It’s easy to blink and miss San Mateo, a sleepy city sandwiched between San Francisco to the north and Silicon Valley towns in the South Bay, and tucked in the shadows of affluent hillside areas like Hillsborough and Woodside to the west.
I know. I live here and often berate myself for leaving the greener pastures, er uh, brighter lights of ‘the City’ for this.
So, to adjust my attitude, I invited (perhaps begged) some friends to join me on a food crawl up B Street, an unassuming little boulevard of international restaurants- mostly individually owned- here in downtown San Mateo.
That's my brother-in-law Andrew, sister Paige, and friends Meghan, and Carrie warming up at the Downtown Tiki Lounge. (I think I owe them something for making the trip out here, but shhh, maybe they'll forget)
From the Tiki lounge we headed straight for adventure at Street Food, a Chinese restaurant, firing up a long list of skewers.
(thanks for ordering the bbq squid, Andrew. I just love chewing through rubbery food)
("fish balls and cilantro rolls, eh?... ok, we can do this")
Next up, Peruvian faire at Las Americas…
The food was delicious but this was such a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ situation that when Paige asked to use the restroom she was directed through the liquor store next door.
I think you had to be there to fully understand why she documented the event...
and why, in an effort to stay focused on the benefits of living in San Mateo, we won’t speak of this further.
Suffice it to say, we were all happy to move on to Kingfish, an upscale Louisiana style restaurant in this iconic art deco building.
(You can't see it, but the oysters, cornbread and burrata were all big hits here at Kingfish! The martini was awesome too- olives count for food, right?)
(I love the art here too)
We headed for a new Hofbrau next, but it was closed so we ended our crawl, appropriately, at 31st Union, a delicious little farm to table (of course) bistro for people like us who can’t help but ‘heart’ California.
(another of the many art deco building dotting downtown)
and by now, we’re not even taking pictures at all- I ‘borrowed’ these. That’s what happens when you get to the ‘crawl’ part. And, we didn’t even make it to the Indian, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, or Irish spots on B street!
So, if you’re coming to San Francisco and have even just an extra half day or so, come to downtown San Mateo (caltrain stops right here!) and fill your belly with your friends. Or call me, I’ll do the crawl with you. San Mateo is definitely (finally) growing on me
This little owl may seem like a strange painting from me, but it’s part of a really cool project I worked on this weekend. Here’s the scoop:
Founded by Nancy Ballard (on the left contributing her painting talents as well!) Rooms that Rock for Chemo provides hospital oncology centers with colorful uplifting makeovers provided by volunteer interior designers, artists, and all around cool people…
like my friend, Shannon Geis, a talented Decorative Painter , who recruited me, Colin, Vernon, and a few other friends to help her paint a play room for a Children’s Cancer Treatment Center makeover at Oakland Childrens Hospital. Shannon rallied everyone from volunteers, maintenance crew, and hospital staff to add their unique touch to the community mural she designed just for this space. She and another fantastic artist, Lynne Rutter, started off the room with the big elements and came back in when everyone was done contributing to bring it all together with detail work and final touches.
I painted the owl she gave me and then took on three magnate paint squares with decorative frames. (I used it on Fresh Coat, so I know this material well- even the roller gets heavy loaded up with metal infused paint!)
I was only there for one day. It’s the people who spent the week and weekend on this magnificent makeover, and those who are committed to this incredible organization and oncology centers everywhere who are rocking the world.
Great day. Thank you, Shannon Geis and Rooms that Rock for Chemo!
I’m so excited to share with you my first Color in the City pen pal, Isabelle Boucq,
who sent me a glimpse of her neighborhood, the Sentier, in Paris!
I met Isabelle Boucq, an accomplished writer, at a unique little house party in Berkeley (thank you, David!) where she showcased several California musicians who contributed to a movie which she also worked on called California Dream by Cameron Hughes. We’ve been corresponding every since, so I asked her to send me a brief description of the part of Paris she calls home along with a few photos. I added a color palette, of course, and can’t wait to check out her arrondissement myself! ‘Til then, here’s what she sent me about her Color in the City worthy life….
The Sentier, in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, is not an area where you will bump into many tourists. Known as the garment district since the 19th century (several scenes from Balzac’s novels are set in the area), it is a succession of wholesale stores displaying the coming season’s fashion.
The neighborhood is perpetually out of sync, showcasing warm coats and heavy sweaters in the summer and light dresses and capris in the heart of winter.
For a while in the 90s, it became known as the Silicon Sentier, a desirable area for French start-ups attracted by the telecommunication infrastructure originally set up for the nearby Bourse, the stock exchange, in Palais Brongniart.
Cheap rent for large spaces increasingly vacated by sewing workshops also helped attract high-tech companies including Yahoo. Despite a slow decline, the neighborhood is still a lively hub with delivery trucks regularly backing up traffic in its network of narrow streets, some of them named for French military victories in Egypt in the 1790s (rue du Caire, rue d’Alexandrie, rue d’Aboukir where Napoleon briefly lived). Pakistani men stand on street corners and squares waiting to get hired to do odd jobs.
This year, peachy, rosy colors are the dominant colors in the windows of the Sentier.
Isabelle Boucq studied journalism at the University of Oregon, obtaining a master’s there before the digital revolution.
For the past 15+ years, she has written for French and American publications about high tech, business and travel among other topics. With her husband and two sons, she lives alternatively in Paris and in California.