San Francisco

Not only is San Francisco one of my favourite cities in the world, it's also one of the world's most popular places for tourists to visit. It's a cultural extravaganza of attractions - eateries, art, music and diverse neighbourhoods - which is why I love it so much! I spent much time here last year filming Cooking Channel's Easy Chinese so I'm going to give you my first-hand recommendations for what to see and where to go, although if you do take my advice on board and visit some of these places don't wear heels - there are far too many hills! - enjoy! x

Painted Ladies - These restored Victorian mansions on Steiner Street in Alamo Square are set against a backdrop of the San Francisco skyline - and they may look a little familiar as they've appeared in many movies which have been filmed in the city - this is a truly great photo opp of the city.

Nob Hill - this is one of San Francisco's signature neighbourhoods, renowned not only for its landmarks and luxury hotels that border Huntington Park, but also for perhaps the best view of San Francisco Bay, especially from a California Street cable car.

Cable cars - First available to the public in 1873, San Francisco's cable cars are a part of the city's make up, first established to overcome the steep hills which wheeled vehicles experienced difficulties with, now they offer a fun way to get around and a leisurely way to soak up the sights.

The Fillmore Jazz Festival - if you time it right, one of the key events to experience is this annual music and culture festival which sees over 100,000 people flock to experience the best talent the Bay has to offer, from up and coming jazz fusion and latin-flavored acts to seasoned crooners belting out jazz standards. This year the festival is will be help July 6th and 7th.

La Taqueria is well documented as the best Taqueria in the Mission district. When I dropped in taco king, Miguel Jara and I cooked up Crispy Fragrant Duck and Asian Pear Salsa Tacos - you will not be disappointed, well worth a visit!

Two other must-do eateries are Mission Pie for its unfussy and seasonally changing pie-centric menu and if you're a fan of fusion food, San Francisco will be your haven and I'm a particular fan of Danny Bowien's Mission Chinese.

Golden Gate Bridge is painted almost constantly. This is because by the time it's been painted, it's time to start painting it again! Also San Francisco's cable cars form the only National Historic Landmark. And my last little factoid... denim jeans were invented in San Francisco, along with the Chinese fortune cookie!

Golden Gate Bridge
This is one of the first spots we filmed in for Easy Chinese: San Francisco. Such an amazing backdrop - the bridge connects continue reading...

Chinatown
To the East of Nob Hill, San Francisco's Chinatown is the biggest outside Asia and the oldest in North America - continue reading...

Zig Zag Street
Zig Zag Street is well worth a visit , it's actually called Lombard Street, but dubbed Zig Zag Street as it's the world's continue reading...

Russian Hill
Again dazzling views here and a little more colloquial than Nob Hill. An amazing array of neighbourhood eateries and boutiques continue reading...

Fisherman's Wharf
The tangy salt air, access to the freshest seafood in San Francisco and display of seafaring excellence makes this area continue reading...

Food trucks
The gourmet food truck movement in San Francisco is buzzing! Most trucks focus on a particular cuisine - indian, japanese continue reading...

For a relaxed daytrip take the ferry to Sausalito, a quaint little village with wonderful open-air cafes, shops and galleries - there's also a wonderful farmers market where you can stock up on fresh produce, bread and freshly cut flowers, 10am - 2pm on Sundays all year round. There are some absolutely charming walks along the waterfront with boats sailing by and the picturesque rows of houses so close to the water's edge they appear to be floating!

I can't help but recommend Tane Chan's famous Wok Shop - Tane really is Mistress of the Wok! We filmed here for Easy Chinese.

A more famous shopping destination would undoubtedly be the hustle and bustle of the nine-storey San Francisco Shopping Center, located only three blocks away from Union Square. With its Japanese-designed spiral escalators and Italian marble, green granite and glass design, the 100 shops in here would tire out even the most hardened shopper!

Clift Hotel - This fabulous hotel is an inspired fusion of old-world hotel elegance with contemporary energy and glamour. An ideal location, Clift Hotel is just steps from Union Square shopping and Nob Hill - an ideal base from which to sightsee, shop and socialise.

The Fairmont - Old school grandeur with exemplary service just moments from Chinatown. This world-renowned hotel has panoramic views of the city and the Bay from the top of Nob Hill. Luxury, luxury, luxury all the way!

The Good Hotel - Good on the purse strings and good for the environment, this vibrant hotel in SoMa is at the hub of good transport links to Union Square and other popular destinations. You can stay here with a conscience due to its reclaimed pine furniture and 'on tap' bicycle hire.

Golden Gate Bridge
This is one of the first spots we filmed in for Easy Chinese: San Francisco. Such an amazing backdrop - the bridge connects San Francisco to California's northern counties, it can get pretty busy with tourists and the weather can be changeable, but it's a truly magnificent landmark and was renovated just last year to honour its 75th anniversary.

Chinatown

To the East of Nob Hill, San Francisco's Chinatown is the biggest outside Asia and the oldest in North America - there are so many treasures to see if you have the time to wander the streets, such as tea guru Stanley 'Uncle' Gee's Vital Tea Leaf (https://vitaltealeaf.net), a tea house which has about 300 teas, including white, green, yellow, red and black, and a "try before you buy" model. There are authentic markets and a diverse array of eateries and if you can stray off the two main roads to see some of the smaller alleys and streets, Waverly Place and Spofford Alley are worth a visit - they're lined with various Chinese associations and social clubs, as well as Ross Alley, home to the Golden Gate Cookie Factory, which has been supplying cookies around the world since 1962. The 2013 Chinese New year Festival and Parade is on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 5:15 pm and you can check out the route in advance here.

Zig Zag Street

Zig Zag Street is well worth a visit , it's actually called Lombard Street, but dubbed Zig Zag Street as it's the world's crookedest street, with eight hairpin bends in just one block! It's a real visual spectacular, especially in the summer when the manicured gardens are at their most colourful and the flowers are in bloom.

Russian Hill

Again dazzling views here and a little more colloquial than Nob Hill. An amazing array of neighbourhood eateries and boutiques spoil all who visit - from distinguished restaurants on leafy Hyde Street and unusual antiques shops, trendy restaurants and night spots on Polk Street, plus with the mini French quarter there's something for everyone.

Fisherman's Wharf

The tangy salt air, access to the freshest seafood in San Francisco and display of seafaring excellence makes this area a must for fish lovers - cooking or eating, or even those simply interested in the maritime heritage. Look out for events here too - from farmers markets to boat cruises there's always something going on!

Food trucks

The gourmet food truck movement in San Francisco is buzzing! Most trucks focus on a particular cuisine - indian, japanese, mexican, you name it and no matter what cuisine they serve, most trucks make use of local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. You'll see them where the people are, near places of work at lunchtime and close to nightlife in the evening. I'm a particular fan of the Chairman Bao Truck, where I made buns with Curtis Lam. You can get a live food trucks map right here!