If Katherine Hepburn was at her zenith today, she’d wear Jenni Kayne. The modern, minimalist, sportswear-with-just-enough-femininity vibe of Jenni Kayne’s designs is what makes her brand worthy of cult status. I’m pretty much obsessed.
One of her shops is up the street from my home, so I pop in frequently just to absorb all of the pretty. Other than having a fantastic eye for color and designing the perfect shoe (her d’orsay flats are covetously beautiful), she’s a wonderful curator. She peppers her stores with like minded designers and objects, always striking a balance between beauty and utility, with a modern sensibility. So when Jenni approached me about doing a class for her blog, you could imagine how poorly I kept my barely maintained cool together. I’ve never been a cool kid, and the coolest kid of the cool kids table invited me over to Easter Brunch. Fist pumping happened, I did a little dance in my d’orsays, I harassed the shop girls at her boutique with my unrelenting enthusiasm. It was on.
It’s also worth mentioning that I don’t scare easy. That is to say, I’m not easily intimidated. I get these blinders on where I just want to do my job well and I don’t come up for air until the whole hurdle is behind me. But as I walked up to Jenni’s stunning home, carrying half a dozen vegan and gluten free tarts in my arms, I felt the unfamiliar sensation of butterflies churning angrily (can butterflies even be angry? they felt angry) in my stomach. I was nervous. Nope, worse. I was intimidated. Here was someone I deeply respected and girl crushed on, and not only is it my first time meeting her, it’s my first time cooking for her and all of her friends. I felt a giant bubble of hard air forming in my throat, difficult to swallow. But then she came in, gave me a big hug, and beamed at the boxes of goodies I had brought. Nathan Turner, the amazing stylist for the event, followed soon after, and cooed over the macaron and doughnuts. Angry butterflies became happy ones, and I realized that here were people like me: wanting to do a good job. Jenni is a masterful hostess, gracious and relaxed with all of her guests and purposeful in her vision; Nathan is a meticulous stylist with an expert eye for details and adding a bit of romance; Becky Uchtman, one of the florists behind Hollyflora, found moments for beauty in the most unexpected corners. The lesson here is not to get intimidated when working with amazing people, but to be encouraged and inspired by getting to share such awesome company.
We kicked off the brunch with a short lesson on making gluten free and vegan pie dough, and then a demo on how to make my latest obsession: upside-down tarts. Then it was out to the garden to brunch it up big time. I loaded up my plate with way to many desserts and chatted with the ladies about Easter plans. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
Spring Greens Salad with Fennel and Cucumber with a Citrus Vinaigrette
Roasted Yam and Kale Upside Down Tart (Vegan/Gluten Free)
Moroccan Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Upside Down Tart (Vegan/Gluten Free)
Tarte Tatin with Coconut Whipped Cream (Vegan/Gluten Free)
Upside Down Citrus Almond Olive Oil Cake (Vegan/Gluten Free)
Rosewater glazed Brown Butter Macarons
Braised Apricot Mascarpone Bars
Look out on the blog this week for the recipes!
Photos by Yayo Ahumada.