Directly across from the De Young Museum by the Golden Park is the LEED certified California Academy of Scenes. This is one fantastic science museum – an edifice of light ! Iconically supporting a 2.5 acre green roof, with solar panels bordering its numerous Skylights. Designed by Italian Architect Renzo Piano (he of the impressively new 2015 Whitney Museum in NYC).
This magnificent structure houses the Kimball Natural History Museum, Steinhart aquarium, the Morrison planetarium AND a tropical forest habitat!
The reptile collection is worth coming alone – even if just for Claude the albino alligator!
OPEN HOURS: WINTER 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Saturday – Sunday
SUMMER 9:30 am – 6:00 pm Monday – Friday 9:30 am – 8:00 pm Saturday – Sunday – holidays
The current design of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium was achieved by the architects Esherick Homsey Dodge & Davis; who later, in 1988, received an honorary Award from he American Institute of Architects for their outstanding work.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium was the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp. One of their signature attractions, you relax on perfectly placed benches and marvel at the 8.5m (27.8 ft.) tall kelp forest as Pacific creatures flit between the waving strands, swaying like the hair of some sea-deep leviathan. Sardines, leopard sharks, wolf-eels, rockfish… the tank swirls with life as it circulates fresh salt-water direct from the Bay combined with a wave machine to create an endless dance of life.
In their tranquil fluidity, the jellyfish rooms create an ambience that seems to reflect the regions psychedelic history. Perfect, Kreisel tanks (aquariums with slow, circular water flows, no hard corners and a minimum interior hardware) prevent the delicate life from geting hurt while their circular flow moves the translucent forms as if suspended in orbit.
Other exhibits include Giant Pacific Octopuses, Sea Horses and the ever favorite Sea Dragons. At the back of the aquarium, overlooking the pacific is “Life on the Bay.” A place to spot wild sea otters, pelicans, dolphins, harbor seals, sea birds and the rest of the denizens of the coast.
The Monterrey Bay Aquarium is deeply commited to marine life conservation and you can easily learn about and become involved in the different campains end awareness programs they offer, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.
From the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Press Release:
In the Ocean’s Edge galleries, fresh seawater is pumped continuously and directly from Monterey Bay to maintain the great diversity of plant and animal life in the exhibits. By day, filtration leaves the water clear for public viewing. At night, unfiltered seawater flows through the exhibits. The raw seawater not only sustains filter-feeding animals, it also carries in spores and larvae of plant and animal life that settle and grow in the exhibits – making the exhibits a “living extension” of the bay. Water enters through two 16-inch-diameter, 980-foot-long intake lines located 55 feet deep in the bay. Pumps draw up to 2,050 gallons of seawater per minute into the aquarium seawater distribution system, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – more than a billion gallons of water a year. Four operating modes permit varying levels of filtration, from raw seawater to pressure-sand-filtered, de-embolyzed seawater. Most aquariums are located on polluted bodies of water or inland of the coast, making “open” system designs like this impossible.
Highly recommended by trusted friends, we made our way with anticipation to ICI in Berkely. Immediately our attention was grabbed by a chalkboard notice of “Peppermint Ice Milk”. Well, it turns out Ice Milk is perfect – lighter then Ice Cream, more luscious then sorbet. What a simple, taste-altering concept. So many times, the simple things are the most striking. The most pure.
Ice creams, sorbets, candies and cookies are made in small batches, ensureing freshness, using Local and seasonal ingredients. Cones are hand rolled with piped chocolate to cover the bottom hole. Organic nut spices and chocolates, as well as Soul Food eggs , Straus Organic and Clover Organic dairy, compliment the astounding variety treats; and of course NO artificial preservatives.
Flavors in Ice creams and Sorbets while we visited :Brandied Cherry , Green Tea, Coconut, Honey Nutmeg, Vanilla, Creme Fraiche Muscat, Candied Meyer lemon, Pistachio Rose, Rocky Road, Earl Gray Tea, Cinnamon, Concord Grape, Maple pine Nut Praline, Lime, Chocolate, Nectarine, Burnt Caramel, Parsley Mint, Honey Lavender…….
Other lovlies are available as well, such as the “Bombes” ice cream cakes, ice cream sandwiches, Bonbons Meringues, Candies Cookies, Macaroons, Nougat, Marshmallows Brittles, Brownies…. and to compliment, they serve Blue Bottle Espresso
Lead Pastry Chef Mary Canales, formally of Chez Panisse), opened Ici ice cream parlor in September 2006 along with creative Mattea Soreng and Pj Pawalec. They are tight with their ethic (what else would you expect from Berkeley?) all of the packaging and disposable wares are 100% biodegradable and compostable.
Nopalito, the smaller offshoot of Nopa, presents local and organic Mexican cuisine with authenticity. There are plenty of vegetarian options and the meals are exquisitely tasty without being heavy and greasy. The ultimate test is passed by the house hot sauce provided with each dish; peppers are peeled then charred, giving a delicious and gentle smoky flavor.
The service was friendly and fairly attentive. We loved the fact that they took our cell number so we could wander the neighborhood while we waited for our table. This is so simple I’m amazed I come across it so rarely. I poked my head into Nopa (about 2 blocks away) and it looked like the large upscale eatery that it is- next trip to San Francisco!
The dish that surprised us the most was the Sandia con Chile y Limón. Which is slices of sweet crimson watermelon, chile de arbol, chile guajillo and lime. This is one of those combinations that I never would have thought of, but makes oh so much culinary sense.
The Tamal de Queso Estilo Corunda (Housemade masa, queso cotija, grazzini squash, poblanos, tomatoes, manzanos chiles and crema) was another soft delight. The masa really contains a quality that speaks for dedication.
The dish that we ordered twice was the Quesadilla Azul de Hongos (Blue corn tortilla, mushrooms, corn, poblanos, jack cheese, queso fresco and salsa de molcajete). The mushrooms were deep and flavorful – and this combined with the smoked hot sauce was stunning.
Mexican cooking is on the west coast is an entire step above that on the east. We really enjoyed the variety and effort that was put into bringing this wonderfully diverse deliciousness to our plates. Nopalito a true taste of contemporary culinary artistry!
OPEN HOURS: 7:00 am – 7:00 pm Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm Saturday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm Sunday
This San Francisco Institution is named after Central Europe’s first coffee house “The Blue Bottle” in Vienna. It helped pioneer the new coffee era of small-batch artisan Microroasting. Serving espresso drinks, drip coffee, French Press along side a nice array of cakes, and biscotti, Blue bottle deserves its reputation. While it has opened many locations, Blue Bottle seems to be staying true to its roots- serving organic Dairy and remaking coffees; we saw the barista remaking a couple of lattes that had gotten cold as the customer had wandered away and left them on the counter too long.
We visited the Blue Bottle in the excellent Ferry Terminal- home to many excellent local, artisanal restaurants and shops. Aside from their fare, they also offer a very attractive array of coffee accouterments from french presses and packaged foods to espresso makers.
Arborio Rice Cake, with St George Spirits Sauvignon Blanc Brandy