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In the second grade I learned how to spell dessert…

We were living in Korea and I was going to an American school.

I can’t remember my teacher’s name.

But I can remember the day when my teacher, whose name might have started with a G, was writing on the blackboard and explaining that a desert only has one “s.”

But a dessert has two, because you always want more dessert than desert.

She was right. I have always wanted more dessert than desert… or anything else really.

But today I learned that after spending all day photographing just five desserts, for the Town Hall cook book, eventually, even I did not want more dessert… well at least for a few hours. Knowing that I wasn’t permanently cured of my insatiable sweet tooth, I boxed up the leftovers and took them home, so I would be prepared when the cravings for more dessert returned.

Huge thanks to my very stylish and talented friend, Bridget, for making the day and process so much sweeter.

A very simple story about very good ice cream…

These two women, Anne and Kris, needed a kitchen to bake their baked goods for the Bi-Rite Market. Eventually they found a kitchen that also had a store in the front, so they needed something to sell. They couldn’t just sell their baked goods because the store front is right next to another very delicious bakery, so they had to think of something else. So they thought… Why not organic ice cream?

And here is what happened…

 

 

 

With a line continuously stretched around the block, it is obvious that their ice cream makes a lot of kids (and adults) very happy.

So now Kris and Anne want to make a cook book for their ice cream.

 

Here’s hoping that this is an ice cream story that will be continued.

 

 

I like to flip through books from back to front…

When I pick up a book or a magazine with lots of photos, I usually open it up at the end and flip the pages backwards until I end up at the beginning of the book. While not conducive for reading novels, this dyslexic behavior is a handy tool to have because that is how my blog posts may be shared from now on.

This summer, work exploded for me.

I have seen and done so many fun things, but I haven’t had time to share any of it because I can barely keep up with the editing.

I am not complaining. Instead I feel very lucky and very grateful to be so busy.

But because I am so far behind, I don’t know where to start with my blog posting…. so I will resort to my backwards book flipping habit and start at the end of the book, which means tonight’s photo shoot, and we’ll see how far I can get.

Tonight Arann and I went to San Francisco on a working date.

I have finally started photographing for the Town Hall cook book, which is actually a cook book about all three of their restaurants, and it is actually a cook book about cooking with platters, pots and pans, but they want to include some photos of the restaurants as well.

And because I had never been to the other two restaurants, tonight we went to Anchor and Hope and to the Salt House to get a feel for the restaurants.

My goal for tonight was simply to try and capture the feeling of these two very different restaurants for the book.

So that was it… it was just a start, but it was a fun start. And the perks of photographing in restaurants for cook books… the food, drinks and service are so amazing. I had the best salad of my life tonight at the Salt House. I highly recommend both restaurants for any kind of date.

I love to do my taxes, as much as pigs love Easter…

(This post contains a photo of a butchered pig and may not be enjoyable for everyone.)

I would be editing photos from the pig butchering I went to a couple of weeks ago, but instead I have to do my taxes… this is one time I would rather be editing.

Part of this pig, who was raised by my friends, was in fact enjoyed by our community at our Anniversary/Easter dinner. While I did not have any of the ham, because I do not eat much meat, my loved ones said it was very tasty.

I Have a Pig Named Betsy…

I am excited for my friend Rebecca, because this week she got pigs at the garden she runs in Sonoma.

Thinking about her pigs stirs up all my pig memories, and gives me an excuse to post an assortment of random photos in an attempt to stay true to my Rolleiflex Advent Calender.

It makes me think about the most incredible pigs I have ever met, who lived at Parducci Winery. They would chase each other just like dogs, play king of the castle on their deck, roll over to have their bellies scratched, and run in and out of the water as their caretaker sprayed them with a hose to keep them cool. They changed my perception about pigs forever.

And it reminds me of the amazing stories Novella Carpenter tells in her awesome book, that you should read if you haven’t yet, about her crazy adventures raising pigs in Oakland, and then coming to terms with butchering them, and ultimately her complete joy while eating the meat she worked so hard to raise.

Which makes me think about the photos that I took at Town Hall last summer and how beautiful ham can look, let alone taste.

And finally it reminds me about my best friend, since 5th grade, Betsy, who has given me an assortment of pig gadgets and gizmos for the last 20 years. It all started when we met a girl at basketball camp. After we introduced ourselves to her, she said, “Betsy, I have a pig named Betsy. I go out in the yard and call, ‘Suuuu-weeee,’ and she comes running.” You can imagine the joy that gave me then, and still gives me now, every time I tell that story.

I could keep going with the pig memories, but that is enough about pigs for now.

Congratulations, Rebecca. I can’t wait to meet them soon.

Comfort food at Town Hall…

In my interview for a book proposal with the guys responsible for Town Hall, a restaurant in San Francisco, one of them asked me, “So, are you a food photographer, is that what you do?’

I said, “No, I photograph people.”

Maybe that isn’t the best response when you are interviewing to take photos for a cookbook… but I am a horrible liar.

I explained that I photograph people, but because I lived on a farm for a year and a half, I have taken photos of food, but usually, that food is still on the farm and being held by the farmer. I showed them what food photos I have and they agreed to give me a chance, because they like “messy.”

I was not offended. I would say my photos are pretty messy. I don’t do much fussing or arranging; I just take the photos.

That being said, on the day of the shoot, I suddenly got nervous when Mitch asked, “So what do you want to do?” I didn’t have any preconceived ideas. All I knew was, I was supposed to show comfort food in a comfortable and urban setting… which was the restaurant. I started thinking that I needed a stylist, I couldn’t do this alone… and I needed lights…  but I didn’t have either of those.

So, I took a deep breath and gave myself a pep talk and started looking for good spots of light throughout the restaurant. All we needed for the proposal were eight photos… I could do eight photos.

After I relaxed, and the food started coming, and the fog started burning… it all came together. I had lots of fun and I felt really good about what we accomplished. But the best part of it all was I got to eat that bowl of yumminess at the bottom. Toffee, chocolate and butterscotch equals pure comfort in my book.

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Right place at the right time…

On June 16th, I was in San Francisco hanging out in the kitchen of the restaurant Town Hall, so I could have a better understanding of the food and space for our upcoming photo shoot for their book proposal. When, Mitch, one of the owners and chefs, suggested that I come down and take a photo of him and his brother Steven, with their former employer, Wolfgang Puck, at the restaurant Postrio, in Union Square.

I didn’t know much about Postrio, I had never been there before, and I am not the most knowledgeable when it comes to celebrities. I had heard of Wolfgang Puck, but I couldn’t really tell you much about him either… so I didn’t really know what to expect. I only knew what I was told, which was: this was a restaurant that had been open for some time and they were having two closing dinners… tickets for the occasion sold out in 30 minutes… and there were very long waiting lists to get in.

So I showed up and took a few photos of the chefs prepping for the night and then decided to head home for the day.

As I got my things ready to leave, Steven informed me that Wolfgang said they would pay me to stay for the rest of the night and the next night too, if I would take photos of this important occasion. Mentally, logistically and physically I was not prepared for this assignment. I did not have enough memory cards or a flash, and I was wearing jeans in a very formal restaurant… but I could sense this was an important occasion that needed to be documented… and that I had a very unique opportunity… so of course I said yes.

And my sense was right… it was a pretty incredible bittersweet reunion filled with very hard work, lots of white chef coats, old friends and colleagues, dedicated patrons, sweat, conversation, tears, hugs, laughter, celebrities, lots of wine and good food.

My favorite part of the night was meeting the different generations of amazing chefs who worked at the restaurant over the years and who now live all over the country and run their own restaurants. These chefs returned to Postrio for the finals nights and worked for free, just to be a part of this occasion.

I also met customers who had been coming every Saturday night since the restaurant opened and waiters who had been working there for the same amount of years. I met my first celebrity, a very nice and humble man, who has not been affected by his popularity, and who made so many people smile as he walked around and talked to every person in the room. And I got a glimpse of other local celebrities, including the former SF Mayor Willie Brown, with his entourage, and the William of William and Sonoma.

It was a real community… built around good food and wine. The room was filled with people who knew and loved each other.

I have worked in quite a few restaurants, but there is not a single one that I would ever want to return to, even if it were closing down forever. I was told it was the end of an era for San Francisco, and after my two nights at Postrio, I certainly believe it.

A day of edible beauty…

Well, I wanted to boost my food photography portfolio… so I made it happen at Windrush Farm, with the help of the Gardening, Baking, Styling, and Photography Dream Team…

Most of the veggies and flowers were grown and harvested by: Rebecca Bozzelli at the Sonoma Garden Park, Paul Wirtz at Oak Hill Farm and Mimi Luebbermann at Windrush Farm.

Pizzas were made from scratch by Mike the Baker Zakowski, also from Sonoma.

The ingredients of the day were styled by the talented Esther Feinman (with her arsenal of pretty things) and her fabulous friend Stacey.

The location and many of the props were graciously provided by Mimi Luebbermann of Windrush Farm.

A big thanks also to:

The Firestarter/Male Model/Comedian Arann Harris.

Nick from Nik’s Chix for the eggs.

Jude Mooney, my photography partner who will soon be displaying her own version of the day, and her super helper daughter, Dixie.

The gorgeous James family for modeling, yet again.

The people behind Parducci Wine who generoulsy gave us wine for our wedding in exchange for photography.

Christy, Mike’s wonderful girlfriend, who helped with anything that we needed help with.


Here’s to teamwork and more amazing dinner parties on the farm with fresh food and wonderfully talented friends.


You Just Have to Wait…

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I had an amazing Sunday… it was full of yummy fresh homemade food that was grown, prepared, baked and styled by incredibly talented people. And I can’t wait to share my new collection of food photos… but you just have to wait… because this is slow food. I only have 300 more photos to sort through and then I’ll be ready to share the very best.

By the way, that pie up there… I made it! It is my very first made-from-scratch strawberry rhubarb pie… thanks to a little help from my dearest friend Rebecca and the Joy of Cooking.

More pie and other tasty treats coming soon.

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