Lunch, Shopping & Photographing the Magical Gardens, Sculptures & Fountains at Stanford Shopping Center

“Whatever the season, the outdoor flower gardens are always magically in bloom.”

I’m not much of a mall rat, but I do love the iconic Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto which is Northern California’s premier open-air shopping and dining destination. Over the years it has been fashioned into a European Street fair. People come from all over the world to enjoy the breathtaking, colorful gardens, serene fountains, imaginative sculptures and the grand mural of a famous Parisian alley named “Rue du Chat qui Peche.” It is a photographer’s dream. One can have breakfast at La Baguette lunch at Cafe’ Bistro or enjoy the healthy fare at "Tender Greens" like we did. And, for those with a sweet tooth, Teuscher Chocolates & Cafe is worth a stop.

We love Tender Greens and used to frequent the one in West Hollywood where our son Jason used to live and work before moving back to the Bay Area. It is a fine casual eatery that offers fresh, healthy, farmer’s market grade food in a relaxed casual atmosphere at a reasonable price. Cecile and I enjoyed a thinly cut, lean Backyard Steak Salad with a slice of garlic bread. I had a Green Monster, a refreshing and energetic drink that combines fresh blended spinach, ginger, green apple, kale, celery and cucumber.

With temperatures hitting 99°F, we looked forward to spending time shopping in the comfortable air-conditioned department stores. Though, I must say I did most of the shopping. I’m typically a binge shopper, adding to my casual wardrobe perhaps twice a year when things are on sale. But Cecile did find a stylish pant and top outfit by designer Eileen Fisher that fit her perfectly. At my urging, Cecile upgraded her IPAD at the Apple Store. The Tesla showroom had plenty of activity and people watching is a spectator sport, including the security patrol on their Segues.

I was drawn to an interesting exhibit that profiled the Estonian people called “Masters of Our Own Homes: Estonia at 100. It commemorates a century since the founding of the Republic of Estonia and introduces its history, culture, contributions to sports to the world at large. In 2009, Jason, Michelle and Michelle’s friend Cece joined us on a two week Baltic Capital Cruise out of Denmark. One of the ports of call was Tallinn in Estonia with its narrow, winding streets, market squares and churches.

A number of innovative Estonians have become leading entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, creating companies such as Skype. Learning about Estonia’s food, culture, history and its transformation in the last 25 years is worth a look.
Restless and peaceful, ambitious and cool-headed, rustic and tech-savvy, who enjoy congregating around bonfires and snapping photos with their smartphones, 
these insatiable people believe life is to be lived, and not a second of it is to be wasted.

Postcript: A free outdoor Summer Jazz series, sponsored by Nordstrom and See’s Candies will be held every Thursday from June 21 to August 23 at 6 PM to 7:30 PM in the courtyard between Nordstrom and Crate & Barrel.