Amber Peckham

Minilist: Organic U-pick farms


Can you even really call the pale hothouse imposters our supermarkets stock "fruit"? A visit to one of the local pick-it-yourself orchards might be in order to score you some succulent goodies at unbeatable prices. All of them are local, beautiful, and 100 percent organic — so make sure to bring your camera as well as your work ethic (and a few friends to help you carry it all).

A trip north to Sebastopol on Highway 101 brings you to Gabriel Farm (3175 Sullivan Road, Sebastopol; 707-829-0617,, a u-pick where a fruit seeker can find 15 varieties of apples, blackberries, and Asian pears. The family-run farm uses solar energy, and each visitor receives a tour of the entire facility free. Call ahead to set a time.

An official site honored by the Landmark Society of Napa, Hoffman Farms (2125 Silverado Trail, Napa; 707-226-8938) offers a daily u-pick from August until early December. Originally the farm grew only pears, but now visitors can pick sugar prunes, peaches, persimmons, quinces, and walnuts. Though the farm is not certified organic, the Hoffmans do follow organic practices. Visitors should call ahead to make certain the owners are home.

The 200-acre spread at Swanton Berry Farm (Highway 1 at south end of Swanton Road loop, Davenport; 831-469-8804, offers two kinds of berries for the intrepid u-picker: strawberries and olallieberries, which are a blackberry-raspberry crossbreed. Both are organically grown and both a steal at $2 a pound. These u-pick sites are run by unionized workers, and biking to either will earn you a 10 percent discount off their already low price. Strawberry seekers should report to the Swanton Berry Farm Stand, while those on the hunt for olallieberries or, in the fall and winter, fresh kiwis and Christmas trees, need to go to the Coastways Ranch (640 Cabrio Highway, Pescadero), across from Año Nuevo State Park.

Since 1922, Webb Ranch Farm (2720 Alpine Rd., Portola Valley; 650-854-5147, and the Webb family have been supplying San Mateo County with fresh produce. They now operate a weekends-only u-pick in the spring. Produce available during the summer includes raspberries, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and melons, ranging from $1–$2.50 a pound (eggplants, $2 each).

Careers & Ed: Assembling a career



Susan Gould is helping me sew up the sides of my Converse sneakers with black surgical suture thread. We’re drinking very strong coffee and sitting in her workroom, which is lined with small plastic bins and boxes filled with hundreds of glass, metal, and paper objects she uses for her assemblage art pieces. The whole experience is surreal — mending the holes in my shoes with a woman I met only an hour before, surrounded by old packaging and papers, buttons, and small objects from warehouses and thrift shops.

But surreal isn’t a new term to the self-sustaining artist. In fact, it’s the word most people use to describe her work: diorama pins, images trapped under magnifying glass, and items like dice, knobs, or bottle caps fused into a statue, all deceptively simple at first glance but strikingly detailed on closer examination.

"I am very particular about the images I use," says Gould, who often alters pictures and then collages them together in Photoshop. "They need to evoke a certain warmth that I can feel."


Gould usually starts with images.

"I am always drawn to the bizarre world of the Victorians," she says. "Vegetable and animal bodies with human heads. Surreal imagery. And definitely nostalgic imagery. I love the vivid colors in Renaissance paintings and costumes and old scientific images. But even these subgroups cover a wide category, and there are many contradictions."

For example, Gould isn’t a fan of retro, cute, or whimsical styles. It’s the fine line between nostalgia and whimsy that differentiates Gould’s art from similar work. Hers are small pieces of reality that have been encapsulated and distorted into foreign and lovely objects that tug at the subconscious.

"I love the idea of taking things out of context and of evoking emotion visually out of pieces of parts," she says. "The dimension invites me to look inward. And it is this idea of being transported into an imaginary moment that intrigues me. Who says this has to be the only world?"

Even as a child, the concept of small, segmented realities fascinated Gould. One of her first encounters with the idea was when her parents took her at age six on a trip to the Museum of Science in Boston.

"I remember being captivated by the variety of shadowboxes and dioramas and thinking, ‘If this is a job, I want it,’<0x2009>" Gould explains.

That fascination set her on the path to self-supporting artistry in 1986. Today she has retail carriers nationwide, as well as in Japan and Canada. Locally her art is sold at the Studio Gallery on Polk Street and at a few festivals and studio sales every year. She’s also recently signed a contract to produce custom work for a company that supplies 43 specialty museum stores.


After working as a freelance graphic artist for 12 years, Gould was forced by outside circumstances to examine new employment options.

"The woman who was paying me $20 an hour as a freelancer told me she had to hire me as a full-time employee for $10.50 or she couldn’t keep contracting me. And the idea of walking around with a portfolio like a first grader, showing it to potential new employers, made me cringe," she says. "So I asked myself, what else can I do?"

With no investor and no other source of income, Gould simply leaped headfirst into her business.

"I just ate rice and beans for a year and worked and worked and saved and saved and kept on going. I think my total investment in getting this business off the ground was $1,000. It became like a challenge to see how little I could spend, how much I could save," she recalls. "I learned so much about myself."

The experience was so important that Gould lists tips on her Web site for people looking to follow her example. According to her site, the top three things one needs to start one’s own business are luck, optimism, and perseverance — in that order.

"I think luck is a factor, but not the only one," Gould explains. "I was lucky in that the things that appealed to me happened to appeal to a large audience. I’ve seen so many talented artists whose stuff doesn’t sell, and I don’t get it. I don’t even really feel like I can take credit for the things I make, most of the time. The objects are themselves. They’re already beautiful, and I just see ways to put them together. It’s not something I’ve created; it’s just a way of seeing things differently."

In order to support herself solely by the sale of her work, Gould sometimes has to make tough decisions about which pieces she offers to buyers.

"In making a living selling my art, I have learned not only to become an efficiency expert and listen to my inner judgment, but that I sometimes have to sacrifice really great products that I cannot make a profit from," she reveals. Gould offers her recent production of dice as an example. Each set took painstaking work to create: she used cubes of wood wrapped in distressed foil from wine bottles and formed the numbers with upholstery tacks. Gould says she could never sell them for their true worth, so she gave them away as gifts. It is that fluid, compromising attitude that has enabled her to succeed.

Gould also does custom work for individuals. If a person provides her with pictures, she can turn them into anything from a bracelet to cufflinks to earrings. She also creates superhero figurines by taking a small plastic toy, removing the head, and putting the image of a loved onemagnified under glass — in its place. The figure is then mounted on a wooden base with wheels. It sounds simple, but Gould’s hand brings a sense of the surreal to the affair, turning what seems like a child’s craft project into a true work of art.

However, not all of her work is for sale or given away. The corners and walls of her apartment are home to the few pieces she likes enough to keep or art that others have made for her, each of which has a story. Through these creations I learn a lot about her father, her brothers, and her friends, their memories preserved and constantly present. She has a miniature tomato mounted on a pedestal that she’s kept for years and a rack of key chains that inspires me to talk about my sister and the emotional attachments people form with inanimate objects.

Which eventually leads to the topic of my shoes and the project, currently at hand, of repairing them. Now we’ve got a small drill, which we’re using to bore through the rubber sole. Gould asks me to prop my foot on a stool before I leave, when she pulls out a camera and snaps a photo of the finished product, which looks like something emo kids would pay $50 to own: shoes, slightly damaged.

"Preserving the moment," I joke as I leave.

"Always," Gould replies with a smile. "I’ll send the picture."

Miette Confiserie


REVIEW To the casual consumer the difference between a genuine candy store and the checkout aisle at Walgreens is a small one. For others, however, the sweets palate is discriminatory indeed and will only be satisfied by the very best. Both can find a home at Miette Confiserie.

Walking into the store is like walking into a childhood fantasy. There are trees made of gumdrops, huge jars full of brightly colored treats of all types, and even a cotton candy machine. The staff are as sweet as the wares, and the prices for bulk candy are more than reasonable if you don’t insist on stuffing yourself diabetic. Some of the chocolate bars are as expensive as $30, but they’ve come halfway around the world and are pretty big. On the other end of the financial spectrum, there are individual bite-size treats like caramels and torrone for as little as 25¢ a morsel.

Most important, there’s a wall dedicated entirely to black licorice, which is kind of like the zany, crystal-gazing aunt of the candy family — she smells good, but nobody can quite gather the courage to talk to her, because she looks a little intimidating. Miette, however, manages to demystify black licorice, making it accessible — desirable, even, after you’ve scarfed down a few free samples.

No doubt about it, Miette accomplishes its goal of making candy even more fun than it inherently is. Willy Wonka, watch out.

MIETTE CONFISERIE Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–7 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. 449 Octavia, SF. (415) 626-6221,

Live Sushi Bar


REVIEW When you’re looking for a restaurant in Potrero Hill, Live Sushi Bar is the proverbial needle in the haystack. But with a good location, great service, and fresh food at reasonable prices, it’s worth finding.

First of all, our server figured out I was a vegetarian when I ordered the Green Combo, and he replaced the beef-based miso soup that accompanies the combo with edamame before I had to ask. He also helped my sushi-novice companion choose a combination of rolls she’d be comfortable with.

As for the food, the vegetable tempura was nothing to sneeze at, but the sushi is really where this place shines. The highlights of my meal were the veggie swamp rolls, cucumber and avocado topped with a delicious seaweed salad that made them look like edible Fraggles curled up on my plate. My friend ordered the Roll Combo and was pleasantly surprised by the all-veggie cucumber rolls, a nice balance to the fishy tuna and crab rolls that constituted the rest of her order. The combos are certainly the best way to go: for the price of one order of rolls, you can get three different rolls, as well as miso (or edamame) and salad. Plus, everything arrives so beautifully arranged, you’ll almost feel guilty ruining the edible works of art with your chopsticks.

And an extra bonus? The women’s bathroom, which not only smells like a tropical paradise but also has a miniature village inside: ducks rowing a boat, a bridge, and little buildings all arranged in an alcove. Stuffing yourself and a friend on great sushi for $30 and then visiting a tiny fantasyland — who wouldn’t love that?

LIVE SUSHI BAR Daily, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5 p.m.–late. 2001 17th St., SF. (415) 861-8610

All I want for Christmas …


We asked some notable San Francisco personalities to recall their most memorable holiday gifts. Read on for the superlatively good, bad, and fugly (plus our recommendations for where to get the good stuff).


WORST A sweater with pink elephants on it from Argentina, from my ex-boyfriend. It’s the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen … it has nothing to do with him as a person.

BEST Once, my friends accidentally ran over my Jawbreaker cassette Dear You because it fell out of my pocket when I got out of their car. They felt bad and bought the record for me for Christmas, on vinyl.

Find punk rock on vinyl at Thrillhouse Records, 3422 Mission, SF. (415) 826-0223.


WORST A small ceramic version of ET when I was six. It was terrifying…. I got out of bed and smashed it in the middle of the night.

BEST A tiny keyboard called the Casio SK-1. It can record sounds and play them back in different frequencies. I got it when I was a kid, and it still sounds great.

Find pianos and electric keyboards at Piedmont Piano Company, 660 Third St., SF. (415) 543-9988,


WORST An unbelievably fugly wall planter called the Little Brown Jug, the most hideous gift imaginable. I got it at a party. When I opened it up, it stopped everything. You could hear a pin drop. I tried to sell it at a yard sale, but nobody would take it. It’s probably still there at the Goodwill on Haight.

BEST Jewelry from a store on Carl and Cole called the Sword and Rose. They sell exquisite, intricate, affordable, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Stop by the Sword and Rose, 85 Carl, SF. (415) 681-5434.


WORST The worst hasn’t happened yet. My parents often threaten to give me a cat, apparently on the principle that an animal will make me responsible. The only thing worse than being given a pet is being the pet that gets given.

BEST I already have more books than I’ll ever read, which is why being given another one is such a luxury. I especially enjoy obscure old books, because they contain whole lost worlds. For instance, I was once given a well-worn hardcover called Around the World with Jigger, Beaker, and Glass. The title alone was as good as a month’s travels.

For rare and first-edition books, try Phoenix Books, 3850 24th St., SF. (415) 821-3477,


WORST My best and worst were at my annual Christmas Eve game show party. One year everyone left before the gifts were all used up. So I opened one. It was a Mexican magazine of horror and gore unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was chilling and haunting and real — a magazine of car-accident victims and people who had died from dog bites, bee stings, battery acid. It was totally out of control. With cute little captions in Spanish. I’m still haunted by that magazine.

BEST A random coupon for a kiss from a girl named Donna. I said into the mic that she could hang around until the show was over so I could collect my kiss. She was crazy gorgeous in a weird, giantess kinda way and was totally into biting. I like the biting.

Give the gift of looking at (if not actually kissing) gorgeous women: a tour of SF strip clubs through Slinky Productions. (510) 291-9779,


WORST A series of Franklin Mint plates depicting football plays with nondescript football players. They had painterly guys in orange getting tackled by nondescript defenders. And what’s a 12-year-old supposed to do with decorative plates?

BEST That would have to be a hunting rifle, a .30-30, the same kind that the Rifleman uses. I killed my first deer with it.

We’re not going to support guns or killing living creatures, but if you want to find a dead animal gift of your own, visit Gypsy Honeymoon, 3599 24th St., SF. (415) 821-1713.


WORST My first electric guitar, from my cousin Jane when I was 13 years old, because it set in motion a cycle of events that led to three divorces, despair, and debt.

BEST My first electric guitar, from my cousin Jane when I was 13 years old, as it led to an intimate love affair with the wonder of song, the glamour of the stage, and therein finding the one and only place I have ever belonged.

Find and fix electric guitars at San Francisco Guitarworks, 323 Potrero, SF. (415) 865-5424,


WORST Homemade leg warmers.

BEST Artist series Adidas Superstars — the San Diego edition — by Dave Kinsey.


WORST A ceramic potpourri simmer pot with flowers painted on it.

BEST The iPhone I haven’t received yet (hint, hint).

Like you didn’t know: get an iPhone at the Apple Store, 2125 Chestnut, SF. (415) 392-0202,


WORST A pink rhinestone charm bracelet with three-inch-long black rhinestone palm tree and taxicab charms.

BEST My grandmother promising to match the money my girlfriend and I save toward buying a house.

You may not be able to give the gift of half a house, but you can get hip, charming housewares from Egg and the Urban Mercantile, 85 Carl, SF. (415) 564-2248.


WORST Fruitcake! I was a kid, and it was Christmas. I was so grossed out by it because it looked slimy and green. When the family wasn’t looking, my brother and I fed it to the family dog in the kitchen. He wolfed it down, then threw up all over the place a few minutes later. That was not fun.

BEST A sound system, gear to play on, an album, a trailer, and a van to pull it all in! Because that gave me the opportunity to travel around the country playing music I loved, which fueled my travels abroad to do the same thing.

DJs in the know shop at World of Stereo 2, 1080 Market, SF. (415) 626-1195. *

Shopping for slackers


When it comes to holiday shopping, some people are planners. These are the types who keep an eye out for potential gifts all year long, who spend long, leisurely hours trekking through shopping districts and browsing through stores for that perfect gift — in June. But most of us are the other type of shopper: the oh-my-god-it’s-almost-Christmas, I-only-have-two-days-to-get-everything, it’s-too-late-to-order-online kind. For these people (you know, the rest of us), we’ve compiled this neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to holiday shopping. Because as much as we’d all love to spend an entire week seeing what every little nook and cranny in the city has to offer, most of us need to get our gifts sometime before, oh, Easter.

Inner Richmond

Running the gamut from the cheap to the extravagant, Clement Street is an ideal place to do a bit of digging at stores whose owners sell what they like. On a gray afternoon stroll, you’re certain to come across at least a couple of rare finds, the sort that will meet the high-design expectations of both the classy and the kitsch-cool San Franciscan on your list.


Donald Gibson buys a lot of his antique dining ware from Eastern Europe or "wherever the dollar is strongest," he says. The store runs on the model of highly organized chaos — expect to find collectible plastic napkin rings from the 1930s, mod place mats, and postcontemporary cutlery all hiding between colorful displays of centuries-old china. Check out the walls too.

7 Clement, SF. (415) 752-1900


Fleurt occupies an impressive, breathable space. Its focus is on interior decor and unexpected gifts, most of them from Europe. But don’t overlook the tres chic flower selection. Fleurt also provides on-site installations, so stop in and ask about custom wreaths and table arrangements.

15 Clement, SF. (415) 751-2747,


At Derek Song and Jamie Alexander’s art and design shop, you’re welcome to pick over bunches of slick T-shirts, hoodies, underread zines, and original artwork, most of it created by the owners and their friends.

220 Clement, SF. (415) 386-7275,


Good, clean fun. The 6th Avenue Aquarium presents a dizzying array of fish and flowers, and everything inside is bathed in superpop blue. It’s worth a stop just for the hyperstimulation — your kid will love you for it.

425 Clement, SF. (415) 668-7190,


A dress-casual boutique for the discerning madam, the Nunnery will help you find a smart, lively ensemble for your mom that promises not to outlive its wearability after New Year’s Eve. Owners Gerry and Billy Sher keep things interesting with an eclectic, mix-and-match approach to filling the racks.

905 Clement, SF. (415) 752-8889


The hilarious sign says, "Smile, your saving a lot of money." And dismal grammar aside, this place lives up to its awesome billing. You wouldn’t know it on first glance, but this shop stocks big, cheap, decent rugs in the back, next to the aging paper goods and the empty boxes of Manischewitz.

626 Clement, SF. (415) 386-1896

Mission and Haight

Everyone knows about Therapy and 826 Valencia in the Mission, and about Shoe Biz and Fluvog in the Haight. But for more unusual gifts from the usual shopping spots, try one of these new, off-the-beaten-path, or simply off-the-radar spots.


This boutique’s owner wrote the book on San Francisco–style indie design — literally. The local couturier was chosen as the author of Reconstructing Clothes for Dummies (Wiley Publishing), and for good reason: her well-made, imaginative creations have helped define recycled fashion.

485 14th St., SF. (415) 355-1900,


No underachiever, Caroligne also has her hands (and designs) in this collaborative art and retail space in the Lower Haight. The brand-new co-op (its grand opening was, ironically and intentionally, on Buy Nothing Day) features gorgeous, one-of-a-kind items by local designers, who can be seen at work in their on-site studios.

544 Haight, SF.


Holsters for your rock ‘n’ roll sis. Leather computer bags for your fashion-forward beau. Tribal earrings for your burner BFF. This circus–Wild West–postapocalyptic–global wonderland (or weirderland?) in the Mission has something for everyone — all designed by Phoebe Minona Durland and Leighton Kelly, the dynamic duo who’ve helped make the Yard Dogs Road Show and Black and Blue Burlesque some of the city’s favorite exports.

510 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-9747,


You know that creative uncle or artsy aunt who always gets you the coolest, most interesting gifts anyone in your family has ever seen? The ones you love but your grandparents don’t quite understand? This is the place to find something for them. In fact, the wooden mustache masks or stackable ceramics are exactly what you would’ve known would make the perfect gift — if you’d known before you visited the shop that they even existed.

855 Valencia, SF. (415) 839-6404,


This charming Mission boutique is cute-little-paper-items heaven: it has creative address books, miniature note cards, adorably funky journals, and much, much more. You’ll also find one-of-a-kind wallets, sweet magnets, and McSweeney’s T-shirts. In short? Stocking stuffers galore.

849 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-7900,


You can cruise the Haight for yet another hippie tapestry or stick of Nag Champa, or you can find something truly original for the alt-culture lover in your life. Ceiba stocks a dizzying array of inspired, fanciful clothing and accessories for men and women. Yes, some of the prices can be steep (though well worth it), but the smaller, cheaper items are just as gorgeous — and just as unusual.

1364 Haight, SF. (415) 437-9598,


This neighborhood isn’t just for tourists and locals pretending to be tourists. It can be perfect for gift shopping — if you know where to look.


This is the place for cool mah-jongg and chess sets, opium pipes, and pretty little jewelry boxes. It even has clean, cute imitation designer bags — good to know if your giftees swing that way.

456 Grant, SF. (415) 397-4848


This place is just fun to walk into. Plus, if you’re in the market for brocade photo albums or scrapbooks, interesting wall scrolls, or unusual night-lights, a stop here is all you’ll need.

800 Grant, SF. (415) 398-2602


There’s a reason this store is a legend: it has every kind of kite you can possibly imagine. Keep in mind that kites are not only a good gift idea for outdoor fun but also perfect for decorating a big room.

717 Grant, SF. (415) 989-5182,


Not just one of the few places in town where you can still buy a cast-iron pan, Ginn is also a source of adorable garnish cutters, charming cake molds, and delightful cookware.

1016 Grant, SF. (415) 982-6307

West Portal

Everyone’s favorite hidden gem (well, it was until journos like us started writing about it), West Portal feels like a small town with the benefits of a big city. Sure, the shopping selection is limited. But it offers a lot of bang for the buck — in products as well as personality.


This is one of those old-fashioned small gift stores that have a little bit of everything — and all of it carefully chosen by someone (or someones) with great taste. The items in the baby section and the Christmas ornaments are particularly good, but you just might find something for everyone on your WTF-do-i-get-them? list.

44 West Portal, SF. (415) 759-7487,


This antique collective is a treasure trove of vintage goodness — and has offerings in every price bracket.

199 West Portal, SF. (415) 242-9470,


The only thing you’ll love more than this shop’s unique clothing and accessories for him, her, and baby is the phenomenal customer service.

320 West Portal, SF. (415) 681-7242,


You can’t talk about shopping in West Portal without mentioning this brilliantly unconventional toy store (which also has a location in the Financial District — but why brave the traffic?). Nearly everything here is educational or alternative in some way — finding a Barbie or a toy weapon will be harder than finding a wooden train set.

186 West Portal, SF. (415) 759-8697,

East Bay

If panicked, harried customers noisily rushing to buy holiday gifts aren’t your thing, escape the city for the quieter, quainter quarters of the East Bay. Better parking and pedestrian-friendly districts mean you can enjoy the trappings of charming boutiques without the tourist hordes — or the headaches.


This cozy space in Berkeley’s Elmwood District offers bedroom playwear in a decidedly un–Frederick’s of Hollywood environment. The dim lighting and rich interior say "sexy" (not "sleazy"), as do carefully chosen boudoir goods by Cosabella, Hanky Panky, Princesse tam.tam, Betsey Johnson, and Roberto Cavalli. Add the complimentary fittings from Ce Soir’s sweetly attentive owner, and you’ve got the East Bay’s best-kept secret since, well, Victoria’s.

2980 College, Berk. (510) 883-1082,


Well-selected clothes vie for attention with wall-hung art at boutique-cum-gallery August, located in North Oakland’s Rockridge District. Both men and women will enjoy the laid-back staff, premium denim selection, luxe cashmere sweaters, and hard to find avant-garde labels — not to mention the sustainable housewares and nature photography.

5410 College, Oakl. (510) 652-2711


Who doesn’t dig candles and lotions, preferably many and in a variety of different scents and permutations? (C’mon, men, don’t pretend you don’t. Isn’t that what the metrosexual revolution was about?) Body Time, with multiple locations in the Bay Area, provides not only the option to add custom scents to lotions and perfume bases but also nubby wooden massage tools and everything else to make it your body’s time, all the time. Check out the one en route to dinner in charming North Berkeley.

1942 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 841-5818,


If you don’t mind riffling through the pack rat–style holdings of Oakland’s charmingly disheveled Antique Centre, head over with a car — a large one. Vintage furniture and home furnishings clutter the house, and you’ll often see full, undamaged wooden dressers or bookshelves for less than $10 (and sometimes free) on the front lawn. It’s a calamity of objects on the cheap and dirty.

6519 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 654-3717


OK. So shopping in the Marina can be expensive and you may have to dodge assaults by sales associates desperate for a commission. But when you’re looking for that high-end dog collar or superstylie serving platter, there’s really nowhere better to look.


This cute little pet shop features just the right mix of well-made necessities and ridiculously high-end luxury items for your giftee’s pets. Try the basic cat toys for the down-to-earth pet lover in your life or buy the angora sweater for the friend who carries her puppy in her purse.

2220 Chestnut, SF. (415) 359-9100


This store, one of several owned by a small local chain, is famous for its knowledgeable staff. Not sure what to get your grandparents or your best friend? Find out what they read last, and let Books, Inc.’s staff help you decide.

2251 Chestnut, SF. (415) 931-3633,


There’s always that time in the gift-giving season when you need to buy housewares — usually because they’re a safe bet. Why not try Modica, an eclectic shop full of cute items that look vaguely European, including a selection of gifts made by the owner’s sister?

2274 Union, SF. (415) 440-4389


This lingerie shop–boudoir simply rocks, thanks to helpful staff and a small but quality assortment of sexy items. How about getting your lover candles that, when burned, melt into massage oil? Or, for the girlie girl (or boy) who still blushes at the mention of sex, try a condom compact, complete with a mirror and a secret compartment for you know what.

3047 Fillmore, SF. (415) 563-1202,


This is the kind of place where you can feel good about spending too much money on clothes. The fashionable, comfortable clothes here are all ecofriendly, and a portion of the profits goes toward running wildlife conservatories in Africa. Plus, it has a killer 60 percent off section.

1849 Union, SF. (415) 738-8544, *

Trattoria Pinocchio


REVIEW My mission was to find a restaurant in North Beach that doesn’t serve Italian food. This was more out of curiosity than resolve; Italian food happens to be my favorite, but I wanted to find an oasis of originality amid the monotony of Columbus Street. After two hours of slowly eliminating the Afghan, Indian, Vietnamese, and Mexican restaurants I had found online because they had closed permanently, only opened for dinner, or had moved across town, I was coming to the conclusion that there is a very active Italian consortium in North Beach driving away all challengers. Plus, my curiosity was eroding under the steadily lapping waves of hunger. I finally cracked and decided to patronize the next cozy little restaurant I came to, provided it wouldn’t break my bank account.

This happened to be Trattoria Pinocchio, a nice-looking establishment with a hostess who spoke fluent Italian as she boasted that the restaurant’s pastas and breads were made fresh every day. With a claim like that and with prices comparable to those of all of the other places I had been passing ($12.95 for a salad and pasta), it deserved a shot at pleasing my exceedingly discriminatory pasta palate. I even made it easy by ordering one of my all-time favorites, linguini al pesto.

Unfortunately, my salad was so oily, it dripped onto my shirt and left stains on the way from the plate to my mouth. The dressing was not quite orthodox and mildly unpleasant, but tasty enough once I added black pepper, so I continued with the greens — with little help from my waiter, who was suspiciously absent most of the time. On my first bite of the linguini — when it finally came — I realized that I had been rudely cheated. While the pasta was cooked well enough, it certainly didn’t taste like it was made fresh that day, and the pesto sauce was more cream and (you guessed it) oil than basil. As I left, I half-expected the hostess’s nose to look longer, but no dice.

TRATTORIA PINOCCHIO Mon.–Thurs. and Sun., 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 11:30 a.m.–midnight. 401 Columbus, SF. (415) 392-1472,

Sushi Boat Restaurant


REVIEW I’m a perpetual tourist. It’s part of the fiber of my being, like sleeping with my mouth open or my love of kittens. The gimmick is never lost on me. It’s probably part of being from the middle of nowhere. So when my boyfriend and I walked into Sushi Boat Restaurant near Union Square, I pulled out the camera. You see, the sushi was appealingly displayed on these little boats, all chained together and sailing around the bar in a circle, and I was sold, quickly and irrevocably, just like when my parents took me to Chuck E. Cheese’s as a kid. Call me the gimmick girl.

The food is decent, especially when you consider the prices. The rolls on the boats come in pairs, so you can try something new without being overcommitted if it tastes nasty. Your foray into the fishy unknown will set you back $1.25 to $3.50 per plate, depending on its pattern. The more uncommon stuff is available on the menu and tends to be a little fresher and more expensive than the stuff in watery orbit, although if you sit at the far end of the bar, you can catch the fresh stuff as the chef puts it out.

If you’re a diehard sushi connoisseur, you’ll be a little disappointed either way you go; the unagi (eel) wasn’t as good as the stuff we got in Japantown, but how could we expect it to be? After all, we’re talking Union Square, the place tourists go when the Embarcadero gets too chilly. We were paying for the atmosphere, pure and simple, and it felt surprisingly good to let go of our expectations and just enjoy what we were presented with. At the least, you can bring visiting family here, especially if they have small children who aren’t picky.

SUSHI BOAT RESTAURANT Daily, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. 389 Geary, SF. (415) 781-5111

So solid


What does it take to put two and two together — and come up with a chair? We caught local artist and craftsman Justin Godar of Godar Furniture ( in his studio just as he was about to carve some solid white oak into one of his unique custom-made designs, and asked.

SFBG You have a degree in fine arts from UC Santa Cruz. What made you decide to build furniture?

JUSTIN GODAR I just found it agreed more with my personality. I realized I wanted to make something with a function, something more than a thought. When you think about things we need to live, things we need to eat and breathe, art doesn’t usually factor in for most people. That’s the difference for me between design and art — design performs a daily function, and art is farther up on the scale of necessity.

SFBG Your custom-made designs use green materials like water-based finishes, and they sometimes push the "normal furniture" boundaries. Was it easy for you to build a clientele?

JG I get return customers, but it took persistence. I’ve been at it since 2000, so I get a constant stream of business now. I will say this, though: there is a better market for what I do here in the Bay Area than there is in other cities. There’s a lot of consideration given to art and local artists. It’s unique.

SFBG Do you have a favorite thing to build?

JG I usually like whatever I’m working on at the time. I love working in solid wood — walnut and oak. I also love the finishing process, adding the final coat, bringing the piece together. As far as items I prefer most? Cabinets I like the least, I guess. Tables and chairs make me feel more like a craftsman and less like a guy slapping something together.

SFBG How much time do you spend in the studio?

JG I’m in here five to seven days a week, usually between nine and 12 hours a day, but as I’m self-employed, it doesn’t feel like work. There isn’t someone telling me to work faster, what to work on, how to work. I do spend entirely too much time inhaling dust, but it’s what I love to do.