Tamasin Day-Lewis: 'My children say I gave them wooden spoons instead of toys'


My earliest food memory... Eating what's now known as French toast but what we called bread bits in egg. It's the best breakfast food, the best brunch food and the best teatime food if you're a child. It's the only thing my nanny could cook, so I probably lived on it.

My store-cupboard essentials... Three kinds of olive oil – a really grassy green, feisty one, an everyday one in a huge can, and another that someone's given me; endless vinegars and lemons; carnaroli rice; semi-cured anchovies; wonderful salted capers; green mammoth olives; and Rapunzel organic yeast so I can make bread. I always keep nice things from my garden in the freezer: I've still got last year's damsons, which I use to make sorbets and pies and ice-cream, and I've got my damson gin brewing away.

The kitchen gadget I can't live without... A wooden spoon. If I was on a desert island, all I'd cook with is that, and I'd do everything else by hand. My children say they never had toys; I just threw them a wooden spoon instead.

My culinary tip... Never ask anybody how long it takes to cook something. I could tell someone that a recipe takes 30 minutes but that might not be how they like it. It comes down to personal taste.

My favourite food shop... Murrays of Clevedon, which is up the road from where I live in Somerset. It's a wonderful third-generation Italian delicatessen, café and bakery. I probably keep it afloat.

My top table... Anything to do with Richard Corrigan. His food is earthy and unpretentious and, like me, he's someone who's only interested in the essence of the ingredient, not mucking about with it. Once a year, my treat is to eat his grouse en croute; twice a year would be too much.

My dream dining companions... Julia Roberts, because she's bloody greedy and a really good friend: I make her treacle tart and we drink champagne. Clint Eastwood, because he's been an idol of my brother [the actor, Daniel] and I since we were nippers. For entertainment, I'd have Bach and Mozart, and also Dylan Moran and Derren Brown. And the [19th century] explorer Richard Burton's wife Isobel, who's a heroine of mine: she went to all the places he went and explored with him and was a formidable woman in her own right.

My desert-island dish... Jersey new potatoes with unsalted French butter, sea salt and mint: it's an augur of summer.

My guilty pleasure... I don't feel guilt about any of my pleasures. And that includes foie gras: I worry about how all animals are treated, but I know with shops such as Fortnum's that they source a foie gras which is a damned sight more humanely produced than most things in England. Having said that, I would not eat an industrial pig or a farmed salmon; you could probably say I'm hypocritical.

My pet hates... Green peppers: they're under-ripe, indigestible and overwhelm everything with their taste. Also I can't bear menus that read like shopping lists with every detail about the dish, and chefs who show off: all that [molecular gastronomy] is boys with their Meccano sets – for most people, it's nonsense.

The strangest thing I've eaten... I've eaten snake and drunk snake wine in Hong Kong; they were indescribable. I've also roasted a badger – it was roadkill someone brought to my doorstep; it was disgusting – very gamey, tough and dry.

My tipple of choice... Since I'm from Somerset, Julian Temperley's Single Estate Champenoise Method Bottled Kingston Black Cider. Otherwise, a good champagne: I'm torn between Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque 1998 or, to be a real footballer's wife, Louis Roederer Cristal. My brother got some cases for his wedding and we drank it for three days. You can drink it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you don't get a hangover.

Tamasin Day-Lewis is a food writer and chef. She has provided recipes for the book 'Delicious Jewels' (Prestel, £50) from the jewellery house Hemmerle

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