There's No Wrong Way to Host with Nitsa Citrine
Nitsa is an artist, alchemist, photographer and lover of tea based in Malibu, CA. She currently serves as the Creative Director of Sun Potion | Transformational Foods.
From Nitsa: Sharing nourishment with loved ones is one of my greatest pleasures and joys in life! I love to cook (and be cooked for) and food is the root of the healing and creative process for me. Living up 4,000 feet in the Santa Monica Mountains means I prepare most meals at home - and as Creative Director of Sun Potion - I try to work form the kitchen as much as possible. I love experimenting with new ways to incorporate adaptogens into an organic, plant based diet whenever, however I can!
Think Global, Source Local, Stay Open
I am constantly inspired by the beauty and dedication of our local farmers and shop at our farmers markets in California as much as possible. Seasonal, vibrant fruits and veggies grown with love and integrity make the best ingredients. I tend to conceptualize a feeling tone and theme for a dinner with a few main dishes in mind, then visit the farmers market to see what looks the best that day and improvise / incorporate from there. Summer is in full radiance here in the Santa Monica Mountains and I am thrilling for all the berries, cherries, tomatoes, summer squash and fresh herbs that are available right now.
Elevate your refreshments
I love pairing a farmers market dinner with a medley of high-vibe elixirs, infusions and natural wines to nourish and inspire. For summer nights I go for a Nettle / Olive leaf brew to be served chilled or over ice, Golden Elixirs made with a jun or kombucha base (I love homemade, GT Dave’s or Flying Embers if you want a for a hard kombucha) spiked with Sun Potion Pine Pollen (an aphrodisiac - be forewarned!). I am currently in love with Cooper Wines - they make the most beautiful biodynamic pinots and rose and offer the perfect medicinal dose of merriment for summer nights.
Prep for Prep
I am a notoriously slow cook / host…. (pisces. guilty). SO, I have learned to discipline myself and try to do as much as possible the day(s) before (cleaning the kitchen so it is sparkling to begin with, clearing + organizing the fridge and counter space, setting the table, music, beverages, serving tools), and then to start COOKING EARLY. Luckily, my girlfriend Grace is a ninja sous-chef and exceptionally meticulous so she helps me keep the kitchen super organized, clean and flowing. She also has great knife skills. And taste!
Flora, Fauna, Forage
I love to be as creative, unconventional and resourceful when it comes to edible flowers (garnishes), floral arrangements, table settings…much to my neighbors' horror… ha! Just kidding. Sort of… but sincerely, am always amazed how a 20-minute walk can help me move my energy and expand my perspective on the final touches. We received a fair amount of rain this June so the mountains are still abloom with wildflowers! I love when friends offer to bring gifts from their gardens and homes - nasturtiums, squash, cherries - brings an element of spontaneity that I cherish.
This is not going to sound very sexy or chic, but honestly, when I am in the throes of cooking and hosting, I find solace in consulting the expertise of cookbooks, and frankly, the internet. Even if I have cooked a dish a million times, it always helps to cross-reference and make sure that I covered everything. I also have a living file in my “Notes” folder in my phone where I write out all my favorite recipes, culinary musings, and experimentation so that I can track the variations, methods, notes, etc. It can also come in handy to have a list of dishes you can whip up quickly or delegate to a helpful friend, in case someone has an unforeseen allergy or extra guests (+1s, +1s… you know how it goes) arrive last minute… it happens!
This is the most important part! Regardless of whether you burn the main dish after you spent hours prepping it or drop your perfectly braised Icelandic cod on the floor just before serving (both have happened to me!), what matters most is to enjoy the process. Being surrounded by loved ones and sharing nourishment is the ultimate joy. Laugh. Dance. Feast. Soak it up! I have had dinners which verged on disaster but because I was able to laugh and pay attention to the many dimensions of nourishment, it was and is ALL WORTH IT!