California dreaming: Anna Jones’s final meal

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “California dreaming: Anna Jones’s final meal” was written by Interview by Dale Berning Sawa, for The Guardian on Friday 29th April 2016 11.00 UTC

I’ve had a fight with myself about this. Breakfast and brunch are my favourite meals, but I’d have to have pasta if this is the last time I’m ever going to eat. Can you have pasta at brunch? Probably not. So this would be an all-day meal.

I’d be outside in a little cabin by the coast. I’m drawn to where I grew up in northern California – one of the beaches above Big Sur, where the pine trees come to the edge of the beach. I’d be with my husband-to-be John, my little boy Dylan and my immediate family – my mum, dad, sister Laura, brother Owen, and my auntie Avril. She’s the matriarch of our family. When she moved to California (to live a very glamorous life!), we followed.

We’d be around a simple table. It would be loaded with fragrant flowers like heavy blossoms – cherry, orange – that fill the air with their scent.

I’d wake up and make a huge stack of ricotta pancakes. I’d put the zest of Meyer lemons (a sweet citrus from California) in the batter, and eat them with cherries, freshly stoned, and a mandarin curd made by a lady called June Taylor in the Bay Area. There’d be Earl Grey tea and coffee – because I like to have both.

This would just flow into lunch. We’d have some really simple pasta with a really killer tomato sauce with basil and a little bit of butter, with freshly rolled tagliatelle and lots of parmesan.

With this, a bitter salad. To offset the sweetness of the tomatoes. I’m probably mixing up the seasons here, but I’d have escarole with amazing olive oil – selvapiana from Italy, my favourite.

I’d give Dylan little spoonfuls of what we were eating, maybe not the pancakes, but the pasta, for sure. And maybe he could have some chopped up little bits of avocado – we’re in the land of the best avocadoes, ever, aren’t we? – which he’d probably mush into his face. He’s only four months old, but I’ve read some research that says there’s a “flavour window” between 4-6 months in which babies are much more open to a more diverse range of tastes.

I love the untrendy, buttery, oaky Chardonnays of California. They remind me of being young. My parents love them, and they’re what I’ve grown up with. Maybe one from Cullen winery.

For pudding, we’d have a perfect Meyer lemon tart. I wouldn’t make it, because I don’t feel my hand is deft enough with pastry, so I’d call in a chef from the River Cafe! It would be served with a tiny teaspoon of creme fraiche – some sourness to counteract it.

And we would definitely have dessert wine. A sparkling one – a posh moscato d’Asti. Then we’d just sit around. Even though I might have the opportunity to stuff my face for this last meal, I don’t really enjoy feeling overly full …

That said, in the evening, as the sun goes down, we’d have a fire. I have a childish fascination with marshmallow, so we’d toast some, on skewers, but only the milky clean white ones – not the pink ones (the pink ones are really suspicious). We might have some hot chocolate at the same time.

I love the sound of the sea. I never understand the need for music on the beach… So, I think we’d just have that.

  • Anna Jones is a chef, writer and author of A Modern Way to Eat and A Modern Way to Cook (Fourth Estate); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

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