No Monster in the Mission :: ¡Basta Ya!
Historic March, Rally, and Festival
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4, 1-6pm
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“One pan. 10 minutes. Countless OOHHs and AHHs,” read the message on one side of the cardboard box. “#DinnerSolved,” proclaimed its other side. The solution it contained was a platoon of individually packaged, par-cooked ingredients for sweet potato and black bean enchiladas. Resting on a bed of ice packs and swaddled by insulated foam panels, it was the meal I’d ordered from Gobble, one of the Bay Area’s burgeoning number of subscription dinner-kit services.
Before trying Gobble, I’d spoken with its founder, Ooshma Garg, who had explained her company’s MO: “We cook just enough so you feel there’s just enough cooking for you to do. You can end up with an exquisite, perfectly made meal that we’ve assured for you.” In other words, it’s the culinary equivalent of assembling an IKEA nightstand. Cooking Gobble’s enchiladas amounted to opening the plastic bags and containers holding the individual components—premade filling, Spanish rice, salsa roja, a few corn tortillas, cotija cheese, and fresh cilantro—spooning the filling into the tortillas, and sticking it all in the oven for a few minutes.
“Exquisite” isn’t the word I’d use to describe the result, which was tasty and inoffensive in the manner of above-average cafeteria food. But that was fitting, I suppose, since I didn’t feel like I’d actually done any cooking. And that, in effect, is the idea at the core of the growing dinner-kit industry, which got its start, tellingly, in Sweden with the 2007 debut of a service called Middagsfrid (which roughly translates to “the calm that you feel when you sit down and have dinner after a long day”). It began gaining traction in this country a few years ago with the launch of companies like Blue Apron and Plated, both of which posed a virtually identical value proposition: Give us your credit card information and we’ll do the grunt work.
What “cooks” get, in effect, is dinner concocted with just enough some-assembly-required exertion to yield a wee frisson of DIY satisfaction. As someone who enjoys cooking, I am inherently skeptical of these companies. But even my somewhat freakish love of grocery store aisles doesn’t fully account for my knee-jerk dubiousness. It’s also a reaction to what George Packer memorably described in the New Yorker as the mission of Silicon Valley’s hottest tech startups: “Solving all the problems of being twenty years old, with cash on hand.”
The dinner-kit companies may be peddling to time-strapped working people up and down the class ladder, but their real customer base is a cohort with a surfeit of disposable income and an undying need to streamline the crap out of modern life. So it’s no surprise, then, that Silicon Valley investors are funding subscription-dinner kit startups as fast as they can demo their product, each promising a personalized spin on the concept. There’s Gobble, which was founded in 2010 as a sort of dinner matchmaking service for chefs and customers and now delivers precooked components for what Garg calls “Michelin-level meal[s] that you could never have made yourself through your own skills.”
There’s seven-month-old Sun Basket, which employs former Slanted Door chef Justine Kelly and an in-house nutritionist to create lifestyle-specific meals (paleo, gluten-free) that emphasize organic ingredients from local farms and, in founder Adam Zbar’s words, “export California value and bounty” to users. Three-year-old PlateJoy, which has $1.7 million in funding from investors as diverse as SherpaVentures, Foundation Capital, and Jared Leto (!), is likewise focused on healthy cooking. Its founder, Christina Bognet, clarifies, “We are a technology-enabled personalized-ingredient startup that uses algorithms to make you healthy,” which translates to bags of organic ingredients delivered directly from Whole Foods, along with recipes.
Meanwhile, 10-month-old Din uses precooked dinner components, like Gobble, but differentiates itself with mostly organic and locally sourced ingredients and recipes from restaurants like Bar Tartine and Tacolicious. By doing the prep work, explains Din cofounder Emily Olson LaFave, “We’re empowering people who are scared of it not working out.” Fair enough. But there’s something a little contradictory about these elevator pitches, which ostensibly extol the virtues of a home-cooked meal while presenting cooking as a source of stress and unhappiness akin to purchasing a used car. Bognet describes planning and cooking healthy meals as “just too complicated,” while Olson LaFave recalls analyzing cooking’s “pain points” as part of her research.
Granted, cooking may be this anguishing for some people. And it’s plausible that these services have the potential to help more such kitchen apostates across the country cook dinner. Still, cutting through the varying layers of startup bombast (at one point, Garg described Gobble as “lifesaving”), I was left with the question I have about most of the apps and web-based services supposedly created to simplify our lives: How exhaustively do we need to be spoon-fed (in this case, almost literally)?
And while we’re at it, here’s a riddle: How many ziplock bags does it take to negate a company’s claim that it cares deeply about organic/local/sustainable/environmentally conscious food? At this point, complaining that tech startups are turning us into teething infants incapable of handling surprise or discomfort is about as useful as complaining about the amount of sand on a beach. Although none of the companies I spoke with would disclose their subscriber numbers, the growth of their sector speaks to the fact that a significant number of people will pay for the privilege of having someone else do their planning and precooking for them.
I do like that some of these startups appear to be serious about reducing the amount of trash that typically accompanies dinner kits: PlateJoy delivers its ingredients in a grocery bag and uses a waste-reduction algorithm to cut down on unused food; Din packages its goods in a reusable (and returnable) tote lined with disappearing dry ice; and Sun Basket employs recycled blue jeans as insulation for its boxes, which customers can likewise return. A more compelling question for me, though, is where this is going, or could go. Food, after all, is basically analog, a massive market that hasn’t yet been impacted by tech.
Garg, who believes that we’re moving inexorably toward “a delivery culture around commodities,” goes so far as to predict that “all commodity goods outlets, including takeout restaurants, Walmarts, Targets, Blockbusters, and grocery stores, will cease to exist. The only infrastructure worth existing for the consumer will be built around a unique consumer cultural experience like a movie theater or theme park or Michelin-starred restaurant.” Setting aside the fact that Blockbuster’s demise is a fait accompli, maybe that’s what bugs me: Implicit in Garg’s forecast is the belief that something like buying groceries and planning a meal isn’t a worthy experience, and that a restaurant needs a Michelin star in order to be deserving of existence.
Growing up, I got arguably more quality time with my parents from grocery shopping than from going to the movies or watching TV together; it might not have been the most entertaining endeavor, but it was ours, and it had value. I’m sure plenty of families would readily outsource their meal planning (provided they could afford to), but I’m also sure that delivery culture has about as much chance of making us happier as partially built Nornäs drawers from IKEA do. And that’s not even taking into account the convenience economy’s dark underbelly, with its army of low-paid workers who labor to make life easier for the relatively affluent.
Ultimately, I’d be less skeptical of the dinner-kit industry if #DinnerSolved meant putting healthy, easily prepared food in the hands of the less fortunate. I realize that’s not going to make anyone a billionaire, and that it’s unfair to judge these companies for what they aren’t. A lot of their food is actually pretty good. But those entrées would be easier to swallow if they didn’t often come with a side order of baloney.
Throughout the city, florid gingerbread houses
are taking a monochrome turn.
Mission and Bernal Heights
Douglas Burnham of the design firm Envelope A+D is locally considered the godfather of dark Victorians. These days, you’ll spot them sporadically around the Bay—in Noe Valley, Jingletown, lower Pacific Heights—imposing obsidian beauties popping against their macaron-hued neighbors. But Burnham was the among the first to overthrow the prevailing Painted Lady, having painted the exterior of client Claire Bigbie’s traditional Clipper Street home a uniform blackish blue over five years ago. The original intent wasn’t to make the facade stand out (the Victorian’s whimsical trim “looked like roasted marshmallows on a stick,” Burnham remembers), but to disguise the molding with an inky finish, highlighting the texture instead.
Mission and Russian Hill
The idea came from the dark houses of Amsterdam, which Burnham had recently visited. “It’s not some freaky, haunted house kind of thing there,” Burnham says. “It’s classic and proper, like a tuxedo.” Since then, the dark lady of Clipper Street has spawned dozens of jet-black imitators, not only Victorians, but also storefronts, museums, restaurants, and condos. Within the local design community, there’s ongoing debate as to which monochrome hue will emerge as the new black—forest green, dark teal, and midnight blue are top bets. “I always envied Claire’s black gingerbread house, but now that it’s turning more mainstream, I’m thinking we’ll paint ours monochrome fuchsia,” says interior designer Alison Damonte. “Don’t tell my neighbors.” After all, the Gothic look “is like any great song,” says Burnham. “You hear it too much, you get sick of it.”
Why go to the dark side?
“It used to be that people were using 7 to 12 paint colors to make their houses look like wedding cakes,” says professional painter Jill French, cofounder of Heather and French painting. At $65 to $105 a gallon for high-end exterior paint, that gets pricey. “Now, we’re seeing more home owners sticking with one or two colors.”
“In a row of pastels, a dark house pops,” says architect Owen Kennerly of Kennerly Architecture & Planning. The trend coincides with a wave of younger Victorian buyers, says interior designer Melissa Guerrero. “They want to do something a little shocking.”
Camouflaging fussy trim
“My house is kind of a shack Victorian,” jokes Damonte of her periwinkle—“not by choice!”—Bernal Heights home. “If we paint it black, everything we don’t like will go away.” Going monochrome allows unloved details to blend in.
Letting the light work for you
On north-facing homes, “warm and pastel colors can look feckless” without sunlight to animate them, says Kennerly. A darker color—particularly one with some blue in it—will look rich even without direct light.
Minimizing spring cleaning
In the city, grime builds up on the edges of Victorian trim. “When the rain comes, it oozes down the house in sheets of gray and catches in the caulking joints,” says Kennerly. That film is more obvious against pastel paint.
Mission and Noe Valley
“Going monochrome lets the three-dimensional quality of the Victorian ornamentation speak for itself,” says architect Casper Mork-Ulnes of Mork Ulnes architects. The trim comes together as a cohesive tapestry rather than candy-colored fragments.
Playing down size
Bigger homes can seem less monolithic by going dark, says Guerrero. (Conversely, bright paint colors can make small homes appear larger.) Window glass looks dark from the outside, so a dark paint color unifies the volume of a house by downplaying contrast with the window openings.
“Monochrome black paint has a certain elegance and sophistication, like an Armani suit,” says Kennerly. Many owners also see it as an expression of their own modernist sensibilities. “It’s kind of like pets—people want their house to reflect who they are,” says Burnham. “And in San Francisco, a lot of people wear all black.”
Lower Haight and Castro
House Swap: Five steps to transition from safe to striking.
1. Do your homework
Burnham bought a can of black paint and a can of the darkest blue available, then mixed five versions in a spectrum. He and Bigbie had a custom formula made from the winning sample. Mork-Ulnes photoshopped a picture of his house with a series of gray-blue hues to choose the right one.
2. Invest in prep
Proper priming and sanding are key. “Dark paint colors show a lot of flaws and make the wood more susceptible to blistering,” says French. Use elastomeric caulk and epoxy filler, especially on south-facing exposures, to protect the wood from expanding and contracting when it heats up.
Cole Valley and Noe Valley
3. Consider the pigment
Pick a paint with a high pigment ratio, which indicates a greater volume of solids. Benjamin Moore’s aura exterior paints are a designer-recommended choice for quality and longevity. The more sheen, the better—it gives the home better UV protection than a matte color. Stay away from hues on the yellow end of the spectrum, which are prone to fading.
4. Seal the color
Top the paint with at least two finish coats to protect the color and the underlying wood.
5. Delay the fade
A lighter color lasts 30 percent longer than a darker color—even more in sunny neighborhoods. (“We should start a colony of tiny black matchbox houses in the foggy Outer Richmond,” jokes Burnham.) Benjamin Moore recommends retouching paint on a southern exposure every three to five years—Bigbie repainted the south side of her clipper street residence after four. Annual power-washing can stretch the time between repaintings.
Lower Haight and Cole Valley
How much would it cost to repaint one of Alamo Square’s famed Painted Ladies dark?
$15,000 to $25,000, says Philip Storey of RedHill Painting, which specializes in restoring historic Victorians. “That quote will depend on the condition of the home and its orientation to the sun,” he says. Some budget-minded clients opt to paint only the front facade, rather than the entire house. On a Painted Lady, that would run around $8,000 to $12,000.
|A. M. Robertson -> San Francsico One Hundred Years Ago …|
San Francisco One Hundred Years Ago
Early on September 20, 1816 (old style, October 2), we came within sight of the coast of New California. The land we first saw was what is known as Point Reyes, to the north of San Francisco. As the wind was favourable we soon passed the Farallones, which are dangerous rocks, and at four in the afternoon we entered San Francisco harbour. The fort, which is within the entrance and on the south shore, is thoroughly equipped for defense. The presidio of San Francisco is about one marine mile from the fort and on the same side; it is square in form and has two gates which are constantly guarded by a considerable company of men. The buildings have windows on the side towards the interior court only. The presidio is occupied by ninety Spanish soldiers, a commandant, a lieutenant, a commissary, and a sergeant. Most of these are married. The men and women are tall and well built. Very few of the soldiers have married Indians. They are all good horsemen and two of them can easily cope with fifty natives.Two leagues to the southeast of the presidio and on the southern shore of the harbour is the Mission of San Francisco, which makes a fair-sized village. The mission church is large and is connected with the house of the missionaries, which is plain and reasonably clean and well kept. The mission always has a guard of three or four soldiers from the presidio. The village is inhabited by fifteen hundred Indians; there they are given protection, clothing, and an abundance of food. In return, they cultivate the land for the community. Corn, wheat, beans, peas, and potatoes – in a word, all kinds of produce – are to be found in the general warehouse. By authority of the superior, a general cooking of food takes place, at a given hour each day, in the large square in the middle of the village; each family comes there for its ration which is apportioned with regard to the number of its members. They are also given a certain quantity of raw provisions. Two or three families occupy the same house. In their free time, the Indians work in gardens that are given them; they raise therein onions, garlic, cantaloupes, watermelons, pumpkins, and fruit trees. The products belong to them and they can dispose of them as they see fit.
In winter, hands of Indians come from the mountains to be admitted to the mission, but the greater part of them leave in the spring. They do not like the life at the mission. They find it irksome to work continually and to have everything supplied to them in abundance. In their mountains, they live a free and independent, albeit a miserable, existence. Rats, insects, and snakes, – all these serve them for food; roots also, although there are few that are edible, so that at every step they are almost certain to find something to appease their hunger. They are too unskillful and lazy to hunt. They have no fixed dwellings; a rock or a bush affords sufficient protection for them from every vicissitude of the weather. After several months spent in the missions, they usually begin to grow fretful and thin, and they constantly gaze with sadness at the mountains which they can see in the distance. Once or twice a year the missionaries permit those Indians upon whose return they believe they can rely to visit their own country, but it often happens that few of these return; some, on the other hand, bring with them new recruits to the mission.
The Indian children are more disposed to adopt the mission life. They learn to make a coarse cloth from sheep’s wool for the community. I saw twenty looms that were constantly in operation. Other young Indians are instructed in various trades by the missionaries. There is a house at the mission in which some two hundred and fifty women – the widows and daughters of dead Indians – reside. They do spinning. This house also shelters the wives of Indians who are out in the country by order of the fathers. They are placed there at the request of the Indians, who are exceedingly jealous, and are taken out again when their husbands return. The fathers comply with such requests in order to protect the women from mischief, and they watch over this establishment with the greatest vigilance.
The mission has two mills operated by mules. The flour produced by them is only sufficient for the consumption of the Spanish soldiers who are obliged to buy it from the fathers.
The presidio frequently has need of labourers for such work as carrying wood, building, and other jobs; the superior, thereupon, sends Indians who are paid for their trouble; but the money goes to the mission which is obliged to defray all the expenses of the settlement.
On Sundays and holidays they celebrate divine service. All the Indians of both sexes, without regard to age, are obliged to go to church and worship. Children brought up by the superior, fifty of whom are stationed around him, assist him during the service which they also accompany with the sound of musical instruments. These are chiefly drums, trumpets, tabors, and other instruments of the same class. It is by means of their noise that they endeavour to stir the imagination of the Indians and to make men of these savages. It is, indeed, the only means of producing an effect upon them. When the drums begin to beat they fall to the ground as if they were half dead. None dares to move; all remain stretched upon the ground without making the slightest movement until the end of the service, and, even then, it is necessary to tell them several times that the mass is finished. Armed soldiers are stationed at each corner of the church. After the mass, the superior delivers a sermon in Latin to his flock.
On Sunday, when the service is ended, the Indians gather in the cemetery, which is in front of the mission house, and dance. Half of the men adorn themselves with feathers and with girdles ornamented with feathers and with bits of shell that pass for money among them, or they paint their bodies with regular lines of black, red, and white. Some have half their bodies (from the head downward) daubed with black, the other half red, and the whole crossed with white lines. Others sift the down from birds on their hair. The men commonly dance six or eight together, all making the same movements and all armed with spears. Their music consists of clapping the hands, singing, and the sound made by striking split sticks together which has a charm for their ears; this is finally followed by a horrible yell that greatly resembles the sound of a cough accompanied by a whistling noise. The women dance among themselves, but without making violent movements.
Tremblingly and Mysterious
The Indians are greatly addicted to games of chance; they stake their ornaments, their tools, their money, and, frequently, even the clothing that the missionaries have given them. Their games consist of throwing little pieces of wood which have to fall in an even or in an odd number, or others that are rounded on one side and as they fall on the flat or on the round side the player loses or wins.
Upon the demise of his father or mother, or of some kinsman, the Indian daubs his face with black in token of mourning.
The missionaries have characterized the people as lazy, stupid, jealous – gluttons, cowards. I have never seen one laugh. I have never seen one look one in the face. They look as though they were interested in nothing.
It is reckoned that there are more than fifteen Indian tribes represented in the mission. The Kulpuni, Kosmiti, Bolbones, Kalalons, Umpini, Lamanes, Pitemens, and Apatamnes speak one language and live along the Sacramento River. The Guimen, Utchiuns, Olompalis, Tamals, and Sonomas likewise speak one language. These tribes are the most largely represented at the Mission of San Francisco. The Saklans, Suisuns, Utulatines, and the Numpolis speak different languages. Another tribe, the Tcholovoni, differ considerably in feature, in general physiognomy, and in a more or less attractive exterior from all the others. These live in the mountains. They have formed an alliance with the Spaniards against all the Indian tribes. They make beautiful weapons, such as bows and arrows. The tips of the latter are furnished with pieces of flint fashioned with great skill.
Severe fevers occur constantly among the Indians. These maladies commonly carry off a very great number. Several missions in Lower California have gone out of existence in the past twenty years by reason of the extinction of the Indians.
The Indians at the missions to the south of San Francisco – particularly that of Santa Barbara – make charming vessels and vase-shaped baskets, capable of holding water, from withes of various running plants. They know how to give them graceful forms, and also how to introduce pleasing designs into the fabric. They ornament them with bits of shell and with feathers.
The Indians build their canoes when they are about to undertake an expedition on the water; they are made of reeds. When they get into them they become half filled with water so that the occupant, when seated, is in water up to the calves of his legs. They propel them by means of long paddles having pointed blades at both ends.
The Missions of San Francisco, Santa Clara, San José, and Santa Cruz depend upon the presidio of San Francisco which is required to succour and assist all the fathers and to furnish them with soldiers when necessary – particularly to accompany them upon excursions into the country. One such expedition, consisting of two fathers and twelve soldiers, returned a short time before our arrival. It had been their intention to ascend the Sacramento River, which empties into the bay to the northeast of the mission. But the Spaniards met parties of armed men at every turn; nowhere were they well received. They were compelled therefore to return after fifteen days without having made any progress towards the end in view.
The rocks near the bay of San Francisco are commonly covered with sea-lions. Bears are very plentiful on land. When the Spaniards wish to amuse themselves, they catch them alive and make them fight with bulls.
Sea-otters abound in the harbour and in the neighbouring waters. Their fur is too valuable for them to be overlooked by the Spaniards. An otter skin of good size and of the best quality is worth in China. The best grade of skins must be large, of a rich colour, and should contain plenty of hairs with whitish ends that give a silvery sheen to the surface of the fur.
Russians from Sitka (Norfolk Sound), the headquarters of the Russian-American colony, are established at Bodega Bay, thirty miles north of San Francisco. Their chief in this new settlement is M. Kuskof, an expert fur-trader. They are thirty in number and they have fifteen Kadiaks with them. They have built a small fort which is equipped with a dozen cannon. The harbour will admit only vessels that draw eight or nine feet of water. This was formerly a point for the selling of smuggled goods to the Spaniards. M. Kuskof actually has in his settlement horses, cows, sheep, and everything else that can be raised in this beautiful and splendid country. It was with great difficulty that we obtained a pair of each species from the Spaniards because the government had strictly forbidden that any be disposed of.
M. Kuskof, assisted by the small number of men with him, catches almost two thousand otters every year without trouble. When not so engaged the men are employed at building and in improving the settlement. The otter skins are usually sold to American fur-traders. When these fail of a full cargo, they go to Sitka where they obtain skins in exchange for sugar, rum, cloth, and Chinese cotton stuff. The Russian company, not having a sufficient number of ships, sends its own skins to China (or only as far as Okhotsk) as freight on American ships.
Two hundred and fifty American ships, from Boston, New York, and elsewhere, come to the coast every year. Half of them engage in smuggling with enormous profit. No point for landing goods along the entire Spanish-American coast bathed by the Pacific Ocean, from Chili to California, is neglected. It often happens that Spanish warships give chase to American vessels, but these, being equipped with much sail, having large crews, and having, moreover, arms with which to defend themselves, are rarely caught.
The commodities most acceptable to the Indians of the coast of Northwest America are guns, powder, bullets, and lead for their manufacture, knives, coarse woolen blankets, and mother-of-pearl from the Pacific which they use to make ornaments for the head and neck.
Ships are often attacked with the very arms that they themselves sold, and even on the same day that they were delivered. Most of them, however, carrying from eight to fourteen guns, are able to defend themselves. Such occurrences are frequently turned to profit, for, should they carry off one of the chiefs, they are certain to get a great deal of merchandise as ransom, and gain greater facilities for trading.
May Heaven defend a ship from being wrecked on this coast! It is said that the barbarous habit of eating their prisoners survives among several of the tribes that inhabit it. When they build a house, or when they carry out some matter of importance, they put to death a number of slaves as is done when a war is ended. Upon a man’s death, they bury with him his wife and the slaves to whom he was most attached.
Natives of California (1816)
A Residence (1913)
Natives of California (1816)
A Shop (1913)
Head-Dresses Worn by the Natives of California in Their Dances (1816)
A Shop (Courtyard and Show-windows) (1913)
A Dance of California Indians at the Mission (Dolores) of San Francisco (1816)
Mission Dolores (1913)
A Game of the Natives of California (1816)
A Club Interior (1913)
Point Reyes, the Golden Gate, and the Farallones (1813)
A Residence (1913)
Weapons and Utensils from California (1816)
Masonic Building (1913)
Indians of the Tcholovoni Tribe Hunting on the Shores of the Bay of San Francisco (1816)
A Hotel Bar (1913)
A Theatre (1913)
Union Square (1913)
An Hotel (1913)
San Francisco, Urbanism — June 29, 2012 2:18 pm
They might catch your eye as you hike up the hills near Dolores Park, walk through the Richmond fog, or stroll the quiet streets of Cole Valley: red brick circles are embedded in dozens of San Francisco’s roads throughout the city.
These brick circles might look decorative, but there’s much more to them than what’s on the surface. Underneath each is a concrete tank that holds 75,000 gallons of water. 172 of these underground cisterns exist throughout the city, making up an important component of San Francisco’s Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS).
The AWSS was developed in response to 1906 earthquake, which caused a devastating combination of fires and damage to the major water lines that were needed to fight them. Left with few usable hydrants and a lack of sufficient backup water supply, firefighters were unable to stop the blazes for days.
Smoke billowed over San Francisco as the fires of 1906 spread throughout the city with few available firefighting resources. [Source: San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library]
As city engineers developed plans for a better emergency water system, they noted that San Francisco’s 23 cisterns were among the few firefighting resources that had worked in the aftermath of the earthquake. They called for a much larger network of cisterns throughout the city. Over one hundred were constructed in the next few decades, including one cistern every 3 blocks in key downtown areas. Along with cisterns, the AWSS includes a major reservoir on Twin Peaks and pump systems that draw directly from San Francisco Bay. These backup resources were critical in fighting fires that broke out after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Red bricks outline a cistern on Dolores Street at 24th.
Not all cisterns are outlined by the distinctive brick circles, but you can tell there’s one nearby if you spot a fire hydrant with a green top. Different colors and shapes are used to indicate a hydrant’s water source and pressure level.
A green fire hydrant “bonnet” indicates that there’s a cistern nearby. This one is on Castro Street at 14th.
Each cistern is also covered with a manhole that reads CISTERN S.F.F.D., but they’re no longer maintained by the Fire Department. In 2010, the Public Utilities Commission assumed responsibility for the Auxiliary Water Supply System, which has survived several earthquakes but is showing its age with rust and leaks. By the end of this decade, the Public Utilities Commission hopes to have completed major renovations and seismic updates. For more information on these efforts, visit sfearthquakesafety.org.
Cistern maintenance moved to the SF Public Utilities Commission in 2010, but S.F.F.D. labels remain on manhole covers. This cistern is at Douglass and Elizabeth.
No red bricks here: this cistern cover hides in the grass at the edge of Dolores Park.
Explore San Francisco: The Folsom District
We’ll start in the heart of the old SOMA District, “South Of the Slot”. See this blue collar neighborhood as it used to be before re-development. Then we will travel to a former gay entertainment strip, the area is now commonly called, “Crack Alley”. Before it is destroyed forever, see the Hugo Hotel and the world famous art installation known as, “Defenestration”.
Next up, we’ll cruise the 1970’s “Miracle Mile” of the Folsom District. This area was Mecca for the Gay Leather community and withstood re-development until the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s decimated much of the population, leaving the community weakened and vulnerable. The Folsom Street Fair was created out of this crisis, and is the largest leather/fetish event in the world and the third largest, single-day outdoor event in California. We will see the Fairgrounds but we are really here to celebrate the Folsom’s heyday. During that time this area boasted over 30 gay bars and bath houses, as well as lesbian bars, shops, hotels, retail, private sex clubs, eateries and motorcycle clubs. This was called the “Valley of the Kings“, and you will see why.
We will stop at Wicked Grounds ‘kink” coffee shop for refreshments and snacks. Shopping stops and tours are at Mr. S Leather and Good Vibrations. Many more stops and places of interest are included on this one of a kind tour. This tour ticket does not include the Armory. Please see The Folsom District & The Armory listing if you wish to attend both. For further information please call 415.793.1104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To reserve your space for this free event please sign up at: http://www.facebook.com/events/200800926712135/
Introducing Pläj, San Francisco’s latest restaurant — and perhaps more interestingly, its first Scandinavian restaurant.
Chef-owner Roberth Sundell opened Pläj (pronounced similar to “play”) on Friday night at the Inn at the Opera. He says he’s quite pleased with how the opening weekend went.
“We are focusing on Scandinavian cuisine, but also we don’t do super traditional,” says the Stockholm-born Sundell.
“We are adding a lot of California flair to our food so it speaks to a broader experience. If we went too traditional, the only people will be the Scandinavian and they will probably only show up once a month,” he laughs.
Sundell came to America 18 years, and soon met his San Francisco wife. He’s cooked in Los Angeles, and more recently, at a private club in Tahoe. But when a friend approached him about the possibility of opening a Scandinavian place in the former Ovations space, he jumped at the opportunity.
“In eight weeks we painted the place, cleaned it up, added new furniture and new menu. And now we’re open.”
He describes the menu (in full below) as neither small plates nor large plates, but Goldilocks-appropriate medium sizes, with four-ounce servings of proteins. There’s the obligatory herring, meatballs and kumla, plus a Scandinavian twist on a charcuterie plate with salted lamb, cured pork belly and wild boar salami; here’s hoping for some reindeer eventually. Berries — lingonberry, cloudberries, gooseberries — are all over the menu, too.
There are 44 seats in the restaurant, with another six at the bar. Speaking of the bar, the entire beer list (also below) consists entirely of Scandinavian beers, as noted byEater a few weeks ago. The cocktail list has plenty of Northern European flair as well, with cameos from Bols Genever, elderflower syrup, rosehip syrup and of course, vodka (also, references to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).
Open for dinner nightly, from 5pm to 11pm. Here are the food and drink menus:
333 Fulton Street, between Franklin and Gough.