Rhode Island Workshop 2017 : A Recap

February 16, 2017

I believe people come into your life for a reason and on a particularly mild New England January weekend 12 amazing women came into mine.  Though the time was short, we will be forever connected by a silvery thread of memory, the stunning Norman Bird Sanctuary and Paradise Farmhouse and our love to creating, making, food and photography.

If I could do it all over again, I would, in a heart beat. The conversations we had in the between moments were some of my favorites. I am still rolling through some, taking time to digest them, take them to heart. I was inspired by this group of passionate hearts, tenacious spirits and the gentle fearlessness in each of them – I have never met a group quite like this but I am so very thankful that I had the opportunity.

It is always my hope that in creating a beautiful and welcoming space that beauty will be in turn be reflected outward. In this instance I am sure that it was. Gathered round our tables laden with the exquisite handmade works of some of our partners; ceramics from the husband and wife team at Myrth,  elegantly thick bottomed glassware from Simon Pearce and the gorgeously tactile heavy linens from Rough Linen the conversation flowed easily and the laughter was frequent. That deep belly sort of laughter.  One of the things I loved most about the group was that intense feeling of common ground even though we had all come from so many different lives and places, countries and communities. There was much wisdom shared as we passed platters of the delicious seasonal and locally focused fare prepared thoughtfully by chef Sarah Waldman. It was a true pleasure working with Sarah these last few months in preparation for the workshop; chatting menus, meals and her pushing us all to think intimately about the humble but robust bounty of this region in the winter season. We happily chatted in the candlelight munching on crunchy endive salad, warmed out bellies with New England clam chowder and spooned rich creamy polenta into the bowls of those seated next to us. Sharing was truly the theme of the weekend. So much wisdom from some many different experiences and lives lived flowed freely and easily enveloping us all.

There was a magical afternoon tea outside, with beautiful cakes in all shapes and sizes and handsome Faribault Mill blankets kept us cozy. Another highlight was our final afternoons lunch; a beautifully appointed cheese plate with a lovely selection of fresh and aged cheese from Vermont Creamery, tiny bowls filled with jams and jellies, dried fruits, nuts, apples pears and grapes. It was a fest for the eyes and the senses. But, on reflection though, I think I loved our mornings together most of all. An unusual group of early birds. Pots of gorgeous Kings Row Coffee were being made constantly and the kettle continuously boiling as cups of Smith Teamaker teas were handed out. I love the ease of our mornings together. People constantly popping in and out of the kitchen as I made a breakfast shakshuka, find the recipe below or Betty Liu my most amazing workshop co-host was whipping up a delicious batches of savory porridge (head to her blog to find recipes and her recap of the workshop. The porridge is seriously addictive as is the lavender bergamot cake she made for afternoon tea! ).  Betty is such a creative force. I am always in awe of her talents not only as a photographer but an absolute kitchen wizard. Her flavor combinations never cease to amaze and delight me. She is a true source of inspiration and has the most generous spirit, sharing everything of herself. So I could not have been more thrilled to have the opportunity to work with this incredible woman yet again.

I also must thank Jenn Bakos, a beautiful photographer in her own right, kind spirit and the producer of one of my favorite regional publications T.e.l.l. New England  She helped us hold it all down over these three days with incredible poise and grace. We certainly could not have done it with out her and I am ever so grateful for all of her help and thrilled she was able to join us for the workshop.

It was quite special to start the year off in this way, tucked inside our farmhouse, looking out over the ocean and beautiful sunsets. This Rhode Island 2017 workshop is etched in my memory and I can think of no better way to begin the year. As friend always says of the new year, start as you mean to go on – and the spirit of this workshop is exactly how I would like to carry on for the year ahead as well as being the  sweetest  reminder of how beautiful that road can be.

thank you to everyone who attended, Betty, Sarah and Jenn for their passion and creative energy and all our amazing sponsors who helped make out days together truly special, beautiful and delicious.

Paradise Farmhouse at Norman bird sanctuary http://normanbirdsanctuary.org/

Myrth Ceramics – http://www.myrth.us/

Simon Pearce – http://www.simonpearce.com/

Rough Linen – https://www.roughlinen.com/

Vermont Creamery – http://www.vermontcreamery.com/

Apothekers Kitchen –  http://apothekerskitchen.com/

Curio Spice – http://www.curiospice.com/

The Coastal Table – https://www.thecoastaltable.com/

Faribault Mills http://www.faribaultmill.com/

Smith Teamaker – https://www.smithtea.com/

 

If you are interested in attending a future workshop please sign up to or mailing list. Its the best way to stay in the loop and find out when the next one is happening.

A breakfast treat, I prepared this dish one morning using a slightly adapted version of the recipe from Karen Mordechai’s brilliant book Sunday Suppers. The addition of Curio Spice Kandy Blend makes this dish something extra special indeed. If you find yourself in Cambridge Mass any time soon, be sure to visit Clare and her little jewel box of a shop on Mass Ave  – it holds something of the wonders of the world.

When baking the eggs, it might be a bit hard to tell when they are done, you want the whites to be opaque but still have a good wobble. They will continue to cook after they have been removed from the oven.

Shakshuka

serves 12

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 long green sweet italian peppers (or 2 green bell peppers) chopped
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 medium white onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp harissa
  • 2 tsp smoky paprika
  • 2 tsp Curio Spice Kandy Blend (ok to omit)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 14oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 14oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped chives
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. pre heat the oven to 375
  2. place a large oven safe dish or skillet, over medium high heat and warm olive oil and bay leaves
  3. add onion and peppers and saute until soft 5-7 minutes
  4. make a space in the center of the pan and add all the spices, saute until fragrant about 30 seconds
  5. add the garlic and saute another minute or so then add salt and pepper to taste
  6. then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. stir well to combine and increase the heat until the mixture starts to bubble
  7. remove from heat and place in the oven, bake approximately 15/20 minutes or until some of the liquid has reduced
  8. remove pan from oven, make little cups in the top of the tomato mixture and carefully crack an egg into each. return pan to the oven and cook until eggs are done. about 7 minutes more
  9. top with fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil and serve

 

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