ALICE’S RESTAURANT. AND EDIBLE SCHOOLYARD
Siena did come to the West Coast for a few days. And it was good. The Spannocchia parties were a great success with the LA event even getting mentions in the LA Times. Blizzard-bound Mainers, noses pressed to the windows of the Portland Jetport trying to see even a hint of the runway — well, we didn’t have a snowball’s chance of making that party. But we were all present and accounted for in San Francisco. We met up with Randall Stratton, from Siena, Italy and Gail Cinelli and Erin Cinelli, both from Maine at Alice Water’s famous CHEZ PANISSE in Berkley. How famous is it? Someone just gave me the book “1,000 Things to See Before You Die ”. (Morbid-ish title, if you ask me, which they didn’t) Anyway, under “San Francisco” in the book, there are basically two entries: Cable Cars and Chez Panisse. What a fine and legendary place that is. Oh my. That was a wonder. Freshest ingredients, freshest presentation, nicest people running it. And the building is so fun. Like a tree house for grown ups. Very funky, even for fun Berkley.
The Spannocchia estate outside Siena is all about sustainable agriculture, so an interesting side shoot of the visit to Alice’s Restaurant was that the manager encouraged us to make a few block jog in our trip around Berkley to visit a foundation started by Alice Waters called the Edible Schoolyard .
This was really a demonstration of what one person with a good idea can accomplish. With her vision and guidance the people at Martin Luther King Middle School dug up a concrete parking lot and made a one acre kitchen garden. The kids dig this garden. They dig, plant, weed, harvest it. Then they eat their results and compost anything left over. We took a nice tour with the director who had been a student there herself in the early days of the garden. Another fun part of the tour is when Rusty Lamar former Internship Program Operations Manager at Spannocchia biked over to join the tour. He’s traded the good life in Siena for the good life of Architecture School in Berkley. He’s show in the photo here, at the right, with Spannocchia Foundation executive director Erin Cinelli.
At the party later in the Noe Valley part of town near Mission Dolores Park at Incanto Restaurant, we wined we dined most excellently with old friends and new and then Randall Stratton introduced the newly translated book by Delfino Cinelli about life on a large Italian agricultural estate in the 1920s – with many parallels to today’s farm life. Randall is Spannocchia’s General Manager so he was the perfect editor of his wife’s grandfather’s book.
The book’s translator Archie Stone spoke and both he and Randall were signing copies later. They sold every copy they had with them before we could get to them. The books can be ordered by calling the Spannocchia office in Maine (207-871-5158), and they will ship them as they get shipments in from Spannocchia.
Eventually, Erin says they will have an option for ordering online, but not quite there yet. This is the first ever English language edition of the book: “Castiglion che Dio sol sa” – The Castle that only God knows. Midge later pulled the name of the lucky raffle winner out of a hat and announced that Berry Stafford had won a week at the Castello. Good times indeed.
In the photo here we see Gail Cinelli, Randall Stratton, Sarah Chironi and Erin Cinelli. Sarah is a Spannocchia intern program alum. She and Erin were interns together in 1994. Today, Sarah owns an olive oil production company and mail-order business in St. Helena, California called Elixir Olive Oil.