Outdoor Entertaining & Creating Celebrations
What turns a gathering into a celebration?
Is it the delicious food? Personal connection and conversation? Attention to the details? The answer is uniquely individual. Sometimes a specific dish, drink, or activity can spark that feeling of celebration. Whatever it is that you do, there is an element of elevating the ordinary into something special, and (hopefully) slowing down time to savor it.
Summertime provides a great opportunity to create outdoor gatherings. And, this issue presents many ideas to aid you in creating celebrations. Let's begin by giving you some of our favorite product recommendations.
Nothing says celebration like a slice of cake. We have some pretty delicious cake mixes as well as ready-to-eat treats in the store—not to mention an archive of recipes!
If you are planning to bake your own cake from scratch, make certain you start with the right flour for the recipe. Most call for cake flour ground from a lighter strain of wheat. We recommend using King Arthur
Cake Flour for best results.
If you are looking for a twist on a typical cake mix, try Jane Lane. They masterfully combine a layer of delicious cake with a shortbread bottom. They come in wonderful flavor combinations: Raspberry Cake with Lemon Shortbread, Cranberry Spice Cake with Coconut Shortbread, and Chocolate Espresso Cake with Chocolate Orange Shortbread. Plus, they are Bay-Area local!
If you are looking for a yummy gluten-free cake mix, we recommend Bob's Red Mill
Gluten-Free Vanilla Yellow Cake Mix as a jumping-off point for making all kinds of delicious desserts.
And, we have some delicious prepared cakes that are ready for you to take home. Taste of Denmark
is our perennial favorite local bakery. Try their Coconut Cake, Chocolate Fudge Cake, or German Chocolate Cake. Delicious!
2 Tarts makes classic French tarts that come in two individual servings. We have their Lemon Meringue and Raspberry in stock.
And for a sweet variation, Bosphorus Bakery's Baklava is delivered fresh from this local bakery. It is truly authentic and consistently top quality.
As you know, this is necessary for topping-off cake slices. We carry a variety of Loard’s Ice Cream
flavors and rotate through them from week to week. At any given point, we have about 2/3 of them in stock, and that always includes the basics. So, stop in and see what we have in the freezer.
There are so many possibilities for creating a cheese plate
or charcuterie board. Start with some cut-up veggies and fresh fruit, a selection of cheeses from our amazing cheese department, and a variety of Piedmont Grocery's Own Dips and Spreads
. From there you can add on nuts, olives, and pickles in whatever combinations you desire.
The crackers you choose to complement your board are important! And, we have a great selection at the store. Raincoast Crisps add a celebratory feel with their Cranberry & Hazelnut, Fig & Olive, Rosemary Rasin & Pecan, Oat & Rosemary Rasin, Oat & Seed, and Parmesan & Chive Cheese Crisps.
And, we also have a great cracker selection from Stonewall Kitchen
that includes Salt & Pepper, Simple White, Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic, Sea Salt, Asiago Cheese, Avocado Oil & Sea Salt as well as their Sea Salt Flatbread Crisps, and Rosemary Flatbread Crisps.
There is something about bubbles in a beverage that makes it more festive. This is why we love Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider
. It comes in some great flavors like Apple-Pomegranate, Apple-Grape, and Apple Cranberry as well as their classic apple.
Champagne and caviar
And, when you are pulling out all
the stops…it's time for champagne and caviar. There is nothing ordinary about that paring! We recommend Schramsberg
Blanc de Blanc 2018 with its Toasty nose of almonds, baked pears, and spiced apples. And, we have a great selection of Tsar Nicoulai Caviar
in a variety of flavors and price points. This caviar is simple and classic, delicious straight as a garnish or on almost any low-salt, mild base. Try it on water crackers with unsalted butter or sour cream.
A Staff Favorite
It’s looking festive in our paper goods aisle thanks to Caspari Tableware—they make the most wonderful collection to dress up your table with a touch of elegance.
Talk about great designs, vibrant colors, and durable products! Their collection is vast, and we have some special products for entertaining that include plates, napkins, candles, cups, and even acrylic pitchers and stemware. Basically, everything that it takes to make your meal feel special and celebratory.
And, they are printed with non-toxic, water-soluble dies and food-safe inks so the products are fully biodegradable and compostable
There are so many colors and designs to choose from. So, come but the store and see our entire collection.
The Kitchen Table
In our lives, we will attend many celebrations. (I know…such amazing insight!) There will be birthdays, holidays, and graduations. There will be happy celebrations and sad. What is interesting to me is the type of celebrations you attend in a lot of ways depends on your age and where you are in your life. Let me explain…
Not too long ago my husband and I were sitting around talking about how we really wanted to go to a wedding. It had been years since we attended a wedding and the two of us were kind of in the mood for a good party. The only problem is, at this point in our time on earth, all our friends are married and their kids as well as ours aren’t even close to thinking about marriage let alone doing it. So, alas, no party.
Same thing is true with bachelorette parties, wedding showers, and baby showers, though I’m pretty sure I couldn’t survive a bachelorette party at this point (It hurts just thinking about it.), I haven’t been to a shower other than the wet and soapy kind for almost 20 years. This is nuts because for about a five-year period of time it seemed like I was hosting or attending a shower of some variety at least once a month.
It got to the point that my sister and I became masters of the baby/bridal shower—mostly because my sister is just good that way. But, we got it down to a science. And, as long as the guest list was different, you just went with the same process, menu, and setup. Different colors of course. We were a well-oiled machine.
Our menu of choice included this Curry Chicken Salad that we served in a fresh papaya boat. But, you could also do it with half an avocado if you wanted to go smaller. The recipe came from a Junior League Cookbook
of my mother’s that has given us several family favorites. The recipe below is the original. But, if I had to make this recipe today, 20 years later, I would make a few changes as my personal tastes and eating habits have changed significantly. I’ve noted them in parentheses in case you feel the same.
News & Events
Oakland First Fridays Juneteenth—a celebration of arts, culture, food, and community.
Come to downtown Oakland on June 3rd from 5 to 9 PM on Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street. Oakland First Fridays is a free event open to people of all ages. And, they keep vendor fees low to create opportunities for Oakland’s small businesses and artistic entrepreneurs.
Each month has a theme.
This month, Join Oakland First Fridays to observe Juneteenth, also known as National Freedom Day, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Join in the celebration of freedom and inclusion through the expressions of art, music, dance, and more!
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
End of an Era
Yesterday my two sons played their last baseball game. Well, let's just say it’s their last competitive baseball game. My guess is they will find their way to an intramural team or maybe an adult league somewhere at some point. But, the days of practice every day after school and watching the league standings to see if they make the NCS playoffs are over.
The two of them started playing thirteen years ago with t-ball. Along the way, we have experienced the highest of highs and some pretty low lows. Playing that long requires a lot of effort as well as a lot of time. There were vacation plans that had to be changed due to tournaments and plenty of split-duty weekends when plans just couldn’t be changed. Along the way, we made lifelong friends with the families of other players. The Cooperstown tournament, when they were twelve, will be an experience that the boys will never forget. And, they will be able to bore their kids with the telling of it well into their 80s. It was an experience my husband and I will also never forget—mostly because of the people involved with that team.
Six of the twelve players from that team continued playing together right up until the final out last night. This is no small feat considering how competitive it is to make the varsity team at their high school. We were all emotional, including the boys, but we did manage to get those six together for a picture.
Now the boys aren’t sure what they are going to do with this newfound free time. Our response was to get a job. So far one has managed that task. We’re crossing our fingers the other gets something soon.
It will be an adjustment for my husband and me as well. Suddenly our Tuesday and Thursday evenings have opened up. Guess we’ll just have to deal the old-fashioned way…Baseball (on TV), hot dogs, and apple pie…luckily, this recipe for Apple Slab Pie could feed the whole team!
A Cookbook Recommendation
by Maegan Brown
Make mealtimes, special occasions, and holidays extra memorable with these 50 delicious, inspiring, family-friendly, and easy-to-recreate snack boards.
Visually exciting and deliciously enticing, these snack boards by Maegan Brown (aka The BakerMama) include and move beyond classic cheese and charcuterie. They are comprised of easy-to-find fresh and prepared foods, arranged in beautiful, artful ways.
The variety of foods on each board will delight everyone, and the stunning presentation will encourage kids to try foods they might normally refuse. Plus, you can make the boards ahead of time, so you can actually sit down and spend time with your family and guests. In this book, you will find boards for anytime family meals and snacks, seasons and holidays, breakfast and brunch, desserts, and entertaining and special occasions. Impress your family and friends with artful masterpieces.
Along with The BakerMama’s tips to get you into the board mindset, every board is accompanied by a gorgeous, large photo and step-by-step instructions to make each one easy to recreate. Beautiful Boards is an entertaining game changer that will have you spending less time in the kitchen and more time having fun.
A Staff Favorite
Long Meadow Ranch Rosé of Pinot Noir is perfect for sipping at brunch or at the end of the day. This wine is soft and vibrant, yet with depth. The acidity is vibrant enough to keep that depth in check, making it an extremely refreshing wine that will keep you reaching for your glass.
The light pink color of Long Meadow Ranch Rosé is shaded with a salmon hue that shows the delicate character of the wine. On the nose, the perfumes are intense—it is floral and spicy at first then opens toward a delicate strawberry and citrusy notes.
The palate is dense and lively with intermixing spice, floral, and again small strawberry tones. Clean and focused on the finish, a clear appeal for the next glass.
About Long Meadow Ranch
Long Meadow Ranch is a collection of five properties that employs an integrated, organic farming system, using simple, sustainable methods. Each part of the ranch contributes to the health of the whole.
Vineyards and winemaking, olive orchards and olive oil making, and cattle and horse breeding all work in a complementary fashion, as do the egg-laying poultry flock and the organic vegetable gardens.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
My two sons graduate from high school on Thursday. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. It doesn’t quite seem real. But, maybe if I keep saying it I will be able to wrap my head around it. I mean it really doesn’t seem that long ago that I dropped them off for their first day of kindergarten—one of them excited and one of them sobbing. But now it is on to a different chapter in their life. And, like the hundreds of other graduates in their class, we will be having a party on Saturday.
Based on the number of invitations we received for grad parties, we know that the day will be much more of a rolling party than everyone gathering all at once. This means the food will have to be more passive than active. This is a fantastic opportunity for my daughter and me because we have both caught the ART-cuterie
board bug that has become all the rage. Just take a quick spin through Pinterest
and you will get the gist.
ART-cuterie is essentially a cheese board that combines salami and fruits and nuts as well as dips and cheeses in a though out and artful way. It’s kinda silly, really. But, they can be very pretty when displayed on your buffet table. Plus, it doesn’t always have to be made with meat and cheese. You can do a s’mores board, or something with baked goods, or fruit and chocolate. An all-veggie tray is always a good idea. You can make them as big or as small as you need or do more than one if you want even more variety. The possibilities are endless as are the combinations.
We’re planning on doing a mixed grill. So, I’m thinking that my board should have things that go well with a Summer BBQ. I am going with basic favorites like sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, and bell peppers. Since the peaches and nectarines are starting to come in, I think I might slice some up and add them along with some crisp grapes and Marcona almonds. There will definitely be sliced salami and prosciutto. For crackers, I’m going to go with some water crackers and some butter crackers. The absolute must-have for me though is Pimento Cheese Spread.
Our cheese department has our Pappy’s Pimento Cheese Spread which is darn tasty. But, sometimes I just like to do it myself so I can customize it a bit. For example, I like Amy’s Pimento Cheese Spread with a little fresh diced jalapeño for a bit more kick. I also like a little green onion—which isn’t traditional. But, I likes what I likes…
A Staff Favorite
Fava beans arrive in our store for a fleeting period in the spring. And we are certain to use them in all kinds of dishes while they are available. They are fresh and remind us that it is, indeed, spring!
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a springtime crop that is grown and eaten around the world. They are a species of vetch, a flowering plant in the pea and bean family that are widely cultivated worldwide as a crop for human consumption, as well as as a cover crop.
In young plants, the outer seed coat can be eaten, and in very young plants, the seed pod can actually be eaten. When we purchase them in the store, they are usually mature and both the outer seed coat and pod need to be peeled.
This versatile bean can be used for salads, stews, sauces, fillings, snacks, and more. Preparing Fava Beans involves first removing the beans from their seed pods, and then steaming or boiling the beans to loosen and remove their exterior coating. Fresh, unshelled beans can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Dried beans can be found year-round at Middle Eastern and Greek markets, and frozen beans can sometimes be found in the frozen aisle at grocery stores.
Check out two of our fava bean recipes:
Ragout of Fava Beans, Peas, and Asparagus with Pecorino & Crispy Prosciuttos and Open-Face Fava and Egg Salad Sandwiches.
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
This three-ingredient Honeysuckle Tequila Cocktail is as refreshing as it is simple to prepare. It goes especially well with Mexican food. And, definitely stands on its own.
The honey syrup can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. It has many uses similar to simple syrup. Keep in mind that different varieties of honey will have nuanced flavors. So, pick a good, local variety and adjust for sweetness. Leftover honey syrup is delicious in coffee, tea, and lemonade…as well as mixed drinks.
A Staff Favorite
Marin French Cheese Co.’s Golden Gate Washed Rind Cheese is one of our newest additions to our Cheese Department. It is the first in a new line of premium artisan cheese developed for the evolved tastes of the modern cheese lover.
This triple crème cheese gets its striking color from being hand-washed with brine multiple times throughout the 14-day aging process to allow the cultures naturally present in the coastal air to flourish. Inspired by the vibrant color of the Golden Gate Bridge, this cheese ranges from semi-soft, fudgy, and robust when young to oozing umami as it approaches its "best by" date.
Golden Gate washed rind cheese is earthy with vegetal aromas and a rich savory flavor for an authentic taste of place that can’t be replicated.
Marin French Cheese Co.’s Golden Gate has the iconic characteristics of a washed rind cheese—sometimes known as a more stinky cheese. It has a pungent aroma, strong flavor, and high moisture content making for a rich and gooey experience. Ideal for cheese boards, the deep savory flavor of this cheese does make this a connoisseur’s choice for pairing, as it may compete with subtle flavors.
Allow the wheel of artisan cheese to come to room temperature for optimal aroma and taste.
The Cocktail Post
IOur Back Porch Sweet Tea Cocktail recipe is perfect for sipping as the weather warms up. It is reminiscent of Southern sweet tea
. But, what sets it apart is the addition of Limoncello as the sweetener rather than simple syrup.
Limoncello is a sweet dessert liqueur with a delicious lemon flavor. And, its brilliance and sweetness are what give this drink its magical flavor.
Most brands of bourbon whiskey will be good in this recipe. High-end bourbons with a smooth profile and full-bodied flavor (like Makers Mark) will be delicious.
This simple drink is quick to mix up and the recipe can be multiplied to make a pitcher.
Vendor of the Month
Little cakes with big impact
These beautiful, little gems taste delicious and are big on visual appeal. In fact, our customers love TortaBella Cakes so much that they fly off the shelves. They are great for gifts and special occasions and turn an ordinary day into a celebration.
TortaBella is a local, Bay Area company that sells to restaurants and hotels—and not to mention specialty grocery stores like Piedmont Grocery. These little cakes are delivered fresh and don't last long in our shop.
TortaBella Cakes have a tasty selection of flavors, all with their wild and whimsical icing. Some of the flavors you can find in the store are German Chocolate Cake, Pink or Green Princess Cake, Lemon Mousse Cake, Mocha Cake, and an amazing Classic Chocolate Cake. Our stock changes, so come in and see what we have today!
Monday through Saturday from
9 AM to 8 PM & Sunday from
9 AM to 7 PM.
4038 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611
Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.