Edible San Francisco

For the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of illustrating for the local magazine Edible San Francisco. I get a list of the Top 10 Eats for each issue, and whip up an illustration to accompany the article. Fun stuff.

Winter 2015



Spring 2015



Summer 2015



Fall 2015

web edible sf winter 2015 alyson_thomas 300dpi



Holiday 2014 Order Deadlines

Make sure you get your prints, towels, and posters from Drywell Art in time for the holidays!



square meat tree

2015 Salumi Calendar

Drywell Art Salumi Calendar

It’s been 2 years since I made a calendar, and I think this one is worth the wait! Serious hunger pangs were induced by painting over 20 varieties of salumi and cured meats. Eight made the cut and are sliced up just like they would be on your favorite charcuterie board.


Drywell Art Salumi Calendar


Perfect for the meat lover, avid cook, or chef, this 2015 calendar features a selection of cured meat, worthy of any antipasto or charcuterie plate. The calendar features all original hand drawn watercolor illustrations of meaty goodness and even includes a key identifying all the salumi : Soppressata, Culatello, Mortadella, Salame Toscano, Bresaola, Pancetta, Zampone, and Lonza.

Print measures 13 x 19 inches.

Get ’em while they last! Right here.


Don’t Procrastinate – Renegade Craft SF This Weekend

Coming up for air to let all the San Francisco area people know that Renegade Craft Fair‘s holiday show is SUPER early this year. As in THIS weekend. It is usually a great chance for procrastinators to get their last-minute holiday shopping done. But this year, we all have the chance to be a bit more responsible and get our holiday shopping done before Thanksgiving!

There will be over 300 vendors, selling handmade food, art, clothes, and more. Come by and see me. I’m right down the middle aisle, near pals Etta + Billie, Lemon Bird Jams, and Nosh This.


Everything I Ate in Istanbul

In May, I went on a trip to Istanbul with my folks. I ate a lot. And then I illustrated it.

turkish foods in istanbul illustrated

turkish foods in istanbul illustrated


turkish foods in istanbul illustrated

turkish foods in istanbul illustrated


Works in Progress

August has been a very productive month for drawing and painting here at Drywell HQ. Must be the fact that Karl the Fog is keeping me indoors most of the time. Here are some recent progress shots shared over on my Instagram account. Final pieces to be revealed soon!

drywell art mystery cocktail diagram in progress sketch

BLT in progress by drywell art

BLT watercolor in progress by alyson thomas of drywell art

New Art and Renegade. Kablammy!


It’s time again for the “summer” Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco! Bundle up and come on out to Fort Mason. I’m in booth 137, right down the center aisle.

It should be a great time, and you can see some new Drywell Art for the first time in person. Consider this a sneak preview:



Making Chocolate with Dandelion

dandelion sketch eatretreat

How to Make Chocolate. © Alyson Thomas 2014

During the Eat Retreat weekend, our days were filled with food demonstrations, information sessions, and how-tos. One of the highlights was helping to make chocolate, from the cacao beans to bar, with the affable Todd of Dandelion Chocolate. They quite literally travel the world in search of the best cacao beans, which they then turn into chocolate bars at their factory on a now-hopping stretch of Valencia Street in San Francisco. What really makes this chocolate mind-blowingly awesome to my now blown-mind is that Dandelion only uses cacao and sugar in their delicious bars. No added cocoa butter, milk solids, or stabilizers.  Todd schlepped up some chocolate making equipment to do a small-scale demo of the chocolate making process for Eat Retreat. And since I draw food and such, I took notes like this:

Photo by Jen Pelka

Photo by Jen Pelka

Todd had us sort through the beans, discarding any oddballs or debris. Then the pile of beans was placed into a coffee roaster, and then into a toaster oven. This cracks the beans, allowing the outer husks to be removed from the nib. While the beans roasted, Todd passed around samples of three of their single-origin bars. I was one of the few fruity chocolate fans in the room, so I adored the Madagascar bar.  It had a lot of citrus flavors, with one attendee comparing it to a lambic beer. Dead on. And with an insanely long finish. (Immediately upon my return, I picked up a bar for Steve, who declared it “absolutely the best chocolate I have ever had.” So there’s that.) It was fascinating to have such different flavors of chocolate, all just coming from the beans and the fermentation process. At their cafe in San Francisco, you can get flights of brownies, each using a different chocolate varietal.

Photo by Lauren Chandler

Photo by Lauren Chandler

After roasting, the now amazing-smelling beans were cracked in a small grain mill used by home brewers. The papery husks were removed in a process called winnowing, using a shop vac. After that,  the beans are ground in a melanger for several days, with sugar eventually added in. This makes the final chocolate bar, after it is tempered and left to cool.

Photo by Lauren Chandler

Photo by Lauren Chandler

Photo by Lauren Chandler

Photo by Lauren Chandler

Photo © Jesse Friedman.

Photo © Jesse Friedman.


There are an insane amount of other details and variables that go into making chocolate as delicious as Dandelion’s – like where and how the cacao plants are grown, fermentation techniques at the farms, and roasting methods – but Todd showed us the basic process of bean to bar. For more info on all the other fascinating stuff, check out this article by fellow Eat Retreater and chocolate fanatic, Lesley Stockton.

They explain the process beautifully over at the Dandelion Chocolate site, and if you are in San Francisco, you can even go on a free tour, like a modern-day Charlie Bucket. And if you’re really into chocolate, you can even make a small-batch of your own chocolate with Dandelion or go on a cacao buying trip.


friday o’clock : salt-preserved mezcalrita


Cheers! Jen + Leslie. Photo by Vincent Ricchiuti

Two weeks ago, I was walking  fields with Doug of the Mendocino Grain Project, learning more about wheat varietals, dry-farming and grain milling that I ever thought I wanted to know.  It was just one part of a food nerd paradise weekend called Eat Retreat. I was lucky enough to be one of the 35 or so attendees chosen to attend the 3-day retreat. All attendees are food professionals of some kind, most being chefs or food makers.   The days were filled with workshops, demonstrations, and tastings, all which will get their own recap to come.

Prior to arrival, we were put on meal or happy hour hour teams, and no one will be surprised which one I ended up on. My teammates for the weekend were Dafna of Inna Jam and Tammy of Spice Hound. We were graciously provided white rye, gin, and mezcal to concoct libations. On Saturday, we made three cocktails: Aperye Spritz, Gin + Tonic, and the Salt-Preserved Mezcalrita. The latter two were served up creekside, for an impromptu happy hour that was so beautiful that it verged on Kinfolk-twee. 


Riverbed bar tending. Photo by Leslie Lindell.

bar setup

On the bar, lovely rimmed glasses waiting. Photo by Leslie Lindell


The menu. Photo by Leslie Lindell.

The idea for the mezcalrita came together quite nicely. Many mezcal cocktails are mixed at home from my extensive collection, smuggled back from Oaxacan roadside mezcal distilleries a few years ago. And a friend of mine had made a Moroccan margarita a month ago for our Mediterranean mash up progressive dinner party, using salt-preserved lemons. Then Dafna mentioned she had a bunch of preserved Meyer lemon brine from her lovely preserved meyer lemons. Boom. We were in business.  The end result was pretty killer. Very balanced; smoky, slightly sweet, salty, sour, and a touch spicy from the piment d’ville and sal de guasano. Goes down easy, especially when you’re lounging on a riverbed.

Salt-Preserved Mezcalrita

I highly recommend using Inna Jam preserved lemon brine for this. Dafna uses a minimum amount of salt in her preserved lemons, which adds just the right saltiness to the syrup. Other preserved lemon brine might end up too salty. If that’s your only option, add less brine to the syrup mixture. 

You likely don’t have sal de guasano in your pantry. That’s ok. Substitute a mixture of a cayenne or other hot pepper and salt. You’ll miss the umami of the caterpillar larvae, but you’ll survive. It is also available online. Or just skip it entirely, and rim the glass only with the lovely fresh Piment d’Ville – a locally grown version of the obsession-worthy piment d’esplette.

2 oz joven mezcal

1 oz lime juice

1 oz preserved lemon syrup* (recipe below)

sal de guasano (in small bowl)

piment d’ville (in small bowl)

lots of ice

Dip the rim of glass in lime juice. Then dip one side in sal de guasano, and the other side in piment d’ville. Plop in some ice cubes.

In a shaker, combine mezcal, lime, and lemon syrup. Fill with ice and shake until your hand is freezing. Strain into your cold, rimmed, glass. You can easily make up to 3 drinks in one shaker, as I did while playing bartender for the thirsty Eat Retreaters.

* To make preserved lemon syrup, combine 1 part sugar with 1 part hot water. Stir until sugar dissolves. You can also boil the whole lot together on the stove, but it’s not necessary. Once sugar is dissolved, add 1/2 part brine reserved from the preserved lemons. You might as well make a big batch of this and store in a jar in the fridge. Or beg Dafna to start selling it.

And of course I had to do a diagram….


Love letter to Japantown, San Francisco

mochi painting

mochi painting from my sketchbook

I’m not exactly sure when my love/obsession with Japan began. I know that I had Japanese import versions of ska CDs before I ever tasted sushi. The fact that Steve loves Japanese pop culture as much as I do certainly fuels our joint fascination. I love the food, the culture, the design, the art, and the uniquely foreign perspective forged from years of isolationism. Really everything. We’ve been fortunate enough to get to travel to Japan twice, and hope there are many more trips in our future.

For the past three years, I have been part of a business group, made up of creative entrepreneurs and makers. We all met at various craft shows in the Bay Area and have been meeting once a month for years, to share resources, vent our frustrations, and give advice to each other. And this year, we started a little blog, sharing a little business advice, some recipes from our monthly meetings, local retailer interviews and our favorite spots in the Bay Area. I recently wrote my own little love letter to Japantown in San Francisco. Hop on over and discover my favorite places to eat and shop in one of the few remaining Japantowns in America.

And if you want to amp up your own obsession with Japanese food, may I suggest the multi-volume, hilarious food manga series Oishinbo (available at Kinokuniya and UmamiMart) and the funny food memoir Pretty Good Number One, about a young American family living and eating in Tokyo for a month.