Alli 411. She is a food blogger and restaurantista, and she has her finger on the pulse of the Los Angeles restaurant scene and everything yum. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband in a 1920s house called The Hacienda. It looks like a Spanish bed and breakfast, yet it's in the center of the city, just steps from Melrose. Here's what Alli has to say about her kitchen. All About the Kitchen My kitchen is all about the stove, a vintage one made by the Reliable Stove Co. in 1924. It is the centerpiece of the kitchen, all five feet of it, jutting out almost three feet in depth. It has eight gas burners, two of them butter warmers, four ovens and a food warmer. Everything I need is within arms' reach. Utensils and my salt collection are placed on the stove's shelf, just above the burners. Pans and oven mitts hang on the walls for easy access. Cooking on the stove is an adventure. I've gotten to know her, like an old friend, and love her quirks. The gas burners let out major flames, usually consistently. The ovens are great for baking and roasting, especially now that I've calibrated them. Setting the oven to 300 degrees makes it 350 degrees. I haven't burnt any meals ever since I learned how to accurately set the oven temperature. My favorite part of the stove is the broiler. It's like a barbecue. The flame gets so high, perfectly searing meat. With this broiler I make the best steaks ever. As I look around my kitchen, I realize it is somewhat of a museum. Vintage citrus labels hang over the stove, a small part of my husband's collection. An antique egg scale sits atop the oven warmer. It was used years ago when eggs were weighed to determine if they were small or large. Our eggs nowadays are much larger than back then. An 1885 Cadbury's Cocoa advertisement from The Illustrated London News hangs on a wall. A dapper man and an elegant woman are featured on what looks like the deck of a ship. The words read: STRENGTH AND STAYING POWER TO ATHLETES. Funny how times have changed. It probably comes as no surprise that one of my favorite ingredients has a vintage flare to it. The Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena aged over 30 years is a real treat. My guests always declare that I make the best salads. This is why. It is a splurge that turns any salad into a divine meal. Sweet as candy, I drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle a little sea salt and voilà! The kitchen leads to the dining room, a room with fun details. A collection of menus from our most memorable meals hang on the wall (The French Laundry in Napa, Dario Cecchini's restaurant in Italy). A vintage library card catalogue holds our wines, champagne, platters and serving pieces. The antique centerpiece on the dining room table was used to make sugar in Central America.
- How would you describe your cooking style?
I have an eclectic cooking style. I love to cook big meals with many side dishes, so there's a big selection and I can eat little bits of many things, similar to tapas. That way there's also plenty of leftovers throughout the week. Typically, I make one big meal a week so the fridge is full of many delicious meals, just like the prepared food section of a gourmet market.
- What inspired your kitchen?
My kitchen inspires me. I haven't changed a thing about it since we moved in. It has a vintage, rustic feel, as if generations of food lovers have been lovingly preparing delicious meals for years and years.
- What is your favorite tool or implement?
My kitchen timer is my key to cooking. In fact, I have 2 of them so I can cook many dishes at the same time and have everything ready on time. My cooking journal is a close second; it is my memory. Without it I would forget about all of the delicious meals I've made. I write down each meal I make and comment on how I've altered recipes, what works and what can be improved on.
- Best cooking advice or tip you received?
Make your own chicken stock. It is a huge difference and so easy!
- What is the biggest challenge in your kitchen?
Space. I love to cook with my husband and friends. My kitchen is fab for one person. It gets crowded with more.
- What is the biggest indulgence in your kitchen?
Recently married, we received many wonderful gifts that make cooking a breeze: Our all Clad and Le Creuset pots and pans are wonderful!
- What is your dream splurge?
A set of Shun Knives.
- What are you cooking this week?
Roast turkey, faux mashed potatoes, Spanish cous cous, asparagus with lemon, chicken stock.
- What is your desert island cookbook?
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.
- Describe a meal you cooked here that you're really proud of.
For my grandmother's 89th birthday we had the family over, we were 10 people. We dined outside in July; it was a perfect summer evening. We moved the dining room table into the patio in the front courtyard and had lanterns hanging all around us, creating a beautiful ambiance. Everyone oohed and aahed at the meal. The funny thing was, it was one of the easiest meals to prepare. We started with cheese, grapes, figs and a baguette. The main dish was a delicous rib roast, cooked to perfection. Organic string beans and faux mashed potatoes (pureed cauliflower) followed. For dessert, fresh watermelon and a birthday cake.
- Bodum everyday glasses: Pavina Double Walled Cooler: These are my favorite glasses. They are comfortable in the hand, but best of all, they are made of heat-resistant, scientific glass that can hold both hot and cold drinks, eliminating the need for mugs. They look great too.
- Cuisipro(R) Stainless Steel Locking Tongs from Sur La Table: These tongs have an orange silicone tip. I use them for everything.
- Emile Henry(R) Salt Pig: I keep this right above my stove. It is the perfect shape, convenient for grabbing salt with my fingers while I am cooking.
- All Clad Slow Cooker: Our friends, the Gingolds, surprised us with this wonderful engagement gift. I had never used a slow cooker and had no idea what to do. As it turns out, I've had a lot of fun experimenting with it and making delicious meals. Best of all, it saves a ton of time. I make homemade apple sauce in a snap with this, along with many other treats.