An open fire, hand-made spoons and com­mem­o­ra­tive glasses are Alice Wa­ters’ trea­sures

The Guardian - Cook - - A Cook’s Kitchen - Alice Wa­ters is a chef, au­thor, food ac­tivist and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse restau­rant in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia. She has just re­leased her mem­oir, Com­ing to My Senses: The Mak­ings of a Coun­ter­cul­ture (Hardie Grant)

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

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