Gaby Dalkin is your quintessential California girl. From her sun-kissed complexion to her happy-go-lucky personality she positively radiates sunshine. I had the opportunity to meet her this year and after bonding about a shared love of California, Austin and Tim Riggins (Texas Forever!) I knew I couldn’t wait to feature her SoCal kitchen. Like a true Angeleno, Gaby has worked as a private chef for some pretty fabulous celebrities in LA ( Jessica Simpson & Carmelo Anthony) all the while, blogging about her passion for food at What’s Gaby Cooking. About two years ago she transitioned her blog and brand into a full time job. “Unless one of my old clients calls me for a sweet party,” she adds. “Then I’m all over it.”
On her blog and in her life, Gaby promotes a feeling of having it all while still maintaining balance. “I’m all about a grilled cheese sandwich + a cookie at lunch and a beautiful veggie loaded salad for dinner,” she says. “I’d say that 80% of the food that comes out of my kitchen is really healthy farmers market driven food. The other 20% is when the sweet tooth strikes!” To that point, she shops daily to take advantage of the abundance California has to offer. “I’m obsessed,” she says. “I don’t have a car anymore, I ride my bike and walk everywhere. I bike to the farmers market a few times a week and walk to my local Whole Foods and Trader Joes every few days to grab pantry staples. I have just about every type of oil under the sun and my vinegar collection is kinda outrageous. There are never less than 4 kinds of salt in the house and my refrigerator door is loaded with every condiment you could imagine.” She likes to splurge on red wine and rosé. And cheese. And salmon. But her go-to meal is anything Mexican. “I could live off of guacamole, queso, chips, salsa and fish tacos,” Gaby says. “And a margarita. Because why not!” Spoken like a true Californian. You may not be able to pedal your cruiser to the farmer’s market, but you can channel the Golden State by stocking some of these items Gaby always has on hand.
1. Balsamic Vinegar – I make a cucumber and avocado salad most nights for dinner and the dressing is always a balsamic garlic vinaigrette. So keeping really great quality balsamic vinegar on hand is important!
2. Red Wine Vinegar – I make a batch of Basil Vinaigrette a weekly basis! It’s one of my favorite things in the world and makes frequent appearances on the blog so having a bottle or 2 of red wine vinegar on hand for the recipe is essential!
3. Burrata – It’s one of my favorite types of cheese in the whole wide world. I use it all the time on pizza, in a pasta, on top of a Caprese or just when I need a little nibble with a spoon. #sorrynotsorry
4. Sir Kensington Ketchup – Hands down the most amazing ketchup in the world. And seeing as how I eat ketchup with my weekly grilled cheese, this one is a must!
5. Trader Joes Rice Crackers – I mean, these are EVERYTHING. I eat them with the tzatziki, with guacamole, salsa, with a cube of cheese on top. They disappear in a moment’s notice in our house.
6. Cedar’s Tzatziki – Maybe it’s weird that I’m a professionally trained chef but sometimes I buy pre-made tzatziki, but I can’t help myself. Cedar’s brand is epic. It’s the perfect snack with some crackers when you’re in a pinch for time.
7. Salsa Especial from Trader Joes – Easily the best salsa available at any market. It only keeps for about a week, so just be sure to have plenty of chips on hand so you can power through when you bring it home.
8. Blue Corn Tortilla Chips – These are 100% mandatory as discussed above with the salsa, but also you never know when a craving for nachos might strike and you need to drop everything you’re doing an assemble the perfect platter of cheese drenched tortilla chips.
9. Bundaberg Ginger Beer – Who doesn’t love a Moscow mule? Bundaberg Ginger Beer packs the most ginger flavor in my opinion and I’m obsessed.
10. Health Ade Cayenne Kombucha – Recently I’ve developed a bit of a kombucha obsession and can’t start my day without one! The Cayenne Cleanse flavor from Health Aide is one of my absolute favorites followed by the Pink Lady Apple!!