If you’re not familiar with Berkeley’s beloved Cheese Board Collective, let me fill you in. In the 1970s, The Cheese Board, along with Peet’s Coffee, was one of the first gourmet establishments in a little area of North Berkeley, which is now known as the Gourmet Ghetto. Soon after it’s success, Alice Waters open Chez Panisse across the street and well, you know – the rest is history. Today, the worker owned and operated business continues to thrive with a cheese shop, bakery, and pizzeria. Sitting down to an entire pie and cold brews, while listening to live music, has become a family tradition. And if you’re a regular like I am, then you know what I’m talking about when I say that Cheeseboard Pizza isn’t Cheeseboard Pizza without their Papi Chulo hot sauce. Holy Moly. This stuff is GOLD. If you like cilantro and green peppers, then you’ll love this green sauce. I can’t believe it’s taken me years to attempt to recreate it at home but hot damn, I think I’ve got it pretty close. Make this sauce. Drizzle it over pizza, grilled meats, tacos, eggs . . . everything. Trust.
Anyone from the Bay Area can tell you that the fog is as much a part of daily life as the California sun, perhaps even more so. Born and raised here in Berkeley, I feel a particularly strong connection with the fog. Like an ocean wave it rolls over the coastal hills, across the bay, and engages all of my senses. Growing up, my friends and I used to explore the Berkeley paths, trying our best to get lost in the cool, dense fog. Countless times have been spent wandering the misty hills with my pup, and more recently exploring the Tilden Park trails with Fiona. In short, there are few places I’d rather be; it’s home, my happy place. Thus, you can imagine my intrigue after hearing that Hangar 1 was producing vodka made from California fog!
Fog Point Vodka is made by catching fog from various locations around Northern California, and turning that fog into clean, fresh water. That water (60% of vodka is water) is then blended into vodka made from wine sourced from Bonny Doon Vineyard, just north of Santa Cruz. Coincidentally, the only time I’ve lived outside the immediate Bay Area was to attend school at Santa Cruz. I’m telling you, this vodka is me in a bottle. Scratch that, scary thought!! Unfortunately, the drought also plays a prominent roll in our daily lives as Californians. Thus, I’m pleased to say that all of the profits from Fog Point Vodka will go toward water conservation efforts.
The star fruit in a classic panzanella is the tomato. The juices of the tomato soak into dried toasted bread turning the bread into a sponge of delicious summer flavors (except with better texture than an actual sponge). Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan salad and this time I’ve swapped out a few of the ingredients for some untraditional but equally as delicious ingredients. For starters, the cantaloupe is the highlight here. The key to this salad is finding good quality cantaloupe. I think a Tuscan cantaloupe has more of that sweet musky flavor and is usually juicier. You want a juicy flavorful cantaloupe so that the juices soak into the bread. I’ve also added some cured meats like hard salami and prosciutto, but of course, if you wanted to keep this vegetarian you can omit them and the dish would still be just as delicious. The recipe is imprecise but that’s what I love most about casual summer cooking– taste as you go and adjust according to your preferences!
For this Fourth of July weekend, I bring you a pie, but not any pie — a Frito pie, which actually isn’t a pie at all. Fritos are smothered in chili and topped with shredded cheese, authentically served straight from the Frito bag. I thought why not make this American classic even more American and serve it over grilled hot dogs!!! I’m pretty proud– it’s officially the best idea I’ve ever had. I tried out this monstrosity over Memorial Day weekend and trust me, there is no other way to eat a hot dog. Happy Fourth of July everyone! Hope it’s filled with lots of fireworks, beer and Frito pie hot dogs!
Fourth of July is one of those holidays I love to entertain for. It’s always perfect barbecue and day-drinking weather and who doesn’t love fireworks. The 10-year-old in me still can’t help but get overly-excited at firework finales. To celebrate one of my favorite holidays, I partnered with Boursin and put together an elegant and red-white-and-blue fruit and cheese spread with homemade star-shaped crackers. These flatbread type crackers are naturally colored with beets and go perfect with Boursin® Pepper Cheese. My favorite combination is a slice of the Pepper Boursin on the beet and pepper cracker, topped with fruit and honey– pepper, honey and cheese is an incredible combination! These crackers are very easy to make too. The ingredients are combined in a food processor and they bake for about 5 minutes and they are left in the oven for about 30 minutes to crisp up in the residual heat. If you don’t want to bother with the star-shapes you can also roll out and bake each piece into large oval flatbreads and break them into smaller pieces for a more rustic cracker. Either way, pair these with some Boursin Pepper Cheese and summer berries and you have yourself a classy and delicious Fourth of July spread!
I love having a summer birthday (today is my birthday!). Los Angeles has been in a serious heat wave and I’m just loving all the sun, heat and frozen desserts. One of my favorites summer treats are fruit popsicles, but it is nearly impossible to find fruit popsicles that are pure, unadulterated and unsweetened. Honestly, just try it. If you read the label, there will almost always be added sugar, which is fine, but if you’re trying to avoid that, you don’t have a lot of options. So the extra effort to make your own popsicles is worth the effort– although there is minimal work involved in these. Watermelon has enough natural sugar that you don’t need to add extra sweetener, but of course you could. I combined the sweet watermelon with mint which makes this both sweet and refreshing. And to make these the ultimate birthday popsicles, I poured prosecco over them. Happy birthday to me!