Archive for the ‘Northern California’ Category

Road Trippin’

May 16, 2010

William Least Heat Moon wrote that there are no yesterdays on the road, and it does seem like the road trip has a special power to temporarily untether us from our lives and, in so doing, let us reimagine them. One of the gifts of travel is that it frees you from your everyday context. The road trip, properly undertaken, boils life down to a post-it where normally it may feel like an Excel spreadsheet with too many tabs. You can plan excessively if you want to, but the best road trips are a little shaggy and undefined at the edges, leaving space for the unexpected.

The road trip is about all of your favorite music along for the ride, turned up loud when there’s a lull in conversation. It’s about inappropriate snacks of questionable vintage from a gas station in Barstow and BLT’s on under-toasted white bread in Redding. It’s about going out of your way to visit Frank Sinatra’s grave in Palm Springs or crossing the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. It’s those hours when the usual tug of to and fro and bills to pay and Facebook seem as trivial as they are and you listen to your trip mate’s story with real attention.

Road trippin’ is kind of like the exhilaratingly mild shock of swimming in the ocean for the first time in years: it wakes you up, brings you back to who you are, and reminds you that the simplest pleasures are all you really need to be content. And at the end of every day on the road? Cool, clean sheets on a bed you don’t have to make. This summer the travel sugar plums that are dancing in our heads are all about Road Trippin’ California. We’re putting our playlists together, calling our friends, and packing our swimsuits. Let summer begin!


This Blog Should Be Played Loud!

April 12, 2010

Photo: Chris Horn

Some Joie de Vivre trivia: The Miyako Hotel in Japantown played host to many of the legendary musical acts in town to perform at the famed Winterland Ballroom formerly located just a few blocks down Post Street. One legendary concert, the farewell show of touring giants, The Band, was immortalized by filmmaker Martin Scorsese in his celebrated concert film “The Last Waltz.” On Thanksgiving Day in 1976, 5,000 concertgoers were treated to a turkey dinner, and then around 9pm the show began. Over the course of the five-hour plus show, the Band was joined on stage by music titans like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr and a host of others. After the show, many “Last Waltz” participants and film crew convened in the Garden Bar of the Miyako, where Bob Dylan jammed with Dr. John on the piano while Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Neil Diamond and others looked on. Unfortunately, Winterland Ballroom was felled by the wrecking ball in 1985, but the Miyako Hotel lives on as Joie de Vivre’s Hotel Kabuki, one of two JdV hotels located in San Francisco’s Japantown. Not long after “The Last Waltz”, the Hotel Kabuki played host to another rock-n-roll milestone event when The Sex Pistols broke up during a feud with manager Malcolm McClaren in his guestroom, after playing their last gig together at the Winterland in January, 1978.

If you’re interested in learning more about Winterland, check out rock aficionado Chris Horn’s site with Winterland history and photos. Chris graciously let us use his circa 1985 photo of Winterland for this post. Anyone interested in Bay Area music trivia might also pick up a copy of  “San Francisco: The Musical History Tour” by journalist Joel Selvin. It’s chock full of musically significant locations around the Bay Area.)

Top 5 Wedding Trends for 2010

April 5, 2010

Skinny jeans, gladiator sandals, exposed zippers—trends usually come and go as quickly as the seasons change. Lucky for us, trendy brides keep our weddings interesting all year round. Here are some recent favorite wedding trends we’ve seen at The Citizen Hotel.

*Shoes that pop: Ever since Carrie Bradshaw sported those blue Manolo Blahniks on her wedding day, Brides have been making statements with stylish footwear. We’re seeing lots of colorful pumps, and even glittery flats.

*Vintage charm: We love this trend because it truly suits the look and feel of our hotel. We’re seeing lots of side swept hair, vintage hair accessories, and bright red lipstick.

*More intimate gatherings: In today’s economy, brides are choosing to plan smaller weddings in order to maximize their budget. While it can be difficult to trim your guest list, smaller weddings often allow the bride and groom to spend more time with each individual guest—a memorable perk!

*Comfort food: Brides are also learning to serve great food on a smaller budget with casual items like mac-n-cheese, sliders, and soup shooters. We haven’t heard any guests complaining about that menu!

*Dessert bar: Let them eat cake? Who are they kidding—we need more than that!  Brides want to give their guests more options, especially when it comes to dessert. Common dessert bars include everything from cakes and cupcakes, to ice cream and candy.

The Citizen Hotel has quickly become the ideal venue for Northern California brides, boasting a magnificent Metropolitan Terrace with a breathtaking 7th floor view of the city. Need a visual? Head over to our new and improved wedding blog to see photos of some of our favorite weddings. If you like what you see, please visit the KCRA A-list and give us your vote for Best Wedding Venue. Hope to see you soon at The Citizen Hotel!

Santa Cruz Dreamin’

March 29, 2010

It’s spring (and, soon, soon…summer) and the travel bug is buzzing all around us. Haven’t planned any grand getaways yet? Just lookin’ for a little weekend jaunt? Sunset Magazine’s great blog just featured an entry about great weekend escapes. Our Dream Inn, which opened last year in Santa Cruz (it’s actually the only beachfront hotel in this quintessential California beach town), is included in the wanderlusting mix. Dream a little dream of sitting on your beachfront balcony at sunset…and make it so.

Captain Fanplastic

February 17, 2010

The Plastiki, a 60-foot catamaran made of plastic bottles, is setting sail early next month. The vessel will begin its 11,000-mile voyage from San Francisco and will sail across the Pacific to Sydney, with a few stops along the way. It’s the brainchild of David de Rothschild, a British eco-adventurer who seeks to address the massive amount of plastic waste that is not recycled and instead ends up in the ocean or landfills. The catamaran will sail through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an expanse of floating garbage that is toxic to marine life and birds. Beyond raising the single issue of plastic recycling, with the Plastiki de Rothschild and his crew are addressing how design must evolve to address environmental conservation. The Plastiki may not be the sleekest of crafts, but it’s been built with great care and purpose, and we’re proud it’s embarking from our city’s shores.

Thanksgiving Recipe Series: Americano

November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey Hash
Executive Chef Paul Arenstam, Americano Restaurant & Bar

Serves 4

6 ounces cooked turkey, cut into small cubes
3 ounces roasted fingerling potatoes, cut into small cubes
3 ounces roasted cauliflower, small pieces
3 ounces roasted cipollini onions, cut into small pieces
3 ounces green onions, chopped
6 ounces turkey gravy
4 each eggs, cooked sunny side up
2 ounces clarified butter or olive oil
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 ounce extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh black pepper (more…)

Shiny, Happy (New) People

November 20, 2009

Japantown? Where’s that? These words were uttered by many friends and family the year I began working at Hotel Tomo, and have been heard many more times from new friends and colleagues yet to be introduced to the allure of one of San Francisco’s most interesting neighborhoods. (more…)

Thanksgiving Recipe Series: Midi

November 18, 2009

Over the next week we’ll be sharing some yummy recipes from a number of chefs at our restaurants throughout California. One of our newest San Francisco restaurants, midi, has gotten rave reviews for Michelle Mah’s California brasserie-style food, but it is also garnering appreciation for its luscious desserts, including a particularly evil meets good bittersweet chocolate pot de crème with sea salt caramel sauce. Desserts are the handiwork of pastry “maverick” Sam Perrett, who has kindly given us her recipe for Sweet Potato Pie. Enjoie!

Sweet Potato Pie
Recipe by Sam Perrett, Pastry Maverick at midi

Pie Dough
1.5 lbs. all purpose flour
1 lb. cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 ounces sugar
Pinch salt
3 ounces cold water 

1. Mix water, sugar and salt to dissolve.
2. Cut butter into flour and toss until well coated.
3. Add the water mixture and mix in a mixer with paddle attachment until almost fully incorporated.
4. Finish mixing in the dough by hand. Chill for at least 1 hour.
5. Roll out and put into pie tin.  Blind bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Sweet Potato Custard
2 T. butter, melted
3 each whole eggs
2 each egg yolks
1 cup sugar
½ t. ground nutmeg
¼ t. salt
2 T. bourbon
1 T. molasses
1 t. vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar 

1. Roast and peel the sweet potatoes. 
2. Puree and add the butter. 
3. Add all the rest of the ingredients one at a time, mixing with each addition until all incorporated.
4. In the cooled par-baked pie shell, add the sweet potato custard until full. 
5. Bake in a 325 oven until the middle is just set.

We Got the Beat

November 17, 2009

I think what makes the Bay Area so distinctive is that there is something for everyone here and you can find an array of activities, arts, and culture whatever your tastes.  It never ceases to amaze me what is available in this city where Joie de Vivre put down its roots. No wonder our hotels are all capable of creating an identity refreshment for our guests!  The company is rooted in a city which allows people to refine (or redefine) their identities every day.

One of my favorite things about the Bay Area is its legendary music scene.  There is a band for everyone in the Bay Area – and fantastic venues to host them, from the historic Fillmore to smaller clubs like Slim’s. Many famous bands got their start here, but we also have many tribute bands as well, including Zepparella (an all-girl Led Zeppelin band), AC/DShe (all-girl AC/DC), and Beauty and the Beat (The Go Go’s). 

I myself have gotten pulled into an all-girl Kinks tribute band.  Can you imagine a bunch of girls in go-go boots and mod outfits belting out Kinks tunes?  That would be us, also known as the Minks! And we got the chance to spend the evening listening to Ray Davies (who founded The Kinks) at The Warfield last week- he sang Kinks tunes with a 28-person choir as he just released “The Kinks Choral Collection.” It was quite fascinating to hear rock songs with choral backup. The Kinks have to be one of the best all-time bands yet they don’t get the credit that the Stones and the Beatles have had. Three decades of music and a lot of songs that people know but that they don’t associate to The Kinks! 

So whenever Ray comes to town, we go to his shows and pass out flyers to this perfect audience to let them know about our next shows.  Joie is being part of the San Francisco music scene!

Row Your Own Way

November 16, 2009

As epic trips go, this one really floats our boat. Last Friday, two British men completed a 5,000 mile rowing trip in their boat, the Bojangles, from Choshi, Japan, to San Francisco, gliding under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge accompanied by a welcome wagon of Bay Area boats bearing local brew.  Mick Dawson and Chris Martin completed their trip in 189 days, 10 hours and 55 minutes. According to a write-up in the San Francisco Chronicle, the two men were “stalked by whales, tossed by storms, ran low on food and sometimes despaired” during their six months at sea in a Kevlar rowboat powered only by their own grit and brawn. In Martin’s words, they undertook the arduous voyage across the Pacific because “It hasn’t been done before.” Joie de Vivre was honored to host Martin, Dawson and their families at one of our SF properties.