This is your first time back in San Francisco in 1 1/2 years. What have you been up to this time around?
"Yesterday we went to Google, and it was fantastic. It was my second visit to the campus. Marissa Mayer interviewed me in front of the employees, then we had a book signing, a tour, and a viewing of some of the new initiatives they are working on.”
That must have been fun, especially since you're a not-so-in-the-closet techie!
"Oh, I’m out there! I just got my new Android Samsung Galaxy!"
So, is it Android over iPhone for you?
"No, we’re both. We are absolutely both. And I just decided that my best use of this android, to start out, is just movies. I’m going to upload a whole bunch of movies to it because the resolution is excellent and it might be a little more comfortable to hold than the iPad. But, we have all of our magazine apps on the iPad and they’re great. Now we’re working on the Android versions."
Do you gobble up new tech products as soon as they come out, or do you wait a while?
"I hop right on them. I want to get them before anyone else has them."
Besides visiting Google, we also heard you dined at Mission Chinese Food on this trip.
"Yes! We had a big table with 18 people at it. It was right down the center of the restaurant, and they just kept bringing out the most delicious food. My favorite, even though I don't eat it a lot, was the giant veal — it was Canton style. Danny [Bowien] said it was organic, and it was excellent. His rice was amazing, his custard and tofu was very good, and his pickles are all delicious. Molly Chappellet came down from Napa Valley. She’s an old friend of mine and she came with her daughter-in-law, and then Marissa Mayer came with her husband — our whole gang was there.”
Do you have any other must-hit spots during your short stay?
"We’re going back to the Ferry Building today, to see the farmers' market. And we went to that great shop Dandelion in the Mission. He has the most amazing collection of books and wonderful baby things. And I always have to go to Bell’occhio, where I got a bag full of stuff. And then we just went to Vince, where I got these pants! [Pats her black leather pants]"
And now here you are at Macy's.
"Yes. For the first entertaining book we did (in 1982), we actually came here to this Macy’s to launch it. And that’s when I made a lot of friends. It was when I first met Molly Chappellet and Melissa Neufeld. And that's when I first became friends with Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower and all of those guys. Now, 29 years later, we’re back with this new entertaining book. "
As this book proves, you've obviously hosted your fair share of fabulous dinner parties. What do you think are the keys to a really great gathering?
" A good idea — It doesn't have to be a full-fledged theme, but just an idea of what you’d like the party to be. A good guest list — something that you can manage, depending on your resources. A great menu, a beautiful table or buffet, and organization. "
Should a hostess also assume that she's not going to enjoy her party, at least in the same way her guests are?
" Yes. Absolutely. [Laughs] If you don’t have help, you’re not going to be able to be laid-back and have a lot of wine. Not until after the party."
What's the most memorable event you've been to, that you haven't hosted yourself?
"Last night was a really nice. Marissa Mayer had a party in her apartment way high up over San Francisco and she had a really interesting group of artists, techie people, and designers there. We had a lovely, lovely time."
On a side note, we read that you're a really big rap fan. What do you love about it?
" Well, not a really big fan. But I like rap music. They’re all cute. Those are cute guys and they’re all talented. I do like rap music. I think it makes sense, I like the words. Well, not all of them. I like the beat. And during my show, that’s what we play during the breaks, and everybody is dancing in their seats and having a great time. "
What sort of rap songs would we find on your iPod?
"I dont listen to music on my iPod. I listen to music in my house and in my car sometimes. And I listen to all sorts of music. I have a really large library of music on my Sonos System. Do you have Sonos? They are really good. They divide everything into genres and composers so you can really create playlists. I don't like to have the same playlist going all the time. And when I hear someone else's playlist, I borrow it from them. But no, you won't find me with ear plugs in my ears."
Photographed by Christine Ting