Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Food Bloggers Unplugged

There’s a challenge called Food Bloggers Unplugged doing the rounds (via Twitter). I was invited to do this by Rebecca who blogs as Fasting Foodie (The Tales of a Penarth/Cardiff-based Foodie on a Diet). Here’s her post:
Therefore, I’ll wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and finish my first year’s food blogging with this post. I shall then proceed to unplug.

What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
The original idea behind the blog was that it would be a type of diary, which I would keep for one year. I have always kept a diary, which has taken various forms. In 2010, for example, it was a photo-a-day project. Being a Welsh learner, it was in Welsh for a while (though with my limited vocabulary this soon became very repetitive: Dechreuais i fy mlog bwyd. Wedyn, es i i Gaerdydd. Wedyn…). A food diary has an appealing Proustian ring; recalling a taste can lead to associated memories unfurling in the mind. However, as I’m mainly slaving in the kitchen fueling the kids with pasta, pizza, chicken and chips etc such poetic ideas didn’t last long. The food blog took on a life of its own. It’s no longer a diary, but a chronicle of the exciting food scene in the Cardiff area, where good restaurants seem to be opening on a weekly basis, and the dynamic local food movement in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. I can’t see myself tiring of food blogging any time soon.

Who is your foodie inspiration?
I have followed Heston Blumenthal’s progress with great interest for many years. I find his willingness to experiment very inspiring, although I don’t aspire to cook like him at home.

Your greasiest, batter-splattered food/drink book is?
I’ll be honest; it’s an old edition of Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course. Over the years it has been the most used book in the kitchen (and looks it). Other frequently referenced tomes are by Rick Stein, Jane Grigson, Sophie Grigson, Nigel Slater, Gary Rhodes and Madhur Jaffrey; while the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book (1978) is constantly referenced for cakes, chutneys, marmalade etc.

Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
This is a difficult one. Food always tastes better when you’re relaxing on holiday and the sun is shining. I can’t remember the names of restaurants but most memorable meals include extremely fresh seafood in a waterside shack in South Carolina (holes in the middle of the round tables to chuck the shells), gumbo in New Orleans, a richly-sauced chicken in a small restaurant near Aix en Provence, grilled fish on a beach in Greece, my first pizza from a proper pizza oven in Italy, and a Portuguese stew in a mountain village in the Algarve.

Another food blogger’s table you’d like to eat at is?
I would be happy to eat at any Cardiff food blogger’s table, although having just read Rebecca’s Food Blogger Unplugged post I would certainly be up for Drunken Lamb or Thai Roast Duck!

What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
I nearly asked Santa for this, but instead picked one up in Kitchen earlier this week: a digital timer. Compact, it sticks magnetically to the fridge or clips to clothing if you leave the kitchen, and it sounds just like my alarm-clock. I no longer have any excuse for burning the cakes! If money no object, then I would like to have some serious Sous Vide gadgetry to play around with.

Who taught you how to cook?
Watching my mother cook taught me a great deal, especially during the time when part of our family house was used as student accommodation. The students used to join our large family for evening meals, and it was always at least two courses of fabulous food. At University myself, I learned a lot through trial and error (actually, more error than trial - this was a time when the congealed lard in the chip pan, used daily in the communal kitchen, was only changed at the start of each term).

I’m coming to you for dinner. What’s your signature dish?
When I cook for larger gatherings, I tend to make my chili con carne (it’s almost expected). I like cooking risotto (e.g., butternut squash, mushroom) and I cook it often; it'll be served with a tomato salad. Braised red cabbage (from my mum’s recipe) was one of the first recipes I posted online (my first website had a recipe section), and it’s the recipe I recently contributed to the Murch Munchies Recipe Book (a PTA Christmas fundraiser), so that’s definitely a signature dish. For pudding, it’ll probably be an apple or rhubarb crumble with ice cream.

What is your guilty food pleasure?
It has to be doughnuts; Krispy Kreme, of course, but also old-fashioned bakery doughnuts oozing jam.

Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
I worked as a research entomologist for a year at the University of Georgia and conducted experiments that helped to identify the chemical in sweet potato tubers that induce the female sweet potato weevil to lay eggs (oviposition stimulant). It was here that I got a taste for sweet potato (that most underrated of vegetables), but it was eating the ripe peaches straight off the trees that was the real revelation at the UGA farm.

My five nominees to further the Food Blogging Unplugged chain:

1. Nicki @UrLastMouthful:

2. @Gourmetgorro:

3. @FoodFilm. Janneke Berkelbach (Memorable Food Scenes Combined with Recipes):

4. @wanttobakefree. David’s blog about opening a teahouse in Cardiff:

5. @gomezadams, blogging as Corpulent Capers:

Nicki @cardiffbites has already done her Food Blogger Unplugged post:

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