Provisions: La Cuisine

If cooking is a passion and collecting kitchen equipment is a conquest, La Cuisine is where to shop. And it has been for the past 45 years.

La Cuisine
Photo by Aaron Spicer
EDITOR’S NOTE: La Cuisine is currently hosting its Annual Coupon Sale through Aug. 31.

Minimalism and simplicity have become the mantras of today’s aesthetic: white walls, air plants and very tidy homes. But there’s another camp, too, equally chic but with a contrasting paradigm: Think of Julia Child’s kitchen. She had one, or maybe four, of everything. Sure, a cereal spoon can nudge out swaths of cantaloupe, but a double-sided scooper—one side straight, the other fluted—performs better.

If cooking is a passion and collecting kitchen equipment is a conquest, La Cuisine is where to shop. And it has been for the past 45 years.

Nancy Pollard and her husband live above the store, and that’s where she tests equipment.

La Cuisine
Photo by Aaron Spicer

“I am brutal,” she says about how she treats her copper pots; maybe they’re not as precious as their reputation leads us to believe. She doesn’t sell nonstick. She thinks Teflon is “fine for hip replacements” and refers her customers to Lodge’s preseasoned cast iron.

La Cuisine
Photo by Aaron Spicer

A utensil she thinks more of us should be using? A slotted, angled spatula, called a fish turner, (there’s a left-handed version, too) for flipping, scraping and whisking. There are also specific tools for those needs, with whisks large enough to beat dinosaur eggs. Most of the equipment—copper molds the shape of a flopping fish, corers for tomatoes and apples, snail tongs—hangs from pegboards, just like in Julia Child’s kitchen.

La Cuisine
Photo by Aaron Spicer

One hundred frosting tips sit in a glass-encased box, each in its own felt-lined cubby, preserved like an ancient specimen. There’s also what you didn’t know you needed, like suede pot holders (Pollard says the material is especially heat retardant) and a spatula whose end can sway and lock at a 45-degree angle.

Pollard pruned the world’s knife collections down to three lines she likes best: Messermeister San Moritz (Germany), Shun Classic (Japan) and Sabatier 62 (France). It’s a curated store of finds from around the world: hand-painted tagines from Tunisia, essences (not extracts) in flavors like peach, pear and pistachio from France and stove-safe terracotta pots from Italy.

La Cuisine
Photo by Aaron Spicer

The selection of food is similarly whittled down: heirloom beans in names like dapple gray from Idaho’s Zürsun, thyme honey from the island of Crete, more than 20 different baking chocolates (all available to taste)  and (one of the only locally made items) barbecue sauce from Bone Doctors’.

The store isn’t all serious. Cookies cutters come in shapes like kangaroos, penguins and sharks. And Pollard is known to start a story with, “When I went to get my breakfast ice cream …” // 323 Cameron St., Alexandria

(September 2017)

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