Last month, Anna Jones, author of A Modern Way to Eat and A Modern Way to Cook, spent a very happy day with the brilliant food writer and owner of the Pear Cafe in Bristol, Elly Curshen, better known as Elly Pear. They have a lot in common – from favourite restaurants, teas and foods, not to mention a publisher. Anna and Elly got together to do a lot of eating and record a little food tour of Hackney in East London, where Anna lives, but ended up chatting about a whole lot more.
The two covered everything from how they started their careers in food, to favourite garnishes, where they each like to shop to what inspires them to create new recipes. Here’s their day out, edited into five snippets below, with links to all the delicious places they went at the end.
COOKING AS A CAREER
It seemed natural to start with how Anna and Elly got into food – Anna explains how a newspaper article drastically changed the course of her career within one week, and Elly speaks about how losing someone very close to her pushed her into following her true passion – cooking.
WRITING A BOOK
They discuss the process of writing a first book. Anna talks about A Modern Way to Eat as a collection of food that had made up the tapestry of her day to day life until then. From a new banoffee pie she perfected over many birthday celebrations for her vegan brother, to the recipes she hadn’t used for books she’d written for other people because they were so stand-out delicious that she wanted to put my own name beside them.
Elly explains that her book, Fast Days and Feast Days, is an amalgamation of ten years of kitchen notebooks – from the famous cakes at her lovely cafe in Bristol, to the dishes she made at her celebrated supper clubs, and the fast day meals she makes for herself midweek.
Whether writing new recipes for a magazine article, or just looking for interesting things to cook for your weekday dinner, Anna and Elly both agree that inspiration is always important. They talk about obscure ingredients, shopping on Europe’s longest independent high street and a trio of chefs who have inspired Anna throughout her culinary career.
Anna and Elly turn to questions from Instagram, and cover everything from most-used kitchen tools to desert island foods, busy weekday breakfasts to the spring ingredients they look forward to every year.
A FOOD TOUR OF HACKNEY
The little corner of East London where Anna lives is chock a block with interesting eateries, run by people who care about ingredients, quality and provenance. Here are the ones she and Elly visited:
Poco – a delicious and sustainable tapas cafe. Broadway Market, London and Stoke’s Croft, Bristol
Tiosk – serves premium loose leaf teas and natural foods. Broadway Market, London
Dandy – beautiful brunches and more in an old shipping container with plenty of character. Helmsley Place, London
E5 bakehouse – selling some of the best sourdough in London. Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, London
Raw Duck – sister of Duck Soup restaurant in Soho. A safe bet for a brilliant breakfast. Richmond rd, London
Violet Bakery – home of Anna’s all-time favourite ginger molasses cake. Sweet treats which will never disappoint. Wilton Way, London.
Videos: Orlando Mowbray
Illustrations: Jess Lea-Wilson
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