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This is one of our favorites. Mexican fare at its best and what San Francisco eating is all about.

Papito Potrero is in the lively, interesting neighborhood of Potrero Hill. It’s a tiny (20 seats inside, eight out) restaurant with a creative chef and cheerful knowledgable servers. It’s not fusion food but Mexican regional heightened with a soupcon of French flavor.

The prices are reasonable and the servings are right-size — not American Gargantuan, not tiny microbites. Papito Potrero serves street-food flavors enhanced by serious chefery.

317 Connecticut Street, near 18th Street, Potrero Hill; (415) 695-0147.

 

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Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is run and spun by award-winning pizza maker, Tony Gemignani. The champ has only been in business since 2009, but it’s San Francisco’s number 1 pizzeria, no doubt about it.

Tony knows his dough, and he knows his customers. He’s charming, entertaining, knowledgeable and a pizza fanatic. How fanatic? He keeps four (4) different types of ovens going to produce different types of pie. They’re all delicious, crispy, flavorful, different from one another. Check out the menu online. You’ll get a headstart on deciding which items to choose when you get to the restaurant—the selection is huge and everything promises to be delicioso.

The restaurant is open from noon to 11 p.m. It’s closed Monday & Tuesday; expect long lines the rest of the week.

1570 Stockton St at Union in North Beach; (415) 835-9888   http://tonyspizzanapoletana.com/menu/

 

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Headline news, January 2016, Pacifica, California.

Residents have enjoyed the cliffside ocean view from their decks and backdoors for decades. But that is about to end this hyperlink.

As waves relentlessly eat away at the soil beneath their homes, their decks and backdoors are falling into the sea. Reluctantly, residents have to move before they, too, plunge down the 80-foot vertical drop to the rocks below.

From a safer spot in Pacifica, ocean views are just one reason to check out this six-mile-long coastal town on California’s super-scenic Route 1.

Here’s more: surfing, mountain biking, hiking (especially on the Devil’s Slide walk), fishing, golf, art and theater.

Oh, and if you’re hankering for an authentic cup of English tea and scone with jam and cream, Lovey’s Tea Shoppe is a sure bet. And it’s on terra firma.

 

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Italian

Capannina

When people hear we write about San Francisco restaurants, their first question is always, “What’s your favorite?”

Easy. Capannina. A small Italian restaurant on Union Street in Cow Hollow (not on Union Square) that’s way cheaper than the tourist spots.

Capannina offers everything you love about Italy—fabulous food, doting service, a great well of warmth that engulfs you as soon as you walk in. If you’re there in truffle season, the Papperdelle with Shaved White Truffles cannot be topped. As one besotted patron said, “I want that to be my dying meal.”

And if that isn’t enough, before 6 p.m., Capannina has an Early Bird Special that even writers can afford. If you have but one dinner to eat in San Francisco, hie thee to Capannina.

“Sublime” is the one-word summary. And it featured on  Check, Please! Bay Area, the region’s fave foodie TV show. (OK, I was the one who featured it. Sue me.)

1809 Union Street, 415 409-8001; http://www.capanninasf.com

 

 

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Kia ora

New Zealanders have a particularly irreverent sense of humor. When people take themselves too seriously, Kiwis love nothing more than “taking the Mickey”—making fun of someone, in a (usually) gentle way.

Kiwis are also the first to make fun of themselves, and they love making up words to make the language just that tiny bit more accurate … and funny. Here are a few examples:

As: intensifies an adjective —“sweet as,” “dumb as”

Munted: describes something that’s totally messed up—Christchurch after the earthquakes.

Root: to have sex (not the underground part of a tree)

One more thing about New Zealanders—they probably mean the exact opposite of what they’re saying. If they call you a “winner,” it means you’re a total loser. If they say you’re “quite nice,” don’t get all warm and cozy feeling. It means you’re a lot less than nice!

E noho rā

 

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Kia ora

Even if you don’t follow rugby, you’ve probably seen a video of the haka performed by New Zealand’s All Blacks synthroid tablets buy online. The haka is the traditional war cry or dance of the Māori people of New Zealand. Although it was originally used by warriors to terrify their opponents, it’s now performed to welcome honored guests and acknowledge important occasions. Most kids learn the haka, together with other Māori traditions, in school.

Māori came to New Zealand in canoes from Polynesia more than 1000 years ago. Today, they’re only about 14% of the population, but their culture, language, and traditions account for a far greater share of what makes New Zealand one of the most compelling island nations in the South Pacific.

E noho rā

 

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Auckland Sky Tower

At first, people hated it. Now, nearly twenty years on, it’s become the iconic landmark that defines Auckland’s skyline.

At 1076 feet at its tip, the Sky Tower is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. It has restaurants, bars and cafes, and a casino where you can lose lots of cash. But before your wallet is empty, think about having a go at the Sky Tower’s two tests of bravery: SkyWalk and SkyJump.

SkyWalk is the opportunity to walk around the narrow, no-rails pergola that circles the Tower 630 feet about the ground. The views are spectacular—if you open you eyes. Then, if you’re feeling down because you lost all that money in the slots, consider the SkyJump—hurling yourself off the Tower, base-jumping 630 feet at 52 mph. Don’t worry about flying off-course; you’re attached to a wire, and there’s a dime-size red bullseye you can aim for.

 

 

 

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Earthquake!

Christchurch, New Zealand

No place in New Zealand was less likely to be struck down by an earthquake than the garden city of Christchurch. And, yet, stuck down it was.

On February 22, 2011, a quake that measured 6.3 on the Richter scale collapsed buildings, turned the soil into liquid, and took the lives of 185 people. Although we weren’t in Christchurch when it happened, we were in Auckland, and shared the feelings of shock and horror at the disaster that hit our fellow Kiwis.

Four years after the quake, we visited Christchurch. These images are of the signs of hope, humor, humility, and the of-course-we-can-do-it, she’ll-be-right dogged determination of Cantabrians fighting to rebuild their city and their lives.

Munted? Yes. Defeated? Never!

 

 

 

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Carmel-By-The-Sea

This little beachside town on California’s Monterey Peninsula defines “charming and quaint.”

With fewer than 4000 people who all want to keep the town as it is (thank you very much), it’s understandable how quaint city laws are kept on the books. These laws include not allowing high heels without a permit, not installing street lights or putting street numbers on houses, and not cutting trees to make room for new buildings—the buildings must be built around existing trees. Trés quaint.

Carmel-By-The-Sea prides itself on being a walkable seaside community. Park and walk to wine tastings, shopping, galleries, inns, restaurants (most are dog friendly with doggie menus), and the beach.

When your feet beg for a break, hop in the car and go a bit farther afield. Two nearby places not to be missed are Asilomar to check out Julia Morgan’s definitive architecture, and the Carmel Mission where the body of newly canonized Juniper Serra lies. If time permits, Point Lobos offers a close-up look at the gasp-able beauty of the jagged, wave-crashed coast and, if you’re lucky, an eyeful of whales, sea lions, or those adorable back-floating sea otters.

 

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When you hear “Monterey,” think Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row. Think warm climate, sandy beaches, John Steinbeck. Think fabulous wine, fabulous seafood restaurants, fabulous jazz festival.

Monterey sits on Central California’s ruggedly beautiful Pacific coast. After you’ve explored the town of Monterey, hop in the car and check out 17-Mile Drive, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and the Big Sur coastline. Tired of the car? Rent a bike, take a hike, book a kayak tour of Monterey Bay find out here now.

Or, pick up your clubs and play a few rounds at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Hey, who knows? You might share a hole with Kid Rock, Kenny G, Payton Manning, or Bill Murray.

 

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