Preserving Lemons with Angela Hartnett
The acclaimed chef muses on the Italian roots of her kitchen to Tarajia Morrell
“Instead of letting good produce spoil, preserving the last of the seasons’ harvest opens up new possibilities for creating meals with depth and intrigue,” says Angela Hartnett, the celebrated British chef who divulges the influence of her Italian grandmother’s cooking in the second installment of our miniseries. The successes of the chef patron of both Murano, where she received her second Michelin star, and Café Murano, are an ode to the rustic recipes passed down via once exotic, essential ingredients from her familial larder. Here the restaurateur expounds on guilty pleasures and secret ingredients.
Is there a cuisine other than Italian that you are inspired by?
Angela Hartnett: Japanese food intrigues me as it’s a foreign take on the same theme of sophisticated yet simple food that I strive for. In a way the principles and some techniques are similar to Italian ones, it’s just a completely different range of ingredients to play with.
What is it about the preserving process that appeals to you?
AH: Treatment with salts and brines develops the flavors of ingredients in interesting ways, so that just when you think you’re sick of a particular ingredient, it becomes interesting again.
Who is your greatest culinary inspiration?
AH: Not a who, but a where: Italy.
What’s the best trick your Italian grandmother taught you about food?
AH: Rather than any trick, my grandma taught me to appreciate the best seasonal ingredients and to value family meals. We would always buy the best produce we could afford to provide for the family, and she would make me take back anything that was substandard. It was also from her that I first learned to make fresh tortelli and ravioli—a version of which I still cook at Murano to this day.
What’s your secret weapon ingredient?
AH: Parmesan, rosemary and garlic are always close to hand.
Would you really be up for life without a refrigerator?
AH: Yes, use ice.
Guilty pleasure after a long shift?
AH: Plain crisps and a glass of strong Italian red wine.
What would be your last meal?
AH: A brilliant prosciutto crudo with the ripest melon for starter and a bowl of agnolini – which is stuffed pasta with veal and beef in a meat broth for main. I don’t really do puddings but a vanilla tart if pushed.