July 31st, 2013

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re someone who travels a lot for work. Being in and out so much means you don’t always get to spend the time with, and give the care to, spouses, friends and family that you would like to, no? And when you are there, it’s easy to feel too tired to make any special efforts. Sure, it’d be nice to do a little something nice for a loved one who misses you when you’re away, but when jet lag is hanging like a ton of bricks taped to your temples, it’s hard to imagine summoning the energy, creativity or, well, the energy for such an endeavor.

And now, instructions for the easiest, most decadent, and very sincerely the most wonderful treat ever invented in the history of the world: Bacon wrapped dates! There are two ingredients and three instructions. Ready? Pre-heat the oven to 450, cut strips of bacon in half, wrap the half strips around dates, put them in the oven for 20 minutes. The end. What comes out of that oven after 20 minutes will make you, and whomever you’re sharing these with, cry tears of joy and gratitude for the beauty and pleasure that the world is capable of delivering. You may be shaming me for hyperbole as you read this, but that’s because you haven’t tried them yet. And so simply and easily you could be responsible for bringing this level of enjoyment to someone you love. You’re welcome.

July 26th, 2013

I’ve got some gendered activity ideas for your next trip to the Bay Area. I know that proposing separate activities for men and women is not really the thing to do in this day and age, but I’m going for it anyway because of a study out of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Bear with me, or at least wait until the end of these few little paragraphs to decide I’m a bigot.

Men, the next time you’re here, take a drive up to San Francisco. Watch the locals running up and down those huge hills, or, even worse, pushing bikes along the same paths. It looks awful, I know, but they’re getting through it. Pay attention, next, to all the dudes eating kale. Kale salad, kale chips, raw, unadulterated leaves of kale. We all know it doesn’t taste good, no matter what you do to it, but they’re eating it like it’s real food. Why am I asking you to do this, you ask? Because San Francisco has the lowest rate of obesity for men in the country. What the guys up there are doing may not look like a ton of fun, but it’s keeping them skinny.

Women, for you the drive will take you a little further up the coast. You’ll be taking a tour of Marin county. Check out a yoga class in Sepastapol, a dharma talk at the Green Gulch meditation center. Maybe take a long stroll along the beach. As you’re making this tour, take a look around at the local ladies. In their long, flowing layers, with their crystals and, really, maybe even a few bindis here and there, you may feel like you’re drowning in new age clichés, but before you dismiss them en masse, listen to this: Women in Marin County have a longer life expectancy than any other group in the nation.

Of course, women can run up hills and men can meditate. I guess the real point of this that sometimes all the California stereotypes work. Why not check a few out the next time you’re in town?

July 25th, 2013

A hotel is more like a house than an iPhone. My iPhone works very consistently. I plug it in at night so that it won’t run out of batteries during the day, but other than that I expect to do no maintenance on it. I know that one day it will die and I will need another. I know that for some short interval leading up to the day of it’s demise, it’s function will start to fail and that that will not mean that I should go get it fixed, but that I should get rid of it and move on to my next iPhone.

A house, on the other hand, needs more or less constant maintenance. You fix the sink and then the roof needs new tiles. Get the roof patched up and then notice a giant stain on the carpet. There’s always something to be either taking care of or meaning to take care of very soon. Still, though, a house is expected to last through several lifetimes. Very, very few people in this world let the problems with their house accumulate until they can’t stand it anymore, and then get rid of it and move onto another house.

All that to say this: Things are constantly going wrong at this hotel. Does it seem strange to admit this? It’s true, though. True and natural and unavoidable. The toilets are going to get stopped up and the curtains are going to get little rips in them. Plants are living things that sometimes just decide to get depressed and droopy for a while. Everything is fixable and we have plenty of staff and resources to take care of it all (though depressive plants are harder, admittedly) but many things can go wrong without our knowing it. If something is bothering you, just tell us and we’ll take care of it. Treat us the way you treat your house, something that you’re going to have a long, enduring relationship with, not your iPhone, which you’re going to keep until it’s got too many tics and you’ve got to throw it in the garbage. We would like to be the hotel you pass on to your kids, and we’re willing to do a lot to try to make that happen.

July 25th, 2013

It seems safe to say that this little hotel can boast of a pretty intelligent clientele. You all, our guests, are bright people doing the work that’s bringing us into the future, so there’s no doubt that you’ve got some intellectual strength. Still, though, do you ever wonder just how smart you are? You know, like in comparison to everyone else milling around the Silicon Valley? Well, if so, I have a way to satisfy your curiosity. Every Monday night at the San Pedro Square Market, there’s a pub quiz. Topics vary, so you can go online and be sure to only go on a night you can dominate, or just show up, secure in your mastery of all knowledge everywhere. It’s up to you.

A pub quiz is a great thing, too, because if you find that, say, everyone around is, surprisingly, just as sharp, or even sharper than you are and your whole world view is suddenly crumbling around you, consolation is immediately on hand. Not to be too big an advocate for drinking away your pain, but if you were so inclined it’s right there for you. Likewise, if you sweep through and take out all opponents without breaking a sweat, buying a round of drinks for the room is a very neat little way to both boast and console in a single gesture.

If you do decide to go, let us know how it goes. We’re also a little interested in how our guests stack up against the rest of the valley’s brainiacs.

July 25th, 2013

How many of you have noticed that Adam is always working? He does a variety of different jobs, so it might be possible to not quite make the connection, but suffice it to say, Adam is always working and it’s been this way for years. He works as many double shifts as he can and even sneaks in the occasional, illegal triple shift. Sometimes some effort is made to make him calm down, back off, go easy on himself, but it’s wasted breath. Adam is a man with a passion.

What, you ask, is this fire burning in our most ubiquitous front desk worker? Adam is a racecar driver, which turns out to be a very expensive sport. The car needs constant, costly repairs, I guess due to being pushed to its limit every time it goes out, not to mention crashed around a bit and though the goal is sponsorship and having someone else pay for it all, the only way to get there is to spend a long time paying for it all yourself. So Adam works. And works and works and works. And when he’s not here working, he’s someplace working on his car. All for little short bursts of driving, every now and then. Those shorts bursts must be amazing.

If you’re interested in learning more about racing cars, or if you’d like to see a guy talk about something he’s very passionate about, now’s a great time to go have a chat with Adam. The season is on and he’s been winning and a fun conversation is there to be had.

July 25th, 2013

There’s a place at the San Pedro Square Market that deserves an award. Not that it’s the best food you’re going to find, though the food is fun and interesting and certainly worth finding. What this place should get is an award for the best name. CaliDog, it’s called. So clear, so concise and yet so very descriptive. Go to CaliDog and get yourself an all-American hot dog, topped with the classic condiments of one of the vast array of cultures represented here in the Bay Area. Japanese style, for example, features seaweed. Yes, seaweed on a hot dog! Another one, called the SalsaDog, is drowning in shrimp ceviche. If all this is too overwhelming, they’ve also got a chilidog on standby, but why not have an adventure?

This place, in making their nutty hot dogs, has made itself into such a great symbol of how we live here in California. We are a collection of lots of different people from lots of different places, doing what we can to keep traditions alive, trying to maintain the comforts of home in a new country, getting to sample from everything that everyone else has brought and getting to work out some new version of how all those thing can fit together. To take the hot dog, one of the ultimate staples of Americana, and let people choose whether they want it Japanese, Vietnamese or Mexican style is such a sweet little act of cultural meshing and it really feels like how we live around here. One of the great beauties of the Bay Area is spectacular, unlikely juxtaposition and how well it can come out. This hot dog stand is a fantastic example of that.

July 25th, 2013

Sparkling wine isn’t necessarily a staple at our bar, but we’ve always got a bit floating around for special occasions and you can always request a bottle or two if you’ve got something worth toasting. And whenever we bring out the bubbly, it’s Chandon. We love Chandon and you will probably not ever find another sparkling wine in this hotel.

Well, this is the 40th anniversary of the Chandon Winery and so it’s been in the news. Turns out it was the first California winery opened by a French company, a big experiment because the French didn’t trust that the Americans had a discerning enough palate to appreciate a high quality product that they would have to pay money for. What a bunch of jerks! And yet the company that started Chandon is the same company that makes Dom Peringnon and in spite of the fact that they did it with such obscene snobbery and condescension, they brought us such a beautiful sparkling wine.

It’s been long enough, now, and the French have long since had to admit that we know how to handle our wine out here in the Wild West. It’s OK to love a French wine, even more so to love a California wine made by a French company and even more so to love a wine made using all the knowledge of Dom Perignon, but priced and located in such a way that we don’t have to feel like it’s a scarce rarity that can only come out on the occasion of winning a Nobel Prize or something. Have I justified this enough for us to all continue on with our Chandon affair? I hope so, because I don’t want to give it up.

July 5th, 2013

It’s been hot. Which anyone who’s been hanging around here in the last week does not need to be told. Earlier this week a heat advisory was issued for Northern California. It was the first heat advisory I’d ever heard of, though maybe they happen every year and I miss them. It was a little scary, though. What is the difference between beach weather and a dangerous, scalding inferno, and would we be sharp enough to know the difference?

At least we weren’t in Death Valley or Palm Beach where the temperatures hung out in the 120′s.

The wave has passed now, thankfully. Today is cloudy and cool. But it seems that this summer is going to be warm and if you’re scheduled to come through here when it’s hot again, and the thought of 100+ degree weather is making you a little panicky, then now is the perfect time for me to let you in on San Francisco’s dirty little secret: It’s always cold there. Now, I know that the idea of cold is relative. Some of you live through winters that get to something like 20 below zero and San Francisco will never get below 35, but 35 in the summer is really a bummer. Especially when it’s 85 just outside city limits. Normally this is this horrible thing that people find out only when they arrive for a visit with light suitcases full of shorts and dresses, ready for California summer. Right now, though, it’s not a bad escape from a heat wave. Take a hike in the Presidio, walk the length of Golden Gate Park. You will never, ever get sunstroke, but don’t forget to bring a sweater.