A good meal, it is well-known, can be constructed using nothing more than a sharp knife, a flame and a sturdy pan, plus maybe a pot of boiling water if you feel like having coffee afterward. Escoffier, after all, did just fine without an immersion circulator or a snootful of chermoula. Does this dampen one's desire to have, or give, all the things? Clearly, it does not. Here are a few.
Searzall: There is one Kickstarter-funded product every year that seems to capture the culinary madness of the season. This year’s is probably the Searzall, a blowtorch attachment that lets you apply a perfect sear to sous-vide meat or fish in a few seconds, without the weird hydrocarbon off-taste. (If you’ve had blowtorch-toasted toro in a sushi bar, you know what I mean.) Designed by Dave Arnold, the mad scientist behind many of WD-50’s oddest creations. $75, at Amazon.com.
Walnut oil: If you stop by Salt & Straw these days, you can get a scoop of ice cream flavored with La Nogalera walnut oil from Rancho La Viña, a walnut farm in the Santa Rita Hills on California's Central Coast. The ice cream is potent stuff, with a flavor as complex and beguiling as vanilla. But patrons of local farmers markets have known about La Nogalera for years. A bit of the oil adds toasty depth to salad dressings, sliced pears and even grilled country bread. Expensive at $20 for a quarter of a liter (a bit more than a cup), but a little goes a long way. Sold at the Wednesday and Saturday Santa Monica farmers markets, the Sunday Hollywood farmers market and at lanogalera.com.
Graticola stovetop toaster: Fettunta is one of the world’s great foods: a hunk of grilled bread drizzled with a few drops of olive oil. You’ll find it as part of half the dishes at places like Tasting Kitchen and Alimento. The secret, at least at those times you don’t happen to have a charcoal grill going in your kitchen, is a graticola, a perforated, mesh-topped wisp of steel that serves as a stovetop toaster. (Gas stoves only, alas.) In Italy, you can pick up a graticola at any hardware store. Here, you have to order one online. $15.99 at fantes.com.
Spices: You, of course, have a brilliantly appointed spice cabinet, stocked with all the mastic, fennel pollen and Iranian saffron you need. Your friends, on the other hand, may not be quite so lucky, and who wouldn’t be happy to receive a set of spices customized to enhance the perfumes of Tunisian cooking, or a small collection of chiles — raisiny Turkish urfa, fiery Thai bird peppers, smoky chipotle — to sprinkle on grilling meat. There is no better place in Los Angeles to assemble a collection of spices than Spice Station in Silver Lake. Various prices at spicestationsilverlake.com.
Country ham: Country ham is a troublesome beast. It needs long soaking, it needs scrubbing and it needs careful roasting. The best examples have a tendency toward salt, funk and extreme smokiness. So if you’re going to put all the work not just into cooking country ham but also loving it, you may as well go with the best. Col. Bill Newsom’s ham was an obsession of James Beard, and the ham now made by his daughter, Nancy Newsom Mahaffey, has become one of ours too. The best part about country ham is eating it fried with red-eye gravy the morning after the feast. Starting at $69.99 for a half ham 7-9 pounds at newsomscountryham.com.