Rolled out of bed at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco and across the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building, site of San Francisco’s bustling Saturday morning Farmer’s Market and ultimate sensory extravaganza. Strategic early arrival allowed time to chat up the farmers and vendors before the crowds descended. We surveyed and sampled myriad products – from flowers and berries to krauts and kim chis, lavender honey, chocolates and scones. The fish and meats came smoked, dried and fresh, fiddlehead ferns curled up tight like bright green snails, and the mushrooms proliferated in colors and textures that expanded the boundaries of the familiar.
It was heady to sniff and sample rich creamy cheeses and ruby red strawberries whose juices ran down our chins. San Francisco Bay framed the backdrop, crisscrossed by sailboats and ships, barges and ferries, and spanned by the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge.
We were trailing Hyatt Chef Cynthia Motta as she selected ingredients to be alchemized into a majestic 8-course feast, served to our group that evening in the Chef’s Kitchen.
But I’m skipping ahead. This was a “Healthy Balance Weekend” hosted by Hyatt for a group of Bay Area travel writers. Healthy Balance was to be attained through walking, hiking, dancing, cooking and eating… which included shopping for the best possible ingredients grown, raised and prepared with love.
It was a weekend to indulge the senses, feed the soul, and engage the mind as we learned tasty tidbits and truths about San Francisco, the city in and around which we all live.
It was also an opportunity for Hyatt to showcase new menu offerings that include fresh juices and smoothies, balanced portions and “create your own” options, grounded in their philosophy: “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.”
The hotel also showcased its signature soaring atrium lobby, waterfront location with sublime views and access to multiple transit options. Now, transit may not sound sexy, but each of the following options is quintessentially San Francisco – and some are also great fun. For example:
The California Street Cable Car line begins outside the hotel entrance.
The F-Market & Wharves historic streetcar line follows the tracks along the Embarcadero Waterfront to Fisherman’s Wharf. It also heads up Market Street to the Castro District, all for just $2!!
Ferries ply the waters to Sausalito, Tiburon, and Alameda from the landmark 1898 Ferry Building, whose 245-foot tall campanile is modeled on the clock tower of the Giralda Cathedral in Sevilla, Spain. In a city-by-the-bay, ferries will always trump wheels for a wind-in-your-face voyage, not to mention the offshore perspective.
Visitors and locals walk, jog, skate and cycle the scenic, breezy and always lively Embarcadero Waterfront trail between Fisherman’s Wharf and AT&T Park, home of the SF Giants! It’s all at Hyatt’s doorstep, even the beautiful spanking new Exploratorium at Pier 15, one of the world’s groundbreaking science museums with engaging interactive exhibits. Crawling through its Tactile Dome in total darkness -- relying only on our sense of touch – provided an interesting twist on our weekend of sensory indulgence.
So too our exploration of The Presidio, former military base-turned glorious national park and National Historic Landmark District by the Golden Gate, where the Pacific Ocean meets San Francisco Bay. On a wonderfully woodsy hike with Alexandra Kenin, founder of Urban Hiker SF, we loped along Lovers Lane, the Presidio’s oldest footpath, inhaled our way up to Inspiration Point for views that were nothing short of, well, inspiring, and once again strived to maintain our healthy balance walking gingerly atop Andy Goldsworthy’s “Wood Line.” The installation of fallen Eucalyptus trees gracefully curves through historic forest, one of three iconic and provocative works in the Presidio by the world-renowned Scottish artist.
Chef Cynthia’s eight-course feast awaited us that evening in the Hyatt kitchen. As each dish was ceremoniously presented, we took great pleasure in recognizing the ingredients we had watched her choose and helped her carry that morning. Remembering the purple potatoes that weighed down my bag, I loved seeing the resulting soft lavender shade of soup as it was delicately poured into my bowl for our 2nd Course: Potato and Leek Vichyssoise of Thrice Cooked Potatoes, Spring Garlic, Crescenza.
The 3rd Course: Smoked Trout and Quinoa Salad with Cara Cara Oranges, English Peas, Yogurt Dressing continued the lovely balance of color, taste and texture.
The meal also epitomized San Francisco’s love affair with fresh, healthful, locally-sourced and simply beautiful ingredients, and evidenced why we are one of the great food capitals of the world.
Heady with the wines paired with each course, and impelled outside by the hotel’s storied location, we once again crossed the Embarcadero to the Ferry Plaza, this time to take in the light show extravaganza illuminating the western span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Known as The Bay Lights, the site-specific art installation is the world’s largest LED light sculpture, with 25,000 white LED lights programmed by artist Leo Villareal to create a never repeating display of illuminated magic.
Our Hyatt Regency San Francisco Healthy Balance Staycation has renewed a secret San Francisco love affair for many in our group of world travelers. Some have even been content to temporarily put our long-distance travel plans on hold.
Hyatt Regency San Francisco website offers packages designed for Romance, Bed and Breakfast for Two, Explore San Francisco and many more. Or call 800-233-1234
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