by Janice Nieder, Dining Diva, and Patty Burness
We were in food and fashion heaven at the opening bash of the Westfield San Francisco Centre—the phenomenal new $460-million transformation of the old Emporium, which thankfully has morphed into BLOOMINGDALE’S and over 170 other specialty stores, a huge theater, and numerous eateries.
It took four floors and a 1.5 million square feet backdrop to set the table for McCall Associates, caterer extraordinaire at this extraordinaire event. Now that’s my kind of all-u-can-eat buffet! We joined the throngs of BP (beautiful people) at the red carpeted entrance where we kept expecting Joan Rivers to shove a mike in our face asking, “Who are you wearing?” We were greeted by adorable tuxedoed waiters offering flutes of bubbly or water…hmmm…wish all of life’s decision were so easy.
After our third glass (bubbly of course!), we decided it was time to reconnoiter and get serious about a plan of attack for sampling all of the food—except we just couldn’t seem to leave the seafood floor! Since Beluga caviar has become almost extinct, our hearts stopped when we saw master tins of the roe surrounded by icy shots of vodka and petite toast points—perfect simplicity. We ran over to the waiter and immediately professed our undying love, to which he replied, “Fat chance—I know you just want me for my eggs.”
Since this obviously wasn’t a love-connection, we turned our attention to the sushi station, where the sushi chefs quickly won our fickle hearts. We kept bowing and pointing as each new delicacy appeared: exotic monk fish liver, uni and red clam. After reviving our palates with sips of saki, we turned our attention to the huge silver vats of jumbo shrimp beckoning from the other side of the room. There we paid homage to the freshly shucked oysters, smoked salmon and green ceviche tostados.
Loosening our belts, we gamefully went upstairs to the more manly “meat” floor featuring baby-tender lamb chops and seared beef filet slices served with dollops of wild mushroom risotto. A condominium-size display of artisanal cheeses offered delights like Abbaye de Belloc to Zamorano (supplied by Bristol Farms, one of the country’s premier specialty food stores making its Northern California debut).
We floated to the tipsy—oops—we mean tippy-top floor to indulge in all the sweeties: rich fudgy brownies, cheesecake bite-lets, and a gorgeous selection of gateaux, interspersed with goblets of picture-perfect berries.
Just to show that (wo) men do not live by bread alone, each floor offered a bit of culture. We were entertained by the San Francisco Ballet School, the San Francisco Opera, a cappella singers, and a rather bi-polar, mixed generational group of go-go dancers in cages grooving to the DJ’s house music.
We paused for a few minutes—OK, it was more like half an hour—mesmerized by two hot studs in silk briefs showing off their perfectly sculpted, six-packing copper-painted bodies performing amazing acrobatic moves. (If there was just some way we could have more Beluga delivered up to us, we could die happy women.)
And now for a fashion bite: women were wearing everything from the latest in skinny jeans to yummy cashmere, with designer frocks making very few appearances. Lots of vintage accent pieces, a few corsets, some wonderful Parisian hats, but all in all, way too many Mademoiselle “dont’s.”
San Francisco is soooo overdue for a Bloomie’s makeover. The “wish I was wearing that” fashionista award for the evening goes to Erin Mahoney. We were thrilled to discover that the Sharon Stone-ish, sultry blonde is a local clothing designer. (Divas: stayed tuned for an in-depth interview with her later.)
The evening might be drawing to a close, but our love affair with Westfield Centre was just beginning. After a few hours’ sleep, we plan on showing up bright and early to do some serious aerobic shopping (if we burn enough calories, we’re going to treat ourselves to some full-on pampering at the Burke Williams Day Spa).
We’ll start with Bebe Sport to pick up some sexy new gym clothes, then on to Fredericks of Hollywood (some of us are décolletage-challenged), and the Metropolitan Museum Art Store for the Nefertiti bracelet that was calling out. After a quick “howdy-do” to both Ruehl (Abercrombie’s upscale offering) and Forthe & Towne (the Gap for grownups), it will be time for lunch.
We might have to do an “eeny, meeny, miney, moe” to choose between our favorite chefs: Bradley Ogden of Lark Creek, Chris Yeo of Straits and Charles Phan of the Slanted Door. But if we’re short on time (more shopping to do, you know!), Westfield Centre tempts us with some of the classiest fast-food around.
We’ll be able to sink our teeth into designer sandwiches at Wichcraft straight out of NYC, skewer our favorites at Askew Grill, or slurp some comforting soup from the San Francisco Soup Company. And of course, a side of Bistro Burgers “frings” (a mixture of french fries and onion rings) will definitely be in order.
Westfield San Francisco Centre certainly lives up to it’s mantra: Foodies and Fashionistas Unite!
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For More Information: westfield.com/sanfrancisco
Westfield San Francisco Centre
865 Market St.
San Francisco CA 94103