Fab­u­lous San Fran­cisco

San Fran­cisco

mailife - - Contents - By NAZIAH ALI Pho­tos FEROZ KHALIL

San Fran­cisco. It’s one of those cities that need no in­tro­duc­tion. The fab­u­lous fog city is well known for in­no­va­tion, rich cul­ture and nightlife. From sight­see­ing to shop­ping to en­ter­tain­ment, San Fran has a never end­ing menu with choices for ev­ery type of trav­eler. Pop­u­lar at­trac­tions in­clude fine mu­se­ums, the­atres, the Golden Gate Bridge, Al­ca­traz and neigh­bour­hoods such as Chi­na­town, Union Square and Fish­er­man’s Wharf. But if you are tran­sit­ing in the City by the Bay, we’ve worked out how to pack some of this fab­u­lous­ness into a short road trip.


San Fran’s most rec­og­niz­able land­mark, the Ferry Build­ing is a per­fect place to start your day. Or­der fresh cof­fee and some caramelized Bel­gian waf­fles at Blue Bot­tle Cof­fee, an ar­ti­san mi­cro roast­ing cof­fee house. Pick a bench to watch the fer­ries glide across the bay to feel the re­fresh­ing breeze as you en­joy break­fast. While you are there, pick up some fruit and cheese from the Ferry Build­ing Mar­ket Place where farm­ers set up shop on Tues­days, Thurs­days and Satur­days.


The per­fect day trip out of San Fran­cisco would be a drive up to award win­ning winer­ies in Napa and Sonoma just over an hour away. Take the scenic route via Golden Gate Bridge for views of the Bay Area and Al­ca­traz, and ex­pe­ri­ence San Fran in its foggy glory be­fore en­coun­ter­ing the dra­matic dif­fer­ence as you ap­proach Napa. From scenic coun­try roads you de­scend into Napa Val­ley, with spec­tac­u­lar views of rolling vine­yards and Mount St He­lena to greet you. While some winer­ies pre­fer pre-book­ing, some such as Robert Mon­davi Win­ery al­low walk-ins. You can sign up for a win­ery tour and learn about the art of wine mak­ing as part of your wine tast­ing tour or opt for just a sit down wine tast­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at the To Kalon Cel­lar while you nib­ble on de­li­cious small bites from choco­late to cheese to char­cu­terie made from locally sourced in­gre­di­ents. You can make a leisurely ex­plo­ration of the es­tate and ap­pre­ci­ate art from around the world, then pick up a few bot­tles to take home at the end of your self guided tour. The most in­ter­est­ing wines at this vine­yard are the whites. Try the 2010 Block Fume Blanc with cit­rus notes.


You can stay at Robert Mon­davi for lunch with spe­cial wine paired menu by in house chef Jeff Mosier. It is part of a one-hour walking win­ery tour that con­cludes with a one-anda-half hour three-course wine-pair­ing lunch. Al­ter­na­tively, you can opt to go to the town cen­tre to pick from an ar­ray of restau­rants rang­ing from fast food to Mex­i­can and Asian.


There are count­less vine­yards worth ex­plor­ing in Napa, in­clud­ing The Paraduxx Win­ery, Mont St John and Sut­ter Home. Or you could go to Sonoma for the af­ter­noon and ex­plore Ni­chol­son Ranch Win­ery at the in­ter­sec­tion of Napa and Sonoma. The Ni­chol­son Ranch Chardon­nay and Pinot Noir won two Dou­ble-Golds and two Gold medals at the 2016 San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle wine com­pe­ti­tion. Their tast­ing room is open from 10am to 6pm daily.


Ninebark in Napa is a per­fect choice for sun­down­ers, know­ing you are in the safe hands of two Miche­lin star chef Mathew Light­ner and fea­tur­ing Cal­i­for­nia-fo­cused mar­ket­for­ward cui­sine. We opted for al­fresco sun­set drinks first to en­joy the views of Napa River un­der the golden rays from atop this multi-lev­eled es­tab­lish­ment.


Fine din­ing at Ninebark in­cludes a choice of green to­mato Gaz­pa­cho with fried oys­ters, cal­cot onion and grilled green straw­ber­ries or a Poke of house onion bar­beque sauce, braised kombu, brown but­ter dashi and sesame seeds for ap­pe­tiz­ers. The main is a choice of roasted ling cod, sun choke, smoked green gar­lic sauce, le­mon and ca­pers or Char­coal roasted duck with laven­der honey, heir­loom spinach and grilled lo­vage sabay­onas, or a Flat­iron steak with fresh Napa ‘chimichurri’, koji bar­be­cue sauce and grilled baby scal­lions. You can ob­vi­ously pair this with Napa Val­ley wines of choice from a wide selec­tion from their cel­lar. Af­ter your hearty meal, the quiet drive back will have you ready for some late night fun in San Fran­cisco if you are up for it.


You can’t claim that you’ve been to San Fran­cisco if you haven’t ex­plored the city’s vi­brant nightlife. When the sun goes down, a dif­fer­ent side of San Fran is turned on and it varies by neigh­bour­hood. Along Va­len­cia Street in the Mis­sion District are tiny but el­e­gant bars, while Mis­sion Street has nightspots and dance clubs for all tastes. Jazz can be found closer to Union Square. Hayes Val­ley has more bistros and restau­rants and cabaret. For the younger crowd both the Fill­more strip in Pa­cific Heights and Chest­nut Street in the Ma­rina might as well be open-air pubs. The fa­mous Cas­tro Street is best known for be­ing the cen­tre of the city’s queer cul­ture. The Cas­tro came out in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when gay men started buy­ing Vic­to­rian build­ings in the once-sleepy sub­urb. It’s a des­ti­na­tion dur­ing the day, but an even live­lier host in the evening. Whether you want to catch a movie, grab a naughty cookie, dance, sing karaoke, or just peo­ple watch, the Cas­tro has it all. Once you have had your fill you can call it a night and head back to your ho­tel room and dream of more fab­u­lous San Fran­cisco days.

Fiji Air­ways flies di­rect to San Fran­cisco from Nadi on Tues­days and Thurs­days.

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