Flour House: A Slice of Naples in San Luis Obispo

writing by Kendra Aronson
photography by
Kendra Aronson

Formerly Vieni Vai Trattoria for 18 years, Debbie and Giuseppe “Joe” Silvestre have handed over the keys to their daughter Gessica and son-in-law Alberto Russo. The husband-and-wife team now own and operate Flour House—the hippest new joint to open up on Higuera earlier this year. Their speciality: authentic Napoletana pizza, scratch made pastas, and a cocktail program that takes a cultural nod to the Italian version of happy hour.

Flour House is the real deal. In fact, the Russos own the only imported Stefano Ferrara wood-burning pizza oven between Los Angeles and San Francisco, an oven specifically engineered for replicating authentic Naples-style pizza. “There are two wood-burning ovens in the world: regular wood-burning ovens and pizza napoletana wood-burning ovens. The latter has a certain type of brick, stone, overall form, and opening. It has a smaller than usual opening in the oven because the heat has to be concentrated because the pizza has to cook quickly,” explains Alberto, the Salerno transplant. According to the European law, the pies must bake between 60-90 seconds at 900°F. Yup, you read that right, pizza laws! Similar to the wine industry and the cheese industry, names are officially protected in order to maintain integrity of the product, e.g. if it’s called Champagne, it comes from Champagne, France. “To claim pizza napoletana on your menu you have to use certain products and use a certain technique. We use 00 flour from Italy for our dough, we use San Marzano tomatoes for our sauce, and we use mozzarella di bufala (buffalo’s milk mozzarella from the pastures of Campania, Italy) for our cheese. The only things that we use here in the United States is water and basil for the pizza. After that, we use so many local products from San Luis Obispo to put on top of the pizza.” Flour House sticks within these pizza parameters and offers their own modern twist by offering three different sauces: rossa, a San Marzano tomato sauce base; bianca, a fior di latte (cow’s milk cheese) base; and verde, a pesto base. Innovative topping combinations include: gorgonzola, speck, and balsamic reduction; or olives, Spanish anchovies, garlic, chili flakes, pecorino, and basil. They even cater to the gluten-intolerant crowd with gluten-free pizza dough and select gluten-free pastas. “The time to make one gluten-free pizza takes about 5x longer as a regular pizza; it's really a long process to stretch the dough because there is no gluten to act as elastic. It takes longer to stretch it, but when you eat it there is no difference. I’ve had a lot of Italians come in here and taste it and they couldn't tell it was gluten-free, which is where I get a lot of satisfaction,” boasts Alberto. [Writer’s note: I tried the two pizzas side-by-side and was unable to detect the difference. Bravo!]

Flour House prides itself on being part pizzeria and part pastaria. Every place mat includes a history and description about their pasta shapes and sizes, as well as accompanying illustrations for some fun tableside reading. “The majority of Italian restaurants here only serve dry pasta and maybe one in-house, like gnocchi or ravioli. Some restaurants will claim that their lasagna is homemade, but the sheets aren't. Yes they compile the layers of lasagna at the restaurant, but it's not homemade. All of the pasta we make is made from scratch and you can really taste the difference,” says Gessica. These two have serious passion for fresh pasta and rightfully so—their pillowy homemade pastas make most guests weak in the knees. Their lineup includes fusilli, spaghetti, pappardelle, ravioli, risotto, gnocchi, and scialatielli two ways (Sorretina style and Amalfi style)—all of which are married with their fresh, from scratch sauces.

Gessica, Italian by blood, and Alberto, Italian by birth, knew they wanted to bring yet another touch of authenticity to their restaurant through their drink menu. In Italy, it’s common for cafeterias—think French brasserie; or a coffee shop with full bar and small bites—to serve Italian apertivi (cocktails) with small complimentary snacks. “We do an Italian aperativo hour, our version of American happy hour, every Monday through Friday, from 3-6 pm. We feature popular Italian cocktails at discounted prices, we also discount our wine on tap and our well, and you get a complimentary small plate with purchase of a drink!” says Gessica. Wet your whistle with refreshing cocktails like Campari & Soda, Spritz (Aperol, Prosecco, soda, orange wedge), or their signature “Made in Italy” (vodka and crodino—Italian orange herbal soda); and wash it down with complimentary small plates like melon and prosciutto, or crostini with arugula and cherry tomatoes. *Clink* Italians are masters at la dolce vita, take advantage of this tradition any day of the week, post-work, pre-dinner.

Exciting changes are still in the works: a new menu for winter based on what is seasonally available at the market, a revamped patio featuring a secondary bar, and industry night highlighting local musicians. Plus the couple is expecting their first bambino—who perhaps one day might carry on the family tradition as a third-generation restaurateur!

Flour House is now accepting reservations for holiday parties, learn more at flourhouseslo.com.

Originally published in Edible San Luis Obispo & Wine Country 
Holidays 201
6 · Issue 16


Food Archivist: Pass the Recipe

writing by Kendra Aronson
photography by
Kendra Aronson


Hailing from San Luis Obispo, Ann-Terese Barket is a modern-day food anthropologist, or as she likes to call it The Food Archivist. “I literally woke up one morning and I heard the words, ‘The Food Archivist', and I wondered what that meant. I stayed open and I connected the dots,” explained Ann-Terese Barket, whose extensive educational background includes a B.A. in Psychology and Human Development with a concentration in Early Childhood Education, a M.A. in School Counseling, and a Ph.D. in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology. Her affinity for food stems from her childhood spent at her family’s restaurant, El Matador in Morro Bay (1969-1989). “After my Dad passed in '89, my sisters and I transcribed the family recipes into a cookbook. Then I realized something was missing—which was the video piece. So I started recording my sisters and their recipes. Then I realized that this was a really cool, creative contribution; so I started to do it for close friends, which eventually turned into The Food Archivist business. All of my research skills are ingrained in me, really this is like collecting data.”

In order to get the full archival experience, I joined Ann-Terese in Cayucos during her documentation process with her dear friend Betsy Bettencourt. I was welcomed with open arms into her cozy colorful, sun-drenched kitchen and offered a cup of hot tea. With her ingredients mise en place, we all sat down at the dining room table to discuss her recipe. “We are going to make my mom's Pasta e Fagioli recipe, it's a soup that makes me think of my mom every time I make it. It tastes of my childhood, and it just brings back all those memories and feelings of home—all the positive things about being nourished and loved by my mom,” reminisces Betsy. Her fridge is covered with photographs of her own children and her walls are adorned with their crayon drawings, it’s clear that she shares the same loving traits as her own mother.  


Ann-Terese steadies her recorder and prompts Betsy to run down the ingredient list and quantities, as well as an explanation of how to prepare the dish. This audio file will later be transcribed and expanded upon after Ann-Terese views the video file of the actual hands-on preparation in the kitchen. “I actually get more information from watching the video and it's a good way for me to add in those subtleties, tips, and hints that may not have been mentioned in the audio [recording]. I weave that into the recipe document,” she explains.

As a repeat client, Betsy values this through documentation in capturing the nuances of her home-cooked, multi-generational recipes. “The way she archives these recipes is so much more helpful than what you will get from photocopying a recipe and giving it to someone. In the video she is able to ask about the particularities that make it different from one cook to the next.”


Next, we move from the dining room into the kitchen. Ann-Terese snaps a few quick photos and starts videotaping the process. Once the camera is rolling Betsy begins boiling the water and giving the oral history behind her mother’s recipe, “I definitely remember watching my mom cook this meal. It was one of my favorites,” She smiles, as she stirs the pasta. “She would often talk about her time in Italy while making this recipe. She would talk about her Italian cooking classes that she took when she lived abroad; she would tell me about her neighbors and her friends that she met while she was living there. It became part of our family story.” In a stock pot she prepares the mirepoix: first by slowly sweating the chopped onion, then softening the chopped carrots, and eventually tossing in the chopped celery. “My mom wanted to make sure that she had me in America so they moved back to the states during her pregnancy. As an adult I look back and realize what a big part of their life living in Italy was—my Dad was stationed over there because he was in the Navy. They had a ship over there, so my mom and sister lived in Naples. These recipes are very special for that reason.”

Recipes are much more than lists and procedures. Recipes are incredibly powerful vessels that are capable of triggering and transferring memories of family, childhood, travel, love, comfort, and community.

“I love archiving because of the stories. Perfect example: the story about being in her mom's womb in Italy! The stories that come up while someone is cooking are incredible; being able to capture that on the video recording—that's what makes it so special for me. It's an opportunity to celebrate your family, the food, and the positive things about your family—ha!—families are dynamic and if you have positive connections that include food then I want to amplify that and help people remember what was good about the people that cared for us, loved us, and fed us,” beams Ann-Terese.


When all is said and done, the recipe document, photo files, and video footage are uploaded to the thumb drive for safekeeping and sharing. This holiday season, consider passing the recipe. “It’s a great gift for your whole family, it's a great gift for future generations, it is a great gift for those coming down the pike—the ones who aren't born yet. For future generations  can see and witness Grandma or Mom cook, it's really a gift come true.”

Contact Ann-Terese Barket, the Food Archivist, by visiting www.passtherecipe.com.

Originally published in Edible San Luis Obispo & Wine Country 
Holidays 201
6 · Issue 16

Food52 → The First Five Steps to Self-Publishing Your Cookbook

In December 2015, I self-published my first cookbook entirely from scratch: I did all the writing, photography, design, pre-order crowdfunding, marketing, and distribution. It was a lot of work, and a lot of fun.

As I embark on creating my second book, I've been looking back at all I learned—here are just a few of tips I would share with anyone wanting to self publish (I have many more!).

Photo by Joe Johnston


Design first, create content later.

Start with the dimensions of your book and page count. For example, I knew I wanted a large format book (9 inches by 12 inches) with roughly 200 pages (196 pages, because of how pages are bundled).

Next, I suggest creating a basic outline of your cookbook and divvying up the content to fit inside the desired page count. For example, I knew I wanted to dedicate one double page spread per recipe, with the photo on the left and the recipe on the right.

I settled on 60 recipes total (15 recipes per season), so 120 (of 196) pages were already accounted for. I filled the remaining 76 pages with my dedication, introduction, table of contents, chapter dividers, short stories (40 pages), resources, and index.

Then, I recommend taking your own rough outline of content and getting specific about the layout of each page. Need inspiration with editorial design layout? I loved watching Design is One, a fascinating documentary about Lella & Massimo Vignelli—influential Italian designers (think of them as the Italian Ray & Charles Eames). Massimo created the Vignelli Grid, which acts as an invisible guideline for placing text and images together in a very structured, calculated manner that is consistent throughout an entire book. In his words, “The grid is an integral part of book design. It's not something that you see. It's just like underwear: you wear it, but it's not to be exposed.” Grazie Massimo!

For example, my cookbook is based on a 3x5 grid: 3 invisible columns and 5 invisible rows. Can you see it above in my table of contents? All of my images and text are made up of “blocks” that adhere to this 3x5 grid.

Exhibit A: The page on the left includes three small photos (1x1 block), a portrait (2x3 block), and text (3x2 block). Exhibit B: The page on the right includes a portrait (3x3 block), text (2x2 block), and a small photo (1x2 block). The grid is magic!

Once you have created your own grid and a few different design templates, you can narrow in on how to fill these “blocks.” For example, based on my template I knew I needed to select 4 images to create the profile on Rutiz Family Farms and about 255 words to profile Sally Loo’s. I calculated the word count by selecting my typeface and font size, throwing in some dummy copy, and highlighting the copy to see how many words fit into a 2x2 block. Et voilà.

Once the design is in place, you know exactly how many photos you need to shoot (and their orientation), and how many words to produce. I strongly suggest spending a lot of time conceptualizing the design of the book before creating content. Design truly dictates everything.


If you are embarking on self-publishing a cookbook, chances are you are very into books and the tactile experience. To better visualize the end product in real life, step away from your computer files to create a book binder. I borrowed this idea from my cookbook crush Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. In her binder, she sketches out her content blocks, keeps track of recipe testing, and makes notes on completed photo shoots. You could organize everything in a blank notebook, but I found using a binder with plastic sheet inserts was easier because I could move around pages or sections to get the flow just right.


Get in contact with a printer early, and request multiple quotes based on various specs: page count, dimensions, paper type and thickness, binding options, cover type and treatment, and quantity. I paired up with Hemlock—they are a fantastic carbon neutral green printer that produces quality work, plus their customer service is top-notch. I received many samples of their work and got a wide range of quotes (150 pages vs. 225 pages, 8”x10” vs. 9”x12”, 80# paper vs. 100# paper, 500 copies vs. 9,000 copies). With their support I was able to pin down the exact specs that fit within my budget.


Set a demanding—yet realistic—timeline based on your release date. I suggest reverse engineering your timeline by picking the month and the year of your book release. For example, I knew I wanted my cookbook to hit the shelves in December 2015, right in time for the holidays. In order to receive the books on time, I had to submit my final files in October 2015 to Hemlock, but before that could happen, I needed to put down a 50% deposit to secure the paper and my spot in their production line. In order to do that, I had to raise the funds for the up-front printing costs through my Kickstarter campaign in August 2015...you get the picture. From ideation to creation to final production, it took me 2 1/2 years as a part-time side hustle.


The San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Simple Seasonal Recipes & Short Stories from the Central Coast of California. Yowza! I know, it’s long. I know, it’s a mouthful. My next cookbook will not have such a long-winded title and subtitle, promise! When naming your cookbook, it’s important to take into account people’s dwindling attention span, yet also keep in mind that your subtitle is your one-sentence attention-grabbing synopsis of the entire book. This is your one opportunity to hook a potential reader into thumbing through your book. Take your time in the naming process and get the opinions of others. Create an intriguing title and subtitle, then edit ruthlessly!

The San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market Cookbook—produced by writer, photographer, designer, and self-publisher Kendra Aronson—features 60 seasonal recipes and 40 short stories from the Central Coast of California.

Kendra Aronson loves playing with food—styling food, photographing food, devouring food. She is likely planning her next meal. 

Originally published on Food52
September 26, 2016



writing by Kendra Aronson
photography by
Kendra Aronson

“I pulled up a bunch of peer-reviewed research from colleges that have huge meat programs to find out what consumers are searching for in terms of meat. The research was pinpointing that people want to know where it comes from—terms like ‘organic’, ‘sustainable’, ‘grass-fed’ were secondary to just wanting to know the source. It was consistent in all of these studies, the highest percentage of folks value the location of where the meat is being sourced,” explained Jensen Lorenzen, former Chef at The Cass House Inn & Restaurant, and now the Co-Owner of Larder Meat Co. “At some point, the vast majority of Americans decided that local sourcing wasn’t important anymore with meat—this is why butchers went away. Back in the day you needed to look somebody in the eyes and hear them say, ‘I would buy this cut today’. At some point that trust became not important either, and that is worrisome to me.”

In May 2016, Jensen and his wife, Grace, launched Larder Meat Co., a monthly subscription-based meat delivery service featuring curated boxes of fresh, frozen, local chicken, pork, and beef. Their mission was twofold: to seek out the very best ranchers producing the highest quality product on the Central Coast and to put the purchasing power back into the hands of conscientious consumers who want to directly support local ranchers. In short, the Lorenzens are putting their money where their mouth is—along with 60+ larder box subscribers—to strengthen the local food economy, one meaty meal at a time.

“We have a community that is willing to get behind the mission of Larder Meat Co. The demographic is people like us—people who cook, people who place a high value on what they consume and supporting their community. The majority of our customers are people that we know, which goes back to the whole notion of trust. They trust us to choose the meat that they stock in their freezer,” said Grace.

The 13-pound larder box ($199/month) features 1 whole chicken from Rinconada Dairy (Santa Margarita); steaks, roasts, and ground beef from Swan Family Angus (Paso Robles); bacon and ground pork from Winfield Farm (Buellton), plus extra goodies like fresh goat’s milk cheese from Stepladder Creamery (Cambria) and brines, rubs, spices made by Chef Jensen (San Luis Obispo).

Meet the fine folks behind the meat:


“Our chicken taste like chicken. I have the advantage of being older, so I remember what meat tasted like back in the 50s and what it’s supposed to taste like. Our chickens are the same breed as the industrial chicken, but it’s a completely different tasting chicken. They are raised differently—that’s the whole secret! They are fed a non-GMO grain mix and compost from the garden, and they graze on organic pastures. The industry usually kills chickens at 6 weeks old because they’ve been pumped full of God-knows-what; we harvest at 8–9 weeks old. Our chicken meat has texture, and the aroma of an older bird roasting in the oven is just so good.”


“One of my first thoughts when we left the Cass House was ‘Damn it! I don’t get to interact with these people anymore.’ That was a really important part of my job—it’s not just a friend relationship, we are business partners in a certain sense. For example: Christine scaled up her production to meet my needs, and so did a handful of other farmers. When I was no longer a buyer, I thought, ‘Shoot, now what? What are they going to do?’


“At the Cass House we bought 60 chickens a month from Rinconada Dairy, and that’s how many chickens we buy now for the Larder Meat Co. which is going directly to people’s homes.”



“I’ve had a long career in agriculture and cattle breeding. I worked with a company that did cattle artificial insemination. I AI’d cows on 75 dairies on the coast here and 225 different dairies from Chino to the Central Valley. I developed a California Cattles Services program working with 60 cattlemen in the 3 coastal counties, and all over the state, and all over the country. I’ve traveled 2 million miles between ranches, I’ve AI’d 150,000 cows, and I’ve pregnancy checked 850,000 cows—so that’s a million cows this poor hand has been through!”

—Rex Swan

“I was looking for somebody who had a background in the industry, [and] Rex has a lot of experience. I like it when people do the best they can at their level. It’s not a political thing, they do things that are appropriate for them at their scale. Rex even said, ‘I’m not going to bash big beef’—I look for tokens like that. Then I look at their practices, I want to make sure that all these animals are pastured, I want to make sure they have plenty of room, l want to be able to go to the to the property to see the physical operation with my own eyes. Then we talk, it becomes personal, and I can trust them.”


Diane & Bruce Steele
Winfield Farm · Buellton

“Winfield Farm operates entirely on solar energy and human-power. Bruce raises our Mangalista herd single-handedly. He has a personal relationship with every pig—they are treated with utmost respect and care, from birth to death. Their diet consists of pasture plus 100% naturally grown barley and organically grown pumpkins and squash. All pigs going to market are finished on acorns, walnuts, and almonds when available which mimics the diet of the Ibérico pigs renowned for their premium prosciutto.”


“I appreciate producers with a balance of goals and ideologies. Part of sustainable farming to me is to take into account what your environment can actually offer you and augment your farming practices to be okay in that environment. Bruce can’t irrigate his pastures all the time. It’s not a sustainable practice in California. We are living in a desert! When I hear about ranchers putting limitations on themselves, they are being honest with me and themselves, and this extends into their practices.”


Jack Rudolph & Michelle Angell
Stepladder Ranch & Creamery · Cambria

“I joke that we make fruits and fats. On the fruits side, we have avocados, 20 kinds of citrus, a collection of fruit trees, and passion fruit. On the fats side we raise 65 heritage breed pigs. They get whey from our creamery, brewer’s grain from the Libertine Brewery in SLO, and avocado drops—it’s all a recycled diet. We have 40 La Mancha goats, we use their milk to make our farmstead cheeses, and we also make some cow’s milk cheeses with Dairy Goddess milk (based in Leemore).”


“We believe Jack is sowing the seeds for the next generation of ranchers and artisan cheesemakers on the Central Coast of California. With his attention to detail, intimate connection to his herd, and pasture-to-plate control of his products, Jack is committed to continuing the legacy of Stepladder for years to come.”

—Larder Meat Co.

To start your monthly subscription, visit lardermeatco.com to learn more.

Whole Roasted Chicken
By Chef Jensen Lorenzen


1 whole chicken (completely thawed)
2 T of Larder Meat Co. Poultry Dry-brine
2 T of Canola Oil (or other neutral oil), for basting
2 T (about ¼ stick) unsalted butter, for basting


The day before: A day prior to cooking the chicken, generously cover the surface of the chicken with the Larder Meat Co. Poultry Dry-brine. Make sure to get the underside of the thighs, wings, and sides of the breasts. Once chicken is completely covered in Larder Meat Co. Poultry Dry-brine, leave the chicken uncovered to air-dry in your refrigerator overnight.

Day of: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken on a wire rack and in a roasting pan. Add oil to the pan and place the pad of butter in the crest of the chicken’s breast bone. Place chicken in oven and roast for 40 min, basting with drippings after 30 minutes. After 40 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 to finish, approximately 20-25 more minutes. Baste again with the drippings and return the chicken to the oven to finish cooking. The chicken is finished when a probe thermometer should read 150 degrees at the thickest part of the breast. Allow chicken to rest in a warm area for at least 15 minutes prior to portioning.

Originally published in Edible San Luis Obispo & Wine Country 
Fall 201
6 · Issue 15


Photo credit: Donna Hay

It’s that time of year where summer fruit is plentiful. Fragrant strawberries, bright blueberries, tart blackberries, fuzzy peaches, and juicy plums abound; having too much ripe berries and stone fruit is a good problem to have. The sweet solution? Fresh fruit salads, crumbles, crostatas, pies, crisps, cobblers, popsicles, gallettes, aguas frescas, scones, tarts...Are you salivating yet!?

Try your hand at these 13 mouth-watering recipes this summer season:

1. Fruit Tart with Fresh Berries

Source: Cup of Jo

Source: He Needs Food

Source: Donna Hay

What’s your favorite fruit to bake with?

Originally published on The Everygirl
July 28, 2016


Photo credit: A Beautiful Mess

There must be something in the water. I say this because a handful of my gal pals are pregnant right now with their first baby. Hitting the ripe age of late twenties, early thirties is an interesting chapter in womanhood filled with deep personal reflections like: When will we have kids? Are we capable of conceiving? How many kids can we accommodate with our desired lifestyle? Will we be able to financially afford raising little ones? How will our work-life balance change with children? All the answers to these questions make my head explode with equal parts curiosity, panic, and glee—and I’d venture to guess that these conundrums make your head spin in similar way.   

Lately I’ve been getting vicarious glimpses into the delicate intricacies of motherhood by watching some of my dear friends navigate miscarriages, pregnancies, and births. 

So to all of your brave ladies out there, I raise my glass to you. I’d like to make a toast to all the trying-to-become-mothers, to those already with a bun in the oven, and to all those who are nursing beautiful newborns—these mocktails (cocktails sans alcohol) are for tailored for you. Cheers, mamas!

Source: Set the Table

Source: The Kitchn

What are your favorite non-alcoholic libations for the summer?
Share them in the comments below!

Originally published on The Everygirl
July 14, 2016


Photo credit: Oh, Ladycakes

My husband and I agree that if we could only eat one food for the rest of our lives it would be tacos, hands down. Which is why we decided to serve them on our wedding day! We sought out the 10 most authentic, mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall taquerias around town in order to pick “the one,” and it was easily the most gratifying task to check off our mile-long wedding planning to-do list. 

Of course, the great thing about tacos is both their structural simplicity (tortillas, fillings, and toppings) and their tasty varieties (Carnitas! Chicken! Shrimp! Veggies! Salsas! Garnishes galore!). Think about it: Not many foods out there are as versatile and consistently delicious as the mighty taco. Below is a round-up of taco recipes that will equally appease omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike—and even a chocotaco to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. ¡Qué viva la Taco Tuesday! 






Source: Hapa Nom Nom






Source: Pinch of Yum









Source:  How Sweet It Is

Source: Oh, Ladycakes






Source: Sugar Hero!

What are your favorite recipes for Taco Tuesday? Share them in the comments below.

Originally published on The Everygirl
July 12, 2016