Jenny, whose blog I make a point of never reading when I’m hungry has tagged me to take part in the Food Bloggers Unplugged series which was started over at A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate . Which means I get to ramble on about two of my favourite subjects – food and, er, myself.
What, or who, inspired you to start a blog?
I first started writing about food….oh, about five or so years ago. D and I had developed a bit of a restaurant habit and I started writing reviews – partly to amuse myself and partly so that we had a record of what we were eating. Then, back in 2009 a piece I wrote about The Old Vicarage in Sheffield won a competition which gave me a bit of a confidence boost and I decided I wanted to give myself an outlet to write more regularly.
The thing is, there were so many wonderful blogs out there already, I didn’t want to join the party as it were without a bit of a different slant, and that is where the WeightWatchers angle came about. I’ve spent most of my life trying to be thinner (rarely succeeding, mind) and the older I get the more I realise I only want to do it on my terms – i.e. avoiding uninspiring, tasteless “diet” food as much as possible.
Who is your foodie inspiration?
I’ve always enjoyed both cooking and eating, and that’s thanks to my parents who encouraged us as children to eat widely and well, and ensured that we had all the basic skills we needed to be able to look after ourselves and not have to rely on takeaways and toast.
But my inspiration nowadays…well, I would probably have to say D. Since we met we’ve had so many culinary adventures together, and it has been those that have really inspired me to cook more and eat more and generally be more curious about food.
Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is?
I have a lot of recipe books, but I must be very honest and say I tend to treat them a bit like novels and day to day am probably more likely to cook from recipes I’ve found online. Which is something I really must change. Probably the most used book in the collection is Mary Berry’s Complete Cookery Course – mainly because it is a copy my Mum has had for donkey’s years that she gave to me when I moved out (buying herself a new edition, I believe!). It’s an incredible useful guide for basics.
Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
A few years ago we went to Copenhagen and had dinner at Noma, which went on to be named the best restaurant in the world. The food there was truly amazing, like nothing I’d ever had before. They only serve Nordic ingredients, many of which are foraged, so most of the flavours were quite alien to what I was used to, but it was stunning: fresh and vibrant but also playful. I love food with a sense of humour! I couldn’t pick out one particular course as the best – the whole experience was just fabulous.
Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is?
Without wishing to sound creepy (she did nominate me after all!) it would probably have to be Jenny’s. I do always think her food sounds seriously good – proper home cooking.
What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
I was lucky enough to be given a KitchenAid this year as a wedding present, and I’d like some more attachments for that, please Santa.
Who taught you how to cook?
I used to bake a lot with my maternal grandmother – scones and sponges and that sort of thing. Basic cookery skills – that would be my Mum. To be honest, I’ve never really understood people saying that they can’t cook, if you can read, taste and you understand a few basic techniques then you can follow a recipe, so a lot of skills and techniques I tend to pick up as I go along.
I'm coming to you for dinner what's your signature dish?
If you’re coming for a dinner party at our house, then D will be your head chef – he tends to be in charge of the “event” cookery. I do always make gougeres though – lovely little cheesy choux puffs to enjoy with a drink beforehand.
In terms of midweek cookery – I tend to cook lots of things not very frequently, if you see what I mean. I am a huge fan of pasta though, so you’d probably get a bowl of pasta pesto if you caught me on the hop! It has been a staple since my student days.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
I try not to feel guilty about any type of food – everything in moderation, etc.! I do probably enjoy Dominos pizza far more than I should though – after all, no Italian would recognise those doughy, gooey utterly delectable monstrosities as pizza would they? Perhaps they should invent a new name for it.
Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
Now this is quite hard...I am an open book! And also, quite dull!
OK…there must be something…I am a grade 8 clarinetist, and did think about turning professional for a while back in my younger days – I won the Junior Musician of Havering at one point, which was probably the pinnacle of my musical career. I haven’t played for years now, and keep thinking about picking them up again.
That’s probably the best I can do.
Right, I’m supposed to tag five people to do this, although around this time of year I suspect most of us have other priorities…so I’m going to cop out and say anyone who happens to see this consider themselves tagged – diet bloggers as well!