Two S.F. restaurants join world’s best, elevated to three Michelin stars

The 2015 Michelin Guide to restaurants made superstars of two more San Francisco fine-dining establishments, elevating Saison and Benu to three stars.

SF Restaurant Stars

The Bay Area and Wine Country now have four restaurants with three stars: The French Laundry, The Restaurant at Meadowood, Saison and Benu. Only approximately 100 restaurants worldwide hold three stars, and the designation is significant for chefs, who can use it to pack tables and boost their reputations in the often cut-throat fine dining world.

Michelin cited Chef Corey Lee‘s “incredibly precise culinary technique…. Corey applies a combination of classic French technique along with American, various Asian and noticeable Korean flavors to produce truly unique culinary creations.”

Saison’s Chef Joshua Skenes was praised for offering “seafood of stunning quality with a clear respect for Japanese cuisine, combined with a mastery of the northern California culinary philosophy”

Saison recently set the table for a $495 private dinner with Skenes and wine director Mark Bright. The restaurant’s regular tasting menu comes in at $248 and beverage pairings are an additional $248. Saison’s most expensive menu — the “discovery menu” is $646 with wine pairings. Now, those prices may be easier to justify, with the additional star.

But Skenes is not just content to go high-brow, he’s also targeting fast casual eaters, withthe announcement that he is opening Fat Noodle at Second and Mission Streets.

Benu’s Lee has also been ambitious and in expansion mode lately. French Laundry alumLee recently opened French eatery Monsieur Benjamin in Hayes Valley, which has seen strong reviews.

In addition to Benu and Saison winning accolades, the Bay Area restaurants with two stars are Acquerello, Atelier Crenn, Coi and Quince in San Francisco, Baume in Palo Alto and Manresa in Los Altos, which is temporarily closed after a fire in July.

According to Eater SF, “Acquerello was the only new entrant to the two-star category, and that upgrade makes chef Suzette Gresham America’s third female chef with two Michelin stars; no woman in the U.S. holds three stars as of yet.”

The one-star list, which includes stalwarts Spruce, SPQR, State Bird Provisions, La Folie, Aziza and many, many others, saw two newcomers: Kusakabe and Maruya, according to Michelin.

The Bay Area and Wine Country Michelin Guide goes on sale tomorrow.


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The 21 Best Dive Bars in America – 2014

21 Dive Bars in America 2014

I was pleasantly surprised to see our local Silver Peso in Larkspur made the list for top 21 Best Dive Bars in America!

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New York penthouse sells for a record $90 million

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — An unnamed buyer paid more than $90 million for a Midtown Manhattan penthouse, the highest price ever paid for a New York apartment, according to the building’s developer.

The seller, the Extell Development Co., had been asking $98.5 million for the 10,923 square-foot condominium. Gary Barnett, Extell’s president, wouldn’t confirm the exact price the condominium went for or who the buyer was, but he would say the apartment sold for about $8,000 a square foot.

$90M Apartment in NYC

Located on the 89th and 90th floors of the One57 building on 57th street, the apartment features 23-foot ceilings, rosewood flooring, panoramic views of the city, Italian marble and custom hardware and light fixtures.

The building, which is still being constructed, includes a total of 95 condos and is built on top of a five-star Park Hyatt hotel. Prices start at $6.75 million and about half of the units have been already sold, said Barnett. Occupancy won’t begin until early next year.


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A Love Letter to the Marin Headlands

Amazing Video!!

Marin Headlands

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Bay Area boasts top counties in California

The “best county” in California is Marin, according to real-estate site Movoto. Of course “best” is a very subjective term, but Movoto used 2010 Census data on unemployment rankings, percent of families below the poverty line, average commute time (the lower the better for all of the above), as well as the median household income, median rent, median home price and high school graduation rate (the higher the better for all of these).

Marin County Estate

Unsurprisingly, the “best” counties ended up being some of the wealthiest, with tony Marin at the top of the heap:

1. Marin County
2. San Mateo County
3. Santa Clara County
4. San Luis Obispo County
5. Ventura County
6. Placer County
7. Napa County (tie)
7. Orange County (tie)
9. Santa Barbara County
10. San Francisco County

San Francisco, just making the top 10, received high points for low unemployment, high median household income and very few families below the poverty line. But an average 53-minute commute time brought down the overall score enough that San Francisco just barely beat out Mono County in the Eastern Sierra, which came in the middle of the pack in terms of home prices and unemployment, but boasts only a 3-minute average commute!

Back in number-one Marin, the commute time was a much heftier 41 minutes, but the county ranked first in unemployment (or lack thereof), median household income, median rent and median home prices. Just like San Francisco, Marin’s median home price hovers just above $1 million. The photos above show what you can get for that price in California’s “best” county.

According to Movoto, it wasn’t just numbers that put Marin over the top. “The Marin Museum Of Contemporary Art, Muir Woods, one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Center (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) all make this a hub of culture, natural beauty and just plain awesome,” its editors wrote.

Emily Landes is a writer and editor who is obsessed with all things real estate. She also has a DIY problem that she blogs about at


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16 hikes you must do in Marin County


While we’re pretty much convinced you can’t go wrong with when it comes to hiking in Marin, there are some areas you undoubtedly must visit at least once.

Considering Marin’s seemingly endless selection of open space and trails, creating a list of the best hikes the county has to offer was no easy feat. But we gave it a shot, selecting a mix of cardio-pumping routes and easy flat trails that are kid friendly.

In the above slideshow we’ve highlighted what we consider the best hikes in Marin.

These hikes range from more intense all-day treks to little half-day loops. We also included a range of scenery, including well-forested parts of Mount Tamalapais, the shores of Point Reyes National Seashore or a sunny spot in central Marin that’s the perfect escape during a cold and foggy day in San Francisco.

Take a look through the above slideshow (captions include links to Google Maps of the hikes) and tell us in the comments if you agree with our top picks.

One caveat: We skipped some other superior hikes that already have nightmarish parking or trailheads that are locals-only secrets we promised not to spill (don’t worry, most of these also fell in the category of not being able to handle a large influx of visitors).

Hiking safety tips you probably already know but should still read:

We recommend always carrying plenty of water, extra layers, some snacks (trail mix or protein-loaded bars) and being extra mindful of your surroundings and how much daylight you have left. Trailheads in some of these featured areas can reach very remote areas and it’s not uncommon for hikers to get lost. Also, keep in mind that you may not always have cell phone service.

And, remember, even though you aren’t far from San Francisco, you are hiking in the wild. We don’t want to deter you, but there’s rattlesnakes, powerful sneaker waves on the Pacific Coast, poison oak and lots of wild animals. (In the very unlikely chance you see a mountain lion, make yourself as big and loud as possible. Do not run away!) But, seriously, don’t worry. Keep in mind that there are very few serious hiking incidents.

Want more hikes?

If you really want to familiarize yourself with Marin County hiking, there’s a book by Don and Kay Martin called “Hiking Marin.” We have the third edition and it includes 141 hikes. Many of the hikes in this slideshow were discovered via this book. It’s a great resource.

Here’s a map showing the general location of each of the featured hikes.

Hiking Map


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Real Estate Report Ranks Marin as No. 1 – Called best place to live; leaders seek improvements

By: Janis Mara

Marin leaders rejoiced at the news that the county was judged California’s best to live in, while remaining mindful that there is still room for improvement.

Marin #1 Ranking

Movoto, a real estate website, Friday released a report naming Marin No. 1 based on its high median household income, median home price and median rent, low unemployment and second-lowest number of families below the poverty line. With San Mateo second and Santa Clara third, it was something of a Bay Area sweep.

“It is no surprise that Marin is the most desirable place to live,” Supervisor Judy Arnold said in an email. “It has so much going for it: open space, ranch land, good schools and healthy foods.”

However, she added, “As supervisors, we also deal with the not-so-desirable aspects of living in such beauty: high rent, lack of housing, traffic congestion and health problems. It is important to celebrate the good things of our county while realizing the problems that are not celebrated and try to make Marin even better for everyone.”

Rob Eyler, head of the Marin Economic Forum, offered a note of analysis in his response.

“I think it shows that Marin is not only attractive, but also a by-product of its location. There is likely wealth migrating in from San Francisco and the greater Bay Area looking for a more suburban existence,” Eyler said.

“This is where Marin’s housing market is very much related to the greater Bay Area as the most desirable place (weather, proximity to SF, amenities, schools) in a very desirable regional globally,” Eyler said.

In a somewhat similar vein, Blaine Morris, the head of the Marin Association of Realtors, said, “We have all the amenities of big city living available within a half hour but when we come back to Marin we could be in any small town in America. You can earn a big city living while having a semi-rural life here.

“When my wife and I lived in Los Angeles 20 years ago, we were always trying to figure out where to go to get out of Los Angeles for the weekend. We finally decided to move somewhere we would like to spend the weekend,” Morris said. Even when he got a job at Oracle in Silicon Valley, Morris refused to move out of the county, he said.

In addition to the county’s economic indicators, the blog mentioned several other factors. “Marin County loved education, with establishments like the College of Marin and Dominican University of California.”

The good words were apparently appreciated. “As the community’s college, we are honored to be cited as one of the reasons that Marin is the Number One county in the state to live in,” David Wain Coon, superintendent/president of the College of Marin, said in an email. “College of Marin is committed to providing all residents of Marin County outstanding educational opportunities.”

As for Dominican, “As a relatively new resident of Marin, I can attest that this is a great place to live, and education is central to Marin’s high quality of life,” said the university’s president, Mary Marcy.

“When we invest in new facilities and programs, we consider how our investments will impact both our students and our greater community,” Marcy said, noting that the university is opening a health sciences facility next year and its business school “is forming global partnerships that will result in new opportunities for students and local businesses.”

The report also mentioned the Marin County Free Library.

“I’m not surprised. It really is a great library system with tremendous community support and a very literate community that loves its libraries and uses them,” said Sara Jones, director of county library services.

Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer, offered a nuanced view.

“This is an interesting set of indicators, because it really is almost directly related to affluence,” Willis said. “You really could call this the wealthiest counties ranking.

“So what’s seen as a strength here might be seen as a liability by someone with a low or middle income. For our middle-income community — our police, our teachers — when they can’t afford to live here, and yet they make up the fabric of our community, this is potentially a vulnerability for us and an important piece here,” Willis said.

Willis referred to Marin’s March ranking as the healthiest county in California by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “It’s because we have opportunities for recreation, 600-something miles for trails, small farms and produce. Healthy eating and active behavior are normal to Marin.”

On the other side of the equation of the Movoto blog, Willis said, “is the experience of people of limited means” who may be working two jobs and too busy to work out.

“What I would love to see is a ranking that reflects a balanced community and a community that allows for diversity, culturally, ethnically and economically,” Willis said. “These rankings don’t reflect the fact that we lack that diversity.”


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Asia’s most expensive home on sale in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) is offering a super-deluxe house on The Peak for HK$175,735 per square foot according to SCMP.

If it fetches that amount, it will be the world’s most expensive home in terms of price per square foot.

SHKP released the price list of the 12 houses at Twelve Peaks in 12 Mount Kellett Road on Wednesday night, with the priciest, No 1, going for HK$819.1 million.

Hong Kong 2

The house has a saleable area of 4,661 sq ft, a 4,478 sq ft garden, a private pool, a 273 sq ft terrace, a 813 sq ft rooftop and 917 sq ft of car parking space. It also comes with a 220 sq ft air-conditioning plant room.

SHKP bought the site at 12 Mount Kellett Road in 2006 for a record HK$1.8 billion, or HK$42,196 per square foot.

Hong Kong 3

The most expensive home in Hong Kong is House 10 at Skyhigh on Pollock’s Path, which measures 5,989 sq ft and fetched HK$800 million, or HK$133,578 per saleable square foot, in June 2011.

The second-priciest home is a 5,145 sq ft house at 3 Gough Hill Road, which was sold in February this year for HK$650 million, or HK$126,336 per sq ft.

Source: SCMP

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If you’re preparing your home for sale within the coming months, you’d do well to pump a healthy portion of improvement funds into the kitchen, a new survey finds.
According to the poll conducted by homebuilding firm PulteGroup, 29 percent of respondents said the kitchen was the most important room to consider when purchasing a property. Twenty-three percent said an eat-in area was the top kitchen feature, while 22 percent cited the importance of an island.
The survey notes that spice kitchens are becoming particularly en vogue with California buyers. In Silicon Valley high-end kitchen appliances and countertops greatly appeal to home shoppers.
PulteGroup’s study also discovered that more than one-third of buyers say coveted home amenities trump location and even schools.

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Just Listed!! 15 Blueridge Road in Kent Woodlands – Exclusively Offered at $3,495,000

Just Listed!! 15 Blueridge Road in Kent Woodlands
Exclusively Offered at $3,495,000
1. Pool and Mt Tam DSC_8846

This property is to die for!! Drop dead Mount Tam view!! A resort in Kent Woodlands that is not to be missed!

Please join me:
Catered Broker’s Open – Thursday, June 19th from 10:30am-2:00pm
Catered by: Stacy Scott
Open House – Sunday, June 22nd from 12-3pm
2. LivRoom DSC_8955
For more information and photos, please visit:

Perfectly sited on nearly an acre of mostly level land, this clean line contemporary residence offers resort living at its finest and captures some of the most stunning and breathtaking views of Mount Tamalpais and King Mountain in Kent Woodlands. Offering 5 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, the home’s intimate spaces are well designed for comfortable living. Enjoying high ceilings, spacious main rooms and numerous windows and glass doors, the light filled residence is perfect for entertaining and has an exceptional indoor/outdoor connection. The private grounds feature a large sparkling pool with spa, lush level lawn and patios. Just steps from some of the best hiking and biking trails Marin has to offer and award winning Kentfield School District!

The home is 3,439 sq. ft. (per architectural drawings) on a 0.8976 acre lot (per tax records).
4. Tam View DSC_8908
5. Master Bed DSC_9030
6. DSC00895_1
8. Entry DSC_8939
9. Lawn DSC_8903
11. DSC00850_1

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