Scenes from Singapore: Fashion, Food, and Why I’d Go Back for More

Earlier last month, while traveling to the Philippines for a family wedding, my husband, Edric, and I made a weekend pit stop through Singapore on the way back to San Francisco. I didn’t have the most accurate picture of this Southeast Asian island nation, other than the unfortunate news accounts that stuck of the unusual corporal punishments one might receive by the government should you sully their pristine sidewalks with chewing gum.

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Our view of the Singapore skyline from Marina Bay. Photos by Edric Itchon.

While planning our trip from Manila, some Filipino relatives had even warned us about shiny Singapore being “soul-less” in comparison to gritty historic Manila. It would seem Singapore’s sterile cleanliness was the biggest impression left in the minds of foreign travelers I had encountered—a bias that lingered before having ever seen the place.

When we arrived, were happily surprised, entertained, and generally taken by our experience there. Yes, it’s true. Singapore is very, very clean. I can hardly remember coming across a single piece of litter or graffiti while strolling around the city—not necessarily a bad thing in my mind. Although the “no durian” signs plastered throughout the metro stations were definitely amusing!

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Hayes Valley shops keep charm amid rapid growth

As seen in the San Francisco Chronicle July 10, 2011

Illustration courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

Nerissa Pacio Itchon, Special to The Chronicle

With the burst of activity happening in Hayes Valley lately, it’s hard to believe this bustling San Francisco neighborhood has nary a Starbucks in sight. From the groundbreaking of the $50 million SF Jazz Center and the opening of high-end spin-offs to several existing boutiques, to the new restaurant flurry and more to come, one might expect to find shoppers – Venti Mocha Frappuccinos in hand – walking their well-groomed labradoodles.

But ask anyone who knows this charmingly compact, decidedly big-chain-averse neighborhood and they’ll assure you that although the Valley is growing rapidly, its personality is definitively intact.
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Melissa and Catie Grimm grow boutique from the ground up

In addition to running Carrots in San Francisco, sisters Melissa (left) and Catie Grimm write the blog Carrot Talk, where they mix their passions for fashion and food. Photography by Russell Yip / The Chronicle

As seen in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nerissa Pacio Itchon, Special to The Chronicle

One look at the Grimm sisters’ blog Carrot Talk, and it’s obvious that their love of food and fashion go hand in hand.

As scions of the Central Valley Grimmway baby carrots empire and co-owners of Jackson Square’s aptly named Carrots boutique, Melissa and Catie Grimm pepper posts about their latest designer discoveries with ebullient food musings – from restaurant raves to gourmet recipes they’ve tried at home.

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Best of Date Night: Nojo and Chambers Eat + Drink

Outside Nojo ("farm" in Japanese) on Franklin and Hayes streets in San Francisco. All photos by Edric Itchon.

Friday was date night and I headed out with my husband Edric to hit up Nojo, a Japanese-izakaya-inspired restaurant in Hayes Valley that’s been getting glowing reviews. Luckily all the hype was spot on, and we enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve had in SF in a while. While this isn’t a food blog, I felt compelled to post photos of chef Greg Dunmore’s sleek and contemporary yet cozy joint that does Japanese pub food—and just about everything else—right. From the juicy grilled chicken skewers and farm-to-table pickled veggies, to the cooks sporting cheeky “Support Your Local Nojo” statement tees in the open kitchen, Nojo is definitely a place I’d come back again and again. For more details, check out Michael Bauer’s review from the Chronicle here.

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The Chronicle’s New Style Section, Plus What’s Hot in Hayes Valley

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday Style section is re-launching this spring with a new look as it merges with its shinier cousin SFIS, the pullout style monthly the Chronicle has published in limited circulation. The marriage will hopefully result in a better, glossier weekly that will have a more design-y feel, added  color, and high-profile features on fashion, people, parties, and design.

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Rain and Shine: Junior League of San Francisco Fashion Show Launch Party

The Junior League of San Francisco never lets a little rain come down on their parade. Proof positive? Last night’s poppin’ launch party for the 85th Annual “A Fashionable Legacy” Fashion Show Gala . Partygoers came out to the swank One Leidesdorff in high-heeled droves braving wind-blown ’dos and soggy weather for the shindig, which featured a silent auction, live ’80s cover band, apps and cocktails.

Partygoers danced, drank, and bid on silent auction items at One Leidesdorff in SF's Financial District. All photos courtesy of Moanalani Jeffrey.

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What I Love About Greece: Baklava, Yogurt, and Korres

View from my desk today: Korres' Spring Lip Collection and Oak Collection, launching mid-February.

Its economy might be tanking, and, sure the country’s been experiencing what might be euphemistically called a bit of social unrest. But from a total American outsider’s perspective, Greece still has these three things going for it: baklava, yogurt, and Korres.

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Hot Summer Sales: Union Street and Barneys New York

The Fall collections are already hitting stores, which means a boon for any of you looking to refresh your warm weather wardrobes. Retailers are unloading summer stock to make room starting today with more than 100 shops in the Marina at the annual Union Street Sidewalk Sale.

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Bridal Bliss: Hayley and Lindon tie the knot in St. Helena

Photography by Tanja Lippert.

I first met Hayley Seed a few years ago when I was still fashion editor at 7×7 magazine. Not long after I arrived, Hayley joined the staff as the events manager in charge of throwing all of our fabulous parties. Since part of my job entailed covering the city’s party scene, our worlds—and most of our after-five outings—overlapped, and we became fast friends. Bonding ensued when my husband Edric proposed three months after her engagement to Lindon, and for the next nine months, as we stressed over wedding planning, we became a support group of two.

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Birthday Treats: Oysters, Chocolate Souffle and Healdsburg’s New H2 Hotel

The view of Tomales Bay from Hog Island Oyster Farm.

Wednesday was my birthday, and as hard as I tried to ignore it, I ended up enjoying it so much that I’ve given in to the idea of a wholly unproductive Birth Week.  It all started with an indulgent weekday surprise planned by my husband: a barbecue picnic near Tomales Bay at the picturesque Hog Island Oyster Farm followed by a lovely overnight stay at the new H2 Hotel in Healdsburg.

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