A Desert Dinner Party with Wonder Valley Founder, Alison Carroll - Indoors Beauty

A Desert Dinner Party with Wonder Valley Founder, Alison Carroll

A Desert Dinner Party with Wonder Valley Founder, Alison Carroll

How I Gather

Bringing individuals collectively round a desk is our biggest ardour in life and we imagine meals is without doubt one of the strongest instruments for connection. In our collection, How I Gather we go behind the scenes with our favourite foodies to see how they do it. See All

Alison and Jay Carroll cut up their time between the excessive desert of Joshua Tree and a small island in Maine. Though a examine in contrasts, the areas swimsuit them completely, fostering a deep connection with nature that enables them to cook dinner with the abundance of the seasons, in addition to present countless inspiration for his or her wildly well-liked olive oil and skincare model, Wonder Valley. It’s clear that the couple has constructed a stupendous life all on their very own phrases—one that permits them to dwell aligned with their values and freely observe their curiosity, wherever it might lead. 

When we confirmed up on the Carroll’s Joshua Tree residence for a mid-week ceremonial dinner, Alison was within the midst of butterflying a hen. Though her vibe mentioned “laid-back host,” the menu itself revealed a deep data of cooking—she moved in regards to the kitchen with the intuitive strategy that solely occurs when you understand what you’re doing. (Picasso’s “Learn the principles like a professional, so you possibly can break them like an artist” sprung to thoughts.) The Carroll’s shut associates Ryan and Calley Belli had pushed in from Los Angeles for a go to, and we spent a peaceable afternoon pitching in across the kitchen island, enjoying with 6-month-old Bo, and at last, gathering across the desk simply because the desert solar set over the mountains. 

We all left feeling nourished, physique and soul, impressed by Alison’s considerate strategy to internet hosting and gathering. Read on for our interview and naturally, all of the recipes for the insanely scrumptious feast she ready.

At residence in Joshua Tree

A typical day within the life…

What informs your strategy to meals?

A small stack of go-to cookbooks. Weekly journeys to the native farmers market. A lot of instinct and winging it! Cooking is without doubt one of the few areas I don’t overthink. I begin yanking stuff out of the fridge with out a lot of a recreation plan, and meals simply form of come collectively. I generally go deep in studying a brand new method like gluten-free baking, cooking over a fire, or using a Japanese donabe.

When I think of our culinary life in Joshua Tree, it involves a cornucopia of incredible citrus, dates, pomegranates, and Persian cucumbers—all from the local farmers’ market during California’s winter months. During our summers in Maine, we live on a working waterfront, so it’s a lot of lobsters and fresh catch from our fisherman neighbors , oysters from good friends who harvest them, wild blueberries and peak season tomatoes. We just built a new wood-fired oven in the backyard, so this coming summer will be the season of wood-fired oven experiments. 

We’re major Wonder Valley fans. How did the brand come to be?

Jay and I started Wonder Valley in 2014 out of a spare bedroom. I had previously worked as the marketing director for the California Olive Oil Council, an incredible role that involved overseeing our professional olive oil taste panel for the annual certification of all 400+ California extra-virgin olive oils. The role exposed me to the absolute best authorities and resources on domestic olive oil, and we still work with mentors I had from that time.  

We saw an opportunity to bring olive oil to a new audience and start a conversation about “extra virgin,” celebrating the quality of oil we produce here in California. We launched the brand and sold out of our first harvest within a month. We have a really unique approach to olive oil in that we pick our fruit rather green which gives us this really wonderful, robust oil that is just brimming with antioxidants and omega-rich fatty acids. A few years after launching the brand we started to use our olive oil in homemade face oils. It was completely transformative to the standard, radiance, and well being of our pores and skin, notably residing on this excessive and dry desert. That lit the match for our rising skincare line, all formulated with our olive oil as a hero ingredient.  We really feel fortunate to be on this distinctive place to speak in regards to the significance of inner well being for exterior magnificence, and to supply merchandise that assist a extra holistic approach to wellness

Tell us about your Joshua Tree residence. How did you discover it and what’s your favourite a part of the area?

Jay and I purchased this residence in 2015 after a couple of yr of trying. This neighborhood is the place we needed to land as a result of its proximity to the nationwide park and 360 diploma views of boulders and mountains. While driving round we seen this small homestead with crumbling pink stucco and a few boarded up home windows. We heard it hadn’t been occupied for a while, so we tracked down the proprietor’s handle and wrote a letter asking if they’d be keen on promoting, understanding it was probably a protracted shot. A few months later we closed on the home! 

At the time, we had been residing in LA and thought this is able to be our weekend residence, however shortly grew to become enamored by the expansive views of our new residence and the method of fixing it up. With an optimistic DIY perspective that overshadowed our steep studying curve, we renovated it over the subsequent couple years whereas residing on website in our 1950’s blue Vagabond trailer.  

My favourite a part of the home is our eating room, which was beforehand boarded up and divided into two small shag carpeted bedrooms. It feels such as you’re hugged by the mountains on all sides with a little bit slice of snow-capped San Gorgonio mountain within the distance. 

We launched Wonder Valley only a few months earlier than transferring right here. This residence has given us the area— bodily, mentally, and financially—to develop a enterprise with quite a lot of care and with out compromise. 

Walk us through a typical day at home.

The day usually involves some calls and working with our team, which is based between LA and Joshua Tree. Sometimes we’ll work together in person out of our VW HQ studio here on the property. It always involves some time outside—ideally a walk with our dog, Lefty, into the trails behind our house.

This time of year, I usually end my day with an outdoor shower when the stars are just starting to come out. It’s absolutely beautiful to stargaze from a hot shower out in the open desert, and I’ll bring one of our candles out to illuminate it.

We have an outdoor tub too, and I’ve been bringing Bo in for a bath time during the afternoons. We cook most of our meals at home: simple, healthful meals, made quickly, mostly with produce from the farmers market. Sometimes at night we’ll screen a movie, sometimes we’ll  have friends over, staying in our vintage trailer which now serves as the guest house. I always read in bed until I fall asleep. 

Right now, we have a 6-month-old baby girl named Bo, so our days are a bit unpredictable. Mornings usually start with a shot of olive oil and a pot of tea and a big breakfast for me. Sleeping next to a baby is new. Often I need a little extra time in the morning to come into the day.

Bo seems to really enjoy watching me do my routine in the morning and which is at a delightfully unhurried pace. That routine starts with  Oil Cleansing, maybe a face mask or some gentle exfoliation, at all times a Gua Sha. I end the routine with a dropper of our Wonder Serum which makes me immediately really feel refreshed – my pores and skin plumped, well-hydrated and glowing.  I transition from my robe and often put on a jumpsuit (from my line alsbigdeal.com), which is simple to zip on, comfortable to put on whereas working from residence, and straightforward to breastfeed in. 

On hosting and gathering

How Alison and Jay bring people together…

What does a great gathering look like for you?

We like to host. I think this was something we both had in common when we came together. I love the trips to the market, coming up with menus and spending a long day cooking. Jay makes our home feel great with floral arrangements, a great playlist he’s made, and a beautiful table setting with incense and candles burning. We both like to grill, sometimes on our small yakitori grill or sometimes on the big outdoor wood-burning grill. There are great trails beyond our home, so we usually take a walk before the meal with a cocktail in hand. 

What are some products you love for the table?

Our new napkins made in collaboration with our friends at Madre Linen. They source the most beautiful linen fabric with such a perfect color palette, it feels like an instantaneous heirloom.

Kevin Willis for Commune Votive Holders. Our good friend and desert neighbor Kevin Willis makes these implausible perforated ceramic votives and lanterns for candles.

La Soufflerie Glassware. Any glassware by La Soufflerie. It’s all lovely. We have a pair of the Verre Tete glasses which can be formed like heads

 What’s your must-have cooking software?

A sharp knife. It’s probably the most used and important merchandise, and it ought to be sharp and really feel good in your hand. I personally use a 9” Japanese cooks knife. When my knife is sharp, I really feel like I can do something within the kitchen. Working with a uninteresting knife is like dancing with two left toes. 

What are your favorite cookbooks?

The Canal House books. They have a few books out and they were some of my first cookbooks that I bought for myself when I was 20. They are written by two women who have a restaurant and studio not far from where I grew up in New Jersey. I find their food exciting, timeless, honest and delicious. 

The Cannelle et Vanille cookbooks. Aran has given me the ability to bake gluten-free. It’s absolutely empowering to turn out beautiful sourdough loaves, perfect tarts, homemade bagels, and baguettes, all gluten-free. 

Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s books for Japanese cooking, particularly Japan by Phaidon. 

Tell us a few things we’ll always find in your refrigerator? 

Miso, preserved lemons, capers, spicy mustard, yuzu kosho, a kraut or kimchi. 

What scares you about entertaining and why?

Doing the dishes! 

Your signature dishes for gatherings?

Grilled avocado with yuzu kosho to start, and vanilla ice cream with Wonder Valley Olive Oil and sea salt to finish. Both are extremely simple and incredibly crowd-pleasing. 

Your go-to weeknight meal to eat at home?

Roast chicken is a staple here—it’s the gift that keeps on giving. This usually starts with a whole chicken roasted with some herbs, lemons and garlic. I’ll make a pan sauce with it over vegetables and rice. Then we stretch it out with some leftover salads, sandwiches and a stock from the bones. 

What’s one tip for someone who wants to host a gathering on a budget?

Taco night is pretty fantastic on a budget, and no one’s ever mad about it. It’s easy to stretch braised meat and go heavy with beans and vegetables. Everyone gets to make their own plate, which is helpful if they have dietary issues. It’s also a condiment game; make a chili oil, salsa, guacamole, salsa verde. We buy a big bag of Maseca corn flour (available at most food stores) and make tortillas by hand with a little press. It really elevates taco night and also gets all your guests involved rolling, pressing and frying tortillas. 

The perfect dinner party playlist includes:

Good music! Our music tastes encompass a lot of styles, genres, and eras. Here’s a favorite we use a lot. It was made for the opening of our bar La Reina, in Santa Fe, a number of years in the past.

Go-to centerpiece:

A bottle of Wonder Valley olive oil. An empty bottle makes an ideal candlestick or flower vase. 

What is your no-stress social gathering rule to dwell by? 

Don’t swim upstream. If one thing’s not working (somebody bailed final minute, a dish burned, the whole lot is taking an hour longer), simply roll with it. No one will keep in mind or discover it anyway, however everybody will really feel the stress radiating off of their host in case you let it. 

Dream dinner visitors?

John Waters, Ramdane Touhami, Helen Nearing, John Prine, Dolly Parton, and Sade. 

Fill within the clean:

A excellent meal ought to …

Leave room for spontaneity and improvising. And distinctive condiments! 

It’s not a cocktail party with out …


Every cook dinner ought to know learn how to…

Make a balanced French dressing for an ideal, easy salad.

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