Cal­i­for­nia dreamin’

The Jewish Chronicle - - TRAVEL -

nis­che­witz Cook Off at the nearby Hil­ton. Had I missed a po­ten­tial scoop? “Naw,” she re­sponded, “South West­ern kugel won… and it didn’t rate.”

The San Fran­cisco Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art on Third Street is a must, with visit­ing ex­hi­bi­tions and per­ma­nent work in­clud­ing Matisse, Bran­cusi, Braque, de Koon­ing, Duchamp, Kahlo, and many more vy­ing for at­ten­tion in this pala­tial five-floor build­ing.

And, within a stone’s throw, on Mis­sion Street in the heart of the down­town Yerba Buena cul­tural dis­trict, the fin­ish­ing touches are be­ing put to the new Con­tem­po­rary Jewish Mu­seum. This $80-mil­lion mas­ter­piece, de­signed by Daniel Liebe­skind, and due to open on June 8, has been cre­ated within the land­mark Jessie Street Power Sub­sta­tion, built in 1907.

The de­sign for the 63,000-square­foot build­ing re­tains many fea­tures of the sub­sta­tion, sup­ple­mented by a modernist steel struc­ture, partly clad in blue steel pan­els. It will house a range of per­ma­nent and tem­po­rary ex­hibits, plus mu­sic, film, lec­tures, dis­cus­sions and work­shops for chil­dren.

Try to ex­plore the re­cently built de Young Mu­seum in the Golden Gate Park, the largest man-made park in the world. En­ter across the me­an­der­ing cracks, rep­re­sent­ing the city’s fault lines and cre­ated by Andy Goldswor­thy, to view the beau­ti­fully dis­played ex­hi­bi­tions that in­clude Amer­i­can paint­ing, sculp­ture and dec­o­ra­tive art, as well as col­lec­tions from across the world, and then take the lift to the top of the nine-storey tower for a mag­nif­i­cent view of the city and ocean.

The con­trast be­tween mod­ern build­ings and those from the Vic­to­rian era which sur­vived the 1906 earth­quake — in par­tic­u­lar the gor­geous “Painted Ladies” ter­races — are what give San Fran­cisco its unique land­scape.

The city’s neigh­bour­hoods each have their dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics, too. For­get Haight Ash­bury, which clings un­ap­peal­ingly to its hip­pie past, and head, in­stead to North Beach, which still re­tains a lit­tle of its “Beat” at­mos­phere with book­stores dis­play­ing old posters of Martin Luther King (“Free the Press from the Cor­po­rate Press”), its tarot and palm-read­ing stores and its Peachy Puffs girls, clad in very short­skirts car­ry­ing trays of candy and cig­a­rettes.

You can have a great night out at North Beach, as you can any­where in this lively city. Af­ter a heav­ily gar­licin­fused meal at the aptly named The Stink­ing Rose, we found Jazz at Pearl’s, one of the few re­main­ing jazz clubs.

With its red-draped walls and a can­dle on each white-cloth’d ta­ble, it has an am­bi­ence straight out of the movies which can be en­joyed for the price of two drinks. All that is miss­ing is the haze of cig­a­rette smoke — San Fran­cisco prides it­self on be­ing Amer­ica’s first smoke-free city.

This is also a great city to dine in. While Fish­er­man’s Wharf is no longer a fish­ing port, it re­tains ex­cel­lent fish restau­rants. Al­lioto’s has an ex­otic street stall and a three-storey restau­rant, with the dishes be­com­ing pricier the higher you go to dine. The view of the Bay, and oc­ca­sional sight­ing of seals and dol­phins are a re­ward for

pay­ing top price — around $18 (£9.50) for the Pe­trale sole — on the top floor, though not all the fish is kosher.

Around the cor­ner, the Boudin Bak­ery, famed for its sour­dough bread, of­fers a tour of the bak­ery and mu­seum while you sam­ple its fare. Save a lit­tle space for the renowned Ghi­radelli choco­late sun­dae.

So ven­er­ated is this choco­late that nearby Ghi­radelli Square is now an of­fi­cial city land­mark — and also trans- formed into a pretty shop­ping cen­tre. La Scala, next to the Sir Francis Drake ho­tel near the square, is an­other restau­rant that sup­plied ex­cel­lent grub at rea­son­able prices.

From here, you can take day trips to Lake Ta­hoe, Mon­terey or to the spec­tac­u­lar Yosemite Park, or ex­plore more widely in Cal­i­for­nia.

But what­ever you do, af­ter just a few days, you will un­der­stand why Tony Ben­nett left his heart here…

San Fran­cisco’s new Con­tem­po­rary Jewish Mu­seum due to open June 8

Two of the trams which ply the ver­tig­i­nous streets of San Fran­cisco

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