After a rather slow start and some bad timing, I have finally gotten in touch with my adoptee in Dine and Dish's Adopt a Blogger #3. I had such a wonderful experience being adopted in the last round that I wanted to try my hand at being a mentor. I was lucky enough to be paired with Nic from Lemon and Cheese who, despite being a newbie, already has a blog full of delicious recipes and balanced weekly meal plans. You can find a number of different types of cuisine, recipes for everyday and some for more special occasions (click on the pictures below for their entries). Aside from cooking, Nic and I also share a passion for books. She works in a library surrounded by them! How cool is that? But I'll let her say more. We've prepared a little interview for you so that you can get a little glimpse behind the scenes of Lemon and Cheese.
Me: What made you want to start blogging about food? What’s challenging/fun about blogging?
Nic: I loved looking at all the pictures on foodgawker and tastespotting etc and thought hey I could do that, I love to cook and I had just got my first digital camera for my birthday. So I thought I’d have a go, my photography is still not very good, although I hope I’m improving! That’s probably my biggest challenge, that, and actually finding time to sit down and write! I love it because it means I have a store of recipes I’ve tried and I can see what works and what doesn’t. I also love the sense of community about the food bloggers, I have received help from a variety of people and I love doing Presto Pasta Nights which I regularly contribute to.
Do you like to eat out? What is your favorite restaurant?
I love to eat out, I love meeting up with my friends for a good meal, there’s nothing better. I just wish I had more money to do it more often! My Dad takes me out occasionally so I get to try some of the more upmarket restaurants which I love. We recently went to Sheekey’s near Leicester Square and had the most delicious oysters. But my favourite restaurant at the moment is Yo! Sushi. It’s a chain of sushi restaurants in the UK, which are really good, and you can watch the chefs at work whilst you eat. A friend of mine has recently discovered sushi so we go there a lot. The dumpling noodle soup is really tasty.
Do any of your parents or grandparents cook or did someone particular inspire you?
My Mum is a brilliant cook, she made all sorts of treats when we were kids and I remember being quite small and helping her to make jam tarts and scones, and we always got to lick out the bowls! We very rarely had ready meals, she cooked everything pretty much from scratch every night, and I didn’t have a takeaway until I was at University! At the age of 21 I also went on a four week basic skills cookery course at Leiths School of Cookery in London. I learnt everything from knife skills to making bread and pasta, and that really gave me the confidence to start trying different recipes and cuisines rather than just cooking the same five meals, as I had done at University!
Do you have a favorite dish (for the moment anyway)?
My favourite dish currently is anything with noodles; I am working my way through the Wagamama’s Ways with Noodles cookbook, and have had some very tasty dishes from it. However my all time favourite will always be my Mum’s roast chicken with roast potatoes, parsnips, bread sauce, a couple of other veg and her gravy, for me that’s the taste of my childhood, and it’s the meal my sister always requests when she goes home for the weekend.
What is your favorite kind of food?
My favourite kind of food at the moment is Japanese or Chinese; in fact anything oriental! I love the mixture of sweet and sour and the simplicity of the cooking although the tastes are complex. I still have to overcome my fear of deep fat frying, but hopefully soon I will be making tempura and breaded chicken, similar to the dishes I get in restaurants. There is also a very good Chinese restaurant not far from my parent’s house, which I love to eat at called Mr Pangs. They do the best five spice prawns I have ever tasted.
squid ink pasta with old bay seasoned prawns and scallops
Have you eaten in another country?
I have eaten in a few different countries, but I have a couple of memories which stick out. I went on a trip to New York earlier this year and we had a couple of meals and snacks in Grand Central Station. We kept gravitating back there as it was warm and outside was freezing! Anyway we ate at Juniors one day and I had the red velvet cheesecake for pudding and got the biggest slice of cake I have ever seen, but it was so delicious and the cream cheese frosting was to die for.
My family spent most of my childhood holidays in different parts of France. So I remember having some of the most delicious food from a very young age. I have been told that at the age of about 2-3 I used to sit at the dinner table and demand more bear please Mummy, my word for Camembert, as I could not pronounce the whole word! I also remember my parents eating 7 course meals and loving the sorbet that typically came half way through the meal!
What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
The strangest food, hmmm, I’m quite adventurous when it comes to food, I’ll try anything once, except possibly tripe, just the idea turns my stomach. I have had the usual French suspects such as frogs legs and escargot, which I love, I brought a tin home with me when I was last in France and cooked them myself. Steak Tartare was one of the things I was most reluctant to try, but I had it in France last year and it was delicious.
What type of food can’t you stand?
I hate mince. I can just about eat it, but I can’t eat anymore than half a plate of it, so spaghetti bolognaise, moussaka, cottage pie etc are completely out. I think it stems back to my grandmother who used to serve us boiled mince and veg when we were small that was revolting. I really don’t like the texture of it at all.
Do you have any passions besides cooking?
I love to read, I read mostly fiction, with a smattering of biographies, and travel writing. I always have a book in my handbag and I work in a library, so I have fantastic access to books. I seem to get through about 1 ½ books a week, and I’m a member of a community of livejournal which challenges people to read 50 books in a year, I’m up to 44 this year so I’m hoping for 100! I also love to do tapestry and I’ve just learnt to knit, so I’m knitting a cardigan for myself, very slowly!
What made you want to do adopt-a-blogger?
I was hoping to be in the last round of adopt-a-blogger but just missed out, so I waited patiently for the next round to arrive! I wanted to do it because there are so many bloggers out there with a wealth of knowledge that I could learn from. I think the mentoring idea is a really good way for someone with a lot more experience than me to help guide me on my way.