Laura Santtini: 'Flavour is my thing, so I love all smelly little spice shops'

My earliest food memory... The potato gnocchi my grandmother used to make. I remember watching the soft pillows of potato bounce to the surface of the water. She was an extraordinary cook and a very strong woman, who was an inspiration to me.

My earliest food memory... The potato gnocchi my grandmother used to make. I remember watching the soft pillows of potato bounce to the surface of the water. She was an extraordinary cook and a very strong woman, who was an inspiration to me.

My store-cupboard essentials... Olive oil, soy sauce, curry paste, harissa and my No 5 umami paste. I invented it, and if there's one thing I'll be able to look back and say I've done in my life, it's that. It's like a graphic equaliser for food – whenever deliciousness is needed, you can squeeze it in. Also, I have lots of quirky things – from strange spices and petals to edible gold and silver, which I call "food bling". You can do something really cheap and simple such as a cauliflower-and-potato soup and then bling it up with a bit of magic.

My favourite cookbook... The internet. I love it because you can see thousands of takes on the same recipe from all over the world and all levels of cooks. Amateur recipes are the best, in the sense that they're the true recipes – things people have tried and are really proud of; as a writer, it's important to understand what people are really up to.

The kitchen gadget I can't live without... My Flintstones-style pestle and mortar. I've had a few over the years, and I always seem to break the pestle – they roll off the kitchen surface when I go to answer the phone, for example. I think they should start selling each mortar with two pestles so you have one spare.

My favourite food shop... Any shop which is open when I'm looking for last-minute ingredients, which I invariably am. There's also a wonderful shop called Kalustyan's in New York, which has every spice under the sun; flavour is my thing, so I love all smelly little spice shops.

My top table... Nobu. I recently had the pleasure of dining with [chef] Nobu Matsuhisa at an umami tasting dinner he had devised, and it was really one of the most memorable meals I've ever had. He really is the rock star of cooking; the way he combines Japanese and South American flavours is unique and exciting.

My guilty pleasure... A Domino's pepperoni pizza would probably be my guiltiest pleasure. It is packed with umami. My new book is all about having an 80/20 lifestyle [live 80 per cent of your life well and enjoy the rest], so I'm not ashamed that a Pepperoni Passion is in that 20 per cent of my life.

My desert-island dish... My husband, because if we'd got to that point when Armageddon was coming, I think I would have probably lost my appetite

My comfort food... Dirty quinoa, which I invented myself. It's basically sloppy, spicy porridge made with quinoa, coconut milk and red or green Thai curry paste. It's in one my books: I wanted to create something healthy but comforting and that's what came out.

My pet hates... I hate foams and skids on plates. I don't like that texture of frothy gobbiness; I don't know why anyone thought it would be interesting to emulate one of the most revolting bodily fluids and put it all over your food. Is it a way to shock the senses before you start or to try and make a dull dish interesting?

My tipple of choice... I don't really drink, but there is a little granny in my soul which means I love a drop of Harveys Bristol Cream every now and then; there goes every bit of credibility I ever had! But my favourite drink is one I made myself, which is sparkling mineral water with lemon slices and a splash of red wine. I love that Joan Armatrading song "Water with the Wine". God knows what would have happened if I hadn't learnt to drink water with my wine, given all the trouble I've got into anyway!

Laura Santtini is a food writer and restaurateur. Her latest book, 'Flash Cooking: Fit Fast Flavours for Busy People', (£20, Quadrille) is out now

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee