Victoria Smith of SFgirlbybay

By Camille Styles
California wine and cheese party

Victoria is one of those rare bloggers who always seems to just get. it. right. Her “bohemian modern” style is perfectly curated without ever feeling contrived, and she’s well-loved around the blogosphere for her genuine positivity, warmth and total authenticity. (can you tell I’m a fan?) As her blog’s name suggests, Victoria is a San Fran girl through and through, and lives in an effortlessly cool abode with her pooch Lucy. As a longtime fangirl, I’ve been dying to get a peek at how Victoria entertains at home, and true to form, she obliged: with this cozy Cali-inspired wine and cheese party. Click through for the details.

*photos by Cindy Loughridge

What are your must-have entertaining tools?

I have lots and lots of white platters and serving dishes. They go with everything and can look elegant and classic, or your can mix them up for a more eclectic table setting. I think of them as a blank canvas you can go anywhere with.

What is your current favorite color palette for parties?

Usually white – with lots of candles. And I add color with whatever fresh flowers are in season.

What is the entertaining rule you never break?

If you’re going to do it, do it right. I get that from my mum, who’s a wonderful hostess, cook and entertainer. I just think if I’m going to gather friends and have them over I want it to be well thought out. That doesn’t mean it has to be fancy, just a well-conceived idea or theme. From a night of fondue, to a taco bar — I like everything to be cohesive.

What is the taste you are always craving?

Salt. My dad used to salt my baby food, and I can never get enough of it.

What (if anything) scares you about entertaining?

I have a lot of friends from many walks of life, so sometimes I worry about how they’ll all get along under one roof. I’ve found there’s no need to worry — even the most unexpected people seem to pair up and get along.

What is your signature entertaining dish?

I have a few, but grilled artichokes get many requests so I make them a lot. It’s pretty simple, too. You steam a few artichokes; cut them in quarters and clean out the sharp bits. Marinate them (overnight if possible) in a mixture of herbs (like rosemary, thyme & oregano) and olive oil, with lemon, salt and pepper. Then I just throw them on my George Forman Grill (a cast iron pan works well, too). Get them nice and crispy and serve. No dip necessary – the marinating does the trick.

What is your perfect dinner party playlist?

I like a mellow mix at dinner — maybe some Stan Getz, Yo Lo Tengo, Wilco, Beck, Bryan Ferry. I like all kinds of music, but something you can talk over but sets a nice mood is always good.

What is always in your refrigerator?

Wine, Almond milk, hummus, avocados, eggs, and salad fixings.

What/where was one of the best meals of your life that you will never forget?

I ate dinner in Rome with Bri from DesignLoveFest and Jen Gotch from at this tiny neighborhood restaurant called Maccheroni – it was a simple cacio de pepe pasta but it was perfect — good friends, good wine and lots of laughter.

What has been your most memorable night of entertaining guests?

Hmmm, that’s a hard one – I used to host these Sunday Night Suppers when I wasn’t so busy (gosh, I miss those!) and I’ve had some fun evenings doing that. Maybe my house warming party where I cooked a huge Italian pasta meal and we had my backyard decked out with globe lights and a crazy Pinata filled with chocolates, and everyone stayed way, way too late.

What is your standard hosting outfit?

I have these crazy palazzo pants with a black silk top I wear a lot. It feels a bit like pajamas and it’s so comfy it doesn’t get in the way of cooking, running around refreshing drinks — just really easy, but kind of fun and elegant.

Who are your dream dinner party guests?

Wes Anderson, Diane Keaton, Lena Dunham, Adrian Brody, Jon Stewart, Bill Murray. Let’s see what happens.

What are your tips for selecting cheeses and wine for a wine & cheese night with friends?

I like cheeses that taste like butter! I’m not kidding. But I have two really great cheese shops in my neighborhood and I will ask them to let me try a few things and they usually steer me right. I like serving a dry Sauvignon Blanc (and sometimes starting off with a Kir Royale – made with a dash of Casis) and I like Petit Sirah and Malbec. Nothing too heavy.

What cheeses & wines were you serving for this particular evening?

There’s a local cheese Cowgirl Creamery Mount Tam triple cheese, and a Spanish Manchego cheese that’s really nice served with dark rye crisps or rosemary flatbread. Also a Point Reyes Farmstead Bay Blue cheese that’s really mild, but flavorful. I also served these with a bit of quince, which is a sweet, thick, jelly made of the pulp of the quince fruit and really lovely with cheese.

What other things do you typically put with one of your cheese plates?

I like fruit like figs or pears, and very often dates. I also like to serve cheese with truffled oil Marconi almonds — with the fruit it’s a delicious combination of sweet, creamy and salty. I also served these with a bit of quince, which is a sweet, thick, jelly made of the pulp of the quince fruit and really lovely with cheese.

Love the photos of the tree and the other black and white. What is the story behind where you got them?

The black and white photo is of my dad, arriving in California for the first time, and like any good tourist, picking an orange from an orange tree grove. The other photo of the overgrown orange trees on the fence is by Liz Kuball and just reminded me of the photo of my dad, so I had to have it.

What is your entertaining style in five words or less?

A well-planned evening that comes off casual.