Tamar Adler, accomplished chef and author of culinary memoir The Everlasting Meal as well as many published articles, is generous and passionate about fresh homemade food. Her Brooklyn kitchen is roomy, practical and functional—a place where wild tomato canning parties for 20 unfold and quiet solitary cups of tea are sipped. It's a delightful place, where I wanted to stay and chat and pick the brain some more of one of my favorite authors.
Tamar's kitchen isn't overly stylish or unique — it's just pretty. It looks very well used, and there are many personal details that make it feel lived in and loved, such as the spoon collection at the stove top (most have brown bits from being singed at a simmering pot) and the remains of the vast canning operation that had occurred just a few days before my visit.
Tamar's emphasis on using up all that she brings in this kitchen can be found in the various broths left over from vegetable ends, and the myriad of homemade jams and relishes lingering about the fridge. It's inspiring to see someone's published cooking philosophy so apparent in their own kitchen.
Tamar's kitchen is organized but not in a crazed, overly packaged sense. Her systems have to do with gathering like items and ingredients, a basic scheme but one that is practical and lovely every time I see it. Tamar has a love of expensive, delectable pantry items such as imported sardines, good teas, extra-virgin oil and fresh bread. I'd bet she could whip up ten scrumptious appetizers in about 5 minutes without ever stepping out of her kitchen. It is this inventiveness and creativity and ability to see possibilities in limitations that make Tamar and inspired cook and host.
Thanks for the visit Tamar!
• Visit Tamar's website: Tamar Adler
• Check out Tamar's book: An Everlasting Meal
10 Questions for Tamar
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
My kitchen is inspired by circumstance. I live in a friend's apartment, which has a big, open room on the first floor. I lugged a big butchery table into the middle of it, put my few and rather weatherworn pots and pans in a drawer, and called it my kitchen. I can't say my cooking is much less practical. It isn't inspired as much as born of the fact that it really matters to me that all my food tastes good, and that it's been grown with as little negative impact on the soil or beings that stewarded it as possible. So, I buy vegetables and the odd chicken and fish from the people who steward well, and then I cook them. I think that probably my cooking is most Mediterranean, because it's what I grew up eating, and it's simple and good.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
I like the idea of a kitchen element. Oxygen! My favorite tool is my Thai mortar and pestle.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
When my oldest friend came to New York for the first time with her Italian boyfriend I threw a big dinner party for 28 people, all seated at a long table. We had to sit two to a chair, some of us, and a lot of people had to eat with chopsticks, others got spoons. The meal was cold lamb leg with salsa verde and chicken liver pate on toasts, and then roast chickens and boiled potatoes and braised artichokes and lots of aioli, then cutting boards covered in cheeses and tons of plums and peaches. I loved that meal.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Oh, I don't know. I think it all works fine.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I didn't make this kitchen, and I doubt I'll make my next. I'm not an idealist on this matter. If it's got somewhere to cut and a heating element, and ideally running water, I'm happy enough.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
I buy expensive ingredients — simple ones. I'll spend anything you ask on Rocambola garlic, good olive oil. My bread costs $9 a loaf. I have a $16 can of sardines. But, so it is.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
I am out of all but three bottles of wine that I'm keeping for another year. Wine!
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
It usually needs salt. It almost always needs salt, and a little squeeze of lemon juice, and probably a final addition of fat.
10. What are you cooking this week?
I'm eating the most wonderful boiled broccoli with chilies I pickled a couple of weeks ago right now. And then tomorrow or later I'm going to roast tiny little eggplants with a lot of herbs and an ungodly amount of olive oil, then store them in that and red wine vinegar. And pretty speckled romano beans. They might be called dragons' tongue beans, actually.
• Oven: Bosch
• Fridge: Amana
• Dishes: So mismatched
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Related: Haleigh's Charming Paris Kitchen
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)