Friday 13 December 2019

Me, Myself and I: Chef and author Catherine Fulvio

Chef and author Catherine Fulvio
Chef and author Catherine Fulvio

Alison O'Riordan

Me, Myself and I

The book that changed my life

'Il libro d'oro della cucina e dei vini di Sicilia' by Pino Correnti. I have a little trouble understanding the slang titles but it's a great book. It was the first Italian cookbook I every purchased and possibly stretched my understanding of the Italian language to the limit – there's nearly 600 pages of recipes. But it's also a historical document of the vibrancy of Sicilian food, which I adore.

The quote that keeps me sane

My favourite quote has to be "You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching / Love like you'll never be hurt / Sing like there's nobody listening / And live like it's heaven on earth" – William W Purkey. Always reminds me to be myself and, most importantly, enjoy life.

The best advice I've ever received

This simple advice from my mother has stuck with me. She always said: "It costs nothing to be nice."

The film I've watched again and again

I am such a sop for the romantic comedy and I have just come home from a trip to Sorrento in Italy, so I have to say a film that springs to mind would be 'Love Is All You Need' which is set in Sorrento and is just magical. Oh, and it stars Pierce Brosnan – need I say more?

The song I want played at my funeral

As morbid as it is, I would say 'Unforgettable' by Nat King Cole, a classic and such a powerful song.

The scent that evokes pleasant memories

Without question zagara, the aroma of Sicilian orange blossoms. It is highly perfumed and very distinctive. The aroma evokes memories of great family holidays and good times in the sunshine.

The piece of furniture that will become an heirloom

Because we live in a Victorian house, I love collectibles. I am very proud of this one: a 2) wash stand from World War One. I found this in a second-hand salvage yard in England and somehow got it home on the plane. It was renovated years ago for an antiques slot on the 'Late Late Show' and has held pride of place in our bathroom ever since.

The picture that is worth a thousand words

My favourite picture and one I cherish is an image taken for my second cook book, 3) 'Catherine's Family Kitchen'. I often feel we are blessed to live in County Wicklow, so close to Dublin city and the coast. It is a picture typical of family life here at Ballyknocken, on a warm sunny day we dine al fresco, Italian style.

The item that takes pride of place in my wardrobe

My green handbag that I picked up on a romantic holiday to Rome.

The sentimental piece of jewellery

My children recently gave me a present of a faux pearl necklace that they had put a lot of thought into picking out. It may not be my finest piece of jewellery, but it has sentimental value that is worth a lot more.

Favourite restaurant in the world

This was always a little restaurant in Sicily, but following my recent trip to Sorrento I would have to say I was overwhelmed by a little place called L'Antica Trattoria, where I had the most amazing tasting menu. This included a lemon pasta served in a scooped out spiral shaped lemon shell.

The item I'd save in a fire

The chef is coming out in me now, but I think I would have to save my 5) potato ricer. This gadget makes the most amazing mashed potatoes.

The characteristic I like most in myself

I do enjoy a good laugh. I would always try to find the humour in every situation and if you can't laugh, you are missing a trick.

And least

Maybe I laugh too much ...

My first kiss

A lady never kisses and tells!

The last time I cried

Recently. The movie 'Ghost' was on the television and even though I know the ending (as I have watched this movie far too many times) I found myself in tears.

It was the best of times

Thinking back to my childhood, one of my favourite memories was when I was officially promoted to head tractor driver during our hay harvest one year. It was a prestigious job to drive the trailer with my siblings hanging on.

It was the worst of times

And five minutes into my tractor driving career, I was fired, for taking my foot off the clutch too soon causing everyone to fall off the trailer. That was the end of the tractor driving career and I have never heard the end of it!

The person I call when things go pear-shaped

Without a doubt this would be my dad. He is a rock of sense here at Ballyknocken. He manages to always say the right thing. We would be lost without him here.

My death-row dinner

This is a very difficult one to answer. If I had to pick I would go with Italian style recipes I developed here in Ballyknocken when writing my cook book 'Eat Like An Italian'. To start, scallops with prosciutto and balsamic glaze, followed by a main course of pistachio and fig crusted rack of lamb with tapenade. And chocolate breadcrumb and almond cake for desserts.

Pet peeves

I don't tend to dwell on the negative so the pet peeves in my life would be the likes of heading off to Brittas Bay covered in sun cream and laden down with a picnic, for the rain to appear in buckets.

My four-legged friend

Our beautiful golden retriever. We have had her since a puppy and she has the most amazing brown eyes. Almost human.

Catherine Fulvio is a chef, author and proprietor of Ballyknocken House & Cookery School, Wicklow;

Weekend Magazine

Editors Choice

Also in Life