The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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Eat Retreat

Eat Retreat: Favas

Two weeks ago, I had the good fortune to spend a weekend in rural Sonoma with an incredible group of food enthusiasts at the first ever Eat Retreat. Founded by an impressive trio of ladies (Laura Brunow Miner, Kathryn Tomajan and Emily Morgan), we were enticed with the tagline Play with your food this spring in northern California.

Eat Retreat: Warm Welcome

Eat Retreat: Raw Seafood Bar

I carpooled up with Jeff Potter, who shared with me not only his book-writing wisdom but also an impressive collection of tasteless jokes. (The best kind!) We arrived to a brief, intense hailstorm and a stack of Julie Morelli’s lovingly crafted, totally charming, letterpressed Eat Retreat notebooks. (Which Laura rightly declared the best swag ever!) AND then! A raw seafood bar of epic proportions, with oysters, scallops and crab, courtesy of Anna Larsen, plus bottles of champagne begging to be quaffed and a whole pig roasting over an open fire. There was an unending supply of impressively selected wines, beers and whiskeys sourced by Bruce Cole and Jesse Friedman. There were two unbelievably gorgeous brunches (Marc Matsumoto’s lime-marinated pineapple: transcendent) enjoyed in bright spring sunshine and two amazingly crafted dinners eaten al fresco in the chilly evenings. (Scarves and mittens abounded!)

Strawberries with 25 Year Balsamic courtesy of Bruce Cole

Tucked in between the proper meals was a panini interlude (thanks to Deidre Hopp for spearheading and Dafna Kory for her amazing INNA Jam; Jam+cheese+toasted bread=heaven), spit-roasted chicken with the tastiest dry rub ever (thanks to Nate Keller, who did not stop cooking the entire weekend!), an afternoon cheese tasting, dangerously good halibut crudo courtesy of Mike Lee, absolutely perfect fava bean crostini made by Lauren Ladoceour, Jesse Friedman’s entertaining and enlightening discussion about the craft of beer, and OH, I could go on, and on. James Collier said it best when he wrote of the weekend, Let’s just say we never went hungry.

Sausages and Cured Peppers Courtesy of Julie Morelli

What did we do when we weren’t stuffing our pie holes? We talked about food, snuggled up to the campfire, overcrowded the hot tub, discussed the obesity epidemic, shared our food philosophies, giggled, hiked, photographed everything five times over, marveled at the landscape, the hawks, and our ridiculous luck. To say the weekend was fortifying is an understatement.

Halibut Crudo

One of the things that makes my heart swell the most is this: I arrived at Eat Retreat having met only two people there, and left feeling like I had just made some of the raddest friends ever. Which brings me to the clearest takeaway from the weekend: the value of community. I find that I spend a lot of time cultivating and nurturing my little food community through the internet (a place that fills me with warm fuzzies, no doubt). It is refreshing, energizing and inspiring to spend a weekend entirely away from the internet with a group of ridiculously talented, enthusiastic, passionate and fun people. One weekend with them was not enough.

Yogurt Starters by way of Harold McGee, Courtesy of Mirit Cohen

Nate Keller + Akiko Moorman Butcher a Pig

  • Kasey - Sounds amazing!!! I so wish I get an opportunity to go in the future!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - This sounds absolutely fantastic! What a great opportunity–thanks for sharing some of the fun.ReplyCancel

  • kimberley - Ladies! I really want to continue the spirit of community that pervaded the weekend. Imagine if we had a bloggers version of this – not a blogging conference, but a retreat for all of our favorite food bloggers to get together and share and be inspired. I’m also considering hosting a monthly event at my house dedicated to the craft of food in some capacity. Thinking and mulling.ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - Just lovely! I love eating with people that share my passion for food and appreciate a well prepared meal. Oooh, the colors you captured!ReplyCancel

  • Rita - If you host a monthly event at your house, please consider me your virtual guest! If only we lived closer… :( I’m so sorry to live on the other side of the globe… This retreat sounds absolutely fantastic!! I’m sure you had a lot of fun!! :DReplyCancel

  • Sasa - So great! I love meeting strangers and coming away friends too, I’ve done it a few times and treasure the memory…Also, tasteless jokes FTW.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Sigh. Thank you for sharing. This really does sound amazing. I’d absolutely love to fly out to SF to hang with some of my favorite food bloggers! I’d also love to host a Brooklyn version. Count me in.ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - What an incredible event! I appreciate your thoughts on community – virtual and real time. Thanks so much for sharing and your beautiful photos!ReplyCancel

  • bianca - What a lovely experience. To have a weekend to bond over a shared love of food is the most rejuvenating and inspiring experience. Thank you for sharing, I was eagerly awaiting this update and it did not disappoint!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane - I know jealousy is not a pretty trait, but I must admit I’m very green with envy! Your idea of a bloggers retreat and a monthly event sounds incredibly intriguing. Happy to brainstorm with you if you ever need another mind at work. For now, thanks so much for sharing the details (and beautiful photos, as always) of this stunning retreat!ReplyCancel

  • deidre - Kimberly-
    I love your idea! I’m in. I’ll try not to swipe any cameras. Great post!


  • leela - these veggies look freakin delish!

    and, do yourself a favor and get yourself a bowl full o mangos.



  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - There are so many pictures here that I just adore… and, despite my pescatarian ways, I’m loving the one of the pig! Gorgeous! Oh the fun we would have together at one of these events. Sigh.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole Franzen ` - looks amazing :) cant wait to come out to cali for a visitReplyCancel

  • Brad - Sounds fantastic – wish I’d been there!!ReplyCancel

  • Tricia - Magic!! What a beautiful weekend, I’m so happy for you that you were able to be a part of something so connective. Thanks for sharing it with us, total inspiration :) — p.s. your photos make me west-coast homesick in a very good way!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie - Oh goodness! What a fun weekend! I honestly can’t wait to meet ya’ll someday. Would make for the most epic of parties. :-) The piggy at the end was a very fitting last image, BTW. LOLReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie - I just read the earlier comments and saw you were thinking about doing some kind of food blogger get-together? I don’t know if you were thinking of a summertime date but I will be flying out to SF this July. Hint, hint. :-pReplyCancel

  • Tine - Wow, that pig picture is amazing!
    Looks you had fun on that event!ReplyCancel

  • kickpleat - Oh man, that looks like a time. I’m so grateful and feel so connected online but it’s good to go out and experience all of that community in person too. How lucky and amazing that you went to this. I realize that it’s a good thing to put yourself out there in the real world too, how inspiring and wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • kimberley - You guys rock! Just sayin.ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin - What a wonderful experience you had – thanks for sharing with us!!ReplyCancel

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