Archive for the 'Restaurants' Category

Follow the Impressionist Painters Along the Normandy Coast

Like a beret perched askew on a Frenchman’s head, the 360-mile Normand coast curls along the north and northwest of France. After visiting Rouen, I headed for the coast to soak in the beaches and soft-green landscapes bathed in shifting light.

Cliffs of Etretat. Painted by Monet.

Etretat

I count on doing a large canvas of the cliffs of Etretat, although it is certainly bold of me to do that after Courbet who did it admirably, but I will try to do it differently …” Claude Monet, January 1883

For several years Monet visited the seaside resort of Etretat to paint the white cliffs, beach and fishing boats.

You can stand in the exact location along the beach where Monet painted the rock arch and needle sculptures jutting into the sea. He painted in all light and weather conditions.

After an exhilarating, windy walk along the green hillsides above the precipitous cliffs for views of vast sky, sea, and beach.

Honfleur

The port of Honfleur attracted painters, including Turner, Boudin, Corot, Courbet, Pissaro, Braque, Seurat, and Bonnard

The port of Honfleur attracted many English, Romantic and Impressionist painters, including Turner, Boudin, Corot, Courbet, Pissaro, Braque, Seurat, and Bonnard, who were captivated by the light of the bay, the old streets, the lighthouse and Sainte-Catherine church. Monet visited Honfleur many times and painted numerous canvasses here including the bell-tower, Le clocher Sainte Catherine. Take time to absorb the fine workmanship of the interior as well as the exterior of the half-timbered Sainte Catherine, the oldest wooden church in France.

In the center of the old town a long dock with colorful yachts punctuates the picturesque harbor built in the 17th century. Across the water half-timbered and slate-fronthomes and a parade of open-air cafes and restaurants vie for your attention.

Unlike Le Havre, which was almost entirely bombed during World War II, Honfleur escaped the destruction and the streets and locations painted by the 19th-century artists have been well preserved.

Helpful Websites:

www.normandie-tourism.fr

www.seine-maritime-tourism.fr

www.calvados-tourism.com

www.manchetourism.com

Outstanding Restaurants  Rouen: www.lacouronne.com.fr/and www.le-sixiemesens.fr Etretat : www.allchateaux.com/hotelledonjon.html  In the Pays D’Auge: www.auberge-des-deux-tonneaux.abcsalles.com

Where’s the largest Irish Event west of the Mississippi?

Irish Eyes Are Smiling in San Francisco

San Francisco’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival is the largest Irish event west of the Mississippi, which certainly merits a sip of Irish coffee or a romp through the Oxalis (which is a fancy word for shamrocks).

“Giving Back” is the theme for the 160th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival. The parade is one of a series of events which commenced on March 4 with the raising of the Irish flat at City Hall and extend through March 25, 2011.

On Saturday, March 12, the St. Patrick’s Day parade will begin at 11:30 a.m. from Second and Market streets; more than 100 floats, Irish dance groups, marching bands and thousands of participants will make their way down Market to the reviewing stand at Civic Center Plaza. For information visit www.sfstpatricksdayparade.com.

They’ll be representing more than one million Irish descendents in the Bay Area and some four million statewide. Grand Marshals Maureen and Mike Moriarty are being honored for their contributions to the Irish community.

 

The festival in Civic Center Plaza on March 12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., will include Irish cultural and retail booths; a “healthy” selection of Irish food and beverages; Irish dancing; live music; children’s activities such as pony rides, and a number of community enterprises. For information visit www.sresproductions.com.

The eighth annual Crossroads Irish-American Festival, through March 25, will feature literature and oral history. The 21-day festival includes 11 events. Among the highlights are a walking tour illuminating the history of San Francisco’s famed waterfront  with an emphasis on Irish-American workers on March 19, and a concert by Patrick Ball, one of the world’s premiere Celtic harp players and a captivating spoken word artist, at St. Patrick’s Church, 756 Mission St., on March 25. St. Patrick’s Church is celebrating its 160th anniversary in 2011. There will be additional events for the anniversary celebration; for details visit www.spcsf.org. Complete details on all Crossroads events are available at www.irishamericancrossroads.org.

Visitors are encouraged to walk, bike or take public transit to all events. For regional transit information, telephone 510-893-8729, call 511 within the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties or visit www.511.org. For information on public transit within San Francisco, telephone 311 or visit www.sfmta.org.

Looking for some additional green gladness for March? Visit www.sanfrancisco.travel or check out some of these suggestions:

March 12 and 17

Ride the Ducks San Francisco and Classic Cable Car Sightseeing, www.sanfranciscoducks.com or www.classiccablecar.com

Wear green and each of these sightseeing firms will give riders $5 off each ticket purchased; not valid with any other offers.

March 17, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Wipeout Bar & Grill

Pier 39, www.wipeoutbarandgrill.com

Wipeout will be offering corned beef sandwiches all day.

March 17, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

390 Capistrano Road, Princeton-by-the-Sea, www.hmbbrewingco.com

An Irish-themed menu offered all day; evening entertainment from 7-10 p.m. features Claddagh with Shana Morrison, Kevin Brennan and Grant Walters.

 

March 17, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.

Pied Piper Bar & Grill

2 New Montgomery St., www.sfpalace.com

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in one of San Francisco’s most famous bars and enjoy a St. Patrick’s Day special —  a delicious corned beef sandwich and a Guinness for $20.

March 17, 6-9:45 p.m. at SFMOMA, cocktails at XYZ Lounge until 1:30 a.m.

How Wine Became Modern Featuring Pop-Up Magazine, www.sfmoma.org and www.wsanfrancisco.com

California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Dr., Golden Gate Park, www.calacademy.org/events/nightlife/

This St. Patrick’s Day sip on a whiskey cocktail or a dark, frothy Guinness, and take in a bit of Irish culture at the greenest museum on Earth, the California Academy of Sciences.  Cast in an ethereal green light, NightLife will feature Irish step dancing, and performances on the Celtic harp and nyckelharpa, a lyrical instrument with 16 strings and 37 keys that has been around for more than 600 years. Music by DJ Nako.

Thanks to San Francisco Travel

Join the more than 300,000 people who follow SF Travel on Facebook at www.facebook.com/onlyinsf. Follow “OnlyinSF” on Twitter at http://twitter.com/onlyinsf.

 

Celebrate wine, food, love of life in the heart of Alexander Valley

Ford Francis Copola Winery in Alexander Valley, Calif.

There is still room at the table on the terrace overlooking the vineyards of Alexander Valley at the newly opened   Francis Ford Coppola Winery restaurant near Geyserville. The 88-acre property of rolling land includes sustainably farmed vineyards and embraces bucolic views from the terraces, tasting rooms, movie gallery, pools and bocce ball courts.

Recently on a foggy day, my husband and I drove north from San Francisco into the sun in Alexander Valley. The clouds lifted and we lingered  for a tour, free tasting and a long, languorous lunch on the patio overlooking the picturesque vineyards. What could be better? We dined and sipped for hours in the timeless tradition of Italian good living.

Rustic, the new restaurant in the vineyard,  offers international as well as traditional Italian dishes, with an emphasis on family-style cooking that features fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from the property’s organic herb and produce garden. Authentic, cracker-crisp Neapolitan-style pizzas are also a specialty. We indulged in several of Francis’ favorites: Argentine short-ribs (grilled to perfection from a center-stage authentic, wood-burning parrilla, or Argentinean grill), a classic Caesar salad, and a show stopping Mrs. Scorsese’s Lemon Chicken with goose-fat roasted potatoes. The unpretentious, welcoming staff wants you to feel like a family member in the true Italian tradition.  The masterful Chef de cuisine is Nick Petrilli formerly of Bottega and Tra Vigne. For evening dining al fresco, overhead heaters keep you comfortable even as breezes blow over the vineyards at sunset. Indoor seating is also available.

There’s no question that the Godfather director was intimately involved with every detail of the massive remodel of the former Chateau Souverain, all the way down to the placement of the two swimming pools, “Cabinitas” poolside, bocce ball courts and the family recipes on the menu.

There’s more than wine and food to entertain you for an afternoon. One of our favorite attractions at the winery is the Movie Gallery, displaying a vast collection of authentic movie memorabilia. Francis’s film making career spans five decades, which means there are some amazing items to explore, including several Academy Awards, Don Corleone’s desk from The Godfather, and the original automobile from Tucker: The Man and His Dream rotating impressively on a showroom turntable. Much of the memorabilia is integrated throughout the property so that you can enjoy it all while you taste wine, peruse the retail merchandise or make your way to our restaurant.

While there is still some outdoor construction going on, the vineyard resort looks and feels fabulous. The pool area will be a strong attraction for families when it’s finished late this fall with 20 or so “Cabinitas” for guest privacy as well as a pool café.

Francis puts it best, saying the winery is meant to be “a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wind, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.”

When planning travel online is a bust – get honest answers from friends.

Do you ever wonder who writes the reviews on travel sites that rate hotels and restaurants? Here’s a cool new online travel resource that gets around this issue.  Check it out. , Gogobot

Reviews for online resorts, hotels, restaurants - Are they unbiased?

When all the reviews are “over-the-top” complimentary, I question their credibility. Was this written by employees or friends of the owner? After all, they’re anonymous.

Recently I stayed in a “romantic”  hotel along the river in Sedona, Arizona. The descriptions and reviews online  were all exceptionally good , so I should have suspected something was wrong.  So I followed the advice of strangers and booked a room. The resort was noisy, (meaning I could hear the couple in the next room), accommodations were damp and cramped and the staff was disdainful.  And the hotel didn’t have a view of the signature red rocks that change in color and mood from sunrise to sunset. O.K. I made a mistake.

Where could I find more honest answers?

“I should have asked my travel buddies for recommendations,” I chided myself when I returned home. Perhaps you, like me, don’t appreciate lots of friends asking for advice often, about Paris, New York or Sedona.  As a travel journalist with over 20 years of friends and colleagues, I have lots of contacts, but I don’t want to impose on anyone. But I learned a way to get around that.

When I discovered this new website I was skeptical until I tried it out.  No one is anonymous, so your friends will see what you’ve written. In the The Passport section, you share a  list countries and cities you’ve visited, sports you enjoy and you can write and read reviews for and from your friends.  You can also see the travel credentials and hometown of the person who gives you a recommendation.  This is how it worked for me.

I became a member and posted a question on gogobot, that was also posted to my Facebook pals. I asked:

Any recommendations for restaurants and night life in the Tri-Beca area? I’m going to NYC with my  daughter.

WOW. Within minutes, friends I hadn’t communicated with in months began responding with short entries and great advice. And the followers of gogobot also chipped in. One responder is a professional woman who lives in TriBeca. Another friend told me about a hip night club and offered to get us reservations through a friend. What a deal.

New York City restaurants recommended in the TriBeca area included:

Blue Hill on Washington Square where all the ingredients come from from local farms, so they are incredibly fresh.

In Vino Wine Bar & Restaurant is a great cozy neighborhood Italian restaurant in the East Village. The cave-like interior makes for a very intimate experience.

PDT (Please Don’t Tell), on St. Mark’s Place is an underground speakeasy that has so much appeal that even the uber cool Europeans are all over it.

If you want to see more recommendations from New Yorkers living in the neighborhood, check out my profile at Gogobot.

Next I posted this:

Is Mexico Safe? Traveling to Playa del Carmen. Again, the response was immediate and from colleagues that had traveled to this area recently. Is it safe? YES! And I also learned that it’s easy to rent a car and visit Tulum and other Mayan sites on our own. I heard from people all over Mexico including two friends in San Miguel de Allende who assured me that the drug violence is far away from tourist destinations.

All this advice was so freely offered by avid and experienced travelers, so I felt the urge to give back.

Since I know Paris well, and have wrote about it in my book Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide, I shared my favorite Left Bank hotel and favorite place for ice cream and sorbet (Bertillon on Ilse St. Louis).

When I have time I’ll add more personal favorites. Best of all, what I wrote on gogobot will always be there to send on to other friends.  Gotta love it!

Top Picks for Romantic Spots in San Francisco

Sand Beach and walking trails at Chrissy Field

From Gogobot with changes and additions by the Gutsy Traveler, Marybeth from her book

50 Best Girlfriends Getaways in North America.

1. Gary Danko

“This place is absolutely amazing in so many grand and subtle ways… As usual, the service was impeccable and cannot be disputed. Everything from the greeting to the entry to the wine pouring was perfect down to the last drop.”

2. Napa Valley

Okay, this isn’t technically in SF, but it’s an “easy drive north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is a perfect weekend getaway! It’s great for couples.”  Visit romantic wineries like the Mondavi Vineyard or Frogs’ Leap, and take a hot air balloon ride over the valley complete with a champagne breakfast.

3. Dosa on Fillmore

“Our dining experience was extremely enjoyable–great service, ambiance, and fancy cocktails. I would HIGHLY recommend Dosa on Fillmore to anyone interested in Indian cuisine. True, although many dishes have been slightly modified from their original state to compliment San Francisco, you will be hard pressed to find a spot that serves such high quality, South Indian inspired cuisine.”

4. Chapeau on Clement

“The place is quiet and the entire experience screamed something cozy, seductive, and most definitely French.”

5. California Academy of Arts & Science

“If you were here to enjoy the night it’s definitely a spectacular experience filled with live music, great DJs, alcohol and cooking demonstrations full of great food and useful learning resources.” Be sure to take your sweetheart to the 2 and 1/2 acres of live plants and flowers blanketing the roof and watch the sunset over Golden Gate Park.

6. Ana Mandara in Ghiradelli Square

Ana Mandara means “beautiful refuge” in a Vietnamese Dialect. Its dramatic interior transports you to an Asian tropical garden accented with potted palms, a koi pond and cozy alcoves defined by dark carved wood. Ana Mandara is my favorite New Vietnamese restaurant (with French accents) restaurant because of its opulent beauty, the gracious service and the fabulous cuisine.

7. Gitane Restaurant and Bar

“Gitane is tres sexy in every way. The ambiance, the staff, the food and the cocktails are all incredibly sexy. It’s the … quintessential date spot in SF.”

8. La Mar Cebicheria Peruana

I discovered La Mar in the Mira Flores district of Lima, Peru and was ashamed to learn that there’s a sister restaurant in San Francisco. Now it’s one of my favorites. If you feel like a gastronomic adventure for the land of the Incas, this is a great choice.

9. Chrissy Field and the Fort Point National Historic Site

Chrissy Field's Location along the Bay

The view here is understatedly indescribable and breathtaking at the very least and grandeur … and amazing as well. Walk on the sandy beach and look across at Alcatraz, the Marin hills and the Golden Gate Bridge. Have a hot chocolate or double latte at The Warming Hut.

10. Golden Gate Park

“This park is very serene and nice in many areas and contains specialty places such as conservatories and museums with a huge … selection of specialty gardens such as the Japanese Tea Garden.”


About Marybeth Bond

Marybeth Bond is the nation’s preeminent expert on women travel. She is the award-winning
author-editor of 11 books.

Marybeth has hiked, cycled, climbed, dived and kayaked her way through more than seventy countries around the world.

She was a featured guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Marybeth has appeared on CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, National Public Radio and National Geographic Weekend.