Former F&HE food and deputy editor Anna Montali’s life is a tale of food which spans the globe. She takes time out to tell us about her passion for food…
What is your favourite snack? Freshly sliced Parma ham and Parmesan with crusty Italian bread.
What is your most nostalgic food memory? My mother-in-law Sylvia Montali’s venison. I have never to date tasted venison the way she used to make it, especially warthog.
What was your favourite thing to eat as a child? Pastitsio, a Greek lasagne. I loved the fact that it contained everything, including vegetables and meat.
What has been your biggest kitchen disaster? I once put too much baking powder in a cake. I forgot that I initially put it in and added it twice. It kept on rising and was like a volcano erupting in the oven.
The most evocative food smell? Durian, a spiky Asian fruit which smells like sewage but once you can get over the smell, it tastes delicious.
What was the first romantic meal you cooked? I cooked a stuffed fillet for my late husband Max.
Where do you find inspiration for cooking? Everywhere: my kids, chefs and fresh produce.
What kind of cook are you? Passionate.
What is always in your fridge? Garlic, butter, cheese, cold meats and wine.
What is your favourite kitchen gadget? My mom Catherine’s handwritten cookbooks, her wooden pestle and mortar, and my mother-in-law’s mezzaluna.
What is the food to seduce you with? Champagne and oysters.
What is your favourite part of your kitchen at home? My LG SolarDOM oven. The only thing missing in my kitchen is space!
What are your pet peeves at the table? People keeping one hand under the table, as well as stretching across the table, and waiters bringing and collecting things on the wrong side.
Have you been a waitress? Yes, at my own restaurant called Café Meze, which I opened in Rivonia in 1994.
What would your friends and family say is your biggest culinary triumph? Being the food and deputy editor for Food & Home Entertaining magazine.
What drink do you serve after dinner? I don’t do it often but I love Bottega’s Fior di Latte, which is a creamy liqueur, especially in a short, hot espresso. Or whisky and biscotti in bed.
What food has never let you down in life? Italian cuisine.
Who are your ultimate dinner guests and why? My daughters Roberta and Raffaella, my son Riccardo and, for one more time, my late husband Massimo.
Your favourite restaurant in the world? Wolfgang Puck’s CUT in London. I had the bone marrow flan for starters and the wagyu/black Angus beef filet mignon from Australia.
Tell us about your life-long hunt for the perfect Caesar salad? I have always had a passion for Italian food and nothing beats an Italian Caesar salad. The best two that I have had so far in South Africa are at Lake Pleasant Hotel in Knysna and the Mount Nelson in Cape Town. The secret is in the dressing. I’m still hunting for the ultimate one in SA.
If you know where to find the perfect Caesar salad, let Anna know on the F&HE facebook page.
By Zaza Motha