Category Archives: Culture

Seattle: The Underground Tour

The Underground Tour was one that I learned about while doing product research for my trip to Seattle. This amusing tour of Seattle’s underground sidewalks and former store fronts was a lesson in the founding fathers’ perseverance for this city to survive!

If you can imagine it...the streets now start at the SECOND floor of this building!

The tour began in Doc Maynard’s Public House, a 1890s saloon, with a 20-minute introduction to Seattle’s history. Tours run every hour and you can actually grab a drink at the bar and bring it in for the intro. It was here that we learned how Seattle was founded. In a nutshell, the United States was giving chunks of land away for free to young men who moved to the Pacific Northwest — “Go West ye young lads!!”

Well, if it isn't Doc himself!

Seattle was named after Chief Seattle (shocker), who guided the young bucks to the land that the city sits on today. However the land was too close to sea level and when the townspeople tried to fix this by pouring saw dust into the muddy roads, well – let’s just say the streets closely resembled a consistency of oatmeal.

It smells all musty down here!

This lead to issues with the sewer system and waste disposal – along the tour there were many references to the original “Crappers” that were sent over from England. Finally the city decided to start over and build on top of the streets and store fronts, however while they were building, the existing businesses continued to operate until the project was complete. This underground area was actually condemned due to disease and infestation until a man named Bill Speidel spearheaded the preservation of Pioneer Square and founded The Underground Tour of Seattle.

Seattle..way back in the day.

After the intro, we were split into smaller groups with individual tour guides who took us down into these still-intact former streets and store fronts, now turned “Seattle’s underground”. It was pretty amazing to see  photographs of what the city used to look like and gawk at all of the disposed wares. There were things like bed frames, crappers (he he), signs and furniture just strewn all about!

Excuse me...I think you dropped something.

In total, we walked through three different underground sections, while learning about Seattle’s sordid history from our playful guide – her sense of humor really made the tour so memorable! We ended the tour in Rogue’s Gallery, where you could pick up a copy of Speidel’s book entitles “Sons of Profits”, which peels back Seattle’s dirty historical layers, or purchase other gag gifts.

I have no clue what this is...but it looks old...and somewhat important.

If you are ever in Seattle, YOU NEED to take this tour! I recommend booking ahead by clicking here, because the tour sells out – and hey, it’s worth that extra $2.50 surcharge!

Check out the rest of my pictures in my Flickr album.

In the meantime, I will be searching for a San Francisco equivalent…

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Filed under Culture, Seattle

Labor Day Weekend Recap

Of course my Labor Day Saturday began with a trip to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. The first stop for breakfast: 4505 Meats. I went for the rather modest Bacon Maple Breakfast Sandwich with maple sausage, gruyere cheese, cress and nasturtium greens, and a runny fried egg. There’s just something about that buttery, seedy bun that makes me all warm inside.

4505 Meats' Breakfast Sandwich

I just had to get a pic of myself trying to take a bite of @thedapperdiner’s massive double double 4505 Burger with Frankaroni, a patty of fried mac ‘n cheese and 4505 house-made uncured hot dog.

If only I could unhinge my jaw...

One thing I love about the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market is the samples – I tried an Asian Pear from Frog Hollow Farm that was just so sweet and divine, Mt. Tam cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and some baba ganoush from Marin Gourmet. After Chicken and Beef Korean Tacos (2 for $6) from Namu, it was off to La Mar for a Pisco Sour and Lafitte for the 1st of 30 days of Caipirinhas.

Korean Tacos with seasoned rice, daikon & kimchee salsa, kimchee remoulade, housemade teriyaki sauce on seaweed. Yes, I did eat the spilled over filling with my fingers. It was that good!

Cocktails galore! From top left: cucumber caipirinha, heirloom and pisco sour

@thedapperdiner and @carinaost got the Scallop and Pork Hot Dog with spicy pickles, stone fruit mustarda and skinny pomme frites, of which I had to steal a taste. My second drink at Lafitte was the Heirloom, made with Swans Neck Vodka, Averna, Prado Pastis, tomato and herbs. This drink seriously tasted like an heirloom tomato salad – it even had a nice salty bite to it.

Leave it to the Dissident Chef to come up with a Scallop and Pork hot dog!

How could I top this morning/afternoon? A Giants game with the parents. Sadly the Giants lost this one to the D-backs, but I was able to get in on the Sheboygan Bratwurst Stand and some garlic fries, natch. At the games, you must skip the plain ‘ole hot dogs and go straight for the big honkin’ Sheboygan topped with grilled onions and sauerkraut! You’ll be glad you did. Oh and make sure you have extra powerful gum/mints for those garlic fries.

My giiiiiant Sheboygan and the parentals in front of the park!

Since the Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is ending on September 6th, a girlfriend and I tried to hit up the museum on Sunday – but beware: apparently the tickets for these kinds of exhibits sell out! After attempting to get our culture on in the MoMA store, we decided to stroll up Geary and stop in the free galleries that decorate the street.

I highly recommend this as a cheap alternative, since all of the galleries are free AND open on Sunday! After paying a visit to Cohen Rese Gallery and the Martin Lawerence Gallery (who is holding an upcoming art auction at Stanford Court BTW), we stumbled into Christopher-Clark Fine Arts. And lucky that we did! Insider tip: they had work from Matisse, Picasso, Varya and more – and some of the pieces were actually featured in the Steins Collect exhibit.



Later on, I was finally able to check out Chambers Food + Drink (in the former Bambuddha Lounge space at the Phoenix Hotel). I highly recommend the Truffle & Wild Mushroom Dip with waffle chips, Panchetta Wrapped Figs with Balsamic Reduction, the Sizzling Kobe Tri-tip (it’s served on a hot stone, medium rare – so cool) and the Sea Bass with big, lovely artichokes. I had high hopes for the PB & L.T., which was basically pork belly atop rice paper filled with heirloom tomatoes and lettuce, and the Burrata Gnocci, but I would skip those. Of course dinner was followed by some dancing at 222 Hyde and some pool-playing action and jukeboxin’ at CC’s Cocktails! Both good haunts for the aforementioned activities!

Sometimes you just need a lazy day and even though Monday was absolutely AMAZING weather-wise, I was just plain old lazy! Kudos to all of you who BBQ-ed and did other fun things outdoors. I did rally myself to meet @thedapperdiner and @carinaost at Tataki South in Noe Valley, a restaurant known for its sustainable sushi. They had some *daring* (re: spicy) sushi rolls, including the Extinguisher with albacore, habanero masago and spicy aioli, and the Russian Roulette with crawfish, cucumber, asparagus, tobiko and topped with scallops. The premise of this roll is that one of the pieces is over-the-top spicy and whoever is the winner (or loser), gets the prize of a shot of nigori sake to cool the burn. Not a game for the weak of stomachs.

Creative, delicious rolls from Tataki South

Tataki South also had a great happy hour from 5pm-7pm: $4 rolls and $3.5 hot sake, yes please!

Can I get a “holla” for the staycation?! I hope y’all had a fun-filled, restful Labor Day weekend as well and happy Tuesday!


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Filed under Culture, Food, Restaurants, San Francisco, Things to do in sf, Tips & Tricks, Weekend Warrior

Weekend Recap

Another weekend has come too slowly and gone too quickly. That happens all too often! Here are my observations from another fabulous, fun-filled weekend in The City by The Bay:

The House of Shields – awesome cocktail bar, established in 1908! Strong drinks, great bartenders. Get there before or after the happy hour crowd to snag a seat and enjoy the ambiance.

John Colins – one of my favs in the city. The bartenders are super friendly and you’ll even find the owners slingin’ drinks on some nights! Cool after-work spot.

Osha Thai – pretty good Thai fare (mmm Lemongrass Sea Bass) and a local chain started by two sisters who moved to San Francisco from northeast Thailand. While not uber-traditional, it’s perfect for late night dining in a swanky atmosphere, staying open until 3am on weekends.

Eve Lounge – who knew, hip hop on Friday nights?! Check out the unique chandeliers,  beautiful portraits and interesting clientele, and get your freak on.

Temple Nightclub – $20 cover charge. WHAT?! Skip, unless you are REALLY inclined…

3rd Annual SF Street Food Festival – glad to finally head down to the Mission for 6+ blocks packed with street food vendors and hungry festival-goers. The lines were pretty outta control, but once you got talking with friends the time in line seemed to pass *somewhat* quickly. I tried some good eats however the wax moth larvae tacos were certainly not on the agenda this time. Thanks to Rye on The Road, a mobile bartending service, the biergardens were packed with people gettin’ their drink on.

Flour + Water's Porchetta Sandwich

Had a samosa from Curry Up Now..coulda used some chutney!

Banh Mi Taco from Peached Tortilla (Austin, TX) - Vietnamese briased pork belly, pickled daikon and carrot salad, sriracha mayo and cilantro

Scotch Egg from Chiefo's Kitchen - hard boiled egg wrapped in seasoned sausage and coated with breadcrumbs

M.A.D. Ahi Tuna Tartare

Persian Lamb Taco from Hoss Zare

Artful jello shot...

The Lone Palm – $4 happy hour drinks. Need I say more?! Sweet Mission dive bar with pre-placed bar snacks. If that’s what your into.

SF Opera at the Stern Grove Festival – this series of summer concerts are not to be missed. I mean, when else can you see the Opera/Symphony/Ballet for free amongst majestic trees? Definitely get there early to claim a spot on the grass, bring a picnic/wine and enjoy the beautiful sounds. Sadly, the festival has come to a close for this year, so keep an eye out for next year!


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Filed under Culture, Food, Freebies, Things to do in sf, Weekend Warrior

San Francisco Ride The Ducks

Recently myself and a few co-workers were invited to participate in an event showcasing San Francisco’s Ride The Ducks and Classic Cable Car. It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to become a tourist in your own town, so I gladly jumped at the opportunity to “ride the duck”.

We all met in Union Square where our white amphibious chariot vehicle was waiting patiently. While boarding, we were handed the namesake quackers, our name tags, and a bag of nuts. “Why nuts?” you ask. I did too – apparently it was because the San Francisco Giants were playing a home game. After some light safety talk, we were off in our duck boat, quackers in mouth, quacking along to the music. It was quite the scene! I never really realized how many people look at you oddly from the sidewalk when they hear that strange sound combined with blaring music, but it was so much fun to laugh and giggle along with everyone else. After all, you can’t always take yourself too seriously!

Us with the quackers

We quacked on over to the Embarcadero and “dove” head first into the water behind AT&T Park. I can’t believe how close you come to the Pacific Ocean! After some cruising around the bay and photo opportunities, we waddled our way back onto shore and boarded the Classic Cable Car for a ride over to the event venue The Box SF. (Fun fact: did you know that the Classic Cable Cars were made by the same company that built the legendary Cable Cars, which are still in use?)

Classic Cable Car

At The Box SF, we were greeted with refreshing cocktails by the mobile mixologists at Tonic, along with delicious noshes and nibbles from Choice Catering, Organic Chef Catering, and Blue Heron Catering.  The evening could not be complete without the Glass Coat Photobooth — and they would be a fun addition to any event with wacky props and silly friends.

This was an awesome, well executed event and I would highly recommend experiencing your own city the way a tourist would. Not only do you get out of your comfort zone, but it makes for fun stories and it’s a great way to meet new, interesting people!

Click here for the full Flickr album of my photos.


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Filed under Culture, San Francisco, Social Butterfly, The Giants, Things to do in sf, Viator

Spinsters of San Francisco Patrons’ Reception

Ladies and gentleman turned out in their classy cocktail attire on March 26th for Spinsters annual Patrons’ Reception.

Muchas gracias for the lovely ladies who put on this fabulous event benefiting City of Dreams!

The wine was flowing, dice were rolling, and DJ Ms. Jackson was spinning her tunes while we all had a blast on the dance floor.

Merci beaucoup to Miss Spinster for putting together the following stats and info:

  • $15,000  raised at Patron’s Reception for City of Dreams – WHOOP

To read more seriously sweet coverage of the event, check out the below:

Eventbrite SF Newsletter

Vivanista Notes from the Chair

7×7 Newsletter

All you San Francisco peeps out there, I reommend you check it out next year! It’s an evening of good fun, friends, and all for a fantastic cause!

P.S.  Photo courtesy: Drew Altizer Photography, Venue: Stanford Court Renaissance Hotel


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Filed under Celebration, Culture, San Francisco, SF, Things to do in sf

San Francisco Ballet

If I were to recommend an exquisite, cultured evening it would be to attend the San Francisco Ballet. Located at the War Memorial Opera House, this would be a fun girl’s night out in the theater district!

Composer Sergei Prokofiev and Choreographer Yuri Possokhov’s “Classical Symphony” was my first introduction to the ballet. Possokhov, trained in classical Russian tradition and inspired by ballet history, choreographed a lovely, uplifting performance.

“Nanna’s Lied” by composers Kurt Weill and Friedrich Hollaender, and the famed Helgi Tomasson, was beautiful! It was unique in the fact that the performance was accompanied by live song. It was the emotional story of relinquishing one’s innocence and love lost, and really struck a cord with me. The costume design was beautiful and Tomasson is an extremely talented choreographer. I thought it was amazing that I knew exactly what the performance was about without having read the program.

The final performance, “Artifact Suite” by Composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Eva Crossman-Hecht and Choreographer William Forsythe, was simply stunning. Twenty seven dancers took the stage for this contemporary performance, and their complex movement kept me on the edge of my seat and glued to the stage. When I closed my eyes (only for a second!), I could feel the passion and fire in the room. It was physically and visually captivating.

I would highly recommend seeing the ballet at least once in your lifetime! It is perfect for those who are not able to sit still for very long – we had 2 intermissions, which left the perfect opportunity for bathroom breaks. There is a great restaurant nearby called Jardiniere, which would be great pre- or post- show.

This evening brought back childhood dreams of becoming a ballerina and dressing up in pink tutus, and I loved my stroll down memory lane.

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Filed under Culture, San Francisco, Things to do in sf