Diary of a Dog: Riesling

At 75 pounds, I am larger than your average Golden Retriever, which proved problematic for my first owner who lived in a very small San Francisco condo. Luckily for me, Sheryl and Lane invited me to live with them in Menlo Park. Now I have a yard for chasing squirrels, and we go on long walks around the neighborhood and in Portola Valley. I am not much interested in the other pups I encounter, but I have yet to find a human I don’t want to meet, greet and, if possible, sit on. It seems I was born to be held and cuddled, and if you stop petting me, I will nudge your elbow until you begin again. If you visit my house, I will be on your lap before you know it, so just settle in and enjoy. I am almost 10 years old and, like the wine I am named after, I just get more golden and sweet every day.

Calling All Dogs: If you've got quirky habits or a funny tale (or tail) to share, email your story to hello@punchmonthly.com for a chance to share a page from your Diary of a Dog in PUNCH.

Diary of a Dog: Bella

Although I may look like a black Lab, I’m actually a kangaroo in disguise. As you might imagine, this came as a shock to Connie, who always had black Labs while raising her kids in Atherton. Her previous pups were all “gentle service dogs,” so that’s what she was expecting when her son Cory brought me home to her when I was eight weeks old. Sure enough, “soooo calm” is how she initially described me, but I was just biding my time before revealing my true nature. Once I was all settled in, SURPRISE! As it turns out, I’m from a hunting dog line that loves to run and jump. And jump. And jump. It doesn’t take much to unleash my alter ego. At a single ding of the doorbell, my hind legs kick into gear and I bounce up to greet whoever is there. When Cory comes over to take me on an outing, I’ve been known to hop over the bike rack and tailgate in my dash to the car. And forget any obstacle between me and my food bowl. I can clear a four-foot-high table in a single bound if I know it’s chow time. When I’m not channeling my inner kangaroo, I love running—as fast as I can and even in circles. Although I’m not allowed up on furniture, I’ve figured out a way to place my entire body in Connie’s lap with just my back paws on the ground. Who wouldn’t appreciate a cuddle like that? I also make it my mission to wake up Connie every morning at 7AM sharp. (All it takes is a quick lick of the toes.) No lazing about for this kangaroo-canine: I always want to get a jump on my day!

Calling All Dogs: If you've got quirky habits or a funny tale (or tail) to share, email your story to hello@punchmonthly.com for a chance to share a page from your Diary of a Dog in PUNCH.

Coastal Currents: Half Moon Bay Day Trip

Words by Johanna Harlow

When’s the last time you visited Half Moon Bay? If it’s been a while, you’re bound to notice a number of new storefronts and signs cropping up around the neighborhood. Though it’s still the cozy coastal town you’ve always loved, Half Moon Bay isn’t sitting still. From buzzy restaurants and gleaming shops to faithful standbys providing fresh offerings, plenty of new discoveries await.

Coastal Cuisine

There’s something comforting about placing your go-to order at a tried-and-true restaurant—but fortune (and food) favors the bold. HMB’s Main Street is a prime place to find your next favorite dining spot.

Sit and sip a spell at Jettywave's garden patio by one of the firepits. Photo: Paulette Phlipot

After closing its Burlingame location during the pandemic, farm-to-table-forward Fattoria e Mare re-emerged closer than ever to the source. Partnering with local fisherman and farmers, this Northern Italian restaurant ensures that seasonal veggies are treated as intentionally as the dishes they adorn—and plated artfully around light, flaky branzino and pan-seared scallops alike. Considering that the restaurant’s chef/owner Pablo Estrada grew up kneading bread alongside his dad at the bakery, you can also expect the pizza and focaccia to rise to the occasion. On the pasta side, twist your tines around bright, citrusy linguine with clams and prawns or cacio e pepe prepared in the traditional way in a hollowed-out wheel of pecorino cheese.

Also along the main drag, you’ll discover Ciya Mediterranean Cuisine, which specializes in making traditional Greek and Middle Eastern dishes really, really well. Like heavenly creamy hummus or fragrant lamb and beef skewers served over buttery orzo rice pilaf. For a medley of Mediterranean flavors, order the appetizer sampler with everything from ground-chickpea falafel to pungent feta rolls, grape-leaf-wrapped dolma to spicy ezme. Turkish coffee served in an ornamental silver cup and a honeyed piece of baklava make for a satisfying conclusion to the meal.

Photo (& Cover Photo): Courtesy of Kevin Henney

For both the kiddies and the kids at heart, swing by Full Hearts Arcade and Eats for burgers and games, like Ms. Pac Man and Moon Patrol. Continue to nibble your way down Main Street with lemon ricotta pancakes at Johnny’s, the newly-renovated, not-your-grandma’s diner—or with blueberry bars and tuxedo cookies at Fishwife Sweets. Sage Bakehouse with its 25 kinds of New Zealand-style savory pies is worth venturing off the main drag for. So is Jettywave, with its nautical-themed bar, award-winning gin and sprawling garden patio with firepits.

ADDITIONAL EATS

Velvet Hippo Lounge — Charcuterie plates and classy craft cocktails at downtown’s hot new cocktail lounge.

Blue Dragon Pho — Takeout-only Vietnamese spot that all the locals are raving about.

OceanCiders — A waterfront lounge along Pillar Point Harbor.

Breakwater Barbecue — BBQ in El Granada, so popular they were added to the Michelin Guide and serve up brisket at Levi’s Stadium now.

Maverick’s Creperie — Not new-new, but recently changed owners and boasts a revamped menu.

Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Averson

Cycle and See

Everyone knows Half Moon Bay is plentiful in picturesque shorelines—but there’s a new way to soak in those beachy views. For guided e-bike tours along the coast, soar along with the sea breeze with Ride California (iridecali.com). Embarking from the Mill Rose Inn, you’ll spend two hours cruising through downtown, past the newly opened Coastside History Museum, by the Brussels sprout fields and along miles upon miles of coastal beach trails. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a whale! As you’re pedaling, your tour guide will point out historic buildings like HMB’s historic Johnston House and county jail, offer restaurant and beach recommendations and fill you in on all things HMB (from its agriculture to its surf scene).

Though not new per se, Coastal Repertory Theatre has a number of exciting plays lined up for its 2024 season. Don’t miss the upcoming Boeing-Boeing, a 1960s-era comedy of errors involving three stewardesses unwittingly engaged to the same man.

Photo: Courtesy of Joyce Morrell

Same goes for the upcoming lineup at the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, where trios, quartets and full orchestras perform smooth jazz and classical music in a snug venue with ocean views. You’re in for a great show whether you wade into the crowd near the stage or prefer to people-watch from the balcony.

Beachside Boutiques

Time to hit the shops! First stop: home decor and accessories store Home Town Mercantile to welcome the longstanding store’s new owner. Since taking the reins last April, Marika Holmgren has continued to curate “comfort and luxury” items, while expanding the store’s offerings with a jewelry collection and some exciting new brands.

Photo: Courtesy of Marika Holmgren

Art got your heart? Swing by M Stark Gallery, which opened last year. Be it Jennifer Roberts Almodova’s untamable wildflower paintings or Ethan Estes’ seascapes textured with fishing rope, the gallery showcases Bay Area artists with work that “evokes the spirit of the West Coast and is in dialogue with contemporary fine art movements.” Come back every month or two for new exhibitions.

If you believe in the magic of books, find your way to Ink Spell Books, a beloved local bookstore that recently moved to a larger location. Locate it between the Ocean Blue Vault art gallery and the verdant Garden Apothecary and take your time perusing the shelves.

Don’t miss time-tested favorites like Jupiter and Main, Juno’s Little Mercantile and Abode before you wind your way back over Route 92 for home.

Photo: Courtesy of Carla Peña

Extend Your Stay

No need to rush back? Bask in HMB’s full glory at The Ritz-Carlton, where grand stonework and lofty architecture give the impression of Hogwarts at the ocean. Perched along the sea cliffs, the hotel presents coastal views, along with vistas of the rolling green hills of the Half Moon Bay Golf Links. The on-site spa will lift the tension with massages, body wraps and facials, but expect your room to also feel like a zen experience with soothing neutral colors, geode wall art and a large luxurious tub. Notch up the coziness factor by selecting soothing music and cricket sounds on the bedside stereo, then turning the TV to the fireplace channel. Poke your head out of your room at dusk when the resident bagpiper takes to the cliffs and sends off the sun sinking into the sea.

As the moon rises, retreat to the cozy indoors for an on-site dinner at The Conservatory. Standouts include the citrusy jicama salad with pickled onion, avocado, cucumber and a touch of tajin as well as the lamb with rosemary, a zesty garlic butter marinade and red chimichurri sauce. If the ocean views out the windows get you craving seafood, sample the sea with a cioppino loaded with littleneck clams, Mediterranean mussels, Dungeness crab and shrimp in a spicy tomato broth.

Kick Back Coastside – visithalfmoonbay.org

Perfect Shot: Pistachio Beach Sunset

Redwood City photographer Michael Belew envisioned this spectacular sunset before he captured it at Pistachio Beach, just north of Pigeon Point Lighthouse. “Checking coastal tidal charts, I knew which early evenings would be a low tide at this location, exposing the rocks along the shoreline, and I waited for an evening with clouds,” he recounts. Michael arrived on the early side, set up his camera, selected his composition and patiently waited for the sun to make its descent toward the horizon. “I watched in awe as the scene developed before me,” he says, resulting in this Perfect Shot.

Image by Michael Belew / michaelbelewphotography.com

Calling all Shutterbugs: If you’ve captured a unique perspective of the Peninsula, we’d love to see your Perfect Shot. Email us at hello@punchmonthly.com to be considered for publication.

Ticket to the Past: Stanford Theatre

Words by Johanna Harlow

For almost a century now, the Stanford Theatre has inhabited downtown Palo Alto. It’s watched shops and decades emerge—and then dissolve. It’s listened as the gravel-y rattle of boxy Ford Model Ts on the street outside gave way to the revving rumble of tailfinned Cadillacs, then to the silent whisper of sleek Teslas. It’s welcomed audiences dressed in pinstripe suits and flapper dresses, tie-dye shirts and flared pants, flowing maxis and khakis.

The theatre’s historical weightiness continues to draw in passersby today. As soon as you make eye contact with the majestic marquee sign above its entrance, the pull is almost irresistible. If you allow it to, the theatre will tug you in through its doors, sweep you across a grandiose, chandeliered lobby, escort you up a blue tiled staircase and, finally, settle you into a red velvet balcony seat. As the crimson curtain parts and a classic black and white movie begins, you’ll have fully traveled back in time.

In the summer of 1925, this neighborhood movie palace opened to great fanfare. The mayor gave a speech. Reginald Denny, star of that night’s motion picture, made an appearance. The newspapers applauded the building’s modern ventilating system, remote-control switchboard system and crushed silver curtains. They marveled at its walls and ceiling coated in Greek-Assyrian paintings and made note of the maid in attendance in the “women’s retiring room.”

These days, you won’t be greeted by an attendant when you visit the washroom, but you’ll still witness décor identical to that of opening night. This hasn’t always been the case. By the time the ’80s rolled around, the Stanford Theatre had spiraled into disrepair. “It was a ramshackle, falling-apart, poor old skeleton of a theatre,” describes Cyndi Mortensen, general manager at the Stanford Theatre and the Stanford Theatre Foundation (the nonprofit that runs it). As it bounced from owner to owner, the elaborate Greek-Assyrian details were painted over, the organ removed. The layer of grime thickened, the seats rusted. Gone were the days dancers, ventriloquists, acrobats and other performers traveled to entertain in vaudeville acts accompanying the movie. Before long, the theatre was reduced to screening second-run action flicks for 50 cents (a dime cheaper than ticket prices here over half a century earlier).

Fortunately, that’s when David W. Packard, the son of one of Hewlett-Packard’s co-founders, burst onto the scene. After beloved singer, dancer and actor Fred Astaire passed away in 1987, Packard rented out the theatre for two weeks to commemorate every movie the star ever made. His modest goal was getting at least 50 people to attend. Instead, more than 1,000 moviegoers lined up each night to savor the spellbinding tap-dance numbers of Astaire in his trademark top hat and tails. After such a remarkable success, Packard convinced his father and the Lucile Packard Foundation to purchase the theatre and grant him stewardship so that movies from the silent era through 1965 could return once again to the big screen.

Coming from a professorial background, Packard unsurprisingly took great pains to reconstruct the theatre’s majestic original appearance. He spent close to two years and $6 million on renovations—a sizable hike from the $300,000 and less than a year it took to initially build the theatre. With the help of a black-and-white photograph and original watercolor sketches, Packard oversaw the return of the Greek-Assyrian detailing. He also restored the period chandeliers, stage pillars, seats and curtains.

But the crowning glory of this jewel box theatre was the Mighty Wurlitzer organ. It took six experts nearly two years to acquire and restore its pieces. Every night since its reopening, the Wurlitzer and its accompanying organist rises out of the stage floorboards during intermission to astound theatergoers with its musical complexity of keys, bells and pedals. “It’s something that people don’t forget,” Cyndi says.

Packard is also behind the carefully crafted movie lineup. “He has very good instincts about these things,” remarks Cyndi, who occasionally contributes ideas herself as well as tracks down 35mm reels from studios and archives. Programs range from genres (like screwball comedies), to directors (like Alfred Hitchcock), to actors (like Jimmy Stewart). In the summer, they spotlight all-time greatest hits.

The most beloved films? “Casablanca hands down,” Cyndi responds. It’s hard not to fall in love with the movie’s suave, affably cynical hero and clever dialogue. (“Here’s looking at you, kid.”) On the film’s 50th anniversary, more people watched the iconic classic here than anywhere else in the country. Other crowd favorites include Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. All three were released between the Golden Age years of 1937 to 1947, which Packard considers the peak of film as an artform. Movies starring Audrey Hepburn or Cary Grant also draw a dedicated following. And, of course, there’s the annual Christmas Eve showing of It’s a Wonderful Life, so adored that people start asking about tickets in July.

“I think most people would assume that we have mostly senior citizens,” Cyndi notes. “We do have some, but we also get all different ages.” Parents enjoy introducing their kids to films they themselves grew up with. “We get these young teenage girls dressed as Holly Golightly. Which is really cute, but I don’t know whether she’s a great role model,” Cyndi chuckles, referring to the main character of Breakfast at Tiffany’s—a high-end escort who sparks with Paul, the “kept” companion of a wealthy socialite. Cyndi also fondly recalls a group of elementary schoolers who showed up dressed as the squirrelly bespectacled actor Harold Lloyd.

Then of course, there’s the Stanford students. They’ve been a core audience at the theatre since the very beginning—for better and for worse. Its close proximity to a college campus inevitably means student hijinks. One such shenanigan dates back to the night of November 7, 1929, when 150 first-years in pajamas rushed the theatre (without paying) and stormed the balcony for a screening of Our Gang. Another night, after the theatre’s restoration, a group of Stanford ballroom dancers twirled down the aisles as the organist played a tango from Astaire’s Flying Down to Rio.

If that wasn’t enough personality for one building, Packard added a gallery, stocking it with original movie posters, newspaper clippings and other ephemera. Cyndi acts as curator, switching out items to match the current program. During the months of “Hitchcock and Other Masters of Suspense,” the walls were bedecked in artistic renderings of intense action shots—like Cary Grant sprinting away from a dive-bombing plane and Grace Kelly struggling to break free from a strangler’s grasp. On special occasions, screenings feature actors’ costumes on display or, better yet, appearances by the actors themselves.

 

Why do old movies continue attracting modern audiences? “I think it has something to do with classic Hollywood acting,” Cyndi muses. “People don’t act like that anymore.” Bygone eras—and the cultures they cultivated—mean a unique approach to storytelling. We’re enthralled by the differences in dress, home life and social norms—but also anchored by those timeless themes. We still empathize with feelings of frustration over injustice, heartbreak over unrequited love, amusement over minor miscommunications. “They continue to move us, speak to us, make us laugh, make us cry,” Cyndi notes. “They have heart. They resonate. They may be old—but they don’t get old.”

show time – stanfordtheatre.org

The Beat on Your Eats: Healthy Eats

Words by Johanna Harlow

Take it or leaf it—a fresh start for the New Year.

proper food

Menlo Park

Great news! The wildly popular San Francisco staple known as Proper Food just got a Menlo Park location. Marketed as “a fresh take on takeaway,” this breakfast/lunch spot offers standout soups, salads, sandwiches, bowls and wraps, all with seasonal ingredients. And it’s clear that the chef behind the concept had fun coming up with the menu. We’re talking seared lemon pepper tuna with saffron-infused basmati rice, beluga lentils, kale and roasted tomatoes. Coconut-crusted shrimp with shredded carrot and cabbage, sesame seeds, green onion and crispy wontons, all on a bed of spring mix salad. Red quinoa and wild baby arugula with beets, basil, goat cheese, pesto and a balsamic reduction… Do we really need to keep going? 1300 El Camino Real. Open Monday to Friday.

the toss

San Carlos

Salad can be so much more than ranch and lettuce. Shake things up with this veggie-forward San Carlos eatery. At The Toss, they keep things fresh (and green) with locally-sourced ingredients, proudly displaying a fridge loaded with verdant tubs of romaine, sweet gem, spring mix and spinach. The Toss makes an exceptional cobb salad, but we recommend traversing their internationally-themed options. Try Corfu: a mix of lettuce, sundried tomato, artichokes, pickled red onions, garbanzos, kalamata olives and feta cheese, all tossed in a champagne vinaigrette. Or go Tex-Mex with the Siesta: shredded kale, quinoa, black beans, jicama, tomato and avocado, spiced up with pepitas, chili-roasted hominy and citrus jalapeno dressing. One bite, and your ranch and romaine days are behind you. 673 Laurel Street. Open Monday to Friday.

west park farm and sea

Redwood City

Sup on surf and turf at West Park Farm and Sea—a Mediterranean medley of sustainably-sourced offerings made with organic non-GMO herbs, sauces and wild fish. Their bowls, a popular menu item, are served with pita, Greek pico, mixed greens and rice with your choice of grass-fed skirt steak, cage-free chicken, grilled Scottish salmon or falafel. Don’t overlook tasty sides like the curry cauliflower and red lentil soup. Located in downtown Redwood City, the restaurant is only a short walk from the San Mateo County History Museum—so consider feeding your brain as well as your stomach. 855 Middlefield Road. Open daily.

Q&A: Mitchell Johnson

The well-known Menlo Park artist shares how he chooses his subjects, the wildest thing he’s ever done and what compels him to destroy his work.

What inspires you to choose subjects for your paintings?
I’m drawn to everyday things or even famous views but in moments of unusual color, shape and scale.

Why do you consider each of your paintings an “experiment”?
I make a painting to find out if something can be turned into a painting. I don’t paint chairs; I turn chairs into paintings.

What surprises people most about your artistic process?
That’s easy: that I destroy a lot of paintings in order to complete the ones I finish. Some paintings are cursed and will never get finished and it’s important to abandon them.

What do you remember most about meeting your wife, author/chef Donia Bijan?
I walked into Cafe Verona on Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto in April 1994 and Donia was sitting at a table eating a salad and working—making lists of supplies for her soon-to-open restaurant, L’Amie Donia. I remember clearly how beautiful and intriguing she looked. Luckiest day of my life. Love at first sight.

Describe your studio.
I have a large warehouse not far from Facebook’s campus. It has giant skylights for natural lighting and a big roll-up door for good ventilation.

How do you know when a painting is done?
I know a painting is done when it feels like it will be difficult to part with it. How sad if I sold paintings that didn’t meet this test. I don’t sell sketches or abandoned work.

What’s an interesting story behind your artwork?
Reproductions of my paintings have been used in three of Nancy Meyers’ films. Every week, I get an email from someone who is sitting in a plane watching The Holiday, It’s Complicated or Crazy, Stupid Love and recognizes one of my paintings.

Do you listen to music while painting?
I really like Chopin and Miles Davis but also Phoenix, Wilco and Neil Young.

How did you define yourself before you became an artist?
Lost. Frustrated.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
I impulsively left graduate school at Parsons in 1989 to move to Meyreuil, France, where I knew no one and had no contacts. I had a hunch I’d benefit from an isolated intense period of painting in a completely new place.

What age would you choose to be again and why?
24-25. I’d like to be able to ask myself how I had the courage to take such large risks.

What’s something people are always surprised to learn about you?
That I make paintings because I need to, for my own sanity, not because people want to buy them.

What do you collect?
Experiences.

Essay: The Best Gift

Words by Sloane Citron

I first met David Altman when I was five, both of us fresh kindergarteners at Temple B’nai Israel Sunday school at the small synagogue that served the Jewish population—what there was of it—in Amarillo, where
we lived.

David went to the next-over elementary school, though we lived five minutes apart and we would attend the same junior high, Stephen F. Austin. When we were in sixth grade, we both received guitars for Hanukkah, and along with Charles Ware, who received some drums for Christmas, we started a band, ultimately dubbed The Psychedelic Vibrations. Like thousands of other garage bands at the time, we played “Louie, Louie,” “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone,” “Light My Fire” and dozens more. It was great fun.

David’s mother, Mrs. Altman, was our biggest promoter and fan. We mostly practiced in the Altman garage, and she arranged our performances, helped procure equipment and schlepped us around town in their company van (like half the Jews in Amarillo, they owned a clothing store) with our amplifiers, drums and guitars. I suppose we were cuter than we were good, but for a couple of years we played regularly, usually for $50 a pop, which we were happy to have.

While this was all happening, my own family was falling apart. My sister and brother left for school—my brother to prep school and my sister to college—and then my mother never returned from a concert tour (it’s a long story) before ending up in a major symphony orchestra far from Amarillo. It took a good two seconds for my Dad to find a girlfriend, who would eventually become my stepmother and move into our home, along with her three younger children.

But for a good two years, it was just my Dad and me in our home, and since he was attending to his new girlfriend, I was mostly left to fend for myself. I remember many nights, alone, opening cans from our pantry and making a dinner out of them. I was especially partial to mandarin oranges and smoked fish.

Soon after all this hazarai started, Mrs. Altman had David invite me for the weekend. I was too young and naïve to understand that she saw what was happening in my home and felt a need to help. A woman of valor, she was nothing but kindness, support and love. That first weekend turned into two years of weekends at the Altman home.

Starting from my very first sleepover, I was made to feel like a member of their family. At their modest house, I had my own bed in a large room that had been created for David and his two younger brothers. Mrs. Altman drove me around, made sure I was well fed and hugged me when she sensed that it was needed. I always dreaded Sunday afternoons when my Dad would pick me up.

Mrs. Altman understood my situation much better than I did, knowing that if I was not at her home eating a proper meal, I would be home all alone, or worse, dragged over to the home of my imminent stepfamily. Inevitably, I would get a thrashing after visiting the girlfriend’s home since—and this was and is still true today—I’m not one to mask my feelings. This “new” family was anathema to me, and I was rude and insolent and nasty to the girlfriend and her children. They weren’t bad people; they just weren’t my people and I wanted nothing to do with them.

Mrs. Altman showed the purest form of kindness—the type that doesn’t expect anything in return. Eventually, after my stepfamily moved in with us, my father told me that there would be no more weekends at the Altmans and that I was to stay at home and be a part of our new family. Blah.

It took me a few decades to understand what Mrs. Altman had done for me, offering her unflinching generosity and love. As I matured and had my own children, I came to realize the impact she had on my life. A selfless, maternalistic woman, she never thought about how she had rescued me. She just knew I needed some love, and she was the one to give it.

Through the years, whenever I returned to Amarillo to visit, I always made sure to visit her, and I also called her when memories of that time would pop into my mind. It was important for me to tell her how grateful I was to her. She, of course, scoffed at my praise, but I expressed my feelings, nonetheless. I last talked with her a couple of months ago, checking in just to hear her voice and to ask how she was faring.

There are people so ingrained into our lives that we can’t imagine life without them. But that is, of course, tomfoolery. Mrs. Altman recently passed away at age 92. It was a huge blow, and I am still grieving. I needed to recognize this good woman in these pages and thank her one last time for the gift that she gave me, a gift with no package and no contents, but perhaps the best I was ever given.

Landmark: Hubcaps

Words by Sterling Davies

How do you add playfulness to parking? Artist Gordon Huether has an idea. Standing 13 feet tall just outside Redwood City’s County Garage off Middlefield Road is one of his jumbo-sized art installations entitled Hubcaps. Completed in 2021, the structure consists of 1,000 shiny silver hubcaps arranged around a spherical wire frame and serves as a gateway piece for San Mateo County’s new community office complex, which is currently in the process of construction. Gordon Huether, a New York-turned-Napa artist, has pieces that can be found all around the Peninsula and the world. Ranging from sculptures for animal shelters to privately commissioned artworks, he takes inspiration from nature’s effects on man-made materials as he tells a story that’s unique to the project at hand. Gordon’s work mainly revolves around glasswork, but he has extensive experience creating with steel, resins and salvaged materials. With Hubcaps, he wanted to introduce a whimsical element to an everyday occurrence: parking. Taking inspiration from older cars, Gordon restored countless vintage hubcaps and arranged them in an unexpected way to create a sense of play and breathe new life into recycled materials. So when lousy parking jobs and excessive brake lights steer you into a bad mood, let Hubcaps return the smile to your face.

Rock Star: Terry Lyngso

Words by Kate Daly

Alongstanding pillar in Peninsula landscaping is in transition as Terry Lyngso, the last leader of the family-run business, prepares to sell Lyngso Garden Materials to the company’s dozens of employees. How does it feel to let go of so much history? “It’s hard,” admits Terry, who began working at Lyngso when she was in junior high.

Initially intending to become a special education teacher, Terry, at 23, instead took on the running of Lyngso’s onsite concrete batch plant. In the 1980s, she stepped up to the role of president when her parents retired to travel around the country in their motorhome.

Now 95, her dad, founder John Lyngso, claims that the business originated back in 1936, when he was an eight-year-old living in San Francisco. As John recounted to Terry, he and a friend built a cart and went into the hills to collect “meadow muffins from the cows and sold them to the gardeners in the neighborhood.”

Later on, when Terry’s Danish grandfather, a carpenter, started building homes in Belmont, John excavated the sites and bought land in San Carlos to store the dirt. John also did grading and worked on the 101 freeway. After a contractor asked him to haul in some quartz pebbles and they sold out right away, John brought in more products and set up a company in 1953.
“The focus was always on the landscape contractor and homeowner,” Terry says. “My mom worked in the sales office, took deliveries and answered the phone, and dad did the deliveries. They worked all the time when we [three girls] were little. Fortunately, we lived next door to my grandparents.”

Both families lived in Belmont, not far from the Lyngso business, which operated on what are now runways at SFO. In 1969, airport expansion triggered the Lyngso Garden Materials’ move to Seaport Boulevard in Redwood City. In 2015, Lyngso uprooted again to its current location on Shoreway Road in San Carlos. Terry calls it a great space with more than five acres to showcase all of their sand, gravel, concrete, stone, soil, compost and mulch mixes, garden ornaments, tools and building materials. A small display garden is set up near the bioswale demonstration area that illustrates how runoff stormwater from the parking lot can be captured and filtered with plants.

Terry’s personal leanings towards composting and organics influenced the company’s growth. In early 2000, she says she learned “how important having a healthy living soil is. Important to human health, the planet—everything.” She took classes to become a Master Gardener and Master Composter, and started giving educational talks through Lyngso and other outlets. She plans to continue being involved with the UC Master Gardener program when she retires.

What will she miss when she leaves Lyngso? “I’ve always cared about the people,” she reflects, “and the products have always mattered, education has mattered and being part of the community.” In the early days, the company helped support the Japanese Garden in San Mateo’s Central Park. More recently, Lyngso has provided soil mixes to grow vegetables and pollinator plants at local school gardens. Terry is proud of the role Lyngso has played, along with the company’s reputation for having loyal customers and longtime employees. Like Terry, Vic Thomas has also chalked up 50 years with Lyngso, logging numerous trips to China to source stone products.

Unlike Vic and her parents, “My dream is not to go traveling,” Terry shares. “My dream is to dig into the dirt more.” She and her husband live in Loma Mar, where they have “an amazing native garden” with plants such as coffeeberry and Oregon grape. Bobcats, quail, snakes and insects roam the place and she finds the 400-year-old oak tree that anchors the property “quite awe-inspiring.”

Given that her yard is by her own description “wild and messy,” Terry may have bypassed the latest trends she has observed in landscaping. Customers want yards that are “much cleaner and organized, more outdoor living spaces with outdoor kitchens,” she notes, adding that raised-bed vegetable gardens took off when people were stuck at home a few years back. She shares that creating living green roofs and bioswales have also become popular. And recently, she has noticed more people buying red lava rock and sparkling white stones.

“We’re into a little retro right now,” explains John Lettko, Lyngso’s new CEO. “It’s generational, I think, with kids taking over their parents’ homes and bringing back some of the landscaping they grew up with.”

Terry’s tastes tell the opposite story. After growing up in Belmont, she lived in Woodside for a while, then left to pursue more untamed land in Loma Mar. As she anticipates spending more time in her yard, she’s hoping she’ll catch sight of the mountain lion her neighbor saw lounging on the well house one day.

Picture Perfect Carmel

Words by Sheryl Nonnenberg

Carmel-by-the-Sea has long been a magnet for artists working in a variety of media, from painting to sculpture to prints. A walk around this charming, one-mile-square village reveals an astounding number of art galleries (almost 100). Visiting them all would be overwhelming and certainly implausible in just a one-day outing. But narrow your scope to the medium that has become a signature for this coastal town—photography—and you will be amazed by how much you can learn about the region’s history and the evolution of the West Coast Photography Movement.

Although photographers began capturing Monterey Bay’s white sand beaches and wind-swept cypresses in the late 19th century, the history of contemporary photography from this area really begins with Edward Weston. Weston had an illustrious career that included a Guggenheim Fellowship (he was the first photographer to be given the award) and lived in various places around California. In 1929, he moved to Carmel and began taking black-and-white photographs of the magnificent coastline around Point Lobos. Soon, colleagues like Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock and Imogene Cunningham joined him, capturing the unique geography of this area in the straight, sharp-focused, framed technique that differentiated them from the “pictorialists” of the past.

Start your historic photography tour with the Weston Gallery, which is located on 6th Avenue, parallel to Ocean Avenue, Carmel’s main street. One of the oldest photography galleries in the world, it focuses on rare fine vintage as well as modern and contemporary photography. Now run by Matthew Weston (Edward’s grandson) and his wife, Davi, the gallery features all of the major names in the medium: Ansel Adams, Eadweard Muybridge, Berenice Abbott, Alfred Stieglitz and numerous members of the Weston family, including Edward, Brett, Cara and Cole. “We have a deep connection to the medium of fine art photography and believe it is of equal importance to that of the traditional fine arts,” Davi explains.

The Weston Gallery has been closed for extensive renovations but reopens in January 2024 with an exhibition highlighting the gallery’s collection of rare, vintage black-and-white works juxtaposed with modern, contemporary color photography.

Edward Weston Dry-Mounting, Wildcat Hill, ca. 1940 by William Holgers.
Photo courtesy of the Holgers family

Cross Ocean Avenue and go one block east to Dolores Avenue, where you’ll find the next stop, Photography West. This gallery has a very specific focus and objective: to promote artists who are dedicated to darkroom craftsmanship. In other words, no digital technology or third-party assistance. Explains gallery director Julia Christopher, “It just so happens some of the greatest darkroom masters in the world lived and worked in Carmel.” Like the Weston Gallery, Photography West holds temporary, curated exhibitions but the work of masters like Ansel Adams and Brett Weston are usually on view in the rear of the gallery.

When asked if she thinks digital photography and AI have displaced traditional photographic methods, Julia responds, “People want to know what they see is real—that there is still beauty to be found in real life, light and chemistry.”

Aspen Grove, Colorado, c. 1993, Cibachrome by Christopher Burkett at Photography West. / Photo courtesy of Photography West

By now, a stop for lunch is likely in order. A short walk on Dolores Avenue leads to popular spots like Little Napoli, La Bicyclette, Mulligan’s Public House or the oft-photographed Tuck Box. Or return to Ocean Avenue for a multitude of other restaurant and cafe offerings.

Fortified and ready to continue? Next up is the Center for Photographic Art (CPA), located in the Sunset Center (a performing arts venue) on San Carlos Avenue. Originally established in 1967 as the Friends of Photography, it boasts Ansel Adams, Cole Weston and Wynn Bullock as its founders. “We try to show a variety of work,” explains executive director and curator Ann Jastrab. “Some traditional-based photography that is analog and printed in the darkroom and some that is mixed-media, digital, sculptural and experimental.”

The Center for Photographic Art (CPA) on San Carlos Avenue is a gallery, membership organization & event venue. Photo courtesy of CPA.

The first exhibition in 2024 is the International Juried Exhibition, which includes portraiture, documentary, landscape and other genres.
Hop back in your car to reach the next venue: Wildcat Hill, the historic home of Edward Weston. Located on Highway 1 between Carmel and Big Sur, it’s about a 20-minute drive south. Along the way, take the time to hike the magnificent coastline that inspired so many of the photographers whose work you have seen by taking a detour into Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. There are myriad trails to choose from, and you’ll undoubtedly be moved to capture your own images of this world-famous sanctuary.

Continuing down scenic Highway 1, it’s easy to see why so many photographers came here to work on their own or to study with Edward Weston, who left behind a photography dynasty with children and grandchildren carrying on the tradition. Wildcat Hill (a name inspired by Edward owning up to 40 cats at one time) served as Edward’s home and studio from 1938 to 1958. For the last several decades, Kim (Edward’s grandson) and Gina Weston have welcomed visitors. Gina explains, “We wanted to share what we love, the original home and darkroom of Edward Weston. Being the stewards of the ‘Weston Legacy,’ this was a way we could give back to our community.”

Consider stopping for lunch at Tuck Box.

Kim, who is also a photographer, uses framed prints in the home and studio to illustrate his grandfather’s techniques. Guests are often surprised at the rustic, almost rudimentary, darkroom where Edward produced so many iconic images. “A living museum is what we call it,” notes Gina. “Oftentimes, when visitors go into the darkroom they get an overwhelming sense of awe and it brings tears to their eyes.”

Kim and Gina also offer fine art photographs for sale, along with photography workshops. Tours of Wildcat Hill are by online reservation only.

Given the relative ease of travel and the ubiquitous nature of photography thanks to cell phones is Carmel still a mecca for the professional and amateur photographer? According to Julia Christopher, “Absolutely! Photographers from all over the world will forever be drawn to its unique, dramatic and truly magnetic natural beauty.”

Get The Picture

- westongallery.com
- photographywest.com
- photography.org 
- kimweston.com

 

Bouncing Off The Walls

Words by Johanna Harlow

Conventionality and Caroline Lizarraga have no business being in the same room. “I don’t think I would recommend calling me to do a white wall,” quips the decorative painter. If, however, you dream of walls coated in a rippling cut-agate design or dripping in gold resin, you’re in luck.

“I’m attracted to bolder, more dramatic, more moody things,” Caroline describes. “I love color. I love unexpectedness.” Walk into the painter’s own home and the first thing you’ll notice is the chandelier forged out of bike chains—followed by four-foot ostrich wall sconces. Make your way further down the rabbit hole and you’ll find that Caroline has painted a poem by Dante on the staircase steps and wrapped a misty treescape around the dining room (where a taxidermied white peacock named Higgins also resides). “It has a lot of soul,” reflects Caroline. “I want to be buried here, I love it!”

Portrait Photo: Courtesy of Assunita Simone

As a kid, Caroline spent three months hand-beading a lampshade for her father’s birthday. “My dad said he kind of knew that I wasn’t going to be a doctor,” she chuckles. Today, her artistic flourishes embellish walls, floors and furniture in private homes and restaurants across the Peninsula, San Francisco and the country. “Usually, my first question to clients is, ‘What’s the feeling that you want in this room?’” Caroline notes. Do they want to work hard here or unwind with a glass of wine? Would they like a bright space that makes them feel alive? Or, like Caroline, do they prefer a moodier space that draws them out of the ordinary?

“There are a lot of very bold people in the Bay Area,” Caroline points out. “There’s just a lot of ‘Go for it!’” She recalls a Peninsula project from two months earlier: “This woman wanted me to pour black resin drips down her wall!” She laughs, delighted by the audacity of the request.

Caroline’s own brazen decorating spirit started young. “I used to save all of my money babysitting, and I would buy really beautiful furniture for my dollhouse,” she reflects, adding, “I just gave it to my daughter for her birthday, and my mom said, ‘This is crazy. It kind of looks like your house!’”

An early thrifting habit also swayed the future of her career. “I’ve always been a flea market rat. I have a really hard time buying new things,” she explains. Once, Caroline paid $20 for a vintage two-tiered table. She applied gold leaf to the edges, painted it chartreuse with little magnolias, then added a crackle finish. An interior designer offered her $1,200 for the piece. The experience emboldened Caroline to study wood restoration in Florence, Italy, which led to an apprenticeship with a decorative painter in San Francisco’s Mission District to learn about lacquers as well as creating marble, lapis and chinoiserie designs.

In the present day, Caroline and her work have thrived, gaining recognition in publications such as House Beautiful, Architectural Digest and The New York Times. One favorite project to date: the entire home of Dita Von Teese. The burlesque dancer and fashion icon wholeheartedly embraced Caroline’s ideas for doors hand-painted with jewelry that “dripped diamonds and pearls” and a turquoise and red lacquer dining room. “From start to finish, it was a dream project,” Caroline says.

On top of her exuberant custom painting projects, Caroline is launching a wallpaper collection in Paris in collaboration with Parete this month and has organized a lifestyle experience with her husband. Described as “a journey through Puglia, Italy,” the program takes place in the town where Caroline’s husband grew up, and includes stone and marble texture painting classes, cooking classes, meetings with local artisans, architectural tours and plenty of Michelin meals.

“If I wasn’t a painter, I would be a chef,” declares Caroline, whose bold aesthetic taste is often sought by restaurateurs. Her paintbrush has graced the likes of Robin (both its SF and Menlo Park locations), Nightbird, Tosca, The Black Cat and Bottega. “If you’re going to a restaurant, you’re probably going to spend two to three hours max, and you want to remember that space,” she notes. “You need a bit more drama.”

For commercial and private projects alike, Caroline considers the local landscape. The painter illustrates with one client’s story: “She said, ‘I just feel really depressed in this color,’” Caroline recalls of their first consultation. “I said, ‘Well, look out your window! Every ugly building outside is the same color as your walls.” The same applies to idyllic settings. “If you have a hill behind your house and it’s all green, you’re not going to choose green for the interior,” she guides. “Maybe you choose a very deep gold color because that’s in the grass and that will pull you deeper into the hill.”

So what’s next for Caroline? “Hold on, I have 50 ideas, lemme show you!’” she exclaims, a gut response to this question. Anything can ignite her imagination: from nature—as her crocodile print, malachite and fishscale accent walls can attest—to fashion. “I’ll see a pair of pants, and I’ll think, ‘Oh my god, that pattern, blown up, dripping down the walls with some flashes of lacquer on it, will be amazing.’” Caroline pauses and glances about, as if sensing the next idea down the hall or around the corner.

“There’s a saying that if you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your life. The reality is you’re working every second—but if you love it, you’re not working in your mind, you know?”

art with oomph – carolinelizarraga.com

Sekoya Standout

Words by Elaine Wu

Spend some time with restaurateur Steve Ugur and one thing becomes abundantly clear: he was destined to run a restaurant. Or in his case, two. Aside from his award-winning eatery Pausa in San Mateo, Steve is also the founder and co-owner of Palo Alto’s latest culinary topic of conversation: Sekoya (a play on the word “sequoia”). Located on California Avenue, it’s a stylish contemporary lounge, bar and restaurant with a full menu for lunch and dinner.

Steve grew up in the culinary world, watching his father, Hamdi Ugur, own and operate four different restaurants in the Bay Area. As he helped out in the kitchen as well as the front of the house, Steve witnessed first-hand his dad’s dedication and hard work. “You observe a lot of things you like and don’t like while working in restaurants. You see good and bad habits and then you analyze them,” Steve recalls. “I understood the restaurant business and realized I was good at it.”

Later, traveling to France as a young adult, Steve studied the art of wine as well as butchering and curing meats, further developing his passion for the culinary arts. By the time he was in his early twenties, he skipped college (against his mother’s wishes) and set out to open his own restaurant. “Do I go to college and spend all that money on education only to fall back into the restaurant business?” he asked himself. “I decided to go all-in on restaurants.”

In the spring of 2021, Steve and his uncle, co-owner Sean Ugur, bounced around the idea of opening a new place in Palo Alto. After the world being in isolation for so long, they figured a more communal vibe would be a welcome change for the community. “The purpose of the lounge was to create a more social gathering space,” says Steve. “People can come in and relax, enjoy good cocktails and share good food.”

When entering Sekoya, you feel like you’ve been transported to the hottest new joint in New York or Los Angeles with its bold orange swivel chairs and plush velvet couches that surround large communal tables. Living up to its name’s twist on California’s towering forests, Sekoya features tree slab dining tables and plates patterned with rippling tree rings. And because this is the heart of Silicon Valley, there’s space for large parties to accommodate business teams wanting something more than on-campus cafeteria fare. “You can come into the lounge for appetizers and bubbles, come in with co-workers and do a multi-course dinner, sit at the bar for a couple of cocktails or have a casual dinner outside,” Steve welcomes. “It’s a very versatile space. We don’t want to be one-dimensional.”

But despite the hip, contemporary vibe, Steve wants Sekoya to be a comfortable, welcoming space for everyone. “When people see a place like this, they love the design and the atmosphere, but we don’t want people to feel like we’re being pretentious,” he says. “Some restaurants make you feel like you’re being judged when you walk in. I don’t want to do that. How the guest feels is the most important thing.”

Steve’s years of working in restaurants has helped him hone in on details that many other eateries miss. That includes everything from spacing out courses correctly to avoiding shortcuts when it comes to the food. “What we do is not easy—there’s so much competition,” he notes. “But the reason why we do the small things is because most restaurants don’t. When our guests dine here and then dine somewhere else, the small things we do will stand out that much more.”

Sekoya’s menu is a true fusion of flavors inspired by Japan, Spain, France and the U.S., among others. The dishes are always fresh, seasonal and can be ordered no matter where you sit in the restaurant. Starters range from burrata with toybox cherry tomato confit to kona kampachi crudo; plates and entrees include lamb tartare, Mt. Lassen trout and hanger steak. There’s also “Amber Hour” at the Bar & Lounge (5-6PM Monday through Thursday and 4-6PM Fridays and Saturdays) with featured cocktails, Hibachi Grill skewers and kitchen specialities like popcorn beef chicharron, double-fried tempura mushrooms and a dry-aged smash burger.

Steve is proud of the innovative menu: “Our Parker House rolls are made every day in-house and proofed for 24 hours. The beef tongue is slow-cooked for three hours, skewered and finished on the grill. And people are surprised by our combination of chicken liver mousse with banana bread doughnuts.”

Sekoya may be thoroughly modern and sophisticated, but the way Steve runs it is firmly rooted in old-school ideals. His formula of hard work and attention to detail is his secret to success. “I don’t think I’d be able to do this if I didn’t enjoy the restaurant business,” he shares. “I enjoy the instant gratification that you see from the guests, building a team, educating the staff. That for me is what a labor of love means.”

Innovative Style – sekoyapaloalto.com 

Instinctively Pleasing

Words by Sophia Markoulakis

When Janet Marena moved from Boston to the Bay Area ten years ago, she had already fully transitioned from her career as a public relations executive to being an interior designer. But Janet credits her move to California with reigniting her passion for nature and science, which had lain dormant since college.

As the Science in Design-certified principal of JTM Interiors, Janet taps into the body and mind to create beautiful, livable spaces. Working with homeowners on remodeling projects, she utilizes her people skills and science background to address cognitive cues and behavioral practices that affect how clients feel and function in their homes.

“Where I am now is the culmination of everything,” she says. “Incorporating science and design is my calling.”

Today, Janet is one of the leaders in evidence-based design, which focuses on how the built environment can positively impact the occupants of a space. Grounded in science, research and results, one of evidence-based design’s main pillars is biophilia—the human need to connect with living things. As Janet explains it, evidence-based design accesses our “ancient brains” and biophilic design taps into our innate need to be surrounded by nature.

Janet implements design techniques based on early human desires for specific shapes, colors and layouts that also elicit positive responses. “By integrating evidence-based design principles with aesthetically pleasing elements,” she says, “we create an environment that promotes well-being.” Janet points to a recent project in Los Altos as an example.

The clients—a young family of four—initially contacted JTM Interiors about creating a better functioning primary bath. “I love envisioning something from nothing, seeing the whole picture,” she describes. “They had been in the house for seven years and planned to be there long-term, so I asked them if there were other rooms in the house that weren’t working for them.” Aligned in the idea that nature is intrinsic to well-being, the homeowners ultimately opted for a whole-house remodel. “These were very down-to-earth clients who said, ‘We want our house to be practical, not pretty.’ I told them, ‘You can have both!’”

Janet partnered with architectural designer Danielle DiVittorio and general contractor Roy DiVittorio to implement the vision, creating a healthy living space without sacrificing beautiful design. The five-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot home’s style is transitional, a timeless mix of traditional and modern. “The stone and tile showroom is always the first place I take my clients,” Janet relays of the successful field trip she took with the homeowners. “The stone you select is essentially the first piece of art for your home. They were drawn to a piece of quartzite called ‘Gold Explosion’ that we used in the kitchen. Later, I pulled up an image of Yosemite’s Bridal Veil Falls taken in the morning light and realized the stone spoke to them because Yosemite is their favorite place on earth.”

Adding light was integral to the remodel and because they couldn’t raise the ceiling, Janet and her team installed several skylights. “We even put skylights on the covered porch so that light from the outside would stream into the kitchen,” she reveals. “We also implemented human-centric lighting that replicates what the sun does and helps with productivity in the morning and winding down at night.” Janet also utilized biomimicry in the primary bath: “The tile in the shower looks like rain falling down a solid surface even when it’s not wet.”

The family’s gathering space is a sunken living room with white carpeting, requested by the client as an homage to her childhood. Janet was all for it because of the well-being implications behind it. “Most people like a dark floor because it grounds us and tells us where we exist between the earth and the sky,” she expands. “What white flooring does is allow the objects in a room to float. We left a large space in the center of the room for the family to gather and create—it’s a space to enjoy books, puzzles and music.”

To create an innate sense of place in a space, Janet also draws on a new field—the science of neuroaesthetics, which involves the study of psychological aesthetics, biomechanics and human evolution. “There are no truly straight lines in nature, which is why curved furniture is so popular,” she observes. “Designers are realizing that humans are emotional and we need to create safe and attractive environments.”

The deer antler perched on the top shelf of one of the living room’s built-ins was found on the property. According to Janet, it serves as a reminder of our primitive self and our connection to the natural world.

“Being hugged by a tree” is how she describes the dark green half bath on the first floor, which features vinyl grasscloth wallpaper and a striking black quartzite vanity top. “The room is dark, but that’s ok because we can’t appreciate the light unless we have some dark,” reminds Janet.

Humans are only conscious of about 5 percent of our brain activity, she notes, which leaves the other 95 percent for her to tap into. What makes you respond well to a space? What triggers that instinctive sense of well-being? Even if you can’t pinpoint the factors, Janet would contend that evidence-based design is playing a role.

Nature-Based Design – jtminteriors.com

Cruel Donuts

Words by Elaine Wu

“Be kind.” That’s the motto emblazoned inside the lid of every large pink pastry box at Cruel Donuts on Laurie Meadows Drive in San Mateo. Owner Lean Ma has made that her goal, all while offering up some of the most inventive donuts on the Peninsula. “I wake up at 4AM every morning and I’m excited to come into the store and have my cup of coffee and see the first customer,” she says happily.

Born in a refugee camp in Cambodia, Lean and her family arrived in the U.S. in the early ’80s and settled in San Mateo several years later. Ever since she can remember, her family has been in the business of donuts.

“My dad opened several donut shops in San Francisco. My cousins and my aunts, from Southern California all the way up to the Bay Area, also own donut shops,” says Lean. She started working as a preteen folding donut boxes and cleaning up on weekends, eventually working the register and interacting with customers. “My dad always taught me more of the management side,” she recalls. “He always hoped we would take over the business. I was the oldest of my two siblings so I had to learn the ropes.”

But instead of donuts, Lean went into the business of serving breakfast, owning and operating a few restaurants in San Francisco. “My dad’s been telling me for years to just go into donuts, but I didn’t want to do it because it felt dull and boring to me,” she says. “I liked running restaurants because it was fast-paced and I enjoyed that excitement.”

But when the space that now houses Cruel Donuts became available after she decided to close her breakfast eateries, Lean couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work closer to home and be more available for her kids. “I ended up doing exactly what my parents were doing,” she notes, “but I still wanted to be different. I didn’t want to be the standard donut shop.”

That’s why Lean decided to create some out-of-the-box flavors, along with the standard favorites people know and love. Popular variations include passion fruit- glazed, guava jelly-filled and seasonal fresh strawberry shortcake with whipped cream donuts. On the weekends, Cruel presents bright purple ube flavored and chewy mochi varieties. But it’s the crème brûlée donut that is their best seller. “We bake actual authentic crème brûlées in little ramekins and stuff them into the donut,” describes Lean. “Then, we put a little sugar on top and torch it. It takes time to make, but I don’t think anyone is doing a crème brûlée donut the way we are.”

Although customers are initially enticed by freshly-made, quality treats, it’s Lean’s signature dose of kindness that keeps them loyal. “I just don’t think there are many places anymore where you can feel welcome when you go in and the staff treats you like they genuinely want you to be there,” she says. “People tell us all the time that the staff is friendly and they love our donuts. I’m proud that we’ve created that kind of business.”

As for the name of the place, it’s a play on Lean’s favorite donut, the French Cruller. But she also sees it as a bit ironic since she’s so focused on providing such positive service. “It’s not because we’re really cruel!,” she declares. “It’s exciting to create a brand that’s about being kind. We like to spread that energy.”

After less than two years, Cruel Donuts has developed a devoted fan base as evidenced by the long lines out the door on weekend mornings. Beginning later this summer, she’s also hoping to offer house-made ice creams with unusual flavors, much like her donuts. But no matter what Lean creates, her passion for her work will always come through. “I tell people we do everything with love,” Lean proclaims. “We genuinely do.”

MAKE IT - ALMOND FRANGIPANE

This filling is what makes Cruel Donuts’ almond croissants a customer favorite.

Ingredients
200 grams of almond meal
200 grams of sugar
200 grams of softened room temperature unsalted butter 
2 eggs
Pre-made butter croissants
Sliced almonds (optional)

DIRECTIONS
• Using a stand mixer and flat beater, beat butter with the sugar at low speed.
• Add one egg at a time until each egg is well incorporated before adding the next egg. 
• Gradually add almond meal. After adding all of the almond meal, mix for another 5 seconds and stop the mixer to scrape the bowl to ensure everything is being mixed. Give a final mix for 5 seconds. 
• Slice pre-made butter croissants and generously spread the bottom halves. Close up the croissant and spread the frangipane on top of the croissant. Add sliced almonds on top of frangipane. 
• Bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.

Songwriters in Paradise

Words by Sheri Baer

It’s just this side of midnight on a Wednesday in Napa Valley. Shadows flicker on the cozy front porch of St. Helena’s Harvest Inn, cast by twinkle lights and fire pit flames. “Because I’m in love with you, I want to see you dance again…” The lilting voice of singer-songwriter Lauren Jenkins carries into the air, accompanied on guitar and vocals by her husband, singer-songwriter Patrick Davis. “Because I’m still in love with you on this Harvest Moon…” croons back Patrick, as guests relax into glasses of wine and sway to the Neil Young classic transformed into a spine-tingling serenade.
The setting is Songwriters in Paradise—SIP, for short. And this after-hours gathering isn’t even the main attraction. Over the course of a long weekend, an immersive celebration of music, wine, food and friendship unfolds, anchored by intimate, private performances at acclaimed Napa wineries. Patrick, SIP’s founder and mastermind, has written songs for the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Darius Rucker, Jewel and Alabama, as well as performs with his own band, Patrick Davis and the Midnight Choir.

Raised in a musical family in South Carolina, Patrick moved to Nashville in his early 20s, where “in the round” shows are embedded in the culture. At hundreds of small venues, including the legendary Bluebird Cafe, a handful of songwriters take the stage together to swap songs and tell stories. “In country and pop music, probably less than half of the songs are written by the actual performer who sings the song,” estimates Patrick. “This lends itself to really getting into the details of why a song was written—you actually hear the genesis of the idea.”

Years later, after bringing along some songwriting pals to a show in the Bahamas, Patrick recognized the rarity of “Bluebird-style” performances. That led to launching Songwriters in Paradise, an annual festival series that expanded out from the Bahamas to include Napa, Sonoma and Cabo San Lucas. “People already love these places,” he notes. “We’re just giving them an excuse to go there.”

With only 150 passes, SIP is the antithesis of a sold-out stadium show. “My idea with SIP is to make it super exclusive, super intimate,” Patrick says. “It’s a higher ticket price, but that’s what lends itself to the beauty of the entire experience. You are really a part of it.”

Self-servingly, Patrick admits, SIP also offers the chance to make music and have fun with his friends. “I’ve been in Nashville for 20+ years, and it’s just my little black book of all my buddies,” he grins. “We feel so grateful to be together, and that camaraderie ties into what you feel when you’re with us.” Which begs the question, do you have to be a diehard country music fan to fully appreciate SIP? “It’s not just country,” Patrick stresses. “Sure, Tim Nichols is gonna play you huge country hits, but this is Americana, so the overall thing is just really good music.”

And wine, of course. In Napa Valley, rotating hosts include Silver Oak, Alpha Omega, Brasswood Cellars and Charles Krug. With the Harvest Inn serving as official home base, shuttles pull up to transport guests to each evening’s venue, where hearty appetizers and libations await. On this particular night at Frank Family Vineyards, attendees and songwriters intermingle around high-top tables, relishing wood-fired pizzas, tasty sliders and a selection of wines by the glass. Then the party moves into Frank Family’s majestic Barrel Room for two rounds of performances.

Once the music starts, utter respect is paid to the songwriters on stage. “The music is really what drives it,” emphasizes Patrick, who kicks off the evening with Jedd Hughes and Chris Gelbuda. “Not everybody’s gonna want to be shushed if they talk. It’s for people who expect the best from their music and the best from their wine.”

As each artist takes the spotlight, there’s storytelling, ribbing, laughter, reflections. What cumulatively emerges is a snapshot of a songwriter’s life. “The odds of being successful in this business are like being an NFL quarterback,” observes Patrick in a pause between songs. His longtime friend Jedd nods: “You’ve got to love the music business to do this.”
The second set brings Tim Nichols, Django Walker and James Otto to the stage. “You think you know where your song is going to go, and like kids, they just go their own way,” quips Tim, before launching into “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” his megahit song made famous by Jo Dee Messina.

After the performances wrap up, shuttle buses retrace the route back to the Harvest Inn. Set amid towering redwood trees with vineyard views, the enchanting resort tightly partners with SIP Napa. There’s no requirement to stay here, but as Patrick points out, “It’s gonna really elevate your experience when you’re running into the same people at breakfast that you saw at two in the morning on the porch.”

Speaking of which, as more wine is served and nibbles laid out, the now fully-blended group settles in by the fire pits. Guitars get passed around, setting the scene for SIP’s epic late-night porch parties. Patrick says he can almost hear what guests are thinking: “This is crazy. These guys are actually hanging out and playing songs and drinking with us after the show.”

It’s a good ol’ singalong with an impromptu playlist. Elton John. Bob Dylan. Van Morrison. John Denver. Describes Patrick, “We can go, ‘American Pie’? I think I remember it. I haven’t played it in 20 years. All right, let’s do it.’”
Sure enough, singer-songwriter-actor Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne from TV’s Nashville series) is the one to start strumming. “A long, long time ago…” he begins, and by the time he reaches the chorus, everyone is singing, “Bye-bye, Miss American Pie…”

SIP Napa 2024 April 18-21  

SIP Healdsburg 2024 July 24-27

songwritersinparadise.com
harvestinn.com

Deck the House

Words by Jennifer Jory

As December approaches, designer Colleen Dowd Saglimbeni can’t wait to pull out her life-size Santa, four christmas trees and heirloom nativity set. But transcending the festive decor, her mission to pass on traditions and holiday joy is what brings family and neighbors into her Hillsborough living room all month. “The atmosphere changes when the house is decorated,” she marvels. “Once the house is ready, I open the doors.”

Colleen lights up as she talks about creating ambiance with an enthusiasm that makes you want to grab a cup of hot cocoa, turn on a Christmas movie and start pulling out your ornaments. “I am trying to recreate the feeling of my mother’s house,” she shares. “She really made the holidays wonderful and her priorities were very simple: She put her family first and had a strong faith.” The youngest of six children, Colleen fondly remembers the many traditions surrounding Christmas in Chicago, where life-size nutcrackers graced the entry. “It was magical,” she reflects. “All of the outdoor lights, the huge feast on Christmas Eve.”

Cover Photography: Courtesy of Lauren Webb  / Photography: Courtesy of Heidi Lancaster

As founder of CDS Interiors based on the Peninsula, Colleen makes time between projects for hosting events—whether it’s for PARCA, Peninsula Family Service, Burlingame’s Our Lady of Angels Church, or more intimate gatherings, including holiday teas. “I deck out the table with things I don’t normally use,” she says. “I take out the good stuff. My mother’s and grandmother’s silver gives a nod to the past and dresses up the table.”

Colleen finds ways to mix in family heirlooms with her current style. On her dining room table, that means pairing her mother’s china with new chargers. She also looks forward to bringing out her treasured family paper mache nativity scene, which adds interest and meaning to the decor. “What’s fun about the holidays is to decorate with your own style,” she instructs. “Don’t be afraid to experiment.”

When it comes to making a home festive and decorating with impact, Colleen begins with the entry. “A wreath on the front door is the first thing people see,” she notes. She often places faux wreaths on her front gates, but uses a fresh magnolia leaf wreath for her front door. Acknowledging the obvious: “I do enjoy the process of decorating,” she admits. “Now my tree is an 11-foot Balsam Hill pre-lit one. I like starting with a blank canvas. I have gorgeous ribbon and I have tiers of crystals.” Colleen prefers a faux tree in her living room so the family can go away for the weekend without worrying.

Photography: Courtesy of Lauren Webb

Colleen adds that ornaments serve as a key element on the tree and don’t have to be expensive. “Ornaments that look like glass, but are plastic, can elevate a tree,” she points out. She also embraces sentimental Christmas decorations that evoke memories: “My children will have my grandmother’s, mother’s and my ornaments handed down through generations.”

In the bedroom, Colleen decorates a tree with more muted tones and her own favorite ornaments. “I leave the lights on when I go to bed,” she fondly recounts, “and then my husband turns them off when he goes to sleep.” She decorates trees for her children with colorful tinsel, along with ornaments with their school photos.

Photography: Courtesy of Lauren Webb

For homes with a modern or mid-century style, Colleen recommends a woodland theme, which maps to a current trend of natural materials and greenery. Try using a minimal garland on the fireplace or door openings, she suggests, and a monochromatic color scheme, which complements this style. “A simple magnolia leaf garland brings the outdoors in,” she guides. “Organic ornaments as well as glass or metallic blend with this motif. Pale velvets also add interest to a more contemporary home.”

Throughout the year, Colleen’s design firm manages numerous Peninsula projects. She recently wrapped up interiors at Millbrae’s Green Hills Country Club and is currently working on an interior design plan for a new build in Hillsborough. When the calendar signals “‘tis the season,” she eagerly jumps in to help with requests for a more festive touch.

One of Colleen’s favorite assignments? Managing the holiday decor for a newly-divorced dad. It was a huge success. “He had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree,” she recounts, “and I came in and decorated the entire house. He wanted to buy every single decoration.” Her only regret during the holiday season is that when Christmas is over, she has to take it all down. “Some people think less is more; I think more is more,” she smiles. “My aim is to create magic for our children, which hopefully they’ll recreate one day for their kids.”

shining bright – cdinteriors.com

Photography: Courtesy of Lauren Webb

COLLEEN'S HOLIDAY TIPS

Embrace Nostalgia
+ Incorporate family heirlooms
+ Display photos and items that evoke family memories
+ Embrace the mix of old and new

Spruce It Up with Fresh Greenery
+ Ribbon and greenery make anything say “holiday”
+ If you don’t have a tree, add greenery to a console, mantel or sideboard

Keep It Cozy
+ Pine, evergreen, amber and gingerbread scented candles make your home smell like the holidays
+ If you are traveling, a candle is a portable Christmas

Dream Up a Theme
+ Be simplistic or bold and colorful 
+ Adding one new piece a year creates a collection 
+ Don’t be afraid to experiment

Store Holiday Decor in Original Boxes 
+ Keep your wreath boxes and use them to keep dust off 
+ Store ornaments in zip cases

Diary of a Dog: Norman

As a rescue, I didn’t come into this world as the “pick of the litter,” but I definitely landed on my paws. Back in 2013, Rich and Maureen adopted me from Peninsula Humane Society (PHS) and brought me home to Burlingame. They named me Norman after the calf that was rescued in the movie City Slickers, and I’ve been one lucky dog ever since. Like Maureen, I volunteer at a Burlingame thrift store appropriately called, “The Pick of the Litter,” or “The Pick,” as we regulars know it. All sales at The Pick benefit shelter animals at PHS/SPCA, so I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. After a quick brushing to look my best, I arrive at 11:30AM and swing by the treat jar to mark the official start of my shift. I systematically check out every corner of the store (Call it the Terrier in me!) and then patiently wait for Maureen to research and price donated items, which are placed on the shelf of a rolling cart. It’s my job to supervise, so I always jump aboard to make sure every item is delivered to the right place in the store. From one department to the next, I multitask by greeting every shopper and pup I see. Mid-shift, Maureen and I go out for a walk and swing by Starbucks for a Puppuccino. (That’s complimentary whipped cream in a cup, if you haven’t had the pleasure.) I average about six cart rides a day at The Pick, and then I frequently pull extra shifts with Rich at Home Depot. He’s a general contractor, and he counts on me to help pick up supplies. Here’s a happy coincidence I’ve noticed: Whenever I’m riding in a cart, I always have a view of people smiling back at me.

Calling All Dogs: If you've got quirky habits or a funny tale (or tail) to share, email your story to hello@punchmonthly.com for a chance to share a page from your Diary of a Dog in PUNCH.

10 Fresh Ways to Give Back

Words by Dylan Lanier

‘Tis the season! December is a time to reflect not just on what you have, but also on what you can give. And while financial donations are vital, spending your time and energy to help others is undeniably restorative and uplifting. Whether you’re a crafting machine, nature lover or science buff, we all possess unique talents and interests. In our sixth annual round-up, here’s just a sampling of different ways we can contribute. Together, we can make our community a better place—one DIY dog toy or loving letter at a time.

make a dog’s day

There’s nothing like play time after a ruff day. Animal shelters are always looking for a paws-itive way to keep their residents active and entertained. If you have a knack for crafting and a fondness for furry friends, grab some colorful materials and create your own pet toys. Whether you opt to sew a stuffy or tie up a tug blanket, you can use a wide variety of accessible materials like cloth and cotton to create the perfect puppy plaything. Call ahead to a local shelter like Pets In Need or the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA to learn about the rules regarding enrichment materials and how the donation process works. For some pro toy-making tips, check out articles on websites like thisdogslife.co and projectcanis.org.

Slash the Trash

We’ve all seen the seagull with the six-pack rings wrapped around its neck. Beach pollution is on the rise, and it impacts life both above and beneath the water’s surface. Just one day of collecting trash can make a huge difference for our local environment. For a beach day with a mission, check out Half Moon Bay’s beach clean-up schedule at half-moon-bay.ca.us or organize your own! Bring gloves, buckets, appropriate clothing and plenty of trash bags to clean up litter. If you’re the one in charge, use social media, flyers or any other type of local promotion to rally a group of hard-working ocean enthusiasts to your cause. The work is extremely rewarding, especially when you get to admire the fruits of your labor in front of the glittering sea.

send a smile

Who doesn’t love receiving a thoughtful
letter in the mail? Join the fight against senior loneliness with Letters Against Isolation, an international operation founded by two sisters during the pandemic. Every other week, volunteers access an online portal sign up to write letters to care homes across the globe. Once you get the address, come up with positive messages to show seniors that they’re not alone. Bonus points if you include fun stickers or uplifting artwork. Pen them by yourself or host a group for a writing session. Either way, check out lettersagainstisolation.com for more information.

translate to a tee

Calling all bilingual volunteers! Service organizations need translators to ensure that their information and services reach people who aren’t proficient in English. Put your multilingual mastery to the test and remove language barriers for those in need. For example, Progeria Research Foundation supports families with children who have a rare disease known as progeria and seeks volunteers who can (asynchronously) translate their newsletter as well as patient documents and letters. Pangea Legal Services, a firm that advocates for immigrants in California, also needs remote volunteers to transcribe legal and medical documents, and more. Get in touch with these groups at progeriaresearch.org and pangealegal.org.

Unleash Your Inner Bill Nye

We all remember the childhood feeling of whimsical wonder. Located at gorgeous Coyote Point, CuriOdyssey Science Playground & Zoo is home to an extensive collection of simple yet fascinating exhibits that teach young kids about the wonders of meteorology, microbiology and more. Become an exhibit facilitator to perform basic maintenance, lead activities and “help connect children to their natural world and encourage them to notice and observe its beautiful complexity.” Volunteers can also serve as wildlife docents or wildlife interpretive guides who present visitors with live animals and touchable biofacts like mammal furs and prehistoric eggs. If you prefer a permanent station, aviary aides teach visitors about the diverse and magnificent wildlife in Curiodyssey’s aviary—just watch out for the occasional dropping! Learn more at curiodyssey.org.

dive into decision-making

Ever wondered what it takes to run your town? A whole lot of dedicated volunteers! Join the ranks of everyday citizens taking a seat at the table by contributing to your local government. You can serve on a wide variety of advisory boards, commissions and committees that tackle topics like infrastructure and safety. Volunteers will amplify their voices, meet new people and make a tangible impact on their community. Though some opportunities are time-intensive, many require only a few hours each week. You can also help run one-off events like movie nights or holiday gatherings. Check your city government’s website for more information.

Fight Hunger on the Front Lines

Food for thought: 1 in 5 Californians are food-insecure, yet 40% of all food ends up in the trash can. Peninsula Food Runners began in 2013 to bridge that gap. Founder Maria Yap was motivated by her childhood in Malaysia, where she tagged along with her social worker mother and began noticing a pattern of food-related issues. The group connects grocery stores, restaurants and other food producers to outreach organizations all over the Bay Area. Volunteers pick up and deliver surplus items by car, individually or with a group. Opt for regular on-call food runs or lend a hand as an occasional backup. Peninsula Food Runners also needs help with marketing, grant writing, fundraising and recruiting food donors. Become a food waste warrior at peninsulafoodrunners.org.

Go the Extra Mile

Pick up the pace with Girls on the Run, a North American organization dedicated to empowering girls on and off the track. The organization has provided a welcoming environment for more than two million participants to get active, gain confidence and develop powerful life skills alongside their peers—and they show no signs of slowing down. There are multiple chapters on the Peninsula for volunteers to join. Become a coach and lead a season full of running, community-building and exercises aimed at strengthening character and self-esteem. Or, if you can’t commit to a full season, lend a hand at one-time events. Get off to the races at gotrbayarea.org.

use social media for good

Many of us spend a lot of time on social media—why not use it to help others? With the rise of online platforms like Instagram, nonprofit organizations can gather support faster and easier. However, it takes an avid user to understand the possibilities of the algorithm. Utilize your social media knowledge to build an online presence for groups that are struggling to get their name out into the volunteering ether. Find organizations on sites like volunteermatch.org, then check their social media accounts to determine whether or not they could benefit from a revamp. Reach out to them directly and work out how you can best support their online goals.

make music

Through music, we express ourselves and connect with one another. Empower kids with physical and mental health conditions to find their voices by helping them write and produce their own songs with Hear Your Song. Bringing the beat since 2014, this nonprofit organization has recorded over 300 songs with kids across the nation, featuring a wide variety of topics and genres. Volunteers can assist along any step of the way: helping write lyrics, recording vocals, composing instrumental tracks or filming music videos. Eager helpers with non-musical gifts can also pitch in on the business side with marketing, fundraising and more. Songwriting sessions happen over Zoom, so anyone with stable internet and the desire to jam out can get involved. Whether you love to tickle the ivories or rock and roll, jump on the bandwagon at hearyoursong.org.

Shopping Hidden Gems

Words by Sheri Baer and Sara Fruman

Amy Roseveare remembers her cruise to Copenhagen vividly. She only had two days in the city known for picturesque canals, cobbled streets and breathtaking castles. Still, as an award-winning stylist and personal shopper with a client visiting the city after her, she needed to tackle her professional agenda first.

“I spent days researching where to shop in Copenhagen,” Amy recalls. “It’s a big shopping destination—and I had this huge list. Once I got there, I spent 100 percent of my time working on that list. Few stores were what I would call up to my standard and where I would want my client to go.”
Before she knew it, Amy had no time to do anything else. That’s when she began to think. What if there was a reliable guide for finding the best stores in cities across the U.S. and worldwide?

Amy began creating The Curated Shopper (thecuratedshopper.com), her little black book of stores, hand-picked and vetted by Amy herself. “This is my pure, objective opinion based on decades of shopping expertise,” she explains. “Everyone knows the most popular spots to shop. My goal is to help you find the hidden treasures.”

Cover Photo Shop: Betty Lin / Shop: McMullen

Always on the hunt for just the right clothing, jewelry and accessories, Amy looks for stores that prioritize customer service, size inclusivity and a range of price points. “I never tell them who I am when I go,” she notes. “I want to know how the normal person going into the store is treated.” She examines the point of view of the owner: “Is this merchandise I’ve seen all over the city or even the world? Or does this store feature local designers?” She also talks to a variety of local experts to make sure her choices are spot-on.

A Bay Area native now based in Burlingame, Amy travels extensively to curate her ever-expanding list of chic international shops. Just in time for the holidays, she teams up with PUNCH to highlight a sampling of the tips she shares with clients and subscribers.

Sethi Couture
290 Main Street, Los Altos
Sisters Pratima and Prerna Sethi created this captivating boutique to showcase their namesake jewelry line as well as other luxury independent jewelry lines. A carefully selected array of home goods is also offered in this zen space.

Angela
1129 Chestnut Street, Menlo Park
Classic with a twist is how I’d describe this charming Menlo Park boutique, with offerings from Peter Cohen and Dorothee Schumacher. Complete the look with jewelry from Ray Griffiths and shoes from Pedro Garcia.

Olivia
315 Main Street, Los Altos
This is THE boutique for under-the-radar Italian luxury fashion! In addition, Olivia sells a highly curated selection of antique jewelry—a gem of a shop.

Found by Maja
3681A Sacramento Street,
San Francisco
Maja has the fabulous ability to perfectly combine vintage pieces along with new items, creating a dreamscape in hues of blues, greens and pinks. It’s a true interior design inspiration.

Betty Lin
3625 Sacramento Street,
San Francisco
Betty Lin hits it out of the park with her lifestyle-driven boutique. She can outfit you from casual to dressy, including all the accessories.

Anthem
1208 Donnelly Avenue,
Burlingame
889 Santa Cruz Avenue,
Menlo Park
3274 Sacramento Street,
San Francisco
The original Anthem Home store in SF has been my go-to for luxe gifts and interior design since it opened in 2008. Now, with multiple Bay Area locations, you can experience the refined choices of owner Janelle Loevner.

Metier
575 Hayes Street,
San Francisco
Sheri Evans and Trina Papini have created everything your jewelry box needs—from current designers to antique treasures. Their taste is impeccable.

Lang Antique &
Estate Jewelry
309 Sutter Street,
San Francisco
This sparkling store is home to one of the largest collections of antique and estate jewelry in the entire country, with a specialty in pieces from 1850-1950. It’s truly jaw-dropping.

MAC: Modern
Appealing Clothing
387 Grove Street,
San Francisco
Since 1980, this has been the go-to boutique for creatively-minded, adventurous shoppers. Siblings Ben and Chris Ospital have an extremely keen and discerning eye for pieces from established and up-and-coming designers you’ll love and wear for years.

Rebecca Overmann
518 Octavia Street,
San Francisco
This inspiring shop is the ideal place to source unique hand-crafted jewelry in San Francisco. Rebecca is especially known for her engagement and wedding rings, and she has done numerous custom projects for my clients.

 

East bay

Esqueleto
482A 49th Street, Oakland
Lauren Wolf has created an inviting oasis of many brands of hand-crafted jewelry and art in this Temescal neighborhood shop. The big, juicy diamond rings from her eponymous line are particularly magical.

McMullen
2257 Broadway, Oakland
This is THE luxury concept store in the East Bay! Sherri McMullen’s creative and fashion-forward point of view comes through in her exquisite selections of clothing, accessories and home goods.

Dish
480 23rd Street, Oakland
Desiree Alexander, with her exuberant personality and cheery smile, shows her distinct point of view with her merchandise. She focuses on sustainable lines, especially from local BIPOC women, which are ideal for a luxe casual look.

beyond the bay

L’Eclaireur
10 Rue Boissy d’Anglas
75008, Paris
This chic concept store in the heart of the 8th Arrondissement in Paris is one of my absolute favorite boutiques! You can shop for men, women, your house and your jewelry box all in one stop. The curation is impeccable.

Capitol & Irene Neuwirth
225 26th Street Site 38A,
Santa Monica
This store is a true shopping destination as it’s home to the luxe clothing store Capitol and a shop-in-shop of Los Angeles jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth.

Sonia Boyajian
357 North La Brea Avenue,
Los Angeles
Sonia, a fine jeweler by trade, is also an exceptionally talented ceramicist. Her by-appointment gallery-like store features her whimsical, luxe creations ranging from vases to jewelry to dishes and beyond. I’ve never left empty-handed.

La Garçonne
465 Greenwich Street, New York
This boutique, which doubled in size in 2022, is a haven for understated, luxe minimalism. Their distinct buy is chock full of timeless, high-quality pieces.

Browns
39 Brook Street, London
Housed in a 17th-century townhouse, here you can explore four tantalizing floors of cutting-edge fashion, jewelry and accessories. They also have a sister store in the Shoreditch neighborhood.

treasure hunt – thecuratedshopper.com

Printing Memories: Lonnie Zarem

Words by Sheryl Nonnenberg

Lonnie Zarem reflects a mix of roles and personas: former market research executive, wife, mother of three sons and now, professional fine artist. All of these life experiences have prepared her for the success she now enjoys as one of the most influential artists working in the medium of encaustic monotype.

Born in Southern California, Lonnie cites two strong influences on her artistic leanings: her father, a mechanical engineer who was “always doing stuff with his hands,” and her grandmother, who used to encourage her to draw “everything around her.” After taking the pragmatic route of majoring in economics at UC Irvine, Lonnie ran Technology Marketing Services in Studio City for a decade. When she moved to the Bay Area in 2000, she found herself reassessing her life and career choices.

“I always loved to draw,” she explains, adding that she made sure her kids had access to art materials—in the form of a table loaded with pens, crayons and paper. After the boys were tucked in bed, she’d take a turn. “There I would be at 3AM, playing with watercolors,” she recalls with a smile. It was time to pursue a new career in the arts.

Prior to starting classes “where people tell you what you should be doing,” Lonnie gave herself a year to experiment and explore on her own. The result was a book of drawings, poems and paintings that remains a cherished keepsake. “It reminds me of what really works for me,” she says.

After earning her B.A. from San Jose State University’s School of Art and Design, Lonnie began as an oil painter, often working in a representational manner. Drawn to the medium of encaustic painting, which consists of beeswax, resin and pigment, her work became more abstract. Then, Lonnie heard of a new medium, encaustic monotype.

New Mexico artist Paula Roland pioneered the process, which entails, as Lonnie explains, “Creating an image by painting with blocks of pigmented wax on a hot flat plate, and then placing rice paper on it to absorb the wax image.” The result is a unique print that almost resembles batik, with overlapping layers of translucent color. After an intensive residency in New Mexico to learn the process, Lonnie was hooked.

“I think in layers and in a full range of colors,” she shares, “and the colors in encaustic monotype are magnificent—saturated and beautiful.” She also appreciates the tremendous latitude and inherent variability: “There are more possibilities and freedom in this medium; I am never bored.” Even after ten years, Lonnie says, every print still holds a surprise.

In addition to showing her work, Lonnie enjoys demonstrating the process. In September 2023, she held a solo exhibition of over 20 prints at Palo Alto’s Pacific Art League (PAL), marking the rollout of a one-of-a-kind, dedicated encaustic art center, funded by PAL and a grant from the International Encaustic Artists Project. At PAL’s Ramona Street studio, Lonnie is able to instruct 10 students, each equipped with their own “hot box.”

Lonnie credits this development to her reputation for taking an experimental approach to the medium. Thanks to the custom creation of a super-sized hot box, she’s able to work in very large scale, and she pushes the boundaries with layers of color. She also creates more representational imagery through the use of charcoal or graphite lines. “There’s a lot to teach, in terms of scale,” she observes, “and students can get so much out of encaustic because there are so many techniques.”

Her own work is inspired largely by nature and the experiences she has had while hiking, traveling or enjoying the panoramic views from the window of her Los Altos home. A recent trip to Iceland resulted in a series of prints that reflect the wild, dramatic scenery. Back in the studio, she used her layering expertise to depict the scudding white clouds that overlay the marine-blue skies. Streams of translucent shades of blue, gold and green evoke the feeling of thundering waterfalls. “I have been told my work is very energetic and brings people into it—which is exactly what I want because that is how I feel, like I am in it again,” she says.

Because Lonnie works from memory, a simple hike in the hills or fishing in a local stream can become subject matter. In Sky Through the Trees, she recaptured a childhood memory of lying in the grass and gazing upward. She loves testing limits, which she did in Migration II. In this large-scale (96” x 66”) triptych, a flock of pink flamingos takes flight across the three sections. Because she works alone, she had to develop strategies for pulling the print without losing the imagery.

How does she know when a print is done? “I need to feel I have been somewhere, that I have experienced/re-experienced a moment in nature, a moment in my imagination,” she summarizes.

In addition to being a well-respected art instructor, Lonnie excels at marketing her work, but in her own idiosyncratic way. While some artists rely on social media, she prefers to sell through face-to-face interactions. “I like a situation where people know me and what I do,” she says. To that end, she holds salons, where her art is displayed and she can offer demonstrations of the monotype process. “I have sold more work out of my home than you can imagine,” she laughs. Another technique is approaching a gallery and offering to mount a one- or two-day pop-up show between exhibitions. “I give people a lot of access to me,” she notes. “I like the human part of it all.”

Using encaustic monotype to capture the beauty of nature, however transitory and ephemeral, seems to provide Lonnie with unending inspiration. “I have never had anything so lined up with what I think and feel, how it comes out of my fingers and what shows up at the end,” she reflects. “It’s like they all work together for me.”

Shades & Layers – lonniezarem.com

The Beat on your Eats: Cozy Bars

Words by Johanna Harlow

Baby, it’s cold outside—so curl up with a craft cocktail in one of these cozy bars.

faith and spirits

San Carlos

Faith and Spirits has that old-school class that whisks guests off to a previous era. With oriental rugs, a button-tufted sofa and a phonograph in the corner, this bar’s turn-of-the-century living room charm makes it the perfect locale for highballs and martinis. The coziness continues with lamps on every table and live music. Depending on the night, you’ll listen to acoustic guitar or dueling pianos. If you’re not one to sit back, warm up your vocals and come Wednesdays for karaoke (with an accompanying pianist) or lace up your dancing shoes on Thursdays for salsa, bachata and merengue. 765 Laurel Street. Open nightly.

Cover Photo: Sheilla Photography / Photo: Paulette Phlipott

fogbird lounge

San Mateo

Follow your flight of fancy to Fogbird Lounge, where regulars alight for enchanting evenings in downtown San Mateo. Once a dusty tiki bar, the space has been revitalized with exposed brick, orb lights and playful fern wallpaper. Here, no one will give you guff for ordering the ol’ standbys, but you won’t regret shaking things up with one of Fogbird’s signature cocktails like Swan Song, Night Owl or Old Sparrow. One to surely lift your spirits: Next Flight to Cabo with reposado tequila and Campari punctuated with a grapefruit and lime zing. Feeling peckish? They’ve got that covered too. Dunk warm pretzels into mustard and cheese sauces or tortilla chips into a skillet of spinach-artichoke dip. 144 South B Street. Open Monday to Saturday.

amandine lounge

Los Altos

Let the maps covering the wall be your clue: the travel-themed cocktails at Amandine will taste of adventure. So get yourself a Beautiful Oaxacan Sunburn, experience a Shipwreck or have a tasty encounter with a Swashbuckler. And don’t forget to check out the “Postcards From” series—Amandine’s love letter to countries around the world. The Oaxacan “postcard” mixes up mezcal, agave, lime and prickly pear, while a Postcard from Spain blooms with botanical gin, floral vermouth, grapefruit, juniper and rosemary. With its speakeasy-esque atmosphere, Amandine makes a perfect date night rendezvous, so slip into a candle-lit dark-red booth with your paramour for deep conversations well into the night. 235 1st Street, Los Altos. Open Monday to Saturday.

Say Cheesecake

Words by Trevor Felch

After each customer’s first bite of the signature dish at Menlo Park’s Namesake Cheesecake, there seems to always be a subtle “aha!” epiphany moment. “I didn’t know cheesecake could taste like that!”
In a sea of dense cheesecakes, the one from Cherith Spicer’s charming shop is smooth and tangy—a Ferrari-cruising-down-the-highway kind of dessert.

Besides the glorious first bite, guests often have one other sudden moment of realization that pulls together the Peninsula’s historic past and its current cheesecake virtuoso.

Namesake Cheesecake might be a lovely bakery name that rhymes, but its real purpose is to pay homage. Cherith is named after Cherith Lorraine Rickey, a dear family friend and neighbor. Longtime Peninsula diners certainly know Rickey and her husband John’s restaurants, including Dinah’s Shack, Rick’s Swiss Chalet and Rickey’s Hyatt. A stalwart dessert at those restaurants was a particular cheesecake: Cherith Lorraine Rickey’s cheesecake.

However, as is the case with so many precious traditions from prior generations, this cheesecake recipe was never written down or virtually shared at all. At least that was the case until Cherith was the lucky—and only—recipient of the secrets of this cheesecake.

“She looked at me and said, ‘Eight crackers,’” Cherith recalls on an unusually balmy autumn afternoon at her shop about how she slowly but surely learned the recipe while Rickey’s memory sadly was fading. “I promised her. I said, ‘Someday in my life I could do something with this recipe. I don’t know what, when or how. But I promise you, I will make this come back to life.’”

Now Cherith’s been serving the cheesecake for over a decade to the likes of Jane Goodall, Clint Eastwood, several beloved nearby restaurants (Sundance the Steakhouse, Osteria and the Stanford Park Hotel, to name a few) and a very devoted following of local enthusiasts.

Even if Cherith might be a leading cheesecake expert now, she didn’t start baking by way of culinary school or even, in her parents’ opinion, baking pretty much anywhere.

“I joked with my parents and said, ‘I’m going to open up a bakery.’ And then my parents were like, ‘Do you even know how to bake?!’” Cherith credits the Carrubas family—known for local restaurants like Osteria and Caffe Riace—for providing pivotal support. “They really took me under their wing and showed me the ropes on how to get started. It was because of them that I ended up finding this location.”

Initially a skeptic due to her lack of baking experience, Cherith’s father Don also jumped in to help when she launched Namesake Cheesecake in 2012. Although retired now from making deliveries, today at age 92, he still bikes from Palo Alto to the shop to assist his daughter and her small team.
“It’s been fun,” Cherith reflects. “It’s been fun not only challenging myself, but also really trying to keep myself on my toes. Everything is a learning experience for me.”

Cherith clearly learned the cheesecake intricacies from Rickey and now has command of this tricky recipe that relies as much on an elegant, delicate texture as it does on flavor:

“Our cheesecake has three layers and each individual layer has to have a bake and chill process. It’s very different from other styles where you kind of just mix it all in one bowl, throw it in a pan, bake it and take it out. This is why it takes us two days to make it. It has a big chill process and that’s what makes it so good. We also don’t bake with eggs, which is very uncommon.”
Before Namesake Cheesecake, the Palo Alto High School graduate spent several years in Los Angeles and co-opened one of that area’s leading craft beer bars before the genre became the massive trend it is today. Cherith came back to the Peninsula to be closer to her parents. Of course, 2020 posed challenges for the shop, but Cherith took the opportunity to reimagine both her business and the space. Cheesecake is certainly still the headliner, but Namesake Cheesecake goes far beyond dessert nowadays.

“Let’s figure that out!” exclaims Spicer, when asked how to describe the shop, leaning back in a chair and nearly hitting some ornate glassware sitting atop an armoire display of bracelets and earrings. “It’s like a boutique—an eclectic, sort of one-stop shop where everything is local, women-owned, has a good story, gift basket-oriented with constant new arrivals. It’s a little array of everything—and cheesecake.”

After hearing a “general store” suggestion, Cherith pauses and adds, “A general store—with sparkle!”

At this time of year, the shop looks particularly festive with every kind of stocking stuffer, plus a cheesecake holiday candy topping offering, which is quite fitting because Rickey’s cheesecake was always served at the Christmas parties Cherith’s family would attend. “Everything just goes back to family,” she notes. “My parents were best friends with them, so we were over at their house all the time.”

Indeed, arguably the most rewarding thing about Namesake Cheesecake for Cherith is seeing families create their own traditions with this historic cheesecake.

“I like the personal part,” she smiles, as she describes regulars serving up Namesake for engagements and weddings, followed by baby showers: “I’m just watching all these chapters of everyone and that’s what I love.”

the perfect touch – namesakecheesecake.com

Coastside Classic: Johnny’s

Words by Elaine Wu

In the heart of downtown Half Moon Bay, an old favorite has made a comeback. Once one of the town’s oldest and most popular restaurants, Original Johnny’s closed for good in 2006. Now, the classic diner is back in its original spot on Miramontes and Main Street, and locals have restaurateur Betsy del Fierro to thank for its return.

Born and raised in Honolulu, Betsy’s welcoming Hawaiian spirit and sense of ohana (family) is in everything she does. She and her husband, George, raised their three grown children in Half Moon Bay and have owned and operated the restaurant It’s Italia here for 26 years. “The vibe in Half Moon Bay reminds me of the people in Hawaii,” she says lovingly. “There’s a closeness. We all know each other. We stick together and support each other more than lots of other places I’ve been.” So, to honor the town she loves, Betsy decided to bring back their favorite watering hole.

The first incarnation of Original Johnny’s was opened in the 1960s by John and Fiorina Evans. They then passed the diner on to their son Steve and his wife Ilva in the 1980s. Generations of Half Moon Bay residents used to frequent the place, including Betsy and her own family. “Every time I’m alone in this restaurant, I feel the spirit of Steve and Ilva, who were the owners my kids grew up knowing when we’d come in,” she recounts. “We used to order the kids hot chocolate and Mickey Mouse pancakes all the time.”

When it came time to build and design the revamped diner, Betsy had no trouble finding help. “I didn’t have to go out and beg a designer, a contractor, an electrician or a plumber to come and work on this project,” she says. “The locals wanted to be a part of it. These people grew up here and came to Original Johnny’s.”

The del Fierros’ two daughters, Maile and Camille, serve as head chef and general manager, respectively, for the new Johnny’s. “Maile learned a lot from the cooks at It’s Italia and has studied with a lot of chefs who have taken her under their wing, so Johnny’s is a project for her,” Betsy says proudly. “She hired all of our cooks, created the menu and researched so many recipes.”

Upon entering, you’ll notice this greasy spoon feels like anything but. With the help of local award-winning interior designer Kristi Will, the restaurant’s new lemony-yellow interior evokes steady rays of sunshine in this frequently foggy town. And the teal-colored banquettes and blue ombré mosaic tiled wall separating the kitchen from the rest of the restaurant gives a subtle nod to the ocean. “We really wanted to achieve a similar vibe to what it used to be: the friendliness, the sense of community,” notes Betsy.

The menu is a mix of both classic and modern diner favorites. There are even a few dishes named for members of the del Fierro family, including “The Queen B” (named for Betsy), the vegetarian “Tweety Bowl” (Camille’s childhood nickname), the “Sisters Omelette” (for Maile and Camille) and the sauce served on the Smashburger was inspired by Betsy and George’s son, Rene.

Family has always been at the heart of Johnny’s no matter who is at the helm, and Betsy plans to keep it that way. “The community feels like this restaurant is here for them because that’s the way John and Fiorina started it and how Steve and Ilva kept it going,” she reflects. “This place has always been friendly and endearing to people. It would be a shame for me not to honor what they started.”

JOHNNY’S LEMON RICOTTA PANCAKES

Though Maile developed much of the diner’s menu, this recipe was created by Betsy, which she shares with pride. She recommends serving with a few sprigs of edible flowers for an added bit of flourish.

INGREDIENTS
5 egg yolks, beaten
5 egg whites
3 ¼ cups fresh ricotta cheese (homemade is best)
2 large or 3 medium lemons, zested and juiced
2 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 ²⁄³ cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda 
4 oz good quality butter, softened

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, mix together egg yolks, ricotta, lemon zest and lemon juice, sugar and vanilla. Set aside. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a bowl. Add this dry mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in the softened butter. Then fold in ¼ of the egg whites until incorporated followed by the rest of the egg whites until just combined. Heat a lightly greased frying pan or electric griddle to medium heat. Drop ¼ cup of the batter onto the pan per pancake. Cook until bubbles begin to form around the edges of each dollop, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Hit the Slopes

Words by Christina Chahal

If you’re a ski buff growing up on the Peninsula, winter rain means just one thing: snow in Tahoe! That’s what Menlo Park’s Gary Hohl remembers most about his childhood. When the wet stuff began to fall, it wouldn’t be long before his family loaded up the car.

“Growing up, it was a station-wagon-bagged-lunch kind of thing, when a lift ticket cost $12 and a season pass was a whopping $125,” smiles Gary, as he describes frequent Highway 80 trips up to the High Sierra. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, hitting the slopes was a fashion-backwards kind of activity, he reminisces, where you could throw on whatever winter-ish clothes you could toss together. Frequently, it was a carefully Scotchguarded pair of jeans paired with a hand-me-down sweatshirt for the annual rite of spring skiing.

In addition to flying down the mountain in his favorite Levi’s, Gary’s favorite memory is the uninterrupted time he spent with his parents, and more recently, the precious time he’s had with his own spouse and two sons, all because of skiing. “Skiing or boarding is one of the only times you can find yourself alone with your child,” notes Gary, who reflects how rare that is today, especially quality time that’s free of devices. “Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had with my family were on a chairlift. Even now, I ski with my kids more than anyone else. It’s a lifelong bond.”

It’s no stretch to say that Gary Hohl is an expert on the subject of local snow sports. Raised in Burlingame, he started skiing at the age of nine. Then, after several memorable years of mogul mashing, there he was—a teenager working at Helm of Sun Valley Ski Shop in San Mateo, a job he kept all the way through junior college and college. “It wasn’t work,” he says. “It was a lot of fun and something I always looked forward to.”

After graduating from UC Davis, Gary took a job with Kraft Foods as a quality manager in rural Idaho. Less than two years into it, the phone rang with a career- and life-altering offer. “My old manager called and said, ‘Do you want to buy a ski shop?’” he recounts. Gary didn’t have to think too hard: “I said, ‘Sure!’” Four decades later, Gary is still the guy in charge.

To clear up any confusion: the original Helm was in Sun Valley, Idaho, as befits the name. Westward expansion brought the store to California, where the San Mateo location has been a community fixture for over 63 years. “There aren’t a whole lot of businesses that can say that and we are proud of it,” says Gary. Today, as in years past, Gary’s passion is to get anyone and everyone out there enjoying snow sports and taking full advantage of the Peninsula’s close proximity to the mountains. From experience, Gary believes that the difference between a good day skiing or boarding and a great day is a well-fitting boot.

“The cornerstone of our business is boot-fitting,” he says. “What we’re really good at is analyzing people’s feet and then matching a boot up to that foot and that person’s needs.” Don’t expect to see a giant wall of boots on display. After factoring ability level and aspirations into the puzzle, staff duck into the back and bring out recommended styles for consideration.

Customization also plays a vital role. “We’re able to customize boots in many different ways—punching, carving, grinding,” Gary notes, citing examples like molding a boot to accommodate a big toe bunion or boosting comfort and performance through after-market liners. And, he points out, getting cold feet is no longer an excuse for not skiing. “The number-one thing is to get a boot heater that’s permanently affixed into your boot that runs on a lithium ion battery,” he guides. He’s also a big fan of the heated boot bag: “So many people struggle getting their boots on in the morning, and this just completely solves the problem.”

If Gary has one mission, it’s to clear up a misconception. “So many skiers and boarders think painful boots are just something you have to tolerate,” he says. “I’m amazed that people come in with that attitude and it really doesn’t have to be that way. Boots have gotten so much more comfortable over the years.”

As a shop run by skiers and snowboarders, Helm’s offerings include all the essential equipment and accessories, plus shop work and even season leases. “If you are skiing or snowboarding more than two weekends per season,” Gary advises, “then leasing is a great way to save money, along with time and hassle.”

In what may sound like an impossibility, Gary insists that families can still hit the slopes on a budget—they just have to get creative and go off the beaten path. Consider buying used equipment and clothing (look for Helm’s annual Ski and Snowboard Swap every November)—and aim for smaller “mom-and-pop” resorts like Boreal, Sierra Ski Ranch and Dodge Ridge. “I grew up skiing at Dodge Ridge,” Gary shares, “and I still go there nowadays. It’s easy to get to, and it’s never crowded.” Whether you have a preference for skiing or boarding, packed or powder, Gary says time on the mountain equates to treasured family memories for seasons—and generations—to come.

Custom Fit – helm-sport.com

Growing Grapes

Words by Linda Hubbard

Mention “Blumenkranz” on the Mid-Peninsula and people are likely to immediately think “doctor.” Indeed, Mark is a retired ophthalmologist specializing in retinal disease who continues to teach at Stanford, and Recia is a not-quite-retired dermatologist practicing in Menlo Park.

But talk to wine enthusiasts, and you’ll find they are known increasingly for the Burgundian-style wine they sell, all produced from grapes grown on their Portola Valley property. Whether you call it a residential, hobby or backyard vineyard, their joint venture results in a Pinot Noir with Blumenkranz on the label.

They initially planted their one-acre vineyard in 1995, using three different Pinot Noir clones on three different hillside blocks—all with slightly different microclimates. Some are shaded with old oaks and redwoods. Two of the blocks have a southeastern exposure and one has a northwestern exposure, which typically results in the latter being harvested two to three weeks later than the former. Over 1998 and 1999, they produced their first vintage.

“We would drink the wine we produced ourselves and give it to friends as house gifts,” says Recia. “People seemed to really like it, and we’d get compliments.” Adds Mark: “It’s the idea of sharing—that’s the reason we decided to sell it. It’s not a business for us; it’s a passionate hobby.”

Recia and Mark, who married in 1975, met when he was a medical student at Brown and she was an undergraduate. Mark knew he wanted to be a doctor since grade school—his father was a physician. Recia’s calling came later, when she was in college. In addition to their professional responsibilities, they raised three children and have three grandchildren.

They’ve both always enjoyed the wines of Burgundy, France. Now they enjoy discovering how each vintage produced from their vineyard is distinct.

To get the grape vines planted, Mark enlisted the help of a former patient, Steve Pessagno, who had worked at a number of larger vineyards. “He and I literally physically planted the grapes,” recounts Mark, who explains that the land is ideally suited to growing grapes. “It was chosen by Leland Stanford for horses and grapes in the late 19th century. It’s a combination of the soil and the light and the climate. Plus, we get coastal fog and also have great sun. You could plant anything here! And grapes are relatively drought-resistant and provide a good fire break.”

To combat birds eating the grapes, they cover the vines with netting. “I’m surprised that more people here aren’t using nets,” observes Mark. “It may be that the birds are more active in our vineyard because we are up on a hill with lots of trees where the birds hang out as compared with the flatter lands with fewer trees and birds. I know that’s true in Napa.”

To maintain the vineyard, they pay great attention to sustainable farming practices. No chemicals are used, only organic elements. And while they manage the vineyard, they don’t make the wine. The day-to-day viticulture, crush and winemaking is handled under contract by Coastal Range Vineyards, who provide that service to a number of private vineyard estates in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Mark works closely with Peter Kirchner, Coastal Range’s principal winemaker. They jointly determine how the wine is produced. “We both share a common philosophy of the primacy of the fruit in that process, and the need for the wine to express the unique terroir of its origin,” says Mark. “We favor a more nuanced Burgundian style, with minimal handling and very light oak, rather than the heavier fruit-bombs that have become somewhat popular in certain regions.”

Both harvest time (October 2 and 23 this year) and the winemaking take into account the varying degrees of sunlight and precipitation as well as other climatic and environmental factors that affect grape yield and quality. “That typically influences the particulars of fermentation and length and type of barreling chosen,” Mark continues. “We attempt to balance the need for the wine to be enjoyed early but have sufficient structure to evolve and improve over time as well.”

The couple thought about buying more land elsewhere, such as in the Petaluma Gap or Sierra foothills. “But at the end of the day, we produce more wine than we can drink—about 50 cases a year,” says Mark. “We’re just lucky that people are willing to buy it and give it a try.”
The wine is available at Roberts Markets in Portola Valley and Woodside as well as Bianchini’s in Portola Valley and San Carlos. It’s also served at Portola Kitchen in the Ladera Shopping Center.

“I do tastings at Bianchini’s during their Buy Local promotions,” shares Recia. “It’s always so much fun seeing so many old friends and patients!”
Both Recia and Mark underscore that they’ve always liked living in rural environments. Miniature olive trees dot the property, and they grow a lot of the food they eat. They view themselves as gentleman/woman farmers living off the land. And they are grateful for what the land gives them.

Perfect Shot: Candy Cane Lane

On assignment for PUNCH, photographer Gino De Grandis documented the festivities on the 1200 block of Dewey Street in Redwood City—AKA Candy Cane Lane. “As I was taking pictures of the houses all decked out for Christmas,” Gino describes, “a little girl with a sparkly light passed by and I was lucky to capture it at the perfect moment to create this unique effect.”

Image by Gino De Grandis / luiphotography.com

Calling all Shutterbugs: If you’ve captured a unique perspective of the Peninsula, we’d love to see your Perfect Shot. Email us at hello@punchmonthly.com to be considered for publication.

Q&A: Lisa McCaffrey

The former Stanford soccer star, NFL wife/mother and co-host of “Your Mom” podcast shares her number one tip for raising boys, how she ranks her kids and what she’s obsessed with at Levi’s Stadium.

What inspired you to create the weekly podcast “Your Mom”?
Ashley Adamson, my co-host and Pac-12 reporter extraordinaire, came up with the idea when she saw me “gently” reprimand Christian at the Heisman Trophy Ceremony way back in 2015. She realized no one can humanize a kid quite like their mother.

What kind of unique insights do you get talking to the
moms of famous people?
The biggest takeaway I have deduced from interviewing these amazing moms is that moms love their kids unconditionally and they always will, no matter what.

Your husband, Ed McCaffrey, and four sons all play or coach football. What do you love/hate about the sport?
If you can’t beat them, join them. I absolutely love the game of football and appreciate it for helping shape my boys into hardworking and accountable young men. I love that they found their passion, but for a mom, it can be quite a rollercoaster of emotions.

What goes through your head as you watch your kid play?
There is a gauntlet of emotions running through my head from snap to whistle… anxiety, stress, worry, thrill, elation, bliss, exhaustion—and that’s after a successful play.

Your number one tip after raising four boys?
My tip to raising all boys is to nurture your relationships with your girlfriends. You are going to need them.

What’s guaranteed to make you laugh?
Definitely NOT Ed’s “dad jokes.”

You’ve (joked) that you rank your kids. Explain.
The criteria for my favorite kid has evolved over the years—from which one cleaned their room best to which one calls me back first.

Where did you grow up and what was great about it?
I grew up in Miami, Florida in the ‘80s. I mean, turn on an episode of Miami Vice and figure out for yourself what was so great about it.

Favorite hangouts in your Stanford days and now?
Our favorite place back in our Stanford days was the Pioneer Saloon on Friday nights. Our go-to spot now is the Alpine Inn.

Any insider/behind-the-scenes takes on Levi’s Stadium?
I am obsessed with the TVs in the mirrors in the bathrooms at Levi’s Stadium. I never miss a play.

Name your biggest pet peeve.
The biggest pet peeve I ever saw was on my aunt’s Great Dane.

What age would you choose to be again and why?
I actually love the age I am right now, 54. I love where I am in life.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to calm the f*** down.

What’s the most embarrassing story you’ve shared about a son on your show?
Uh-oh, dangerous territory. Give “Your Mom” a listen and I’m sure you’ll figure out which was the most embarrassing story. #shamelessplug

Landmark: Church of the Nativity

Words by Dylan Lanier

Catholicism was on a roll during the late 19th century—literally! Archbishop Alemany of San Francisco established a chapel originally called St. Bridget’s in 1872 to preside over the spiritual activities of Menlo Park and its neighboring towns. Five years later, it became a parish and Reverend William Speckels was named its resident pastor. However, the chapel moved twice in two years to where it now stands on Oak Grove Avenue. The transportation team lifted the structure onto logs and rolled it to each destination, prompting locals to refer to it as the “Roamin’ Catholic Church.” The chapel was expanded into a church—now known as Church of the Nativity—and Peter Donohue, the “Iron King” of the Comstock Lode, gifted the building a 1,200-pound bell. The church underwent a few more renovations until the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake caused a chimney to crash through the roof of the rectory, trapping multiple priests upstairs and forcing them to climb down fire department ladders. The building was repaired and priests continued to make various improvements to the grounds. In 1950, the establishment of St. Raymond’s Church split the former Nativity parish. Today, it has 1,400 members. In 1981, Church of the Nativity received a spot on the National Register of Historical Places. It still stands as the oldest church building that has continued to operate in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

A Taste of Springline

Words by Sharon McDonnell

A New York Times “36 Hours” travel story on Menlo Park could focus entirely on Springline, the new luxury mixed-use development across from Caltrain. Start the day with coffee and a pastry at Andytown Coffee Roasters. Eat lunch al fresco in the plaza by the fountain, perhaps a takeaway salad from Proper Food (seared lemon pepper tuna perhaps or green tea soba noodles with sesame chicken, peanuts and mint). For dinner, pick your pleasure—Burmese at Burma Love, Spanish tapas at Canteen, omakase sushi at Robin or Italian at Che Fico. For late-night libations, head to Barebottle Brewing.

Just one more thing about the food and drink tenants at Springline: They’re all based in San Francisco, with one exception. Canteen’s sister eatery, Camper, is in Menlo Park.

That’s deliberate. Cyrus Sanandaji, Springline’s developer and the dynamic young managing principal of Presidio Bay Ventures, lives in San Francisco, has frequented all these restaurants and envisioned local brands that represent the City by the Bay’s distinct cultural identity and iconic pull. “We looked to see what would complement existing fine dining options in the South Bay, and what didn’t exist,” he explains. “Instead of just heavy dinner places, we wanted quality, approachable outlets that would drive both locals and our tenants to want to eat and drink at Springline seven days a week.”

Cover Photo: Courtesy of Johanna Harlow. Springline’s Burma Love is the newest location for San Francisco’s Burma Superstar family of restaurants. / Photo Below: Courtesy of Jim Sulivan. Canteen offers tapas-style plates in an aquatic-inspired space.

There’s nothing quite like Springline, a 183-unit low-rise luxury apartment complex new to the Peninsula. But that’s just fine with the Oxford-educated Iranian-Kurdish American, who was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Dubai, studied political science at Oxford, worked in London and moved in 2008 to San Francisco. He embraces challenges, to put it mildly. “I have a passion for people and want to design an experience to evoke emotion—that’s what makes life exciting. You spend 24 hours a day in a built environment, so let’s enhance the experience,” says Cyrus, who admits to being an “adrenaline junkie.” Among his favorite activities: windsurfing at Crissy Field and heliskiing.

Springline’s abundant outdoor and communal indoor spaces (with a piano, library and record player in the sleek residential lobby) and robust amenities were shaped by the pandemic, he notes. “Pre-pandemic, restaurants didn’t appreciate the value of outdoor dining. Now, it’s a significant requirement.”

Photo: Courtesy of Robin. Robin serves up a personalized omakase with an emphasis on sushi in a dramatic, elevated space.

Visitors are already clocking the differences between each restaurant’s Menlo Park vs. San Francisco locations. Take Burma Love, whose SF sister restaurants are Burma Superstar (the first one opened way back in 1992) and Burma Love. “Our other locations have more traditional Burmese staples, like tea leaf salad, that the community has grown to love,” says Bryanna Yip, director of brand for the Burma Love Food Group. “But Menlo Park also has inspired regional specialties like pork belly hung lay with tamarind sauce, heirloom tomatoes and pickled garlic.” She adds that a “very large emphasis” on the bar program means cocktails with “more adventurous, curious flavor profiles,” using ingredients like tea syrups, Thai basil, makrut lime leaves and smoked strawberries. Such flavors pair well with the bold, sour, spicy and salty flavors of Burmese food, which reflects influences from nearby India, China, Thailand and Laos. The décor is trendier and more glamorous, featuring murals of Burma’s golden stupas and pincushion-like lighting fixtures.

At Robin, chef/owner Adam Tortosa’s omakase sushi restaurant where there’s no menu, but a parade of 11 to 18 chef’s choice dishes, features a full bar with Japanese whiskies—unlike his Hayes Valley location—and the menu is “about 20% different,” including sashimi with charred pineapple and kabosu, a Japanese citrus that tastes of lemon, lime and yuzu combined. The dark, dramatic décor features black volcanic-like walls with smashed copper leaf, and dining tables finished in shou sugi ban, a Japanese burned-wood technique. Distinctive hand-crafted serveware is adorned with crushed shells and rocks.

Photo: Courtesy of Johanna Harlow. At Andytown Coffee Roasters, a mural created by artist Orlie Kapitulnik features a heron and snowy plovers, a small endangered seabird that nests in Menlo Park’s salt flats.

Popular Andytown has five locations in San Francisco, all near Ocean Beach, except for one in a downtown high-rise. But, “We embraced a lot more color in this location and have some design features inspired by Spanish-style architecture in Menlo Park, like our wooden ceiling beams and arched niches where we sell coffee beans and coffeemakers,” says Lauren Crabbe, who owns Andytown with her Irish-born husband, Michael McCrory.

The cafe pays homage to the Belfast neighborhood where Michael grew up: Andersontown, nicknamed Andytown. “The Snowy Plover,” Andytown’s most famous drink, is an espresso cream soda concocted with brown sugar syrup, soda water and house-made whipped cream. Also on the menu: baked Irish soda bread, scones and sausage rolls.

Photo: Courtesy of Eric Wolfinger - Che Fico

In Italian slang, Che Fico means, “That’s so cool.” (Literally, “What a fig.”) That sums up chef/co-owner David Nayfeld’s delight in his trendy Italian restaurant’s new branch. “Our space is larger, our wine cellar is three times the size, enabling us to dig deeper into reserve lists, and we have a room for private dining that can fit 70, or be divided. We also built a completely weatherized outdoor dining space.” Specialties include sourdough pizzas—such as a pineapple, Calabrian chile and red onion offering that’s a cult favorite—plus pastas, some Jewish-Italian specialties, as well as Manila clams and ‘nduja butter baked in pizza dough. The nature-inspired décor in the colorful space features red leaf-shaped Murano chandeliers, vivid leafy wallpaper and myriad terra cotta-potted plants above the bar. Similar to its San Francisco locale, Italian grocery Il Mercato di Che Fico will also grace the premises.

For Proper Food owners and Stanford alumni Howard and Dana Bloom, opening a location in Springline is a return to their roots. The pair met on campus and launched Proper Food in 2014, after struggling to find high-quality to-go food while working in San Francisco. Now a successful SF-based chef-driven chain, Proper Food’s “fresh take on takeaway” menu includes seasonal sandwiches, salads, soups and entrees. Any food left over at the end of the day is donated to local food banks and charities.

Photo: Courtesy of Robin

Greg Kuzia-Carmel, the chef and owner of Menlo Park’s already popular Camper, opened Canteen at Springline to showcase a small-plate menu inspired by his culinary experiences in the Basque region of Spain. With the goal of setting the “bar high for casual, but carefully executed dining,” Canteen’s cozy, welcoming space invites diners to settle in for conversation and bites. Doubling down, Greg is also the mastermind behind Springline’s Canteen Coffee, serving up beans from SF’s Sightglass Roasters.

For Barebottle Brewing, Menlo Park is like coming home, says co-founder Michael Seitz, who lives in Burlingame. “I graduated from Stanford and used to go to all these great places, now closed,” he reminisces. After launching in San Francisco in 2016, Springline is Barebottle’s fourth location—and the first on the Peninsula. “I always had in the back of my mind that I’d come back and open something,” shares Michael. “From the start, dealing with Presidio Bay has been phenomenal. They’re creating a vibe, doing what’s necessary to attract the best of the best.”

Dining Destination – springline.com

Sequoia the Eagle

Words and photos by Bob Siegel

Several years ago, I was at the Palo Alto Baylands hoping to encounter some interesting birds or other wildlife to photograph. As I approached the Lucy Evans Nature Center, there was clearly an event going on, so I walked over to check it out. My eyes fixated on an enormous bald eagle. This was my first encounter with Sequoia, an animal ambassador from the Palo Alto Zoo. The closer I got, the more entranced I became. I had seen and photographed bald eagles before, but never at such close range where the elegant details of its individual feathers and piercing gold eyes become apparent.

During the session, I was struck not only by Sequoia’s sheer beauty, but also by her impressive armamentarium of talons and beak. Additionally, I noticed her acute awareness of what was going on around her—particularly the presence of other raptors—even at great distances. Sequoia’s volunteer handler, John Flynn, welcomed my photography and answered all my questions. He patiently explained what safety distances were required and how Sequoia was to be approached.

Later that evening, I attended an event at the Foster Gallery. A tall man with a distinguished beard came up to me and said that we had met earlier that day. At first, I was a bit confused until he jogged my memory. It turns out I was so mesmerized by Sequoia that I had not taken sufficient notice of John.
John graciously offered to host my photography students for a close-up encounter with Sequoia. Since that time, he has met with many of my “Photographing Nature” classes. One of the most striking aspects I have observed is the relationship between John and Sequoia.


Sequoia is 35 years old—elderly for a bald eagle in captivity—and John has been with her all but two of those years. The record age for a bald eagle in captivity is 52. The pair appear to have a relationship of respect, trust and mutual understanding. This was not always the case. John describes an aggressive, young Sequoia as “hell on wheels.” In those days, John sustained three lacerations that required stitches and “tons of puncture wounds.”

But the partnership evolved into a highly-rewarding one, providing John with an avocation that he’s really passionate about. “She changed my life in so many ways,” he says, describing the connection as “enriching, interesting and challenging.” He even sees her feisty youth as a gift, recounting times of tranquility when he would just sit with her and look out at the ocean. Sequoia also helped John get over his aversion to public speaking, and he now fully embraces sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm.

The pervasive use of the pesticide DDT led to a precipitous decline in the bald eagle population until it was banned in 1972. John credits dedicated breeding programs with aiding in the species’ recovery. Originally hatched on Swanson Island in the Queen Charlotte Strait in British Columbia, Sequoia was about six weeks of age when she was transferred to Ventana, Big Sur, by the Ventana Wildlife Society. The goal was to “translocate bald eagles from Canada where the population was healthy to areas in the Lower 48 where populations were in severe decline.”

Sequoia was subsequently released to the wild, but tragedy struck when she was shot, resulting in permanent paralysis of her tail. Found by a rancher in Humboldt County, she was identified and saved by a local vet before getting transferred back to Ventana. As John describes it, Sequoia has “no brakes and no rudders” and does not fly well in the wild. She would have difficulty catching fish or hunting. She also cannot mate because of her inability to move her tail.

Subsequently, Sequoia transferred to the San Francisco Zoo, where she spent 22 years as an ambassador for the bald eagle breeding program under the direction of John Aikin. When Aikin became the executive director of the Palo Alto Children’s Zoo and Museum, Sequoia moved to the Peninsula. John Flynn began working with Sequoia in San Francisco and continued in Palo Alto, where Sequoia has resided for the past 11 years.

Sequoia weighs 11.5 pounds. This seems light for a creature of her size until you realize that she is mostly feathers and muscles with hollow bones. During an ambassador session, Sequoia sits perched on John’s outstretched arm for extended periods in a way that is physically quite challenging. He is often assisted at times by a fixed perch and by Dennis Eve, who has also been working with Sequoia for the past five years.

Thanks to the level of trust between them, John is able to demonstrate Sequoia with full wing extension, with her protective, nictitating eyelid closed and her mouth open. He also makes use of a water sprayer, which Sequoia seems to enjoy and helps keep her cool. Occasionally, Sequoia will rub her face on John’s arm. This looks like an act of affection, but John assures me, she is using him to help preen.

Bald eagles are members of the Accipitridae family, which includes hawks, eagles and kites. Their specific name, leucocephalus, aptly means “white head.” But unlike vultures, bald eagles are not bald. The “bald” part of their common name seems to be etymologically linked to a word meaning “white” as in piebald. Another common misconception about bald eagles has to do with their vocalizations. In popular media such as The Colbert Report, the imagery of a bald eagle is often paired with the imposing and iconic call of a red-tailed hawk. The actual call of a bald eagle is far less threatening.

You can meet Sequoia and John by visiting the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo. Although Sequoia is not on public display, she does a series of meet-and-greet sessions on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at noon. John is more than happy to answer all your eagle questions.

greet an eagle – paloaltozoo.org

Love at First Eich

Words by Loureen Murphy

As Monique Anton drove down a Sunnyvale street in 2009, passing dozens of flat-roofed, plain-faced homes, curiosity grabbed the wheel and pulled her over. “What is this?” she asked the first person she saw. “It was like a portal I walked through and came out in a completely other world.” The world of Eichlers—which launched a journey of discovery.

“I fell in love with them, just like I fell in love with my husband,” recounts Monique, the broker and CEO of Modern Homes Realty, a Menlo Park agency specializing in Mid-Century Modern (MCM) properties. The street? Joseph Eichler’s first development, dated 1949.

From 1949 to 1966, the renowned real estate developer built over 11,000 Eichler homes in California, with the vast majority in the Bay Area. Today, Eichler housing tracts, along with custom homes, still pepper Peninsula communities including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City, Atherton, Burlingame, Hillsborough, Portola Valley, Foster City and San Mateo. With signature open floor plans and floor-to-ceiling glass, Eichlers have come to epitomize indoor-outdoor living, an enduring concept that evolves with each generation of homeowners.

The Essence of Eichler

Just as Monique’s Sunnyvale drive altered her course, so a single move changed Joseph Eichler’s life trajectory. From 1943-1945, Eichler and his family rented the Hillsborough home that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Sidney Bazet. Its clean lines, light-filled rooms, radiant heating and indoor-outdoor flow inspired Eichler’s 1949 launch of the Sunnyvale Building Company, which envisioned innovative-yet-affordable suburban homes. Soon, Eichler properties sprouted among South Bay and Peninsula orchards and hills, and beyond.

“Why buy a ‘Model T’ home when you can get so much house for so little!” enticed a 1951 Eichler ad. Photo-laced articles and ads boosted sales of these intentionally middle-class “California Modern” dwellings, as each year brought larger floor plans and more design enhancements.

SIGNATURE EICHLER FEATURES

+ Exposed posts and beams
+ Globe lights
+ Skylights
+ Home level with the ground, no steps up
+ Natural, accessible materials: wood, steel, concrete
+ Mahogany paneling
+ Formica counters in kitchens and baths
+ Open floor plans in the common areas
+ Radiant heat, coiled pipes in concrete slabs, 
warmth from the floor up
+ Floor-to-ceiling glass walls
+ Cork flooring
+ Atriums in some models 
+ A-framed roofs
+ Clean lines

Eyesore or Eden?

Heather Rarden lives in San Mateo Highlands, Eichler’s largest subdivision. “When I first started dating [my husband] Mark,” she recalls, “he brought me here and said, ‘This is a very special neighborhood.’” Um. No. The “boring look from the front—straight lines, flat roofs” echoed the small, dark Navy base houses Heather had grown up in. But the “unassuming” facade of Mark’s childhood home opened to a much “more expansive feeling inside.”

Hesitant to make the move, Heather studied vintage magazines to understand the idea behind Eichler’s designs. It worked. And, once she and Mark cleared out the overgrowth in the backyard, their house seemed to double in size.

Architect and Burlingame Eichler owner Kristen Bergman agrees that Eichlers “don’t face the street particularly well.” Some homeowners opt to fence over the front or alter it in some way. Others dislike the dark entrance that draws the eye straight to the backyard. Yet when Kristen entered her first Eichler, she couldn’t “believe how beautiful that house was,” marveling, “Oh, this is what a house can be.” That vision later sparked the purchase and remodel of her own Eichler.

In Palo Alto’s Charleston Meadows, new Eichler owners Arthur and Tina say they “like the idea of indoor-outdoor living, with lots of windows and skylights and natural light.” And the open floor plan keeps kids from “being holed up in their rooms.” Just north in the Palo Verde neighborhood, Katie Renati still delights in her floor-to-ceiling window walls after 26 years. “I wake up and I see the greenery outside,” she beams. “I don’t think I could live in a normal house again.” Monique sums up Eichlers’ allure—“They’re like little zen pods.”

Neighborhood Nexus

Eichler enthusiasts tout community. In Katie’s cohesive neighborhood, she enjoys daily conversations, decades-long friendships and regular block parties. People often gather at Palo Alto’s Eichler Swim and Tennis Club, where Joe Eichler himself cut the ribbon on opening day in 1958. The neighbors whom Arthur and Tina met at an open house factored into their buying decision. “They were all really nice! We also liked that there were a lot of kids the same ages as our kids,” Tina says.

The “convivial spirit is part of that fabric woven together in terms of indoor-outdoor,” Mark Rarden explains. “You’re constantly living with and around other people.” Modest-sized homes mean the sidewalks brim with “very active walkers, continuously running into each other,” he adds. Ubiquitous well-furnished patios become just an extension of your house for friends dropping by.

In any “Eichlerville,” social bonds strengthen over simple interactions, like sharing sources for door knobs and globe lights. Monique calls the MCM home connection a “club you buy into.” Infused with a sense of connection and identity, Eichler communities gather informally as well as holding annual events, such as home tours and holiday celebrations. Heather and Mark say they looked all over the Bay Area for that neighborhood feel. In the end, they found it right where Mark grew up.

EICHLER - DID YOU KNOW?

+ Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak grew up
in an Eichler.
+ Atherton and Hillsborough boast a handful of the largest, most creative Eichler homes.
+ Some Eichler designs are one-offs, customized for an end lot after the rest of the tract was built out.
+ Palo Alto, home to Eichler Homes’ headquarters, holds the record for the city with the most of these iconic houses at 2,700.
+ The largest contiguous Eichler grouping, 700 homes, was built in San Mateo’s Highlands between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s. Bigger lots there allowed construction of some Super Eichlers.
+ Two of Palo Alto’s Eichler neighborhoods, Green Gables and Greenmeadow, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
+ At least 20 California developers imitated Eichler designs.

Purism, Practicality and Preservation

These concepts may collide or cooperate—and invariably arise in the never-neutral discussion of Eichlers among neighbors and professionals. “I have seen some unbelievable Eichlers that are totally untouched,” says Monique, an Eichler purist. “People pass them down from generation to generation.”
But sometimes remodels must happen. Roofs deteriorate. Radiant heating fails. Appliances fizzle. Amidst re-dos, vintage adherents will preserve the formica in the kitchen and bath and acquire components for old fixtures and appliances. But new materials complementing and supporting Eichler essence and efficiency can also bring peace to the purist. Even retractable roofs over open-air atriums can harmonize without compromising an Eichler’s architectural integrity, observes Monique.

Mark and Heather considered changes to his childhood home before they moved in. Youthful recollections gave him “a cheat sheet” to start. For example, a house with that much glass “gets really cold or really hot.” They examined the “great for ’58” construction and updated it with double-pane windows and slim blinds to mute bright light and reduce interior temps. Count them fans of the “modern technologies that make these kinds of homes even more beautiful to live in.”

Likewise, “committed modernist” Kristen fuses past and present in her Eichler remodels, where practicality supersedes the “time capsule.” Instead she asks, “What would Eichler and the architects who worked for him do today?” In her own 2,400-square-foot Super Eichler, she swapped the radiant heat system for new radiant heat while retaining the ground-to-roof glass, essential to a seamless indoor-outdoor experience.
Kristen notes that the most common renovation is to open up original enclosed galley kitchens to the rest of the communal space and replace appliances with more efficient ones. She creates pockets for a bit of personal solitude in the common area. Other popular additions include a powder room, storage near the entry point, built-ins and expanded lighting options.

Whether renovating while honoring design intent, or treasuring original paneling and fixtures, many homeowners work to perpetuate the Eichler legacy. Safeguarding the aesthetic look reaches beyond the glassy walls of individual homes. Many Eichler enthusiasts seek to keep the authentic feel to their streets, preventing “McMansions” that tower over neighboring rooftops, blocking light, creating shadows and visual discord.

All-In with Eichlers

The Eichler Home Tour, staged five times since 2007, most recently showcased 12 Eichlers in San Mateo Highlands for its October 2023 event. Local Mid-Century Modern fans eagerly anticipate this rare-access opportunity and the chance to ask builders, architects and designers renovation and remodeling questions.

Now known as the “Eichler Lady,” Monique hosted the kick-off VIP party for the 2023 Eichler Home Tour. After founding Modern Homes Realty in 2012, she continued to go all-in with MCM. She even poured her ample knowledge into a 2019 documentary, People in Glass Houses: The Legacy of Joseph Eichler, sharing history, ideology and the growing yen for MCM vibes. Her weekly podcast, “Mid-Century Modernism with Monique,” hosts guest speakers ranging from architectural historians to journalists and interior designers.

Eichler homes’ leitmotif—simplicity with proximity to nature and neighbors—often elicits the designation “dream home” from owners. They see Eichlers as personal havens offering daily space for breathing deeply, imagining and reframing life. “When I discovered Eichlers,” Monique reflects, “I found more of myself.”

The Axe

Words by Dylan Lanier

Who gets the Axe? That’s what’s at stake November 18 when arch football rivals Stanford University and UC Berkeley face off in the 126th Big Game. On the heels of a two-year Cal winning streak, Cardinal fans are hoping home turf advantage will help bring the coveted Big Game trophy back to the Peninsula. The infamous prize, an axe-head mounted on a large wooden plaque, made its first appearance way back in 1899. Mired in controversy from the start, the Axe was created by Stanford yell leaders (the original hype-men of the student section), who bought an axe, painted the handle red and used it as a prop in a specific cheer known as the “Axe Yell.” (“Give ‘em the Axe, the Axe, the Axe!”) However, their antics—notably the decapitation of a Cal-colored scarecrow—backfired when the Golden Bears stole the Axe and kept it safely guarded across the Bay for the next three decades.

UPPER IMAGE: Future NFL quarterback #12 Andrew Luck celebrates a Stanford victory following the 113th Big Game on November 20, 2010; LOWER IMAGE: the Stare Down right before Stanford beat Cal to clinch bowl eligibility in the 117th Big Game on November 22, 2014.

After Stanford students pulled off an elaborate caper to swipe the Axe in 1931, both sides ultimately agreed to award custody of the trophy to the winner of each year’s Big Game. (Despite the accord, Cal students went on to steal the Axe three more times and Stanford has tallied four successful thefts.) At the Big Game, the official transfer of the Axe has been dubbed “The Stare Down.” With two minutes left on the clock, the Axe is brought to the 50-yard line where members of the UC Rally Committee and the Stanford Axe Committee await the final score and awarding of the trophy. When Stanford comes out on top (overall stats have the Cardinal with 48 games to Cal’s 36), the Axe can be viewed in Stanford’s Arrillaga Sports Center lobby—when it’s not under wraps in a secret location, that is.

Weaving a Legacy

Words by Jen Jory

Embroidered textiles and colorful woven fabrics flow from floor to ceiling at SHALINI B. Tucked within the rustic barn at the back of Menlo Park’s Allied Arts Guild, the shop feels like a treasure cave waiting to be explored. Vibrant quilts, Moroccan pillow covers, hand-stamped, block print cottons—everywhere and all around, a kaleidoscope of captivating stacks and displays.

Owner Shalini Bitzer brings a global sensibility to her craft, designing and curating fabrics from all over the world. “Global is how I feel, think and is my life in general,” reveals Shalini. Her story is a legacy of a hard-working family of entrepreneurs spanning decades and continents whose labor of love now extends to the Peninsula.

As a third-generation textile designer and business owner, Shalini runs the family company India Silk with the same passion that her grandfather Sunderlal did for 60 years in Bangalore, India. “My grandfather would go to the airport in India with his bags of silk and check what flights were departing to other countries that day and buy a ticket,” she recounts. “He was so successful traveling and selling to Europe, Australia and many countries worldwide.” After partnering with Sunderlal until his passing, Shalini’s mother Madhu Mehta took over as the second generation leading the business. Equally driven, she brought India Silk to the U.S., where the company grew a coast-to-coast client base including large fabric houses such as Fabricut and Kravet.

Born to a German father and Indian mother, Shalini traces her own roots to Baden-Baden, Germany, and the Himalayan mountains, where she attended an international boarding school. “My design and inspiration come from my life in India and Germany and the diversity there,” she says. “Today, we travel to India and Morocco for business once or twice a year. We still have an office in Germany as well.”

After Shalini studied interior design in Hamburg, Germany, her brother encouraged her to apply to a U.S. green card lottery program, which opened doors for her to attend the University of San Francisco (USF) to further her studies. At USF, she met her future husband Hatim, originally from Morocco. True to their international lifestyle, the couple celebrated their nuptials in dual weddings in India and Morocco. “My husband rode in on an elephant in India that was adorned in jewels,” smiles Shalini.

After USF, she broadened her exposure to the design world and beat out dozens of applicants for a coveted editorial assistant position at Vogue italia. “It was like The Devil Wears Prada movie with 30 girls lined up to apply for the same job,” she recalls. Shalini noted the editor’s German accent and used her native language in the interview, which clinched the job: “It was a lot working 12 hours a day for the magazine.”

Several years later, she left the frantic pace behind to start a family and her own business, Shalini Design, which began with a line of pashmina scarves sourced from Kathmandu, Nepal. She sold her first 600-piece order to a large Canadian fur coat company, followed by sales to Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Shalini’s mother encouraged her to continue with Shalini Design until she was ready to join India Silk.

In 2010, Shalini found a way to blend her worlds. In addition to taking on responsibilities with India Silk, the family’s wholesale business, she expanded into SHALINI B., to capture her retail offerings and full interior design services. “I am a one-stop shop,” she emphasizes. “I love pulling fabrics, furniture layouts and upholstery together. I also think color is important. Even with my clients who are afraid of color, I find a way to introduce more.”

Shalini’s first-hand knowledge of making textiles gives her a creative advantage as she is both designer and manufacturer. “I bring my drawings and samples to India and enter them on the computer where they are transformed into designs,” she explains. ”Then they are hand-threaded into a loom and the machine starts the weaving. If someone wants a white linen in a blush, we can do that.”

Craftsmen at India Silk originally started weaving exclusively on silk and then expanded over the years, producing linen, cotton and polyester fabrics. “I love the process of block print fabric as well,” Shalini notes. “The carving of the block, the shapes and natural colors used, result in perfect pattern repeats without a seam.”

Shalini frequently teams up with Madhu, who at 85, harnesses the same family work ethic as her father before her. “My mother is still engaged in the business like a 50-year-old,” marvels Shalini. “When I see her, it’s inspiring and she amazes me in meetings. I have to tell her to take a break.” With three daughters of her own and the oldest pursuing a marketing degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Shalini is likely to see a fourth generation carry on the family legacy.

With hard work and determination in her genes, Shalini’s muse continues to be Sunderlal, the family patriarch who worked into his late 90s. “His attitude was, ‘Don’t be afraid, and if you want to do something, do it.’ He was always forward-thinking,” she reflects, as her hand touches down on a shimmering pattern amidst SHALINI B.’s colorful displays of linens, shawls, wraps and scarves.

global patterns – shalinib.com

Vision Maker: Ari Citron

Words by Sheri Baer

Arielle Citron Leonard recently had a new client contact her about a remodeling idea that was just taking shape. The homeowner hadn’t talked with anyone else yet and launched the call with a somewhat-sheepish query. “They asked, ‘Is this the right time to reach out to you?’” recounts Arielle. “And I responded, ‘Most people don’t but it’s so important because we see the project through from nothing until it’s complete.’”

As the principal of Citron Home, a full-service Peninsula-focused interior design firm founded in 2016, Arielle frequently finds herself clarifying the role that interior designers play. “People think that we just come in and put furniture in the space,” she explains. “We definitely can do that, but if you are doing a whole renovation or a new-build construction, it’s to your benefit to bring us in early.”

Whether working on spec projects or with individual homeowners, Arielle touts the value of weighing in from the outset. When she’s brought in by developers, she works hand in hand with the architect to convey the overall vision for the home, which is frequently influenced by the Peninsula’s many family-friendly neighborhoods. “Seeing it through that lens means making sure that it’s not just a pretty home but it also makes sense and it flows,” she notes, citing examples like sufficiently wide hallways, ample storage, a laundry room that’s close to the bedrooms and a proper mud room.

COVER IMAGE: We wanted the beautiful exterior vintage oak trees to be an integral element in designing this great room. Large windows, soft ripple-fold drapes and a light fixture with oak accents intrinsically link the space with the outdoors.

“We make sure that the kitchen has everything that’s needed for a family and that there’s great usability and flow between the spaces,” Arielle continues. “And nowadays, a lot more people are working from home, so instead of doing one office, we’re doing two offices or a flex space. We look into areas where kids can play or that can also be used as a guest room or a study room.” From a design perspective, Arielle appreciates the flexibility that comes with spec projects. “There’s not as much direction,” she points out. “There’s no client, so we have more range to be fully creative.”

That said, Arielle also enjoys partnering with homeowners, who typically have a personal style they want to achieve. “We work together to really understand their aesthetic, so we can carry that vision through to the end,” she says. “Not only do we have the layout of the home in our heads, but we also consider how somebody is going to live there.”

Being involved from the start allows for input on space planning, scale and core decisions. That includes door and window placement, floor selections, baseboards, TV locations and even outlets. “If you have a vacuum that needs to be charged, we make sure that there’s a plug there so that it can be put away. Even electric toothbrushes—we like to have everything plugged away in drawers,” Arielle relays.

Small details make the difference in this staircase design. Adding picture lights to the ceiling to allow for a statement piece of art to shine introduces depth, illuminates the space and draws the eye upwards to take in the full effect.

The list goes on. Stone choices, sconces, window treatments and stair railings. Ceiling height, ceiling pitches and locations for recessed lighting and switches. “All the plumbing fixtures and faucets,” adds Arielle. “Even the height of the shower and where the temperature control goes so that you don’t get wet when you turn the shower on.” For a client who likes to cook, Citron Home makes sure there’s plenty of room for pots and pans. If they like to host big dinner parties, the design team ensures there’s sufficient table space for guests. “We definitely voice our opinion on what we think the client would love and appreciate, and after that, it’s their decision on what they want in their home.”

Raised in Menlo Park, Arielle says it feels like a natural extension to create beautiful and functional living spaces on the Peninsula. “New construction and renovations keep the community thriving and bring new life and young kids into the area,” she reflects. “When I drive by all the parks and they’re filled with kids, I think, ‘I was one of those kids.’” She credits her parents with sparking her passion for design and timeless art. “They built their own home, and I got to watch that at a young age,” she recalls. “And then they built spec homes throughout my childhood so I was able to learn about that and see it with my own eyes and become more involved as I got older. Design is something that’s in my blood, and I’m fortunate enough to have known it my whole life.”

After earning a design and architecture degree from UC Berkeley, Arielle pursued additional coursework in interior architecture and interior design. She worked for an interior design firm until she realized she was ready to go out on her own. “That’s what I always envisioned myself doing,” she shares, “and so I took the leap.”

Continuing the indoor-outdoor flow throughout the home creates a cohesive and clean atmosphere. The window treatments span the length of the room, drawing your eye across, while the horizontal lines are brought together by the European white oak floors and the linear oak pendant.

Now married with two “rambunctious” kids, Arielle has renewed appreciation for the Peninsula’s vibrant green spaces, high-quality schools and charming tree-lined streets. She also recognizes that it’s not easy to get into this market, which underscores why the right design team should be in place sooner than later: “I think the worst thing that could happen is that you spend two years building or renovating your dream home, and it doesn’t have everything you need.”

As she partners through the construction process, Arielle also consults with clients on furnishings. “That way, once their construction is done, they can move right in,” she says. “Having a family of my own allows me to have more insight into what families need that they don’t necessarily know that they need.” Drawing from first-hand experience, Arielle cites examples like easy-to-clean fabrics and carpeting. “I think we have a good grasp on durability and just making sure things are timeless.”

While she finds the entire design process stimulating, Arielle doesn’t hesitate when asked what’s most satisfying. “Seeing the project at the end of the day and closing the door for the last time,” she smiles. “To see families move in and create their own memories in a space that I’ve designed feels really special.”

designing every detail – citronhome.com

Castle and Cabernet

Words by Sheri Baer

Just short of downtown Calistoga on Highway 128, you’ll spot the turnoff for Castello di Amorosa. Everything strikes the eye as familiar Napa Valley scenery: a private driveway winding up a grapevine-terraced hillside. Only with a reservation can you proceed up the road to the astonishing sight that lies just beyond view.

“People come up over the crest of the hill and often just stop their cars,” notes winery owner Dario Sattui. “Sometimes they even get out and take videos or photos. They’re in awe before they even get closer or inside the castle.”

That’s right. Castle. An authentically-built 14th-century medieval Tuscan-style castle to be precise. At three acres in size, the castle winery consists of 107 distinctive rooms spanning eight levels (including four underground) and five defensive towers with battlements. But unlike the centuries-old fortresses that once protected central Italy, this castle wasn’t designed to thwart invaders. Instead, it entices visitors who appreciate history, architecture and Italian-style wines. And above all, it’s the manifestation of one man’s dream—or all-consuming obsession. “I have a disease and I know I have it,” confesses Dario. “I just can’t resist beautiful architecture.”

Dario Sattui’s Royal Dream

As an emigrant from Italy, Dario’s great-grandfather, Vittorio Sattui, established St. Helena Wine Cellars back in 1885 but Prohibition shut the winery down. After earning his MBA from Cal and traveling around Europe, Dario became determined to carry on the family’s legacy and successfully reopened V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena in 1975.

Always fascinated by architecture, Dario broke away to live in Italy in the late 1980s and spent his time exploring abandoned castles, churches and farmhouses in Tuscany and Umbria. “I was mesmerized, totally passionate about medieval architecture,” he recounts. “And when I would get into places, I would sketch them, I would measure them, I would photograph them.”

A few years later, in search of an idyllic property to settle on in Napa Valley, Dario came across a 171-acre parcel that had belonged to Colonel William Nash, known for planting one of California’s first vineyards back in 1846. Dario was instantly enchanted by the site’s Victorian three-story home with a wrap-around porch. “When I bought the property, I didn’t buy it to build the castle,” Dario says. “I bought it because I love the house. But I kept thinking and thinking…”

Dario’s thoughts led him to a fantastical idea—a way to honor his passion and heritage: create a medieval castle setting for making and showcasing Italian-style wines. “I didn’t want it to be something like Disneyland,” he emphasizes. “Here in the Napa Valley, people can be critical, and I wanted to get it authentically correct.”

Building The Castle

Initially envisioning an 8,500-square-foot structure that would take five to six years to build, Dario realized that framework was too constraining. Instead, over 15 years, the project morphed and expanded into what’s now the 121,000-square-foot Castello di Amorosa. Drawing on exhaustive research and accumulated knowledge, Dario remained faithful to his authenticity pledge. “You cannot build something that looks old using new materials,” he explains. “If you study the walls of European castles, you can see their history over time. Often, castles took hundreds of years to really finalize.”

For Dario, achieving that same aesthetic meant sourcing only old or handmade materials and employing 800-year-old building techniques. From battle-damaged tower to castle moat, the level of detail is staggering. Nearly one million antique bricks imported from Europe and 8,000 tons of hand-chiseled local stone. Hand-forged ironwork. Hand-carved gargoyles. Imported Italian lead glass. More than 200 shipping containers of antiques, armor and furnishings. “One door to the Great Hall has about 2,000 nails in it, all made by hand over the open fire,” describes Dario. “I was on the construction site in the daytime and working on the plans at night. I spent countless hours researching, tweaking stuff, going back to Italy to make sure I got it right. I was consumed—I did it out of passion, not because I had to.”

On April 7, 2007, Castello di Amorosa finally opened to the public. After a sleepless night, Dario arrived early and stood on the drawbridge, anxiously awaiting judgment. “For years, I tried to keep it a secret. What a crazy idea to build a castle in the Napa Valley!” he acknowledges. “Had I made a complete fool of myself or would people come?”

To Dario’s relief, they came. Slowly at first, but word spread—amplified by newspaper, magazine and TV coverage—and then…. “People really started to come, and today, I think we’re the most frequented winery in the Napa Valley.”

Tours and Tastings

No need to storm this castle. All that’s required to cross the drawbridge is a Tour & Tasting reservation. “Our philosophy is to make elegant, intensely flavored and well-balanced wines,” says Dario. “We get visitors who love the architecture of the castle and wine aficionados who really support us and buy our wine as well.”

All tasting reservations include a self-guided tour, which allows you to freely explore the Castello’s two main levels. Spend time in the Courtyard, studying architectural styles from the 10th through 15th centuries, before taking in the Great Hall’s hand-painted Italian frescoes and 500-year-old Umbrian fireplace. For portraits of knights and medieval jousting scenes, check out the Knights Hall, and don’t miss the Chapel frescoes painted by a medieval religious art specialist.

Book a tasting experience with a guided tour, and you’ll be led down winding stone hallways to the dramatic Grand Barrel Room three levels below, along with the Armory, which features centuries-old suits of armor and weapons. Adhering to authenticity, there’s even a gruesome torture chamber. “To my knowledge, all medieval castles had prisons and many of them had torture chambers,” shares Dario. “The whole idea of torture wasn’t a quick death. It was slow prolonged pain.” In addition to displaying replicas—such as a stretching rack, cranium crusher and chain whips—the chamber also showcases an authentic Iron Maiden.

As you explore the castle, you’ll also be treated to views of the surrounding 30-acre estate vineyard, one of nearly 15 vineyards bearing fruit for Castello di Amorosa.

Providing the perfect backdrop for Italian-style wines, the Castello’s Main Tasting Room features a Roman cross-vaulted brick ceiling and Tuscan-inspired murals. The small lots you’ll sample—from an extensive list of white, rosé, red and sweet wines, along with muscat non-alcoholic grape juice—are only sold here or through the winery’s website. In addition to your selected tastings, you can also add on extras like a cheese and charcuterie pairing or Belgian chocolates.

Now in his early 80s, Dario still enjoys standing on the drawbridge, taking in the animated chatter as visitors depart. It’s one thing to dream. Another to fully realize one’s passion. “I get a lot of personal satisfaction knowing that most people really love the castle,” he reflects. “In the United States, there’s nothing that’s comparable, and I’m proud of that.”

Tour and taste – castellodiamorosa.com

EXTEND YOUR STAY

Castello Victorian Inn - Historic luxury Calistoga inn owned by Dario Sattui. castellovictorian.com

Harvest Inn - Enchanting Napa Valley getaway in nearby St. Helena. harvestinn.com

Mount View Hotel & Spa - Art Deco-style luxury on Calistoga’s Lincoln Avenue. mountviewhotel.com

Scrumptious Swirls

Words by Kate Lucky

Azarmeen Pavri has spent a lot of time in laboratories: in high school, in college and as she worked on a PhD in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. But today, she’s not an academic or a researcher.

“Unknowingly, I had been honing the skills of a baker,” she says, as we sit over iced drinks at a cafe near her industrial kitchen in Redwood City. Those skills have since become a business—and for good reason. The treat Pavri specializes in requires nothing short of scientific precision.

Her artisanal confectionery, Délice Glacé, makes meringues—delectable, melt-on-your-tongue swirls in rose, lavender, passion fruit, chocolate and vanilla, some bedecked with sprinkles. The desserts are “clean,” meaning they are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and low-calorie, made with just a few simple ingredients. They have no fillers, no starches and no preservatives. (That said, they’re shelf-stable, and will keep in your cupboard for months at a time.) Meringues can be dressed up with layers of fruit and cream…or you can pop one (or two, or three) in your mouth, just as they are.

Délice Glacé means “frozen delight” in French. It’s a nod to how Pavri got her start, baking frozen meringue cakes. Those desserts were tasty, but prone to melting, difficult to transport and far from shelf-stable. So when a major lifestyle store asked her to do a pop-up, rather than carting in coolers, she recognized an opportunity—start selling the meringue cookies she’d been tinkering with. Laughing, she describes the pop-up’s success: “I sold out really fast!” The retailer asked her to come back again, closer to Christmas. She did—and the customers came out in droves. But when a line formed out the door, the store shut her down. Customers loved those meringues too much; they weren’t buying the store’s seasonal peppermint bark!

That experience gave Pavri the confidence she needed. She started visiting local grocers with bags in hand, asking their buyers to give her treats a try, learning what she needed to about bulk orders and barcodes. “You’ve got to put yourself out there,” she asserts. “If you’re not willing to promote, if you’re not willing to go into stores and say, ‘Hey, buy this! You don’t have it on your shelf! Taste it!’, then you won’t succeed.”

Today, Délice Glacé has found success. The company distributes in about 50 stores locally, including Whole Foods locations as well as smaller local markets like Sigona’s, Robert’s and Draeger’s. “I’m so fortunate to be working in an area and at a time when people are valuing the small maker,” Pavri says. She also sells directly to consumers online, and wholesale to other national retailers via a San Francisco company called Faire.

There’s a reason, other than deliciousness, for the demand. Not many companies make small-batch meringues. The treats are labor-intensive and finicky, requiring exact combinations of time and temperature. On top of that, Pavri has high standards. She refuses to use egg whites that come in cartons, which means hours of cracking shells and separating out yolks by hand. She carefully tests all her flavors, ensuring the vanilla doesn’t taste too medicinal and the pumpkin spice isn’t too cloying.

Back when she was developing recipes in her home kitchen, her three children were her taste-testers…and they were honest. “I remember going into my daughter’s bedroom and saying, ‘I just made these… They taste pretty bad, right?’” Pavri recalls of an early lavender test. “She’s like, ‘Yeah, it tastes awful, Mom.’”

Fortunately, Pavri gets excited by technical challenges. Take chocolate, which doesn’t react well with meringue. She had to come up with a special incorporation technique. It worked! Right now, her team is developing a dairy-free strawberry milkshake flavor.

Unfazed by setbacks like shortages of good passionfruit or delayed deliveries of superfine sugar, Pavri takes all in stride. (Even if she has to pulverize regular sugar with a coffee grinder.) “Everything with a meringue has to be just so,” Pavri explains. “It’s such a clean palate that flavor is going to burst through. The balance has to be impeccable.”

It’s that exquisitely balanced flavor, and the simplicity of the meringue itself, that has allowed Pavri to earn the trust of the health-conscious-yet-sweet-toothed retailers and customers in her Peninsula community. It’s a community she’s been part of for a while now. After leaving her native Pakistan for college at age 18, she spent time in England and New York before moving to the Bay Area 20 years ago. “This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere,” Pavri reflects. “That makes such a difference as an immigrant. You always feel like: ‘Where do I belong?’”

But indisputably, Redwood City is now her home. She supports her culinary neighbors, enthusiastically recommending the biscotti and focaccia at nearby La Biscotteria, and the glass-cased goodies at the shop we’re in now, Cocola Bakery. She pays it forward, too. The industrial space she works out of used to be home to a natural popsicle company; she gave that entrepreneur advice. “We try to help each other,” she shares with a smile.

Just as other small business owners can learn from each other, Pavri hopes her kids are learning from watching her work (and working themselves!) at Délice Glacé. “One of the most important things I’m able to teach them is just to put your head down. Get it done. Sometimes, you’re not going to love that,” she notes. Even in a very hot kitchen, even when you’re tired, the batch has to come out just right.

And the batches do. Because of Pavri’s expertise, because of that laboratory training, but also because of the most important ingredient of all. Not egg whites. Not super-fine sugar. “This is passion, really,” she sums up.

Melt-in-your-Mouth – deliceglace.com

Good Call: 49er Orthopedist

Words by Johanna Harlow

Well-versed in the language of bones and joints, Stanford orthopedic surgeon Timothy McAdams listens closely to the human body. As head team physician and orthopedic surgeon for the San Francisco 49ers, he’s also tackled countless critical calls for his team over the last 16 seasons.

“That’s been both the most fun and the most stressful part of my job,” the Los Altos Hills resident says of return-to-play decisions on game day. There’s the obvious calls, sure. A slight tweak like a knee sprain where everything’s still stable gets the green light, while a complete ligament injury is clearly a no-go. “The challenging part is sometimes it’s in-between,” Tim explains. “Sometimes there can be a sprain, which you just can’t tell on exam. And sometimes, in the heat of the moment, players don’t feel pain like they might later. The adrenaline kicks in and so we really have to err on the side of caution.” In other words, Tim’s job sometimes means protecting players from themselves. “They want to play,” he continues, “but they will appreciate it later on when you make a call that’s based on true medical judgment.”

Tim, who currently serves as president of the NFL Physician Society, must also keep his cool knowing how much is on the line. “In the NFL, where there’s 16 or 17 regular season games, your decision to return a player to the game is very important,” he notes. “In major league baseball, there’s hundreds of games… You can just remove the player from the game, see the physician later on and then decide from there because missing one game isn’t as bad. But in football, it has a huge impact.”

Behind the football pros you see taking the field is a small army of caregivers. Every NFL team requires two orthopedic surgeons, a medical physician, a head athletic trainer and their assistant athletic trainers, a physical therapist, a sports performance specialist, a strength and conditioning specialist, a nutritionist and various other types of manual therapists. Plus, throw in an on-call ophthalmologist, dentist and radiologist on game days. “It really does take a village,” confirms Tim.

Before plying his trade with professional athletes, Tim aided Stanford University’s football, basketball and soccer teams. His team player attitude and initiative didn’t go unnoticed. After only seven years at Stanford, Tim was recruited to work not only with the 49ers, but also as a team physician for the SF Giants and Golden State Warriors. When the balancing act became too much, he decided to concentrate on the 49ers.

“I went into it with a little bit of trepidation,” Tim admits of the transition. Would he be subjected to financial or other stressors when determining whether players should rejoin the fray? “It couldn’t be further from the truth!” he asserts. “I can honestly say I’ve never been pressured to put someone back in the game for any reason. All of the decisions on my medical care have been mine. I wouldn’t practice any other way.” Expanding on the topic, he adds, “All of these athletes, they want to perform, yes, but they also care about their future, and so to gain their trust, they really have to know that I’m invested in their long-term health and not just how they perform at next weekend’s game.”

Photography: Courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

An athlete himself, Tim played soccer and tennis during his time attending Bellarmine College Prep. “I’m still playing in what I call ‘the old man soccer leagues,’” he chuckles. “I think an important part of longevity is to stay active.” He also plays golf and enjoys watching his own kids take the field. “Now that I’m slowing down, I get to watch them and remember the old days.”

There’s something fatherly in the way Tim frets over post-injury 49ers returning to play. “It should be very rewarding, and at some level it is, but all I do is worry about it,” he admits. “It’s just like any parent who has a kid who comes back from an injury: always concerned that something could happen again.”

When a player does get hurt on the turf, Tim is ready on the sidelines to whisk him away to a private tent. After performing an exam and reviewing their sports injury history, Tim also scrutinizes the moment of injury on the video replay system, watching the action unfold in slow-mo to figure out how the injury occurred. Having that mechanism for review is a real game-changer. In the past, “you could see a lot of injuries better sitting on your couch than I could from the sideline,” describes Tim. “And people would say, ‘Why did you put that person back in? I could see that the knee hyperextended.’ Now with all these video systems, you can replay it from every angle and really get a good idea of how significant the injury is.”

But for Tim, the most rewarding part of the job isn’t on the field—it’s in the operating room. “Surgery is what every orthopedic surgeon will tell you they enjoy the most,” Tim says. “It really is my comfort zone. People ask me if I get anxious or nervous for surgeries. There’s a heightened focus, but it’s the most calm I am at anything.” Furthermore, “I have control of my environment, my situation, I’ve done everything so many times… I can get into the zone.”

And it’s what he’ll miss the most when he retires someday. “It is such a privilege and a joy to meet somebody and know that they’re trusting me while they’re asleep to do something to fix them so that they can thrive in their life the way they desire to. That’s a real privilege.”

That special bond between physician and player carries back to the stadium. “Players have come up to me after the lights have gone down, after everyone’s gone home, and they tell me how much they appreciated the care that I gave them during a certain game and looked out for them,” he describes with feeling. Good call, Tim. Good call.

Venetian Virtuoso

Words by Johanna Harlow

If you’ve ever found yourself mesmerized by the undulating, rippling surface of a pond, you’ll likely feel an affinity toward the paintings of Joseph Fuchs. Though water isn’t always featured in the artist’s city and nature scapes, it flows through many of his atmospheric works of art. “Essentially the water is an abstract,” the Los Altos painter describes. “You have to try to get the range of colors and shapes.”

That many of Joseph’s canvases are awash with depictions of bobbing Venetian scenery should come as no surprise. “The first time I went, it was almost like that previous life experience where you walk into a place and you fit… I was more than enchanted!” reflects Joseph, who first fell for Italy’s “City of Canals” back in the ‘80s.

The landscape was quite different from the endless orchards of Joseph’s hometown, where the only action was the occasional groan of a Boeing B-52 coming and going from nearby Moffett Field. As a seventh-generation Peninsula native, Joseph describes the Los Altos of his boyhood as “a drowsy, sleepy place.” “It wasn’t important. It was just a nice place to grow up,” he recollects. “A dog could go to sleep in the middle of the street and never be run over!”

Cover Artwork: Quiet Outing, Venice / Artwork: Floating World

But back to the water and Joseph’s unquenchable wanderlust—because over the years, he’s revisited Venice over a dozen times. “You can go back and see it a second time—and a third and a fourth—and it’s always a little different. And the more you do that, the richer it is,” the octogenarian says.

Joseph, who taught English at Menlo-Atherton High School for 33 years, even spent his six-month sabbatical living there. He painted every morning, then wandered the streets after lunch, returning back again in the evenings. “I would find a direction and just walk,” he says. “I would go different routes every single time.”

Where’s Pulcinella?

The artist has another preoccupation. But this time, it’s not a where or a what. It’s a who. Pay Joseph a visit and, in every room in his house, you’ll spot a hook-nosed, humpback clad with a smurf-like hat and a mask. This funny little fella perches on Joseph’s nightstand, revels along his bookshelves and gambols across many of Joseph’s paintings. Tilework (handpainted by Joseph) in both the laundry room and kitchen depict this comedic creature hanging up the wash on the clothesline, hugging a bevy of baguettes to his chest or balancing precarious, multi-scoop ice cream cones in both hands.

This character you’ve likely started playing “Where’s Waldo?” with goes by the name of Pulcinella. Joseph remembers first encountering the well-known stock character in Italian theater (also called “commedia dell’arte”) at a Pulcinella-packed exhibit at Stanford University. “I was devastated and amazed,” he says. “I’d found my man.”

Over the centuries, Pulcinella has been depicted as both foolish and cunning, both servant and master. He’s an opportunist known for exploiting situations to his favor—yet despite his foibles, rescues others who find themselves in trouble. For Joseph, the character is an ideal vessel for exploring humanity’s many faces. “He’s an everyman,” Joseph describes. “He represents everyone you could be.”

The artist notes that Pulcinella paintings aren’t in as much demand as they once were and that he’s incorporated more landscapes from his travels as well as Bay Area scenery into his practice of late. Though fortunately, he still finds fans of his favorite rogue.

Artwork: Alla Volta; Tea Time.

Joining the conversation, Joseph’s wife Jane references one of her husband’s earlier works: a piece in which Pulcinella shows a barefaced young girl around a mask shop. “Innocence doesn’t have a mask,” says Jane, observing, “As you come of age, you put on many masks. You can become anyone you want.” Joseph nods in agreement, “She’s being initiated into a future world that she’s going to occupy.”

Joseph and Jane

Joseph and Jane interact with that comfortable, lived-in ease that comes after 55 years in a strong marriage. Growing up, they attended the same schools—junior high, high school and college (San Jose State)—but it took two fateful dinners to finally get the two together. The first didn’t go so well.

Joseph, who had joined the military and spent a frigid winter in a guard tower in Korea, was back on leave when he attended a dinner hosted by their mutual friends. “He was white as a sheet, thin, extremely quiet,” Jane recalls. Meanwhile, Joseph found Jane excessively bubbly. “And I don’t like champagne!”

But when the two ate again with the same mutual friends a year later (after Joseph returned from time serving as a medic in Vietnam), sparks flew. “She’d written a couple of letters to me,” Joseph remembers. “And when the door opened, and she said, ‘Joe! Joe!’ It knocked me down! Nobody really had welcomed me back like that.” Jane adds that the change of scenery had done him good. “He was tan, muscular and had this fantastic smile,” she reminisces. “I told my girlfriend after I saw him the second time, ‘I’m gonna marry that man.’ And I’m usually a very cautious person! Within two weeks, we were engaged.”

Outside the Canvas

Drawn to art from childhood (which included many a sketch of Donald Duck), Joseph continued to paint during his time in the military. When he returned to California after ending his tour, he took up teaching at Menlo-Atherton High School with the intention of cultivating the next generation of artists. Instead, he got roped into teaching English, his college minor.

Artwork: A Wizard's Dream

“That didn’t squash the painting,” Joseph assures. “It augmented it because it allowed me to be in a world of ideas… It allowed me to have this kind of imagination that deals with images. Because when I read a book, I’m thinking of images.” And although Joseph didn’t log long hours in front of the canvas during his early years of academia, he still carved out short nightly sessions to paint in the garage—even if only for 15 to 20 minutes.

He also found creative ways to tie art back into his students’ writing prompts. For one project, Joseph handed out images to his students and told them to write short stories that culminated with the pictured scene. For another, they analyzed a film and book version of the same story to find where the tales overlapped. “The kids loved it,” he smiles.

In 1991, when Joseph started exhibiting his art, his students came to show their support. Since then, his work has been displayed at over a dozen galleries and exhibitions including the Pacific Art League, Voshan Fine Arts and (his latest) Gallery 9 in Los Altos as well as international shows like Art Revolution Taipei and Biennale Internazionale Dell’arte Contemporanea in Florence.

Artwork: Arcadia; English Waif (inspired by a photo of a threader by Lewis Hine).

Now in retirement, Joseph dives into traveling, submerging himself in the inspiration of landscapes from around the world. In addition to wielding a paintbrush, he also renders black and white sketches with a combination of pencil and pen. “When you go from one to the other, there’s a transition,” he notes of the differing mediums. “How do you hold this pencil?”

Back in his home studio, Joseph explains how he balances a painting and pulls the viewers’ attention around the canvas. He indicates a scene with a man unloading a boat, the box in his hands tipping at a precipitous angle. A dozen characters twist around to watch him, waiting for the inevitable. “The interest goes back and forth,” Joseph explains. We watch the unfortunate man, but also the reactions of the watchers. It seems a fitting metaphor for a prolific artist with a multifaceted life.

Let Art Transport You – josephfuchsartwork.com

The Beat on your Eats: Dumplings

Words by Johanna Harlow

Dumplings to dream about.

dough zone

San Mateo

How about a dough-lightful destination mere walking distance from the San Mateo Japanese Garden? Dough Zone dishes out pan-fried, boiled and steamed dumplings to both the connoisseur and the curious. Not only do many of their dishes come served in iconic bamboo baskets, but you’ll also find woven steamer lids playfully decorating the wall. Be sure to sample their q-bao—puffy pan-fried buns filled with Berkshire-Duroc pork. And if you’ve never had the pleasure of encountering soup dumplings, now’s your chance. A tip for beginners: When your dumplings arrive, take a bite from the side, then slurp up the broth within (mosquito-style). If you take a less calculated approach, you might end up with a wet chin. 111 E 4th Avenue, San Mateo. Open daily.

bevri

Palo Alto

It’s time to mix things up and hop borders. Dedicated to Georgian cuisine—as in that country along the Black Sea where Europe meets Asia—Bevri offers a delightful twist to this bite-sized comfort food. The Georgian dumpling, called khinkali, is much doughier than its Chinese cousin. Meat and spices are folded into what looks like a teeny tiny drawstring bag—before being topped with a single jewel-like pomegranate seed. You’ll also want to accompany this appetizer with khachapuri adjaruli, the beloved dish that rightfully earned its place as Bevri’s logo. It’s the ultimate comfort food with cheese, butter and an egg all cradled in a boat of bread. Trust us, it’ll leave you floating. 325 Main Street, Los Altos and 530 Bryant Street, Palo Alto. Open Tuesday to Sunday.

brochette dumpling and grill

Redwood City

Opening to rave reviews, Redwood City’s newish Brochette Dumpling and Grill delivers Chinese-Japanese fusion in a refreshing space of rattan pendant lights and curved leather dining chairs. With a plethora of options at your fingertips, you might opt for one of their four types of potstickers, har gaw (translucent shrimp dumplings) or siu mai (a surf and turf combo of shrimp and pork). This family-run restaurant also puts the spotlight on skewers—ranging from Japanese Wagyu to veggies to bacon-wrapped quail eggs. While you’re at it, stick around for a refreshing scoop of green tea ice cream. 917 Main Street, Redwood City. Open daily.

Perfect Shot: Filoli Fall Magic

El Granada-based experimental landscape artist Daniel Ambrosi visited Filoli for inspiration before a photography expedition to shoot historic estates in England. Serendipitously, this 45-shot, 295-megapixel panorama was captured just as the staff was beginning to install holiday lighting, adding even more color to an already magical scene.

Image by Daniel Ambrosi / danielambrosi.com

Calling all Shutterbugs: If you’ve captured a unique perspective of the Peninsula, we’d love to see your Perfect Shot. Email us at hello@punchmonthly.com to be considered for publication.

Diary of a Dog: Echo

You know how you just get a feeling when something is meant to be? That’s exactly what happened when I found my family at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley. They came in to get a female dog but when they heard about a blind dog named Echo, they became curious and asked to meet me. Every instinct triggered when I sensed their approach: They’re the ones! Alexis, her daughter Aria and grandmother Rita took to me immediately, and I felt the same pull, especially toward the littlest one, Nyctalus, who was in a stroller. When it was time for them to meet the other dog on their list, I refused to leave Nyctalus’ side. They got my message. “Echo chose us,” they always say. They brought me home to Los Altos Hills, where our pack also includes Alexis’ brother Wesley. Right away, my family realized that my blindness doesn’t hold me—or them—back. I love to cuddle, chase balls and I’m even an amazing agility course runner. I still feel that special bond with Nyctalus and wherever he goes, I go. Sometimes I get the urge to gently nip at his shoulders and the back of his shirt, which is actually a behavior shown by epilepsy service dogs. I’m the one who figured out that Nyctalus was having seizures. Now I’m in the process of being certified as his service dog. Since I’m also partly deaf, I’m being trained entirely by touch cues. For example, when I feel a long stroke from the top of my nose up to the top of my head, I know that means “Sit.” I’m also training my family back. When I earn a reward, I’ve taught them which nibbles I enjoy most. Since I’m always excited to learn something new, that means lots of tasty treats ahead!

Calling All Dogs: If you've got quirky habits or a funny tale (or tail) to share, email your story to hello@punchmonthly.com for a chance to share a page from your Diary of a Dog in PUNCH.

Q&A: Real Estate’s Ashley Banks

A longtime real estate executive currently with Golden Gate Sotheby’s, Ashley Banks shares her biggest home-related pet peeve, the one habit she’d like to break and what she’d tell her younger self.

As a kid, how did you imagine your dream home one day?
I grew up on a cul-de-sac with a forest as my backyard—it was heaven. I think I dreamed about an idyllic setting more than the house itself. Location, location, location!

What’s your go-to comfort food?
Marmalade toast and tea. I was born in England and raised by a British mum.

What’s the most unusual feature you’ve seen in a house that you’ve sold?
We once sold a house that had an indoor pool in the basement.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

Do you have any phobias?
I’ve recently adopted a dislike of being in a place with no windows. I’ve dubbed it adult-onset claustrophobia. Working through it though! Ommmmm…

What room do you personally consider to be the heart of your home and why?
The dining room is the heart of our home. When I was raising my daughters, it was where they did homework and we ate all our meals; now when they come home from college, we gather there for long dinners, to play games and do puzzles.

What’s something people are always surprised to learn about you?
That I have an (amazing) twin brother.

What’s one thing prospective Peninsula home buyers should know right now?
Nothing is perfect… focus on what’s most important to you, and when you find something that fits, go for it. You can usually change and adapt your home over time. In the long run, it’s best to be in the market and not on the sidelines.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Say yes. There is no such thing as a bad adventure. Often the things you dread the most turn into life’s best memories.

What’s your biggest home-related pet peeve?
Scuffed-up and dirty interior walls! Paint is the biggest bang-for-the-buck way to refresh a home.

What’s a movie you can watch over and over?
When Harry Met Sally. I’m annoying to watch it with because I know every line, and I can’t keep them in!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher. In my career now, I often kick into professor-mode when answering questions from agents. They kindly endure my lectures.

What’s a habit you’d like to break?
Waking up and immediately looking at email.

What do you collect?
Good people.

Ho Ho Ho Santana Row

Words by Johanna Harlow

So you’re neck-deep in December—and drowning in the demands of the holidays. Whether you’re decking the halls or getting ready for eight crazy nights of Hanukkah, it’s easy to feel more frantic than festive. Here’s a way to get it done and de-stress: a holiday staycation.

Consider Santana Row, San Jose’s luxury shopping and dining destination. It’s impossible to hold onto a grinch mindset while wandering this magical “village within a city” of twinkling lights, lamps festooned in garlands, upscale restaurants, high-end boutiques… and is that a prehistoric-sized reindeer?

Cover Photo: Courtesy of Collette Navarrette / Photo: Johanna Harlow

Seasonal Shopping

Knock out your seasonal shopping in one sweep with Santana Row’s more than 50 apparel, home and specialty stores. We suggest warming up with an exploratory lap to get a lay of the land. Admire the Row’s elaborate window displays, daydream yourself into the cute apartments perched above its shops and count the Bugattis and Lamborghinis revving up and down its main drag.

At Makers Market, you’ll find gifts for anyone who appreciates one-of-a-kind craftsmanship. Among its offerings: handmade leather bags, knives inlaid with fossilized mammoth teeth and engraved wooden journals. For your fashion-forward family members and friends, drop by shops like Vuori, Scotch & Soda, Paige, Boutique Harajuku and Marine Layer.

For the make-it-yourself crew, fuel their creativity with DIY supplies from Paper Source. Beyond the rubber stamps, washi tape and scrapbook supplies, the store also stocks quirky items. Think adult picture books like I Will Not Die Alone and Sad Animal Facts, therapeutic coloring books and funky calendars (including a literary/cat-themed one with illustrations of Meowby Dick and The Great Catsby).

On behalf of the outdoorsman (or woman), make the trek to Yeti for all things camping, hunting and fishing. And don’t forget the stocking stuffers! Maido offers an eclectic selection of manatee tea infusers, kitty chopsticks and adorable plushies (smiling avocados, dinos and mermaid cats, oh my).

When you and your credit card need to catch your breath, visit the Santana Row Park deck. Settle into a wicker patio chair and listen to live music under a hulking oak festooned in lights.

Photo: Johanna Harlow

Holiday Feast

After all that shopping, you’ll have worked up an appetite. Fortunately, just about everywhere you turn, you’ll find restaurants (30 of them) with ample indoor seating and lamp-heated European-style patios.

For sushi in a sophisticated setting, Ozumo serves all the traditional classics and an array of innovative entrees to satisfy both Grandma and the Gen Z crowd. With its dedication to quality ingredients (meaning snow crab rather than imitation filler in even the California rolls) as well as some playful wrestling-titled items on the menu, Ozumo pins down a win in the sushi scene.

You might also nibble your way through Meso Modern Mediterranean’s fluffy pita and flatbreads or Zazil’s sizzling fajitas and carnitas. Or sink your teeth into L.B Steak’s boneless ribeye, tomahawk, porterhouse and Wagyu in a swanky space swathed in red with cheeky cowhide chairs. For more casual (but still satisfying) venues, dine at Dumpling Time or Pizza Antica.

Photo: Johanna Harlow

Afterward, enter El Jardin, an enchanting al fresco bar overflowing with live music, plants and trellises. For wines buttery to bold (or 180 kinds of whisky curated by an in-house whisky sommelier), head for Vintage Wine Bar. (You can’t miss it: Look for the building resembling a medieval limestone church.) Here, you’ll have plenty of savory, sweet and salty bites to tease your tastebuds with pairings so explore how the tang of roasted tomatoes, the smokiness of the meat pâté and the earthiness of the truffle chips dialogue with your palate.

Got room for dessert? Stop by Smitten Ice Cream for exploratory scoops with flavors like Cinnamon Toast or Earl Grey with chocolate chips. Or swing by Cocola, a longstanding French-style patisserie, for macarons and a mocha.

And to All a Good Night

After a full day, it’s time to retire to Hotel Valencia at the heart of the Row. Each room has an enchanting Mediterranean design illuminated with cozy lamps. Upgrade to a room with a bougainvillea-entwined balcony facing the patio and you’ll gain a front-row seat to live Latin/flamenco acoustic guitar music (performed most nights).

Photo: of Hotel Valencia Santana Row

You’ll also want to check out the hotel’s diverse in-house eating/drinking services. Settle down with a nightcap at Vbar (an intimate, low-lit venue) or soak in panoramic night views of the Santa Cruz Mountains at Cielo Rooftop Bar. If you’re growing peckish again, savor late-night tapas at Oveja Negra. Be sure to try the patatas bravas seasoned with earthy paprika and a creamy roasted garlic aioli as well as the braised beef cheeks served in a hearty red wine reduction.

Let It Glow

In the morning, make your way next-door to Burke Williams Day Spa for a revitalizing acupressure facial or massage (shiatsu, Thai, Swedish, deep tissue, take your pick). Before your appointment, arrive early to unwind those tense muscles with a soak in the whirlpool, a session in the sauna and a serene moment with a cup of house-made vanilla lemongrass tea in the pillow-strewn lounge.

Be sure to check out their holiday-themed packages, which range from Merry Moments (with a Pure Relaxation Massage and choice of hot stones, detox or aromatherapy enhancements), Let It Glow (which adds a spa-style facial to the equation) to the comprehensive Our Favorite Things (which combines multiple massages and facials with a scented bath and three-day spa pass).

Photo: Courtesy of Burke Williams Day Spa

Winter Wonderland

Even Santa makes time in his insane schedule to stop in San Jose. Snag pics with St. Nick and join in other festive fun during Spirit of the Row, hosted every Tuesday December evening from 6-8PM. Heat your hands with a hot cider while watching Nutcracker ballerinas plié and pirouette, then venture to Park Valencia for snow showers and holiday tunes on the half-hour. Look for snow flurries in the forecast every Saturday evening as well. As you head back home, you’ll be glowing with the joy of the season.

revive at the row – santanarow.com

Trader Vic’s Revamp

Words by Loureen Murphy

If walls in this 1906 home could talk, they’d discuss all the personalities who inhabited their 9,000 square feet in lower Hillsborough, among them Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron, the renowned one-legged tiki bar owner and self-proclaimed inventor of the Mai Tai. True, they might bicker about taste shifts over time—Colonial columns here? Really? But they’d cheer in chorus at TRG Architecture + Interior Design’s dramatic transformation of their domain—and how it vibrates synergy between past and present.

When the current owners first viewed the house, last renovated in the 1980s, it didn’t lure them in. But the “fantastic location” did. “We loved the flat lot, walkability to downtown Burlingame, and a much bigger home than we’d be allowed if we were to build from scratch,” shares one. “We bought it knowing this was going to be a soup-to-nuts remodel,” remarks the other.

Inspired by the potential, the couple took TRG’s architect Randy Grange along to see the property. “They assumed we’d do the work,” he recalls. Having gained their trust on a previous remodel, “We didn’t have to prove ourselves to them.” The husband/wife team, which also comprises interior designer Leslie Lamarre, embraced the Arts & Crafts spirit and solid bones of the place as they drew plans capturing the homeowners’ wishes. Leslie says, “They gave us a list, and we made it happen.”

The indoor to-dos: Move the master suite upstairs so the young family could relax together. Make an upstairs playroom to keep toys on one story. Raise the laundry room up a floor. Pare the number of fireplaces from seven to one. Attach the guest house/pool house to the main home for easy access. Open the guest house kitchen and great room to the poolside. Wine room, workout room, game room, mini theater.

The big ask? Alter the disjointed Winchester House-like floor plan, with its small, dark rooms and abrupt turns—and make everything fit. Randy enlarged rooms without altering more than 50 percent of existing walls, complying with Hillsborough’s building codes. The owners praise the “clever things Randy did that opened up the central spine,” allowing for “the big, light-filled rooms” they wanted. The spacious main floor now optimizes hosting, particularly long-term guests. “Everybody can go to a different space. No one feels overcrowded.” Noise disperses. Peace.

The yards begged equal time. “The former front had changed in the last remodel, and we split the front in half with a stone wall,” Randy explains. “Now it feels more like a back yard.” Major work also entailed moving the garage from one side of the house to the other. Eliminating one of the two driveways “to keep cars and kids as far from each other as possible” allows for safe playtime on the new sport court, lawn area and swings.

The makeover process yielded some surprises and challenges like the original unattached brick foundation beneath the living room and tile-floored garage. The basement required digging to even out the floor and increase head height. Fully finished, it levels up family fun, housing the game room/preteen hangout with bean bag chairs, foosball and ping pong tables as well as the theater, workout room and elegant wine room/whiskey bar.

After removing asynchronous design elements, the team restored clean Arts & Crafts lines. In rejuvenating each area, Leslie designed built-ins apropos to their place and purpose, including cubbies for the children. She selected unique artisan-made furnishings and light fixtures that elevate the distinct contemporary aesthetic of each room, yet reflect Craftsman-era authenticity and simplicity.

Subtle nods to Trader Vic accent the home with tribal-inspired floor tiling in the mudroom and two bathrooms. The tiki vibe spices up the more casual guesthouse. Roman shades in a tropical pattern. Black and cream grasscloth in the bedroom. Caning on chair backs. Carved wooden panels from New Guinea on the walls. A set of tiki glasses commanding the shelf over the kitchen sink.

The serendipitous re-do reveals harmony between the noted former occupant and the present ones. Vic hated pretension and loved art—he sculpted and painted in his home studio. Today’s family-focused owners appreciate modern art and display a nascent collection. Vic prioritized hospitality even more than his food and drink creations. Likewise, togetherness in the two-island kitchen flavors each meal as much as the touches of its avid home cooks.

As Trader Vic once said, “At no time did I do anything that wasn’t the best I knew how to do. I wanted quality.” The refinished home embodies that same can-do spirit. “It’s one of the most extreme remodels we’ve ever done,” observes Randy.

“It’s basically the same footprint, but a radically different house than what we bought,’’ summarize the owners, who are flourishing in their new paradise. Smiling, they “threaten” to hold a Mai Tai party. More conversation fodder for the walls in the years to come.

transform your space – trgarch.com

Sea Ranch Serenity

Words by Lotus Abrams

There really isn’t much to do at The Sea Ranch—a predominantly residential community located on a remote, ruggedly beautiful 10-mile stretch of coastline at the northern boundary of Sonoma County—but that is precisely the attraction. It is, rather, a place to watch the waves crash against the shoreline below the cliffs; explore rocky tidepools; wander unspoiled beaches strewn with seashells; feel the power of the wind as it rushes over the grassy bluffs and through the cypress, pine and fir trees; and listen to the plaintive bleating of sheep grazing on the hillsides, part of the community’s wildfire mitigation efforts, which also happens to add to the pastoral atmosphere.

About a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of San Francisco, Sea Ranch encompasses only about 2,200 private homes and undeveloped lots; a few resident recreation centers; a handful of small businesses; a private airstrip; and The Sea Ranch Lodge, one of the oldest buildings in the community, built in 1968.

For a long time, the land that is now The Sea Ranch was only visited seasonally by the native Pomo people, who gathered shellfish and kelp from the shoreline. Starting in the 1800s, it was used for ranching. The Sea Ranch was conceived in 1964 when Oceanic Properties architect and community planner Al Boeke visited the area and recommended that his firm purchase the land—then called Rancho Del Mar—to build a coastal town that would be designed in harmony with its natural surroundings.

Cover Photography: Courtesy of Adam Potts / Photography: Courtesy of The Sea Ranch Lodge

Guided by the overarching principle of “living lightly on the land,” Boeke and an esteemed team of architects and design professionals embarked on plans to bring the community to life. Landscape architect Lawrence Halprin studied the area’s topography, weather and vegetation. Architectural firm Moore, Lyndon, Turnbull and Whitaker designed the first condominium building along the bluffs. And architect Joseph Esherick designed Sea Ranch’s first houses. Abiding by the philosophy of dynamic conservation, each landscape element was acknowledged and nurtured, reinforcing natural forms and scale, while building materials were kept simple and drawn from nature.

The environmentally-focused sensibility of the community as well as its distinctive architecture has inspired numerous articles in publications ranging from Dwell to The New York Times, as well as a major exhibit at SFMOMA. Not surprisingly, like-minded individuals continue to be drawn to the setting.

Maynard and Lu Lyndon have been “Sea Ranchers” for over five decades. “Even before we knew each other, we both came up to The Sea Ranch in the 1960s,” recounts Maynard. After meeting in 1972, the couple bought their own lot in The Sea Ranch in 1997, and designed and built a house with the help of Maynard’s brother, Donlyn Lyndon, one of the community’s original architects. “We live here full-time and are quite connected to The Sea Ranch in various ways,” he says. “We love it.”

Cover Photography: Courtesy of Adam Potts

Maynard and Lu own LyndonDesign Gallery, which showcases the work of many local artists. They also curate the rotating art shows that grace the walls of The Café at The Sea Ranch Lodge. Thoughtfully revitalized from top to bottom after new owners bought the property in 2018, The Sea Ranch Lodge recently unveiled 17 refreshed guest rooms.

The lodge even features new “supergraphics”—boldly colored graphic stripes, shapes and symbols—designed by 94-year-old San Francisco artist and graphic designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon.

In addition to the restaurant, bar, cafe and general store, the lodge is also home to the local post office and functions as the de facto community hub. Locals and visitors alike flock to the lodge for events like Trivia Night on Tuesdays and live jazz on Thursdays.

Undeniably, a sense of community and respect for nature coalesce at The Sea Ranch. “The overall reason to visit The Sea Ranch is the joy of place—obviously, for the natural coastline, meadows, forests and hills, but also for the spirit and vision and reality of people living and respecting what they have in this 10-mile stretch of the Northern California coast,” Maynard reflects. “Come visit, stay, walk, observe, record and partake in the quiet and respect for place and nature.”

Photography: Courtesy of The Sea Ranch Lodge - Carlos Chavarría

Do

The best way to experience The Sea Ranch is by bike or on foot. So ditch the car and have Sea Ranch Supply drop off rental bikes at The Sea Ranch Lodge or your vacation rental. Pick up maps for The Sea Ranch’s six public access trails—Black Point, Pebble Beach, Stengel Beach, Shell Beach, Walk on Beach and Bluff Top Trail—at The Sea Ranch Association office.

Hit the greens at The Sea Ranch Links, an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Muir Graves that blends the undulating seaside landscape with Scottish links-style architecture while maintaining the original lay of the land.

Don’t forget to visit Maynard and Lu at LyndonDesign Gallery, a small, design-focused gallery showcasing many local artists’ work (open Saturdays or by appointment). While you’re there, head over to neighboring business, The Wine Shop, which holds occasional tasting events. You’ll also want to swing by the fanciful Sea Ranch Chapel. Although it looks like a fairy cottage in the woods, it was designed by artist and architectural designer James Hubbell, and is open daily to the public from sunrise to sunset.

Photography: courtesy of the sea ranch lodge

Eat

Enjoy ceviche, seared scallops and steak frites at The Sea Ranch Lodge Dining Room. Surrounded by stunning sea views and layered in light-toned wood, the lodge serves refined, seasonal fare with locally sourced-ingredients, including ocean-fresh seafood. Other options on the property include the Bar + Lounge, with locally-inspired craft cocktails, beer, local wines and light bites; The Café for light breakfast and lunch fare; and BBQ 42000, offering house-smoked meats over at The Sea Ranch Links.

Twofish Baking, located inside the historic Stewart’s Point Store, is a must for delectable sandwiches, sticky buns and daily danishes. Go-to eateries in nearby Gualala include Anchor Bay Thai Kitchen, Upper Crust Pizzeria and Trinks Cafe.

Photography: Courtesy of the Sea Ranch Lodge

Stay

Featuring breathtaking views of the natural surroundings, The Sea Ranch Lodge offers 17 rustic-contemporary rooms featuring stove-pipe fireplaces, cushioned window benches and thoughtful amenities like local hiking guides and binoculars.

The Sea Ranch also offers distinctive rental homes designed by acclaimed architects. Like the forest-ensconced Tarp House with expansive outdoor decks, walls of glass and dramatic skylights to more deeply appreciate all the trees. Or the spacious Hines House, which sleeps eight, while offering a courtyard terrace and sweeping Pacific views.

Home rentals can be booked through Sea Ranch Escape as well as websites like Airbnb, Vacasa and VRBO.

Coastal retreat – searanchescape.com

Equestrian Paradise

Words by Johanna Harlow

Step onto the sprawling 270-acre landscape known as The Horse Park at Woodside, and find an equestrian paradise replete with nine arenas, stocked with stables and dotted with every kind of imaginable horse jump from logs to rails. On this particular ambling afternoon, the quiet is punctuated by far-off whinnies and nickers, while a lone tractor kicks up a cloud of dust in the distance. Don’t let today’s calm fool you. With a bustling event calendar and numerous organizations using its facilities, The Horse Park attracts everyone from Olympians to kiddos clad in their first equestrian helmets and riding gear.

“We’re a huge show venue,” notes Steve Roon, executive director here. “We have some of the best competitions in the various disciplines anywhere on the West Coast—whether it’s vaulting, the reining shows (which is a Western discipline), the hunter/jumper shows or the horse trials (three-day eventing).” And not only are hundreds of horses circulating in and out of the Park for events, but the facility also hosts some 120 boarders year-round.

Photography: Courtesy of The Horse Park at Woodside - Julia Borysewicz Photography

Now add to that the Woodside and Portola Valley Pony Clubs, the Stanford University Polo Club, the Woodside Polo Club and B.O.K. Ranch’s therapeutic riding lessons. Then factor in organizations like Hillview Equestrian, Aspen Ridge Stables, CORE Equestrian, McIver Equestrian, Tayside Sport Horses, West Coast Performance Horses, Stone Harbor and Woodside Vaulters, all dedicated to raising up the next generation of equestrians on The Horse Park’s grounds. “There’s a huge ballet of activities that goes on,” Steve aptly describes. And he’s at the center of the dance.

horse culture

Once a humble cow pasture, The Horse Park now sees perfectly-postured riders astride steeds with dazzling names like Merriewold Quintessa, Casanova, Baron de Chevalier and Gandolph the Great. It all started in 1981, when one of its founders, Robert E. Smith, envisioned a greater purpose for the land than a site for grazing bovines. He leased the property from Stanford University and set about turning it into a horse hub. With the help of generous donors (including singer-songwriter Joan Baez) over the years, The Horse Park transformed into one of the premier equestrian properties in the state.

You can imagine that a property triple the size of Disneyland (with an incessant flurry of activities) takes quite a bit of upkeep. “It became pretty clear that we needed a full-time executive director,” recalls Steve, who first came to the Park to compete in eventing more than two decades ago. “So I failed retirement and, three and a half years ago, came back to run The Horse Park.” Steve oversees the countless tasks necessary to ensure that the Park runs smoothly, including wrangling communications with 800 members. “I’m an ambassador for the park,” he summarizes.

Photography: Courtesy of The Horse Park at Woodside - Julia Borysewicz Photography

Being around these events 24-7, Steve has met many kinds of competitors. “Each horse discipline brings with it its own culture,” he reflects. Take reining, a Western discipline where riders exhibit cattle ranch skills through a precise pattern of maneuvers. “Their horses are bred to be very submissive, and they’ll do whatever they ask,” Steve says. “They will drop their reins on the ground and the horse will stand there!” He chuckles, “We will find a horse just stopped in the middle of nowhere—nothing around it—and the rider had to go use the bathroom!”

Then there’s the hunter/jumper crowd. “They come with a whole support group—trainers and grooms and all,” describes Steve. “These horses are immaculately braided and they’re spectacular athletes.”
Steve himself is an “eventer” who competes in dressage (a performed sequence of movements) as well as cross-country and show jumping. “We are much more hands-on,” Steve explains. “We have strong relationships with our horses to be able to do what we do out there.”

As anyone associated with The Horse Park can tell you, the bond between horse and rider is sacred. Fondly, Steve recalls his journey to the Emerald Isle to find Billy, his 17.3-hand Irish sport horse. “I saw 20 horses in five days, got on 10 of them, got thrown by one of them—and fell in love with this horse that I have.” As Steve describes it, “The communication is very subtle and almost subconscious. I don’t use my reins to steer with him. All I have to do is move my shoulders, which changes the pressure of my hips and ankles and he moves!”

Above: The Horse Park executive director Steve Roon with Molly Kaster, who organizes the Park's schooling shows.

Ride Like the Wind

When choosing his favorite moment of three-day eventing, Steve breaks into a grin. “It’s the finish!” Eileen Morgenthaler, fellow eventer and president of the board of governors, chimes in: “Because that means you’re alive!” The two share an all-too-knowing laugh. “You need to understand: three-day eventing is an extreme sport,” Eileen continues. The competition has its roots in cavalry training. And riders wear inflatable crash vests—the same kind worn for motocross. “People who engage in the sport are a little crazy, but incredibly passionate about the horse and the ride and the relationship.”

The sport is electric, she describes: “When you get in the start box where you’re gonna run over 20 to 35 fences at up to 25 miles an hour on a being that’s 1,200 pounds with a brain the size of a walnut, you’re firing on all cylinders. If you’re still in the saddle by the end of it, that’s pretty darn exciting!”

“He’s trusting me not to put him into a situation that we can’t handle—and I’m trusting him to handle it,” Steve says, adding that his job to set the right speed and trajectory is complete five or six strides before the jump. “Then it’s up to him to deal with it,” he explains. “You can feel the horse going, ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’ And I’ll communicate, ‘Yeah, you’re fine. We’re fine. You got this.’ And then suddenly his ears will lock on it and he’ll accel and we’re going come hell or highwater!”

He assures that horses aren’t doing anything they don’t want to do. “They have so many tools to disagree with us,” he chuckles.

Claims to Fame

Drawn to the hilly terrain and expansive offerings, many big names have made the Park their stomping grounds. Olympians such as Hawley Bennett, David O’Connor, Derek di Grazia, Gina Miles, Lauren Billys Shady, Tamie Smith, Ian Stark and James Wofford have all come to train, compete or design courses here. William Shatner (AKA Star Trek’s Captain Kirk) also made an appearance at The Horse Park, riding into the arena on Cee My Smokin Pistol for last year’s Reining by the Bay event. At the age of 91, no less.

But perhaps The Horse Park’s most intriguing claim to fame is the recent commercial shot here. “We got a call out of the blue from this Hollywood producer,” Steve recalls. They were vetting locations for an ad promoting Jordan Peele’s satiric film Nope, which would be shown at the NBA playoffs and feature Steph Curry.

After the project was green-lighted, a slew of people and semis descended—electrical generators, stage lights and bulky equipment in tow. They built a state-of-the-art basketball court sound stage in The Horse Park’s covered arena, used six-foot fans to blow dust and tumbleweeds around and even recruited one of the local horses for a quick cameo. “Steph Curry showed up. We filmed for an hour and a half on Sunday afternoon. Bang, done, all good to go!” Steve recalls. “It was torn down and everything was outta here by Monday night. It was the wildest thing!”

Canter Over

You don’t need to be a rider to cheer on The Horse Park’s equestrians and their mounts. “All of our horse shows are open to non-members,” Steve affirms. “We’ll post notices at Roberts Market—and everybody’s welcome!”

You might even get to see Steve and Eileen clearing jumps. “During the horse trials, people can walk out in the midst of this big field and watch,” says Steve. So swing by and watch the truly magical sight of flying palominos and pintos. Eileen smiles, “They are Pegasus!”

take the leap – horsepark.org

Scholastic Chic

Words by Johanna Harlow

Graduate Palo Alto isn’t for the modern minimalists. In the lobby of University Avenue’s eclectic new hotel, general manager David Joseph stands before a showstopping gallery-style wall, brimming floor-to-ceiling with paintings, scientific illustrations and pressed plants. “We actually had a woman try to pry the pictures off our walls one time because she wanted crystal chandeliers and one lone art piece on a blank wall,” he recalls with a chuckle. “That’s not us.” Now, if you’re looking for an exuberant space with an explanation behind every design detail—the kind of maximalist design you can really sink your teeth into—you’re in the right place.

When Graduate Hotels (a hotel group that themes each of its locations around college nostalgia) opened its Palo Alto site this past January, it aesthetically delivered a love letter to Stanford University. At first glance, you’ll pick up on this motif through the key cards made to look like student IDs of notable alumni as well as the study table with lamps in the lobby, evoking student libraries of the past. You’ll notice it in the hotel stationery, embellished with a bubble test pattern, beside a yellow No. 2 pencil with the hotel’s motto: “We are all students.”

But it’s in all the subtle touches too. The in-house design team has meticulously woven historical and cultural allusions to the region and the school throughout the entire fabric of the hotel—right down to the art on its walls, the carpet in its hallways and the menus at its in-house dining options.

Lifelong Students

So why the academic aesthetic? “Attending university can be such an impactful time in somebody’s life,” reflects David Joseph. “There’s a sense of excitement and novelty leaving home for the first time!” He adds, “Some of our best memories and some of our biggest memories come in that transition from youth to adulthood. We really try to lean into those stories.”

Designed for and by lifelong learners and curious souls, almost every design detail—and we mean everything—is location-specific, paying tribute to Stanford, its history or the surrounding California landscape. Take the hallways, often a nebulous in-between space in hotels. Not so at Graduate Palo Alto. David points out the native aviary woven into the carpet: our state bird, the California quail, as well as the finch, northern mockingbird and American kestrel. “I’m strangely a snob about hotel hallway carpeting,” David admits, “because it’s one of those things that either has too much personality or zero personality—and I love that ours tells a story.”

The carpet also features a series of numbers that mirror Stanford class plaques found in the campus quad. Since 1896, graduating seniors have left behind time capsules—and the numbers at the hotel correspond to milestone years at the University. “There are people in this building who can tell you the story of each number and say, ‘Oh, this is the year when the Queen of England came and visited Stanford,” notes David.

Push all the elevator buttons, and the door will open on curated collections of Stanford-themed memorabilia on the opposing wall. Everything—whether it’s sheet music, sports memorabilia, historic photos or old maps—references back to those time capsules.

The academic narrative extends to the rooms. After you manage to pry your eyes from the wild botanical wallpaper, you’ll find that the wall art pays homage to Stanford alumni. A framed cover of Mice and Men tips its hat to John Steinbeck, while the sketching of a comely undergrad reveals a student-aged Sigourney Weaver. The cluster of redwood trees on the headboards is also a nice touch, representing both Palo Alto’s namesake as well as the Stanford band’s unusual mascot.

Not even David has identified all the hidden references tucked throughout the hotel. “There’s a really robust sense of design that keeps you discovering every day. There are a million small details. Every day I’m in this building, I learn something new,” he reflects. “It’s fun to be in a space where we truly are all still students.”

harkening back

But the design team didn’t stop there. Graduate Palo Alto owes its Spanish Colonial sensibilities to the building’s previous tenants. As it happens, this building was formerly known as the Hotel President during the first half of the 20th century. Its historic architect, Birge Malcolm Clark, studied at… you probably guessed it: Stanford.

Graduate Palo Alto’s exposed wood ceiling beams, the enormous wall tapestry behind check-in, the carved credenza serving as the front desk and the Spanish tilework all harken back to Mr. Clark’s choices a century ago. Meanwhile, the art in the lobby features paintings inspired by Spanish Colonial interiors (alongside illustrations of California botanicals). The original building’s staircase and ironwork remain. “We tried to reimagine the space while still paying tribute to what came before,” shares David.

A Taste of the Past

That Spanish flair extends to the President’s Terrace, the hotel’s enchanting rooftop lounge awash with terracotta tiles, pops of color and playful patterns. Pendant lights swing above the bar, while tasseled patio umbrellas crop up in red and white. “We’ve got the only rooftop bar and restaurant in Palo Alto! We’re proud of that,” David shares as nearby guests pull up rattan chairs to congregate around wicker tables.

As bargoers drink in unbeatable views of the Stanford Dish, Hoover Tower and the surrounding hills, they sip Stanford-themed cocktails concocted by master mixologist Bad Birdy. Kutilda’s Thai Tea, spiked with brandy, is a nod to alumnus Tiger Woods, whose mother grew up in Thailand. West of Eden—cucumber, watermelon, vodka and gin, elevated with monk fruit and house-made fennel syrup—recalls another Steinbeck classic. And Leland’s Gold Rush mocktail raises a glass to Stanford’s founder with pineapple, lemon and elote. Other mocktails like Fountain Hopper and Full Moon on the Quad reference longstanding Stanford traditions, while The Peninsula and Silicon Sipper are more obvious callouts to the area itself.

Light bites are also served. “Our executive chef Andrew Cohen has done a wonderful job in curating something that’s so focused on the region as well as a lot of fresh seafood,” says David. “We do amazing fresh oysters!”
David’s favorite dish is the prime beef tartare, followed by the Bread & Butter, whipped bone marrow served with Manresa sourdough. “It’s something so approachable but at the same time feels upscale,” he relays. “And it’s a labor of love. It’s something that has a really distinct process.”

On the ground floor, Lou and Herbert’s café and bar offers a cozier experience with dark wood, a more subtle color palette and plenty of armchairs. “Downstairs should feel a little bit more intimate,” David notes. “It’s about the martini. It’s about the spirit-forward cocktails that feel a little bit more appropriate for a sip-and-sit-back.”

The title venerates Stanford lovebirds. Herbert Hoover, the 31st U.S. President (and one of the first students to enroll at Stanford) met his wife on campus. What’s more, Lou was the first woman at the college to earn her geology degree. “It’s meant to feel like that meet-cute, that space where you lean in a little bit,” describes David.

The café is also open during daytime hours so make sure to return in the morning for Manresa pastries, chia pudding or a breakfast burrito along with a piping hot cup of Saint Frank Coffee.

Real Neighborly

For a hotel seeking to not only act as a traveler’s destination, but also as a neighborhood hub, downtown Palo Alto is the perfect setting. “We want to be the living room of the community in any location that we’re at,” David says. “We want students to be walking by—if we had a room full of people and they all had backpacks with them, we’d be thrilled.”

And like the building itself, the area is textured in times past. “There’s so much history along this street,” David reflects. “So seeing some of the spaces that have transformed as we have, I think is really part of that neighborhood storytelling.”

Back in the lobby with its joyfully maximalist layout, David adds one final thought: “When people join us—especially when it’s a big weekend like back-to-school or graduation weekend—we’re hoping that people staying with us are also creating their own memories and making us a part of their story.”

Study Break – graduatehotels.com/palo-alto

Style and Substance: The Maloufs

Words by Sophia Markoulakis

As partners in business and life, Sam and Gloria Malouf have had 23 years to perfect that elusive balance that so few couples get right when working together. And they both credit the Peninsula with being a foundational bond.

Sam recalls his first reaction when he arrived here from Texas: “The moment I stepped out of SFO on April 1, 1991, my whole being felt refreshed. I took a deep sigh of relief and knew I was home.” After emigrating from Lebanon in 1979 and spending her first few years in Las Vegas, Gloria had a similar visceral reaction when her family relocated to the South Bay. While dating Sam in the late ‘90s and visiting him at his family’s business, she too fell in love with the Burlingame-San Mateo area. Today, as co-owners of Burlingame’s upscale boutique, Sam Malouf Authentic Luxury, the duo harmoniously work side by side. They continue to build an ever-evolving life based on mutual respect and shared heritage and interests, all while running their thriving store stocked with sleek sport coats and blazers, classic dresses and clutches.

Sam and Gloria, both of Lebanese descent, met in the late ‘90s at a local Lebanese-American Association fashion show that Sam’s family business, Malouf’s, was sponsoring. Gloria’s cousin, who was helping with the fashion show, was short on models and asked Gloria to fill in. “The rest is history,” smiles Gloria.

Sam has been part of the Burlingame business community for 34 years, first with his family’s business, Malouf’s, and then with the couple’s own enterprise for the last 15 years. Sam’s ties to Italian menswear and Neapolitan tailoring run deep, and brands like Zenga and Brunello Cucinelli are part of his core lineup. Gloria has been by his side since they wed, first helping with Malouf’s while working full-time as a corporate retail buyer to now heading up a robust womenswear section ranging from established brands like Missoni, Proenza Schouler and Khaite to Australia’s Aje and Swedish sustainable fashion brand BITE.

Specializing in coveted and cutting-edge European and Japanese designs, the Maloufs have the eye (and the inventory) to supply customers with particular looks that often can’t be sourced outside of Europe. Separately, they travel to Europe several times a year to connect with vendors and attend shows. Even with lots of international travel, you’ll still find both of them on the sales floor most days. And you might even run into Gabriella, their youngest of three daughters, helping out after school.

It’s not cliche to say that family means everything to the Maloufs. The couple’s three daughters—Eleanora, 21, Isabella, 18, and Gabriella, 11—are their world, and the work that it takes to run a business is never lost on them. “They have watched us grow our business from the ground up.

Naturally, we don’t expect them to carry on the legacy of the family business, but if they did, we would welcome it. We give them the room to follow their interests first,” Gloria explains. Sam expands further on his daughters and the business: “I would love to grow the business with their involvement, and I know each would bring different talents—but only if they have the passion. And I would want them to work elsewhere for five years first since experience outside is essential to their success here.”

Gloria credits her business acumen to her previous career and her innate curiosity and passion for design, but she also gives a significant nod to Sam. “We challenge each other’s viewpoints and learn from them,” she notes. “We have a mutual respect for what we both do and our individual strengths.”

Sam is quick to point out that a good working relationship with one’s spouse needs to be cultivated. He specifically recalls how things shifted during the pandemic: “I decided that we needed to figure out what we really loved to do most and focus on that, removing everything else. I really wanted Gloria to flourish in what she loved. I also began to outsource some tasks and focus on what I love, and that has helped both of us enjoy our relationship at work.”

Being involved in philanthropy is an essential aspect of the business. Through the years, Gloria personally has been active in PARCA, Filoli and the Hillsborough Auxiliary to Peninsula Family Service (HAPFS), in addition to their girls’ schools. The business supports PARCA and HAPFS, in addition to the SF Ballet, the Lymelight Foundation and the Hillsborough School Foundation, either as a corporate or fashion show sponsor. “Giving back to the community is important to us as a family and as a business, and I’ve made lifelong friends as a result,” Gloria says. “It’s a bonus when your vision for events is aligned with a nonprofit, and you can dream together.”

Perfect Shot: Palo Alto EcoCenter

Originally commissioned by Lucie Stern as a center for Sea Scouts—and built to resemble a ship with porthole windows and navigation bridge—the EcoCenter in the Palo Alto Baylands was restored as an environmental nature center. Menlo Park photographer Jennifer Fraser enjoys wandering the tidal salt marshes that surround the Center, photographing the herons, avocets and mallards that inhabit them. “It is a peaceful walk, especially in autumn when the sun is low on the horizon and the marsh grasses glow gold and red,” she shares.

Image by Jennifer Fraser / jenniferfraser.zenfolio.com

Calling all Shutterbugs: If you’ve captured a unique perspective of the Peninsula, we’d love to see your Perfect Shot. Email us at hello@punchmonthly.com to be considered for publication.

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