Saturday, April 4, 2009

Volume 16. SF, LA, NYC

Dear Readers,
we should all be so lucky.

Global Around Town Senior Travel Correspondent Doug Wingate spins like a top from one place to another. Here's a quick recap of some of the fun he had in San Fran, L.A. and NYC the last few weeks.

San Francisco

1. Stayed at: the classic PALACE hotel, part of the Starwood (of Sheraton, St. Regis, W, Meridien, Westin) properties' "Luxury Collection". It has the MOST beautiful glass domed breakfast and tea room, originally a porte cochere when the new hotel was built after the 1906 quake destroyed the original.

2. Saw: BURN THE FLOOR, an Australian-born ballroom dance spectacular that elevates TV's Dancing with the Stars fever to a white-hot review that is acrobatic, elegant, and steaming, steaming, steaming. Unfortunately, their month and half gig in San Fran ended on March 15. Look for 'em elsewhere now. For more traditonal dance lovers, enjoy the great SAN FRANCISCO BALLET, the U.S.'s oldest company (yes, it's not NYCB, or ABT), where the FIRST U.S. version of the Nutcracker debuted sometime in the 1940s (amazing it wasn't earlier, given what a standard Nutcracker is in the repertoire of every U.S. ballet company nowadays). The season continues through May 8. We saw performed not only two debuts, but also a superb rendition of Jerome Robbins' comic masterpiece THE CONCERT
March 12–March 25, 2009 Program 4 Mixed Repertory
On a Theme of Paganini
Jardin aux Lilas New!
The Concert

3. Dined at: LE GITANE, a terrific new Mediterranean/Spanish restaurant emphasizine tapas along with a GREAT watering hole in the wondrous hidden little alley that is Claude Lane (GITANE was opened by the folks at the eponymous Cafe Claude; the famed true French bisto charming the City by the Bay for over a decade now)
6 Claude Lane (at Bush), San Francisco; (415) 788-6686 or
Dinner 5:30 p.m.-midnight Tues.-Sat. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

GARY DANKO, the renowned temple of haute cuisine in the Fisherman's Wharf area, that is not only the City's favorite according to Zagat's but also it's most highly rated. Its small plates offer a diversity of California/French cuisine that is astonishing. Book months in advance, or just take your chances at the-first-come-first-serve bar where the entire menu is also available.

PISCO LATIN LOUNGE, a hipster hangout on upper Market, where Peru's traditional cane based alcohol of choice, Pisco, is featured, along with other cocktails and a Latin American tapas menu. They also claim to have rediscovered and now serve San Francisco's oldest naitive cocktail here, made from a secret recipe that even the Bar doesn't have; some local guy supposedly comes in periodically to supply this historic mixer. 
 http://www.piscosf. com/

TOWN HALL, the SoMa (South of Market) spot for downtown culinary cognoscenti that serves deeeeeeeeelicious New American food in a New Orleans like setting.

Special delights shopping:
RECCHIUTTI CONFECTIONS in the fabulous Ferry Building (where one can catch a ride to Sausalito or Tiburon, to visit or commute) which has become a foodie's paradise that is home base for myriad haute artisanal shops, for everything a gourmet can want from cheeses, to bakeries goods, dairy specialty items, and organice produce and coffees. RECCHIUTTI sells a genuinely addictive sweet: its tres cher Fleur de Sel caramels. AMAZING!


Visited CATALINA ISLAND -- my first visit.

It's essentially Italy's Capri, conveniently located off the Southern California coast. The Wrigley family (yes, the Chicago-based chewing gum empire) bought up this island in 1919, and has ensured its ecosystem (which incongruously boasts a hale herd of Buffalo, brought there in 1924 for a silent movie based on a Zane Grey novel [Mr. Grey's Catalina Island home has been turned into a historic hotel]) through a conservancy that promises that some 88% of the island will remain undeveloped forever. The Wrigleys also built a grand island mansion that today is a deluxe bed and breakfast called the Inn at Mt. Ada, with deluxe prices to match the million dollar views its seven suites have. However, here's a tip. This pricey place does allow non-inn-guests to enjoy the place too, with a daily lunch-only special, where non-inn-guests can enjoy all the luxury of the place for 3 hours for a modest $35 or so, with ... all-you-can-drink excellent California vintages to boot (or micro brews too). It's a hard to beat deal indeed.
The Inn On Mt. Ada
Breathtaking Ocean Views

New York:

1. New Broadway shows:

BLITHE SPIRIT: Angela Lansbury, Rupert Everett and Christine Ebersole are back in Noel Coward's famed fantasy frolic of ghostly shenanigans. Lansbury, 83, is a comic tour de force, and all of the players are in top form. Coward's 30s book is a bit creaky, but the players are so good, that the laughs are still genuine, and it's ultimaely well worth the chance to see the legendary Lansbury having the time of her life.

HAIR: A group of youngsters bring last summer's acclaimed Shakespeare-in-the-Park production to Broadway. The music is still infectious (LET THE SUN SHINE IN, AGE OF AQUARIUS, etc.), and the youthful cast full of fun. I remember the original in the 60s, so am biased, but I loved it!

33 VARIATIONS: Jane Fonda is back on Broadway in a star turn that uses Beethoven's obsession with a minor waltz, late in his career, to comment on the difficulties many of us may have finding our places late in life. Although the show is somewhat cerebral, its full of intentional humor too, which saves it from wallowing in didactic preachiness. Fonda is excellent, as is a supporting cast that includes Colin Hanks, son of Tom and Rita.
For discounted tickets to most shows, go to, and avoid having to wait in a long line at TKTS in Times Square or the South Steet Seaport in the Wall Street area.

Whew! What a guy! How does he do it? A regular whirl wind!

(Thanks to Wikipedia for many of the photos)


  1. I am totally green with envy! I would love to see both Landsbury (isn't she just so stellar?) and Fonda. And that drink is making my mouth water!

  2. Yes. I am curious about the 33 Variations. And SF really does have the hippest Food/Wine scene. So nice hearing from you.