I was recently tagged by thelittleloaf (whose chocolate and chestnut cake I am currently ogling and planning to replicate) in a post for Food Bloggers Unplugged - designed to help you find out more about the people behind those culinary endeavours you peruse every day.
In the spirit of Christmas and a spot of harmless self-indulgence, here I have bared my soul to reveal all my deepest, darkest kitchen secrets (or something).
What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
I think various friends had been suggesting it to me, after I continually assaulted their Facebook feeds with photos of my gastronomic adventures. I can't remember what finally made me decide to take the plunge, though I think it had a lot to do with some pigeon. I had been on a wander to town one day, and spied some gorgeous wood pigeon on offer at the butcher. I bought six, with no idea why, invited friends round and then decided what on earth I was going to do with them. That feeling of being totally inspired by food, of being really excited about the kitchen adventures you're going to embark on that evening, was something I kept experiencing and finally decided I should document.
Who is your foodie inspiration?
I love Yotam Ottolenghi's food. I love his use of weird and wonderful ingredients and exciting flavour combinations that work against all the odds. I always get excited when his recipes come out in the Guardian on a Saturday.
Your greasiest, batter–splattered food/drink book is?
Hmm. I don't use recipe books that much - I tend to ogle them briefly, then consign their contents to my mental 'recipe index' for inspiration at a later date. However, I went through a phase of cooking a lot from Claudia Roden's Arabesque, and I frequently turn to the books of Nigel Slater, Yotam Ottolenghi and Diana Henry for inspiration.
Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
Several things vie for this prestigious accolade, many of them consumed in Italy. The sausagemeat ravioli with sage butter sauce at a trattoria in Bergamo is definitely a highlight - so much so that I returned, three years later, to eat it again. There was also a beautiful tarte tatin, the best I've ever had, at a restaurant in Nice. Plus trdlo, an amazing Czech sweet dough concoction that I raved about here. I found Syrian kibbeh - lemon-shaped patties of bulgur wheat wrapped around lamb mince with pine nuts and then deep fried - incredibly addictive, and wish they were easier to find here. But to be honest, I have so many amazing food memories from my various travels that I couldn't list them all.
Another food blogger’s table you’d like to eat at is?
Sonia from The Healthy Foodie - her blog pretty much encapsulates my ideas about food. The recipes all look wonderful, and I really want to try her healthy dessert recipes and see if they really do have that "I can't believe this is healthy!" factor.
On the opposite end of the scale, thelittleloaf - because, honestly, what is better than homemade bread?
What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
A KitchenAid waffle maker. I'm asking Santa for a waffle maker anyway (imagine the potential! Pancakes but with little squares to hold all the sauce!), but in an ideal world I'd have a beautiful red KitchenAid one - I'm a bit obsessed with KitchenAid; it seems to be a trait most food bloggers exhibit.
Who taught you how to cook?
Cookbooks and Masterchef. My Mum taught me some baking skills, but as I refused to eat most things as a child there wasn't much opportunity for her to teach me anything else.
I’m coming to you for dinner, what’s your signature dish?
Probably a tagine. Anything that marries meat or fish with fruit; it seems to be a hallmark of my cooking. I also make a great cheesecake.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
That depends what you mean by guilty. If it's guilty because it's ludicrously simple, perhaps a bit weird and something you wouldn't expect from a self-confessed food snob like myself, then it would have to be a cottage cheese sandwich. No one can understand, given my hatred of liquid dairy (cream, milk, yoghurt, etc.) why I love cottage cheese. I can't explain it either, but I especially like the pineapple variety.
If by guilty you mean 'intensely calorific and something you really shouldn't eat if you want your 2k morning swim to mean ANYTHING', then it would have to be either crumble or sticky toffee pudding. Or treacle tart. That is my magic triumvirate of desserts.
Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
Oh god. That's one of those "give an interesting fact about yourself" questions in disguise. Hmm...I have an orange belt in kickboxing, and I hate parsnips.
Finally…tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions…like a hot baked potato…pass it on!
Sonia from The Healthy Foodie
Nelly from Nelly's Cupcakes
Kelly from Inspired Edibles
Jackie from I am a feeder
Rosana from Hot & Chilli