Tell us about your first food memory?
My school lunchbox: always a Club biscuit, usually a tangerine, a packet of salt and vinegar Squares and corned beef sandwiches. I also have strong childhood memories of mum making these little cinnamon fairy cakes and a spicy sausage stew she’d serve on white rice. Where I grew up, in Reading, we had Iranian neighbours who became good friends and I remember eating my first pistachios with them.
What’s your favourite ingredient?
Butter, and lots of it. Otherwise, chilli.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure
I don't think any food ought to be considered guilt-inducing.
What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?
Café St. Honoré in Edinburgh. I love chef Neil Forbes, his cooking, and his fishcakes specifically. The service is consistently excellent, and the atmosphere and wine list are lovely. I have missed it greatly this year.
What would be your last supper?
Almost certainly fish and chips, lightly battered, with lots of salt and malt vinegar, and tartar sauce. If I had pudding, it would probably be the best melon possible, from Uzbekistan, one that had sweetened over the winter season. There, Uzbek farmers hang melons in dedicated sheds so that become ever sweeter over the colder months. They are the best melons in the world.
Starter or pudding?
Starter - herrings, prawns or anchovies, please. Or just an old-school prawn cocktail.
Do you have any food hates?
Meat that has come from badly run and unethical farms. Dishes that have been under seasoned. Otherwise I don’t hate any foods.
What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite (dead or alive)?
Selection of Russian zakuski (blini, roe and pickles), sea bass baked with butter and thyme, roasted peaches with marzipan and rose syrup.
I'm going for six of my favourite writers: my husband James Kilner, Mikhail Bulgakov, Joan Didion, Diana Henry, Isaac Babel, and William Dalrymple.
What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?
Istanbul, always and forever. I have called it ‘the world’s greatest kitchen’ before and I stand by this bold claim, as it is.