Passion Points: Style
San Francisco Rising: Hayes Valley & NOPA
Two neighborhoods in San Francisco are leading the way in regards to the cool-factor.
People have long been talking about the emergence of Hayes Valley as a neighborhood for hipster style and independent, cutting edge design. With the inauguration this year of the San Francisco Jazz Center and the opening of several new restaurants in the area, Hayes Valley is no longer emerging. It’s here.
The country’s first stand-alone structure built expressly for jazz, the 35,000 square foot SF Jazz Center (201 Franklin St.) adds to the richness of the neighborhood’s cultural offerings. The transparent structure is in the same three-block radius as Davies Symphony Hall (201 Van Ness Ave.), the War Memorial Opera House (301 Van Ness Ave.), home of the San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (50 Oak St.).
The Jazz Center provides a fitting home for SF Jazz (www.sfjazz.org), which has brought world class music to San Francisco for three decades and presents the annual San Francisco Jazz Festival. Another bonus: the Jazz Center’s café South at SFJAZZ is under the expert guidance of famed chef Charles Phan of the Slanted Door. South at SFJAZZ is yet another addition to an impressive culinary scene in the neighborhood. Not long ago most Hayes Valley restaurants served primarily as stopping points on the way to the symphony, opera or ballet.
That time is past. New Hayes Valley restaurants are destinations in their own right, with the most recent arrival, Rich Table, on everyone’s list. Other options include the diminutive and delectable Bar Jules, German-inspired Suppenkuche (525 Laguna St.), or the Arlequin Café (384 Hayes St.), with its peaceful garden in back.
If it isn’t lunchtime, at least stop for a coffee at Ritual Coffee Roasters (432 Octavia St.), located inside a converted shipping container, the brainchild of the Proxy Project, which sees in used containers a waste-saving and playful building material. Or have a luscious hot chocolate at Jonathan Elbow Artisanal Chocolates, (401 Hayes St.).
After your refreshment, it’s time to shop. You won’t find a single major chain store in Hayes Valley; rather, a plethora of quirky and cool independently owned clothing and furniture stores purveying precious wares from local, European and Japanese designers. On the furnishing front, favorites in Hayes Valley include Propeller (555 Hayes St.), Zonal (568 Hayes St.) and In Bed (597 Hayes St.). If it’s shoes you seek, you’ll find them in the Hayes Valley branch of Gimme Shoes and at Paolo (524 Hayes St.). For the hottest men’s sneakers, jog over to Undefeated (516 Hayes St.). The clothing options are even more expansive. Top choices are Alla Prima for imported lingerie (539 Hayes St.), the Cotton Shop for precious Japanese styles (572 Hayes St.), and Nomads for hip, casual menswear (556 Hayes St.).
Now that Hayes Valley has established itself as a bona fide shopping and dining destination, all eyes are on Nopa, an newly named neighborhood inside the Western Addition along Divisadero Street. When the restaurant Nopa arrived, the “Nopa” contraction of “north of the Panhandle,” finally caught on.
The latest newcomer to the ‘hood is the famed Bi-Rite grocery and ice creamery, right next to Nopa the restaurant. Also brand new is The Mill (736 Divisadero St.), specializing in coffee and delectable breads. The oyster and seafood spot Bar Crudo (655 Divisadero St.) has also moved here from downtown. Nopa’s sister restaurant Nopalito serves organic Mexican fare.
Shopping is still oriented towards young, limited budgets, with hipster duds at Backspace (351 Divisadero), vintage items at The Other Shop (327 Divisadero St.) and a mix of knickknacks at The Prairie Collective (262 Divisadero St.).
Just Back From....Rome & Florence
In recent years, Italy has undergone periods of political, economic and religious uncertainty with the resignation of Pope Benedict and subsequent election of Pope Francis, the deadlocked parliamentary elections and the failure to upend Silvio Burlesconi’s continued place of power, and growing fiscal problems that arose out of the European debt crisis. However, it is clear that despite this turbulence, the layers of history, culture, food and people in Rome and Florence continue to evolve and that both cities remain relevant, constant and alluring.
My favorite moments…
In Florence, I woke up early to go for a run on Massimo Ferragamo’s – owner of the luxurious Lungarno Collection – favorite route. The morning light was just touching the top of the Ponte Vecchio and all of the jeweler’s mahogany stalls were still boarded up. It was a quiet moment in a city that hums during the day with the energy of tourists and international students.
In Rome, I stood in a seemingly ordinary piazza as I discussed the statue in the center square with our specialized guide. An obelisk carved with Egyptian hieroglyphs that was reclaimed from the remains of a nearby temple of Isis signifying lost wisdom sat atop Bernini’s elephant with a curving trunk indicating gained wisdom. At the edge of the square was the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, marking that the Church of Mary was built over the site of a temple of Minerva. Everywhere I looked was a subtle reminder of Rome’s recognition of its ancient history and the importance of preserving it.
Most looking forward to in 2013…
In Florence, the brand-new “Smile Club” and kid’s concierge at Villa San Michele, a converted monastery located in the hills of Fiesole that sits ten minutes from Florence’s city center. Parents can relax on their garden terraces while children learn jewelry-making, embark on treasure hunts, or try their hand at traditional Tuscan cooking techniques in one of Villa San Michele’s famed cooking classes.
In Rome, everyone is buzzing about the brand-new J.K. Place Roma, set to open in June 2013 and located in a prime position right off the Via Condotti. I’m confident that the hotel will enjoy the same success as its sister properties in Capri and Florence.
Handmade in Morocco
Indagare’s live Souk shopping events (read about the upcoming Spring edition, May 7 through 9) are a great place to hunt for stylish fashion, accessories and jewelry. But even more so, they give members and friends of Indagare a chance to connect with artisans from destinations around the world. So when Melissa met Nathalie Freige, the founder of a very special organization, in Marrakech last fall, she knew the Indagare souk had to have one more vendor.
The embroidered kaftans of Morocco’s Migrants du Monde are interwoven with the stories of their artisans, each stitch telling the tale of a place and time. Created in a joint project with Moroccan women and refugee-migrant women based in Morocco, the clothing is richly embellished with stitching from such places as Iraq, Afghanistan, the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The spirit of multiculturalism is at the heart of our commitment,” says Franco-Lebanese Nathalie Freige of the Orient-Occident Foundation, an inspiring non-profit organization that hosts the Migrants du Monde workshop. “These women who have fled their country arrive here, often with their knowledge of embroidery as one of their sole belongings.”
The kaftans, made in vibrant colors and with beautifully hand-stitched detailing, will surely get shoppers’ attention during the May Souk. Here, Freige speaks to Indagare about the incredible stories behind the creations, about her favorite places in Morocco and the future of her unique foundation.
The Orient-Occident Foundation was established in 1994. What do you consider as its best achievements so far?
Our two main focuses are on local development and migrations. We have nine centers throughout Morocco that aim to address underprivileged youths and the development of local communities. The first of our achievements has been professional training, since there is no greater reward than helping unemployed youths obtain jobs that will enable them to support a whole family, as well as bolstering their hopes.
Another main accomplishment is that of having become a privileged partner in the issue of migrants. We have opened a welcoming center for refugees and migrants, and manage two apartments that shelter women who are victims of violence and of criminal networks. We also help abandoned children to find someplace to live, along with giving them needed psychological guidance.
How did the Migrants du Monde workshops develop? We pictured it as creating social links enabling women participants to regain their self-esteem and find reasons to get up in the morning. It is, possibly, the first workshop of its kind in the world that brings together refugee-migrant women with Moroccan women in a spirit of multiculturalism. These women who have fled their country arrive here, often with their knowledge of embroidery as one of their sole belongings. Transmitting their know-how becomes transformative: an Afghan woman handing the piece over to a Congolese who in turn shows it to a Moroccan woman. It is a wonderful way to transmit skills and know-how.
Can you share one of the women’s stories?
Here are two in their own words:
- “I left the Congo in 2001, because my country was at war and my family had disappeared. My voyage took three years. I traveled across the Congo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. I traveled in a canoe, in a car, on foot. The workshop has given me stability and focus.” -Solange, immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- “I left Iraq in 2006 because of the war. I had lost my two children. This embroidery workshop has given me a reason to get up and leave my house in the morning, which has helped me so much psychologically.” -Khadija, Iraqi refugee
Looking at the social and economic challenges facing countries in northern Africa, how do you see the future?
Looking at things positively, Arab Spring events have unleashed an incredible amount of democratic debate. People have begun to speak out, express themselves and criticize the state of things, which is constructive. Though poverty, inequality and an identity crisis remain the shortcomings of these countries, a true awareness of these problems has been born.
What is your background and what drew you to Morocco?
I am Franco-Lebanese, born in Morocco and having lived most of my life in Spain. Orient-Occident’s president, Yasmina Filali, is Franco-Italian-Moroccan. We both originate from a blend of East and West, with Morocco standing as the in-between. Diversity lies within us.
What are the places that you prefer in Morocco?
Morocco is extraordinarily varied. The north is completely different from the south. The Atlantic coastline still possesses beaches that are near wildernesses. The Mountain ranges enable one to discover authentic villages, stunning sceneries and the warm hospitality of the local population. Towns like Tangiers or Marrakech are extremely cosmopolitan, with thriving culture, design industries and sports. Mild winters add to its allure.
What would you recommend to a first-time visitor to Morocco?
What are your projects underway for 2013?
We hope to restructure the Foundation to better define its strategy. It’s been eighteen years since we started, and we have acquired a considerable experience over that time. We have to consolidate what’s been achieved and continue to raise funds for our projects in order to make it last.
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