Things

Inside Alison Roman’s Kitchen

6 days ago

Interview: Sophie Missing
Photographs: Sean Santiago

The New York food writer picks out a very useful fruit, some obsession-worthy tableware, and a cookbook that takes her back to California

INGREDIENTS

Lemons
“I use whole lemon a lot because it’s bitter and it’s also tart and juicy. Sometimes I find that my salads want more acid, but I don’t want to add more juice because then they get really wet. So I use whole lemon as a way to get concentrated spread out hits.” – Alison

Aleppo pepper »
“The flakes are really moist, but they also have a quiet heat; they’re not that spicy, it’s not like using chilli flakes. It’s a way to get a little smokiness – a little sweet, a little fruity. When I’m eating Aleppo pepper I’m reminded that chilli is a fruit, and I really like that.”

Salt
“I just ran out of kosher salt and I kept forgetting to get it, so for about a month I was using Maldon which is hysterical because it’s like using a really expensive face cream on your whole body. Completely wasteful and could be avoided and yet… it’s not the first time I’ve done it. I also like a brand called Jacobsen that’s made in the US [in Oregon]. I’m not a purist when it comes to salt.”

Anchovies »
“I rarely go through a whole tin unless I’m making tomato sauce or anchovy butter, in which case I’d use a whole tin, so a jar keeps them a little bit nicer for longer. The first time I was in France, I bought four types of anchovies at this market in Paris. I was so overwhelmed. I was like, well how do I know which one’s the good one?”

Nutritional yeast »
Alison keeps a stock of nutritional yeast for making popcorn. “I keep trying to find other ways to use it. I want to be the kind of person that says, ‘I put it on everything!’ but I don’t, because it’s really hard to cook with. It gets wet and it loses its texture. But I eat a lot of popcorn and if I don’t have nutritional yeast, I have a hard time. Popcorn is so good. It’s always the answer.”

Tristar strawberries

“These are the most delicious berries. I think they’re a cross between a Mara de bois and a Seascape. This is about as big as they get. They don’t require so much water so their flavour is very concentrated. A big strawberry doesn’t taste like much because it’s full of water. They’re the best. I don’t like to bake with them because they’re too good. And it’s too hot to bake!”

OBJECTS

Texas Ware bowls »
We are extremely taken with Alison’s collection of pastel coloured vintage melamine confetti pattern bowls. ‘They’re from the 50s or 60s. I got them all at separate places; I’m obsessed with them.’

Moroccan lemon wood spoons »
A recent acquisition from a trip to Paris. “I went to a Moroccan restaurant and was like, ‘I have these!’, and they were like, ‘Cool, everyone has these.’”

BOOKS

Chez Panisse Fruit, Alice Waters »
“I like the way Alice Waters writes; I love all the Chez Panisse books but I spent a lot of time with this one because she goes through each ingredient and what to do with it. It’s sweet and savoury. I grew up in California so it speaks to me. There’s a lot in that book that you can’t find here, it’s pretty regional.”

The Last Course, Claudia Fleming »
“The first or maybe second cookbook I ever really fell in love with. I came across it when I became a pastry chef and the woman I was working for had worked for Claudia Fleming. The desserts are hysterical and very dated at this point, but the recipes are so good – foolproof and classic.”

A Change of Appetite, Diana Henry »
“She has a lot of good ideas for certain things; the first time I saw beet cured salmon, which is everywhere now, was in one of her books [Salt Sugar Smoke].”

River Cottage Fish, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall »
“I love all the River Cottage books, they’re some of my favourite cookbooks.”

Posted 6 days ago

In Things

 

Interview: Sophie Missing
Photographs: Sean Santiago

More from the Things

Inside Asma Khan’s Kitchen – The chef-owner of Darjeeling Express on homemade tamarind water, metal spoons from India and her two favourite South Asian cookbooks

Inside Bea Pérez and Pepe Flórez’s Kitchen – The Bodega Vidas winemakers pick out their favourite comfort food, a powerful local cheese and a great book of Asturian cooking

Inside Zoe Adjonyoh’s Kitchen – The chef and food writer on Ghanaian hot sauce, gaudy fridge magnets and the inspirations for her cookbook

Inside Roger Phillips’ Kitchen – The master of mushrooms on his favourite vegetable, a divisive kitchen gadget and his two most prized food books