Point Reyes Workshop 2017

What a great weekend!  This workshop was chock full of amazing lessons by two of the most incredible talents I know Betty and Bella.  We had some amazing moments, great photo and styling opportunities, built some great friendships and connections, and of course enjoyed beautiful farm fresh food.

Just to clear this up, if you have never been to Point Reyes in California, it is one of the most beautiful places in all of the state.  I have to put that out there because, well, I am from California, and until recently, even I didn’t know how amazing this place is.  It’s definitely off the map… a hidden gem…whatever you want to call it, it is a beautiful and wholesome place that is now among my top three places to visit in California.  And after reading this, you will know why.

Firstly, take your time driving if you ever make the trip.   As we drove deeper and deeper into the California countryside, the view got better and better.  Rolling hills and rocky outcrops reminiscent of Scotland littered our view.  We drove past creeks and ponds and behemoth redwood trees and all sorts of animals grazing lazily.  Needless to say it showcases some of the most vivid scenery on the west coast.  As we pulled up, to our destination, a beautiful farmhouse surrounded by a working dairy farm that also manufactures cheese, we instantly knew it was going to be a special weekend.

After unpacking, guests started arriving, and I started on dinner.  That night we had a  three course meal of mint pea soup, brined and grilled lemon-rosemary chicken with roasted new potatoes, and for dessert an incredible chocolate pot de creme laced with earl grey.  Just really quick…there is a really good story behind this dessert.  My good friend and co-host Bella of http://www.ful-filled.com and I were bouncing back and forth on dessert ideas for this night as we needed something quick and delicious and didn’t have a lot of time to prep.  Thankfully I remembered a quick trick for a delicious dessert that can literally be prepped in 5 minutes and is vegan/paleo/almost any dietary restriction friendly.  You know how most people tell their audience “not to try this at home”?  You NEED TO TRY THIS AT HOME.  And luckily you can get a great recipe and description right here on Bella’s website!

Dinner that night was special because we all got to know each other around the dinner table.  One of my best memories was hearing everyone’s story.  It really put into perspective how amazing these workshops are that bring people together from different countries and walks of life.  Dinner that night was a great ice breaker.  Afterwards, the living room was alive with conversation and new friendships being formed.

The next morning, I woke up to the sound of bleating goats and chirping birds.  if the idea of peace could have a sound, that would be it!  For breakfast I prepared an assortment of fresh fruits and a delicious frittata made with eggs and produce procured from the farm on site.  Afterwards, the group had lessons and activities with Bella and Betty that concluded with  hands on demo in styling with an array of nuts, jams, cheese, crackers and breads, fruits and other food that I believe to be one of the greatest cheese boards ever assembled!  As everyone was taking a quick break and enjoying the farm and the beautiful scenery, I began preparing dinner.  That night we were having fresh naan bread with spiced ghee, urad daal, and spiced basmati rice alongside the most succulent spiced buttemilk marinated sablefish I have ever had…Lol even I was surprised how good it was.  And for dessert, a pistachio-rose cake that capped off the meal perfectly.  That night, the house came alive once again as we all talked long into the night.

In the morning, I woke up early and was treated to a lesson in Matcha-making by Bella as I prepared breakfast, the perfect poached egg atop sautéed chard, cheesy polenta and bacon.  This meal was a great way to start the day. Aterwards, lessons resumed, and the group took a tour of the farm in what was possibly one of the most adorable moments of the weekend…holding the baby goats.  Admittedly, I was a little jealous I had to stay in and work during that one.  But, I didn’t have too much time to pout because I knew my favorite meal was coming up…Pizza!  I was so excited when I found out that the property had a wood oven, I had been looking forward to making pizza since we arrived.  So, slowly I stoked the oven and prepared all the ingredients for a hands on pizza demo that was easily one of the most memorable experiences of the trip …Take THAT, baby goats!  Everyone got to make their own pizzas for lunch and sat around the farm table outside enjoying their handiwork.  On a side note, the sense of satisfaction that comes from preparing food and seeing the excitement as people eat is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world and always reminds me why I love what I do!

The beautiful thing about using a wood oven is that it can be used in many ways.  For dinner, I decided to sear and braise the beef cheeks right in the wood oven with the dying heat.  And I use the term “dying” loosly.  As you can see from the video below, the oven was hot enough even hours later to make the meat spontaneously combust.  Thankfully, it turned out perfectly seared!   As I continued preparing dinner, everyone took a trip down to the beach for more lessons, fun in the sun, and to walk off the delicious pizza we all enjoyed earlier.  As everyone returned, I could tell they had a great time and took a ton of amazing photos.  So, after seeing some amazing captures, I got back to prepping dinner.  And for the final night, we wanted to pull out all the stops.  On the menu that night was a beet and citrus salad with fresh burrata cheese, wood oven braised beef cheeks with wine demi reduction and celeriac puree topped with fried leeks, and for dessert a strawberry crumble with fresh thyme and a vanilla yogurt sorbet.  It was pretty epic! If this was a Lord Of The Rings Movie, this would be the one meal to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them.  Thankfully, no one suffered from food coma, and we had another fantastic evening of learning and fun.

The next morning, was bittersweet.  Again, I awoke to the sound of farm animals, something I have come to miss.  This morning’s breakfast, and final meal, was a toast bar of various breads and toppings alongside a fresh fruit salad.  I say it was bittersweet because I was a little sad that the workshop was coming to an end, but ultimately happy because it was a massive success.  So as we finished up breakfast and the lessons came to an end, we ended our trip with fond farewells and the satisfied feeling of a unique and amazing experience.

So yeah!  All in all, this Point Reyes workshop was and incredible and special experience that I cannot wait to repeat.  Enjoy all the photos and video below…And don’t worry, a lot of the recipes for the food you see here will be in the recipe section!