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Category — San Francisco

NOPA–one of SF’s best new restaurants with organic and local food

Wow! As soon as I walked in, I felt instant energy in NOPA, a very popular restaurant in the North of the Panhandle (hence the name of the restaurant). My friend Merel met me at the communal table at the front and we were seated to our table. The ambiance was not too snobby, yet not too casual, and it had very much a neighborhood cozy yet classy feel. Our other guests were arriving late, so we decided to order a few appetizers to start.

My friend and I started with the Warm Goat Cheese, Crostini and Pickled Beets ($9.5) followed by the Arugula, Shaved Fennel, Radishes and Champagne Vinaigrette ($7). The warm goat cheese was wonderful and carefully blended with very fresh bright pink beats. The arugula salad contrasted nicely with the goat cheese.

Soon, Chris joined us and he tried the Pan Roasted Halibut, Zucchini, Fingerling Potatoes and Chard ($19). Since I’m vegetarian, I only tried the potatoes and chard, and my favorite dish by then was his side of chard, nicely cooked but not too soft with a warm buttery taste. I shared the Baked Pasta, Spinach, Carrots and Breadcrumbs ($18) and we ordered sides of polenta and baked cauliflower. Their menu indicates that most of their food is sustainable, local and organic.

By then, another friend, Kiyoung joined us and we shared a nice dessert together: Rhubarb Crostada and Vanilla Ice Cream ($8). The rhubarb was exceptionally fresh and blended perfectly with the vanilla ice cream. Another friend Jennie joined us towards the end who ordered the Warm Doughnut Holes and Rum Caramel ($7.5). This dessert was to die for! It was at a perfect temperature, warm enough to be eaten and not too hot with lightly sprinkled sugar.

I really had a fabulous time at this restaurant. The service was exceptional. It was unbelievable to see the entire place packed on a Monday night. Reservations are very difficult unless you like to eat very late (they close at 2AM) and I’d recommend contacting them in advance. Apparently the top chefs come to this restaurant from all over the city to eat after they are done working. I definitely am coming back! NOPA is located on 560 Divisadero @ Hayes in San Francisco.

May 24, 2007   No Comments

Triptych, a new restaurant in San Francisco serving local, organic food

To celebrate the end of a volunteer project, I went to Triptych with my team, a restaurant that opened in SOMA last year in San Francisco. Inside, was a funky vibe, with art strewn all over the walls, two record players playing actual record LPs at the front, and a disco style bathroom in the back.

The group ordered a lot of food, and being vegetarian, I mainly recalled the veggie selection since the restaurant didn’t post their updated menu on their website. We started with a tofu salad, an artichoke salad, a seafood salad. The salads were made fresh. Below is a picture of an entree, a vegan spring vegetable tagine with tofu, spinach, tahini & pita (~$13). I really enjoyed this dish, the chef cooked tofu in a different style that was unusual.
The rest of the team tried other meat dishes, and below was a popular paella dish mixed with mussels and roasted red peppers.

Here is a picture of the bar in the background, with the team very happy with the meal.
Kamael, Cynthia and Nancy happily devour the pear tart for dessert.
Overall, I was satisfied with the quality of the food and prompt service. Parking was very easy in SOMA. I was surprised that despite a long list of organic and biodynamic wines on the menu, the restaurant was out of the entire stock of organic wine. I settled for an organic looseleaf brown nettle tea. We were the only table left towards the end of our meal, but it made it a better place for conversation and high quality attention by their staff. Triptych is located on 1155 Folsom St (between 7th and 8th) in San Francisco.

May 19, 2007   1 Comment

Samovar Tea Lounge-organic, free trade tea in San Francisco

My friend Jen had a baby shower which took place at the Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco. We sat in the table (above) and ordered teas. I ordered the organic “chill out” tea, a blend of blend of chamomile blossoms, peppermint, lemon myrtle, jasmine blossoms, lemongrass and lavender flowers. We also tried their curry egg salad sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches and ended the tea with the matcha brownie and green tea mousse and an assortment of cookies. I’ve been to both Samovar locations–one in SOMA and the other in the Castro. I definitely prefer the laid back, more welcoming atmosphere of the Castro location. The one in SOMA felt much like a sleek but sterile art museum. I wish the tea menu were better written; the teas were not labeled organic properly and I had ask the waiter which tea blend was certified organic. Also the service was so-so. All in all, I think Samovar is a nice place to host a small special occasion or date. Samovar is located on the corner of Sanchez and 18th in the Castro or in Yerba Buena Gardens in SOMA.

May 16, 2007   No Comments

Organic Express, home delievery of organic produce from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Yesterday, I received a flyer in the mail by Organic Express, a local organic food delivery service. I haven’t yet tried them, but I noticed some striking differences between them and a normal CSA like Capay Farms or Eatwell Farms. For one, I think Organic Express covers a much larger region, the whole San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles area, unlike the other CSAs I mentioned. This can be good and bad. There is much more selection in their fruits and vegetables than a standard CSA. All of Organic Express’ produce is organic and grown in California. If you are a stickler for local foods, unfortunately they do not tell you where exactly the produce comes from. But I thought pricing was reasonable at $29/box or $39/box per week and you can actually choose what you want in the box, unlike the other CSAs. I think it’s worth a try.

May 11, 2007   No Comments

Farmers’ Markets now open with local, organic food in the Bay Area

May is the time of the year in which many of the smaller seasonal farmers’ markets open in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is a list from the www.cafarmersmarkets.com. Enjoy fresh local organic produce in your neighborhood!

East Bay

  • Fremont/Centerville, Fremont Boulevard and Bonde Way. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Fremont/Irvington, Fremont Boulevard and Bay Street. Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Fremont/Kaiser Hospital, 39400 Paseo Padre Parkway. Thursdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.
  • Fremont/NUMMI, 45500 Fremont Blvd. Fridays, 2-6 p.m., June 1-November.
  • Hayward, Main and B streets. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Hayward/Kaiser Hospital, 27400 Hesperian Blvd., Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.
  • Livermore, Carnegie Park, J and Third streets. Thursdays, 4-8 p.m., May 17-Oct. 18.
  • Pleasanton, Main and West Angela streets. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Union City, Cesar Chavez Park, Smith and Watkins streets. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Union City/Kaiser Hospital, 3553 Whipple Ave. Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.

San Francisco

  • Alemany, 100 Alemany Blvd. (near the intersection of Interstate 280 and Highway 101). Saturdays, 6 a.m.-5 p.m., year-round.
  • Bayview-Hunters Point, Third Street and Oakdale. Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., May 16-Oct. 31.
  • Crocker Galleria, 50 Post St. at Montgomery. Thursdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., year-round.
  • Ferry Plaza, Ferry Building, the Embarcadero and Market Street. Saturdays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round; Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.
  • Fillmore, Fillmore and O’Farrell streets. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., April 28-Nov. 17.
  • Heart of the City, Market Street between Seventh and Eighth streets. Wednesdays, 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Sundays, 7 a.m.-5 p.m., year-round.
  • Kaiser Hospital, Geary Boulevard and St. Josephs Avenue, at the hospital entrance. Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.
  • Marina, location to be determined. Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., June- October.
  • Noe Valley, 24th and Sanchez streets. Saturdays, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Parkmerced, the Meadows, Arballo and Serrano drives, Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., June-October.


  • Belmont, Caltrain parking lot, El Camino Real and O’Neill Avenue. Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., May 6-Nov. 18.
  • Burlingame, Park Road at Burlingame Avenue. Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., May 6-Nov. 18.
  • Daly City, Serramonte Shopping Center in the parking lot behind Target. Thursdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Half Moon Bay, Shoreline Station, Kelly Avenue at Highway 1. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., May 5-December.
  • Menlo Park, between Chestnut and Crane streets downtown. Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Millbrae, 200 block of Broadway between Victoria and La Cruz avenues. Saturdays, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Pacifica, 400 block of Old County Road, near Rockaway Beach Avenue and Highway 1. Wednesdays, 2:30-6:30 p.m., May 16-November.
  • Redwood City, Winslow Street at Hamilton. Saturdays, 8 a.m.-noon, April 7-Nov. 24.
  • Redwood City/Kaiser Hospital, 1150 Veterans Blvd. at Maple. Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.
  • San Carlos, Laurel between Cherry and Olive. Thursdays, 4-8 p.m., May 3-Sept. 13.
  • San Mateo/College of San Mateo, 1700 W. Hillsdale Blvd. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • San Mateo/25th Avenue, First Presbyterian Church, 194 W. 25th Ave. Tuesdays, 4-8 p.m., May 15-Oct. 23.
  • South San Francisco, Orange Memorial Park, Orange Avenue at Tennis Drive. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., May 12 to Nov. 17.
    South San Francisco/Kaiser, 1200 El Camino Real. Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.

South Bay

  • Campbell, Campbell Avenue between First Street and Central Avenue. Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Cupertino, Vallco Fashion Park, Wolfe Road at Interstate 280. Fridays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Los Altos, State Street between Second and Fourth streets. Thursdays, 4-8 p.m., May 3-Sept. 27.
  • Los Gatos, Montebello Way and Broadway Extension, downtown Los Gatos. Sundays, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., year-round.
  • Morgan Hill, downtown train station at Third and Depot streets. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., May 12-Nov. 17.
  • Mountain View, Hope Street and Evelyn Avenue, across from the Caltrain station. Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Palo Alto/California Avenue, California Avenue, near El Camino Real. Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Starts June 3, will be year-round.
  • Palo Alto/Downtown, Gilman Street behind the post office, downtown. Saturdays, 8 a.m.-noon, May 12-December.
  • San Jose/The Alameda, The Alameda and Hanchett. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., May 26-Sept. 29.
  • San Jose/Alum Rock Village, 57 N. White Road. Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • San Jose/Blossom Hill, Princeton Plaza Mall, Kooser Road and Meridian Avenue. Sundays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.
  • San Jose/Cambrian Park, Camden and Union avenues, Wednesdays, 4-8 p.m., May 2-Oct. 31.
  • San Jose/Downtown, San Pedro Square between Santa Clara and St. John streets. Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., May 4-Dec. 14.
  • San Jose/Evergreen, Evergreen branch library, 2635 Aborn Road, Sundays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Opens May 20, end date not set.
  • San Jose/Japantown, Jackson Street between Sixth and Seventh streets. Sundays, 8:30 a.m.-noon, year-round.
  • San Jose/Kaiser-Santa Teresa, Cottle Road and Highway 85. Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.
  • San Jose/Santa Teresa, Santa Teresa Boulevard and Camino Verde. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., June 2-October.
  • San Jose/Santana Row, Stevens Creek and Winchester boulevards. Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., year-round.
  • San Jose/Willow Glen, Lincoln Avenue and Willow Street, behind the Garden Theatre. Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., April-November.
  • Santa Clara, Jackson Street, between Benton and Homestead. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Santa Clara/Kaiser, 710 Lawrence Expressway, Thursdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.
  • Saratoga, West Valley College, Fruitvale and Allendale avenues. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round.
  • Sunnyvale, South Murphy Avenue between Washington and Evelyn avenues. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round. Wednesdays, 5-8:30 p.m., June 20-Aug. 22.

May 9, 2007   No Comments

Speesees, an organic, fair trade baby clothing store in San Francisco

My friends Suzan and Chris, are expecting a baby girl in a few months, so I decided to purchase an organic cotton, baby kimono outfit from a store called Speesees. Armed with a 25% off coupon from the Green Zebra book, I made the trek to the Dogpatch neighborhood near Potreo Hill, an area slowly converting from warehouses to high end lofts and offices thanks to the new Third Street rail.
Inside their warehouse shop, I found a great outfit for a newborn, an orange kimono top with a seahorse on it with carefully stitched, matching lime green yoga pants (see photo above, extreme right mannequin). Not only is the cotton organic, but it is fair trade, handpicked in India. I really enjoyed getting the gift, and it definitely stands out from the typical baby shower present! You can also order Speesees products online.

May 7, 2007   4 Comments

Making an organic Indian dinner

The other day, I hosted an organic Indian dinner for my team that I volunteered with me in Uganda with on a microfinance project. I went shopping at Rainbow Grocery, which had a wonderful array of local organic vegetables and food. I bought local cauliflower, tomatoes, potatoes and onions for an aloo gobi dish; local fresh paneer (I was really surprised to find this in Rainbow Grocery!), Straus plain nonfat yogurt, organic frozen peas and organic cumin seeds and coriander for a matter paneer dish. I served this over organic basmati local rice (also from Rainbow’s bulk section) and ended the dinner with Tom’s Cookies, a local San Francisco company which sells frozen natural cookie dough. Yummy!

May 3, 2007   No Comments

de Young Museum and Cafe: organic food and art all in one

So I finally made it to the de Young Museum in San Francisco today. I had tried to go before during the first weekend it opened and its anniversary when they had free admission, but could never get in. The first Tuesday of each month is free admission to the de Young Museum, and almost all the other major museums in San Francisco, such as the MOMA.

I was really excited to go in the museum, especially since today was free, as the first Tuesday of May. My friend Doris and I went straight to the observation deck (see photos above) and the views were amazing! I could see downtown San Francisco, to the Golden Gate Bridge to UCSF to Ocean Beach.

We then walked around several American art exhibits and grabbed a quick bite at the de Young Cafe. Inside, they had a nice eating area, with modern design and local, organic food. I spotted yogurt from Straus Creamery, Niman Ranch meat, and local, organic farm produce. I ordered an asparagus, mushroom risotto, and my friend had a vegetarian sandwich with grilled eggplant, mozzarella cheese, and hummus on foccacia bread. To be honest, my risotto was a bit hard to eat and I wish the rice was cooked softer. I noticed that the cafe sold local organic bear ale, something I’ve never seen at a museum cafe before! We ended our tour with more exhibits, and a special showing of Vivian Westwood’s fashion designs. Definitely check this place out!

May 2, 2007   No Comments

Hodo Soy, an organic, local soy company in the Bay Area

One of my friends from high school started a great food company, Hodo Soy Beanery. It’s an all organic, fresh, locally produced soy product company–from tofu, to soy milk, and special textures of soy that you typically can’t find at a market. They sell at farmers markets such as the Ferry Building in San Francisco, the Berkeley Farmers market, the Marin Farmers market and recently in Oakland and San Mateo. I’ve tried their tofu, soy milk and other products and it all tastes very fresh and light.

May 1, 2007   2 Comments

QUEST, a new KQED series about environmental and science issues in the Bay Area

I recently started to watch KQED’s new series, QUEST. I love this show–it’s all about the Bay Area and how we are dealing with different environmental and science issues. It’s in high definition and you can download free videos of previous episodes on their website. Some of the ones that I like include: plug-in modified hybrid cars that carry 100mpg, a biodiesel road trip from LA to San Francisco, Earth Day in the Bay Area, green building, and Silicon Valley’s investments in green technology. If you have high definition, definitely check this out. Disclaimer: I am a KQED member, but this is still an interesting show to watch.

April 27, 2007   No Comments

Find a green hotel in the San Francisco Bay Area

Next time you visit or have visitors coming to the San Francisco Bay Area, stay at a green hotel. What makes a green hotel? Top ten green hotel practices include:

Good Housekeeping and Pollution Prevention
1. Monitor, record and post rates of energy and water use.

2. Evaluate cleaners, sanitizers, paints, pesticides and other chemicals used throughout your facility.

Solid Waste Reduction
3. Buy recycled-content products for the office, construction and remodeling projects.
4. Buy in bulk, whether it’s guest amenities or food for the kitchen.
5. Start a recycling program for trash from guest rooms, the kitchen and your business office.
Encourage Green Practices in both Employees and Guests
6. Provide incentives to encourage staff participation in efforts to “green” the establishment.
7. Institute a linen reuse program in guestrooms.

Conserve Energy and Water
8. Install energy efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs, heating and air conditioning, washers and dryers, and other electrical equipment.
9. Install water conserving showerheads and toilets in guestrooms.

Minimize Food Waste
10. Donate leftover food, amenities and other “extras” to local shelters or other recipients.

Scroll down to see recommendations in the Bay Area from the Bay Area Green Business Program. Some of these hotels also serve organic food.

San Francisco
Courtyard by Marriott
Hotel Carlton
Hotel Monaco
Orchard Hotel
Prescott Hotel
Tuscan Inn

Marin County
Mountain Home Inn, Mill Valley
West Point Inn, Mill Valley
Inn Marin, Novato
Bear Valley Inn, Olema
Embassy Suites, San Rafael
Marin Headlands Hostel, Sausalito

South Bay
Stanford Terrace Inn, Palo Alto
Hilton San Jose and Towers, San Jose

East Bay
Doubletree Hotel, Berkeley
Four Points by Sheraton, Emeryville
Fremont Marriott, Fremont
Courtyard by Marriott — Oakland Downtown
Oakland Marriott City Center
Wyndham Garden Hotel, Pleasanton

April 25, 2007   No Comments

Update from Digital Be-In: Biomimicy, Earth Day Event in San Francisco

What happens when you mix the founder of Burning Man, the founder of Odwalla, scientists, techies, organic farmers and JP Morgan as a sponsor? You get Digital Be-In: an artsy event with speakers, organic food and a party. Over 10 speakers came, with booths, drinks, and later a big party. It was definitely an eclectic mix; I couldn’t see that well in the dark, but about 200 people came to hear the speakers, and more were entering. Urth.tv did a live broadcast of the event on the internet. Here were some interesting things I saw:

  • The first public unveiling of Wiser Earth, a nonprofit social networking site focused on activism and issues, very similar to Care2.com. It already has a community going and active membership.

  • Urban Alliance for Sustainability, a nonprofit that focuses on environmental sustainability and building communities, was selling the Green Zebra, SF based coupon book. I took a look inside the book, and it was full of coupons from green businesses like natural food, yoga, spas, and travel. Here’s an example of a coupon inside from one of my favorite places to shop for groceries:

I bought the book for $25, and I know that I’ll already use several coupons inside that payoff the initial fee. If you’re in San Francisco or go often, I recommend buying this. But if you live outside of the city or don’t come often to the city, it won’t be worth it for you.

Other interesting talks included Autodesk’s sustainability design consulting, a group that helps design large scale things like buildings and PAX Scientific, a green research and development tech group.

To be honest, I’m not sure whether I’d go next year, I think the Green Festival and other conferences are a little more organized, but this is definitely a good attempt to get more people in the Bay Area aware of environmental issues by making it fun.

April 22, 2007   1 Comment

Earth Day Events in Bay Area

There’s a lot going on this weekend to celebrate Earth Day. Here are some events that look interesting to me:

But you can find many more events in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Earth Day listings.

April 19, 2007   No Comments

See ya at Cha-Ya

Cha-Ya has opened a new location in the Mission and what a difference it makes! The original spot in Berkeley was always packed and took over 30 mins to get in (they don’t take reservations) because of its tiny size. The Mission spot is twice the size with a 5 minute wait and nicer interior.
The food was great, even for my non vegetarian friends. Their menu was inventive, all vegan and many organic ingredients. They even had vegan ice cream Japanese style with grean tea and azuki beans. My personal favorites were the Summer Green roll ($6.75), a reverse roll with avocado, cucumber, sprouts and sea vegetables, along with the Moon Garden ($8.50), a tofu custard with japanese vegetables.
Prices are very reasonable, especially when compared to Medicine Eat Station, another organic Japanese place in downtown or Minako’s Organic Japanese Restaurant.
Check Cha-Ya out on in San Francisco (762 Valenica Street) and avoid the one in Berkeley (1686 Shattuck Ave) unless you get takeout or you can stomach a very long wait.

April 12, 2007   No Comments

Spring Time Gardening

With the sunny weather now in season, it’s a great time to start growing some organic plants and vegetables. I was inspired by the farms I had seen in Uganda especitlly their ability to do so much with very little AND using organic practices. Try to buy organic seeds and fertilizers for your garden. If you live in an urban area, here are some local community gardens you can use:

April 2, 2007   No Comments