out & about | Heath Ceramics + MUJI

 

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

I’ve been a bit distracted lately with the kids getting out of school and starting summer break that I realized I forgot to share about our final destinations on my “San Francisco Day of Fun” after Craftsman and Wolves and Dandelion Chocolate. These last two places were home decor shops, which were a perfect way to end the day, since we could not eat another bite! There were, however, two boxes filled with goodies stashed away in the car in case our appetites picked up again ;).

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Our last stops were at Heath Ceramics and MUJI. I’ve been to the Heath Ceramics Studio in Sausalito a couple of times, but had never been to their San Francisco Shop. Heath Ceramics was establish in 1948, and produces some of the most beautiful mid-century ceramic tableware. The SF Studio was surprisingly large, and even had a Blue Bottle Coffee in the same building and a place to sit and read. What I love about Heath, besides their gorgeous bowls and vases among other things, is their appreciation of other designers and craftsmen. They not only sell Heath products at their SF Studio, but also textiles, books and other home products made by other artists.

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

The whole place is very airy and bright with great light!

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

The walls are lined with their dishware collections, my favorite being the one designed for Chez Panisse in 2006.

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

The rest of the shop is filled with such beautiful things, all carefully crafted and designed…

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

….including Weck jars — I just love Weck Jars!

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

At the time I visited, they had a special exhibition showcasing David Mellor’s Cutlery. They currently have a display of sculptor Stan Bitters work.

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

It was really fascinating to see these cutlery molds…

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

…and the beginnings of spoons.

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

I initially had no idea what these were, but thought they looked cool, so I snapped a few shots :).

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

I later learned that they were the polishing mops and sanding discs for the production of spoons and forks..

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Wouldn’t it be fun to eat with these utensils? :)

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath makes their own silverware as well.

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

And these cute kid’s bowls, which I’d never let my kids use or even go near for fear of breaking them ;)

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

The studio also had this great look kitchen set-up showcasing their tile as well as some other artist’s products.

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Love this simple tea tin packaging!

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

I just liked the texture of this string. That is the nice thing about not being on assignment or on a photoshoot — you can take whatever random things you like! :)

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

And their beautiful tile, which I see popping up more and more at Bay Area shops and restaurants. 

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

I couldn’t leave without buying one of there tiny bud vases — eek, now I have 3!

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

And these are my absolute favourites — love the shape and smokey grey of these bowls — I would be too scared to use them, but oh so pretty!

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

Such a fun place to visit — almost like a modern art museum, but even better since you get to take things home!

Heath Ceramics | Neely Wang Photography

After Heath, we did a quick stop at MUJI since I had been hearing so many good things about it.

MUJI | Neely Wang Photography

Muji is a mixture of clothing, furniture and home decor — very minimal, but very thoughtfully designed with muted, natural colours.

MUJI | Neely Wang Photography

We were in a rush, so I only had time to take a few quick pictures, but loved all these little asian wooden things.

MUJI | Neely Wang Photography

MUJI | Neely Wang Photography

I guess so much of my life does revolve around food — on this trip, all we did was visit places with food and then places with things to put food on — ha! We had lots of fun — so much that we recently took another trip out to the city to visit B. Patisserie to try their famous Kouign Ammans, Outerlands and the General Store. Check back again later to see the highlights of that trip. Enjoy your weekend, and hope you explore somewhere new!

Sonoma County Food Photography | The Girl and the Fig

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

This past week, I had the pleasure of photographing the June 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 event celebrated the bounty of summer with Chef Sondra Bernstein and Chef John Toulze of the iconic Sonoma restaurant, The Girl and the Fig.

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

Chef Bernstein opened the Girl and the Fig in 1997 and has written two cookbooks, The Girl and the Fig Cookbook and Plats du JourWhen asked how she came up with the name for the restaurant, she said that she’s the “girl” and “fig” is a symbol of passion and represents everything wonderful in the world.

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

Chef Bernstein and her partner/executive chef John Toulze, who is amazingly self-taught, also operate The Fig Cafe & Wine Bar in Glen Ellen, as well as The Girl Fig Store, a line of gourmet products (my favorite being her jams which pair so well with cheese from Cowgirl Creamery — Did I forget to mention that I recently took a tour of Cowgirl Creamery with little samples of cheese and her delicious jam? — yum!)  These two chefs have been cooking together for the past 20 years after working at Viansa Winery, and you could definitely tell that they so enjoyed cooking together and made such a great pair! Chef Bernstein revealed that Toulze was the “Chef” and that she was the “Comic” — too cute!

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

The menu began with Chef Bernstein demonstrating her Chilled Asparagus Soup with Chervil and Creme Fraiche.

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

She shared that this was the very first recipe she ever created. And what a great recipe it was! It was a beautiful pale green, perfect for summer, and the touch of creme fraiche gave it a wonderful creaminess. They also shared a great tip to salt both the vegetables and the actual ice water used in blanching to impart extra flavour and a brighter color.

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

Chef Toulze shared that they have been trying to grow asparagus for a very long time in their garden, but the gophers keep eating them! Through their gardening adventures, they have learned that it’s not about the harvest, but more about the farming process.

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

The main course, which was prepared by Chef Toulze, was Braised Pork Shoulder with Spring Onion Ragout.

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

Chef Toulze finished the ragout with a spoonful of honey, which added a delectable touch of sweetness to the dish. I remember Chef Marvin Brandon finishing his braised chicken with a touch of honey as well — I think I’ll have to do that from now on whenever I make a stew or braise of some sort!

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

Chef Toulze recommended cooking with all your senses and eyeballing as you cook — definitely my kind of cooking! The pork was so tender, and the sauce was very flavourful.

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

The menu ended with Lavender Creme Brûlée. I loved the hint of lavender in the creamy custard – plus the caramelized sugar crust on top, of course!

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography 

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

The Girl and the Fig | Neely Wang Food Photography

A delicious and fun evening, as always! And of all these events I’ve photographed, I’ve never seen so many people approach the Chefs as I did this evening. They received them with such a humble and gracious warmth, spending time talking and laughing with each of them — so kind!

Stay tuned next month for Pastry Chef Marisa Churchill — former Top Chef contestant, Food Network Chef and author of Sweet & Skinny. See you next month!

Lavender Creme Brulee

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup whole milk

3-4 sprigs fresh lavender or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender

8 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar, plus about 4 tablespoons sugar to caramelize

2 tablespoons wildflower honey

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.

2. Place the cream and milk in a saucepan, and add the lavender. Bring to a boil, and turn off the heat. Let the lavender steep for about 15 minutes or until the milk has a lavender flavour.

3. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and honey until smooth. Whisk this into the lavender-cream mixture. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and skim off any foam. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

4. Pour the mixture into 6 ramekins or brûlée dishes. Set the ramekins in a baking pan, and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking pan with foil, and bake for 40 minutes or until set.

5. Remove the baking pan from the oven and allow the ramekins to cool in the water bath for 5 minutes. Refrigerate, covered, for at least three hours or overnight.

6. Before serving, sprinkle the tops of the ramekins with a few teaspoons of sugar, and caramelize with a small torch or under a broiler set on high. Garnish each creme brûlée with a lavender blossom.

 

Macro Monday | Blush & Bashful

Pink Peony | Neely Wang Photography

Pink Peony | Neely Wang Photography

Pink Peony | Neely Wang Photography

Pink Peony | Neely Wang Photography

Pink Peony | Neely Wang Photography

Pink Peony | Neely Wang Photography

Pink Peony | Neely Wang Photography

Whenever I think of the color pink, the scene from the movie Steel Magnolias pops into my head, in which Shelby, played by Julia Roberts, tells her mom that the colours of her wedding are “blush and bashful.” Her mom, played by Sally Field, retorts, “Her colours are pink and pink.”

Well, whatever you choose to call it (and especially if pink is your “signature color”), these peonies are the epitome of blush and bashful!