Backyard Pizza Party!


I met Gaby a few years ago on a trip through Chile and then later we were travel companions again through Brazil. We bonded over Pisco Soursred lips, and avocados (Gaby is VERY serious about them). I taught her the term “on brand” as a way to get in or out of any situation, and she taught me that slutty brownies are the greatest thing on Earth. Gaby is that west coast girl I fantasize I could be- healthy, fit, tan, on it, bikes everywhere, doesn’t drink eight cups of coffee a day like I do, and makes the most amazing food on the internets.

When she found out we were heading west to LA this week she called up her best friends and creative soul mates: food photographer Matt Armendariz and food & prop stylist Adam Pearson and threw together a backyard pizza party in our honor. Knowing that Ecco Domani pairs well with pizza parties, Kevin and I brought over a mirage of wines by Ecco Domani to pair with the different style pizzas from the red Merlot to the Pinot Grigio and ended the night sipping on the sweet prosecco by the outdoor fire.

Being a New Yorker, anytime I get to go to someone’s freestanding home is thrilling, and this backyard setup was one of the best I’ve ever been to. Matt and Adam have been working together for 10 years as a photography & styling duo for multiple cookbooks and industry giants such as the Food Network and in the new media world for places like Gaby’s site. Aside from curating a beautiful historic 1920’s Long Beach Home, running a successful studio that banks on editorial style and natural light, they were also married seven years ago on the first day same sex marriage became legal in California.

Cooking, eating, and hanging out with three major foodies comes with a bounty of tips and new recipes to update your traditional pizza. Pizza is one of mine and Kevin’s favorite at-home meals which typically occurs on Sunday night paired with a bottle of red wine and Game of Thrones. Of course it would be different taking this pizza party out west with old friends and new. Matt and Adam set up a pizza topping station where you could customize your own pie while we all hung out, caught up on our world travels, enjoying that perfect LA weather with our California sun kissed skin.

It’s nice to be reminded that the best things in life are shared memories with friends over good food and great wine. I hope this inspires you to have your own pizza party with friends or family and try out one of the recipes below and, of course, any pizza can only made better with a bottle of Ecco Domani.

 {PS- I brought one of my old Polaroid cameras some impossible film to take some instant party pics, the kind you can hold on to and rediscover one day in an old shoe box. You’ll see some of the moments developed below!} 

Scroll down for new recipe ideas and pizza cooking tips Adam & Gaby!

  Backyard_Pizza_Party_03 Backyard_Pizza_Party_04 Backyard_Pizza_Party_05

For your pizza party, arrange jars of a variety of ingredients for guests to mix and match their favorite flavors and try to add some surprises such as roasted corn, jalapeño, green onions and soy-rizo (soy version of chorizo!).


We always make our own dough, it’s so easy and makes the whole pizza process even more fun. Gaby’s recipe for homemade pizza doughContinue reading “Backyard Pizza Party!”

BBQ at its Best

Tucked away in a gas station in Kansas City, KS is Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ– named by Anthony Bourdain as one of the 13 places to eat before you die which is exactly what I want to do from happiness when I gobble the pulled pork sandwich in a dizzy frantic craze. This is the only time I’ve ever had the control to snap a few photos before the feasting began… but come on- how good does that look?!

Continue reading “BBQ at its Best”

The Food Diary of a Brocavore~

From Mike’s Food Diary:

Entry #5: Green Salad and Mustard Vinaigrette with Windowsill Herbs

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

·        2 Tbsp good olive oil

·       1 tsp mustard

·        1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

·       1/2 Tbsp of tarragon

·       salt & pepper

Salad Ingredients:

·       6-8 red tip lettuce leaves

·       1-2 Tbsp of freshly chopped herbs. A mixture of oregano, thyme, and chives does the trick

For the vinaigrette, place the vinegar, garlic, herbs and mustard in a mixing bowl (coffee mug will do). Then slowly pour in the olive oil and whisk for 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste. For more bite, add another few drops of vinegar.

Place lettuce leaves on a large, round serving plate.    Sprinkle chopped herbs liberally over the undressed salad. Set aside. Sprinkle vinaigrette over salad and prepare to enjoy the most sensually simplistic way to bookend your next lunch, brunch, or dinner.


   Instead, use mesculan, arugula, or any other savory green
   Add a dash of mayonnaise to the vinaigrette for a richer feel
   Poach an egg and place over toast and place in the middle of the salad for a complete   meal

Wine Pairing

The intense sharpness of vinaigrette screams for a wine that can rival its intensity and coolness. Think a dry Rose’ from Provence, ebullient Prosecco from Italy, or a steely un-oaked Chardonnay from Chablis, France.

The Food Diary of a Brocavore is an ongoing collaboration project with words & recipes by Mike of whats up stairs and photography by me. Please do enjoy other entries from The Food Diary of a Brocavore!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Kick up your boots like the Homesick Texan, grab one of Chef Juan Pablo’s rhubarb-lime margaritas, and throw a Feliz Cinco de Mayo party like the one hosted this past Sunday by Jon Paul!

Rhubarb-Lime Margaritas!  Olé

From Chef Juan Pablo:

½ cup tequila blanco

¼ cup orange liqueur

2 cups Orange Juice preferably freshly squeezed

1 whole orange, peeled and seeded, cut into quarts

2 stalks of fresh rhubarb, sliced

Juice of 4 limes

1 cup ice

Makes 4 

Place all ingredients in a blender (preferably the Vitamix but this recipe is for any standard blender!) and blend until smooth.  Serve chilled or over ice in Margarita salt or sugar rimmed glasses.

Molly & Jamie ~ At the Green Market ~ Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

From Chef Molly:

Rhubarb is one of my very favorite things. It just reminds me of summer. On special occasions or particularly beautiful summer nights, my family often drives out to the coast of Westport, MA to our favorite seafood restaurant. In addition to the fresh seafood, they boast the most gorgeous, Norman Rockwell-worthy fruit pies. The flavors often change, but come summertime, Strawberry-Rhubarb is a near constant on the menu. Delish!  

Rhubarb first appears in the spring and is available through late summer. It’s a vegetable, most often used like a fruit, with a flavor unlike anything else. Here we’ve made a delicious homemade jam. Rhubarb, undoubtedly, is the star.  

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam ~


5 cups rhubarb (about 8 stalks), cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 1b strawberries, quartered

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 1/2 cups sugar, or to taste 

Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan.

Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir occasionally. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the the fruit has broken down and started to thicken into a jam-like consistency. Remember, the mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

Remove from heat and cool completely. Store in an airtight container or mason jar and keep in the fridge. The fresh jam will last about a week.  

Enjoy with some lovely buttermilk biscuits and a cup of tea. The perfect start to a summer morning!

~ Recipe and words by Chef & Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography by me.

An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!