Adrian and Gregg used the Pacific Northwest environment surrounding them when dreaming up their ideal kitchen in their new Portland, Oregon home. The space is as luxurious as it is comfortable. Join Adrian and me for one fabulous lunch and a tour of her inspiring kitchen.
When I think of the palette and aesthetic of the Pacific Northwest, shades of gray, modern, clean lines and use of natural materials all come to mind. Adrian and Gregg have distilled these elemental ideas and created an open kitchen that serves as the hearth of the first floor of their home. A large wooden island anchors the space and serves as a spot for sampling homemade wines as well as recipes Adrian is currently testing. During my visit, I was so lucky as to sample her Milk Dud cupcakes, a chocolate cake with salty caramel topping — these were served at an Oscar party last month. Such a fun idea!
Adrian is a food writer and avid home cook. Observing her prepare us a 'simple lunch' of baby lettuce and tangy vinaigrette salad; and polenta with garlic-sautéed zucchini, sun–dried tomatoes and fresh basil; wine made by a friend, and the Milk Dud cupcakes — you see where I'm going here — it was a symphony of flavors! An honest, fantastic meal prepared by someone who's obviously very experienced in the world of food.
These simple ingredients, to make them really sing, you need an expert and light touch — Adrian's got both. She has a deftness and joy about her cooking in this gorgeous kitchen that's infectious. She's just recently started to host tastings and classes in this space and I hope she continues to educate people of all backgrounds about the possibilities of local foods and beverages. This kitchen and the folks who inhabit it are truly inspiring!
10 Questions for Adrian and Gregg (and Their Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
The desire to connect with people and community, and to feed my family and friends with love. I am inspired by seasonal cooking and using local ingredients. And I just love that general spark when something in your everyday life rouses you to create a meal. For instance, I was at the movies with my husband on a recent vacation and we got popcorn. Halfway through True Grit the idea to translate the flavor of buttered popcorn into a cupcakes overtook me. I'm creating a recipe for that spark on my website.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
My Dutch oven pot that I bought on sale to get me through a sublet month or two in NYC. I was going to give it away when I got my "real" pots back. That was five years ago and I use it almost every day.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
We just moved in a few months ago, so all the memorable meals have been quite recent. I would say the most memorable was the meal I cooked for the team at Greenhammer, the design–build firm who did our renovation. They were an amazing team to work with. I have a ton of admiration for how much care they take in doing their jobs and how well they do it. I wanted to make a meal for them that made them feel proud about the kitchen they created. I pulled out all the stops and went back to my Italian roots. Watching this crowd sit at the 9-foot table that they made for us out of a reclaimed piece of Douglas fir made me feel part of our bigger community.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
We have this shelf outside of a cabinet of dishes that almost begs you to put things on it. The problem is you can't open the cabinet and get anything out of it if there's anything in front of it.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I probably would design that cabinet of dishes without the counter shelf in front of it, although I love the way it looks.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
The Wolf range.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
I'm always hoping to streamline and simplify. I strive to do as much as possible with as little equipment as I can get away with. I'm a believer that you really only need a pot, a knife and some fire to produce a good meal. Don't get me wrong, the rest of the stuff can be fun to play with, but they aren't necessities. You'll go further with a few techniques and fresh ingredients than you will with expensive gadgets and fad utensils.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Simple, rustic, playful.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
I'm constantly seeking out advice in the kitchen. I have a blog called the Communal Table that documents most of these adventures into the cooking advice world. But if I had to single out one piece of advice that keeps me going in the kitchen, it's something that Marcella Hazan told me when I was assisting her one time. I was fretting over how and when to put some artichoke in a pot: "Don't take this stuff too too seriously. Just throw it in the pot and have some fun with it." She said that, but then she was militant when it came to stirring a risotto, and I hear her yelling, "Stir, keep stirring, don't put the spoon down, keep stirring..." every time I make risotto, too.
10. What are you cooking this week?
Risotto, spaghetti squash, Alice Waters's recipe for beet greens and currants on pasta, caramel cupcakes (I'm testing cupcake recipes for Communal Table), and if brewing coffee counts, lots and lots of that! I have two kids.
• Visit Adrian's Blog: Communal Table
• Oven range: Wolf
• Dishwasher: Bosch
• Kitchen design: Green Hammer
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
Submit your kitchen here.
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)