There are many things to love about Cala, Gabriela Cámara’s restaurant in Hayes Valley, San Francisco. They include: trout tostadas, perfectly pickled onions and chilies, an incredible selection of mezcal, the fact the restaurant goes out of its way to employ formerly incarcerated individuals who are rebuilding their lives, and the energy and vision Cámara’ herself brings to every detail. One of those beloved details is the Oaxacan, hand-built, custom, ceramic light fixtures that radiate pebbles of light throughout the space.
Recently Cala hosted an event to bring awareness to ceramic artisans and craft-women of Oaxaca, Mexico. The event aimed to share their knowledge and talent and ask the community to support the vital expression of culture. Designers and community activists, Collectivo 1050 shared their insights from working with the women throughout Oaxaca and their experience with a rich history of ceramics. Gabriela Cámara’, Alice Waters, and Steven Satterfield were invited to talk about their experience with food culture, craft, and holding strong to values that may seem in peril.
Cámara’ spoke about growing up in Mexico City and remembering the effects of the devastating earthquake in 1985. With physical ruin, infrastructure collapse and tragedy, it could have been remembered as bleak time. Instead she recalled, in the wake of the disaster, the ways the shortcomings of an authoritarian government gave rise to a new community activism, progress and even political revolution. With the destruction, came a sense that anything was possible. It was from this place, she talked about standing up for what is right, and holding on to the light especially in dark times.
I was honored to be able to provide flowers to both Alice Waters and Gabriela Cámara’ as part of the event that day. I created for them a mix of the most radiant blooms even during a dark winter. Each time I have the opportunity to visit Cala, I’m inspired by those lights.
4 Upcoming Holiday Workshops & Experiences!
Rito-ito in partnership with Blue Bottle Coffee
Thanksgiving Centerpiece + Chemex Brew Class
Tuesday November 22, at Blue Bottle Morse
Learn to create your own centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. Color, form, texture, and beautiful botanicals, celebrating the fall season will be topics of exploration. Each participant will have a centerpiece to take home. No experience necessary. While building your work of art, enjoy a Chemex demo with Decaf Noir. And bring home a 1/2 lb. bag of Decaf Noir for your gathering.
Holiday Wreath Making + Pour over
Sunday December 4, at Blue Bottle Webster Street
Join for a hands-on class on modern wreath making. A variety of seasonal, textural, wild, materials will used and we will play with shape, scale and color and the idea that wreaths do not have to be traditional. Each participant will have a finished wreath to take home and enjoy all season long. Plus learn to brew using the same method Blue Bottle Coffee uses in cafes and take home an envelope of Blue Bottle Perfectly Ground.
Kokedama + Pour over
Saturday December 10, at Blue Bottle Morse
TICKETS $40/per person
We'll gather for a hands-on class making Kokedama, moss covered hanging plants. These playful, quirky plants are a perfect gift for any interior space. Learn the technique, and take home your finished Kokedama. Plus learn to brew using the same method Blue Bottle Coffee usese in cafes and take home an envelope of Blue Bottle Perfectly Ground.
Rito-ito in partnership with Katie Powers Catering
Creating Modern Rituals: A holiday workshop with Katie Powers Catering
Wreath making, specialty cocktails, dinner and entertaining inspiration!
Wednesday, November 30 at SummerSchool 1217B Fell St. San Francisco
6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Join us for an intimate evening as we share some new holiday rituals and encourage you to create your own!
Part I: Modern Wreath Making – Demonstration and hands-on making
Part II: Holiday Cocktail How-To – Demonstration and tasting
Part III: Family-Style Winter Feast – thoughtfully prepared, seasonal sit down dinner to enjoy
Part IV: Pocket Guide – tips and suggestions for beautiful holiday hosting
Rose Petal Jam
The great thing about making rose petal jam, is the way the roses perfume the air as they heat up, steam, steep, and boil. A single rose can give off complex aromatic notes, from floral, to citrus, to cloves, to honey, to tea. The result is an enveloping sensation that causes one to pause and breathe deeply for a moment and acknowledge something special is transpiring.
Rito-ito + Chris Kallmyer
In collaboration with artist, Chris Kallmyer, Rito-ito created a rose installation at San Francisco Symphony's SoundBox. It consisted of 3 parts: a rose petal jam tableau (for a live recording of the sounds of jam making), a large arrangement to accompany the violinist, and a small arrangement to anchor the space.
The recent show, titled, Obsession & Creation produced by LA group Chromatic, provided an evening to explore art, sound, performance, video and flowers. Kallmyer envisioned an installation as an homage to experimental composer and musician Harry Partch. The installation would highlight one of Partch’s loves: gardening and rose petal jam at his home in Petaluma and one of his hates: Bach. He asked if Rito-ito would participate and I jumped at the chance to create something with roses in an unexpected arena.
Kallmyer and I harvested 3 types of roses for the performance. 2 grocery bags full of rose heads and petals. We arrived at the farm at 6AM, the morning dew still on every petal, the fog lifting off the Sonoma Valley in Healdsburg. We had to be there early because roses retain their most fragrance when cold, after a long night of low temperatures. As they warm up they give off their scent. It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by roses on a cold morning and smell nothing, only later to be blown away by their scent as they rise in temperature.
The first rose, a soft magenta color, flat in shape and ruffled with petals was the Kazanlik, from Bulgaria. The rose is prized for its floral, woodsy scent that makes much of the world’s rose water and rose oil when distilled.
The second rose, a deeper redder pink, and a large specimen was the Souvenir de Claudius Denoyel. A rose from France and cultivated in the 1800s known for its sweet citrusy smell.
The third rose, a variety that greeted us in the dirt parking lot, called Gertrude Jekyll is an English variety known for its old rose fragrance.
As we drove away and the sun warmed the car, the smell of the three roses started to emerge. We would later find it was a fraction of what we’d experience in the orchestra pit of the SoundBox. A space seemingly devoid of smell, its massive concrete beams and pillars, the sterile but highly technical sound equipment ready to delight the crowd – its vacuous space would later be filled with the sweetest, romantic, heady scent of roses.
The 2 bags of petals we harvested would amount to 2 drops of rose oil if we were distilling it. Rose oil is worth more than gold per ounce. And for the performance those two bags of rose petals amplified an experience of delight and intrigue that perfumed and set the stage for an unexpected special evening.