An open fire, hand-made spoons and commemorative glasses are Alice Waters’ treasures
Ilive in north Berkeley, California about a mile from Chez Panisse. I’ve been here for 34 years, just about the same age as my daughter Fanny. I remodelled it immediately – it had a small kitchen with a tiny back porch. The house was built in 1908 and I didn’t want to change the character of it but we took down the porch, opened up the kitchen and put the fireplace in, which you see here (1). I put the stove in.
I wanted it to be a bread oven and I had great fantasies of making bread every day, but I just never find the time. I do use the fireplace constantly though – every time I’m home and having dinner, the fire is lit and I’m cooking something on it, from toast to grilled chicken or fish. I even have a spit that goes in there so I can make a spit-roast turkey for Thanksgiving. Mostly we use oak, but I also have fig wood for special occasions – so perfumed and wonderful. It’s a very hard wood and burns for a long time.
In a book about fireplace cooking I saw a picture of an egg fried on a spoon like this one with the crooked end (2).
I thought: my word, I have to get one of those. Cooked this way the egg puffs up like magic and it really tastes of the wood. My friend Bob Cannard – our main farmer for Chez Panisse – is also a very clever craftsman. I love this spoon he made with the copper bowl (3). Feels very graceful when you’re serving something to the table.
We make Chez Panisse glasses for special occasions and these (4) are just a few of them. The one on the left is to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. I wanted to celebrate John Muir and his love of the land. We got some fruit from his house in Vallejo and made a special apricot tart.
I use these bowls (5) for drinking my tea every morning, and for café au lait. They were given to me by various friends. I usually buy one every time I go to France. The salad bowl (6) was made near Bolinas from recycled wood. My friends Susie and Mark gave it to me. I feel bonded with them every time I use it. And here (7) is the beautiful new garlic of this year.
The mortar and pestle (8) is my most infamous kitchen implement – I have so many – I use them for everything. I love the aroma of whatever I’m pounding – it’s part of my inspiration. I have this granite one for pesto, and a marble one, and Japanese ones with grooves – suribachi – for vinaigrettes.
Finally, the wine ... a friend gave me a case of 1971 Bordeaux – every time I open one I keep the empty bottle.
6 1 5 3 4 8 7 2