Today we’re kicking off the weekend with the second post in our Inspired By series. There are so many incredibly talented people that I love following and am constantly inspired by, so I wanted to create a continuing series where I could share these individuals with you all, too. Last week I introduced Jamie Beck, and today I’m excited to introduce our next guest, Skye McAlpine. I don’t really remember exactly how or when I stumbled upon Skye, but it was on Instagram a few years ago. Her account was one that immediately caught my attention and drew me in. It was a combination of her beautifully crafted tablescapes lined with delicious dishes and dreamy scenes from around Venice and London, where she splits her time. I love images that transport me and make me want to crawl inside and experience it first hand. That’s exactly how I feel when I take a glimpse at any one on her account, and the same goes for her blog, From My Dining Table.
All of Skye’s beautiful images are a delight to see, but I can’t not give credit to her mouth watering dishes that kept me following along, too. Some of mine and Thomas’s favorite travel memories and meals have been from our time spent in Italy. Often times the way that dining is approached is completely different than how we’re used to. It’s about more than just the food in front of you- it’s the atmosphere and emotion, the connection and inclusion, and of course, the people your surrounded by. Skye captures all of those feelings through her food, photography and writing, making it an absolute joy to follow along. And she just launched a cookbook, too! I’m thrilled to have her on the blog today and share the q&a we did…
- What inspired you to turn your love of food and entertaining into a blog?
I’ve always loved cooking – and I really enjoy writing. So at some point it seemed like the most natural thing to combine my passion for the two – and the blog was kind of born from that. What I love most about cooking is not the act of cooking itself, but the excuse to share something meaningful with friends. My blog is an extension of that: suddenly I’m not just sharing lunch or dinner with four or five friends, but with a much wider community.
- How would you describe your cooking style?
Simple, fresh, Italian, plentiful (I’m very greedy!) – and easy (I’m not a trained cook – so my recipes are all very do-able, especially if you don’t have much experience or confidence in the kitchen).
- What are some cooking habits or traditions you’ve carried on from your upbringing?
My love of entertaining is definitely a passion that I’ve inherited from my family: my mother always believed that it makes no difference if you’re cooking for four or for eight, so we had an open doors policy at home growing up and friends (often lots of friends!) would always join us for lunch or dinner. I definitely live by that philosophy now – my favourite thing to do is have people over for Sunday lunch or for a relaxed supper on a Monday night (the best start to the week!).
- I see you split your time between London and Venice. Do you take any inspiration from living in London and infuse that into your cooking?
I was born in London and grew up in Venice (my family moved there from England when I was six years old), and now I divide my time between the two cities. I guess because I’m from one place and live in another. I don’t really feel properly British or properly Italian – but a lot of both! I think this definitely affects my cooking style: I cook largely Italian food, but one of my favourite recipes is my Auntie Effie’s butter shortbread – and that’s about as British as you can get!
- Take us back 5 years – what were you doing?
Oh my goodness… 5 years ago I was finishing off my PhD in Latin literature and pregnant with our son, Aeneas. I hadn’t even thought of writing a blog at that stage… but I did love cooking!
- You have just launched your very first cookbook, A Table in Venice! Congratulations! Such an exciting time for you in your career. Can you tell us how this came about and what we can expect to see in your book?
Thank you so much! The book has been such a labour of love and something I have long wanted to write, a story I have long wanted to tell – so I’m really excited that I can now share it with the world. The book is a celebration of Venetian home cooking – the recipes I grew up with, the ones I love the most and the ones I make time and time again. It’s simple, beautiful, do-able Italian food. But it’s also a sneak peek into real life in Venice, the secret side of the city that tourists don’t usually get to see: shopping at the old market, evening spritzes by the waterside, boat rides out into the lagoon. Everything that I love about life there.
- Do you have a favorite no-fail recipe you make when you’re in a bind?
There’s a recipe for lemon risotto in my cookbook, ‘A Table In Venice’, that I really love. Risotto is such comfort food – but the touch of lemon makes it a lovely, delicate and elegant dish. The kind of thing you could happily eat on the sofa straight from the pan, or proudly serve at a dinner party. Also: I always have a few lemons lying around in the kitchen and rice in the cupboard, so it’s the kind of dish that I can easily throw together without thinking.
- What are 5 ingredients you think someone should always have on hand in the kitchen?
Lemons – see above! A squeeze of lemon juice will just add a lovely touch of flavour to the plainest of dishes. And a bowl of sunny lemons on the kitchen table looks so pretty.
Puff pastry – I like to keep a packet of ready rolled puff pastry in the fridge. It’s so versatile, you can make something sweet or savoury with it so quickly and easily: two of my favourite recipes in the book are made with puff pastry – the peach and saffron tarts and the spinach, ricotta and mint pie.
Olive oil – Everything tastes better with a splash of good olive oil.
Eggs – Because then you can whip up anything from scrambled eggs (my go to supper when I’m in a hurry), to spaghetti alla carbonara to meringues at the drop of the hat.
Mascarpone cheese – I just love it, it’s such a lusciously creamy and indulgent cheese – almost halfway to a clotted cream. I use it a lot in cooking – and you’ll find that many of the savory and sweet dishes in the book, have a good dollop of mascarpone in them. Either serve as is, or stir in a little sugar and serve with fresh fruit or cookies for the yummiest cheat’s dessert.
- When it comes to entertaining, what is one feeling or memory you always want your guests to leave with?
A longing to stay on a little longer – you know it’s been a good meal when no one wants to leave! As much as I love to eat, my most favourite part of the meal is always that bit after lunch or dinner, when you linger on at the table, help yourselves to a second portion of dessert, sip on your coffee and chat. Somehow that’s the part that always stays with me.
- We started this series to meet and share more about the people who inspire us, so we’d love to discover the same from you. Who or what inspires you?
Women who love what they do – and live out their dream with grace – really inspire me. My friend, Caroline Kent, who is a brilliant illustrator and founder of the card company, Scribble and Daub – she is such a source of inspiration to me, she is one of the most creative women I know, but also manages to somehow translate that creativity into a very successful business. My friend Joanna Goddard, who effortlessly juggles motherhood with a growing online magazine. And Ruthie Rogers who runs the best Italian restaurant in London, has written countless best selling cookbooks and has been top of her game for thirty years – yet still finds time to mentor younger people like me, who are just starting out in the food industry.