Russell Norman: 'I find something really therapeutic about making risotto'

 

My earliest food memory...Marmite sandwiches on sliced white bread. I used to press the bread down to the thickness of a coin, and I remember that really lovely transformation of texture from fluffy white bread to something quite dense and getting that little salty hit in the middle.

My store-cupboard essentials... Carnaroli rice, passata, fennel seeds, dried porcini mushrooms and Maldon sea salt. And Cadbury's Double Decker [bars] – when you're doing an online shop, a screen will pop up saying, "Have you forgotten something?", listing things you've previously bought. Mine always features multipacks of Double Deckers, and I can never resist adding them.

My favourite cookbook... Claudia Roden's The Food of Italy. Her writing is wonderful and she's incredibly thorough – I love this book in particular, because Italian food is my default setting at home. I also use The Harry's Bar Cookbook. I'm not really a fan of Harry's Bar – I think it's a complete tourist trap – but it's a good cookbook. Their recipe for minestrone is my standard, and I also love their evil recipe for croque monsieur, which effectively involves frying the bread that houses the ham and cheese.

The kitchen gadget I can't live without... My ornamental brass Turkish coffee grinder. I got it in a market in Fethiye in Turkey about 10 years ago and it's hideously ugly but brilliant. Though it was designed for coffee, I use it for grinding pepper, and it's the first thing I reach for when I'm cooking.

My culinary tip... For any recipe that requires chopped onions, add a finely chopped celery stick, too. It's a subtle way of adding texture and lightness: as you fry the onions, they'll soften, but you'll still get that little bite from the celery.

My favourite food shop... Gennaro Delicatessen, which is a great Italian deli near to where I live in Lewisham. They're incredibly friendly – and great at sourcing a wide range of ingredients.

My top table... All'Arco in Venice, although there isn't actually a table – it's a tiny family-run bar which is standing-room only, but they cook some of the best food in the whole city. I discovered it 10 years ago, and it's on the list of places that inspired [my first restaurant] Polpo [which is based on Venetian bacaros]. My favourite dish is the baccala mantecato, or creamed salt cod, which they spear on to little discs of grilled polenta or toast.

My guilty pleasure... Truffles on scrambled eggs. I also once had truffles on macaroni cheese in New York and that was pretty spectacular as well. The guilt comes from taking such an expensive and revered ingredient and ruining it by putting it on something so cheap and proletarian. But it works!

My comfort food... Risotto: not so much the eating as the making of it: I find something really therapeutic about the whole process of starting with very hard rice and chopped onion and everything getting gradually softer as the process goes on. There should be a book called "Zen and the Art of Risotto Making".

My pet hates... Scaffolding – when dishes are built up into a tower on a plate. I can see why people do it – they want to add a bit of drama – but when it gets out of hand, it's just crazy. If I'm in a restaurant and something arrives that has been meticulously built up, the first thing I do is pick up a fork and knock it down.

My tipple of choice... I'm a sucker for Campari. It's best used in a Negroni, which is equal measures of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth but we also do a Campari Spritz [in my restaurants], which is Campari with a glug of white wine and a splash of soda. I associate it with Venice, and therefore Polpo.

Russell Norman is a London-based restaurateur. His latest restaurant, the Jewish-style deli Mishkin's, is at 25 Catherine Street, London WC2 (tel: 020 7240 2078, mishkins.co.uk)

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam