Ciao bella!


When the world shut down in March of 2020, I thought I'd buy produce from a couple of beloved farmers to share with friends and neighbors. Luckily, Sam Brenzel had just moved in next door and overheard me explaining this idea to Corina Wiebel, one of my favorite chefs, collaborators and other next door neighbor. Sam asked if she could help. Within weeks, Sam was organizing spreadsheets, hauling produce, creating websites, and making it all happen. Much to my surprise, things didn’t return to normal, our produce project didn’t quit, and Sam and I turned out to be the partners we'd always been looking for. Corina used to joke that I am static and Sam is spastic, but somehow we groove. This summer Sam is taking off for a year abroad. I am baffled by how we got here, and I am baffled by where we will go from here. But among the many things I’ve learned from Sam, I know that I can keep moving forward, keep improving, keep having fun, and keep figuring it out as we go.

So for Sam’s last week curbside (and our last week until August), we’ve got a mix of Sam’s favorites, treats for your dads, and stuff to stock your freezer for the summer.

Even though she’s headed to France, Sam requested duck confit. This time of year, I love to make a warm duck salad with shredded duck confit, hearty greens, ripe peaches and a stone fruit vinaigrette. (Of course there will be shallots, radicchio, arugula and stone fruit in this week’s produce box.)

All the summer stone fruits, melons and basils in season made us want some fresh Italian cheeses from Gioia Cheese Company... so the rest of the menu veered toward Italy. To fill your freezer for quick summer meals, we’re getting more frozen pizzas from La Morra. These Neapolitan-inspired pies are made with a naturally leavened dough that’s hand-stretched and wood-fired, with a crispy, blistered crust to prove it. There’s a Margherita, pepperoni, and vegan pie with marinated artichokes, pickled guindilla peppers, taggiasca olives, and plum tomatoes. You simply need to bake them in a 475º oven for 8-10 minutes. We love the vegan pizza topped with Gioia’s creamy burrata.

Our neighborhood friends at Ceci’s Gastronomia (Silverlake’s spot for prepared, handmade, authentic Italian food) are making another round of zucchine alla parmigiana, thinly sliced and grilled zucchini baked with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, and parmesan. This is a delicious vegetable side dish and gluten free as is, but also great sandwiched in some Bub and Grandma’s ciabatta bread or jumbo baguette. 

For proteins we have whole free range chickens and Peads and Barnett’s Italian sausages. And since it was such a hit last time, Mel is marinating and sous-viding another round of salmon. It's cooked and ready to flake and eat as is or flash on the grill to make it hot and crisp. All of these would be great with some of Mel’s giardiniera piled on top. Our version of this classic Italian relish is loaded with cauliflower, carrots, celery, onions and olives in a punchy oil and red wine vinegar marinade with garlic and oregano. Eat it straight from the jar or pick out the crunchy vegetables to load on a rich sandwich or add to tuna salad. Pour the marinade from the jar to dress leftover grains, pasta or halved cherry tomatoes and diced cucumbers. Chop it all up super fine to garnish your pizza. 

We have Rustichella’s torchio pasta, to serve with our pesto or use to make a pasta salad with the cherry tomatoes and basil in the produce box. And we’re getting another wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, aged for at least two years by Giorgio Cravero, a fifth-generation affineur. This superior parmesan is good enough to eat before or after your meal, but you could and should put some on your dinner as well. 

For something sweet, we have Coldwater Provisions’ strawberry rhubarb jam which would be great on many things, but we’re dreaming of it atop some Gioia ricotta on a thick slice of brioche.

And with Father’s Day in mind, we also have hot fudge sundae fixings. You just need to get ice cream and whipping cream. We’ll provide Cake Monkey’s sticky toffee blondies and jars of our hot fudge

Finally, to top your sundae or elevate your manhattan, we have Luxardo cherries. I call these tuxedo cherries, because I can’t remember “Luxardo,” and I can’t forget how expensive they are. They are the original maraschino cherries, imported from Italy and truly outrageous.