Saturday, October 18, 2014

A mid century aperitivo & birthday potluck dinner in the Berkeley Hills

Last week marked the birthday week of two dear friends, Rob and Luca, who decided to join  forces {& friends} for a fun birthday celebration & potluck dinner in the Berkeley Hills.
An Italian aperitivo, a classic British cocktail, Armenian appetizers, Texas smoked brisket, Japanese octopus, California heirloom tomatoes, Mexican esquites, a classic Sicilian Cassata Cake & many other amazing dishes made for a polyglot menu ~ enjoyed along a long dining table with spectacular  sunset views of the San Francisco Bay ...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gluten-free baking in Anderson Valley { apple + fig crostata with polenta crust}

gluten free apple tart galette crostata polenta crust yellow corn meal

I have posted variations of this crostata recipe {a standby dessert favorite!} before ~ upon first discovering it in Umbria {cherry ricotta}, at last fall's orchard harvest in Anderson Valley {plum and fig} and earlier this summer at the Russian River {apricot}. Credit for baking inspiration and for the original crostata recipe goes to Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome, whose blog posts are a constant source of inspiring recipe ideas.

This fool proof crust can be whipped up from just a five pantry staples, takes almost no prep time {no kneading, no rolling, no chilling} ~ and turns out a buttery shortcrust every time! This time it's an adaptation of Elizabeth's recipe ~ with a gluten-free twist ...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

An Indian Summer dinner with friends in Anderson Valley

Last Sunday marked our friends Grace and Scott's seventh wedding anniversary. Crazy how time goes by - I still remember their beautiful fall ceremony in the garden at the Boonville Hotel, celebrating their union surrounded by extended family and many friends. Exactly seven years later we got to spend a sunny anniversary Sunday with them and six year old Tasman, enjoying a warm Indian Summer day at the ranch in Anderson Valley {a favorite place, tugged into the Mendocino Ridge hills high above Philo} - raising a glass to the occasion and sharing a casual sunset dinner ...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A fun Sunday sunset with Vin Social {Grand Banks Oyster Bar}

Grand Banks Oyster Bar NYC

Last Friday I headed to New York City, on invitation by the lovely Karen & Sara of Vin Social, to capture Vin Social's fabulous Sip & Sail wine tasting event the following evening. 

Unfortunately, the event ultimately got postponed due to inclement weather {new Sip & Sail date is September 27th}, so we made up for the loss with an impromptu sunset dinner at Grand Banks Oyster Bar the following evening. The fabulous new oyster bar is located aboard the historic F/V Sherman Zwicker,  a huge salt bank fishing vessel on the Hudson River and the last of a large fleet of schooners that fished the Grand Banks of the North Atlantic. Docked at Pier 25 in Tribeca, we got to enjoy glorious sunset views of the Hudson River, from the Statue of Liberty to the Jersey City skyline …

Vin Social NYCGrand Banks Oyster Bar in NYCVin Social NYC at Grand Banks Oyster Bar NYC

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Discovering Capay Valley & a picnic lunch at Riverdog Farm {Nopalize Seasons}

Nopalize Seasons Riverdog Farm {photo © Julia Spiess 2014}
Nopalize Seasons Riverdog Farm
Last Thursday came with a generous invitation: to join Chef Laurence Jossel of Nopa & the Nopalize team for their second Nopalize Seasons event - a curated series of unique events and excursions - all with a common theme, sharing access to local growers, producers, makers and discovering the origins of our food. The day's destination was stunning Capay Valley, a tour of Riverdog Farm & an amazing picnic lunch prepared with Riverdog Farm produce & meats by Chef Laurence Jossel & team. 

Nopalize Seasons Riverdog Farm {photo © Julia Spiess 2014}Nopalize Seasons Riverdog Farm {photo © Julia Spiess 2014}

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A rustic retreat & dinners with Mount Tamalpais views

Airbnb Rustic Retreat in Marin County
This summer we really started to embrace airbnb for spontaneous getaways {e.g. some early summer days at a tiny a-frame on the Russian River} So when this unique artist retreat, high up in the Marin hills, popped up in this week's listings, it made a perfect destination for a last minute escape across the bridge. Working from an art filled home nestled under ancient oak trees, enjoying total peace & quiet {just 35 minutes away from the city}, watching the coastal fog roll in and out around Mount Tamalpais - all while prepping easy summer dishes in the well equipped kitchen ...


all photos © dinners with friends

{for good karma, please ask before using an image and please link/credit me when re-posting}

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