Lori de Mori and Laura Jackson: co-founders of Hackney’s Towpath Cafe
The cookbook that has most influenced your cooking?
LJ: Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories
The food of love: what would you cook to impress a potential date? And what piece of music would accompany it?
LDM: I never cook to impress, I cook to make people feel safe and welcomed. So it would be my go to favourite—flattened chicken, smothered with a garlic (haha), chilli, lemon and olive oil marinade and roasted, with roast potatoes and a bitter leaf salad with walnuts, apples, blue cheese and shallots. Fruit for pudding. Music, maybe Anouar Brahem’s Le Pas Du Chat Noir
The perfect dinner party: which five people (dead or alive, real or fictional) would you invite to dinner and what would you cook for them?
LDM: Ruth Reichl (who is a marvellous dinner companion), the poet David Whtye (equally), the sculptor Enrico David (triply so), all of whom have already been to mine for dinner (though not all together) and proven their mettle. Plus MFK Fischer and Patience Grey. We would cook at my house in Tuscany in the wood burning oven. Patience would like that. MFK Fischer might find it too rustic. But it creates a bit of “spettacolo” which also diffuses any initial awkwardness. In that oven would go slow a slow roasted leg of lamb, white beans and sourdough bread. A plum pie would go the oven in after the mains came out. There would be (as there would always be at my table, a bitter leaf salad). And lots of wine. And wonderful conversation
Fast food – your top snack tip?
LDM: Sourdough bread toasted, rubbed with garlic and doused with olive oil. Or crisp veggies cut up and dipped in olive oil and lemon sprinkled with salt (I often eat this while I’m making the rest of a meal)
Most memorable meal in film/literature/painting?
LDM: Babette’s feast. I dream of that meal
Your worst kitchen disaster?
LJ and LDM: Turning up for a private party that we were catering for 60 people and only realising once the main course was being served that we had no plates for anyone to eat from!
What’s the best kind of food to cheer a grey grizzly day?
LJ: For me anything that has mince in it – moussaka, shepherd’s or cottage pie, mince and tatties, lasagna, beef and pea curry
What would you like your final meal to be?
LJ: Taramasalata, prawn cocktail, roast chicken with chips and gravy, a huge green salad with mustardy vinaigrette to dip into the chicken gravy, steamed treacle sponge and custard just to top it all off!
What is your secret talent [in or out of the kitchen]?
LJ: Not sure if it’s a talent just quite yet but juggling
LDM: Resourcefulness. I’m not good at avoiding disasters but I’m good at figuring ways out of them. Also, playing the banjo. Still learning but an enthusiastic novice
What did you eat for breakfast?
LJ: I had a decaf coffee, a slice of rye bread with smoked salmon and lots of butter and lemon juice
LDM: French press coffee with milk, yoghurt, muesli and apple, rye toast with butter and marmalade
What’s in your fridge?
LJ: At the moment it’s pretty bare as working lots of evening shifts at towpath. I have some hispi cabbage, little gem, lots of different types of pickles and some beautiful English made interpretation of feta cheese
Your inheritance recipes – the one you inherited [and from whom] and the one you’d like to pass on to your children?
LJ: Chicken soup with kneidlach and cheesecake. I inherited them from my mum and id like to pass them on as she inherited them from her mum and so on!
Towpath: Recipes and Stories by Lori de Mori and Laura Jackson (Chelsea Green Publishing Company, £27)