Writer Anna Barnett's Favourite Foods
We chat to Anna Barnett, food blogger for The Independent and Vogue, and host of celebrity-filled pop-up restaurants in her Hackney home
The former MTV celebrity booker and international sales manager for House of Holland has just released her first book, Eat the Week ($49.99, Murdoch Books), a divine take on a weekly recipe planner.
Tell us about your first book.
Once I was made aware that I’d need to write between 120 and 130 recipes for the book there was an initial moment of panic. Because of the premise of the book, I also had to make sure the recipes worked for the day of the week so, at times, this made it a little more difficult. I wanted to make sure there was a good mixture of both meat and vegetarian dishes while also including all my favourite desserts too —basically anything that I love to eat is in there.
Describe your eating style.
I mainly eat meat-free during the week as my boyfriend is vegetarian (he doesn’t even sneak in a bit of fish), so it makes sense to make just the one meal. I’ll buy fresh ingredients every day so that I cater for what we fancy on the day with minimal waste. I love fresh salads with a bit of everything. Equally we’ll scoff huge bowls of pasta, lentil stews, Mexican dishes or home-made curries. I love spice so I cook a lot of Asian food — summer rolls, tom yum, pad Thai.
What are your favourite foods?
Ideally, anything you can snack on while cooking! Also home-made pasta sauces and stews that you leave to cook for hours and turn into the most delicious thing to eat with minimal effort. I love making meals that look exciting and vibrant and that you have to get stuck into and serve up yourself — tacos, Thai curries with loads of extra garnishes and sides, big salads with roasted vegetables.
What’s in your pantry?
It’s a mess. Every few months I try to clear out and re-organise, so there’s a shelf for dry spices, a shelf for everything baking-related, one for sauces, tins and then a load of condiments. We’re condiment crazy in our house.
What was the most recent meal you cooked?
Passatelli served three different ways. One, with hot chorizo and stewed heirloom tomatoes; two, Jerusalem artichoke and chestnut mushrooms with truffle oil; and three, black sesame pesto and radishes. We had passatelli made for us while in Barcelona and it was delicious, a cross between pasta and gnocchi but made from parmesan and breadcrumbs.
Describe your foray into food writing.
I’ve always cooked a lot so I started my own blog (getinmygob.blogspot.com) in an attempt to document it, and began putting up pictures of everything I was cooking or eating. I was also cooking a lot of vegetarian food so when my friend asked if I’d be up for writing for The Independent blogs I jumped at the chance. The Reluctant Vegetarian started from there. A similar thing happened with the Vogue blog. Having worked in fashion for years, I had a friend that put me forward as a new contributor. I think it’s just about getting out there as much as possible for people to see.
Do you enjoy cooking for others?
I love the social aspect of it. Food is the perfect excuse to get people together. For the pop-ups, even though it’s a crazy amount of work and lack of sleep, all my friends and family rally around and get involved.