Cheese, overhead art and crashing waves

Faves and raves by Robin Marks (Click on the picture to see Robin’s faves!)

PERSONAL STATS

AGE: Older than 30

YEARS IN THE CITY: A dozen

NEIGHBORHOOD: The Richmond

OCCUPATION: Science writer and owner/operator of Discovery Street Tours, offering science-themed walking tours in San Francisco; its website is www.discoverystreettours.com

SELF-DESCRIPTION:
She’s flirted with many other cities but settled on S.F. as her partner: scenery, sociability, savory flavors and a whole bunch of science geeks — what more could a girl want?

FAVORITE PLACE TO BUY INEXPLICABLE GROCERIES

New May Wah Supermarket

WHERE: 707-719 Clement St., at Eighth Avenue

WHAT: The Inner Richmond’s go-to Asian grocery

INFO: (415) 221-9826

I’ve always loved browsing the endless aisles of mystery at New May Wah, offering the exploratory chef in me zillions of untapped possibilities. It became my favorite shop when I asked a clerk once, “Where is your seaweed?” and he responded, “What kind? We have three sections.”

BEST PLACE TO APPRECIATE THE POWER OF EARTHQUAKES

Clara and Shipley streets

WHERE: Between Harrison and Folsom and 5th and 6th streets

WHAT: Evidence of buildings sunken into the SOMA streets

My favorite is at 261 Clara St. — peek beyond the entry gate, and you’ll see the buildings sit about 4 feet below street level. That’s because they have been shaken into place over time by the ol’ San Andreas.

FAVORITE ASTRONOMICAL TIMEKEEPING DEVICE

Ingleside Terraces Sundial

WHERE: Entrada Court at Borica St., Ingleside Terrace

WHAT: When built in 1913, it was the world’s biggest sundial

INFO: www.outsidelands.org/sundial.php

Ah, the irony of a sundial in one of S.F.’s foggiest neighborhoods. Located in the circle of the old Ingleside Race Track, aka Urbano Drive, this beauty has a history worth checking out.

BEST PLACE TO EAT CHEESE

Cheese Plus

WHERE: 2001 Polk St., between Broadway Street and Pacific Avenue

WHAT: Cheese and gourmet purveyor

INFO: (415) 921-2001 or www.cheeseplus.com

Cheese Plus is a great cheese shop that offers local flavor, deep knowledge of our favorite fermented milk products, loyalty to small and local producers and no snooty attitude.

FAVORITE venue for ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT

Ocean Beach

WHERE: Head west until you can’t go any farther — you can’t miss it

WHAT: The only place where the show is always on

INFO: www.parksconservancy.org/visit/park-sites/ocean-beach.html

It never stops down here at Ocean Beach: the waves keep coming 24/7, like they have for millions of years. It makes that previously infuriating email or that “major @#$& up” seem pretty darned insignificant.

MOST ENGAGING STREET ART

Language of the Birds

WHERE: Columbus and Broadway

WHAT: Sculpture of lit-up books, posed like birds, flocking over the intersection, shining on phrases embedded in the sidewalk

INFO: www.metaphorm.org/works/language-of-the-birds

During the day, you might walk right under this sculpture and not even notice it. Cruise by at night, though, and the blinking book-birds are sure to catch your eye and get you pointing.

FAVORITE PLACE TO IMAGINE THE PAST

Ruins of the Sutro Baths

WHERE: Just above the Cliff House on Point Lobos Avenue

WHAT: The leftovers of Adolph Sutro’s grand public bathhouse

INFO: (415) 561-4323 or www.nps.gov/goga/clho.htm

They may not be Roman ruins made of ancient stone, but the concrete and steel leftovers of Sutro’s crazy aquatic entertainment center still offer plenty to think about. The complex was both stunningly beautiful and infuriatingly grandiose: a seven-pool indoor playground with 100,000 square feet of glass and a $1 million (in 1896 dollars) price tag.

MOST UPWARDLY MOTIVATING STAIRCASE

The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project

WHERE: 1700 16th Ave., between Moraga and Noriega streets

WHAT: A long staircase with a winding mosaic that just begs you to walk up

INFO: www.tiledsteps.org

You’ve got to start at the bottom with this staircase and walk up each and every one of the 163 steps. Why? Because no two steps are alike, each being a sliver of a block-long mural that goes from sea to sky as it climbs a windblown hillside in the Sunset. Pause before you climb to look up and just appreciate the swirling beauty.

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