EyeSwoon

  • Ever since I discovered Local Haven, an online food destination originating from the Pacific Northwest, it’s been an incredible source of inspiration to me. The scope of the culinary and visual beauty its founder Ashley Marti creates is beyond swoony and brilliant – from the palette and the styling, to of course the recipes. Ashley is a mama, food writer and uber talented stylist and photographer and through her Instagram feed, which is incredibly focused and artfully composed, you get a real sense of her craft. I have swooned Local Haven since last year; I feel like I know Ashley! Or at least understand her love and passion for simple, yet full-flavor seasonal food, but the truth is, I’ve never actually met Ashley Marti.

    Last December 31st I was sitting in a poignant place of contemplation, filled with hope of finding new sources of creativity and passion in 2015 and setting intentions for rectifying some of 2014’s struggles when I found a solace in Ashley’s heartfelt words. I knew there was a kinship in our visual worlds – I have always felt there is a pure connectivity that happens over a shared meal – but this was an experience that took me by surprise.

    My personality is such that I can get overwhelmed easily (frazzled even) and in those times I often think, I am doing it wrong. I think that everyone else has it all figured out except for me. I am not sure exactly why that is. Call it insecurity. Call is perfectionism. Call it drive and determination. It can leave me feeling a bit isolated on my path. Until someone else reveals that they feel exactly the same way, which is precisely what happened between me and Ashley.

    On the last day of 2015, after spending a blissful week on holiday with her family, Ashley shared these words on her Instagram….

    I’ve put a lot of thought into what I want to do in 2015 for my blog, my business, my family and myself. Taking on projects that I am passionate about and passing on work that is not a right fit. It seems I can say no quite often to my kids, yet when it comes to work, it is quite difficult. This time off has given me time to relax, think and plan for how to make things better. I’m excited for what’s to come, new partnerships, even a few workshops. And I look forward to getting back into the kitchen and sharing some great new recipes.

    I stumbled upon her words just moments after I shared my own on Instagram….

    Today on this very last day of an incredible year, I find myself drifting. Reflecting on the past year’s triumphs and successes but also pondering conflicts. As I set intentions for 2015 I consider…How will I continue to stay true to my goals, vision and creativity while remaining present with myself and celebrating what matters most, my family? How do I slow the mind to create more balance personally and joy creatively? How do I grow my brand, which at times can feel overwhelming and confusing, while remaining excited, gracious, and humbled? In 2015 I will create space to laugh more, sing more, dance more, be in nature more, surround myself around friends more and cook more! I want to be lost in the joys of design and creating. I want to feel inspired and to inspire others on their creative journey. These are my honest reflections today….

    I am a big believer in supporting your local community, whether that is with food, or makers, restaurants and farms. The majority of the food I work with comes from the community around me.

    On that same day on opposite sides of the country, two food-loving bloggers were feeling the exact same things. I revel in great comfort knowing I am not alone on this journey. It was on that day, that my affection for Local Haven went beyond just visual swooning to something far deeper. I am beyond grateful to have found Local Haven for sooooo many reasons, and it is with great honor that I share one of Ashley’s spring recipes here on EyeSwoon. Thank you Ashley for your honesty. In a world where we work so hard to perfect images – whether literally or figuratively – and create such curated representations of ourselves and our lives, it is so refreshing to find a fellow swooner who is not afraid to put their true image into the world. As Ashley told me, despite her love for crafting beautiful images using just the right props, they are simply there to elevate the subject, not distract from it.

Local Haven

Ashley Marti

    • CAN YOU SHARE THE INITIAL SPARK THAT LEAD YOU TO CREATE LOCAL HAVEN?

      My background is in Apparel Design and Visual Merchandising, living in NY and then working for sportswear power houses like Columbia Sportswear + Nike. Eventually my love for those elements lessened and I realized my true passion for food, natural elements and props! So many props!

      DO YOU HAVE A BACKGROUND IN FOOD? OR PHOTOGRAPHY?

      I don’t. I’ve always been working in the visual world, so photography was just simply the next step. Food came from my love of being in the kitchen, and eventually the two just molded together. 

      HOW DOES COOKING AND STYLING MAKE YOU FEEL IS 3 WORDS?

      Spontaneous. Creative. Free. 

      INGREDIENTS YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

      Cheese. Herbs, thyme, rosemary, basil, cilantro. Butter. Really good bread. And tequila.

      YOU’D BE LOST WITHOUT ______ IN YOUR KITCHEN?

      Staub dutch oven. And my knife.

      SECRET INDULGENT FOOD YOU ARE MILDLY EMBARRASSED YOU STILL LOVE?

      Cheap beer. 

      LOCAL GO-TO RESTAURANTS OR CAFES

      Portland is the best for food. Broder Nord. Ned Ludd. Clyde Common. Kachka. Pips Doughnuts. Heart Coffee

      A PERFECT SUNDAY IS…….

      Drinking coffee on my deck, working in the garden, afternoon cocktails with friends, and big family-style dinner. 

      BREAKFAST ROUTINE?

      I spend the most time on breakfast. I am the most creative in the morning. Usually eggs are always involved, some caramelized onions make an appearance, and handfuls of herbs from my garden. 

      FAVORITE CITY FOR FOOD

      Portland. Although Seattle is creeping up on that list. 

      YOUR IDEAL MEAL IS… WITH…

      A meal I can get my hands messy with. I love a good summer feast with friends and family around the table, cracking crabs, eating oysters, with too much melted butter, white wine, corn, the works. 

      FOOD TREND YOU PARTAKE IN? ONE YOU WISH WOULD GO AWAY?

      Put an egg on it. Always will love a good egg on top of just about anything and everything. 

      A COCKTAIL YOU ARE CURRENTLY SWOONING OVER?

      I love anything with tequila. But bourbon with maple syrup, lemon juice, and rosemary is pretty amazing too. I also love cocktails creations with shrubs. 

      CAN YOU SHARE A SECRET PROP STYLING TIP?

      Layer props, add height. 

      3 ESSENTIAL PROPPING TOOLS?

      Good linens. Long handled tweezers. Small paint brushes. 

      YOU DO IT ALL! TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS FROM RECIPE TESTING, TO PROP-STYLING, TO PHOTOGRAPHING

      It always start with the subject. That can be the food, a specific ingredient, or it can be a beautiful new prop. From their I build my story. What am I trying to say with this recipe, with this image. When I design the layout I think about how I would want to enjoy this meal. Would there be bread torn on the table. Wine served. Flaky salt to garnish. The best images are those that make you want to be there at that moment. 

      YOUR VISUAL AESTHETIC IS SIMPLY BREATHTAKING AND YOU HAVE A VERY SPECIFIC TONE AND FEEL – WHAT ARE YOUR RULES FOR CRAFTING A BEAUTIFUL IMAGE?

      It always comes down to what is most important for the shot. I love props, but they are simply their to elevate your subject, not to distract from it. I put a lot of thought into which props make the shot. Background is the single most important element of your shot, second to the subject of course. And I always say, if you cannot get the shot, and you keep tweaking it and nothing is happening. Sit down, take a breath, maybe even take a bite, the shot will be there. Those lived-in, real shots, are always the best. 

Spring Panzanella with Asparagus

Ashley Marti

  • Ingredients

    • Serves 4

      • 1 small loaf of crusty bread, torn into cube size pieces , about 8-10 cups
      • 1 bundle of asparagus (about 8-10), cut into 1” pieces
      • 1 small bundle of scallions (about 4-5), chopped
      • 10-12 brussels sprouts, trimmed and leaves removed
      • 1⁄2 cup Castelvetrano Olives, pitted and chopped
      • 2 tablespoons dill, chopped plus extra for garnish
      • 1/2 cup olive oil plus 3 tablespoons
      • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
      • 1⁄2 lemon, juiced
      • salt and pepper to taste
      • parmesan to garnish
  • The Prep

      • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place torn bread pieces onto a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons dill and a pinch of salt. Toss together with your hands. Bake for 15- 20 minutes until golden and crisp. Set aside.
      • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add chopped asparagus and cook for 5- 7 minutes until bright green and brown in parts. Remove asparagus from the pan.
      • Add brussels sprout leaves to the pan and cook gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
      • In a small cup, mix together 1⁄2 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and mix together.
      • In a large serving bowl, toss together golden bread cubes, asparagus, brussels sprout leaves, chopped scallions, and lemon Dijon dressing. Let sit for about 45 minutes.
      • Before serving, add chopped olives, shaved parmesan and additional dill for garnish.

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