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The Best of the Bay Area

It’s back: Our annual celebration of everything that makes for a boldly adventurous, blissfully playful, truly wonderful life here at the edge of the continent.

Comfort foods you can get only once a week
It’s a far cry from the school cafeteria food calendar (Monday: corn dogs; Friday: fish sticks and tater tots) that we grew up with, but many Bay Area restaurants have a dish so special that they make it only one day a week. We picked seven that break up the monotony of adult working life–get ready to start looking forward to Mondays again.

Monday In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a reason it’s tough to snag a reservation on Monday nights at A16: the meatballs, beautifully executed Italian classics with deep, mellow flavor. Paired with a good glass of red, they make Monday blissful.
2355 Chestnut St., S.F., 415-771-2216

Tuesday A local fishmonger calls the owners of Mirepoix early on Tuesday mornings to let them know what the best catch of the day is. And that’s the fish they ladle out, along with mussels, clams, and a saffron aioli, in their practically perfect Tuesday night bouillabaisse. 275 Windsor River Rd., Windsor, 707-838-0162

Wednesday Dry Creek Kitchen’s prix fixe ($35 for adults, $20 for kids), hump-day only Family BBQ Night features family-style platters—laden with tri tip, watercress salad, and peach pie—in its outdoor courtyard or on Hotel Healdsburg’s screened porch. 317 healdsburg ave., healdsburg, 707-431-0330

Thursday You gotta love a traditional neighborhood pub that’s into organic, local, sustainably produced ingredients. Especially one like Magnolia, where they make fried chicken from free-range, sustainably raised local birds—with local, organic mashed potatoes and greens on the side. 1398 Haight St., S.F., 415-864-7468

Friday The jubilant cherry cookies from Teacake Bakeshop are like good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies that collided with Cherry Garcia, loaded with Callebaut semisweet chocolate and cherries and scented with bourbon vanilla. 5615 Bay St., Emeryville, 510-655-0865

Saturday Those who’ve tried chef Brandon Peacock’s rich, sweet, slightly hot cherry cola baby back ribs at Home on Saturdays have been known to crave them all week. 2100 Market St., S.F., 415-503-0333

Sunday Simmered slowly with white wine, garlic, olive oil, and stewed tomatoes and topped with tangy feta, the mouthwatering green beans at Dino’s come from his Greek mom’s secret recipe. 2101 Fillmore St., S.F., 415-922-4700

Summer camp counsel
Judy’s best camps for the adventurous teen.
By the time school lets out, parents need a summer break of their own, and shipping the brood off to camp is a win-win. But why send them to the same old camp every year? Kids have standards, too. Bay Area parents in the know call San Rafael’s Judy Wiesen, of Student Camp and Trip Advisors, to find the best fit for their offspring. Maybe your son or daughter wants to volunteer to harvest wheat and bake bread in Peru, play Hamlet or Ophelia, study a language abroad, water-ski, or learn to play the tuba—whatever their choice of activity, there is a camp that offers it. Wiesen and her colleagues have the dirt on about 700 summer programs around the world. And best of all, the advice is free because the camps pay a service commission. “I get feedback from every kid or their parents,” says Wiesen, “and my colleagues or I have been to the programs, so we can give them the lowdown on the real experience.” Here are seven of her favorites. Call for more information: 415-454-5441, JudyWiesen@aol.com.

Carmel Valley Tennis Camp It made Tennis magazine’s top five for good reason: during one- and two-week sessions, campers learn sportsmanship and tennis skills through three hours or more of lessons and match play each day, broken up by basketball, swimming, and sand volleyball. Evening activities include night hikes, karaoke, and Jeopardy night.

Where There Be Dragons These trips to Latin America and Asia immerse teens in third-world cultures, where they learn the language and customs, do community service, and take rugged treks exploring the terrain. Trips last from four to six weeks and boast a counselor-camper ratio of 1:4.

Westcoast Connection There’s something for everyone here, so take your pick. Options include sightseeing in North America and Europe, language study in French and Spanish, community service for the Sierra Club or Habitat for Humanity in the United States and Latin America, and sports-related trips (like a tour of 12 baseball stadiums in two weeks) in North America.

Go Adventure Sonoma County offers outdoor trips for teens, schools, and groups in the western U.S. and Costa Rica. Trips last one to two weeks and concentrate on fun, skill building, group dynamics, and adventure. At $275 to $3,150, they're one of the best values.

Camp Trinity Located on the Bar 717 Ranch in breathtaking Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Trinity extols the “pioneer traditions of the family”: cooperation, resourcefulness, and sharing. Over two or three weeks, campers ride and learn how to handle horses, garden, square dance, swim in the river, and wrangle with the ropes course.

Coppercreek Camp Ten miles east of Lake Almanor in the northern Sierra Nevada, Coppercreek’s traditional camp channels The Parent Trap. Kids build confidencae doing activities they choose—including golf, wakeboarding, archery, and pottery—during one-, two-, and four-week sessions.

Adventure Treks These reasonably priced two-to-four-week wilderness programs in the western United States and Canada take students backpacking, white-water rafting, sea kayaking, sailing, and rock climbing. Students return year after year, building on previous trips—something the camp claims is a huge boon to college applications.

Custom apparel
Without leapfrogging up a few tax brackets, most of us can’t have a closet full of tailored clothes. But oh, how we covet them—the detailed stitching, the perfect fit, the timeless quality. Whether you were blessed with a long torso, extrawide feet, or a big booty, these seven pairs of talented hands can stitch anything from a ball gown to a pair of boots just for you—or rework what you already have to make it fit like a glove.

Vintage to order There’s no point in owning a gorgeous, where’d-you-get-that item of clothing if you never actually don it because it doesn’t fit. Noe Valley designer Jan Warnock can ensure that won’t happen. Pick a piece from her chic, feminine collection, and she’ll take measurements, make it in your choice of fabric, schedule a fitting to refine the size, and add a unique detail or two, vintage buttons, and a contrasting lining of your choice.
415-706-6040,

Custom gowns
Attention, brides-to-be: you already know Monique and Vera, but if their dresses would swallow up half your wedding budget, let us introduce you to Theresa LaQuey, who has been making custom vintage-style wedding and special-occasion gowns for 18 years. She specializes in 1930s Hollywood-style gowns, but she can turn out styles from just about any era. Whether you’re looking for a simple ivory sheath, a gown bedecked with 150,000 beads, or a tour de force with a skirt made entirely of feathers, she’ll come through for you. Bridal gowns start at $1,300.
510-635-6554, decomodiste@hotmail.com

Beautiful kicks Suzanne George Shoes’ made-to-measure footwear is so elegant, you’d never know to look for it in an orthopedic shop. The majority of her customers are folks who have given up on regular stores, but she’s really an artisan for anyone who wants the perfect pair of shoes—from boots made with antique military wool crepe to red kid leather pumps. She works out of Fonda’s Custom Orthopedic Shoes, whose 83-year-old Italian owner, Pietro Fonda, once made sandals for Mother Teresa. Her shoes won’t make you a saint, but they will make you feel like you can walk on air.
1787 Church St., S.F., 415-775-1775

Couture for tykes Kid couture might sound ridiculous, but what if your offspring is a budding Yves Saint Laurent or Anne Klein? Students at Wee Scotty’s “fashion school” do the designing and sewing themselves, learning how to choose fabrics, follow patterns, and create custom clothes with their own hands (and a sewing machine). For the less crafty, owner Lynne Gallagher will custom fit items from her retail line as needed.
415-345-9200

Old-school tailor Who knew that the city’s best-kept secret in affordable tailoring was sitting under our noses on Grant Avenue? Al’s Attire has an old-fashioned-sounding name, and Al Ribaya can certainly do old-fa tch together more than a hundred contrasting swatches to make an intricately constructed jacket, or create a beautiful everyday coat with a bright lining and piping. The prices are shockingly reasonable for such high-quality work, and Ribaya brings considerable skill and knowledge of fabric, cut, and lining to every garment. 1314 Grant Ave., S.F., 415-693-9900

Alterations
Whether she’s tailoring a couture evening gown or simply stitching a humble hem, Emanuela Palazzo brings old-world precision to her work. She learned the art in her native Italy, worked for years at Neiman Marcus and Chanel, and for the past 10 years has been operating her own studio (Moda) on Geary Street in Union Square. She’s a lovely woman, and there seems to be no project beyond her capabilities. (She’s currently re-creating the elaborate gown Helen Mirren wore to the Oscars for a local society mother-of-the-bride.) After Palazzo works her magic on an item, it will truly fit like a glove. 166 Geary St., Ste. 1202, S.F., 415-398-8010

Pants Finding pants that fit beautifully off the rack is practically impossible, which is why Lucy & Lily is such a killer find. The San Francisco custom pants company employs a proprietary technology called Alter.dot to create a unique pattern for each customer and then builds pants from scratch based on the style (choose from seven sassy designs), fabric, color, and details preferred. Time-saving bonus: repeat customers don’t need additional fittings, unless they’ve been running marathons or eating too many cookies—all patterns are kept in the Lucy & Lily database.
444 Townsend St., S.F., 415-978-9550