Bram: A Treasury of Unique Handmade Cookware

February 18, 2010 · 9 comments


For us cooks, the good news is that over the last 20 years or so good cookware has become widely available.  Equipment that would have been difficult to find outside Europe when we were kids is now available in nearly any shopping mall, and mostly at accessible prices. The downside to this is that it’s all starting to look the same.  The gear on offer is efficient, well-made, and, in many cases, very handsome, but it’s seems hard to find anything that feels unique or special.

A couple of weeks ago, though, my friend Marta and I stumbled on a shop in Sonoma, California called Bram, which sells pretty much nothing but very special goods. Bram’s engaging proprietors, Ashrf and Shelly Almasri, are devoted to traditional handmade ceramic cookware.  (Ashrf was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, and Bram is the name of a classic Egyptian cooking vessel.) Their shop is stocked floor to ceiling with all kinds of beautiful roasters, bakers, tagines, casseroles, bowls, pots and platters from all over the world, and an edited selection of cookbooks, linens and wood and alabaster accessories round out the assortment.  (The bone and mother-of-pearl inlayed cookbook markers featured in my post here are from Bram.)

Since my visit, I’ve ordered this handsome tagine.


And I’ve got my eye on these French-style mixing bowls (top row),


and these beautifully glazed Brams from Egypt.


Bram is located on the town square in Sonoma, California at 431 1st Street West and has a nice online shop at DDChop

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Hotrod February 19, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I’m very interested to know why one would need a tagine? I’ve never heard of this. What are its uses?

cnordquist February 19, 2010 at 8:46 pm

A tagine is a traditional Moroccan vessel used for slowly cooking meats, poultry and fish, usually together with fruits, vegetables and spices. In fact, there is a whole delicious family of Moroccan slow-cooked dishes called tagines that take their name from this vessel. (I’ve posted two tagine recipes on the site so far — one for a tagine of lamb with prunes and preserved lemons and one for chicken with preserved lemon and green olives.)

You don’t actually need a tagine. You can make these dishes successfully in a dutch oven or a similar heavy pot. Still, I’m interested trying to cook these dishes in the traditional way, and I find tagines handsome and interesting, so I decided to buy one and try it out. At least, it could be a nice way to present the dish at the table. At best, it would improve my cooking. I’ll let you know how it goes. DD

Ron February 20, 2010 at 7:17 am

I WANT A TAGINE! I miss cooking with them.

cnordquist February 20, 2010 at 7:26 am

I’m looking forward to learning how. Do you have lots of experience with them? I may need some tips.

suzanne spina @cestsuzanne February 21, 2010 at 11:52 am

I recently purchased a tagine and have been reading the cookbook that I bought to go with it. I love to cook with lemons and olives and that is what caught my eye. Mine is red. I can’t wait to try it out. Tonight perhaps…

serena August 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Thanks for the info about Bram. I need an excuse to visit Sonoma (other than the obvious reasons : ) Your blog is wonderful! Would love to see more images of your homes – the ones you posted are great.

Chelsea October 23, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Thank you for posting this info. Very helpful in my search for special cookware:)

Moustafa May 3, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Hi is this Cookware for sale if so I’m interested please let me know??

cnordquist May 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Yes, it is. Bram sells online at DD

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