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Now we understand …

No matter the day or time of day, whenever we pass Pacific Catch, it’s always jammed. To the gills. Sure it’s small —28 seats including a few outside — but still.

We finally ate there. Now we understand. Freshest seafood. Cheeriest waiters. Most reasonable prices. Most convivial customers (which is good since the tables are within whisper distance of each other).

And one killer dessert. They call it Crispy Dulce de Leche “Spring Roll.” It’s an irresistible mix of cheesecake filling, vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. We shared; it wasn’t easy.

We also shared the rest of the meal: spicy tortilla lime soup, mahi mahi and Baja tacos, a wasabi rice bowl. All super fresh; all delicious.

Here’s another bonus: Tuesday, bottles of wine are half price.

The Pacific Catch on Chestnut Street is one link in a small chain of Catches.

2027 Chestnut St, San Francisco; (415) 440-1950 http://pacificcatch.com/locations/sf-chestnut-st/

 

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New Zealanders are mighty proud of Tiritiri. They should be.

Through the dedication and toil of volunteers, the tiny island has become a thriving wildlife sanctuary for native and endangered birds. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise for getting up close and personal with birds like the sweet little fantail and the cheeky, light-beaked takahe.

Tiritiri Island sits in the Hauraki Golf. It’s about a 75 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, perfect for day tripping. Besides birdlife, walks through native bush, deserted beaches, and blue-water views, there’s a 150 year-old lighthouse, a visitor center with a gift shop where you can get a free cuppa’. How Kiwi is that!

By the way, if you buy something in the gift shop, all profits go to keeping the island’s conservation and education programs alive and well. That’s so Kiwi, too.

 

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When we told San Francisco friends we were heading to Benicia, they asked, “You’re going where? Why?”

They said there was nothing to see or do in Benicia.

They were wrong.

Though rebuked and scorned and mainly unknown, Benicia is a delightful little waterside town in Solano County. For thirteen months (1853-54), it was California’s state capital. Who knew?

Benicia offers other surprises. Here are some of our favorites: Terrific eateries, farmers’ market, glassblowing studios, thriving artist colony, historic buildings, and views over Carquinez Strait. And, best of all, many of these attractions are an easy walk from each other. What’s not to like about Benicia?

 

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About 45,000 lucky people live in San Luis Obispo (SLO), the city that sits halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco in the middle of the wine-rich Central Coast.

Why are they so lucky? Let me count the ways … no, actually there are more than I can list here, so I’ll restrict myself to my ten favorite. In no special order, here they are:

(1) Paso Robles  (2) Pomo Beach (3) Farmers’ Market  (4) Hearst Castle

(5) Madonna Inn  (6) Morro Bay  (7) PleinAir Festival  (8) fresh Pacific seafood

(9) Edna Valley wines  (10) SLO Mission.

Check ’em out and discover many more on your own.

 

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Jules Older, Ph.D.

415 754-3103

jules@julesolder.com

Jules consults for corporate executives, public relations firms, television news teams, late-night disc jockeys and elementary school classes. His articles on improving professional communications are published in the British Medical Journal and the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

He gives talks to medical specialists, writers’ conferences, ski resort staff, graduating classes, travel professionals, church groups, and associations of family practitioners, osteopaths, physiotherapists, social workers and medical students.

Jules has been an invited speaker in Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand and the USA. He’s a radio commentator who has been interviewed many times on radio and television.

He interviews across the spectrum: ski champion Bode Miller, ice cream maven Ben Cohen, crime novelist Robert Parker, psychiatrist RD Laing, Olympic gold medalist Deb Armstrong, cosmetics goddess Anita Roddick, singer-songwriter Don McLean, Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke …

Jules has won national writing awards in three countries and a major teaching award from the University of Vermont. In his proudest moment, the inmates of the New Zealand Women’s Prison named him “Good Guy of the Month.”

What he’s done for others, he can do for you through Riveting.

 

TESTIMONIALS

Jules’ suggestions honed my focus and eliminated flat spots. He enabled me to present the media in a more compelling fashion. He helped make my introduction and conclusions resonate with viewers, ultimately helping me accomplish my main goal – how people can prevent global weirding and save our snow.

Alison Gannett
; World Champion Extreme Skier
; Global Cooling Activist

 

—To prepare for my presentation on behalf of Water Partners International, I consulted Jules Older. In the course of a morning, he changed its direction. He spotted a serious error I was about to make — instead of using my slides to support the story, I was fitting the story around the slides. That would have sapped much of the impact of the presentation. Jules advice was practical, relevant and given in a tone that was easy to hear. And no one fell asleep watching one too many slides.

Tony Stayner; Board member, Water Partners International

 

—“A++, 10, 10, 10—Everything you promised and more!”

Robin Jeffers; computer consultant

 

—You were a HUGE success. A teacher came to me on Friday and told me for the fifth time what a great job you did with her students. All of the teachers mentioned you favorably at least once. I think it’s a record.

Carolyn Hall; librarian

 

—Bravo! on an energizing, informative, humorous and forward-looking presentation.

Stephen Sunken; attorney

 

—In my twelve years of lecturing I have never met a better teacher.

James Moody, Ph.D.; anthropologist

 

—While I knew your session would be well received, it exceeded my wildest expectations. Hats off to you for a job well done!

Norm Cushman; college facilities management director

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Somehow, you don’t think of sushi in the middle of Mill Valley.

OK, we’re wrong.

Samurai serves up sushi as fresh as the freshest in San Francisco… or Tokyo. And as creative. And as tasty. It should. Chef Brian Kim learned his trade from sushi masters and brings that training to Marin.  And that’s not all.  Service: accommodating and smart. Room: Looks like a Japanese sushi house.              Noise level: Moderate. Kid-friendly: Full marks. Price: Excellent value.

In short, Samurai is a find. If you’re in Mill Valley and feel sushi hunger or tempura craving coming on, look no further.

425 Miller Avenue;  (415) 381-3680

 

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A sign. It’s a sign of a good restaurant when, in good times and bad, weekdays and weekends, winter and summer, the joint is full.

At Ozumo, the joint is always full.

Yes, it’s situated between two hotels. Yes, it occupies a prime position between happening Steuart Street and the Embarcadero. Yes, it’s stylishly modern, with walls of wood, steel and glass. But in San Francisco, with more than 3,500 restaurants to choose from, none of that’s enough for continued success.

Ozumo creates success in several ways.

First is fine food. Sushi doesn’t get much better, whether in San Francisco or Tokyo. Their black cod pretty much defines perfection. The desserts approach outstanding.

Second is service. Your waiter knows the menu, knows the sources, knows the sake.

Third is that sake. It’s such a specialty of the house, Ozumo even has its own sake sommelier.

Two more things: (1) Like nearby Boulevard, Ozumo is designed to be a comfortable place to eat on your own. A seat at the lively counter ensures a convivial, hassle-free evening. (2) There’s a second Ozumo in Oakland, but we haven’t tried it.

61 Steuart Street;   (415) 882-1333

www.ozumo.com

 

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K’s Kitchen is sooo San Francisco.

If you’re visiting City College or hiking Glen Park, plan a meal at K’s Kitchen. K, a.k.a. Ken Deng, exemplifies the San Francisco experience. He runs — ran—K’s Kitchen. Though Ken has moved on, K’s continues — a restaurant that serves gnocchi, foie gras & tiramisu… and he, himself, is a Chinese San Franciscan, who’s a “self-learned chef.”

Deng has an excellent palate, the confidence to offer the fruits of that palate to customers, and the boldness to stir French and Italian items into a Japanese menu. The whole thing works — in a bold San Francisco way.

757 Monterey Boulevard between Gennessee St & Ridgewood Ave.

415 333-8500; www.kskitchen-sf.com

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Let’s start with location, location, location. Yuzuki sits on the edge of a micro food zone in the Mission. Across the street, a branch of Tartine, considered by some to be the best bakery in the world. Down 18th Street, San Francisco’s favorite market Bi-Right. Across the street, Bi-Right Dairy, an ice cream dream.

OK, that’s the setting. Inside, Yuzuki is a Japanese cube, roughly as long as it is wide, as high as it is long. It’s not where you’d go for sukiyaki or tempura but for that other Japanese specialty—perfect tastes. Everything at Yuzuki is small, carefully crafted and either made on premises — from fresh tofu to tea ice cream — or locally sourced. Owner Yuko Hayash has brought her native Osaka to San Francisco.

Our favorite dish is a starter—king trumpet mushroom with sesame sauce. Close behind it are the marinated fried chicken and the Hokkaido squid.    Portions are small but not tiny; service is efficient but not overbearing. And for sake lovers, not only is there abundant choice, there’s two sake tasting flights of four samples each.

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 6:00 to 10:30 p.m., Saturday, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

(415) 556-9898;  598 Guerrero Street, corner of 18th Street; yuzukisf.com

 

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Shabu Shabu (TR: swish, swish) is a traditional Japanese hot pot. Almost-paper-thin slices of meat are swished through boiling broth and eaten with veggies fresh from the broth. The cooking is usually done by the diner at the table.

Opened in late 2012, Shabuway is a perfect example of a traditional Shabu Shabu restaurant that you’d find in Japan. Warm welcome, beautifully designed simplicity, highest standards of cleanliness, best quality meats. Those meats are raised on vegetarian diets with no antibiotics or growth hormones. It’s bought unfrozen and handled with care and, here, at a price well below what it would cost in Tokyo.

Shabuway looks and tastes and smells like Tokyo. We found it delightful and delicious. It’s ethnic food at good value and off the Tourist Reservation.

Here are some tips for when you go:

Tip 1: The Outer Sunset: Bring your best parking karma. You’ll need it.

Tip 2: Shabuway is just down the street from the unrelated Shabu House. Hey, you’re in Foody City, get used to it.

Tip 3: There’s an all-you-can-eat option for the very hungry.

Tip 4: If you’re new to Shabu Shabu, tell your server. Everyone at Shabuway is kind and helpful.

 

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