Tête-à-Tête with Beatrice Ross
Welcome to Tête-à-Tête - our new feature where we get an insight into the lives and homes of those we admire in the world of food, wine and design.
Up first is the vivacious and original Beatrice Ross, illustrator and journalist, covering content from fine dining down to the clutter on the kitchen table, as well as founder and creator of the coolest new interiors magazine, Knob.
We love your mantra of grot, tat and treasure being key to making a house a home. Where is your go-to place for treasure hunting for your home?On the rare occasion I make it out of London I’m a sucker for a car boot sale. They don’t adhere to logic and are possibly the only places you’ll find Victorian plates, Art Deco tea spoons and an authentic Eame’s chair for 50p. Otherwise, on a Friday morning, the seductive siren song of “one pound” lures me to Golborne Road. Nothing compares to the joy of nibbling a flaky pastry and perusing the bric-a-brac (think opening credits of Breakfast at Tiffany’s). My best find to date is a leather replica of Marcel Breuer’s “Wassily chair” for £20 which takes pride of place in my flat. It makes me happy as Larry (who the hell is Larry? still stumped) to see the people who have become a part of the furniture in my life taking a pew.
What are the must-haves chez Beatrice for your dining table?
Someone you love. Olives in a little bowl with preserved lemon. A silly amount of candles. One of my friends always has a vase of what he calls “bin flowers” on his table - quite literally a bouquet comprised of the stems which would otherwise have met a premature end at the hands of the local florist. Occasionally I’ll illustrate a menu and place cards, but that doesn’t entertain much room for spontaneity, whether it be in the kitchen or at the table. Top it all off with a good playlist: Pink Martini, Sade, Dire Straits, John Coltrane, ABBA - whatever matches the mood.
Also, we are so very intrigued by dinners gone tits up... tell us more!
One minute you’re eating a civilised Sunday roast, then you’re a few bottles down and dirty dancing on the kitchen counter to…is that, Chariots of Fire? There have been numerous meet cutes between tea towels and hobs, the accidental ordering of chocolate tart and crème fraîche for a vegan, the dawning realisation that no, that’s not your partner’s leg under the table. Also (and this is truly tragic) not everyone thinks that a 1970s cheese and pineapple hedgehog thingy is a showstopper and a lot of people dislike devilled eggs. Cooking for anyone is in my mind a platonic form of lovemaking. Sitting around a table to share a meal is about as intimate as we can get, so pear-shaped or not, the food is ultimately just a side to the main course of conversation with people you adore.
What is the best dining experience you've had in the past year and why?
Dining In: Undoubtedly making sushi at a silly hour on a Sunday evening, sharing a single glass of red, and missing the tube home. Sushi for breakfast is just as good if not better.
Dining Out: The oysters at Orasay. Every. Damn. Time. Jackson Boxer and his team are entirely responsible for my oyster infatuation. I implore you to make an evening of wining and dining, but don’t be shellfish, take a friend with you.
For us, food and wine is so often about the hi-lo combinations. What are your creature comforts, the secret things you like to savour in the comfort of your own home?
Fondue fresh from the freezer, baby. I say that having recently managed to pick a flat without a freezer. Half the fun is discovering the box at the bottom of the drawer on a rainy day, calling up an equally cheese obsessed friend, and shamelessly dedicating the following hours to making a tit out of yourself (molten cheese will go everywhere) and a good snooze. I’m also a huge fan of buying a lovely bottle of something and enjoying it with a slightly crap dessert - a few spoons lodged in a supermarket Tiramisu is a happy sight. If I’m only feeding me, myself and I, you can guarantee it’ll be a slice of hot toast, a slab of cold butter, topped off with a smattering of flaky sea salt.
Long lunch or decadent dinner?
I’m hopelessly devoted to dinners. They put the world to rights when you’re feeling one fork short of a cutlery drawer.
What are you drinking at the moment?
At present, there’s a supply of rosé chilling in the fridge, on hand for a spontaneous dinner party or for friends wishing to talk into the small hours. It doesn’t matter what you’re drinking if you’re splitting a bottle with the people you love.