will have to be cost-related and trans-   two junior suites. Following soon after will be the M3 hotel, with three
will set up a haven for fish, pristine coral reefs and nesting sea birds.    parent. The new arrangement will come into force on 1 January 2012.           suites, 15 superior double rooms and seven double rooms.
CITYA.M. 28 NOVEMBER 2011                                                                                 THE ULTIMATE LUXURY                                                                                                      33
                                                                                                          CHRISTMAS HAMPERS
                                                                                                          OUR GUIDE TO FORTNUM &
                                                                                                          MASON’S SEASONAL BASKETS P34

                                                                                                                                   WHERE TO GO: | FOODIE SAN FRANCISCO AND NAPA

                                                                                                                                   l Zuni: Neighborhood restaurant with a             Laundry? Don’t worry. You can always con-
                                                                                                                                   difference. Pre-order the Roast Chicken.           sole yourself in the restaurant’s more afford-
                                                                                                                         ; A16: Southern Italian            able (but nonetheless excellent) sister venue
                                                                                                                                   food, stone baked Pizzas. Bliss.         
                                                                                                                                                               l Oakville Grocery: Rustic breads, deli-
                                                                                                                                   l Delfina: Modern Italian fare with a killer       cious deli food and gourmet salads for the
                                                                                                                                   wine list.                       road in the heart of Napa. www.oakvillegro-
                                                                                                                                   l Puerto Alegre: Cheap, unbeatable       
                                                                                                                                   Mexican food. 546 Valencia Street, San             l Napa Wine Co: Boite for the area’s inde-
                                                                                                                                   Francisco, 001 415 255 8201;                       pendent wineries.
                                                                                                                                   l Blondie’s: Killer martinis, Cajun live           (Flights start at $20)
                                                                                                                                   bands. There needs to be one of these in           l Frog’s Leap: Farm-style glorious setting
                                                                                                                                   London.                        with beautiful wines.
                                                                                                                                   l Humphry Slocombe: Ice cream, but not             (Flights start at $20)
                                                                                                                                   as we know it:                                     l Cliff Lede: Exquisite wines in a blissful
                                                                                                                         ;                           setting minutes from Yountville. www.clif-
                                                                                                                                   l Bouchon: Didn’t make it in to French   

                                                                                                                                   WHERE TO GO: | EXTEND YOUR TRIP TO YOSEMITE
                                                                                                                                   l Yosemite National Park is just four              the hill and offers terrific value at roughly
                                                                                                                                   hours drive from both Napa and San                 £150 per room per night. There are two
                                                                                                                                   Francisco and well worth the trip if you           pools, three restaurants, a spa, well-
                                                                                                                                   have time. The vast terrain, El Capitan,           equipped rooms and it’s only a short drive
                                                                                                                                   waterfalls and valleys are truly spectacular.      to all the key sites in the park. The
                                                                                                                                   Entrance to the park is $20 for a week’s           concierge service is impartial, authoritative,
                                                                                                                                   unlimited access. There is only one hotel in       and open throughout the day. With guid-
                                                                                                                                   the park itself, the historic Awahee, but          ance we self-drive the park, pre-ordering a
                                                                                                                                   with rooms at roughly £300 it’s an expen-          packed lunch from the hotel ($15) and hire
                                                                                                                                   sive option. We stay at Tenaya Lodge, just         bikes to cycle the Yosemite Valley floor.
                                                                                                                                   outside the park, and it’s perfect. The hotel For more informa-
                                                                                                                                   is a large, family-style place (think antlers,     tion about Yosemite, see:
                                                                                                                                   fireplaces, Navajo print) perched high on

Mexican pulled pork, fajitas, corn chips          Stunning vistas are       tique hotel in the heart of town.                  It’s also a great spot to explore the valley.         legendary three-Michelin-starred restau-
and eye watering fresh salsa. The night is        just a short ride            Bardessono’s USP is its eco-friendly poli-   The hotel offers complimentary bicycles to               rant in its home setting. Getting in here
capped with drinks at Blondie’s next door,        away from the city.       cy – it’s one of only two hotels in the US to   guests and will even collect you should the              isn’t easy. It takes me a steady two-month
one of the area’s buzziest cocktail joints        The Bardessono            be LEED certified by the US government –        zinfandel sipping turn a little enthusiastic.            campaign of follow-ups, both through the
(famed for its dive bar vibe, generous –          (inset left) is a luxu-   but thankfully none of this is at the           The main Napa towns Oakville, St Helena                  restaurant and Relais & Chateaux who rep-
read pint size – martinis and live music.)        ry, eco friendly hotel.   expense of luxury. There are great practical    and Calistoga are all within easy reach by               resent it, to get in. But it’s worth it. The
   The next day activity is required to shake     Yosemite (inset           touches – solar panels, its paperless, organ-   bike. The three of us set out and visit The              restaurant occupies a small innocuous
the cobwebs. We opt for a breathtaking            right) is wonder to       ic linens – but the rooms are still suitably    Napa Wine Company, in Oakville (20 min-                  vine clad house. Once inside it’s all hushed
cycle (through local hire company Blazing         feast your eyes on        decadent. Our suite boasts its own terrace,     utes gentle cycle away.) The venue is a col-             sound and warm lighting. The restaurant
Saddles) across the Golden Gate Bridge to                                   a jacuzzi the size of my flat and a working     lective-supported tasting room for small                 serves two set menus. Both cost $270 –
nearby town Sausalito and sip beers in the                                  fireplace. Refreshingly, in contrast to the     independent wineries and we spend an                     without wine – and include service.
sunshine. We return and visit Humphry                                       abundance of cutesy B&Bs in the area, it’s      hour sampling red wine. Next up its Frog’s                  Courses, tit bits and foie gras flow. It’s
Slocombe, one of the city’s award-winning                                   also feels quite young and hip. We spend an     Leap – a farm-style vineyard with breezy                 the perfect finale to our Napa stay because
boutique ice cream companies. (Think:                                       afternoon sipping margaritas in serviced        verandas, comfy chairs and delicious                     we leave feeling like we could never eat
Strawberry Candied Japelapeno and Blue                                      cabanas at the hotel’s rooftop pool, which      chardonnay. We finish with cycle along the               anything again . . . Well, almost.
Bottle Vietnamese Coffee.)                                                  sweeping views across the valley.               Silverado trail before a quick tasting at Cliff          Bardessono low season rooms begin at approxi-
   Napa is only a 40-minute drive from                                         The best thing about Bardessono is its       Lede vineyard’s open-air terraces.                       mately $499 and in peak season start at $899.
downtown San Francisco but feels worlds                                     location. Smack bang in the middle of              The wind down is a good idea, it turns       Clift Hotel rooms start at:
away when we arrive in the sun-drenched                                     town, there’s no need to drive or take taxis    out, because what follows is nothing short               $250 per night. For French
leafy confines of Yountville, one of a series                               (handy as it’s approximately four minutes       of a foodie’s dream. London may have wel-                Laundry reservations: call Relais & Châteaux: 00
of towns along the St Helena Highway.                                       walk from the world-famous French               comed The French Laundry lately but it is                800 2000 00 02 (toll free) or visit the website at:
We’re staying at Bardessono, a sleek bou-                                   Laundry and sister restaurant Bouchon).         nothing compared with experiencing the         

Why it’s time to ditch the term Cyber Monday
                                                  nasty “personalities” or “individuals” or         Today is expected to    Christmas presents will be bought over the              bug.
                                                  “things,” just an infinite loop of the John       be the busiest online   internet, in what is predicted to be the                   Neither has very much merit. The very
                                                  Lewis advert playing over the surface of our      shopping day of the     biggest online shopping day ever. This is,              name Cyber Monday is anachronistic – it’s
                                                  conjoined minds like a schmaltzy, festive dose    year                    depending on who you ask, either:                       the equivalent of an ancient civilisation
                                                  of heroin.                                                                   A) The saviour of Christmas, the day                 dreaming up a deity to explain electricity.
                                                     Cyber Monday is the busiest                                            retailers make enough money to stop the                 Pretty soon almost everything will be
                                                  online shopping day of the year,                                                 high street from going bankrupt, pack-           ordered online. It doesn’t need to be called
                                                  on which everyone tries to avoid                                                 ing up and leaving a muddy channel               Cyber Monday any more than tomorrow
                                                  playing Russian roulette with the                                                through the middle of every provincial           needs to be called Getting Out of Bed and
                                                  postal service by ordering their gifts a                                         town in the country.                             Going To Work Tuesday.
                                                  full four weeks before the event. It follows                                        B) The day the internet breaks                   Of course, in the future we won’t have to
  GEEK SPEAK                                      Black Friday, which isn’t as ominous as it                                      under the weight of all the digital traf-         get out of bed anyway. We’ll be able to
                                                  sounds: it gets its name from the densely-                                   fic and cyber criminals claim the smoul-             experience the full tedium of life from our
  @steve_dinneen                                  packed human traffic milling senselessly
                                                  through the streets of every major western
                                                                                                                            dering remains as their own, like futuristic,
                                                                                                                            weedy barbarians (given that scientists have
                                                                                                                                                                                    embryonic sustenance pods, living out the
                                                                                                                                                                                    daily grind in a simulated digital reality. It’s
                                                  city on one of the busiest days on the high                               calculated that the weight of all the elec-             the logical next step from the Chinese World
         oday is Cyber Monday, which means        street. Inexplicably, the days between the                                         trons making up the internet only              of Warcraft sweatshops, in which armies of

T        at some point this evening we will all
         finally be subsumed into the greater
         consciousness of the net. Don’t panic,
life will be better there. There won’t be any
                                                  two have yet to be named (I suggest
                                                  “Crazy Saturday” and “Crème brûlée”
                                                     This year, more than a third of
                                                                                                                                           weigh about as much as an egg,
                                                                                                                                           this seems unlikely). The sec-
                                                                                                                                           ond eventuality is preferred by
                                                                                                                                           fans of the elusive millennium
                                                                                                                                                                                    workers spend 14 hours a day mining virtual
                                                                                                                                                                                    gold. So that’s something to look forwards
                                                                                                                                                                                    to while you order your presents. Merry

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