Father's Day is June 16

I met Erin Gleeson during our freshman year of college in Santa Barbara. She would walk around campus with colorful wraps on her head, always a smile on her face. She always glowed with a certain magical charm that we all wanted, but could never quite attain.

It was our junior year that we would become close -- studying together in Italy for the year. We traveled all through Italy and Europe together, and although we lived in separate cities, we visited each other often. Erin studied fine art and sculpture at the University of Bologna with fellow Italians, learning the craft of Michelangelo, Giotto, Bernini.

But even in the land of classicism and pristine proportions, Erin has always been on the brink of newness. I have always called her "my most contemporary friend" -- she has a gift for taking anything and making it fresh and all her own. Whether it be food, fashion or her photography, she pulls everything together so effortlessly, pumped with style and grace.

So it is no surprise that when she started The Forest Feast blog, nary a year ago, that it would skyrocket to success -- it is now slated to be published as a cookbook in 2014! The Forest Feast was started when Erin moved from New York to the woods in Northern California, photographing simple, original recipes alongside her own whimsical watercolor illustrations.

We are so happy of what Erin has created, and proud to present the first ever The Forest Feast show at Umami Mart. We threw a fun opening reception a week ago in her honor. Here are some photos by Erin.

A large, bright Forest Feast triptych

Erin made some of her simple Forest Feast hors d'oevres like Gorganzola Grapes, Radishes + Butter, and Stuffed Dates

Family + Friends

We served The Forest Feast's signature cocktail, The Skylonda, with bourbon infused with cinnamon. It was fun to play bartender for the night!

Erin upholstered a settee and stool, using a fabric printed with one of her photographs

And she made a matching dress!

The Forest Feast photographs, all mounted, are available for purchase. They make wonderful gifts! 

More friends!

Me, Erin + Yoko

The Forest Feast show runs through January 27, here at Umami Mart in Oakland. Come check out the show, and The Forest Feast recipe cards printed exclusively for us.

Erin was a founding contributor to Umami Mart since 2007, with her column Culinography. We are so grateful for her collaborative, artistic spirit that she has lent to Umami Mart through the years. We love you Erin, and can't wait to throw The Forest Feast book release party in 2014!

*All photos by Erin Gleeson