Monthly Archives: December 2007

Better than Sugarplums

If you’re in the mood for a fun winter meal that’s off the beaten path, I couldn’t recommend Radio Africa and Kitchen more. The traveling cafe includes a fixed menu of seasonal greens, fish, nuts, and other ingredients inspired by North African recipes. Chef Eskender Aseged grows many of the vegetables at his home in the Mission and said his ideal meal would include edamame hummous, carrot and ginger soup, an arugula salad, and several types of shellfish (making me feel silly for having a knee-jerk reaction of “pasta” to the same question). I’d bring someone you can talk to for a while–the meal is fantastic but slow. The cafe can sometimes be found at Velo Rouge Cafe, the cozy bicycle-themed coffee shop and seller of Blue Bottle coffee (my second favorite only to Ritual Roasters–read about the two here).

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Beyond the economic value for local farmers, I’m glad to see organic food becoming a bigger focus in neighborhoods and schools especially. The Edible Schoolyard project out of Berkeley is a great model for teaching kids about growing and cooking their own healthy food. A New Orleans school district is getting on board, and it’s something the Cheetos-filled Midwest could certainly benefit from.

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Grecian Goddess

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Tyler Lewis created Von Ruhtenberg Handbags upon graduating with an art history degree and, like many women, being frustrated upon not being able to find the type of bags she wanted. Not one to let the lack stop her, the great granddaughter of one of the founding architects of the German Bauhaus school of architecture used her family’s eye for design and a Monterey-based leather manufacturer to make large bags and clutches. My favorite parts are the Greek coin fixtures and the vintage silks she selects. The reasons for featuring her work are two-fold: a photo of one of her clutches beautifies the blog a little, and enough people have asked where they can get one that I wanted to post the site with store locations in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

More do-it-yourself news

It’s easy to be enticed by five-minute Weekend Projects Podcasts: they teach you how to make things worth showing your friends (watch how to create a T-shirt cannon) in addition to things you never thought you’d be interested in (such as an origami flower out of three $1 bills). Make Magazine, a resource for do-it-yourself types, promises “technology on your time” and delivers great instructional videos that show just how simple building a robot can be. Craft, the newest undertaking from the Make publishers, has created a Pattern Podcast that could be endlessly useful to creative young city dwellers this holiday season. The array of formats on both sites (MP4, Blip, Hi-Def, PDF, iTunes subscription) should tide you over until the next Maker Faire create-it-yourself convention comes to San Mateo in May.

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For the person who has everything (no, really)

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Hailing itself as “crafts, kits & curios for the creatively inclined,” the two-month-old Curiosity Shoppe in the Mission off 20th Street (855 Valencia, to be exact) is the type of place that draws you in even if you’re running late. Lauren Smith, who co-owns the store with Derek Fagerstrom, wanted to feature friends’ artwork and pieces she discovered at craft and trade shows. The result is is everything from iron-on embroidery transfers ($2), those magic gardens you may not have seen in years ($6), and the very popular mechanical music box set ($16).

The online version of the shoppe’s wares includes a description of one of my favorite pieces, their large charm necklace, that provides a good glimpse at the excitement and eye of the co-owners: “Handmade by Regina Pruss, these wonderful, whimsical accessories feature some of our favorite motifs. They’re big. They’re bold. They’re beautiful.”

The pair is hosting a reception this Friday for the poster show currently at the Curiosity Shoppe from 6 to 9 PM. When asked about the hardest part of opening the store (named after the owners’ affiliation with the Curiosity Guild, a New York-based group for people who like to learn new things), Smith said they haven’t had a day off in months. We’re grateful.

Yes, you too can ask for something more tangible than world peace this holiday season

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Was thorougly impressed with the San Francisco Bike Coalition’s Winterfest last night; the bike advocacy group turned the SOMArts Gallery into a great art party and benefit. While many silent auctions thrive on overfilled spa packages, Winterfest had everything from private classes with Olympic cyclists through the VeloGirls’ Bay Area group, $10 night lights and $1,900 titanium frames. I wasn’t sure about the need for a knit cover for a bike lock as a stocking stuffer, but I’m all for a $25 membership to support safer cycling and better bike access in SF.

GirlVentures also hosted a fun benefit this weekend for their summer outdoor adventures and school year rock climbing mentorship (and, really, who can argue with the mission to “empower adolescent girls to develop and express their strengths”?)