Closets & Pantries: Anna Harrington
Chris’ and my dear friend, Anna Harrington, is an artist, fashion industry insider, chef extraordinaire, wife, mother of two adorable boys, entrepreneur, and all-around renaissance woman. And she’s been able to combine her passions and talents into one incredible business, Yummy Time!, guiding children ages 4-8 with hands-on cooking experiences in Manhattan and at the incredible children’s store and activity center, Pomme, in Dumbo . Anna was a perfect person for Closets & Pantries because I wanted to know what’s in her kitchen and her closet this season!
What are the three must-have items in your pantry?
Fresh black pepper, salt, and olive oil, but I really need red wine vinegar, too.
What is your favorite kitchen tool?
Knives – mostly an 8″ chefs knife. I love knives in general and have since I was a little kid making baguette sandwiches in the back seat of my family station wagon on road trips through Europe with my Swiss Army knife. Right now I am super into my boning knife because I finally learned how to quarter poultry with it well.
What spices or flavorings do you use most often and how?
I love using miso. I put it in dressings and marinades as it adds so much round flavor. The key is to add a tiny bit of water and mix it until it is a smooth paste before adding it to anything else, otherwise it will be clumpy. I am also obsessed with Kewpie mayonnaise right now… In terms of a true spices, I love using fennel, lavender or rosemary in both savories and sweets. In general I use fresh herbs more than spices… dill, Italian flat leaf parsley, and basil are by far the most used in my kitchen.
Favorite storage tip?
I wash fresh herbs as soon as I get home from the market, then pat them dry, wrap in paper towel and put them in a Ziploc bag. Parsley and dill can last for up to 2 weeks like this! Basil is a bit more difficult but it will still survive longer when stored like this.
Best advice for home entertaining, kids included?
1. Figure out your timing in advance – have an idea of the prep flow in your head or write it down in a list format. Timing is so important in cooking and enjoying a meal. Timing out how long each dish needs to cook, when it should be served, what you can prepare a day in advance, or a few hours in advance is key. The more you have a grasp on timing, the more likely you will be relaxed to actually enjoy your party and your guests. My timing flow has been drastically altered because of my 2 boys… I need to take their schedules and behavior into consideration when I am planning to have guests. I have much less time to prepare meals in advance or find blocks of time, so I like to cook dishes I can work on in shorter segments.
2. Set your table as early as possible. When my kids were young, they would get into everything while I was trying to get ready, so I would set the table the night before. Having a well presented table is such an important part of a meal. It is one of those things that really makes your dinner party or luncheon flow better and feel more special, even if you are using very simple settings. Now that my kids are older but still young enough to pull everything off the table, I ask my husband to take them to the playground for the hour before guests arrive so I can make sure the table is in order and do a last minute vacuum, pillow puff and have a bit of peace to make my home less of a romp-room for 2 boys.
How does cooking fit into your lifestyle?
I cook most nights for my kids and husband, although some nights the kids eat really basic pasta and veggies. I definitely don’t entertain as much as I did before having children, but I still love giving dinner parties. I tend to do many more casual BBQ/garden get togethers with friends who have children.
What are your favorite markets?
I love the Union Square Farmers Market, the morning market in Venice, Italy and the Wednesday market in Santa Monica blows me away – everything is so affordable there! They have 5 varieties of strawberries! In New York, it’s just 1 kind – Farm. I also love Eataly. It’s expensive, but really beautiful and inspiring just to walk through and look around. They do a great job of providing amazing quality foods – their raviolis and prepared foods are divine.
Cookbook(s) you couldn’t cook without?
I don’t really cook from cookbooks unless I am making something with very specific measurements or something really new or foreign to me. I use the classics – Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking are my basic reference books. I love to read cookbooks for fun and inspiration. I usually make up my own version of things I see. I love Ottolenghi (self-titled), David Chang’s Momofuku and Nigel Slater’s Tender and I love all things Alice Waters. The most pleasurable meal of my life was at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. The food was rather simple, but it was the overall experience I will never forget.
How would you define your style?
Chic bohemian with stripes. I have loved wearing stripes for as long as I can remember…which is only about 20 years…my memory is weak…
How does your personal style reflect the way you entertain at home?
My entertaining could be described the same way as my personal style – a lot of it is classic but with a bunch of influences from various cultures. Also, I am very proper about being a hostess, entertaining and manners, but then I bung it all out of the window in other ways!
Any favorite collections for Fall?
M.Patmos, Thomas Sires, and J.Crew for basics. I always love Dries, Erdem, Thakoon and Tsumori Chisato…. And thank god Jane Mayle is still doing capsule collections. NOTE** The pop-up shop is going on now through this Sunday, September 16th at 14 Christopher Street (at Gay Street) from 11am to 7pm.
What’s your favorite item(s) in your wardrobe currently?
This insane fur jacket from M.Patmos… I am actually excited for it to get cold so I can wear it.
Whose style do you admire and why?
My girlfriend Barbara Wilhelm. She knows what designers and clothes suit her and she always looks amazing. Even in just jeans and a t-shirt, she has a natural grace. She also has the best skills at finding amazing stuff at Zara. My girlfriend, Starrett Zenko Ringbom, who is unabashedly fancy and always looks amazing. Her outfits are the perfect combo of fun, stylish, elegant, and adventurous. And then, of course, Lauren Hutton and Lou Dillon.
Best fashion item ever invented/designed?
The jumpsuit. I love wearing outfits that are one piece of clothing. I wear almost only dresses in the Spring and Summer when I am not wearing a jumpsuit or a romper.
…although I don’t have much time to shop these days. Thankfully Bird is right around the corner from me. I like to try things on and then order online if it is something I really want.