Emma Lipp

This week we spoke with our friend, Emma Lipp, the chef and owner of Valley, a brand new Sonoma restaurant and wine bar. Since we just made 'Acqua e Vino' singles available online—Italian glassware intended for red, white and sparkling wines—we thought there'd be no better person to catch up with than Emma, someone whose taste in wine (and food!) we trust implicitly. We asked Emma what personal possession she would place in her so-called 'Permanent Collection.'

Emma Lipp: It has to be this signet ring that I wear on my right pinky. My great-uncle Leo was a jeweler in the Diamond district, and his brother, my Grandfather, had the ring made for my Dad for his 6th birthday.

Permanent Collection: Tell us more about this special ring!

E.L.: My dad gave the ring to me on my 6th birthday. When I was 8 or so it came off when I was swimming. Luckily it was found in the pool’s filtration system, but I stopped wearing it afterwards. When my grandpa died I put it back on. That was over 15 years ago. It is super misshapen now and I lost one of its stones a couple years back. Whatever. I love it so much. 
P.C.: Do you ever take it off?

E.L.: I never take it off. Not to cook, not to shower, not for the gym, never ever!

P.C.: Love it. Jewelry's always better with a story. Tell us, what's the best gift you've ever received (if this ring wasn't it)?

E.L.: Love and time are really the best gifts. All the unexpected time I’ve spent at home these past six weeks has really reinforced the supreme value of both. My dog, Manny, who came with my girlfriend, is definitely the absolute best gift that I didn't know I wanted or needed and has completely changed my life for the better. I do get a huge everyday sense of comfort and pleasure interacting with the physical gifts bestowed by my family and friends. Using the ceramics or art objects made by them, wearing the fancy socks they know I like, gazing at the weird (and often sparkly) trinkets they had an inkling would speak to me, cooking with the ingredients they couriered from across the globe. Two favorites include a drawing of two lions by my brother Sam, who is an artist, and a rainbow metallic pinecone candle from my mom that I love irrationally and refuse to burn.

P.C.: What's the best bottle of wine you've ever drunk? Where did you drink it? What's the story?

E.L.: The enjoyment of wine is such a synthesis of time, place and, of course, the actual deliciousness of the wine itself. I've had many special experiences and certainly no “best” bottle. But a recent meaningful memory is having lunch in Rome with my girlfriend at Armando al Pantheon. It was the platonic ideal of an Italian meal, a fantasy come to life. We had perfect pastas, trippa alla Milanese (which I love) and chicories. It was a beautiful day, she looked so beautiful, and we walked for hours and hours before and after.  The restaurant’s wine list is excellent, but not undervalued, so when I spied Emidio Pepe’s Cerasuola for only 45 euros, I jumped at it. I had never had this wine! I did know of the producer, located nearby in Abruzzo. The waiter told me he thought they were out it. I held my breath while he searched, thinking, “Of course, this is too good to be true.” Cerasuolos can be hard to find in the US, and Emidio Pepe’s is not even imported here at all! But to my luck the waiter returned with the bottle, and it really was phenomenal.

P.C.: That's the sweetest! And I love Armando—favorite spot in Rome. Do you have a trusty flea market or vintage shop?

E.L.: Small town or rural thrift stores are usually the best, especially if there's a healthy dose of rich and elderly castoffs and a lack of valuation amongst the staff. There is nothing like the thrill of finding a Missoni sweater for $5 or scoring a bag of vintage Christmas ornaments for a quarter. My childhood thrift store is still my ride or die, even though at some point along the way they did get a bit more savvy.

P.C.: Do you have a favorite museum or gallery?

E.L.: My brother Sam has a gallery in NYC called Queer Thoughts that shows very compelling, challenging work. I wish I lived nearby so I could always see the exhibits in person. When we were kids we were obsessed with the one-two punch of the Andy Warhol Museum and the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, PA, where our mom grew up. Both featured memorable interactive elements for us: Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitables, “clouds” that you could lie on your back and kick up in the air, and at the Factory, a Yayoi Kusama room called “Repetitive Vision” which never had a queue. We used to have whole photoshoots in there.

P.C.: What food or dish would be the equivalent to your ‘permanent collection’ thing? Is there one dish in your ‘forever repertoire’?

E.L.: I love making a simple salad and a pot of good white rice. Both things go with literally everything else and in infinite cultural combination. Also, the making of both seem to perpetually perplex other people, so my skill in each never seems to wear out!