Friday, April 27, 2012

Sunset Supper at DaVero

 OMG, What a beautiful evening at DaVero! Colleen and Ridge Evers of DaVero Olive Oil and Wines in Headsburg hosted a spectacular "Sunset Supper" last night, which they do every last Thursday's of the month with a rotating guest chef in their stunning tasting room.  It's classic Sonoma Style.  We started the evening in the courtyard amongst the vines, with the sun slowing gliding the tree tops and adding an extra rosy glow to the fabulous DaVero Estate Rosato and Vermentino that was poured for starters.  Amidst monster artichoke plants, water sculpture and willowy baby olive trees, the intimate fellowship began as Ridge and Colleen greeted their guests with appetizers of Ahi stuffed cherry tomatoes and duck breast on crostini with pinot braised onions.  Sean Crowley was my date.  Besides being my brother and best friend, I had to get his input on wines for our list!  And doesn't he and Colleen look smashing in the filtered rays of sunset!?

We then moved into the tasting room for diner which was transformed with a beautiful, long banquet table down the middle. Chef Ken Rochioli prepared an incredible meal beginning with a crab salad with mango and jicama, which pared beautifully with the DaVero Falco 2010 Chardonnay.  It was followed by a delicious manicotti of veal and roasted pepper pesto to accompany the 08 DaVero Estate Sangiovese.  And the main course was roasted New York Steak with porcini sauce and braised fennel and artichoke hearts with their Falco 2005 Cabernet.  The perfect ending was a dense and decadent flourless cake with mascarpone and DaVero blueberry jam served with DaVero's 2006 Cabernet.... Oh, so yummy!  I ate all mine and I don't even like flourless chocolate cake!  All of the food pared beautifully with each wine.

So don't even think about missing next month, May 31st.  Colleen herself will be cooking, my "back-in-the-day" and fellow Stew Hen (that's another story) friend from Stars and believe me when I tell you, the girl CAN cook! All proceeds from Sunset Suppers goes to support their STAR scholarship program for children of farm workers at Healdsburg High School.  Check out their website and go to the events page.

This evening left such an impression on me because it is precisely what I'd like to create at Pizzalina.  Now obviously I don't have a gorgeous winery in Sonoma County, but its not always the location, but the feel of the fellowship and food.  To all be drawn together by the food at one table; breaking bread together, laughter, stories, meeting wonderful people you never knew before, like my new friends in Corte Madera, Henry and Glenda.  We talked about this magic, of real food with real people creating real community.  It's not about "who's who" in the culinary world, or what restaurant is "hot", or chef with most-est.  Its about a table where everyone is someone and we share the common necessity of nourishing our bodies and souls through the company of each other.

Its been my idea all along to have this kind of monthly event, be it Guest Chef or Wine/Farm to Table, etc., where we can gather as a community and give back to the communtiy.  Thank you Colleen and Ridge for solidifying that idea, and illustrating it in the ever present. Ooooo, can't wait!

Be grateful & blessings to you....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Welcome Chef Douglas!

Everyone please welcome aboard my new chef, Douglas Richey!  We shook hands today over a lovely lunch that he prepared at Farallon.  Douglas put together a beautiful spring salad of fresh greens with radish, fennel, grilled asparagus, speck & squash blossoms. The grilled asparagus was a nice contrast in the salad.  We then had black bass with potato risotto, peas, beets, pickled ramp and chili zabaglione.  Douglas sheepishly admitted he got excited and put too many things on the plate, which we all agreed, but when Mark tasted the bass and said it was fantastic, I knew he was the right one.  Its more than just cooking well, you can feel his passion for food and he understands what I'm trying to create.  When I sent him my menu he was quite impressed and didn't feel it needed much more.  He's got all the local contacts, and he has some press and following of his own. He's married and ready to settle down and settle into a place he can call his own, and that's just what I'm looking for.  We've got a few months before we need to get started on the kitchen but it will come soon enough and I feel so much better having someone I feel I can trust and who's excited lined up for the task ahead.  And he makes salumi!  He's going over to Mark's this weekend to put up a batch that should be ready just in time for our grand opening!

I'm looking forward to working with him and I think he'll be a great asset to the business.

Oooo nighty-night, its late!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Keep Trying

Well as I prepare for what should be an exciting day (you'll see tonight), I thought my daily reading was perfect!  Food, love, lessons & encouragement to keep trying......

Word For You Today -- Online Devotionals: Keep Trying: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Mt 25:23 NKJV In Discipleship Journal Paul Thigpen writes: “I remember coming home one afternoon t...

Monday, April 23, 2012


Monday.... I'm finding Monday sets the tone for the week.  It's hit the ground running, anything left over from Friday gets moved to the top of the pile and a plan for the week is set.  This week it was follow up on the store front drama, and I got a letter back from the ABC with more demands.  The good news is its all fairly simple.

The ABC wants proof of all my funds, investors, loans & gifts. That's just paperwork. They do want a more detailed plan for the outdoor eating area and it seems as though the one we submitted is unacceptable.  She's going to visit the site this week for review.  The good news is the woman is very nice, and seems genuinely helpful.  It seems like if I just keep the attitude of "how can we make it work", she'll let me know and it'll be a lot easier.

The next good news was that my architect, the diplomat, was able to convince the architects over the center to approve our store front.   After hearing our concept, and hearing all Bill's arguments for, we were able to get the go ahead with just a minor addition of lighting, which is a good idea.  One fire quenched only to have another flare up with the city planning.  Seems what the Landlords people submitted for their portion of the work wasn't sufficient and they want full drawings, which isn't OUR department.  Again, Bill to the rescue!  Let's hope they can work things out with the city.  Each time they want something new its Cha-ching!

Lots of calls to try and get my estimates in.  Calls to line-up new appointments.  Got a quick lesson in payroll services and I've got one more company to talk to before I have to make a decision and I've got some time.  I'm trying to get as many of these details nailed down before I've got a building permit in hand, that's when the fun will start and I'll be running like a chicken with my head cut off!

I reconnected with my dear friend Beth Casey tonight, we had dinner together.  She's a like-minded, kick back to old school hospitality.  She's a woman who's passion is to serve people and build community in the most creative and fun way possible.  We had a great time just tossing around ideas and commiserating on the breakdown of social graces, she's an inspiring woman!

Di Matteo, Naples
I'll leave you with my favorite pie from my trip to Naples.  It's surely going on the menu and I hope you like it as much as I do.  Tomato sauce, black olives, garlic, basil, and preserved tuna, delicious!  What do you think?  I can't wait to be able to make these pies for you!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Minor Headaches

Da Michel, Naples Italy The Benchmark!
Seems like a lot has happened since Tuesday.....  I've found a chef I'm excited about.  I'm hoping to get him to "audition" (do some cooking) for me next week.  He's got the right kinds of experience, has all the right local contacts, Spanish - check, wood-fired oven - check, Italian cuisine - check, salumi making & butchering - check, passionate - check, some press - check, and all his references had very good things to say about him.  So, I'll leave you all hanging on that one until something is solid, but I'm very hopeful.

My dear friend Bonnie Swift came over Wednesday night to help me stuff the 250 envelopes for the letters I had to send out for the ABC.  Thank God for my "roll up your sleeves" friends!  Then we went out for a nosh & drink at Frantoio.  Bonnie's dear friend Duilio Valenti is the Executive Chef/Owner there who she's been trying to introduce me to.  He was so encouraging and helpful, said he'd keep an ear open for a chef for me too.  Our supper was delicious and it got me inspired to get my place open, soon!

Thursday and today were lots of admin.  Phone calls, appointments set up, more POS, merchant services, payroll, FOH & BOH (front of house/back of house) systems.  Bla, bla, bla..... It's amazing how many people take forever to return phone calls and get back to you with bids, proposals, quotes and whatever else they call it.  I've got 2 sign guys I haven't heard back from and 1 table and chair guy, its been over a week in some cases.  This is why it always takes longer than you think.  I did meet with a recycled table maker here in San Rafael today who does beautiful work,  Check them out!  I hope they're affordable.

So then I get home to an email from my architect.  Seems the architecture company that has been in charge of the whole Red Hill Shopping Center remodel doesn't like our store front design.  They picked it all to pieces because it doesn't look like the rest of the shopping center.  What really irks me is that they've had the design proposal for about 6 weeks, we've already finished all the plans and submitted to the county!  My architect finally called the project manager to find out if it'd been approved or not, they sent us back the design with a bunch of picked apart remarks!  They don't have a clue who we are, what we're doing or why we've designed the way we did.  We submitted a store front reflective of a rustic, Italian eatery.  We want to look different.  We want to add a dimension of class to the Center.  Bill my architect is fighting for our design and I hope they will understand and agree.  Otherwise I'm going to have to go down there and kick some ass!  LOL!!
I'm getting tougher skin! 

Thank God for a beautiful weekend ahead.....enjoy you all & come in for pizza tonight at Picco!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Weird Day

This is why I do it!
Weird day.  I was off.  You know, one of those days you drag yourself out of bed, feel tired for no reason, a shadow hovering too near.  I went for a hike in the morning and then hit the road.

I had a meeting with a POS dealer.  Yet another sales pitch.   Technical jargon, confusing proposals, promise the moon, dis the competition, name drop, guilt trip, I feel pressured.  I'm getting better at recognizing the pitch and my skin is getting thicker and my radar more tuned in.  The reality is everyone wants to sell you something, everyone wants and needs your business and I understand that, and sympathize with it, but in the end its got to work for MY business.

Then I had to pick up all the stuff to mail the notices for the ABC.  That was a bit of a shock!  These are the things that cost more, but you didn't see coming.  I made an allowance in my budget for the ABC license based on their fees.  What I didn't take into consideration is the cost to buy envelopes, stamps, reproduce 300 letters, not to mention the costs for fingerprinting & a newspaper posting.  Not that its all that much, but $300 over here and there starts adding up. 

One o'clock interview with chef;  he talked a good story and knew all the right things to say.  If I hadn't already talked to a chef friend of mine (name changed to protect the innocent), and found out he was terrible I might of considered pursuing things further.  He actually lied about his experience!

So I spent the rest of the night trying with my limited Excel skills, to import the file the city gave me for the mailing into labels, which for some reason I had to totally rebuild the file they gave me.  Oh, and yes, some back log accounting.....

This was one of those days you know to expect, its not really hard, no monumental roadblocks, just minor irritations.  They tell you everything takes longer than you thought and costs just a little more than you expected, and its true.  Its just enough to be frustrating.  Just enough to wear on you emotionally until you get that little devil on your shoulder whining, "tell me, why did you want to do this?"   It makes you think for a minute....

But there's no turning back, and I really don't want to.  I'm as committed as I've ever been in my life and I feel as positive and excited that this is going to be an incredible place, blessed beyond measure.  I feel it in my bones.  So I step out on the tightrope every day, and pray that my faith will see me to higher heights. 

amen lil' sister.....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Big Day

Big day!  Got all my signs up, got my fingerprints and ad in the Marin IJ for the ABC and went over to the city planning department to find out what to do about gathering the addresses of all residents in a 500 ft radius of the building.  Phil Boyle, San Anselmo's Head Planner was kind enough to run it through their program that extracts the addresses and property owners in whatever parameters you give it.  Thank God for modern technology!  What did people do before computers?  They probably didn't require as much, which is why it now takes so long to get through all these governmental agencies.  Hahaha, its the "Catch 22" - they say small business is the answer to generate more jobs, but try and get through all the red tape!  Hello, don't you want my taxes?  The sooner I get open, the sooner they get taxes.  Well, I am praying for the best.... a smooth process through the County Health Department and the City of San Anselmo Planning.

I had a phone interview today with Tracy Ruiz, the Head Editor at our local "Patch".  Check them out, its local news and happenings at  The voice of the peoples, grass roots community bulletin board gone cyber.  Anyway, Tracy and I have been communicating about my blog and she wanted to do an article on The Building of a Restaurant Blog.  We had a lovely conversation about the inspiration for it, my back round and what were my thoughts on the blogging process.  I love it!  I don't know if anyone else finds it interesting but its somewhat therapeutic for me to sit at my keyboard after a crazy day and pour out my thoughts, frustrations, and victories unto this digital page.  For those who might be contemplating fulfilling their dream to open a restaurant,  I would encourage you to follow your dreams, just go into it with your eyes wide open and prepared, and I hope this site would enlighten you to some things you may have never thought of.

We did get our plans in today with the Marin County Environmental Health Department.  I met Bill my architect there, he turned in the full set of plans that he, the kitchen designer and the structural engineer have been working on for about 6 weeks.  It was a very impressive stack of paper work (damn, I should have taken a picture!)  I signed the papers and paid my $2,261. Bill introduced me to Priscilla who is in charge of all the plan checks (my new best friend)  and I got my very own Jr. set of plans!  Woo-Hoo, here we go!  20 days if all goes well and they sign off, then it goes to the City of San Anselmo, that could be another 20 -30 days and then I'll have a building permit in hand and the building can begin!

Also got my taxes done, personal and corporate.  First time in years I haven't had to file an extension!  And also found out they sent my new business check to the address of the site and now no one knows where my checks are.  Not good.  Let's hope they fix that or I'm getting another bank! 

I've never felt more alive and excited!  As my Pastor said last Sunday, "Dream Big!"  So, sweet dreams my friends. 

Dream sweet and dream big......

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Newest Angel

Busy weekend!  I'm tired and I've got to hit the deck running tomorrow.  Saturday I met with a guy who may be making my tables.  He had a sample to show me, but we need a little more distressing.  And I finally picked up my sign.  The people at Ram Print took my messed up graphic file which I quickly put together in PowerPoint and fixed it so it could be blown up to print large format.  I think they've just become my printers.  Yuri was a gem to work with and it looks great.  I'm putting it up tomorrow along with my notice to serve alcohol.  I have a picture tomorrow.  Yeah!

But the real score was in Patrick Coll the GM and partner at Marinitas in San Anselmo.  He is my newest angel on board.  Wow, generosity isn't the word for it.  I met him through William Craig my architect.  He knows everyone in the business, and we have many mutual friends.  Bill and I had a meeting there about a month ago and he introduced me, at which point Patrick graciously said, "Any time you need anything, come on in I'm always here."  I had been thinking about how kind an offer it was and I had been trying to get in, but something always came up.  So finally, we arranged to get together yesterday.  My God!  The wealth of his knowledge and experience, not only the stories and contacts but he actually loaded tons of articles, forms, manuals, etc. onto a zip drive for me.  I'm talking years of valuable data, collected and organized.  He just handed it to me and said, "Here, you'll need this."  I don't even no how to thank him enough.   Maybe he's always that kind or maybe sweetheart of sweetheart chefs, Heidi Krahling has rubbed off on him, whatever it is, I'm so grateful!

Everyday there are challenges and new things to figure out.  Some days I'm tired and my head is spinning with all there is to do and figure out.  Some days there are surprises I didn't see coming, but its these unforeseen blessings in the form of people and their generosity that encourage me so.  It gives me faith in people, faith in this business and faith in humanity that yes, we can be better by lifting each other up.  I helps me to trust that I too can do it that way, and pour into others and create a giving, caring and sharing atmosphere for the people I work with.  That we are all better off by giving, rather than being fearful of what we could lose.  I too will "pay it forward" for someone else.

Had my girlfriends over for diner tonight, did some cooking and was going to post photos but I'm too tired to upload the photos and I got too busy to take after photos.  Maybe tomorrow.

thanks again Patrick!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Road Ahead

I really missed my morning on the hill with Kate,  Griffy & Macy yesterday.  It's amazing how you can get attached to something so quickly.  Since I got Macy, I've been fore fitting my time at the gym for dog walks, but the hikes have become a much welcomed ritual for all of us. The beauty of this area, the ever changing spring weather and the camaraderie and friendship of sharing life's road ahead is priceless!  I'm really trying to keep that early hour free, but yesterday I had my appointment at the ABC  in Santa Rosa to submit the beer & wine license application so I had to.

I was supposed to meet with a consultant before my appointment to look over the application and clean up any possible problems, but he called last minute and said he was still out of town...... Hmmm, good thing I felt pretty good about the leg work I'd done.  When I took it in the woman said, "Nice application"!  It is a daunting stack of papers, but now there's more! I thought you'd take it in and they'd stamp it and say, OK.  No, now I've got to post to the Marin IJ, post the little sign "soon to serve alcohol" mail back affidavits and the worst, I've got to send letters to every address in a 500 ft radius, list them and send them the list!  How'my go do that?!  Add it to Mondays "to-do" list.....

But I did finally get a proof on my "Coming Soon" sign which I'm hoping to put up by days end.  I also finally set up an interview with someone I'm very excited about, and thank God I have some friends in this business, a quick conversation last night saved me from hiring someone I was giving serious consideration to who I found out is trouble, whew!  I also, popped into "Swirl" the soft serve yogurt shop next door to meet the owner, Paul.  He's worried about me serving soft serve ice cream right next door.  He suggested ice cream, which I was originally planning to do homemade ice creams.  So, I am starting to rethink....... organic, whole milk house made ice creams or organic whole milk soft serve, vanilla & chocolate?  Which do you vote for?

Hoping to put up all my signs today.  Everything takes longer than you think!  Have a wonderful weekend.... get out and enjoy the beautiful spring!  As my Minister of Music would say.... Live, Love, Laugh.......


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Front Page News!

Front page side bar of the Marin IJ
Wow, front page of the Marin IJ!  I don't know which angel to thank for that, but I'll thank Anna Haight, chief Bread & Butter correspondent there, though I may have a few others floating overhead!

I woke up today with a long to-do list.  After a morning hike with my dear friend Kate Rose and our beloved canine companions, Macy (my Guide Dog foster girl & Griffy her new bo) I was ready to meet the day.  It's a great arrangement, everyone leaves better.  I saw it on Facebook early, I thought - cool!  I reposted it feeling very proud and went about my day...... 3  interviews for the chef position, still wrestling with the sign.  3 trips now to Kinkos, its really my fault, I know nothing about resizing photographs for enlarging.  I thought Kinkos would be more help.  I'm going to a sign shop tomorrow!  A brief stop on site to get the alarm proposal signed, then on my way into the city for my other interviews.  Kate calls me and says, "It's on the front page"!  Ok I have to admit, I don't get the paper but I did run out and buy one!  I hope it's the first of many articles on a wonderful, local eatery that blesses the community in a multitude of ways. 

Also in the Bread and Butter column was the new Avatar's Punjabi Burrito in Fairfax.  I had put in an offer on that space, and the one in Larkspur only to loose both to Punjabi.  I wish them great success in their new locations and love their burritos.  I'm a firm believer that what is right for you comes in good time, if you trust.

 So I'm at the Ferry Plaza today and saw the Boccalone bike parked out front, then saw this great picture in a magazine for another decked out awesome delivery bike.  What are you trying to tell me?  Something in a very hip and  Euro-stylish bicycle with "Pizzalina" artistically painted on the side for local delivery?  What do you say gang?  Anyone got some able-bodied teenagers who'd like to earn a little extra money and exercise over the summer?  I love it and if nothing else want one to ride to work everyday!

Then I got home with a pile of computer stuff to do and my internet connection went out.  I got the ABC stuff all put in order for my appointment with them on Friday and then finally called ATT and spent an hour and a half with them getting my computer back online.  At least the second guy who helped me was so pleasant.  You realize just how important good customer service is.  As I embark to open a restaurant where customer service is everything, it just reminds me how valuable a great attitude is.  A friendly and patient person, who also knows what they're doing, is more and more a rarity these days.  You can teach a person to do a job, but you can't teach them how to enjoy it, or enjoy people.  That's an inside job.  I pray to find employees with that inside kind of love of people, kindness & joy.

nighty, night....

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chef ads

Today I started interviewing chefs.  I placed a Craigslist ad last week to find a chef to run the kitchen.  My its interesting what responses you get!  After reading over many ads on Craigslist and laboring over what to say and how to phrase it,  I'm shocked at some of the responses.  People either don't read the ads carefully, have an overblown sense of themselves, or they just answer everything.  You really have to read between the lines!  So when I got home today after my first 2 interviews, and I've never interviewed chefs before, I saw this hysterical Craigslist post from a friend of mine, Michael Shrader who just opened a phenomenal new restaurant, Urban Union in Chicago to much acclaim!  I laughed so hard I almost fell off the couch!  I bet every chef who reads it will wish they could post an ad like that!  It takes cojones!  Warning..... it's uncensored! 

Selection 1
So then I went to several places in the city that supply tables, chairs and banquettes to the restaurants and also 3 discount fabric stores that I know of from my old upholstery days.  Found a couple of fabrics I like for the back of the long banquette that will line the entire length of the right side wall.  The seat will be a complimentary vinyl, you know the kind that wipes up after kids spill the meatballs and then proceed to tap dance on top of them!  I particularly liked these two, and they were very reasonable.  Any votes?  Personally, I think the brown will go better with red wine stains.

Selection 2
Tomorrow, more interviews.  Then I've got to get the sign done for the front of the building.  I took it in on Friday but they didn't call me to proof it and they didn't tell me they needed the file in a different format so the fonts are all wrong..... try again.  Got to follow up with the exterior sign companies, and 3 furniture resources, and then finalize the ABC application.  I also want to try out a new outdoor seating layout. 

Oh dear its late......

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Number Roping

Sign & Web Site
 Well, the highlight of my week was still the Ramini Buffalo Mozzarella farm!  Since then I've been roping numbers.  We've been trying to figure out how to cut $50,000 out of the budget!  It's not a good ideal to start out over budget!  God knows it'll wind up going there on its own!  It's all about being prudent in the beginning.  I'm just having to forgo some finishes and go real basic.  You put in everything you want up front and then adjust from there.  Just so happens, I've got to scale DOWN.  Its all good, my contractor and architect are working really hard to make it happen within a tight margin.  I am so blessed to have them on my team!
Stripped Down

So I'm working on a sign for the window to announce the coming of "pizzalina".  What do you think?  I took the photograph at a pizzeria in Naples this year, it was my favorite oven on the trip and I'll be using it as inspiration for my oven in Pizzalina. I've also got the same layout as a marker for my website, now up.  Still under construction also, but looking great thanks to Zina Jordan of Seattle, my web designer extraordinaire!  Also finalizing some logos, you'll probably see them next week.  I've got to find a sign maker, started that process today.  Got an appointment with the ABC next Friday to get that submitted.  Pricing tables, chairs, banquettes, POS, & insurance.  Got to get all the numbers nailed down, so I can finalize the total budget and pray to God, they come in near the initial projections!  Ooooo, God I pray for favor!

Check out the new website tell me what you think.

 buona notte.....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Buffalo boy won't you come out tonight...

I needed a chill out day.... I've been all wound up since the "budget" meeting. Worrying, obsessing, anxious, can't sleep.  Hahaha, get used to it, I tell myself.  I was going to buckle down and work through it today, but I knew I needed a release.  Nothing like a good drive out to the coast to calm me down.  So out I went to see Craig Ramini and his water buffalo.

Leslie Russo, my accountant first told me about Craig.  Then John Czinczoll, who I contacted to do my concrete and plaster work told me about him.  "Oh, you must meet Craig", they all said.  He's an amazing guy with a big vision to make Italian styled Buffalo Mozzarella from water buffalo bred and raised in California.  I loved the idea immediately!  Brilliant, you know its all about the passion when someone takes on something this big.  So out I drove to meet Craig and his buffalo.

Just what I needed!  Once I left the town of Petaluma and started heading towards the coast, I could feel my nerves relax.  It was a beautiful day, and the horizon moved from rolling green hills to blue-gray clouds.  The smell of rain to come was in the air and I turned up my gospel rehearsal CD LOUD!  Nothing like a country drive and singing at the top of your lungs to push back a funk!

So I pull into the driveway and there's a few buffaloboys (you know, like cowboys) hanging out.  "Who's Craig?" I announced, and I proceed to meet Craig Ramini the proprietor and entrepreneur behind this incredibly brave venture.  I got a full on tour, the history, some rudimentary lessons in buffalo husbandry, and an introduction to the sweetest baby water buffalo you'd ever want to meet!  Van and Mick, all his buffalo are named after 60s/70s rockers (Morrison and Jagger).  Oh they were so sweet!  Van particularly liked having his jowls scratched. 

There won't be enough milk for production for  another 6 months, but I can't wait to be able to taste and buy this wonderful, local buffalo mozzarella to serve at Pizzalina.  It may be too good to melt on pizza.  I'm thinking a simple portion drizzled with great olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.  Maybe a roasted pear or heirloom tomato to accompany, but you want the flavor of the cheese to ring through.  The rich, creamy butterfat and the herbaceous fields from which they graze, that's what you want to taste!  I have a feeling Craig's love and passion for what he's doing will produce a mozzarella that will rival the Italian's.

 So, I could kick my own A@%* for not taking pictures!!!  I was so excited.  I left out of there, got to the coast to meet my friend Leslie for dinner at Osteria Stellina and felt like an idiot!  I wanted to take pictures to put on the blog.  So, I hope you don't mind Craig.... I swiped some off the internet.  You can learn all about him, the cheese and the water buffalo on his website at

Oh give me a home.....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why Pizza?

Oh boy, today was a little overwhelming!  Had my first budget meeting with the contractor & architect.   I need to figure out how to cut it down to size, and  I need a day to think on it!  So when I get that anxiety feeling I try and concentrate on the why.  So many people keep asking me, "Why pizza?" 

Well..... my first idea after the big Ah-Ha moment was a little cafĂ©, something small that I could handle myself.  I thought, ok a little diner I could remodel, serve breakfast and lunch; small, cheap, easy… “Diner Mama”, and that’s what I was looking for the first year.  I put in several offers on some good locations, got all excited, but was outbid.  Ok, Your will not mine......

So on Valentines Day 2009, I went to my favorite comfort restaurant in Marin, Pizzeria Picco.  There I sat at the counter, feeling a part of the whole, and had a wonderful meal of handmade salumi, perfectly dressed  salad, and the worlds most perfect pizza.  With a glass of rich red wine and an icy swirl of organic Strauss ice cream with olive oil and sea salt topping,  I was in heaven.  It dawned on me, this is the perfect dining experience.  I had an incredibly well prepared meal, fresh & handmade, in a casual and family like atmosphere, all for a reasonable price.   I went home and couldn’t stop thinking about my evening.  This is it!  This is what I want to create.  A home away from home – a home extended – a neighborhood restaurant, a community gathering place in which good food is the centerpiece, handmade and fresh.  Where hospitality, comfort, and the chatter and aromas of an active kitchen make you feel at home.  A place I would want to go to work everyday, with people I want to be with everyday.  I fell in love that night with and idea, a concept, a vision.  A seed had been placed in my marrow that has grown into a passion that I could make the rest of my life’s calling.   

Not any pizza.....I grew up on pizza, seems like almost every Friday night my family would pour into the station wagon and head to the local Shakey's Pizza Parlor.  My best friends father played banjo every Friday night there!  

But, that pizza!......Artisan, handmade.  Dough, that’s stretched and risen with natural yeast in the old tradition of Italy.  Handmade mozzarella cheese, the best San Marzano tomatoes, fresh local ingredients with the simplest preparation so they shine as they are, and then flash roasted in a wood fed oven.   Centuries and generations, a return to the old traditions that gathered people and communities together, this is what made sense to me, this is what I was after.     But some foods are just a match made in heaven no matter what you do…. Bread, tomatoes, cheese, but done well its shear perfection!

So I started researching ……. I found everything I could about wood-fired pizza.  I started eating in every wood-fired and artisan pizzeria I could, and of course, started experimenting making it on my own.  Which is a post for another day, but suffice it to day that I owe a great deal of appreciation and inspiration to Bruce and all his staff at Pizzeria Picco!  Had they not had such awesome pizza, I might be a "Diner Mama" today.

Thank you.....