Kitchen spy: Charlotte Wood

Although Charlotte Wood is best known as a novelist, her love of food and cooking led her away from fiction last year with the publication of Love and Hunger: Thoughts on the gift of food. Part memoir, part cookbook, it’s also a compilation of essays about what she describes as “the emotional and symbolic meaning of cooking for people you love”. The Sydneysider also writes about food at her popular blog howtoshuckanoyster南京夜网.
Nanjing Night Net

My toolkit

Otto stovetop espresso maker. Full Circle Suds Up Dish Brush with biodegradable, replaceable parts. I couldn’t live without my Magimix or Green Pan Rotterdam saute pan. It’s non-stick, but doesn’t give off dangerous fumes. Salt pots I bought in the insect market in Shanghai.

Most unforgettable wine

2012 SC Pannell Bianco from McLaren Vale.

I’m drinking

I need at least three strong coffees in the morning before I am fully functional. I’ve started buying ”bar 6” coffee from Caffe Bianchi (available online). I just drink ordinary black tea occasionally, but probably drink more peppermint. Wine? Kalleske Clarry’s GSM (grenache shiraz mourvedre blend). I also love a Ulithorne white, Corsus Vermentinu 2010, made by McLaren Vale winemaker Rose Kentish at her winery in Corsica.

Saturday night tipple

An Americano cocktail (Campari, sweet vermouth and soda with a slice of orange).

Inspiration

I love Maggie Beer, Nigel Slater, Karen Martini, Jamie Oliver and Matthew Evans, because all of them have a similar earthy approach to cooking. It’s simple with lots of good vegetables, nothing tricky and the ethos of just put it all out on a communal plate and let everyone dig in.

Most memorable meal

It was in a village in Spain on the road between Valladolid and Ciudad Real. It was a boiling hot day and we pulled off the road to a small bar in a dusty town. The bar was dark and cool, a few men were sitting around watching futbol on the telly. The bar had a small refrigerated glass cabinet with a few tapas in it – extremely simple. The one I remember most was half a hard-boiled egg topped with a prawn, maybe some kind of mayo on it somewhere. We had a Spanish beer and the waiter pulled the glasses out of the freezer. It was perfect food for the weather. The place was so invitingly cool, with nothing pretentious or fancy about it at all. One of the best food experiences ever, because it was as much about the country, the weather and the people as what we put in our mouths.

Secret vice

Lindt chilli chocolate.

The staples

My pantry Currants because I put them in everything: salads, tagines, casseroles. Murray River salt. Cobram Estate olive oil because it’s local, as well as Lomondo olive oil from Mudgee for dressings and drizzling. Giuseppe Giusti balsamic vinegar because it is delicious and not too acidic. Patrice Newell’s purple garlic and a giant jar of Dijon mustard.

My fridge The only cheese I always have is parmesan. Pepe Saya butter. Burrawong Gaian pasture-raised chooks, skirt steak and beef brisket on the bone, pasture-raised pork cutlets, all meat from Feather and Bone. Pistachios, pine nuts, almonds for snacking, salads and crumbles.

Favourite

A chopping board made for me by my brother-in-law, Simon. I use it about five times a day.

Food discovery

Pomegranate honey, which I use in dressings. It’s great on yoghurt and in almost any recipe requiring honey. Just putting pomegranate seeds into honey turns it a lovely deep pink and thins it a bit. I got the recipe from the Nourish Me blog.

I’m cooking

Last dinner at home Skirt steak I’d had sitting in olive oil and rosemary for about five hours before grilling it. I served it with roast pumpkin and a very yummy Maggie Beer recipe for green beans with red onion and preserved lemons.

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