I love the way that landing on someone’s food blog can transport you to a completely different world. Whether it’s the quality of writing, a stunning set of photos, an unusual recipe or a single thought, each blog has its own unique identity, providing you with a fascinating insight – however small – into the author’s life.
Some people plaster personality over their posts in spades, while others prefer to retreat behind their recipes or camera lens, but there’s no getting away from the fascination we have for blogs and their authors. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading posts for Food Bloggers Unplugged, an initiative intended to help us discover a bit more about the people behind the blogs we know and love. And more recently I’ve been nominated by three fellow food bloggers (Laura of How to Cook Good Food, Shu Han of MummyICanCook and Janice from Farmers Girl) to join in the fun.
So here are my answers, a bit of fun in the run up to Christmas.What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
Bread. And my boyfriend.
Bread because after years of eating the stuff (and having been nicknamed ‘the little loaf’ by my great aunt for my obsession with it, read more here), I realised it high time I started trying to bake my own. I wanted to record my adventures in the kitchen, and the idea of starting a food blog began to form.
My boyfriend because he encouraged me to actually do it, helping me set up the site back in February this year. Occasionally appearing on thelittleloaf under the guise of Carniverous Boyfriend, he continues to be a great source of inspiration, and an unfailingly enthusiastic recipe tester of exceedingly discerning taste . . .
Who is your foodie inspiration?
So many chefs and bloggers provide inspiration on a daily basis, but to narrow it down I’m going to pick just two people:
1) My Mum, because she’s such an incredible cook and taught me so much of what I know.
2) My Dad, because he’s such a greedy gourmand, and can certainly be blamed for my obsession with recipes, restaurants and reading about food for pleasure. He keeps me up to date with any foodie news I might have missed on a regular basis, and I often receive little envelopes in the post from him containing nothing but a restaurant review ripped from the paper or a recipe clipping and a few scribbled kisses.
Your greasiest, batter – splattered food/drink book is?
Growing up it was my Mum’s faded old Mrs Beeton (rammed with hand-written recipes and batter-splattered pages torn from magazines), Delia Smith’s Book of Cakes and Joseceline Dimbleby’s The Cook’s Companion.
Nowadays I seem to have more cookbooks than sense, but favourites I turn to time and again are The River Cottage Bread Handbook, David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, the Ottolenghi Cookbook and, when I’m in need of some ingredient inspiration, Niki Segnit’s inspiring and inimitable The Flavour Thesaurus.
Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
I hate choosing favourites, especially when it comes to food; it’s so hard to compare one dish with another when ingredients and occasions can vary so wildly. But as this is primarily a sweet-toothed blog, I’m going to go with the best dessert I’ve ever eaten; a deconstructed tiramisu served at Michelin-starred Uliassi in Le Marche.
I’ve been eating at this restaurant since I was a very little loaf (long before it earned its Michelin stars), and while the whole menu is show-stopping, the tiramisu is simply out of this world. The traditional Italian dessert is deconstructed, leaving you with a syrupy square of booze-soaked sponge cake, an earthy rubble of bittersweet coffee powder and an unctuous, custardy cream studded with chunks of crumbly sweet meringue. Eaten separately, each element is exciting and intriguing, but combine all three and the experience is utterly unforgettable.
Another food blogger’s table you’d like to eat at is?
This is such a hard question, but as I have to pick someone I’m going to go for dessert at David Lebovitz‘s table. An American living in Paris, his recipes combine French decadence with American gluttony in the best possible way.
What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
My Christmas wishes seem to have all come at once this year as I’m actually getting the object of my desires – a beautiful candy apple (of my eye) red Kitchen Aid stand mixer. So Santa’s done a pretty good job there, I’m one contented little loaf.
Who taught you how to cook?
My Mum. She always encouraged my brother and I to experiement in the kitchen, whether constructing horrific concoctions from whatever could be found in the cupboards or baking our own birthday cakes. I used to love helping her prepare canapés for dinner parties or decorating desserts, and some of my fondest childhood memories involve some kind of occasion cooking with my Mum in our family kitchen.
I’m coming to you for dinner, what’s your signature dish?
I love trying out new dishes for dinner parties, but one of my favourite fallbacks is seared scallops with lentils, crispy Serrano ham, oven dried tomatoes and salsa verde. We’d mop up the juices with some crusty bread, and pudding would be something chocolate, baked and served with homemade ice cream.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
I don’t really think any food should make you feel guilty; eating should be a pleasure. Reading this blog would make you think I survive solely on chocolate, cake and baked goods, but although I probably eat a few more sweet treats than your average person, I also understand what moderation means.
The times I’m most likely to feel a pang of guilt are when I’m eating more mundane things like Branflakes for breakfast or shop-bought bread. Writing a blog – and reading so many other incredible ones – can sometimes put pressure on you to prepare nothing but showstopping food, but that’s just not real life. Sometimes a piece of toast or a simple supper is both what you want, and need.
Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
I don’t like hot, wet food. No really. I don’t drink tea or coffee, could happily live without soup and I don’t like gravy. I know. I can almost hear your cries of outrage. My boyfriend nearly disowned me the first time he saw me eat a dry roast dinner, and most of my friends and family find this fact pretty hard to comprehend. To clarify, I do like most sauces in moderation, but when the balance of wetness overtakes the main event on a major scale (I’m thinking a dish like laksa with all those flabby noodles floating in a deep, wet soup), that’s when I start to back away.
Finally…tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions…like a hot baked potato…pass it on!
I’d like to nominate the following food blogging friends, hoping that in turn they’ll nominate some new names that I may not have yet discovered!