this week i had the distinct pleasure of returning to san francisco to host a party with the lovely and most delicious frangelico — a classic liqueur, flavored with specialty Tonda Gentile hazelnuts, and whose origins date back more than 300 years to the presence of Christian friars who first created the liqueur while living in the hills of the Piedmont region of northern Italy. frangelico invited me to throw a galentine’s party for my favorite bay area gal pals and i was thrilled to oblige! we all got together at hands on gourmet — dogpatch’s wonderful cooking space and as a group we all broke off into teams and cooked an amazing italian feast to accompany our frangelico cocktails. we started off the evening with a wonderful welcome apperitif — the Frizzante — a simple easy cocktail to mix with one part frangelico and two parts sparkling water (or prosecco if you like) and a squeeze of fresh lime. the Frizzante has this delicious aftertaste of hazelnut that i really love paired with the refreshing sparkling water and hint of lime.
the hands on gourmet space is gorgeous — a loft-like space with windows spanning the entire room and beautiful views of the bay and city lights, so it was really fun to glam it up with the help of one of my favorite san francisco floral designers, ampersand. they went to town adding pretty greenery and flower arrangements they created especially for us with our frangelico and galentine’s theme in mind. we also had beautiful garlands from paper fox L.A. perfectly reflecting the evening’s sunset in their shimmery streamers, heart-shaped balloons and gold straws for sipping from oh happy day! and designer christine herrin created a lovely hand-drawn cocktail menu in gold for us. to make the evening extra special, we served our frangelico cocktails in pretty vintage glassware from frances lane.
with our frizzantes in hand and helpful guidance from hands on gourmet’s amazing chefs we set about making our italian feast — and a feast it was!! we made pizzas, meatballs, fritto misto, grilled vegetables, homemade Spaghetti Carbonara, grilled steak — i mean we were preparing a galentine gourmet feast! we then sat down to eat and Ashley from craft & cocktails served us a lovely frangelico cocktail called the Solo Tu created by Pam Wiznitzer of Seamstress NYC — a mix of frangelico, fig jam, skyy vodka, orgeat, lemon, salt and orange bitters – so delicious and light tasting with our amazing italian meal.
for the grand finale of our italian feast we served the hazelnutmeg, a cocktail made with frangelico, Wild Turkey Bourbon, Cream, Coconut Milk, and Nutmeg — divinely rich and yummy! and served along with it was also a to-die-for tiramisu we made topped with the prettiest heart-shaped sparklers from oh happy day! frangelico, perfect after a meal neat or with ice or as a complement to the coffee — Drink it in winter and summer; to warm you up or cool you down; short or long; straight or mixed, frangelico is delicious in every way. happy galentine’s day, everyone!
• photography by cindy loughridge for sfgirlbybay.
If you’re looking for a quick, affordable weekend getaway that’s totally Instagram-worthy but not over-hyped, with delicious food and all the fresh margaritas and coconuts you want, the Baja California town of La Fonda is your place. I had such a great experience there that I’m a little hesitant to even share because I want to keep it all to myself.
An easy and scenic four-hour drive from Los Angeles, the town of La Fonda is just an hour south of the Mexican border. The colors are as fantastic as you’d hope and the food as delicious. Within minutes of checking in to our Airbnb on the hillside of La Misión, we answered a knock on the door to find a neighbor selling fresh hot tamales. Check.
We visited in between the holidays which apparently was the perfect time to avoid any crowd. Our first two meals were on the patio at the “Original” La Fonda Restaurant (just one door down from the current La Fonda Restaurant). The day’s menu items were carefully scripted onto an a-frame chalkboard sign and each table romantically candle-lit with the view and sounds of the waves crashing just below. We enjoyed a large lobster dinner with rice, beans, fresh chips and salsa and margaritas for four at a total of $30.
Just a mile or so south of the hotel La Fonda you’ll find a miniature Santa Monica pier environment set up on the beachfront. Locals and travelers alike stop at a handful of colorful fruit stands ready to mix up a piña colada or mango smoothie. You can rent a horse and trot down the beach at sunset. There was even a guy giving rides on what looked like a home-made motorized hang-glider (we just watched).
My friend and I brunched at the La Fonda Restaurant (huevos rancheros and chile verde with coffee, fresh o.j. and bread for $12), while we watched our husbands surf below. We shared the patio with a handful of other guests and the waiters very patiently and graciously helped us with our attempts at ordering in Spanish.
If you find the energy to remove yourself from the beach and are in the mood to explore, a short drive south will drop you in the port town of Ensenada. Head due east for wine country. And for those souvenirs, our best shopping experience was at Puerto Nuevo, the “Lobster Capital of Baja,” about twenty minutes north of La Fonda. Come hungry and ready to barter (respectfully, of course). Eager shopkeepers comically lure you into their stores with coffee tequila and good prices and restaurant representatives will follow you down the street doing their best to convince you that they have the best lobster in town. Lots of handmade gifts, quirky souvenirs and ridiculous candies.
Everyone took dollars and we were thankful to find most folks spoke enough English for us to get by. However, it was apparent that they appreciated even our most vulgar efforts of speaking Spanish so if you can brush up on your high school Spanish skills before you go, do it. We were told that it’s ideal to hit the border around 11am but we lingered at a few stops on our way back only to realize one of us had forgotten his passport back at the house (oops) so we hit the border city of Tijuana right at dark which wasn’t great. Pretty poor signage combined with the congested traffic made it quite the adventure to even find the border line. And then once we were in it, it took about three hours before crossing back into the U.S. Thankfully, wedged in between the lanes there’s an abundance of fresh churro stands and ice cream carts and hot tamales ready to be purchased and passed through your car window. We even got out and tried on a few ponchos while we waited. So come ready with small bills, a card game and maybe a movie or two downloaded to pass the time. Adios, amigos.
• photography by lily glass.
i’m delighted to take you inside the brand new san francisco-based home of floral design studio, tulipina. regarded as one of the most sought-after floral designers in the u.s. and beyond, owner kiana underwood recently moved her workspace from her home in nearby burlingame to this light-filled loft in sf’s potrero hill. her signature garden-style combines plenty of color, texture and a medley of floral varieties, including fun pops of fruit and foliage. you can see why her arrangements are coveted for every wedding and event! she further extends her passion through teaching, hosting both local and destination workshops for fellow floral enthusiasts and professionals. in fact, she’s teaching a course in indonesia as we speak.
i’ve seen kiana’s work up close at a number of events and workshops and i’ve admired and loved every installation—from lush tablescapes to hanging chandeliers. the moment she shared a photo of her new studio, i knew I had to pay her a visit.
love at first sight the moment i walked in. i mean, those stairs!
her white medicine cabinet of candy colored vessels waiting to be filled.
the main floor is her workspace.
and the loft above, for meetings and gatherings.
• all photography by leslie santarina.