Stella Newman writes novels, about food, men and women, and how modern life can be a bit rubbish. They’re funny and sometimes sad, and there’s always a lot of delicious food in them. THE DISH is her new novel about a restaurant critic who gets more than she bargained for when she orders a Sunday treat. Stella gives us an insight into the delectable delights that inspired her latest book.
‘Five years ago I fell in love. With a doughnut. Possibly not the sort of thing one should admit to on the internet but there you have it, I’m an over-sharer, and one who’s obsessed with a three-inch by three-inch deep-fried dough ball, stuffed with custard.’
‘This isn’t just any old doughnut – no, it’s from Bread Ahead, in Borough Market, and is a thing of beauty, a sugar-dusted work of art. The dough is inspired by a brioche – light as air, buttery, made using fancy French Lescure butter, with a barely perceptible hint of lemon zest, golden and beautiful to behold. But when it comes to love, it’s what’s inside that counts, isn’t it? So let me tell you a little more about that custard: it’s half crème pâtissière, half crème chantilly, which combine to form a luscious, thick, dense-but-not-too-heavy Madagascan vanilla dream. It has a fullness that’s as satisfying on your tongue as a water balloon feels in the palm of your hand.’
‘The chef who created it is a genius called Justin Gellatly. (Buy his book – Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding – if you like food, savoury or sweet.) Before running Bread Ahead, he was head baker at the brilliant St John in London, where they sold these doughnuts – only at the Spitalfields branch, and only for a brief few hours on a Sunday morning. Nothing fuels desire more than hard-to-get-ness, and when I first procured one I was jubilant. Imagine, then, my further delight when a short time later I read a piece by Nigel Slater in the Observer, singing the praises of the very same doughnut. I love Nigel, I love these doughnuts, Nigel loves them too: in a parallel universe, Nigel and I would be the greatest of doughnut-eating friends!’
‘The fantastic writer Nora Ephron once said, ‘Everything is copy’ – that is, use everything in your life in your work. I carried my love for these doughnuts with me in my head for years before I finally found the perfect home for them in one of my novels. In romantic comedy, there’s a concept called the ‘meet cute’ – it refers to the first time the girl and the boy meet, and the ‘cuter’ the scenario, the better – hence the name… All my books are set in the world of food and my new one, The Dish, is about a restaurant critic, Laura Parker, and a chef, Adam Bayley. When plotting where these two food-obsessed individuals should first cross paths, I could think of no better place than the home of London’s best doughnut. They say long-term compatibility benefits from shared interests, and Laura and Adam both have a significant interest in doughnuts. The problem, in my book, is that there’s only one left. I don’t know about giving someone your last Rolo, but for me the test of true love would be finding someone willing to share their last custard doughnut, so I gave this challenge over to Laura and Adam, to figure out for themselves.’
If Stella’s scrumptuous descriptions of her doughnut muse make your mouth water, why not give her latest novel ‘THE DISH’ a read. The book is out now to download for your e-reader, and the paperback is out on 21st May – if you can wait that long! For more foodie inspiration, recipes and mouth-watering posts visit Stella’s blog at www.stellanewman.co.uk.