Macro Monday | Red + Pink Ranunculus

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

“Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.” ~Gerard de Nerval

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

Whenever I have flowers around the house or growing in the garden, I can’t help but talk to them.

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

Just a simple greeting of hello.

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

Or a simple question of how they are doing today.

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

My husband looks at me a bit like I’m crazy when I do this,

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

but when I look at them, they’re each so different, with their own personalities…

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

…each like a little soul…

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

Some shy, some showy…

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

…but each beautiful in their own way.

Neely Wang Macro Flower Photography

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Sonoma County Food Photographer | Della Fattoria

Neely Wang Sonoma County Food Photographer

This past week, I had the pleasure of photographing the March event hosted by Fresh Starts Chef Events, a project to support Homeward Bound of Marin, a homeless shelter in Marin County, California, providing food, shelter and job training for those in need. This month’s Marin County Cooking Class event featured the team of James Beard nominated, Della Fattoria, a bakery and cafe located in Petaluma, California. Della Fattoria was named one of “America’s 10 Best Bread Bakeries” by Bon Appetit magazine in 2011, and their book, Della Fattoria Bread, written by founder and baker, Kathleen Weber, was recently nominated for a James Beard award. Kathleen Weber is a self-described “obsessive baker” whose bread has graced the tables of renowned wine county destinations, including The French Laundry and Sonoma Mission Inn. For the event, Chef Weber brought a team of chefs, including her son, Chef Aaron Weber.

Neely Wang Bay Area Food Photographer

The evening was sponsored by local favorite, The Republic of Tea, who also provided this refreshing lemon chiffon tea. So good!

Neely Wang Bay Area Food Photographer

The menu for the evening began with a Green Salad with Citronette. I normally make all my salads at home with romaine or mixed spring greens, but this bib/butter lettuce was really delicious and mild. Anyone know the nutritional content of bib lettuce compared to romaine? I’d love to try using bib lettuce instead of romaine.

Neely Wang Bay Area Food Photographer

Avocado was incorporated into the lemon juice vinaigrette, producing a wonderfully creamy dressing. I usually add slices or chunks of avocado into my salads, but breaking it down into the dressing sounds like a great idea — a sort of healthy creaminess! The sprinkled goat cheese on top added an extra bit of creaminess.

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

The main course was a Lamb Tagine with Dried Apricots, Golden Raisins and Pomegranate. Lamb is one of my favorite meats (I almost order it whenever I see it on a restaurant menu), and I love it when a bit of sweet is mixed with savory. 

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

Neely Wang Marin County Food Photographer

This tagine was super flavorful with all the dried fruits and spices, like saffron, turmeric, ginger, cumin and paprika.

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

In case you don’t have a tagine (I wonder how many people actually do), the Webers shared that a dutch oven could be used instead.

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

I snuck this cute picture of the Della Fattoria staff eating the lamb tagine that the students made. It’s one of my favorite pictures of the evening because it not only shows them as a family eating together (which is very much in line with the values of their bakery), but also in their natural, unguarded state when everyone else was eating. Plus, I love the irony of them eating their own recipes that someone else prepared!

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

And finally, Lemon Cream Tarts for dessert. Although I was stuffed to the brim, I could always find room for some lemony goodness! These were buttery, tangy, and absolutely delicious!

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

The preparation of the crust…

Neely Wang Marin County Food Photographer

…followed by the making of the lemon cream…

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

…the addition of the meringue….

Neely Wang Bay Area Food Photographer

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

And finally, the torching of the meringue.

Neely Wang Marin County Food Photographer

At the end of the evening, Chef Aaron Weber shared how they roll out their dough for their delicious bread. He made it look so simple, but it obviously took years and years of practice.

Neely Wang Marin County Food Photographer

Neely Wang Marin County Food Photographer

He demonstrated the rolling out of baguettes, 

Neely Wang Marin County Food Photographer

and boules.

Neely Wang Marin County Food Photographer

Kathleen shared throughout the evening about their “bread starter” and how it is on a tight schedule. They feed it twice a day “like a kid or a dog”, so that it doesn’t get too sour and remains the consistency of biscuit dough, which allows it to require no refrigeration. Their starter is less wet, which makes it less fragile and makes the bread nuttier tasting. She added that if the starter has too much liquid, the sugar gets eaten too fast, which would normally require it to be refrigerated.

Neely Wang Marin County Food Photographer

I already have 2 kids to worry about feeding, so I’ll just continue to enjoy eating the bread instead of making my own.

It was such a fun evening, and the food was so tasty! Check back for April’s event with Eco-Chef Bryant Terry, the author of Afro-Vegan, which was named by Amazon.com as one of the best cookbooks of 2014. Plus vegan soul food?? Very intriguing!

Since I’ve been in quite the salad mood lately, here is Della Fattoria’s Green Salad with Citronette recipe to try. Enjoy!

Green Salad with Citronette

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 lemon, cut in half
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
2 heads bibb or butter lettuce, any rough outer leaves removed and discarded
1/2 ripe avocado
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarsely cut or torn basil, mint or oregano leaves
1/4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese

Directions:
1. Squeeze the lemon into a large salad bowl. Add the salt, mustard and shallot.
2. Separate the heads of lettuce into individual leaves and wash and dry well.
3. Add the avocado to the lemon juice mixture and use a whisk to break it up. Give everything a turn with the whisk to combine, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until you have an emulsified mixture; the amount of oil you add will depend on the tartness of the lemon. The dressing will be thick, but should be loose enough to toss with and coat the lettuce leaves.
4. Season with additional salt to taste, then add the herbs, if using, and add the greens, tossing to coat.
5. Scatter the cheese over the top, if using, and serve the salad with the sliced bread on the side.

Macro Monday | Yellow is in the Air

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

Whenever I think of spring, the color yellow immediately pops into my head — yellow flowers, yellow lemons, yellow sun. 

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

So as spring is finally upon us (for some more than others), here are some glimpses of yellow to welcome the warm days to come!

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

With a couple images of white sprinkled in…

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

And I will always love the “peek-a-boo” shot… these ranunculus are great for that.

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

A teeny-tiny bug on this one…

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

What makes you think of spring?

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

Happy Spring, Everyone!

Ranunculus | Neely Wang Macro Photography

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”– Hal Borland