James Watt & Martin Dickie: 'Avoid beers that aren't in dark bottles… they go off very quickly'


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Indy Lifestyle Online

My earliest food memory…

JW (right in picture): My grandmother sneaking me sweets and cakes when no one else was looking.

MD: Picking strawberries and peas from my grandparents' gardens. Also, my mum cooking herring, dipped in oatmeal and then lightly fried. It's a dish I look forward to every summer, when the herring come.

My store-cupboard essentials…

JW: Loads of apples, wholemeal bread, cheese, and, of course, some beers. Something else I've got in my cupboard at the moment is this amazing beef jerky made by this guy in his kitchen in London. It's made with ghost chillis and it's insanely spicy. We've just started selling it in our bar in Camden: it's the perfect beer snack.

MD: A lot of pasta, fresh tomatoes, basil, coriander, lentils and chickpeas. I also usually have quite a few different chillis, which I get online from a website called southdevonchillifarm.co.uk. They have lots of cool varieties, such as chipotle chillis, which are smoked jalapeños.

My culinary tip…

JW: Avoid beers that aren't in dark bottles. The only reason people use clear and green bottles is because they look better from a marketing perspective, but the wavelength of light that penetrates the glass makes [the beer] go off very quickly.

MD: When you're making pasta, always make sure you salt the water generously. You should put a decent fistful in, not just a pinch: you want enough that it will actually contribute to the flavour properly.

My top table…

JW: A new place I really like is Duke's Brew and Que, which is an American BBQ place in Haggerston [east London]. They make beer on site and smoke their own food – it's fantastic.

MD: I was completely blown away by The Fat Duck – not only because the food was amazing but by the theatre of the whole experience. For example, I remember one dish inspired by the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, where you got a small gold watch that you poured water over and then dissolved to form a stock with gold leaf. Also, Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles. He comes up with flavour combinations you've never thought of – like mackerel, watermelon and tomato – and the attention to detail is incredible.

My dream dining companion

JW: Steve Jobs – it would be absolutely fascinating to speak to someone who achieved so much in business but remained a maverick.

MD: Michael Jackson, the drinks writer who died a few years ago. He was pretty much the foremost beer writer in the world, and he also wrote a lot about whisky.

My tipple of choice…

JW: Beer-wise, the one that inspired us to set up [Brewdog] was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I remember tasting it back in 2005, and being blown away by how awesome it was. It's still got a special place in my beery affections.

MD: Because of work, I'm spoiled by really nice beer, so if I'm out, and it's all commercially made mainstream lager on offer, I'll probably have a glass of wine or a gin and tonic instead. Also, once every two weeks or so, I'll have some whisky. Probably my favourite is the Highland Park 18-year-old [single malt].

My guilty pleasure…

JW: Stealing other people's food in the office – anything from chocolate to, as happened once, a whole chicken. That was a fun afternoon. I also eat quite a lot of cheese late at night – it makes my dreams quite interesting.

MD: Haribo Starmix. It's a recent thing for me: unfortunately I didn't know Haribo existed when I was a child – or maybe that should be fortunately….

James Watt and Martin Dickie are co-founders of award-winning craft- beer brewery BrewDog and owners of the BrewDog bar chain. They are co-presenting the new series 'Food Unwrapped', which begins on Channel 4 tomorrow at 8.30pm