Beef and ballet in Bolinas

06/22/2017

Rancher Guido Frosini describes “SOLIS”—a sumptuous outdoor dance event that will take place in Bolinas this July—as “beef and ballet.” That’s a cheeky way of putting it, and a sign of his love of words. The event’s instigators—Julia Adam, a dancer and choreographer, and her husband, Aaron Lucich, the producer—have a longer and perhaps less memorable way of describing “SOLIS,” which culminates in a performance of modern ballet. Their publicity says: “We strive to provide a deep connection to the environment through a wholly immersive experience that brings together dance and local gourmet cuisine in a beautiful outdoor setting.”

The event follows up on three others held over the same number of years, each themed on an element. This year’s event will take place at Big Mesa Farm, and Frosini promises to be there. So will hefty servings of the organic pork and lamb from the pigs and sheep he raises. If all goes well, the evening might remind him of the kind of European culture he craves when he’s working at True Grass, his 1,000-acre spread not far from the Estero Americano and the Pacific Ocean. Ranching has been at the heart of Frosini’s life for the past decade, and so has the isolation born of a life focused on pastureland and cattle. But he’ll get a big dose of community at “SOLIS,” which means sun in Spanish and which symbolizes this year’s theme: fire. 

Born in Florence, Italy, Frosini might well be called a kind of cultural hybrid who combines Italian tradition with California innovation. On a recent 40-day tour of France, Italy and Spain, he ate well, met shepherds and farmers, and feasted on European conviviality. “The architecture of European cities encourages the congregation of families and friends in central places where they can talk, eat, shop, drink wine and go home rejuvenated,” he told me. “Hospitality is sacred.” He wants to foster that way of life here.

Fortunately, he shares his dream with the purveyors and performers who will be at “SOLIS.” While they won’t be able to duplicate the feel of a European city, they’ll make maximum use of the mesa on the edge of the continent as a stage for an extravaganza. “It’s not a wine and food event,” Lucich insisted. “It’s a cultural event.” Still, there will be wine and appetizers, followed by a sit-down dinner with food served family-style on large platters. Meat, some of it barbecued Argentinian style, might be the star of the meal, though vegetables from Big Mesa, Gospel Flat and Star Route Farms will play a strong supporting role. “In the spirit of egalitarianism, the chefs will have freedom to do what they want to do,” Lucich said. The dance performance begins soon after dark.

Adam sees SOLIS as a way for people to slow down and connect with one another. A Jewish Canadian once-upon-a-time boarding school student, she grew up with food and ritual, and she still enjoys communal gatherings. “I’ve always disliked eating quickly and rushing to a show,” she said. “At the event at Big Mesa, we build a nest and we hold guests together for four hours so they’re far more than strangers sitting side by side. We create a community around food, art and nature.”

For Frosini, there’s a whole philosophy behind the event. “I want people to be much more aware than they are now of where their food comes from,” he said. “I want them to feel enveloped by the farms and ranches were the beef is raised and the vegetables are harvested.”

 

Jonah Raskin is the author of “Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating and Drinking Wine in California.” Tickets for “SOLIS,” which takes places on July 14 to 16 and July 21 to 23, are $200. They are available at juliaadamdance.com.