Personal Effects: Julian Sancton

The DEPARTURES Culture Editor talks the most important things he couldn't live without.  

"The ultimate luxury—the one without which there would be nothing else—is light. It’s the source of all our nourishment and energy, and yet I lived essentially without it for 13 years while living in sun-starved Manhattan apartments. I recently moved to Westchester County, in a house on a hill facing east: starting each day with a blast of sunlight has changed my life. Once up, I drag myself to the coffee grinder and pour beans from Cornwell Estate in Kona, Hawaii, where my sister-in-law lives. (It’s one of the best coffee-growing areas in the world and the personal connection makes the cup of joe taste even better.) If I’m in a hurry, I’ll make espresso from the Illy Francis Francis machine. It looks like what Flash Gordon might have used to make macchiato, and the coffee is delicious, but it’s a whole to-do to recycle the pods so I feel a bit guilty every time I use it. 

I grew up in France, so I make sure my fridge is always stocked with Amora mustard (I’ll make do with Maille), walnut oil (for the best vinaigrette you’ve ever tasted), and Harissa. Not in the fridge, not French, and not strictly necessary—but almost as important to me—is Juan Gil, a delicious Jumilla wine from southern Spain that I drink far too quickly whenever I have a bottle at home.

Not all my luxuries are comestible. The only object I’d save from a fire is probably my grandfather’s old Underwood typewriter. He was a novelist and a newspaperman in New Orleans, and I can still remember the sound of him clacking away at it as the ceiling fan whirred high above his head. If the firemen let me back in, I might try to salvage my vinyl collection, starting with the Blue Note records. You can hear the hardbop-heavy catalog anywhere (it’s Spotify portal is particularly well conceived) but the richness of the music and the beauty of the album covers shot by Francis Wolff are the best arguments I’ve heard for the superiority of vinyl.”

JULIAN'S PICKS

Cornwell Estate 100-percent Kona coffee beans, $22 for ½ pound; cornwellcoffee.com.

Illy Francis Francis coffee machine, $200; illy.com.

La Tourangelle roasted walnut oil, $7; latourangelle.com.

Juan Gil, Jumilla Red, $14; astorwines.com.

Soul Station record, $8; amazon.com.