Wow. Just… wow. I was truly on a high this past Saturday, and I can’t even begin to express how thrilled, humbled, and grateful I am for all the people who came out to celebrate the release of The CSA Cookbook, as well as all the people who were there in spirit with us!
As soon as the last hors d’oeuvres were arranged and the first guest arrived (hi Tiana!), this was pretty much how I felt — all day long.
The event happened at the historic Williams’ Bookstore in the downtown art district of San Pedro, a quaint coastal community on the Palos Verdes Peninsula where I surf, hike, bike, garden, cook, and blog.
Williams’ Bookstore has a fascinating history. It opened in 1909, the same year the town of San Pedro was consolidated with Los Angeles. Through two World Wars, a century of book sales and signings, the rise of Amazon and the fall of big box stores like Borders, it remained the oldest operating bookstore in the City of Los Angeles until it closed its doors in 2013. It was quite a blow to our close-knit community to see such a significant landmark shuttered with bars over its windows.
But a year later, John Van Hamersveld (a peninsula native) and his wife, Alida Post, moved into the space and revived it as an art gallery. You might not know his name, but if you’re a surfer, a designer, or you grew up in the ’60s, you might know his work: John was the artist behind the iconic Endless Summer movie poster. We’re really lucky to have these two in the neighborhood, especially on a street that’s slowly moving toward gentrification.
With my love of the ocean and my background as a designer, it was only fitting that The CSA Cookbook have its moment in this special place!
And truthfully, the party could never have happened without the wonderful support of my sponsors, who believed in the book long before it was ever published. In keeping with the local theme (local venue, local author, local food), every single sponsor at the party was a California company making and doing something great.
Whole Foods Market of Torrance provided all the fresh produce, olives, cheese, and charcuterie for my massive crudité platter. I spent the entire night before slicing and blanching a colorful assortment of snap peas, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, asparagus, peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, endive, berries, pears, plums, and grapes to create this smorgasbord.
To accompany the platter, I made a few recipes from the book: five different dips, two pickles, a crostini, and some beet brownies. It was a fun way to sample several recipes and if you’ve ever wondered whether you can get your kids to eat their vegetables, well, I can tell you that my under-10 fan club here wholeheartedly approved of the healthy spread!
Sequoia Grove Winery of Napa sent a selection of world-class wines for the party, and the over-21 crowd enjoyed bottomless pours of their Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. I am so, so thankful to Sequoia Grove, as without them, everyone would’ve been drinking Two Buck.
If you ever have a chance to visit Napa, I highly recommend a trip to their tasting room. We have a case of their reds at home, and while I’ve never been much of a wine snob, there is a distinct difference between the $15 (okay, sometimes $5.99) bottles I usually buy and the $50 bottles from Sequoia Grove. In a word, wow.
I was especially excited by the takeaways at the party: artisan oils from La Tourangelle of Berkeley, premium fish sauce and umami salt from Red Boat Fish Sauce of Milpitas, and heirloom seed packets from Petaluma Seed Bank. These are all brands I use and love, and I wanted to share them with my guests as well.
La Tourangelle makes the most delicious nut and seed oils, and their sunflower oil and peanut oil are in regular rotation in my kitchen. I call for both kinds in my book, so they’ve gone through many rounds of recipe testing! (I even use their walnut oil for my homemade spoon butter.)
As someone who makes a lot of Asian and Asian-inspired meals at home, fish sauce is a staple in my pantry and Red Boat is the best I’ve found. (This coming from a very discerning tastebud that grew up with fish sauce!)
While cheaper and more common brands have additives, Red Boat is a pure, first-press Vietnamese fish sauce made from a fermentation of black anchovies and salt. Their umami salt is hand harvested from the same mango wood barrels that held their fermented fish sauce, and I love to use it as a finishing salt for meat and vegetables.
When Petaluma Seed Bank hosted my first book signing a couple weeks ago, they sent me home with a bag full of seeds for summer. There were lots of striking varieties of tomatoes, peppers, melons, and squash, and it was such a delight to see people thumbing through the packets and comparing their growing experiences with other guests. (At the party, I fielded equal amounts of cooking and gardening questions!)
I can’t think of a moment when there wasn’t a continuous buzz of chatter and laughter in the room. It was incredibly high energy the whole day. I was signing books standing up (heck, even Will was signing books standing up!) and forgetting to eat and drink because I was so busy meeting the most interesting readers, authors, and bloggers. People were pumped, and I was pumped! I love, love, love you all!
We raffled off a few prizes halfway into the party, and there were some truly stoked winners!
CamelBak of Petaluma donated their awesome Relay pitcher (which I use daily) and a few of my favorite reusable bottles from their line. I spend a lot of time outside and my stash of bottles (from their Eddy Glass to their Forge insulated mug) has survived many a road trip and backcountry outing.
Hedley & Bennett of Los Angeles donated one of their beautiful handmade aprons. And not only is it handmade, it’s made right in downtown LA! They supply some of the best restaurants in the world and their designs are modern yet functional. (The founder, Ellen Bennett, is also undeniably adorable with the most inspiring Instagram.)
And Garibaldi Goods of Santa Monica donated three generous gift baskets of their curated pantry staples, each containing an artisanal pasta, olive oil, salt, mustard, and honey from their line of local California-crafted goods. (Forget those edible fruit arrangements and generic corporate gift baskets; these are the ones I’d send for special occasions.) The proprietress, Vanessa Bolden, even showed up to the party and I can say that she truly cares about quality and supports these lovely small producers, on top of being a pretty groovy gal.
Thank you to all the sponsors who made the party possible and to all the people who rocked a copy of The CSA Cookbook. I came home with a few new friends, a big smile on my face, and a deep appreciation for the wonderful community we have here. I’m honored that Garden Betty is a blog you choose to read.