• Heather Sperling's & Emily Fiffer's Pantry •
If you’re a “vegetable slinger,” a spice hoarder, a pickle aficionado, or all of the above, you’d fit right in with Emily Fiffer and Heather Sperling of LA’s Botanica (which is in our LA women-powered collection on Caviar!). After a decade spent as lifestyle and food editors, the two launched their veggie-forward all-day cafe in a bid to share their internationally influenced cooking ethos with the world. At home, the co-founders keep their pantries stocked with an eclectic mix of personal essentials ranging from tinned fish to fiery zhoug to a near-complete catalog of world spices. Oh, and they always keep natty wine on standby. See Emily and Heather extol the virtues of local-crafted earthenware, probiotics in every form, and LA’s year-round growing season in the exclusive #pineforpantry video tour produced by our friends at Short Stack.
Shop the Botanica pantry:
My food is Botanica food! Local produce approached with a global pantry, and equal reverence for vibrance and simplicity. I’ve lived and eaten around the world, and my mental catalog of global flavors informs what I cook, as much as the farmers market and my garden does. I’ve had so many kitchens over the years, and they’ve all been designed for being used -- hard! I’m a dinner party fanatic -- but also very aesthetically focused. So: ceramics overload.
I find inspiration from everything I’ve eaten, seen or read about food comes out in the kitchen, somehow! I can’t remember 95% of what learned in college, but I recall 99% of what I’ve eaten for the past thirty years. I guess I’m in the right profession…
My kitchen (pantry + utensils) is an organized yet overpopulated collection of my travels + family heirlooms. I also seem to have dozens of wooden spoons but only 5 dinner plates. I’d describe my food style as light, bright, and vegetable-heavy, always served with several varieties of homemade sauces, dips and spreads. I love a table with multiple bits to pile onto a plate; it feels bountiful, loose and festive.
I find inspiration everywhere! I read a lot, and have a long-term love affair with the Guardian’s Feast (the UK’s food section); their weekly columnists provide constant technique and ingredient inspiration. I thumb through piles of cookbooks whenever possible, too . It’s equally important for me to get OUT of my house + the restaurant and into the world to discover what’s out there. Travel = my happy place.
markets & shopping
I head to farmers markets and a few small local shops. Every day I feel crazy lucky to live in a place where it’s so easy to stock your life with deliciousness. Being able to get citrus, olive oil, grains, legumes and nuts from the farmers market really changes the shopping game. So does having a year-round growing season.
I love love love the act of going to the market (farmer’s markets and groceries); I always leave so satisfied and excited thinking about all that lies ahead! I’m not big on lists (unless I’m planning a big event or dinner party); I prefer to wander around caressing produce and choosing what makes me happy. This includes weekly trips to the Hollywood farmers market for produce, seafood + nuts, then filling in the rest (dried beans, vinegars + oils, miso, coconut milk, butter for ghee) at a local grocer as needed!
Herbs & citrus -- can’t live without them / all you ever need to make something delicious! (well, plus good olive oil & salt...more on that below)
Regular and white kimchi from Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food, a vendor at the Hollywood and Silver Lake farmers markets -- my favorite snack right now is this kimchi with avocado, olive oil, sea salt and loads of lemon zest. I’m 5 months pregnant, so the more probiotics, the better!
Natural wine, at all times -- always some bubbles, white and rose, as well as cider and some dark vermouth (Partida Creus Ver-Muz is my favorite)
Spices! Special shout-out to sumac, pimenton dulce, za’atar and aleppo & urfa peppers (all from La Boite).
Dates, multiple varieties (some live in the fridge, some in the pantry). Nature’s caramel! I love incorporating them into savory dishes, wrapping them around 100% dark chocolate for an afternoon energy boost, and serving them with tahini, olive oil and sea salt as an easy, elegant dinner party dessert.
Tinned fish (Nuri spiced mackerel -- so good!)
Obvious but worth stating: good olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch brand for my utility/workhorse oil, Baker Lane as my dressing/finishing oil), sea salt and whole black peppercorns. If these aren’t the foundation of your cooking, you’re missing out on the full delicious potential of your life!
Japanese brass serving spoons that I got a few years ago from Materia -- they make every serving plate look even prettier! And they’re the perfect size and weight (so many serving utensils are too cumbersome).
Mortar & pestle -- one small for vinaigrettes and one big/heavy duty for salsas, pestos, etc. Pounding it out really maximizes the therapeutic qualities of cooking, I’ve found…
Cast-iron pans of all sizes -- cast-iron can do it all!
So many ceramics! The joy of eating begins with the eyes, and I’m fiercely presentation-oriented, even if I’m just cooking for myself.
My wooden spoon collection, which includes well-used spoons from the kitchens of my grandmother, mother and my husband’s grandmother. Sentimental, but also possibly my favorite kitchen implement.
The Duck Soup Cookbook is beautiful, inspiring, and insanely aligned with my palate, style and cravings. I absolutely adore it.
Alison Roman’s Dining In -- also crazy aligned with exactly what I want on my plate/in my mouth!
I don’t really cook from cookbooks; I use them more for inspiration/daydreaming...but the one true workhorse of my kitchen for the last 20 years is the Chez Panisse Cafe cookbook. (Two Botanica dishes have even evolved out of it!)
I learned to cook by experimenting, mainly; trial and lots of error :). My cookbook collection is vast and different books call to me at different times. I also have an obsession with all things British.
Current love affairs include:
To Sum it Up:
pantry item she can't live without: good olive oil + sea salt
one or two items that are always in her fridge: abundant herbs & natural wine
her go-to inspiration cookbook: The Duck Soup Cookbook
her most trusted kitchen tool: Cast-iron pan
5 adjectives that describe her pantry style: international, colorful, storied, flavorful, wholesome
her favorite music to jam out to in the kitchen: West African highlife, the original recordings from Studio One in Jamaica, Thelonious Monk, 90s hip hop
pantry item she can't live without: Maldon sea salt + lemons!
one or two items that are always in her fridge: Rick’s farm eggs + homemade pickles
her go-to inspiration cookbook: I couldn’t possibly decide...
her most trusted kitchen tool: Japanese vegetable knife
5 adjectives that describe her pantry style: global, colorful, crunchy, spice-laden, eccentric
her all-time favorite market: Hollywood Farmer’s Market and Persepolis in Peckham, London
women-made food products she pines for: Soom tahini
her favorite music to jam out to in the kitchen: R+ B all day every day. I can’t cook without dancing.
And guess what?! We have video now, too! Watch the Botanica pantry tour!
Made by our friends at Short Stack