ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco: Pier 39's sea lions say bye-bye

By JD Rinne
October 3, 2012
blog_091230_sealions_popup_original.jpg
Courtesy <a href="http://mybt.budgettravel.com/_The-Three-Sisters-Sea-Lions-on-Pier-39-San-Francisco-/photo/6801427/21864.html">jlilly/myBudgetTravel</a>

If you've been to San Francisco's popular Pier 39, along Fisherman's Wharf, in the past, you've probably stopped to gawk at the famous (and numerous) sea lions that congregate there. But as Wired magazine reports, the sea lions have vamoosed.

The sea lions started hanging out on the pier in 1989, and as recently as this fall, there were about 1,700 of the creatures lounging around—a new high. But right after Thanksgiving, the sea lions began to leave, and as of this week, only four were counted by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.

The sea lions have always had an air of mystery. No one's exactly sure why they picked Pier 39 as their haunt 20 years ago, and no one's sure why they left (alternative food sourcing is one theory). Wired quotes the Marine Mammal Center's Shelbi Stoudt saying "there really isn't a reason to be looking for them," as the animals are migratory. Still, as this picture shows, Pier 39 looks a little eerie without them.

For more on San Francisco, check out our new city page.

Keep reading
Inspiration

New York City: MoMA's new first-Thursday specials

Starting January 7, The Museum of Modern Art is bringing back its special late-evening events, when DJs play music in the atrium and films screen in the auditorium. The museum will stay open until 8:45 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month through June. That's much later than its typical 5:30 p.m. daily close. Admission isn't free. The standard $20 entry fee applies. If you'd rather not pay, you should come back on Friday nights between 4 to 8 p.m., when MoMA is free. MORE Budget Travel's New York City page

Inspiration

Pirate treasure comes to Norfolk, Va.

Pirates are, distressingly, much in the news these days, so it might be something of a relief to focus instead on treasures recovered from the wreck of a long-gone pirate ship. The Whydah, a three-masted galley ship capable of carrying 300 tons of cargo, was captured in February 1717 by Captain "Black Sam" Bellamy. The ship's hold was full of gold and goods traded in Jamaica for 312 captives sold into slavery (the ship was named for the port city Ouidah, in present-day Benin). But Bellamy didn't enjoy his spoils for long&mdash;he sailed the Whydah into a storm off Cape Cod in April 1717, and the ship sank. Underwater explorer Barry Clifford and his team discovered the site of the wreck in 1984 and spent two decades recovering objects from the ship. Now National Geographic and Arts and Exhibitions International, who also put together the exhibit "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," have cooperated to produce "Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship." The 16,000-square-foot exhibit, which opened at Norfolk's Nauticus on November 21 and runs until April 4, 2010, features more than 200 artifacts and a life-size replica of the ship that visitors can enter. We've written about Nauticus before, so suffice it to say that "Real Pirates" is just one more reason to visit this fun museum, where kids (and adults) can touch horseshoe crabs and everyone will enjoy learning about the history of our Navy. Do not miss the USS Wisconsin.

Inspiration

Edible Advent Calendar: Week 3

PARIS TREAT Dec. 20: Millefeuille from Jacques Genin I've tried throughout this advent calendar to avoid repeating a single address. That's kept me from posting about the salted butter caramels at Patrick Roger, the fig tart at Pain de Sucre and the bananutella waffle at L'Avant Comptoir. I'm making an exception to return to Jacques Genin and gush about his marvelous millefeuille. This "thousand layers" dessert is often a too-sweet soggy mess. Chez Genin, the millefeuille is assembled at the moment of your order. The buttery layers stay crisp and have just enough salt to counter the pure vanilla cream. It's a revelation for &euro;5.40 ($7.75). La Chocolaterie Jacques Genin, 133 rue de Turenne, 3rd arrondissement, +011-33/1-45-77-29-01. PARIS TREAT Dec. 19: A sultry &eacute;clair from Fauchon This iconic luxury food emporium on the Place Madeleine dates all the way back to 1886. Many of its products are priced out of reach, but this little lady (in pastry form) is well within your grasp. As I reported back in November, the sultry image of Brigitte Bardot is now appearing on Fauchon's rose and almond &eacute;clair. She'll melt slowly in your mouth for &euro;6 ($9). Fauchon, 24-26 place de la Madeleine, 8th arrondissement, +011-33/1-70-39-38-00. PARIS TREAT Dec. 18: Macarons from Ladur&eacute;e The French macaron (way different from that American coconut confection, the macaroon) inspires delight and serious debate. True fans of the delicate cookie never tire of arguing about the best source, and Ladur&eacute;e is always among the contenders. This venerable house has been producing pastry since 1862 and makes macarons that are more traditional than their main rival Pierre Herm&eacute;. They're beautiful to behold... so much so that film director Sofia Coppola used the pastel colors as the basis for costumes in Marie Antoinette. Macaron flavors change according to season, but some of my favorites include cassis-violette (black current and violet), bitter chocolate, salted butter caramel, and rose petal. A selection of four mini macarons (like those shown here) is &euro;7.10 ($10.20). Ladur&eacute;e, 21 rue Bonaparte, 6th arrondissement, +011-33/1-44-07-64-87. PARIS TREAT Dec. 17: Ispahan from Pierre Hermé Pierre Herm&eacute;, the city's most esteemed pastry maker, will be remembered for at least two things: his superb and often stupefying macarons (with surprising notes of white truffle, balsamic vinegar or candied kumquat), and the invention of the Ispahan flavor profile. This combination of rose, raspberry and litchi is used in a range of different sweets and pastries. My favorite is this signature dessert, which sandwiches rose petal cream with fresh litchis and whole raspberries between two rose-flavored macaron cookies (&euro;6.60 ($9.48)). Ask for two spoons and take your dessert to share in the pretty place Saint-Sulpice. Pierre Herm&eacute;, 72 rue Bonaparte, 6th arrondissement, +011-33/1-43-54-47-77. PARIS TREAT Dec. 16: Chestnuts roasting in an open market When Jack Frost is nipping, as he often does in December, it's nice to have your hands wrapped around something warm. These roasted chestnuts make a cozy companion while browsing the open-air Christmas markets of Paris. A small cone for &euro;3 ($4.37) should be more than enough, unless you want a few extra to warm the inside of your mittens (large cone for &euro;5 ($7.29)). These particular ch&acirc;taignes grill&eacute;es come from the market at Saint-Sulpice, where you'll also find vin chaud (hot spiced wine) and other cold weather Christmas treats. March&eacute; de No&euml;l, place Saint-Sulpice, 6th arrondissement. PARIS TREAT Dec. 15: Golden threads from the saffron king When you're shelling out for the world's most expensive spice, it helps to have a trustworthy advisor on the other side of the register. Jean-Marie Thiercellin is a sixth-generation spice merchant whose family has been trading in saffron for hundreds of years. His shop in the upper Marais sells the stuff in every conceivable form: threads and powders, mustards and oils, and even saffron ice cream. A sachet of saffron powder is &euro;5.50 ($8), and you can also pick up an award-winning book on the history and uses of the spice. Don't leave without stopping by "le Sniff Bar"&mdash;his selection of spices in smellable cannisters that are sure to make you swoon. Goumanyat &amp; Son Royaume, 3 rue Charles-Francois Dupuis, 3rd arrondissement, +011-33/1-44-78-96-74. PARIS TREAT Dec. 14: A buttery brioche When Philippe Conticini recently opened his P&acirc;tisserie des R&ecirc;ves, people were lining up on the rue du Bac for the chance to sample the "pastry of dreams." One of his most eye-catching treats is this brioche, composed of fine flaky layers that melt like butter in the mouth. This particular brioche is built for a giant, but he sells one for mortals for only a few euros. Another treat that shouldn't be missed is the Paris-Brest. Named for the famous bike race, this is a wheel of choux pastry stuffed with smooth hazelnut cream. Absolutely delicious for only &euro;4.80 ($7). La P&acirc;tisserie des R&ecirc;ves, 3 rue du Bac, 7th arrondissement, +011-33/1-42-84-00-82. MORE Our Edible Advent Calendar: Paris Food Treats Week 2 Our Edible Advent Calendar: Paris Food Treats Week 1 The photoblog of our expat correspondent in Paris

Inspiration

Menu for Hope: Battle hunger and boost your next vacation

It's time again for the most delicious of do-good campaigns, Menu for Hope. This annual effort enlists food bloggers (full disclosure: I'm one of them) in the fight against hunger. In recent years, the campaign has raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars to support the UN World Food Programme. It has also given away some sweet prizes. Through December 25, you can purchase a single $10 ticket (or many) to bid on the prize item of your choice. Here are some that will be of serious interest to those traveling in 2010: Heading to New York? Bid to win a two night stay in the Chelsea studio of a local food writer. Want to get out of New York? Bid to win a two-night stay at the Farnum Hill Orchard in New Hampshire, with a tour of their cider making facility. Additional items and details at East Coast Prizes. Those going west might bid on dinner for two at Michelin 2-star restaurant Manresa, or a two-day artisan baking class at the San Francisco Baking Institute. Budding photographers bound for L.A. might bid to win a Food Styling &amp; Food Photography Workshop with renowned shutterbug Matt Armendariz. Additional items and details at West Coast Prizes. Visiting Europe in 2010? Those dreaming of Italy can bid to win a two-night stay at a small inn in the alps of Piedmont, a market tour and trattoria lunch in Florence, or a personalized wine tasting class in Rome. Context Travel is offering two spaces in any of its scholarly city walks; in Europe, that includes Rome, Venice, Naples, Florence, London and Paris. A trip to Paris would also be elevated by winning a ten-course dinner for two with wine pairings at Hidden Kitchen (value $230). And if you're wondering where to eat while in Paris, I myself have signed on to be somebody's food slave, writing a tailored printable guide with recommendations based around the winner's personal taste and budget. Additional items and details at European Prizes. These are only a fraction of the prizes being offered for your traveling and gastronomic pleasure in 2010. Visit this site to bid on any items before December 25! ELSEWHERE... NYT: The Frugal Traveler on Ways to Give Back

ADVERTISEMENT