Nut Tree Vacaville Road Stop

nuttreesign the urbane grandmother

Before there was a Pottery Barn or a Williams-Sonoma or any of the other stores that espouse a certain kind of lifestyle, there was The Nut Tree. What began as a fruit stand in Vacaville at the side of the road in the 1920’s grew during the 1950’s – 1990’s into a temple to all that was tasteful and stylish about California Living. Continue reading

Posted in Beyond SF, Food, Holiday - Summer, News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cruising San Francisco Bay

The Red and White Fleet.There is a best way to enjoy the Bay – aboard a Red and White Fleet ferry. We had planned our adventure for last October but ‘someone’ had a meltdown the morning we were to sail. And for some reason – maybe poor planning on our part – we just never got ourselves down to Pier 43 1/2 on Fisherman’s Wharf. Anyway, I am happy to report that we finally made it. And also happy to report that this is probably the most relaxing way to see San Francisco. Continue reading

Posted in Ferries, Ferry, Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Lunch, Packing Tips, Seafood, SF Food Traditions, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Waterfront Playground at Sue Bierman Park

bierman park the urbane grandmotherLet’s face it. The success of a family trip is determined by how well the adults can manage to balance the ratio of kid vs adult activities. Sometimes we luck out and find an activity that appeals equally to both. That’s where the playground comes in. Fresh air. Exercise. Beautiful scenery. And rest for the adults. Our newest playground is on the Embarcadero across from Pier 1 at Washington Street.  It is nestled behind the Embarcadero Center in an area that was once a nondescript plot of land. The ‘Playground in Sue Bierman Park’ is a joint effort of the Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association and Rincon Hill neighbors working with the Parks and Recreation Department. Here is the list of generous donors:

bierman park donors the urbane grandmother

The Ferry Building the urbane grandmotherJust find the Ferry Building and start walking north.

Pier 1 the urbane grandmotherOnce you are in front of Pier 1, cross the street and you will arrive at this oasis. You may want to grab a coffee from Starbucks first.

bierman park the urbane grandmother Large expanse of grass is perfect for picnicking or running around.

bierman park the urbane grandmother The playground is fenced in and all adults must be accompanied by a child.

bierman park the urbane grandmother Lots of equipment to climb on and slide down.

bierman playground slide the urbane grandmotherWhen you are done at this waterfront playground cross back over to the Embarcadero and continue north to the Exploratorium and Pier 39. Or just take a nap in the noonday sun…

Posted in Embarcadero, Financial District, Muni Historic Streetcar F Line, Playgrounds / Parks | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Fort Point San Francisco in the Rain

fort point the urbane grandmotherThere hasn’t been occasion to write many posts about rainy day activities for kids since I began this site because, well, there haven’t been many rainy days. Thankfully that changed a few weeks ago. There are finally puddles to jump in. And we have found a most unlikely place to spend an hour or two playing in the rain and learning about history at the same time: Fort Point. Continue reading

Posted in Crissy Field, Playgrounds / Parks | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

San Francisco Mounted Police Unit

bubba the urbane grandmotherI never paid much attention to horses before I became a grandmother. But when you are searching for ways to entertain little ones you find yourself venturing out of your comfort zone into uncharted territory often. It helps if the territory includes free parking and shade for an afternoon nap which is why we spend so much time in Golden Gate Park and how we discovered the Fred C. Egan Memorial Police Stables. Continue reading

Posted in Giving, Golden Gate Park, Playgrounds / Parks | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

A San Francisco Christmas Eve

santa the urbane grandmother

Christmas Eve is the one day of the year that I try to incorporate as many ‘only in San Francisco’ activities for our granddaughter as possible. I would like her to remember the holidays fondly and with a sense of place.

The day starts with a stop at Alioto-Lazio at Fisherman’s Wharf to pick up Dungeness Crabs for Christmas dinner. One of the last family owned businesses on the wharf – and all woman owned.

alioto-lazio fish company sign the urbane grandmother

Then home to make popcorn balls for Santa.

popcorn balls the urbane grandmother

A little last minute rearranging of the manger to make room for the new arrival.

manger scene the urbane grandmother

Then it’s time to walk to Chinatown for dinner at the Far East Cafe. My dad took me there when I was a little girl and it seemed like the most exotic and grown-up place in the world. Curtained booths lined the side walls and you summoned the waiter by pressing a buzzer. We sit in a booth and order the same child-friendly dishes every year: egg fu yung (aka egg foo young), barbecue pork and wonton soup.

chinatown christmas eve the urbane grandmotherAfter dinner it is a short walk to California Street to catch the cable car to the top of the hill.

Stop off at the Fairmont Hotel to see the gingerbread house and yet another Christmas tree.

gingerbread house fairmont hotel the urbane grandmother IMG_2540

Finally, we walk home to see what Santa has left for us while we were gone. (This bit of trickery was managed earlier in the evening by one of us ‘discovering’ that we have forgotten our wallet. While the rest of the family waits in the lobby, Papa dashes upstairs, fills stockings, places presents under the tree and then dashes back. Phew!)

While the little one opens gifts, the adults enjoy a glass of champagne and a slice of Coffee Crunch Cake from Yasukochi’s Sweet Shop in Japantown.

coffee crunch cake the urbane grandmother

I hope that your holiday season was filled with much sweetness, many glasses of bubbly and lots of love. Happy New Year!

the urbane grandmother and grandchild

Posted in Cable Cars, Chinatown, Holiday - Winter, Nob Hill, SF Food Traditions | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Why I Love Trader Joe’s San Francisco

trader joe's pound plus chocolate the urbane grandmotherShopping at Trader Joe’s is like Christmas morning everyday. There is always something new that surprises and delights the kid in me. It all started the first time I held their hefty, dark ‘Pound Plus’ Belgian chocolate bar. It was 1987 and I had just moved to Los Angeles leaving my beloved San Francisco behind. We didn’t have TJ’s in San Francisco then. There were a few places that carried imported chocolates like Cost Plus – but nothing that also offered their low prices. Continue reading

Posted in Chocolate, Holiday - Winter, Nob Hill, Shopping | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Mark Bittman Saves Marriage

 The Urbane Grandmother & GrandfatherWhy am I perched on the edge of a rickety folding chair, in a crowded, stuffy bookstore waiting to hear a man tell me what he had for breakfast? Everyone else in this room sees an author who is here to read out of his new book, sell and sign as many copies as possible and get out the door to dinner.  I see Mark Bittman, the man who saved my marriage.  He doesn’t know it.  And neither does my husband. But I precede the story. Continue reading

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , | 21 Comments