Tips & Ideas

Tips & Ideas


submitted by: Sheila Sobell

The group had almost arrived at the third stop on their three hour gourmet walking tour of the best places in San Francisco to buy chocolate. Everyone was looking forward to a “blind” tasting of some of Fog City News’s   225 different bonds sourced from 15 different countries.choc3They were just passing a park when a guy in the group asked their guide Jessica for an unscheduled stop.  “He was very nervous,” Jessica remembers, “but  I played along. Suddenly in front of the entire group of chocolate lovers he got down on one knee, took out at diamond ring and asked his girlfriend to marry him! “

Fortunately the answer was “yes!” and the guide sprang for some bottles of sparkling lemonade to celebrate.

“He wanted her to have a story she could tell for the rest of their lives about how he proposed,” said Jessica. “Everyone was thrilled to be part of the celebration.”

Whether or not you melt into a chocolate bubble of commitment on Andrea Nadel’s gourmet walk, you certainly will develop a nose for the bouquet of infusions that makes fine chocolate, like fine wine, a sensual obsession. By the time you sample artisan chocolates at seven different boutiques, you’ll be an expert on the history of chocolate, and probably able to discriminate between chocolates from different makers around the globe

No matter how many often you have visited San Francisco, chocolating your way around the city is a delicious way to experience its unique flavors.

Beds and more beds

San Francisco may be the cool gray city of love, but savvy the hoteliers really know how to heat things up.

We didn’t have to look too far to discover one of the reasons to stay at the W San Francisco.

Thanks to their Love Box (filled with practical and sensual essentials), we didn’t have to bring our own.

The décor of our corner king room was sea foam blue, green, and cream, and the Oriental theme really cool. It had W2whimsical touches like a Buddha that glowed pink (a night light or moodlight?) tucked into a wall system of  pigeon holes with designated spaces  for things like Wish and  a quotation “The greatest meditation is a mind that let’s go.”

We loved the two comfy window seats overlooking the San Francisco scene.

In front of them was a coffee table with a game of Chinese checkers. An Oriental twist on strip polka?


W1For the ultimate in foot massage, there was a wooden abacus- like device hidden under the desk.  A model-sized Acura tipped us off to the availability of complementary rides to nearby attractions – free one way.

Though there was no coffee service, housekeeping will bring a set-up of carafe and all the necessities at no additional charge.

The room was really commodious, immaculately kept, had great sound proofing, and toiletries by the in-house spa Bliss, a Café bar and restaurant. If you just want to hang out in the lobby, there are games like an early version of Pac man to keep you entertained.


McCormicks1For lunch, we headed for the venerable McCormick & Kuleto’s,one of those restaurants that it’s easy to find because everyone either knows it by reputation or experience.

Take a stunning bay view, a menu with 30 fresh fish selections daily and huge portion sizes; throw in some really nice décor and the reason for its popularity is evident.  Like executive chef Liz Ozanich, who knows how to keep a romantic mood going!  She sources at least half a dozen types of oysters to ensure “satisfactory post-meal” pursuits.

The Dungeness crab, mango and avocado tower with chive and citrus essences was sumptuous enough to serve as an entrée,and the Anchor Steam Beer battered lingcod had better batter than Brit fish and chips.

Having learned the nuances to choosing the most delectable chocolates, we put our education to practical McCormicks3application, selecting McCormick & Kuleto’s signature dessert – the Chocolate Bag, a Belgian chocolate brimming with berries and passion fruit mousse. A brilliant combination of heart healthy antioxidants and aphrodisiacs.

A little night music at Teatro ZinZanni

This musical Cabaret changes about every six weeks.  The star, Christine Deaver, an oversized, oversexed master of songs, moves, innuendo and improv carried the Latino- themed “Too Caliente (Hot) To Handle. ” Her forte was to sweep guests from their seats and into the act, while delivering spontaneous one-liners that were hilariously apt and often politically incorrect.

The acrobats, aerialists, contortionists, dancers and singers were first-class with impressive touring credentials.

The five course dinner is also pretty impressive!

Making the Best of Your Weekend

  • Due to budget cuts, the city has stopped printing transit maps. To figure out cable car and muni routes, ask your concierge or visit http://
  • Museums have also shortened their opening days and hours. Check before you visit.


  • Mass transport is the way to get around the city! But watch SF insiders for tips on operating the exit doors on buses and trams as the mechanisms vary.

When You Go

Gourmet Walks; There are four different types of foodie

W San Francisco; 181 3rd St;; 415-777-5300

McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant;; 415-929-1730

Teatro ZinZanni, Pier 29 at the Embarcadero;; 415-568-3588

CityPass provides unlimited cable car rides, normally $5 per trip, 5 attraction tickets and free muni railway tickets for 7 consecutive days.  $69 per adult; $39 for kids.

For more help planning your visit, go to

Sheila Sobell and Richard N. Every are professional worldwide travel photojournalists. See what they recommend at Photo of Urban Tower courtesy of John Benson; all photos are courtesy of Richard N. Every.