San Francisco Social Diary: San Francisco Opera Opens with Bellini’s Norma

The 2014 San Francisco Opera Gala kicked off the season with Bellini’s dramatic bel canto masterpiece, Norma.

By Jeanne Lawrence

SAN FRANCISCO – The fall philanthropic, social, and cultural season begins here right after Labor Day. It’s the busiest week in the city, with the opening night of the Symphony and the Opera.

The Opera’s highly anticipated opening night event is possibly one of the grandest in the world, a not-to-be-missed mix of music and drama, glamour and excitement.

Continue reading

Shanghai Social Diary: Chongming, the Eco Island of Shanghai

On a visit to the ecological island of Chongming, near Shanghai, my group visited Dao Zhong Dao, a stunning concept hotel and restaurant.

By Jeanne Lawrence

CHONGMING, THE ECO ISLAND OF SHANGHAI

After a late arrival on a flight from the U.S. to Shanghai, I awoke the next morning to an enticing email invitation to Chongming Island. My friend, French architect Jean-Pierre Heim, wanted me to join a group visiting his hotel project there.

The alluvial island, also called Eco-Island, formed from silt and rock, is in the Yangtze River Delta and had long been on my must-see list.

But Heim’s group was leaving in only two hours! I abandoned my plan to spend a few days recovering from jet lag and was soon out the door.

Continue reading

Shanghai Social Diary: Shanghai Conservatory of Music, in the Former Shanghai Jewish Club

Our group of supporters in front of the Shanghai Jewish Club, now part of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

SHANGHAI SOCIAL DIARY
By Jeanne Lawrence

SHANGHAI CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC, IN THE FORMER SHANGHAI JEWISH CLUB

Two American friends, architect Ben Wood and international attorney Barry McComic included me in a planning committee hoping to renovate the former Shanghai Jewish Club, now used by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Their idea was to preserve the historic building as a useful performance space.

SHANGHAI JEWISH CLUB

Founded by Russian Jews in 1932, the Jewish Club produced ballet, chorus, drama, and concert performances. It moved several times before settling at its present location in 1947.

The club and its grounds are today used by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, founded in 1927, the first music institution of higher education in China.

Continue reading

Shanghai Social Diary: Shanghai Dining

One of my favorite activities in China is sampling authentic regional food, such as the Shanghainese fare of Jesse Restaurant, a favorite among tourists and locals alike.

SHANGHAI SOCIAL DIARY: SHANGHAI DINING
By Jeanne Lawrence

One of the great pleasures of traveling, to me, is the chance to sample the extraordinary variety of cuisines around the world. Some of the most exotic meals I’ve ever tasted were in Asia, thanks to Chinese friends who made sure I didn’t overlook any of the best dishes on the menu.

AUTHENTIC SHANGHAI CUISINE AT JESSE RESTAURANT

I’m savoring the memory of a whirlwind two-week “culinary discovery” trip of Asia with stops in Hong Kong, Taipei [Taiwan], Singapore, and Shanghai, organized by George Chen, the restaurateur behind San Francisco’s Betelnut and Shanghai 1930.

George’s latest project is China Live, an upscale Chinese food emporium (à la New York’s Italian Eataly), planned for SF Chinatown. (I’ll be sharing details on this highly anticipated attraction in an upcoming column.)

Our first restaurant stop in Shanghai was the “original” Jesse, a “hole in the wall” that draws hordes of locals and foreigners in search of traditional Shanghainese cuisine.

Our group of culinary adventurers included Stephanie Lawrence, Richard Miyashiro, Cecilia Chiang, George’s wife Cindy Chen, George Chen, and Jeanne Lawrence.

Continue reading

Shanghai Social Diary: Culinary Adventures in Shanghai

When in Shanghai, I love trying foods both new and traditional. One of my favorites is Beggar’s Chicken, one of the famous dishes of China.

SHANGHAI SOCIAL DIARY: CULINARY ADVENTURES IN SHANGHAI
By Jeanne Lawrence

One of the many reasons I travel is to taste the various cuisines of the world. In Shanghai, I’ve had the opportunity to entertain and dine with my friends in a variety of venues. In this dispatch, I’ve picked a few dining experiences that were special.


LUNCH WITH FASHION DESIGNER HAN FENG

On a lovely Saturday afternoon, I met up with my friend Han Feng, the peripatetic designer of fashions, opera sets, and costumes, who spends alternating months in New York City and Shanghai.

Han Feng and I had lunch at the luxury Andaz Hotel in Shanghai’s Xintiandi neighborhood in the former French Concession.

Continue reading