“What would you like for your birthday?” her husband wondered.
“A long weekend in Los Angeles,” was the reply.
Husband Tom Escher is the San Francisco owner of the Red and White Fleet, a family-owned, sightseeing and charter tour company operating in the San Francisco Bay area dating back to 1892.
Tom is building the largest hybrid electric boat in the U.S. that will accomodate 600 passengers.
Tom wanted to please his wife Paula for her 70th birthday.
An heiress of the Beaulieu Vineyard, Paula Sullivan Escher is the beautiful and stylish great granddaughter of Beaulieu founder Georges de Latour, the French-born chemist who, in 1900, discovered the microclimates in the Napa Valley for growing the best cabernet sauvignon grapes.
Latour changed the shape of wine-making in America and created his award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, which came in first over French wines in a special tasting in Paris. Our French brothers were not amused.
After his death Paula’s grandmother, the Marquise Helene de Latour de Pins oversaw and operated the vineyard to illustrious distinction. She was not one to boast about power women, she just did her job superbly.
We became best friends, and celebrated many Christmases together with her and the family which included Paula and her siblings. We have a fond memory of being with Paula during her debut in her teens at the annual San Francisco Cotillion. Where the jewelled dowagers with their lorgnettes admire the white-gowned beauties and their escorts wearing white ties and tails.
Paula and Tom are among San Francisco’s charming and successful couples. Connoisseurs of the good life, they live in the City, Napa Valley and Monbrun, France. Their devotion to food and wine remains unending.
Traveling on all continents, they pursued the best tables and “joints,” as they like to say.
“Please, let’s get this straight … we are not food snobs,” says Tom. “We enjoy a Mexican vendor with a lovely taco, as much as the white tablecloth dining rooms.”
Paula’s curiosity about Los Angeles, she says, is the booming downtown community with its exciting chefs, artisan shops.
They motored South in their brand new Tesla and arrived at the Omni Hotel, which they found “very comfortable, and ideal for walking to wherever they anticipated visiting.”
Although their first dinner was arranged at e. baldi in Beverly Hills, having heard so much about Edoardo Baldi’s cooking, and consequently they looked forward to meeting him.
“Isn’t good food always the simplest, without any frou-frou.” adds Tom.
Edoardo’s kitchen was up to the task with it’s fine quality of items. Al dente pastas, fresh Dover sole and branzino, and not to be missed they insisted, are his desserts.
“The restaurant’s a gem,” Paula told Edoardo, and thanked him, as polite guests do, as well as acknowledging the dining room hostess Elisa Santini and barkeep Everado Santiago, a veteran from Day One, which was eleven years ago.
Paula and Tom were impressed with the Jasper Johns’ exhibition at the Broad Museum, but found the Museum of Contemporary Art rather disappointing.
“Riding the angel’s flight was a delight, and we visited the booming art galleries after our delicious lunches at the Grand Central Market, with some amazing works of art. Fun strolling the busy streets observing the enthusiastic young crowds gossiping, shopping, wining and dining at cafes … a colorful world onto its own that we’ll return to.”
The following night, their tickets led to the Disney Concert Hall, where they admired Frank Gehry’s innovative architecture, for the Thelonius Monk concert with the Monkestra’s sophisticated orchestrations. Which included a cinematic musical experience, along with Dee Dee Bridgewater interpreting Monk’s timeless jazz conducted by John Besley.
It was Monk who winked about his music, “You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?”
Memorable dinners followed at Neal Fraser’s Redbird, a former church with a cathedral ceiling, where they dined with longtime friends, food and wine author/commentator Anthony Dias Blue and wife Kathleen.
Another night, they enjoyed the culinary heritage of chef Tim Hollingsworth at Otium. And to celebrate Paula’s birthday a deux on their last night in Los Angeles, they chose Rossoblu for Steve Samson’s touted cuisine, inspired by his childhood memories of summers in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna. Handmade pastas and other culinary pleasures.
Going home to San Francisco, they stopped at the surprising Kettleman City with its 40 supercharging stations for their Tesla.
“Much as we love living in San Francisco,” reflected Tom about their weekend holiday, “we really live in a village and find that Los Angeles is the Big Kahuna.”
Paula and Tom are People You Should Know.
Happy Birthday, dear Paula, and please come back soon.