Arguably, food columnist, author and dog owner (Wilf, her pet, is quite the insta celebrity) Felicity Cloake is the premium croissant judge in the country.
Her latest book, a recipe/travel guide – One More Croissant For The Road – saw her cycling around France, snaffling pastries and expertly hopping off to try the best regional delicacies she could track down (odd French opening times often scuppering her plans).
But would croissants make her death row meal? And can anything possibly beat a plate of toast? We found out…
Your death row meal would be… I would have – it changes the whole time – little baby squid with fried garlic – so delicious, I love squid; then steak and chips, French-style with those really hot rustly salty fries, and creamed spinach and béarnaise sauce, and then my mum’s trifle with Bird’s Custard – no fancy custard for me, and then some stilton, and then I’d probably die of a heart attack before I was executed.
The thing you still can’t make is… There’s lots of things! I’m not great at pastry, and also the first time I cooked breakfast for a boyfriend and he knew that I was a food writer, I did boiled eggs, and they’re meant to be soft boiled, obviously, and they were like rubber – I can boil an egg now, but it remains an unpredictable science. Quite embarrassing. So boiling eggs, not my speciality.
Your favourite store-cupboard essential has to be… Butter. I’m of the firm belief that everything works on toast – any leftovers are great on some really good toast, even better with butter.
The kitchen utensil you couldn’t live without is… I really, really like tongs. They’re just super useful. They make you feel a bit like a pro chef.
If you get hungry late at night, the snack you’ll reach for is… Toast – again! With more butter than toast almost, and Marmite. I can get up the next morning after a night out and realise I’ve eaten half a pat of butter – when you see the crumbs… If there’s no toast, I have been known to put similar amounts of butter and Marmite on digestive biscuits, that’s also really good. Especially when you’re drunk.
Your signature dish is… I hope after this [book] it’ll be croissants, but my chocolate brownies. A really early recipe I did, they’re quite different from other chocolate brownies I’ve had – and because I tailored them to my taste, I think they are the most delicious chocolate brownies. They’re not cakey or that fudgy, they do melt in your mouth. I’m really into them.
You like your eggs… Ha, not cooked by me! At the moment, ironically, a hard boiled egg – I think they’re underrated in this country. Everyone’s into the sexy soft yolk, which I like as well, but there’s a place for a hard boiled egg. I can’t think of an egg preparation I don’t like, to be honest.
Your favourite childhood dinner was… Chicken kiev – I still love chicken kiev, and that was the biggest treat if we had chicken kiev. My parents cooked all this great French food, but [I’d beg], ‘Can we please have a Waitrose chicken kiev?’ Dream meal.
Last night you had… Heinz tomato soup, and a third of a tin of Branston baked beans, and so I emptied them into the soup. I can say the world did not end. The two warring factions got on, and I grated some Cornish gouda which has been in my fridge for seriously two years, and is still really good.
If you’re ordering takeout, it has to be… I never really do takeout, but if I did it would have to be a classic Indian curry – India is one of my favourite countries on earth – but I also love a British Indian curry: Peshwari naan, shish kebabs, saag, bhaji, a lamb tikka masala…
Your ultimate hangover cure is… Toast again. I’ve got this feeling that toast soaks up all the alcohol in your stomach – I eat a lot of carbs when I’m hungover.
You cannot stomach… Tinned tuna, just the smell of it turns my stomach, and I really dislike truffles, which luckily I don’t come across that often. I don’t like them – don’t waste them on me.
One More Croissant For The Road by Felicity Cloake is published by Mudlark, priced £14.99. Available now.
- Press Association