I have always experienced that clients and catering occasions that find their way to me are special- my work brings me close to creative professionals whose own level of craft inspires me, deepens my drive to refine my own work, or simply stirs me spiritually with with a close brush to their contributions to culture, from film productions and high fashion, to the San Diego Symphony, to architecture… My education prior to culinary was in art, and I love that it has followed me.
But recently some friends put me in touch with very talented creative couple from LA, a cinematographer, and a designer whose recent accolades include the LA Ace Hotel… celebrating 10 years of companionship. As I learned about the party, I immediately fell in love with what they wanted: a canyonside backyard cocktail party with tray passed amuse bouche, followed by a family style meal. The home was built by the bride’s grandfather, a California midcentury architect who built up a lot of the La Mesa Hills. The groom’s family is Greek, and our mutual friend knew that my love for Mediterranean cooking would be perfectly in line with their vision.
My goal, as always, is to translate the intimacy of a shared family meal at the table and deeply fulfilling traditional food into an elegant party for larger gatherings. No buffets, or moving the lid on the chafer to plop your own food on your plate with tongs. Not unless I have to. Sit down a the table and share a roast, a salad, fight over the juices around the meat…
Our mutual friend was right to make the connection- the couple accepted the menu I designed without even a single revision- except to pare down to three appetizers and to add the grooms favorite savory pastry: tiropita. We easily found a shared vision.
The night was amazing. The guests came full of love for the anniversary pair, were greeted with champagne, and they ate octopus and cheeses and tiropita coming out of the oven every 10 minutes. They made their way to small tables and were served gorgeous salads and fresh from the oven flatbreads that I’d been leavening for two days, with house made sauces and chili pastes and Greek yogurt. Then we followed with family style braised lamb shoulder in its juices with winter squash and onions, to pour over couscous and charred vegetables. It was a meal.
One of my very dear friends is Greek, and often helps me on events. He was so excited to be at a Greek family party and immediately spoke to the guests in their own language…I thought they were going to hug and kiss him! I consulted him earlier in the week because I wanted to bring a special toast for the bride and groom, and we brought three rare and vintage Greek spirits: a vintage single shot bottle of ouzo, a 7 star Metaxa, and…yes, a **60 year old ouzo hand carried from Greece**. That, is another story…but by the end of the night, we felt like family. Cheers to the bride & groom and their wonderful family. Cheers to an unforgettable celebration.
Incredible thanks to the talent and artistic insight of photographer Dona Tracy for capturing these moments as they are. DonaTracyPhotography.com
SLOW ROASTED SPANISH OCTOPUS| Slow Roasted and Fire Finished Spanish Octopus, Heirloom Tomato, Finger Lime “Caviar”, Cucumber Bruniose, Lebneh, Oil & Aleppo Pepper Flake. Presented in the family’s vintage china spoons.
TIROPITA! | A Flaky Pastry Filled With Traditional Greek Cheeses.
CUCUMBER W/CHARRED EGGPLANT HUMMUS| Tiny Cucumber Pallette, Smoky Eggplant Hummus, Feta, Micro- Herbs & Lemon.
SALAD| Bright Lettuces, Local Dates, Marcona Almonds, and Creme Fraiche with a bracing Date & Yuzu Citronette. This salad is a beauty!
GRILLED FLATBREADS| House Flatbreads with Olive Oil, Za’atar & Sumac, served with three incredible sauces and single origin olive oil. Sauces: Harissa, Meyer Lemon & Herb Pesto (vegan), and Lebneh w/toasted spices. *Sauces are meant to remain on table to accompany the second course.
GRILLED VEGETABLE SET
BRAISED LAMB SUGO WITH WINTER SQUASH| A 24 hour preparation of lamb shoulder with fennel & wine, served with its’ juices and roasted Winter squash (the best/first to come in by late September of Kuri, Kabocha, or Butternut). An excellent country dish, perfect for a family setting but elegant enough to elevate the meal to a deeply memorable experience. Garnished with torn herbs, accompanied with harissa, lemon-herb pesto, and lebneh.