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Andy Warhol: Beyond the Soup Can

If you ask anybody to name the most famous contemporary (OK, almost contemporary) artist, nine times out of ten, they’ll say, “Andy Warhol.”

They’ll be right. Between the Campbell’s soup cans, the Marilyn Monroe portraits, the Brillo Pad boxes, and Warhol’s saucy blonde wig, he was the most outrageous, most innovative and most game-changing artist of the late 20th century.

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The most exciting exhibit I’ve seen this year is at MoAD, Museum of the African Diaspora. Coffee, Rhum, Sugar & Gold will run through August 11. 

          Though I approach anything subtitled “A Post-Colonial Paradox” gingerly, in this case I should have let my guard down. It’s not doctrinaire, not a visual polemic — the show is filled with real art; some of it, extraordinary art. 

Visually, it’s a treat for the eyes; thematically, a challenge to the mind. And while it “looks at the legacy of European colonialism in the Caribbean through the work of 10 contemporary artists,” it does so through colorful, creative art, not a hit on the head with a sledge hammer.

          For your readers visiting San Francisco, I recommend starting at MoAD, then bouncing to its two neighbors, SFMOMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the CJM, Contemporary Jewish Museum. That’s one full, art-filled day.

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Looking to buy in a quiet area with spectacular views, beautifully kept lawns, bubbling fountains and sparkling ponds? And never hear a word of complaint from your next-door neighbor?

Look no further than Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. Plots are currently available for $5,000 to $8,000 for a single grave. If money is no object, check out a primo plot where $400,000 will buy you a modest, uninhabited mausoleum. Renowned residents who are already “committed” to the Mountain View community include architects Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan, J. A. Folger (the coffee guy) and Domingo Ghirardelli of chocolate fame. For more name-dropping, the cemetery was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted whose landscape designs include Central Park in New York City, the Stanford University Quad, and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Although it’s privately owned, the cemetery is open to the public. Dog walkers, picnickers, and lovers out for a sunset stroll are frequent visitors. Docent-led tours begin at 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month and last about two hours. For a private tour, contact Kristie Ly (510) 658-2588. For all tour options, check the website.

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Confess — unless you’re Asian, you don’t know what a tiffin is, do you?

Confession — neither did we.

Resolution — a tiffin is:

  1. A Scottish cake that’s not baked.
  2. A town in Ohio.
  3. A multi-layered lunch pail.
  4. All of the abo — yes, of course; 4’s the right answer.

But in San Francisco, 3 is righter still. Since June, 2018, Le Colonial(see that entry) has been serving Sunday night tiffin dinners. In this French-accented Vietnamese restaurant, tiffin is another way of saying family-style.

Here’s how it works. You’re handed a menu, from which the table must choose Tiffin Dinner 1 (three tiers, $19 per person) or 2 (four tiers, $29 per person). Then —and here’s where it gets tricky — all tablemates have to agree on one course from each tier. Spring rolls or crab cake. Curry shrimp or lemongrass chicken. Garlic noodles or fried rice. And so forth.

Agreement reached, food ordered, and a few minutes later, the waiter appears, carrying a stack of round, stainless steel containers. He deconstructs them and passes them around the table.

We chose the coconut-crusted crab cake, jumbo shrimp curry, wok-fried jasmine rice and green beans with shitake mushroom garlic oyster sauce. Followed by, for six dollars, a flourless cake dessert.

Delicious. All delicious. And served in the tropical, old Vietnam, wicker chairs and ceiling fans that is Le Colonial, a San Francisco gem.

 

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Class

As the peninsula south of San Francisco morphed from orchards to computers, the name changed from Valley of Heart’s Delight to Silicon Valley. As techies replaced farmers, with few exceptions, property values in the Valley rocketed.

Redwood City was one of the exceptions. For years, the city was a backwater in a fast-flowing stream.

No more. Today, Redwood City is a rapidly growing municipality that has preserved its historic Broadway downtown, now home to old brick buildings, a leafy canopy, and to restaurants of every stripe and ethnicity.

At the center of the district is The Courthouse 2021, the first and only restaurant on Broadway serving classic American cuisine. It’s fine-dining personified, from service to setting, price to portion, freshness to flavor. Down from San Francisco or up from San Jose, it’s worth the trip.

The menu cleverly divides offerings by their origin: Green Earth, Charcoal & Wood, From The Sky, From The Sea, From The Hoof.

  • Among the stars … From Wood: Courthouse Signature Flatbread (wood-oven dried tomatoes, fresh buratta, basil, garlic puree and truffle honey: $14.)
  • From Sea: Pan roasted day boat scallops on saffron & pea risotto, $32. It comes with sturgeon caviar, which is fine on its own but detracts from the ultra-fresh taste of the large, plump scallops; ask for it to served on the side.
  • And from Dessert: Chocolate Molten Cake with vanilla Crème Anglaise, candied orange zest, muddled raspberry and bourbon crème $14.

Courthouse 2021’s setting features muted wall coverings, white tablecloths, high ceilings and Mediterranean stonework. Service is informed, involved (but not hovering), formal (by California standards) and polite. At meal’s end, you feel ever so slightly more important than you really are. A sure sign of class.

 

The Courthouse 2021 Restaurant: 2021 Broadway, Redwood City. Monday through Sunday from 3 to 11 p.m. Street parking and public lots are readily available. www.thecourthouse2021.com. For reservations, also via OpenTable.com, (650) 367-7974.

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