The chef, baker, food writer and best-selling author Alison Roman hosted the U.K. launch of her new dessert book, Sweet Enough, on Isla Terrace last Wednesday evening. In the finally warm-enough evening air, guests sipped 50/50s, the very in-vogue cocktails from Good Vodka, sparkling Pot Luck natural wine from Nouveau and were served tastes from the book including Chocolate Mousse with 50/50 Whip, Semolina Cake with Lemon and Fennel and Cold Carrot Cake.
While Alison finished signing the fifty-plus books she’d had shipped in for her launch on Isla Terrace, she answered some questions about her formative background in pastries, her pursuit of beauty in everything she does and the polarising return of gluten and dairy.
The Standard, London: What inspired you to write a dessert cookbook, and how is it different from your previous cookbooks?
Alison Roman: I was a pastry chef for a very long time. That was my first job in food when I was 19 and so it was my foundation of cooking but also I think after the first two books which are mostly a ‘Whats for Dinner’ book, I was needing kind of a break and I liked the idea of doing something different that felt kind of like a challenge.
TSL: Were you a COVID-era, Sourdough home chef like the rest of us?
AR: No. I’m not a bread baker. Cannot, will not, do not. It’s so much different that cake-baking and cookie-baking. It’s such a different skill set and I do not possess it. I mean I’m sure I could learn.
TSL: I’m sure you could learn, too. How do you balance creating desserts that are both indulgent and gorgeous yet accessible to home cooks?
AR: I think that for me food has to look really beautiful in order for you to want to make it, that goes for a chicken or a cake or a cookie or a salad. One doesn’t take priority over the other for me. I don’t think I would do anything that didn’t look beautiful.
TSL: Are there any dessert trends or flavors that you are particularly excited about at the moment?
AR: I like the trend of going back to croissants and baked goods with gluten.
TSL: Hence the cow’s milk latte you have sitting in front of you.
AR: Yes, cow’s milk and gluten 2023 all the way. I like when people embrace that, it really excites me.
TSL: You just like people being bloated.
AR: Yeah, I do. Well, you don’t have to do it all the time. I’m not advocating chugging a gallon of milk or eating 40 baguettes but like enough is enough.
TSL: Rank the following meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert
AR: Breakfast is dead last. Lunch is third. Dessert is second. Dinner is one.
TSL: Favorite dessert restaurant in London?
AR: I always get the desserts at Rochelle Canteen. They always nail it, everything is delicious and perfect and petite and not too sweet. They always have rhubarb and perfect strawberries, maybe I’m only ever here in Spring, but that’s what it feels like.
TSL: Any bodega, or as we say in the UK, offie, snacks that are your go-tos?
I get peanuts in the shell or Cheez-Its.
TSL: For these five foods do you prefer them sweet or savoury?
I will choose savoury over sweet almost every single time.
TSL: Three not-so-standard things everyone needs in their pantry at all times?
AR: Anchovies—standard to some, but not to all—preserved lemon and Korean red pepper flakes.