Blog Archives - AM Musings
Berthillon Ice Cream - Paris
At one time supermarket ice cream was the only common source for ice cream.  Now specialty ice cream boutiques abound and San Francisco has many good ones - Mitchells and Bi-Rite being two of my local favorites. Click here for the article.

The best,  sadly (for us) is made by Berthillon in Paris.  Their main store on an island in the center of Paris at 31 rue St. Louis-en-l'Ile near Notre Dame Cathedral, seems to always have a line.  Once on the island, just follow the crowd and you will find it.  This is definitely worth the wait.

If you don't want to stand in line, many cafes also serve Berthillon ice cream.   The photo above was taken at Le Petit Cler on Rue Cler, another great street of markets and cafes.  If you're enticed to go to Paris to try it, check out David Lebovitz's blog, My Paris.  Great guide of places to eat and go. 

Chris found a place in Berkeley that rivals Berthillon. Horray! It's called ICI and I had the panforte ice cream.  It was one of the best ice creams I've ever tasted.   The June 24, 2011 San Francisco Chronicle had an article on the best ice cream to be found in the Bay Area.  Mitchells came out on top.  Bi-Rite and ICI are also listed.   See the article here.

Back of the Pantheon - Rome
This is perhaps the most recognizable building in the world, but you only see photos of it from the front.  Walk around to the back and another story is told.  The front is clad in stone, but the rear has exposed brick.  I'm not sure how this looked when it was originally built, but if there was stone here originally, it is now gone. 
Pantheon rear
August 3, 2011 Update:  
I was looking at some of my other photos I took of the Pantheon and I clearly see remnants of old stone cladding over the brick which is now mostly gone.

Front of Pantheon - Rome
The Pantheon is the oldest building in Rome that has been in continuous use for 2,000 years.  Click the photo for a link to a website describing the history of the building.

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium - San Francisco
The idea of saving money on the backside of the house isn't a new one.  Here in San Francisco if you stand in the middle of Civic Center Plaza, all  you can see are granite clad buildings.  

On the south side of the plaza sits Bill Graham Auditorium.  Built in the 1920's by architects John Galen Howard, Frederick Meyer, and John Reid, Jr., it fills out one side of the plaza with historic classicism.  Walk around  the building, however and you will see the building clad only in brick.  

The back of the building is quite visible as you cross Market Street, so the decision to clad it in brick rather than granite was probably to save money.  They turned the granite around the corner just enough to maintain the view from the plaza.

Poach Egg Serrano Ham Salad - Bay Wolf Restaurant
After seeing the new Woody Allen film, "Midnight in Paris" at the Piedmont Theater in Piedmont, we walked down Piedmont Avenue to have dinner at the Bay Wolf restaurant.  Bay Wolf Restaurant has been around for many years, but this was my first dining experience there. 

Located in a former house, it has a pleasant welcoming entry, with several dining rooms.  Our dining room on the side of the building, however,  had an awkward feel as it seemed like a leftover space after something else was carved out. 

The two most memorable dishes I tasked were the salad of poached egg, serrano ham, beans, and arugula and the other dish was the sherry flan.    The salad was similar in concept to the French Frisee salad with lardons and poached egg I like. I liked this salad even better. The sherry flan was light, smooth and heavenly.  I haven't been on Piedmont Avenue in a while and it seems filled with interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Farina Restaurant Handrail and Bracket
Mission District's Farina Restaurant has open air seating and large windows at its entrance.  At night the glow of the restaurant beckons on a dark stretch of 18th Street between happening Valencia Street and Guerrero. There is an outdoor terrace on the second floor and the handrails in the photo above lead you to the second floor dining room and terrace.  Constructed as a simple one-piece integrated metal handrail and bracket, it is the most similar to the one I saw in the Villa d' Este at the Tivoli Gardens that I published about a month ago.  See that handrail here.

I started this series because I'm planning to replace my clunky handrail at home.  My current thought is to have a wood handrail with a bracket similar to this.  I like the warm feel of wood compared to metal.  Work in starting in a week  so I need to finish the design.
Altar of St. Mary the Virgin
 The Episcopal Church of  St. Mary the Virgin located at 2325 Union Street on the South-West corner of Union and Steiner Streets is one of my favorite buildings in San Francisco. Whenever I drive by I always take a look at the entry courtyard.   Dating from 1891, it survived the 1906 earthquake. The interior is contemplative and restful with dark woods and luminous stained glass - a small intimate space.  The location of the altar pictured above was originally the entrance off Steiner Street.  The entrance was moved to the opposite end of the building to a courtyard off of Filmore Street (see below).  I think the move was a good idea.  The entry sequence through the courtyard is welcoming and provides a gathering place before and after services.  Click on the photos below for a larger view.
 Gypsy Jazz is making a revival.  Gypsy Jazz also known as Manouche jazz was started in the 1930-1940's by the great guitarist Django Reinhardt, when he formed the group, the Hot Club of Paris.  He died in 1953 at age 43, but he is a legend to guitarists to this day. 

The American revival of Gypsy Jazz was started right here in San Francisco by the Hot Club of San Francisco.  Guacho Gypsy Jazz is a second generation group of the Hot Club of San Francisco that plays first and third Thursdays at Tartine Bakery at 18th and Guerrero Streets from 6-8PM.  Click the video to take a listen. 
Django Reinhardt - Photo NY Times
If you're interested in Django Reinhardt, the source of this music, see the NY Times articles by clicking here.

San Jalisco Restaurant - San Francisco
San Jalisco Restaurant in San Francisco's Mission District is a favorite spot for good Mexican food in a comfortable environment.  At 901 South Van Ness and 20th Street, it is just out of the core of crowded Mission Street so parking is a little easier.  Situated on the corner with generous windows on two sides, it provides a nicely lighted interior.

Add the bright colors, paper banners, and Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo artwork and it can feel like a party.  Mariachi musicians come in to serenade dines and  pass around the hat. Formica tables give the place a homey comfortable feel.  The food is consistently good and they even serve hand made tortillas.  Portions are generous and prices are reasonable so if you want a nice sit down Mexican place, this is it.    

San Francisco Art Institute
I was driving down a steep hill and saw this.  No, not a hilltop village in Europe, but the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) hidden away on Russian Hill.  Built in 1926 by the architectural firm of Bakewell Brown.  It boasts a mural by Diego Rivera and many prominent artists have taught there.   

San Francisco Art Institute.
A 1969 addition was completed by the architect  Paffard Keatinge Clay.   The addition is a good example of 1960's brutalist architecture of the time and complements the existing building.    The rooftop plaza have magnificent views of San Francisco. 

Paffard Clay was an apprentice for Corbusier in Paris and his influence is clear in this addition. As I've blogged before, Paffard Keatinge Clay was a architecture instructor at UC Berkeley.  You can see that blog by clicking here.

There is nothing more important in my circle of family and friends than a reliable Chinese restaurant with good food and reasonable ("cheap") prices.  At Golden Horse (Hyde and California Streets), we ordered off the the "wo choy" (fixed price) menu that included soup, five entrees, and dessert.  In the old days, the wo choy menu was printed only in Chinese. You either had to be able to read Chinese or have a waiter who was willing to translate it for you -- good luck!
We had mustard greens with salted egg soup, beef stew tofu clay pot, crispy flounder, salt and pepper pork spareribs, seafood and greens, Chinese broccoli with Oyster sauce, and tapioca coconut dessert.  The standout dish is the whole crispy flounder -- deep fried with succulent meat. Amazing they can produce all this food for $33.88!  The owners and staff are friendly and welcome you as old friends when you come in.  Golden Horse is well-known among the San Francisco cheap good Chinese restaurant cognoscenti.

If you go, take a good look at the Cala market across the street with it's distinctive swooping concrete shell roof-lines.  It's scheduled to be demolished soon.  As a kid I used to drive by and stare at the interesting architecture of the building.     

Vivande Restorante 670 Golden Gate Avenue - San Francisco
Sacro Bosco - Bomarzo, Italy
This doorway at Opera Plaza near San Francisco's Civic Center at 670 Golden Gate Avenue is left over from the former Vivande Restorante.  It appears to be inspired by the post-renaissance garden Sacro Basco in Bomarzo, Italy and called Dante's "Gates of Hell".  Here fantastic figures abound in this example of the mannerist movement dating from the 16th Century.  It makes a memorable doorway for an Italian restaurant, but now it is a doorway to a mortgage company. 

You may feel a little queasy going in to sign your life away.  Totally out of character for its current use and out of character for the entire building, I've always wondered why it is still there.  It makes for an interesting doorway at any rate.