Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jam Party!

Today was the jam making party for Greta and Kyles big day coming up October 10th. We had the fabulous wedding favor jam making event at their NEW house in Roseville. There's something wonderful about making jam with moms and girlfriends, crafts and mason jars. It was a good day...

The future Mrs. Dushane mashing up strawberries. This bride is or-ganized with loads of creative ideas...props.

Did you know this much sugar went into jam? Bre and I were amazed! For every five cups of mashed strawberries we put six cups of white sugar...woa. I think I've decided I love the jam making process...and just think of all the concoctions you can come up with!

It wasn't easy to tie the twine on, taking four hands per mason jar. I began to help in the beginning and ended up abandoning the task to take on hulling strawberries, grateful there were an even number of bridesmaids to finish it up. Tackling pounds of strawberries with a paring knife is a little more my style :)

(The Apricot Jam was made before we got there...I've got dibs on one of these after the wedding)


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Leenie and Sideboard

Sideboard, located in the downtown of Danville, CA is a sustainable coffee shop/delicious food joint that my friends and I always hit at least once during our reunions. They serve Blue Bottle Coffee, Red Blossom Tea and farm to table type bistro food. You'll find items such as Rustic Bruschetta with Ricotta Cheese, Truffle Macaroni and Cheese and Carnitas Quesadillas on their constantly changing menu.

Shabby chic and full of charm, Sideboard rivals my favorite coffee shops in San Luis Obispo (hard to admit). The outside seating is great when it's sunny and the inside is cozy and warm with big dark wooden tables; perfect for a rainy day.

I met Leenie there this weekend to celebrate her birthday....the beautiful princess kitty-kat has joined the quarter of a century club! We split delicious French Toast with banana syrup and maple whipped cream, suggested by the man who took my order, bless his heart. Their lattes are served in bowls with pretty designs on top and their tea is presented "Japanese style." I love sipping tea out of the petite cups.

(I love this girl)

(Don't those banana slices look like andouille sausage?)

(They don't have flavors for your lattes but I like that they hold the flavor of the espresso in such high regard :))

(This was Peppermint Rose tea...soothing to the max)

(An over-sized fork to greet you on your way in)

Friday, July 16, 2010


This picture is "picture of the day" from and when I saw it I was immediately reminded of Alsan from the Narnia movies.

The latest one, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", is coming out December 2010 and I can't wait. I saw the preview at the Toy Story 3 showing (great movie, by the way) and I beamed the entire time watching the trailer.

There's something magical about Aslan, don't you think? That's all there is to it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Royalty at Pizzeria Basta

Last night I went to Pizzeria Basta (a name I find incredibly difficult to remember) in Boulder, Colorado. I read about it on the web and had a hunch it would be right up my alley; Chef Kelly Whitaker trained in Italy for four years and makes almost everything in house with the exception of a few cured meats that he sources from places like California and New Jersey. One of these house made products, chicken pate, I actually enjoyed when It came out on the cutting board charcuterie plate. It's a pretty big deal considering I usually can't stand any sort of liver...even foie gras most days.

I called ahead and warned the server I was coming solo with a camera, making sure there would be room at the bar and the chef didn't mind me photographing his work. Justin, the server who answered, had a genuine tone telling me he'd ask the chef and that they'd keep me company at the bar.

I drove the 25 minutes to Boulder and ventured in for an early solo dinner at 5:45. A tall, strappingly handsome late-twenty something "Justin" opened the door inviting me in and guessing I was "Vanessa from the phone"-maybe my big camera gave me away. The industrial vibe to the small restaurant caught me off guard at first but I quickly warmed up to the atmosphere as I began meeting the all male, extremely good looking and sincere staff.

Justin asked the bartender from New York, Jordan, to give me a glass of Prosecco on the house to start my meal off right. As I got comfortable in my bar seat and sipped the bubbly Justin looked at me and asked, "so I hear you're ordering lots of dishes and taking pictures?" "Sure, I guess you could say that," I responded, feeling the pressure flood over me as I sensed their expectations of my experience there. They saw me as a serious food critic, someone who would put the word out that they do great work. So I took the challenge and decided I would act as a food critic would and ordered all courses with no remorse about calories or was empowering and terrifying all at the same time.

Everything hit the mark on the delicious scale and I was continually impressed with the attention to detail and on-top-of-it service.

Chef Whitaker explained details of the charcuterie plate and hit the mark on the rest of the dishes to follow; a crisp salad of romaine, capers, oven dried tomatoes and lemon vinaigrette, a Margherita style pizza with house-made sausage followed by an absolutely to-die-for Lavender Panna Cotta with honey.
Chad, another server who I found out later rooms with Justin and shares with him the home state of Oklahoma, insisted I drink a complimentary glass of "boxed" Riesling with my salad and then suggested a great Sangiovese to sip alongside my pizza. Both were fabulous. He later confessed to never knowing if he should reveal to customers that such a great wine comes in a box; I personally loved knowing.

My experience was "royal" because the staff truly treated me like a princess from the warm greeting at the door to the ending gracious conversation I had with Chef Whitaker thanking me for coming and telling me to come back whenever I'm in town.

You better believe I'll be back!

Check it out...

Pizzeria Basta, Boulder, CO

Monday, July 5, 2010

Heaven in the real world.

Last weekend I spent Friday through Monday night with a group of my most cherished friends from college. Here are a few pics...

Bekah made this for dessert after we whipped up a delicious meal one night. What you do: 1. Take a pizza stone, put raw cookie dough (any kind will do) in a layer being sure to flour it beforehand, bake it until it's done. 2. Mix whipped cream and cream cheese (equal parts, both whipped before combining) and spread a thin layer over cooled crust. 3. Lay any fruit of your choice on top! De-lish.

We stayed up late...every night. Going dancing, playing games or just chatting til the wee hours of the morning...
Joyous girl time...
Boy time...
Puppy time...
Haircut time...
May David's Rainbows RIP. They bit the dust on our way back from rope swinging down a creek. At least their last days were super fun!

We'll reconvene six months from now...yay for Christmas-time!