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Oz Clarke’s Foodie Loves & Hates

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by


Sep 28, 2020
6 minutes to read
Image for blog - Oz Clarke’s Foodie Loves & Hates

The much-loved wine expert shares his foodie loves and hates, from the joys of new season English apples to the horror of school dinner tapioca



We had an orchard when I was a kid growing pears, plums, berries and soft fruit, but, best of all, apples: Bramleys, Lady Henekers and Coxes. Every scar I still bear is from falling out of Cox trees, chasing the scented, sweet thrill of sinking my teeth into a new Cox, freshly-plucked from the bough.


I realised that Jalapenos are simply the best chillies when I used to hang out in San Francisco, drinking Anchor Steam Beer and devouring corn chips, re-fried beans and Jalapeno salsa. I’m OK with Scotch Bonnets and Birds Eyes, but none of them have the astonishing juiciness and fresh fragrance of a Jalapeno.


These, for me, are the ultimate comfort food. Black Eyed beans, haricots, kidney beans, butter beans, cannellini, Puy lentils – I feel threatened if I drop below three or four tins. Then a pan, some rough olive oil, pancetta, shallots and mushrooms, duck stock, lots of red wine – in go the pulses, down goes the gas, simmer until it all starts to thicken. Aaah….


I don’t buy a lot of meat, but we have three great butchers near where I live, and now and then I dive in and buy something like a 28 day dryaged rib of beef, bone in. I take it home, unwrap it and feel I’m really spoiling myself as I gaze at its glory and suck in the astonishing smell of a really good piece of really fresh meat.



Why does anyone make dried parsley? If you want to add stale grass cuttings to your soup – that’s fine, but don’t spend money on it. Some dried herbs are pretty good. Dried parsley is horrendous. Is it because good fresh-picked crinkly parsley is so bright and earthy and gorgeously country-green that its delicacy could never survive this heartless industrialisation?


‘Frog spawn’ we called it at school. We had it once a week, the day after semolina and the day before rice pudding. I gagged every time those malevolent, globular, winking, slimey pellets of wickedness slithered down my throat. I still do.


I love good olive oil. I collect it from all around the world with as much enthusiasm as I collect wine. I’ve always got several on the go; right now Australia, Tuscany, Sicily, Croatia and Palestine. But every year or two I unearth a bottle I’ve forgotten. I open it, and it is always tired, rancid and full of the regret of a jilted lover.

Oz Clarke’s new book English Wine: From still to sparkling (£16.99, Pavilion Books) is out now

Image credit to Keith Barnes Photography

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