A robot barista whipping up your order of coffee you ask? Yes, meet Gordon your robotic barista at  Cafe X. Gordon whips up your choice of  latte, cappuccino or espresso from local coffee companies like Peet’s (the first Peet’s opened in Berkeley), Verve or AKA. Cafe X is located at the Metreon shopping center in San Francisco. Supposedly this is the first cafe in the US with a robotic barista.

Cafe X is the brain child of Henry Hu, who was a Thiel fellow. Hu has raised about $5 million in seed round.

This video was shot and edited on iPhone 7 plus.

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Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco

Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco

A couple of days ago during a visit to San Francisco’s The Fairmont Hotel I finally got to meet  Thomas Wolfe, Chief concierge of the hotel. Elegantly dressed in a suit and a bow tie he graciously answered all my inquisitive questions about the hotel’s rich history, Alfred Hitchcock and Ella Fitzgerald. We got talking about 1920s and Art Deco. Turns out there is a famous Art Deco room in the hotel that I had not seen. He gently suggested I may want to take a peek at the room before I left the hotel.

I  eagerly trotted off to see the Cirque Room, a beautifully appointed room and the first bar to open in San Francisco after Prohibition was lifted. I took a couple of pictures and then ambled back to thank him for his suggestion. I coud not find him. He was probably busy helping other guests with their questions. I shall thank him in person the next time I am at the Fairmont.

Cirque, Fairmont Hotel San Francisco

Cirque, Fairmont Hotel San Francisco

For those who don’t know – The Fairmont Hotel is located on Nob Hill, a tony neighborhood in San Francisco. You can’t help but notice the imposing  facade of the historic hotel that opened its door for business in 1907.  Over the years, I have picked up little tidbits about the hotel and its rich history. And every time I discover a new piece of information about the hotel. For example, Nabob Hill is where the rich nabobs (or nawabs to be precise) of 19th lived in their lavishly appointed mansions.

At the end of World War II the hotel played a key role in the creation of  The United Nations (UN), a new organization to help promote peace and cooperation between nations. San Francisco was the place where world leaders congregated to create the UN and the charter of the UN was drafted in the Garden Room of the Fairmont Hotel.

The next time  you are in Nob Hill neighborhood pop into the hotel and take a peek. It is worth it. Oh, I forgot to mention you can follow Thomas Wolfe on Twitter.


San Francisco

San Francisco

Post cards. Remember getting those colorful post cards from your family and friends when they visited a new place or city? As a kid I used to collect these post cards, and pester folks to send them to me. Sometimes, a kindly neighbor would give me their old post cards their “foreign” friends sent them. Somewhere in my house I still have a couple of shoe boxes with a stack of post cards. And then there were the colorful calendars with pictures and captivating images of places and people from different parts of the world. I remember those intensely vivid Eastman calendar that featured scenes from Germany. Or, was it ORWO calendar? These postcards and calendars transported me to different places around the world and kindled my curiosity about their culture, food, music and food. A picture speaks a thousand words was so true for those of us who grew up in the pre-Internet age.

Anyway, I digressed. In this digital age those old tyme postcards are not cool. What is cool are video post cards. Every week I shall (attempt) to share a video postcard from my travels. Hope you enjoy these travel cards.

Here is the first travel post card from San Francisco. San Francisco, or the city by the bay is a compact place filled with interestingness. Here is a quick dekho at San Fran, please don’t call it ‘Frisco. We zip across the city from the iconic Golden Gate bridge to the Bay bridge, Nob Hill, and Land’s End.

Quick Travel Suggestions:

If you have less than 24 hours in San Francisco here are a couple of things you can do. San Francisco is a food obssessed city and there are lots of neat little cafes, dives and wonderful restaurants to suit your budget. Head down to the bottom of Ferry Building Marketplace on Market Street to grab a coffee from Blue Bottle Coffee and a sandwich from Cowgirl Creamery. Don’t sit in. Head straight out to the back of the building and park yourself in a sunny spot and  do some people watching. Maybe you can play Otis Redding’s “Sitting By The Dock Of The Bay,” while you are noshing that sandwich?

Alternatively instead of the Ferry Building head to the Fisherman’s Wharf area  in a cable car.The best part of riding the cable car is you will catch tantalizing glimpses of the city and its steep streets.At the wharf grab one of those famous San Francisco sour dough sandwiches at Boundin Bakery and then head down to taste that famous glass of Irish coffee at Buena Vista Cafe. Be warned, it will be crowded.  And if you still have some room then mosey over to Ghiradelli Square and indulge in a sweet treat at the famous chocolate store.

Now, if you are a little bit adventurous mosey up to China Town and the neighboring Italian neighborhood of North Beach. And if you are really, really adventurous then head over to Golden Gate Park and Cliff House. All these places are easily accessible via public transportation or by foot. Let me clarify – you can reach both these destinations by bus and then walk around to explore.

Wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget to grab your jacket. San Francisco weather can be very deceptive and it can go from being warm and toasty to cold within hours.

San Francisco Is Obsessed With Food?

Taj Campton, San Francisco

Taj Campton, San Francisco

With a title like this “San Francisco is obsessed with food and that is an understatement,” how can you not read the article? This was not published in a local San Francisco bay area paper, but in the Washington Post and it brought back memories of a conversation I had with a chef in Manhattan. This chef worked in a Michelin rated restaurant and was totally taken aback when I mentioned that on average I had access to better food in San Francisco bay area when compared to Manhattan. He, of course, disagreed with my point of view and made a case on why Manhattan was “the place” for food lovers. We agreed to disagree. I digressed, Back to the WaPo article.

Tom Sietsema captures San Francisco Bay area’s obsession with food in his WaPo article.He begins and ends his culinary journey with the airport that offers an interesteting selection of food, which I am sad to report is not the case with the airports in New York city when I was last there.

Sietsema mentions a mix of well-known restaurants, cafes and the shops in Ferry Building in San Francisco and a couple in Berkeley and Alamdea area. It would have been nice if he had included places in the Mission, Sunset and Richmod districts.  All these places have some hidden gems and some of them are reasonably priced.

Besides the restaurans and food trucks, the various farmers markets are respobsible for fuelling or rekindling our interest in food for folks in the bay area. This constant and reliable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables through out the year has spoilt all a bit and that might also explain our obsession with food. Oh! I forgot our obsession with artisenal bread and baked goods.

By the way, if you just have a few hours in San Francisco you may want to head to the bottom of Market Street and into the Ferry Building, where you will discover a cornocoupia of sorts of food. This is where you will find Blue Bottle Coffee, Acme Bread, Cowgirl Creamery, Straus Ice Cream, Humphry Slocombe and much, much more.

Take a look at the bounty that we see in our local farmer’s market in the bay area.