As you often find with people who truly love food, cook and food writer Skye McAlpine says she remembers life through what she ate. The comforting risotto her mother would lovingly create for her every Sunday night. The dinner parties for 12 (or even 20) that her parents would throw with the sound of a Verdi opera blaring over the chorus of knives and forks. “It is more about the people you eat with than the food itself,” Skye explains. “Italian cooking is a celebration of simplicity, whether it is tomato with mozzarella and basil, or prosciutto and melon. Even pasta is not complicated to make or particularly showy, but it is an excuse to sit down and enjoy the ritual of eating together.”...
Skye left London with her family for Venice when she was six. Her father, Lord McAlpine, was the former Conservative party treasurer and her mother, Romilly, owned a catering business and a delicatessen in Mayfair. As a prominent politician in the 80s, her father came under threat from the IRA, so moved to Italy.
Skye – now mother to five-year-old Aeneas – divides her time between her stylish flat in South London and the family home in Venice with its crumbling plaster walls and watermelon-green shutters. Her new book, A Table in Venice: Recipes From My Home, is filled with the food she loves and remembers growing up. “I would watch my mother for hours as she magicked flour, butter and eggs into cake, pasta and pastry,” she says. “I learned how to roll gnocchi from my friend, Ornella, and, from her mother, Maria; how to mix a cup of cooking water into pasta dishes so the sauce tastes wonderfully creamy. I learned how to make really good buttery biscuits from my great-aunt, and how to knead pizza dough from our local pizzaiolo, Paolo.”
And it is not just food her 152k Instagram followers get a taste of. Her compact city kitchen is filled with interiors inspiration – see the wall of concealed cupboards, the custom foldout dining table and kitchen island on wheels (oh, and the curtain rail holding pots and pans). Then there’s her impactful but easy-to-emulate tablescapes piled high with fruits and flowers. Even her wardrobe is a Dolce Vita-inspired feast of 50s-style dresses, whether new Dolce & Gabbana or vintage Oscar de la Renta.
We couldn’t wait to join her and bake the traditional Venetian breakfast Kiefer – almond paste croissants – and talk vintage style, whether Italians ever have to be told to eat their greens and why pasta will always be ok in her book. She is definitely our kind of mama.