'I can't get through winter without': Foodies reveal what gets them through the big chill
Tom Parker Bowles always has Tabasco to hand. For Alain Ducasse, it's ceps.
"Lemons, tangerines, clementines, Tarocco, navel, blood and Seville oranges, I love them all. I'm already almost desperately looking out for the first of the winter's citrus fruits. It's almost as if, when the grim weather and horrible colds set in, nature provides perfect parcels of vitamins and vibrancy. When most fruit trees are bare, citrus trees bear these beautiful, flavourful jewels. I have been known to go slightly yellow from over-indulgence.
Stevie Parle is the chef at London's Dock Kitchen, dockkitchen.co.uk. Parle's 'Spice Trip' starts on More4 at 8pm on 25 November. The book, 'Spice Trip', Square Peg, £20, is out now
Tom Parker Bowles
"This perfectly-formed bottle of Louisiana hot sauce rarely leaves my side, a constant and entirely necessary companion to dreary plane journeys and corporate dinners alike. Of course, as a chilli freak, I worship at a broad church of hot sauces. But I always return to Tabasco. I add it to stews and braises, not in mouth-numbing amounts, but just enough to let all know it's there. It adds bite to my morning eggs, zing to a plateful of native oysters, depth to a lunch of shepherd's pie and spice to a steaming bullshot. A jack of all trades, then, and master of them all, too. Winter tastes boring without it."
'Let's Eat: Recipes from My Kitchen Notebook', Pavilion, £25
The Printers and Stationers Wine Bar, Shoreditch
"You turn left off the street outside my bakery, go in and you are suddenly in the French countryside. It is a fabulous place run by a French guy called Augustin. I go there on the coldest of evenings and it's always so welcoming. They have a hearty one-dish menu that changes daily, lots of red wine and a very nice dog and cat. You pop in and you'll usually find some character or other. I suppose you'd say this is my cosy winter spot."
Lily Vanilli is a baker. Her book, 'Sweet Tooth', is published by Canongate, £20
"When it starts to get cold I reach for the oats. But I'm quite particular about my porridge – it has to be on the runny side. For my first book I researched just about every porridge oat there is. I was a bit like Goldilocks, seeing which I liked best. I tried buckwheat and all the rest of them but finally settled on the classic Scottish oat. I like it best with almond milk, which makes it taste pleasingly nutty."
Rachel Khoo is a food writer and TV cook. Her book, 'The Little Paris Kitchen', is published by Michael Joseph, £20
"The hardest time for fishermen to do their job is during the winter – they are all, to a man, worth their weight in gold at this time of year. I have three restaurants – two in Cornwall and one in London – which all rely on them getting the best possible catch of fresh fish for me every single day of the year. If they didn't go out to sea, in the absolutely freezing weather, I wouldn't have a business at all. I could live without all sorts of things in winter, but not fishermen."
Nathan Outlaw's new restaurant, Seafood and Grill, opened in London's Capital Hotel last month. Nathan-outlaw.com
A little extra flab to keep me warm
"You need to put on a little weight when it gets chilly to keep the cold at bay; it's sensible. The best way to do that, I think, is to bake your own muffins. A caramel-apple muffin, hot out of the oven, is just the best on a cold day. You have the spice in there from the nutmeg and cinnamon, and then that caramel finish. It is something I've loved since childhood – and it's sort of followed me down through my life."
David Muniz (with partner David Lesniak) runs the Outsider Tart bakery in London. Their book, 'Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple' is published by Rizzoli International Publications, £18
Koya udon noodle restaurant, Soho
"Maybe it's because of my heritage, but I find noodles very comforting. I just can't live without them in the winter – especially the noodles they serve at Koya. Their walnut miso broth is divine. When I first moved to London I found it hard to find good-quality restaurants that weren't expensive; this was one of the first, and definitely my favourite. The quality just never slips."
Sandia Chang is co-owns Bubbledogs, London W1, bubbledogs.co.uk
Hot spiced apple drink
"I drink loads of this at this time of year. I cook with it, too. We make our own by juicing apples, then reducing the mix down and throwing in some winter spices. I love hearty drinks when it's cold. It's also something that's fun to serve in the restaurant – but not as a drink. We load it into a cream gun and charge it with nitrous oxide. It comes out as an intense bubbling liquid which smokes at the table. It's interesting to take something hearty and then turn that on its head."
Ben Spalding's new restaurant, John Salt, has just opened in London's Islington; for details, visit john-salt.com
"I must have a good extra virgin olive oil at home in the winter. I love a plate of hot mixed boiled winter vegetables – potatoes, carrots, leeks, cauliflower, pumpkin – simply dressed with salt and a fruity olive oil. For extra glamour I pour on a Spanish vinagreta of oil with lemon juice and added capers, chopped tomatoes, olives or sweet red onions mixed in. I also like to have toast brushed with olive oil with heart-warming lentil or fish soups."
'The Food of Spain', Michael Joseph, £25
"We are going into the season of over-indulgence and there is no better way to wrestle with it than Fernet Branca – it's a miracle. I am, I must admit, known for a little shot in the morning to fire up the cylinders. My dad, Dr Henderson, created a cocktail with it, which is named after him – it was his cure for all known ailments. And I follow him in thinking it chirps the humours and generally sorts you out."
'The Complete Nose to Tail', Bloomsbury, £30, stjohngroup.uk.com
"I am a massive fan of parsnips. From a chef's perspective they are such an economical ingredient. You can make so much from them. At all three of our restaurants you see parsnips dotted across our winter menus. We do a parsnip soup which is so simple: you just cook them in milk, season and blend, and yet it tastes so incredibly velvety and warming. We make chips from them, too, and use them with honey in a salad. They are a chef's best friend in the winter."
Ben Tish is head chef of the Salt Yard group of restaurants in London. His book, 'Salt Yard' is published next month, Piquillo Publishing, £25; saltyard.co.uk
"Each year, there is only one thing that is on the top of my list: white truffles. To me, they are always a cause for celebration. The winter would never be the same without them."f
Thomas Keller is the chef at the French Laundry in California. His book, 'Bouchon Bakery', is published by Artisan, £35
"I do most of my travelling in the winter and I use Instagram to snap ideas as I go. Rather than writing everything down, I use it to make visual reminders, triggers to try something when I get back to the restaurant. I also use it to log any new dishes I create when I'm back. Before we even taste something, I get my iPhone out and take a picture. It's useful because it goes straight online, and on to our database, so I can refer back to it. It's like my version of a kitchen notebook."
'Too Many Chiefs, Only one Indian', Face, £75; restaurantsatbains.com
Mushi nabe steaming pot
"This pot is a work of art in itself. It's thick, hand-turned and made by the famed Nagatani family from clay from Lake Biwa in Japan. You fill the bottom of it with water, then put it in the centre of the table on a burner. On goes a ceramic grate, on which you steam different rounds of meat and vegetables: clams and mizuna, chicken thighs and potatoes, thinly-sliced belly pork belly and pumpkin. You dip them in ponzu, sesame sauce or whatever you like. The best bit comes at the end, though. You remove the grate and you have a slowly reducing stock, which all the fats have been dripping into while you've been eating. It gives you two clean, cosy meals – it sort of makes me long for days cold enough to use it."
Lisa Meyer's Yum Bun stall is at London's Broadway Market on Saturdays and KERB on Fridays; yumbun.co.uk
"Nothing reminds me of the festive season like the exquisitely nutty cep mushroom. It's a rustic yet refined flavour. I love the versatility of an ingredient that tastes just as good on its own sautéed in olive oil as it does made into a velouté with lardo di colonnata. Every winter I head to the countryside with my family to pick baskets-full. As the cold months draw in, I prepare them in a soup like a soupe de châtaigne with chestnuts. People also don't realise that they can be a beautiful accompaniment to fish; I use them like this at The Dorchester."f
'J'aime New York', Hardie Grant, £35
Watermelons in the Gambia
"I never have time for summer holidays, and there is no way that I can go through the year without some sun on my body, so we go to Gambia in the winter – it's the only time I'm able to spare a couple of weeks. We go there because it's not too far to fly, it's in the same time zone as the UK and there are not that many places in the world at this time of year where you can sit on a beach in searing 30-degree heat eating the most amazing juicy watermelons. It's a real treat for me."
Simon Rogan's restaurant L'Enclume received a second Michelin star in the 2013 guide
"I have fond memories of my grandmother's pressure cooker – it was brought out a few times a year. A few years ago I went out and bought one for myself; it's one of those winter essentials every cook should have. It cuts cooking time down by half which is great for braises and stews. It's also great for Christmas pudding – you won't have the problem of your pan boiling dry. My favourite is a Fissler pressure cooker, available at specialist cook shops."
Mark Hix will be discussing his new baking book with Simon Kelner at Hix Mayfair on 28 November. See thealbemarlerestaurant.com/index.php/events/mark-on-baking
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