San Francisco: A weekend of dragon-boat racing
Head out to Treasure Island for a prime vantage point as 80 teams of paddlers—each moving to the beat of the boat's drummer—face off at San Francisco's International Dragon Boat Festival, September 25-26.
The free festival also includes aiko drumming, lion dancing, acrobatic martial arts, and dance performances. International food stands will keep crowds sated with a choice of Thai, Vietnamese, Hawaiian, barbecue, and seafood options.
Sunday is family day, with magicians, dragon puppeteers, and Chinese stilt walkers roaming throughout the area. The kids' Dragon Land area will host arts and crafts activities like creating dancing dragons out of chopsticks, bracelet making, and face painting. Snoopy and Nickelodeon's Kai-lan costumed character from TV show Ni Hao, Kai-lan will both be on hand for photo ops.
Treasure Island, California Ave. and Ave. D., free parking. Free shuttle buses leave from Chinatown (Kearny and Jackson Sts.) and downtown (San Francisco Marriott, 55 4th St., at Mission St.) every 15 to 20 minutes between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Would you book a flight to space?
In another small step forward for space tourism, Boeing announced yesterday that it has joined the race to develop flights to the International Space Station and other destinations in low Earth orbit. Flights on its CST-100 spacecraft may launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., as soon as 2015, with four crew members and three tourists at a time. "We're ready now to start talking to prospective customers," Eric C. Anderson of Virginia-based Space Adventures, which would market the seats for Boeing, told the NYT. No ticket price has been set yet, but it's safe to assume it will be, yes, astronomical. Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté—one of seven tourists to visit the space station—paid $40 million last year for an eight-day stay at the station and a flight in a Russian Soyuz capsule. Richard Branson began developing his own commercial space business, Virgin Galactic, a few years ago, and has already sold 700 seats priced at $200,000 each, according to PCMag.com, which reports that a Virgin Galactic space ship flew for the first time with a crew on board in July. How much would you pay for a ticket to space? And what would you pack in your carry-on? PREVIOUSLY The Next Big Thing: Space Travel and More Coming Attractions
Art news: A new museum features works from the School of Paris
As an amateur (but enthusiastic) art buff, I've been following the development of the brand-new Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, N.C. The museum opened in January and just recently mounted its first major themed exhibition: School of Paris: European Abstraction Post World War II. The museum's collection is made up of a 1,400-piece donation from the Bechtlers, a Swiss family of patrons—including local resident Andreas Bechtler—who developed personal relationships with some of their favorite artists, like Alberto Giacometti. Spanning 70 years of the family's collecting efforts, the works were donated to Charlotte so the city could open a museum. Because the collection was originally a private one, much of the art hasn't ever been on public view in the U.S., including works by Warhol, Picasso, and Degas—a neat fact that has gained the museum accolades. The new School of Paris exhibit has more than 60 pieces by eight artists, including paintings, drawings, and prints, all created in the 1940s to 60s. The School of Paris is a term used to describe the group of modern artists who lived and worked in Paris in the mid-20th century, though the group at the Bechtler includes names that are lesser-known in the U.S.: Alberto Magnelli, Gustave Singier, and Nicolas de Stael. If all those foreign names overwhelm, be sure to get the free audio guide when you begin your viewing. As part of the new exhibition, which runs through Jan. 3, 2011, the museum is hosting a few special events, like French films on every Monday in November and concerts, including an Edith Piaf tribute in October. Closing time is usually 5 p.m., but on the first and third Fridays of the month, the museum stays open until 9. Admission is $8 per person, and that includes the School of Paris exhibit. Also new to Charlotte is the Nascar Hall of Fame, which opened in May. Because, really, why not pair an afternoon of high art with a tour of American engine-gunning ingenuity?
San Francisco: A few of our favorite pop-up restaurants
Here in San Francisco, we love a good pop-up restaurant. At pop-ups, chefs temporarily take over other restaurant's kitchens, often for a standing, one-night-a-week gig. The low overhead and ephemeral nature of the set-up allows seasoned chefs to experiment, up-and-coming chefs a way to make a name for themselves, and diners a chance to experience something new. Not surprisingly, the San Francisco pop-ups stress organic and local products and eclectic international menus. Even though news about pop-up is normally spread only by word-of-mouth, these spots draw crowds of devoted local foodies. Here are three popular San Francisco spots to try out: Mission Chinese Food Operating out of an existing chinese hole-in-the-wall—like a restaurant within a restaurant—Mission Chinese Food is a modern, pan-asian venture started by some of San Francisco's most popular serial pop-up restaurant entrepreneurs. Their changing menu features items like Tiger salad with pea shoots, seaweed and fresh coriander ($7), black cod fried rice with chinese sausage ($10), and slow cooked char siu pork belly with mu shu vegtables and ginger scallion noodles ($9). Every day 11:00 am–10:30 pm. Noon to 10 pm Sundays. 415 863-2800, Lung Shan Restaurant, 2234 Mission Street. Eat-in, take-out, and delivery. Ken Ken Ramen Look for the red lantern marking the otherwise sign-less pop-up restaurant Ken Ken Ramen. Instead of a styrofoam cup filled with bland broth, here the noodle soups are jam-packed with delicacies like day-long soaked eggs, shredded pork shoulder, fresh vegtables and noodles handmade in Japantown. Plans to expand the menu to include homemade gyoza and cha-yan, a type of Chinese fried rice, are in the works. 3115 22nd street near Capp. Check their twitter feed @ KenKenRamen for updates. Mondays, starting at 6 pm. Hapa Ramen Ramen fans will also want to check out one of the many Hapa Ramen pop-ups created by Richie Nakano, the sous chef at rustic foodie favorite Nopa, which are sprouting all over town. Besides an intense broth, their organic ramen gets a boost from braised pork shoulder, fried chicken, slow cooked eggs and seasonal vegetables from farms like Dirty Girl and Star Route in Marin. You can find outposts at the Ferry Building on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Off the Grid night in Fort Mason starting at 5pm, and starting September 6th, at Bar Tartine every Monday for dinner from 6-10pm. Expect a long wait: their much anticipated debut night this summer had crowds waiting for up to four hours. For updates and locations, keep an eye on their website and twitter feed @HapaRamen. $8–$12. EAT Chef Tommy Halvorson's idea behind the popular pop-up EAT events was to "provide a way for people to socialize, hang-out [and] eat at a bar but not eat bar food." The menu is an innovative take on California farm-to-table cuisine with entrees like eggplant and fennel Fritto Misto ($8), pork belly tacos with corn custard, succotash, and tarragon ($7), and nectarine cobbler ($6). EAT at 111 Minna takes place the 1st Wednesday of the month; drinks start 5pm and food starts 6pm, 111 Minna St. at 2nd and Mission, 415/ 974-1719. They also set up shop at the Ambassador on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, from 6-10pm, 673 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415) 563-8192.
Cheap(er) eats on the go
It seems like every industry is getting its own flash-sale site—where deep discounts are offered on a limited basis online—and now restaurants, too, are getting a taste of the action. Last week, I read about the burgeoning trend on the New York Times' "Bits" blog, highlighting a new entry, Village Vines, that includes discounts on your bill (after you pay $10 for a reservation): "VillageVines is one of many companies that are changing the way that local businesses market themselves to customers. Restaurants, for instance, can also offer various members-only, limited-time deals through BlackboardEats.com, Gilt City, Groupon, and Yelp, among others." I spent a little time surveying the field to put together a hit list of some of my favorite flash-sale food sites. After all, next time you take a trip, why not have a sweet coupon (and reservation) all squared away to maximize the quality of your mealtime? Here are some of their—and my—favorites: Groupon.com What it offers: daily discounts (from health club memberships to restaurant coupons) in 85 North-American cities and 29 countries, occasionally featuring restaurants. How it works: the deal is only activated if a certain number of people sign up. Sample deal: save $20 on $40 of dinner and drinks at the Rosedale Diner in Toronto. Village Vines.com What it offers: discounts of up to 30% off at over 100 restaurants in New York and more than 20 each in Chicago, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco. How it works: deal seekers use VillageVines to make a reservation at a listed restaurant, pay $10 to secure a table (usually 30 percent off the bill), and the discount is applied to the bill at the end of the meal. Sample restaurants: Public, Le Cirque, Berimbau, and Double Crown in New York. Black Board Eats.com What it offers: up to 30 percent off select restaurant bills or equivalent items in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and online. There's also a "Side Dish" sidebar that announces other food deals around town. How it works: Subscribers are sent an email with deals lasting about a month. You can then redeem the code for your deal of choice at the listed restaurant. Sample restaurants: in San Francisco, Barbacco Eno Trattoria, and Little Star; in Los Angeles, Locanda Positano, and Reservoir. Gilt City.com What it offers: weekly sales (including restaurant deals, home services, and more) in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. How it works: readers select their city and browse the various offers available in their city that week. Sample restaurants: in New York, Strip House; in Los Angeles, Culina Modern Italian. Buy With Me.com What it offers: daily discounts (from spa coupons to restaurant deals) of 50-90 percent at local businesses in the U.S. How it works: each deal requires a minimum number of people to sign up to activate the deal. Interested users join a group and can share the deal with others. If the minimum number is met, members are charged for the deal and sent an e-voucher. Sample restaurants: Padre Figlio in New York and Uppercrust in Boston. What about you? Have you used any of these sites for dining? And how would you rate them on value/ease?