What was the first thing you did? Remove most of the cabinets and the 'jetty' that divided the kitchen. This was in 2000. We replaced the windows and painted everything white. We bought new appliances but sat on them for years.
Why? That's just our style. We do things slowly, do the work ourselves. For a while we concentrated on our back yard and other house projects. By the time we turned back to the kitchen, our tastes had changed. But in general we like to take our time, allowing things change, evolve and emerge organically.
How would you describe the kitchen today? Scott: Hodge-podgerie! Ray: Cajun Bayou meets Upstairs, Downstairs Edwardian What were your influences for your color choices? Ray: We saw a historic kitchen in the town of Sonoma. The colors were putty and buttermilk but we ended up darkening the buttermilk to the golden yellow. The green came from a photo of a New Orleans house. What’s your favorite thing in your kitchen? Ray: The glass cabinet knobs. I've been collecting them for years. I have 28 of them and I need 29. Almost there! Or maybe the 1927 wall phone. It works! Scott: Berta
Tell us about Berta. Scott: We had purchased our original replacement stove but never installed it. It sat against the opposite wall in our kitchen for years. After deciding that we no longer liked it, we splurged on the Bertazzoni. She's a lot like an Italian sports car, a little fussy and high-maintenance, but totally worth it. And she's beautiful. What about the tiles? The countertop tiles are handmade from Italy and the subway tiles are handmade, too. We installed them ourselves. What is the biggest challenge in your kitchen? The lighting over the sink.
The most whimsical thing in your kitchen? Ray's grandmother's God Bless Our Home crewelwork. It has been in all of our kitchens. What about the plates on the wall? They're by the Italian artist Carlo Marchiori from the series Pulcinella and the Moon. He lives in Calistoga and has a gallery called Ca'Toga. Anything you would change? The bamboo floor. The finish scratches very easily and it really shows the dirt. Kitchen task that you hate? Scott: I hate making cookies. Ray: I love making cookies! I hate the planning stage, coming up with the menu. What’s always in your pantry? Extra virgin Italian olive oil. An assortment of dried beans and legumes, stock, wine, wide array of herbs and spices. Frozen ravioli for a quick dinner. Favorite Ingredient? Ray: Almonds Scott: I cannot answer that question. Impossible! Always inspired by whatever is in season. Right now it's pumpkin, earlier it was everything tomato.
Cooking style? Ray: Sustainer? Enthusiast? Scott: Mostly European, Italian, French. I'm very inspired by Nigel Slater's new book Tender, as well as fresh California produce and ingredients. Another big inspiration is Patience Gray's Honey from a Weed. More favorite cookbooks? Scott: Anything by Deborah Madison Ray: Carol Field's The Italian Baker What's the first thing you've ever cooked? Scott: Quiche Lorraine. Ray: Can you believe that? And then he made brioche. He was TWELVE! Scott: No, wait. Before that I used to make the coffee cake from the back of the Bisquick box. Ray: I liked to bake. I remember making a cake from the Betty Crocker book. It had a brown sugar frosting. Best cooking advice or tip you’ve received? Scott: Don't be slavish in following cookbooks. Use for them for inspiration. Ray: Never try a new recipe at a dinner party. I did that one Thanksgiving for the whole dinner. The whole dinner! Disaster! Everything was awful. What are you cooking right now? Scott: Richard Olney's Pumpkin Tian, roasted tomatoes, homemade ketchup for canning.
Favorite Meal: Any time we have someone over for dinner. Ray's birthday meal menu (above) translated and expanded on: • Raw Oysters with Meyer Lemon • Filet of sole stuffed with shrimp mousse poached in court-bouillon served with light tarragon/tomato cream sauce • Quails stuffed with truffles poached in veal demi-glasse and served with truffle sauce • Lamb cutlets breaded and served with a red wine sauce • Braised endive • Chocolate soufflé Influence: Turn-of-the-20th-century, over the top gourmet French food, for a post-absinthe birthday toast. Favorite markets? We love our bi-weekly mystery box from Mariquita Farms, SF Farmer's Markets, our local Canyon Market and (soon, hopefully!) the chicken and egg CSA from Soul Food Farm. Your culinary childhood? Ray: I grew up in an Italian-American household in Napa, California. A lot of fresh, local produce. I learned to cook from my grandma who learned from her mother who had immigrated here. I still have all their recipes, still make their food. Scott: My grandmother on my father's side made a lot of English holiday food. My mother's side had a strong southern influence. But mostly it was standard, plain 70's cooking from my mom. My grandmothers' love of cooking and always sitting down at the table was important influence.
Favorite thing to cook? Scott: Right now I'm enjoying the transition between our local high summer/Mediterranean foods (tomatoes, peppers, basil) and the precursors to winter (pumpkins, squash.) Putting Up Tomatoes: An Encouragement (Images: Dana Velden)