Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fabulous summer night aperitivo & dinner in San Francisco { Una Serata a Roma }

Negroni Sbagliato 54 Mint Tablehopper Una Serata a Roma Campari

If you have been following this blog, you may have noticed my fondness for the Italian Aperitivo tradition, the ritual of {mostly bitter} pre-dinner cocktails accompanied by a couple of stuzzichini meant to stimulate the appetite. It's become my favorite way of sharing time with friends, be it a spontaneous birthday aperitivo in the desert, a rustic spread at a friend's barn in the country, an alfresco aperitivo in an enchanted garden or a casual weekday aperitivo with {mostly Italian} friends.

Last night we got to attend a special Aperitivo - Una Serata a Roma, an amazing Roman feast of aperitivo, cena, vino & digestivo hosted by the fabulous Marcia Gagliardi {aka Tablehopper}. It was a perfect evening - a rare balmy summer night in San Francisco with aperitivo served on beautiful Mint Plaza followed by a scrumptious Roman meal prepared by the talented Mattia Marcelli of 54 Mint.

Una Serata a Roma at 54 Mint54 Mint in San FranciscoTablehopper Una Serata a Roma at 54 Mint San Francisco hosted by Campari

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lazy days at the Russian River & summer dinner at the A-frame ...


Last week we managed to leave the city for a midweek escape to Sonoma County, renting a charming cabin near the Russian River, a tiny rustic A-frame filled with cookbooks & vintage records. Three days of quiet mornings under the redwoods, working from a sunny deck with a view, long lazy summer lunches, baking an apricot crostata while spinning vintage records and an alfresco dinner with an old friend made for the perfect escape ...


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Recipe : summer baking under the redwoods { apricot crostata }


It's finally summer stone fruit season again! And sun ripened nectarines, apricots, peaches, plums, pluots and/or cherries make the best topping for a summer fruit crostata, my favorite impromptu dessert of late.

I discovered this quick & easy crust recipe last summer {via Elizabeth Minchilli } and it's become the baking staple around here ever since, especially while traveling - e.g. there was a sweet cherry ricotta crostata in Umbria and Indian Summer fig & plum crostate in Anderson Valley. This time we were at the Russian River with a basket of California grown apricots …

Monday, May 26, 2014

A bakery tour & rustic ranch dinner in Petaluma { Della Fattoria }

Della Fattoria Ranch Dinner in Petaluma

The third dinner of the bakery tour {& definitely a highlight of the Bay Area itinerary} was an evening at the Weber Family ranch and tour of the Della Fattoria bakery. After a warm welcome by Kathleen and Edmund Weber and aperitivo in their enchanted garden we got to roam the ranch and wander over to the bakery to watch the fragrant Rosemary Meyer Lemon loafs come out of the wood-fired oven, before sitting down to an amazing meal …

Della Fattoria Ranch in PetalumaDella Fattoria Ranch dinnerDella Fattoria Ranch Dinner in Petaluma

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A second bakery tour dinner { Camino in Oakland }

Camino Restaurant in Oakland photo by Julia Spiess

It's not easy seating twenty-six people for dinner in this town - most restaurants will either send you to a private dining room {usually "Siberia" when it comes to ambience, vibe & scenery} or will just flat out turn down any larger group size.
This is where Camino in Oakland comes in. Opened just over six years ago by Chez Panisse alum Russell Moore & his wife Allison Hopelain, one of Camino's most striking dining room features is the room length communal dining table. It is cut from a single tree trunk and surrounded by vintage church chairs. And Camino is also famous for hosting epic dinner parties, from fabulous fundraisers {e.g. the upcoming big Fundraising Dinner Party with Paula Wolfert} to intimate book dinners with chefs & authors in town on a cookbook tour.

Camino in Oakland photo by Julia Spiesswood fired oven at Camino in Oakland

Friday, May 23, 2014

A bakery tour & true locavore dinner { Parkside Bakery in Stinson Beach }


Last weekend I got to host a special project: a European consulting firm had approached me to create a multi day food tour & dining itinerary for their clients, a group of bakers & food entrepreneurs on a four day culinary field trip of Northern California bakeries & food trends. It was an exciting project. Not only did I get to share some of my favorite local spots, they were also open to more innovative dining than the usual restaurant experience. On the first day I met the group of twenty-five globetrotting bakers straight off the plane at Parkside Bakery in Stinson Beach, a small coastal community about 45 minutes North of San Francisco along a spectacular coastal drive over Golden Gate Bridge & up the rugged Highway 1 coast ... 

Parkside Bakery in Stinson Beach photo by Julia Spiess

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all photos © dinners with friends

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