Friday, May 5, 2017

Mediterranean inspired flavors in the desert

dinners with friends octopus cucina di andrea

A couple of weeks ago we decided to take a road trip, driving from San Francisco to the California desert on a quest to see the desert in bloom. We followed the back roads from the Central Valley towards the high desert, detouring to see the California poppies along Antelope Valley, and spending a couple of days at a favorite desert hideaway to catch up with our friend Nancy. 

With mild desert temperatures and in anticipation of the next Italy trip we cooked up some Mediterranean inspired menues, from octopus salad and cannellini tuna crostini to cured salumi and grilled lamb chops, the perfect flavors for some breezy spring days in the desert ...


Friday, March 24, 2017

A sunny escape from the office & tacos at TACOS CALA


Yesterday brought a rare glimpse of sunshine to a week of dreary downpours, so spotting the Achilles Heel pop up on Instagram was the perfect excuse for an impromptu escape from the office, heading down to the secret taco stand that is TACOS CALA, tucked into the back alley behind CALA.

As it turned out, we were too late to savor Lee Desrosiers' specials {grilled on the sidewalk on a portable Francis Mallmann parrilla traveling in a fancy leather traveling case}, but plates of Mexico City style tacos de guisado {lengua en salsa verde, carnitas & pollo en pipian} with agua fresca {lemon ginger mint} still made for the perfect fix while taking in CALA's cool interiors ...

TACOS CALA in San Francisco

Saturday, February 25, 2017

When life gives you oranges ... help supporting the Big Sur Bakery


It has been a crazy winter in California. After five years gripped in a near existential drought, this has been the wettest winter on record, with near biblical storms causing destructive landslides, flooding and irreparable devastation to the state's infrastructure.

One region hit especially hard is Big Sur, the wild coastline between Monterey and Santa Barbara and one of our favorite destinations for an escape from the city ~ e.g. this fall Big Sur road trip and a memorable Big Sur Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. After a summer of ravaging wildfires, evacuations and longtime road closures, Big Sur once again finds itself cut off from the outside world: with a canyon bridge damaged beyond repair by a recent landslide, Highway One was closed indefinitely last week, cutting off access to this remote coastline and to Big Sur Bakery, one of my favorite Big Sur destinations.

With another rain storm approaching this weekend, Big Sur has been on my mind as I find myself browsing the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, a favorite in this kitchen. And with a basket of sunny citrus on the kitchen counter, I thought I would share an all-time favorite recipe from the archives along with some Big Sur photos ...


Monday, January 9, 2017

A rainy day in Antwerp { & stay at Boulevard Leopold }

guest room details Boulevard Leopold bed & breakfast in Antwerp Antwerpen Belgium

After spending the past holidays at home, this winter we felt a sudden rather sentimental urge to hop across the pond for Christmas in the "old world" among family and friends.

And with the affordable last-minute airfares flying into Amsterdam, we decided to get on the plane a couple of days early for a pre-holiday detour ~ revisiting Amsterdam and Antwerp along the way.

After a chilly first day in Amsterdam and rainy day arrival in Antwerp, checking into Boulevard Leopold more than made up for gloomy skies, jet lag and tired eyes ...

Boulevard Leopold in Antwerp Antwerpen Belgium

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A cheese fondue under the moon and stars


We couldn't have asked for a more perfect first weekend of December: a crisp and sunny fall day turned into a glorious sunset and an almost balmy evening under the moon and stars. 

After a long beach walk everyone gathered in the backyard with a glass of wine or bottle of beer, watching the sun set over the ocean, while the kids set up a sidewalk stall selling "Sunset Lemonade", lighting fires in the Mexican chimenea on the patio and the wood burning stove inside the house, before sitting down along long tables set for an authentic Swiss cheese fondue ... along with new world additions like tomatoes, roasted potatoes and whole grain breads.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Thanksgiving picnic with friends

Thanksgiving Friendsgiving picnic

Even after calling California home for almost eighteen years now, I still have a somewhat ambiguous relationship with the Thanksgiving holiday.

As expat orphans we have been lucky to be graciously invited into friends' homes in the past. Our very first Thanksgiving at a friends' home in Sebastopol is still a fond memory, as is an alfresco dinner in an enchanted garden with the same friends many years later. In between there were Thanksgiving dinners in the desert, sharing the dinner table with other holiday orphans at a favorite desert hideaway. An escape to Big Sur and Thanksgiving at Big Sur Bakery. And two years ago I got to watch my friend Maxine set a rustic holiday table.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

I { heart } San Francisco

SF AMATRICE Italy Earthquake Fundraiser San Francisco Piccino Dogpatch
SF AMATRICE Italy Earthquake Relief Fundraiser
 San Francisco. This pretty much sums up the experience of SF AMATRICE,  the Italy Earthquake Relief Fundraiser I was honored to support {with web & graphic design} for my dear friends Marcia Gagliardi, aka Ms. tablehopper, and Gianluca Legrottaglie of Montesacro & 54 Mint

Two weeks of string pulling, fund raising and ticket selling ended with an epic all-day event last Sunday - and we could not have asked for a more glorious Indian summer day or a more generous outpouring of support from community and friends!


Follow along on Instagram ...

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all photos © dinners with friends

{ for good karma, please kindly ask before pulling an image & please link/credit when re-posting }
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