The more you read about Sophie Dahl, the more you’re going to like her. And while media hounds try touting a caddy rivalry between Sophie Dahl and Nigella Lawson, there is none – even her averred nemeses is fond of her. “What I should tell you about Sophie,”says Lawson, “is that I adore her.”
The model-turned-cookery writer has a new cook book, Voluptuous Delights: Guilt-free Eating with Abandon, published this month by Harper Collins; shes also slated to host a new food show with Britain’s BBC. Her book was lauded as “an absolute joy” by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, and she was crowned “The new cookery goddess of our time” by her publisher.
See Voluptuous Delights Video
Dahl’s new book is a beautifully woven collection of recipes and personal narratives chronicling her battle with weight. “I have always had a passionate relationship with food: passionate in that I loved it blindly or saw it as its own entity, rife with problems. Back in the old days food was either a faithful friend or a sin, rarely anything in between… I was the big model. I was meant to eat, a lot. It gave other people hope and cheered them as they enjoyed their chocolate. It was a clumsy way of thinking”
“This book is broken down into four sections,”a reviewer writes, Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer, further divided into Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, and each section starts with a few pages of Ms. Dahl’s lovely stories, starting as a youth in the US and UK, cooking with her mom and grandmother, along through her days modeling, and learning to find balance and harmony in her diet, up until present day. Peppered throughout are Ms. Dahl’s sweet line drawings”.
“It’s an anecdotal book about how to be slim – and still eat. Healthy breakfasts, lunches and suppers, and some fattening puddings. Easy, simple home cooking that’s healthy,” says Dahl. “To everything there is a season,”she writes, “from 17 to 21 mine was the season of chocolate cake”
Dahl, 31, has a Cinderella-like past: Dahl is the daughter of actor Julian Holloway and writer Tessa Dahl, and granddaughter of late author Roald Dahl. She was discovered by her neighbor Isabella Blow, a Vogue stylist who lived in the same building with Dahl and her family. “Sophie had just had an argument with her mother, having recently been expelled from her high school, and was sitting on the front steps of their flat, weeping. The two strangers struck up a long conversation, and soon after, Blow referred Dahl to Sarah Doukas of the Storm Model Agency in London”.
Dahl eventually appeared in Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and the British, Italian and American versions of Vogue. It was her artsy and seductive ad for Yves Saint-Laurent’s Opium – removed from UK billboards – that blazed her sexy hot trail to notoriety in the year 2000. Later Dahl was contributing editor at Conde Nast, The Saturday Times Magazine, and Vogue magazine.
“People don’t come up to me in the street,”writes Dahl. “I’m really not that interesting. Perhaps if I was walking around in seven inch heels [She’s 5ft 10in tall] and an Afghan coat they might look at me. But I’m usually in jeans, ballet shoes and a jumper stolen from Jamie [her fiance, Jamie Cullum, the jazz singer/songwriter].
How’s that for humility.
“In the evening,”writes Dahl, “Jamie and I might watch an old James Bond film ” Sean Connery is my favourite. How could he not be? Sometimes I conk out watching reruns of the Antiques Roadshow ” now that’s a heavenly Sunday”.
Sneak Recipe From Voluptuous Delights:
Sea bass with black
olive salsa and baby
This would be a good date dinner. On my
30th birthday I had sea bass cooked for me and
served in the garden, surrounded by twinkling
candles and a whole lot of love.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas 5. Marinate the
bass in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and
pepper for about 20 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, mix the olives, tomatoes, chopped basil,
dill, lemon juice, red chilli and olive oil. Put to one side.
Slice the courgettes/zucchini lengthways, season and
splash with olive oil, then bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Pan-fry the bass in some hot olive oil, cooking it for
2 minutes on each side. Add the bass to the plates and top
with the black olive salsa, serving the baby courgettes/
zucchini on the side, sprinkled with extra dill and lemon
2 sea bass fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
6 baby courgettes/
For the black olive salsa
250g/1 cup of pitted
150g/1 cup of cherry
A handful of fresh
Juice of 1 lemon
½ a red chilli,
60ml/¼ a cup of olive
1 lemon, sliced, rind
and pith removed,