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Gift A Feast

New Year's traditions around the world
By Gypsy Achong

New Year's TraditionsIf you live in - or hail from - the Southern United States, you probably eat pork, black-eyed peas and greens for good luck on New Year's Day. If you live in Charleston, South Carolina, you might have your pork and black-eyed peas in the form of Hoppin' John. And if you live anywhere else on the planet, you probably have your very own New Year's tradition to ensure that the coming year will be a good one. Here are a few of our favorite New Year's traditions from around the world. What are your favorites?

Lucky Foods

  • Dutch tradition: Eat ring-shaped treats (think donuts) to symbolize "coming full circle," leading to good fortune.

  • Spanish tradition: Eat 12 grapes at midnight.

  • Indian & Pakistani tradition: Eat rice for prosperity.

  • Jewish tradition (Rosh Hashanah): Eat apples dipped in honey.

  • Swiss tradition: Drop whipped cream on the floor (and leave it there) to symbolize the richness of the year to come.

Symbolic Gifts

  • Roman tradition: Give gilded nuts or coins to mark the new year. Would Rustic Bakery's cheese coins in our Feast of Appetizers count?

  • Persian tradition: Exchange eggs, the symbol of fertility

  • Scottish tradition: Exchange coal, shortbread and silverware for good luck.

Traditional Beverages

  • English/Gaelic tradition: Drink Wassail (a hot mulled cider) while wassailing (singing and drinking) to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year

  • Dutch tradition: Make a toast with hot, spiced wine

Wishful Thinking

  • Colombian tradition: Carry an empty suitcase around the block to ensure a travel-filled year.

  • Danish tradition: Jump off a chair at midnight on New Year's Eve to banish bad spirits and bring good luck. Also, throw old plates and glasses against loved ones doors to welcome the new year.

  • Filipino tradition: To ensure prosperity in the New Year, display round fruits on the New Year's Eve dinner table and/or eat 12 fruits at midnight (grapes work), preferably while wearing polka dots.

  • South American tradition: Wear red underpants to attract love in the coming year, or yellow to attract money.

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Six Folsom Street favorites
By Gypsy Achong

Folsom Street FavoritesIndian Summer has arrived in San Francisco, which means it's festival season. During September and October, the Bay Area plays host to numerous outdoor events, including the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass free music festival in Golden Gate Park, Fleet Week featuring the Blue Angels, and Folsom Street Fair, aka the "daddy" of all leather celebrations. And one of these festivals is not like the others.

Folsom Street Fair is decidedly NSFW (not safe/suitable for work), and definitely not a family-friendly event. But it is an integral part of San Francisco's history and identity. While I wouldn't bring my kids to the Folsom Street Fair, its recurrence each year reminds me to revisit some of my favorite places on Folsom Street.

Citizen's Band

Decorated with old CB radios on shelves, this place may look like a diner, but it eats like a fine restaurant. Featuring upscale American comfort food, the hipster haven in the gritty SOMA district fuses white tablecloth-caliber food with the kitsch of a classic American diner. Their brunch is outstanding, the poutine and the lobster roll are always satisfying, and the mac and cheese is a must-have. 1198 Folsom @ 8th

Basil Canteen

Basil Canteen is easy to confuse with its sister restaurant, Basil Thai, just a few blocks away, but Basil Canteen's brick interior, tall ceilings and natural light give it an open, airy ambiance that sets it apart. The food is also fantastic. My kids love the taro fries and tapioca dumplings, and I can't stop ordering the Choo Chee Salmon. Topped with cauliflower and onions sauteed in a lemongrass red curry sauce, the pan-roasted salmon is crispy on the outside while remaining juicy and tender inside. And the bananas with coconut ice cream are absolutely worth the extra calories. 1480 Folsom @ 11th

Sextant Coffee Roasters

I have only recently discovered this upstart coffee shop, and I'm already a regular. They roast their own beans on-site and serve single-origin, hand-poured, drip coffee to order. It's a little off the beaten path, so it's less crowded than Sightglass, which is a few blocks away, on 7th. I often take advantage of the free wi-fi here, as well as the outdoor back patio with mosaic-style tables, succulent plants and shade umbrellas. 1415 Folsom @ 10th


These next three favorites aren't officially Folsom Street establishments, but they're all worth the one-block detour.

Gaslamp Café

This is my go-to lunch spot from the office, because I'm addicted to their grilled cheese sandwich with tomato-basil soup. My daughter swears it's the best soup she's ever had, and even though she's only 4.5 years old, she has a lot of soup tasting under her belt. 1599 Howard @ 12th

Una Pizza Napoletana

The owner here spent time making pizza in Napoli and is obsessive about producing pizza like he made there. It's not fast or cheap, but it's absolutely worth the wait and the price tag. 210 11th @ Howard

SOMA StrEat Food Park

At this casual, outdoor venue, you have a plethora of international food options at your finger tips, with beer, cocktails and sangria available. They sometimes show 49ers games on the big screen, and the line-up of food trucks changes enough that there's almost always something new to try. 428 11th @ Division

Father's Day restaurant recommendations
By Gypsy Achong

Father's Day Restaurant RecommendationsDid you miss Father's Day this year? We did. But luckily Parents' Day is the 4th Sunday of July. So if you missed Father's Day like we did, here are some ideas for a Parents' Day celebration at Father-friendly establishments.

Hog & Rocks

Specializing in every Father's favorite food groups, San Francisco's first ham and oyster bar boasts an impressive collection of Dad's preferred beverage: whisky. Hog & Rocks is the perfect place to indulge dad's love of cured pork. Can't decide between the Tennessee ham, Spanish Serrano, and Italian Prosciutto? Order the Ham Tasting Plate. Not sure whether you'd prefer the Pickering Pass (Washington), Kusshi (British Columbia), Beausoleil (New Brunswick), or Kumamoto (Washington) varieties? Mix and match to your heart's delight, and pair your pig and oysters with an Old Fashioned, a Cucumber Mint Collins, or a Smoky Strawberry Balsamic Margarita. / / 3431 19th Street


This Bavarian-inspired beer hall in the heart of San Francisco's financial district is one of the city's oldest restaurants. Founded in 1893, rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake, and refurbished last year, Schroeder's Restaurant features German beers and food, ranging from the traditional Sauerbraten of braised beef, red cabbage, bacon, grapes, and potato dumpling to the contemporary Charred Artichokes with fava beans, creamed greens, and wheat berries. Dad will not only get a chance to dine on meat and potatoes, he can wash it all down with a boot full of Spaten beer. / / 240 Front Street 

Tap 415

If Dad's likes sports, but not loud, rowdy crowds, Tap 415 is the best place to watch the game together. With more than a dozen TV screens that can each be tuned to the sportsball match of your choice, you and dad can bond over your hometown team, no matter where you're from. And because Tap 415 is tucked away on the 4th floor of the Westfield Mall, the drunken masses haven't yet discovered it. The food is a big step up from your typical sports bar menu, and the craft beer list and cocktail selections are similarly impressive. / / 845 Market Street, 4th Floor

Off the Grid: Picnic at the Presidio

Remember how dad was always saying, "Go out and play!" Take his advice and take him to the Presidio on Sunday for Off the Grid's Picnic at the Presidio. With more than 35 food and beverage vendors, live music, bocce ball, and Bloody Mary drink kits, dad's sure to approve of your choice of venue. Bring a blanket, arrive any time after 11am, and stick around as late as 4pm to enjoy the view of the Golden Gate bridge, until the fog rolls in. / / Presidio, Main Post Lawn, Montgomery & Lincoln

The Cognac Room at Gaspar Brasserie

If Dad's a fan of brandy, he'll want to check out the Cognac Room at Gaspar Brasserie, which offers the largest selection of brandy cocktails in San Francisco. The brand-new bar-centric concept is unmistakably masculine, with polished brass bars, rich leather seating, low ceilings, and vintage light fixtures. The intimate space accommodates 40, giving it a feeling of exclusivity. / / 185 Sutter

Gift A Feast's Administrative Professional Day Pinterest Contest
By Gypsy Achong

Administrative Professionals Day Pinterest contestAdministrative Professional's Day is coming up and we've pulled together a list of our favorite gifts. Have we missed any great ideas? Let us know and we'll Gift A Feast for Toffee Lovers to you and someone you choose! Here's how the contest works:

  1. 1. Follow us on Pinterest
  2. 2. Create a Pinterest board for your favorite gifts for administrative professionals
  3. 3. Pin 10 (or more) gifts you'd love to give or receive. Please share your 2 favorite options from www.giftafeast.com
  4. 4. Use the hashtag #GAFAdminDayContest for each pin
  5. 5. Re-pin this image & paste a link to your board in the comments beneath this image on Pinterest by April 15, 2015


Official Rules

  1. 1. Sponsor
    These are the Official Rules for Gift A Feast’s Administrative Professional Day Pinterest Contest (the “Contest”). The sponsor and administrator of this Contest is Gift A Feast, 489 Douglass Street, San Francisco, CA 94114.
  2. 2. Eligibility
    The Contest is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States (including District of Columbia) (the “Territory”) who are at least eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry. Employees of and suppliers to Gift A Feast and the immediate family (i.e. spouse, parents, siblings and children) and household members of employees of and suppliers to Gift A Feast are not eligible. All applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited. Participation constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to these Official Rules and Gift A Feast's decisions, which are final and binding in all matters related to the Contest.
  3. 3. Entry Period
    The Contest begins on April 6, 2015, at approximately 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time ("PST") and ends on April 15, 2015, at 11:59 p.m. PST.
  4. How to Enter the Contest
    To enter the Contest, user must be a registered member of Pinterest. If user is not a registered member of Pinterest, please visit http://pinterest.com to register for an account. Registration for and use of Pinterest and other Pinterest applications are subject to Pinterest’ s terms and conditions and Sponsor has no responsibility with respect to Pinterest registration and use. This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Pinterest. 
    • Follow Gift A Feast’s official Pinterest page @giftafeast (http://pinterest.com/giftafeast).
    • Create a Pinterest board for your favorite gifts for administrative professional and pin 10 (or more) gifts you'd love to give or receive. Please include at least 2 options from Gift A Feast (www.giftafeast.com).
    • Use the hashtag #GAFAdminDayContest for each pin.
    • Re-pin the Contest image to your entry Pin board and paste a link to your board in the comments beneath the Contest image on the Contest Pinterest board (https://www.pinterest.com/giftafeast/great-gifts-for-your-administrative-professional/) by the close of the Contest Period.
    • Incomplete entries are void. Sponsor is not responsible for lost or misdirected entries or entries not received by the close of the Contest Period. 
  5. 4. Prize
    The winner will receive A Feast for Toffee Lovers shipped to their address and to an address of their choosing. Actual Retail Value of prize: $129.90. The Prize is non-transferable, and no substitution or cash redemption or equivalent will be permitted except at the Sponsor’s sole discretion. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute any product in the Prize for one of equal or greater value if the designated Prize should become unavailable for any reason. The Prize will be mailed within approximately 1 week from the end of the Contest Period. Winners are responsible for all taxes and fees associated with Prize receipt and/or use. Odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible Entries received. 
  6. 5. Winner Drawings and Notification
    One winner will be randomly selected within 3 days of the close of the Contest Period. Gift A Feast will notify the winner via Pinterest. The winner will be required to respond to the announcement within 72 hours from the time Sponsor sends the notification in order to claim the Prize. If the winner cannot be contacted or fails to respond within the required time period or fails to comply with any other term of these Official Rules, the winner forfeits the Prize. Winning is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements of these Official Rules. Prizes will be fulfilled within 3 days after winner verification.
  7. 6. Entrant’s Personal Information
    By entering the Contest, you agree to all of the terms and conditions of Gift A Feast's Privacy Policy, which is available at http://www.giftafeast.com/privacy-policy.
  8. 7. Release
    By participating, you agree to release and hold harmless Gift A Feast from and against any claim or cause of action, including, but not limited to, personal injury, death, or damage to or loss of property arising out of entrant’s participation in this Contest or receipt or use or misuse of any Prize, as well as or any claim or cause of action based on publicity rights, infringement of intellectual property, defamation, or invasion of privacy arising from any materials you have submitted in connection with your participation in this Contest.
  9. 8. Limitations of Liability
    Gift A Feast is not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by you, printing errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest; (2) technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; (3) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Contest; (4) technical or human error which may occur in the offer or administration of the Contest, including but not limited to errors in the advertising, Official Rules, selection and announcement of the winners and distribution of the prizes or the processing of entries; (5) any inability of any winner to accept or use any prize for any reason; or (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from your participation in the Contest or receipt or use or misuse of any prize.
  10. 9. Disputes
    Except where prohibited, entrant agrees that: (1) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Contest or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively in San Francisco; (2) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this Promotion, but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (3) under no circumstances will entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim, indirect, punitive, incidental and consequential damages and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of the entrant and Gift A Feast in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of California without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of California or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of California. 
Celebrate Fairy Tale Day!
By Gypsy Achong

Celebrate Fairy Tale DayAdmit it. Once upon a time, you loved fairy tales. In fact, you probably still do. And even if you don't, you can pretend this week, because Thursday was Fairy Tale Day.

To celebrate this most charming event, we thought we'd share a few of our favorite Fairy Tales, for all ages.

For the littlest princes and princesses, we recommend My First Fairy Tales by Nicola Baxter (author) and Jo Parry (illustrator). It includes eight delightful picture stories that appeal to kids from 2 to 7 years old. Our kids particularly love "I Don't Want To Be A Frog," a board book about a feisty young frog who longs to be something different, and his stubborn but cute attempts to prove himself right. 

Speaking of Princes and Princesses, we're big fans of the classic Disney fairy tales, including Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We're even bigger fans of a few fairy tales that Disney has yet to animate. In fact, we still have our childhood copies of The Princess and the Pea and The Three Bears, and children have practically memorized them.

When they get a little older, some kids fall for the scary fairy tales, with evil characters and dangerous situations. I recommend starting with Three Little Pigs (scary wolf), then moving on to Little Red Riding Hood (even scarier wolf!), and finally to Hansel and Gretel (scary witch + evil, horrid stepmother!!).

I never quite outgrew my love of fairy tales, and lucky for me, there are grown-up fairy tales to pamper my inner princess.  I'm also enjoying the TV series Once Upon a Time, which features a cast of fairy tale characters living in present day Maine who don't realize they're fairy tale characters, or that their Mayor is the evil queen. Pretty Woman is a fun modern fairy tale I return to every few years, and our entire family can't get enough of cult classic The Princess Bride. In fact, the Castro Theatre in San Francisco recently hosted a Princess Bride quote-along with a Q&A and guest appearance by Cary Elwes, who played Westley, aka "The Dread Pirate Roberts."

Happy Fairy Tale Day!

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