Fiddlehead hits the road!

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In the spirit of feeding and tantalizing both mind and body, Fiddlehead is hitting the road on September 7 for a day out at the Barlow complex in Sebastopol. We’ll be shuttling some intrepid travelers north in a nice comfy coach, feeding them some homemade treats and getting to know each other through fun booze-oriented games. In Sebastopol we’ll be visiting Fiddlehead’s good friends at Spirit Works Distillery, as well as Woodfour Brewing Company. The group will get to check out the facilities, learn how top-notch adult beverages are made, and taste what’s on offer.

The outing was inspired by Yes by Yes Yes, an “unconference” of makers and thinkers who braved the heat of the summer Palm Springs desert to lay around a pool sharing ideas. After an exciting cocktail demo, the idea of an organizing a trip to a Northern California distillery was born. Never one to pass up an opportunity to take a simple idea and give it a twist, Fiddlehead chartered a 40+ seater bus and planned a big day o’ fun.

Tickets are available via Eventbrite, and more information can be found on the Facebook event page.

The Fiddlehead Manifesto

From my first post here:

San Francisco is a city of food, and a city of art: music, writing, film, and more. We’re aiming to combine those two worlds through events that pair a sitdown dinner with performance. The format is flexible, but the purpose is not: to fill our bellies with delicious food, to meet interesting new people and connect with those we already love, and to feel like our brains are getting creative, whether because of the company, the food, the art or the booze. And – we want to say this while still emphasizing that we’re looking to create a top-level experience here – we want to make it affordable, so that those who create art and help others and can’t spend gobs of money on a night out can still have a great time. So come in, sit down, and dig in.

The idea for Fiddlehead came up over drinks a few months ago – Mike and I were talking about what we like to do for fun, and why it differs. I like to sit down to a meal with friends, at a restaurant or at home, and drink and eat in comfort with good company. Mike likes to go to local music shows, to see other musicians and music fans, to be stimulated by new sounds. While he doesn’t dislike going out to eat, and I don’t hate going to shows, neither of us is totally comfortable in the others’ element. Mike feels unwelcome at most nice restaurants because they’re so meat-heavy (death to the one vegetarian dish on each menu, usually a mushroom risotto), and while we entertain a lot, he doesn’t relish the piles upon piles of dishes (my kingdom for a dishwasher!). I like going to music venues and seeing friends well enough, but I’m not crazy about standing for hours late at night while getting blasted by ridiculously loud music.

 

This discussion led to a lightbulb moment for us: what if we could combine the two? What if we pulled together an event that was both comfort-zone friendly and boundary-pushing, an event that would ease people into new experiences, either via a meal as a vehicle for experiencing art, or a performance as a route into sitting down to a nice meal. This isn’t anything revolutionary – dinner and a show, right? – but we didn’t think it had been done the way we’d want. Delicious homecooked food, classy but not too fancy, inspiring decor without formality, excellent company that might just become a community, and all kinds of performances to inspire and entertain. Basically, feed the belly, feed the soul.

 

And we wanted do it for a reasonable amount of money. San Francisco is a town that loves food, but when all the popup dinners seem to cost at least $100 a person and even neighborhood restaurants can have two hour waits on a weekday, there’s space for events that cater to those without a lot of cash to spend but with a taste for great food and inspiring art. This isn’t meant to be a profit-making venture; we want to cover costs, yes, but we also want to welcome everyone.

 

Thus was Fiddlehead Supper Club born. Nothing crazy, nothing earthshaking, but done in a way that we think is needed. We want to feed you. We want to have a drink with you. We want to introduce you to sounds and sights you haven’t experienced before, and put those you have in a new context. We want to create a venue for those who like to feed others, and for those who have a gift to share. So come, those who want to enjoy: ye eaters of bread and honey, ye lovers of a fine cocktail, ye listeners of music and viewers of plays. Come, those who want to help: ye keepers of your grandmother’s recipes, ye amateur sommeliers, ye writers and storytellers and musicians and filmmakers. We’ve made a place for you here.

Fiddlehead launches!

On March 11 we threw Fiddlehead’s inaugural event: a Middle Eastern-inspired dinner and sci-fi reading at Brick & Mortar in San Francisco for the new ebook company FreemadeSF. It was exciting, exhausting, and a success by our measures. We maxed out on guests, delivered on tasty food and drink, and got to ease people into an event of interesting, fun writing. The bartender at the venue, witness to it all, said he thought it was wonderful. Always trust the bartender.

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An ace team came early to help with setup. We had to get the food ready and transform a rock club into a space worthy of a sitdown dinner. Up went tables, down went tablecloths, candles, flowers and place settings. We didn’t want to go overboard on the sci fi theme, but we worked it into the table runners, menus and cool glowing flower arrangements. When attendees started arriving, we set out the hors d’ouevres: grilled halloumi toasts with butternut squash puree with honey from my parents’ bees, and cheddar gougeres made with our own homebrewed porter. Both went quickly, but the gougeres absolutely flew – I’ll be doubling the number I make next time.

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A touch I’m glad we incorporated – thanks to Brick & Mortar’s bartender Terry – were two signature cocktails to complement the meal, the brainchild of our friends at Spiritworks Distillery. The Buck (named after the first story read out loud that evening) was made with rye, vermouth, lemon juice, grenadine and orange bitters. Served on ice, I saw it getting sipped down all over the room. The Barbarella was also popular – gin, grapefruit juice, Campari, honey and mint. It was smooth and strong, and my personal favorite.

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After an hour or so of cocktail hour, we brought out dinner. Sides included shaved asparagus and fennel salad with carrot and sliced almonds, sweet potato fritters with harissa cream, and burnt eggplant with garlic and lemon on cabbage leaves. The main event was a chickpea phyllo pie. We did beef, vegetarian and vegan versions, as well as a gluten-free option. Based on the fact that many people went up for seconds, I’m judging the meal a hit.

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The piece de resistance was a tray of chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel icing, on top of which perched edible logos for FreemadeSF.

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With a room of full and happy guests, our emcee Kat took us through the rest of the evening: four readings, all set to live music. One writer even played the sitar!

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A huge thanks goes out to those who helped with the evening, and to those who attended as well. We can’t wait for the next one!

Hi from Fiddlehead Supper Club

San Francisco is a city of food, and a city of art: music, writing, film, and more. We’re aiming to combine those two worlds through events that pair a sitdown dinner with performance. The format is flexible, but the purpose is not: to fill our bellies with delicious food, to meet interesting new people and connect with those we already love, and to feel like our brains are getting creative, whether because of the company, the food, the art or the booze. And – we want to say this while still emphasizing that we’re looking to create a top-level experience here – we want to make it affordable, so that those who create art and help others and can’t spend gobs of money on a night out can still have a great time. So come in, sit down, and dig in.

FreemadeSF launch flyer

Our first event is Monday, March 11 2013 at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall. It is a launch event for FreemadeSF, a homegrown publishing company. After a Middle-Eastern inspired family-style dinner, four authors will give readings set to music. Science fiction has never had it so good. Tickets are available here, and you can check out more information on the event’s Facebook page. Here’s the menu (though it’s subject to change based on what Fiddlehead finds at the market):

Hors d’oeuvres:
– Grilled halloumi toasts with butternut squash puree and chef’s family honey
– Homebrew and cheese gougeres

Family-style dinner:
– Shaved asparagus and fennel salad
– Sweet potato fritters with harissa cream
– Burnt eggplant with garlic and lemon
– Chickpea phyllo pie (vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions available)

Dessert:
– FreemadeSF chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting

Join us for this inaugural dinner, and celebrate FreemadeSF! We’ll be posting pictures in the days after the 11th.

Before there was Fiddlehead, Part 1

Before there was Fiddlehead, there was a spirit, a drive, a need to party. Not in the Andrew W.K. head-thrashing, get-drunk-and-fall-down vein (though there was a little of that too). More like a desire to feed people, to bring them together, to create a beautiful space where they could relax and have fun. This is the first post in a series on what Fiddlehead was before it was Fiddlehead.

Before there was Fiddlehead, there was Kirby Cove. A midsummer dinner party above a beach cove tucked below the Golden Gate Bridge. It took a lot of planning, a lot of help, and a tiny car packed to the gills, but it came off fabulously (if foggily). Below is the original post from Genevieve’s personal blog.

Kirby Cove dinner party

This past weekend I threw a party at Kirby Cove, the beach at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kirby Cove, in all its damp foggy glory
 

The idea came from the blog Oh Happy Day, and I ran with the concept of a formal outdoor dinner. How could I not? I had the reservation for the day use spot, I had white tablecloths, and I had friends that are up for some adventure.

The reason this turned out to be a slammin’ party, I think (by which I mean I had happy full drunk guests), was that it combined the fun of a casual bbq with the specialness of a sitdown dinner party. People were as goofy as ever, but they also felt like they had been given a gift – they commented on the food, the company, and, of course the setting. It also didn’t hurt that my friends are charming wonderful people who got along famously, even those who hadn’t met before.

I’ve discovered two things about myself recently: I love planning parties, and I really love doing so using spreadsheets. Give me a way to keep track of everything I need and everything I have to do, and I’m a happy, minimally anxious planner. And so it went with this party: I couldn’t plan for everything – I didn’t realize that we’d have to haul the supplies in from the parking lot into the site with wheelbarrows, for instance – but everything that was in my control was fully PWND.

The picnic/prep area
 

Despite some of the thickest fog I’ve seen, a ton of guests (25!), only 4 parking passes, and a good amount of chaos, we pulled it off. Boy howdy did we.

See the dinner table away up on the right?
 

I got to Kirby Cove with a car full of supplies early on Saturday afternoon and started setting up. At the top of the Marin Headlands it was epically windy and foggy, but the cove was protected. A few guests tromped in – I had told everyone we had the site for the whole day – and we prepped food, sang along to 90s R&B, and drank cocktails. Even better: over the course of the afternoon, many many oysters got shucked and slurped.

Heavenly

The view from the dinner table
 

As more and more people showed up (some hiked in carrying wine bottles!), we set out the first nibbles. Some people wandered the beach, others took pictures or stood around and chatted, and I made a brief foray into the water (just up to my knees – this is the Pacific after all). We discovered that the battery powered lights I had were too short to string up, so we wore them on our heads like fairy crowns.

Fairy lights, a puppy, and gorgeous floral arrangements
 

Finally I ushered everyone up to the bluff where the dinner table was set up. I was too overstimulated to do a good job of taking photos until just before we all sat down to dinner, but I think you’ll get the idea. I had hauled in my jadeite salt shakers, a cake tray, ceramic serving dishes, etc. A friend put together beautiful white flower arrangements in mason jars, and my mismatched cloth napkins somehow came together.

A table with a view
During the picnic portion, we ate:
  • oysters, raw and barbecued
  • caprese salad (with a friend’s ridiculously good homemade herb salt)
  • grilled peaches and halloumi with honey
While seated:
  • watermelon, mint and feta salad
  • lentil salad with tomatoes, jalapeno and fresh corn
  • quinoa salad with shrimp
  • grilled asparagus
  • eggplant, tomato and zucchini tarts in three iterations: vegetarian, gluten free, and with bacon (guess which was best)
  • grilled flank steak with chimichurri
  • coconut layer cake
And, of course, lots of wine.
The foghorns went off every few minutes, and we were so surrounded by mist it was like eating in a cloud. Of the lovely thank you emails I got the next day, the most common description was “magical”. Fog, I owe you one!
I hope it’s ok for me to say so, but it was a damn fine party.