Category Archives: Interviews

In conversation with… Tom Parker Bowles


Tom Parker Bowles is a real foodie enthusiast. He is the author of three books: E Is For Eating – An Alphabet of Greed (2004), The Year of Eating Dangerously (2006) and Full English: A Journey Through the British and their food (2009). He is currently working on a fourth book, entitled Let’s Eat.

From 2007 to 2010 he presented Market Kitchen with Matthew Fort and over the past ten-years has had a weekly column in The Mail on Sunday.

A chief supporter of the Scotch egg movement (yes, there is such a thing), Tom believes it is one of the world’s great combinations: “pig meat, fat and blood, fried up into something so decadently porcine that my arteries began to creak. In a good way.” Here are Tom’s thoughts on some questions I posed to him, including a rather gruesome sounding egg.

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Pork wrapped perfection.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Cold.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. I’m usually a purist, although a dash of English mustard is often a welcome addition.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy? Some chefs choose venison over sausage meat, others may try to spice the meat etc., or maybe you make your own?
A. A few chunks of black pudding (à la Handmade Scotch Egg Company), makes for double pork bliss. And I like a whack of chilli too.

Q. Talking of eggs, can you tell us a little more about your recent experience with a Balut egg?
A. Gosh, balut. A fertilised duck egg complete with embryonic bird. Contrary to popular opinion, the best balut does not contain a fully formed duck with bones, feathers and beak. The finest are those of about 16 days old, where the embryo is soft and wobbly. You make a crack in the bottom, pierce the membrane and suck out the juice. This is rich, savoury and a touch pongy! You then open the other end, douse with salt or vinegar, and eat the little duck. It has no flavour and the texture of a warm oyster. You then dig into the egg, which is wonderfully rich. I was rather dreading eating it but it actually turned out to be pretty good. One’s enough though. Somehow, I don’t see the balut Scotch egg taking off over here.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. The Handmade Scotch Egg Company are very good, and Hix one’s fine too.

Read more from Tom Parker Bowles at the Mail Online

Photograph © Les Wilson

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In conversation with… Tim Hayward

Tim Hayward is a food writer, broadcaster and photographer. His features appear in the Guardian, Olive, Waitrose Food Illustrated, the Sydney Morning Herald, Delicious and a variety of on and off-line publications. He is also a regular contributor to the Observer Food Monthly ‘Word of Mouth’ blog supplying both news comment and a weekly column ‘Too Many Cooks’.

Tim is also the proprietor and editor of Fire & Knives, a quarterly magazine of new food writing (which is bloody marvelous!).

An equally keen devotee of the Scotch egg, Tim answered a few questions from me on the delectable pub snack…

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Pork Hand-Grenade.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Hot and with the centre just a bit runny.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. With Piccalilli.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy? Some chefs choose venison over sausage meat, others may try to spice the meat etc.
A. Eggs, forcemeat and crumb-coating come in countless flavours and combinations. Given that the Scotch Egg only escaped the Bad Food Joke Book a couple of years ago, I can’t help thinking that, working at the most frenetic pace, our best chefs haven’t even begun to cover all the delicious options. There are countless thousands to go and I haven’t met one yet that I didn’t love. One thing, though, chefs. No matter how staggering your variation, don’t make the mistake of trying to rename it something more cool. Even if it’s a parfait of unicorn loin wrapped round a Faberge egg, it’s still a Scotch egg…. that’s the whole point!

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. I honestly think that’s too complicated to answer. These are deep philosophical quandaries. I’ve loved real ‘gourmet’ versions, poncey little quail egg jobs and the ones in the gas-flushed podules at motorway service stations and they’re all good at the right time. Does that make quality a temporal issue? The fact I can love a similar egg more or less each time I try it implies that quality is less of an absolute than one might believe. If asked ‘where serves the best beer’ could one ever truly answer. Instead, drawing on personal experience, I can only offer the rather unsatisfying opinion, and fervent wish, that the best Scotch Egg is the one you are about to eat.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @timhayward

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In conversation with… Kate Spicer

Kate Spicer is a lifestyle journalist who has written on a wide variety of subjects, from fashion to food. She is a contributing features writer for The Sunday Times Style and has written restaurant reviews for The Sunday Times and The Evening Standard, as well as also appearing as a judge on BBC’s MasterChef. On top of all of this, she is a documentarist who has explored the world of botox and more recently, sought out Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich along with her two brothers in a feature entitled Mission to Lars.

With a reputation for straight talking I threw a few questions at Kate about the little golden-orbed pub snack, and here are her answers:

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Porky, egg, love!

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. I like warm, but there’s something uniquely delicious about the taste of the pork infused egg white on a cold cheap Scotch egg. If my stepmothers fishing them out the deep-fat fryer then I’ll huff and blow and puff till it’s just cool enough to scald my mouth and eat straight away.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. If it’s seasoned correctly, then with none.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy? Some chefs choose venison over sausage meat, others may try to spice the meat etc.
A. Look, love, I’ve had some posh eggs in places like Hix and some exotic variations on the theme at the Cinnamon Club. I liked Mark Hix’s fish Scotch egg too at his restaurant in Lyme Regis, but for me, common as I am pet, they are the luxury climax of the car picnic, and as such I prefer a good shop bought one – the Gourmet Scotch Egg Company in Bristol is infinitely better than sad old Ginsters, though the sausage-meat jacket could be a little thicker – eaten on the move, perhaps with some quavers and a bit of Radio 2?

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. The Bath Arms, the pub on the Longleat Estate.

Follow Kate on Twitter: @spicerlife

Image copyright of Tony Buckingham ©2009

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In conversation with… Dom Joly

Dom Joly is a British television comedian and journalist. He came to note as the star of Trigger Happy TV, a show that was sold to over seventy countries worldwide. He has just released a Book called The Dark Tourist and is currently developing a movie called War Of The Flea. He recently left the Australian jungle after finishing fourth in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

I spoke to Dom about his favourite Scotch egg and if he remembers the first one he ever tried? Here are his answers:

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Yummy, comforting, satisfying.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Cold.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. To my great shame – salad cream – very common.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you’ve tried? Some chefs have used venison meat and there’s the Manchester example made with black pudding instead of sausage meat.
A. Well, I’ve had one made of wild boar and quail egg.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. Simpson’s in the Strand.

Q. Can you remember the first Scotch egg you ever had?
A. Yes, terrible one at eight-years-old on a school picnic, it nearly put me off for life.

You can follow Dom on Twitter at: @domjoly

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Ricky Gervais describes a Scotch egg

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In conversation with… Melissa Cole

Melissa Cole is an independent beer journalist and member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. She regularly judges events such as the Great British Beer Festival, the World Beer Competition and the International Beer Challenge and contributes to Sainsbury’s magazine, What’s Brewing and Beers of the World. She has also appeared on TV and radio as a beer expert, most recently on Market Kitchen and Something for the Weekend.

It’s a little known fact that Melissa also cooks her own Scotch eggs and has her own unique version of the British classic.

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Piggy, eggy & glorious (when done well!)

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Warm.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. With, English mustard or curry mayo.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy? I heard that you’ve made your own with a slight twist.
A. I do! I add cold softened onions, sage, thyme and grain mustard to organic sausage meat and then add a mixture of grated & small chopped Lancashire Black pudding. I also panne it three or four times. However, most important is the yolk still being runny, so boiling that for just five & half mins & then plunging into ice water is vital! I also only use groundnut oil for frying so it doesn’t mess with the flavours.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. White Star Tavern in Southampton after a day of cricket & beer at the Rose Bowl!

And finally, perhaps the most important question of all:

Q. Which ale is best served with a Scotch egg?
A. A great British bitter like Young’s Bitter, Fuller’s Chiswick, Marble Pint, Sharp’s Cornish Coaster or Moorhouse’s Premier. (That’s five Melissa, but I’ll accept that answer)

You can follow Melissa Cole on Twitter: @MelissaCole

Keep track of Melissa at: www.girlsguidetobeer.blogspot.com

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In conversation with… Andy Lynes

Andy Lynes edits the Metro newspaper’s Good Taste food and drink pages which appear every Tuesday. He is a Glenfiddich Award nominated freelance writer specialising in food, drink and travel. He contributes regular food and drink themed travel articles and hotel reviews to the Independent on Sunday and for three years wrote the paper’s Food of the Week column. Andy’s work has also appeared in The Times, Sainsbury’s magazine, Waitrose Food Illustrated, Independent on Sunday Review magazine, History Today, Saab magazine and Scarlet magazine.

Here, Andy answers a few questions about how he best enjoys a Scotch egg and describes it in very melodic language.

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Crispy, ovate, calorie-demon (that could be a Captain Beefheart lyric!)

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Hot, but who can resist even a crappy supermarket Scotch egg straight from the fridge?

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. If served hot, you could argue the runny yolk makes it self-saucing, but I think they’re best with a bright and herby sauce gribiche, ravigote or tartare. Grain mustard would be fine but ketchup or HP are verboten.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy? Some chefs choose venison over sausage meat, others may try to spice the meat etc.
A. I’ve never had it, but I’ve always liked the idea of Gary Rhodes’s smoked haddock Scotch egg.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. The Harwood Arms in Fulham serves a mind expandingly excellent venison Scotch egg – it’s by far the best I’ve had. It’s obviously far too late in the day to say that the pub’s head chef Stephen Williams is a name to watch, but his remarkable talent extends way beyond bar snacks, even if those bar snacks are historically good.

Read Andy’s articles on the Metro website: http://www.metro.co.uk/search?q=andy+lynes

Follow Andy on Twitter: @AndyLynes

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