April Bloomfield: 'If you think you've added enough butter, just add a bit more'
Sunday 27 January 2013
My earliest food memory… Waking up on a cold frosty morning at my Nan's house and my Grandad cooking porridge on the hob with milk and the tiniest bit of sugar melted on top. Then he'd pour the cold milk around the bowl so it would set like custard. It's the best start to the day for energy. It's better than Red Bull – porridge gives you wings.
My store-cupboard essentials… Capers, anchovies, tomatoes, pasta, olive oil and [an assortment of] vinegars. I try to cook once a week at home but it's hard when you're hectic at work. This weekend I went hiking an hour-and-a-half away from [my home in] New York and I poached a big chicken with daikon and carrots and chilli and made this relish with dill, parsley and cornichons.
My favourite cookbook… I like cookbooks that tell stories and take you on a journey, such as Honey From a Weed by Patience Gray. She has this recipe for fish soup which starts off by saying, "If you want to make this fish soup you should take a flight to Barcelona"; it's full of humour like that. I also love The Charcuterie Cookbook by Michael Ruhlman and Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson.
The kitchen appliance I couldn't live without… A pestle and mortar or mortar and pestle. I can't remember how you say it. I love to be able to grind fresh spices myself and it's perfect for pounding the stuff in small batches. It's the original kitchen gadget and still the best.
My favourite food shop… Borough Market if I'm in England, and if I'm in the countryside I love stopping at local farms to see what they've got; I'll pick up bread, eggs, pork products and whatever vegetables are in season. In New York, I love the Greenmarket in Union Square and Kalustyan's on 28th and Lexington: it's this huge Indian spice shop, which has vinegars and walls of spices from all over the world, like 10 different varieties of peppercorns. You can spend a good hour wandering the aisles there.
My favourite restaurant… I just went to Chicken Shop in London and I enjoyed that, it's a fun place. I also love Il Mulino in New York – it's rustic, casual, comfortable and consistent. The staff are nice but not overbearing and it's just a really nice place to go and eat.
My dream dining companion… No one specific, just anyone with a sense of humour and great conversation who likes a good drink and is into their food.
My desert-island dish… Just an abundance of veggies – fennel, celeriac, carrots, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and peas. All roasted in pork fat if I could find some free-roaming pigs somewhere.
The weirdest thing I've ever eaten… Probably a cricket. We were throwing a party for a member of staff in this Mexican restaurant in SoHo in New York and they brought a big bowl of crickets out. They were slightly smoky and crunchy. It was like chewing on a cigarette. It was kind of gnarly.
My comfort food… I like eating anything soft and simple, such as mashed potatoes. I need them to be creamy so you have to use lots of butter and milk. If you think you've added enough butter, just add a bit more!
My guilty pleasure… I love chocolate. I try moderation but people often give me boxes of chocolates. What I do now is hand them around to everyone first so there's less left for me.
My tipple of choice… I love IPA [India Pale Ale], and I'm also partial to an Old Fashioned from time to time.
Born in Birmingham, April Bloomfield is the executive chef and co-owner of New York's Michelin-starred Spotted Pig as well as the city's Breslin and John Dory restaurants. Her book, 'A Girl and Her Pig' is out now (Canongate, £25)
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