November 14, 2014


My second experience with Feastly fully delivered on the insider-only-secret-dinner-club sensation I was hoping for. The startup brings eaters and chefs together in literal home kitchens (more or less) to share actual home cooking (also more or less (My first experience was actually at Nopa and was completely undocumented save for one lone instagram photo, so I’ll just have to leave you with the fantasy of of pan-roasted salmon, endless champagne, and seasonal berry tarts to dance in your head.)). Of all the examples coming out of the so-called sharing economy I feel like Feastly is possibly the most wholesome. With the amount of time and energy and the cost of ingredients going in to preparing a meal for feasters, there’s far less of an opportunity to make any kind of a profit (heck, legitimate restaurants barely make a profit) and Feastly seems more geared towards truly  building a community through the sharing of food-related experiences on an intimate level. I love the concept and the executions of it I’ve seen so far — and I’m dying to try this out in a new city while traveling. Can you imagine sharing a meal with a local in their own kitchen anywhere around the world? Magic.

_MG_1022 figsalad _MG_1029But this time I was right in my own home town, joining other bloggers, San Franciscans and fig enthusiasts in a tiny hole-in-the-wall Fidi cafe who leant their kitchen to the chefs organizing the event. The love of figs brought us all together, but it was these three bay area bloggers that kept us there with one succulent, flavorful and creative fig dish after another.  Princess Tofu, Nik, and Alanna created the penultimate menu designed around the figs they had harvested themselves from a local farm the week before; earnestly crafting and cooking away, putting on final touches and garnishes, arranging each plate just so, while I and the other feasters gossiped over bubbles. The menu:

Sikalai Gliko on Gluten-Free Crackers with Dukkah

A greek method of cooking and preserving unripened baby figs

Shaved Apples and Fennel with Fig and Pomegranate Salad

topped with fresh fig and pink pomegranate arils.

Fig Tagine with Defrosted Grapes

Served with herby couscous.

Lettuce Cups with Lemony Herbs & Cheese Stuffed Figs in Filo

Fig & Pumpkin Samosa “Pot Pie”

Served with Hot Date & Tamarind Sauce, Unripened Fig Chutney.

Olive Oil Ice Cream with Fig Syrup Swirl

Served with crispy fig chips and toasted pistachios.

Double Chocolate Figs

Fresh figs stuffed with brandy ganache, then, dipped in chocolate.

Fig Leaf and Vanilla Bean Soda

Everything was to die for, although if I had to choose favorites the pot pie and the tagine might have made me the happiest. In the end, I couldn’t actually eat that many fig dishes in one go. By the 7th course I was stuffed to burst and had to excuse myself with just a nibble for the final two desserts.



I get a lot of requests about my photo process, so I thought I’d start sharing a few tidbits in each post. When it comes to photographing a location or scene, you’re essentially solving a problem, and the first step in solving any problem is identifying what that problem is. I knew this event was going to be indoors, at night, so I brought my wide-angle lens to capture as much of the location as possible, and opened my aperture up to the widest setting of 2.8 to let in as much light as possible. To be honest, I tend to have my f-stop here in most cases. That’s how I was taught, and I like the blurry, dreamy quality letting the most light in creates. With a lens this wide there was quite a bit of distortion, but fortunately the new Lightroom has some really amazing capabilities to correct and tweak distortion. I shot this on the original 5D, a full frame camera body I snagged on Craigslist for an incredible deal (PRO TIP: Buy camera bodies and lenses separately — don’t waste your money on kit lenses). My “baby” camera – a rebel T3i – would have normally been great to take to what was more of a social event than an assignment due to its lightweight, easy to carry nature, but since I was basically shooting in the dark I wanted a more sensitive sensor (Pro Tip: Any recent rebel body is more or less pretty interchangeable — I have the T3i rather than another rebel body only again because I got a good deal on it).


Has anyone else tried Feastly? Photographing in the dark? Cooking with figs? Tell me all about it — I LOVE reading your comments! And if you’re interested in themed dinners with the fabulous chefs mentioned here, keep an eye on their Feastly page. Thanks so much for reading, and until next time stay in touch over at pinteresttwitterinstagram, or facebook.



  1. This looks so so so yummy. I was so sad I couldn’t make it! Let’s meet up at a future dinner!

    (P.S. I THINK I recall that you shoot weddings, yes? Do you shoot group shots wide open too? I second shot this summer for a photographer who did and I CANNOT GET MY HEAD AROUND IT. It seems so risky in terms of focus if folks are just the tiniest bit staggered, but she DEFINITELY made it work and her photos were/are gorgeous!)

    • jm

      I wish you could have come too Carla! I’d love to do dinner with you! And that is a great question — I do indeed have the aperture wide open 99% of the time to get that fuzzy quality of light — however — YES! A lot of times the photographs turn out blurry! It depends on what I’m shooting and what the effect I want is, but for a wedding I would keep the aperture open even with a group because I would want the group photos to fit the mood of the rest of the set. If the shutter speed is high enough, the humans are not TOO staggered, and you take the time to manually focus, it can work out great!

  2. Oh wow. I am drooling… this food is ART! And I love how these photos turned out– I don’t really know the next thing about photography except how to use super basic lightroom, but I really adore your photos!

    And as for cooking with figs… we usually make prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with blue cheese for Thanksgiving. We bake them in the oven and they are bursts of heaven!

  3. I am so impressed by the photos you were able to take in the dim light – and your editing of them makes them look even more spectacular. Your description of the fig meal is so perfect – I dream about that tagine too (so much so that I made Lucas try to recreate it on his cooking night last week!). I look forward to our date soon – I know I owe you an e-mail;)


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