With the help of co-host Patrick Schwarzenegger, we held our first official backyard party this June. We gathered at one of our gorgeous Neighborhood Showrooms in Venice Beach, the Venice Treehouse. A night of food, fun, and fortune telling ensued. It was, in a word, magical.
A Refreshingly Seasonal Menu
When it came to a spectacular and seasonal menu, we turned to food artist and chef Nicolas Alcala of Cocina Sagrada. Guests enjoyed delicious bites like roasted beetroots with aceto balsamico, kaffir lime leaves, and fresh oregano; glazed carrots with fennel and passion fruit vinegar; and three uniquely crafted bowls with ingredients like fermented shiitake mushrooms and oyster sauce, or ginger-garlic squid.
“We wanted to think about a menu that was easy to eat standing up,” says Salcala, “but also completely delicious, and felt upscale in an environment that was not a sit down table.”
The Ambiance of the Venice Treehouse
Speaking of environment, we turned to our Neighborhood Showroom Host, John, who was gracious enough to open up his backyard to all of us. It was the perfect backdrop for the evening.
“When life (or the rains) brought down our beloved stone pine, we built a treehouse,” says John, “The treehouse, which has become an icon of our yard, now oversees a lush backyard oasis of flora and fauna, stretching from a deck that’s cozied-up with rugs, to an outdoor kitchen, to a lounge wrapped around a fire pit. The lounge is framed in a wall of jasmine and anchored by our beloved Outer sofa. It’s our little slice of paradise in Venice.”
A Traditional Tea Ceremony
As a special tribute to our guests, we wanted to perform a traditional tea ceremony. So what is that exactly?
“In its basic form, a person serves tea in a ceremonial way,” says Salcala, “but traditionally, tea ceremonies go a long way back and they’re way more spiritual.”
It’s about connection and craftsmanship, he says. It’s all in the attention to detail: from the temperature to the taste to how the teapot is handled. It allows for a group to gather and have slow, meaningful conversation
A Tribute to the Environment
Salcala turned to nature for serving as well: banana leaves as plates, amaranth stems for straws, coconut bowls, and wooden chopsticks and spoons.
“Food is a fundamental part of reconnecting with nature and our planet,” says Salcala, “we need to renegotiate our relationship with how we consume it. That includes waste management and how we handle the stupid amount of single-use plastics and products we use.”
The Outer Nest
In addition to a tea ceremony, we created what Salcala likes to call "rabbit holes": small micro worlds where people can enter and get lost.
Artists told stories and created rituals. People could engage and look inward, connecting with themselves and others around them. We turned Outer sofas into an intimately enclosed fort, which we labeled the Outer Nest. Inside, tarot card reader Günel Eva offered guests a glimpse into their future.
“My experiences look to be poetic in nature,” says Salcala, “Transcendental in a way. Ideally, you won't be the same after experiencing them, and they are definitely about a joy for life.”
It was an exceptional and memorable night, and without a doubt a glimpse into Outer’s future.